• 01 Welcome to Spring LakeThere are rising local concerns over the lack of media coverage and traditional news reporting in our Fayetteville and Cumberland County communities.

    We have few journalists in our community dedicated to being purveyors of truth. History has proven without a doubt that any community, city, state or nation that lacks accurate and honest news media coverage cannot maintain freedom or democracy.

    News journalists and the media are true protectors of democracy. Without media watchdogs and transparency in government, we invite and nurture gross mismanagement and cultivate a culture of corruption that ultimately leads to devastating consequences for citizens.

    For a recent and unfortunate example of this, one needs to look no further than the Town of Spring Lake. Last week, Mayor Larry Dobbins and the Spring Lake Board of Aldermen received a notification warning from the Local Government Commission that the town's fiscal management was suspect. It noted that the town was in violation of the General Statutes of North Carolina and ran a risk of being taken over by the state if they cannot come into compliance.

    For over a decade, several honest and frustrated Spring Lake citizens saw this coming. They looked on helplessly as they witnessed firsthand the town's management incompetence and irresponsible behavior of its self-serving elected officials. Spring Lake residents experienced firsthand the consequences of not having a voice in government or news media oversight that could have uncovered and reported on the town's business, policies and procedures. Or lack of. Without constant oversight, monitoring and reporting of their actions and policies, local government officials will always constitute a lack of transparency to local citizens, giving government staff and elected officials free rein to use and abuse their authority. They are confident their actions will never be divulged, nor will they be held accountable. This creates a frightening "culture of corruption" and a significant threat to democracy and fundamental freedoms.

    The situation in Spring Lake did not develop overnight. It took years for town officials to get confident and comfortable knowing that the news media void could keep the general public from knowing what was going on inside the town hall. Spring Lake leadership took advantage of this situation to the town's detriment. The scary thing about it was they were all in concert with the negligence. Local media and dedicated and honest leadership at all local government levels could have prevented this.

    I love Spring Lake, and I know many good, decent and honest people who live there, have businesses there, and have tried relentlessly to make Spring Lake the proud gateway to Fort Bragg it once was. However, without a news media outlet and local government transparency and accountability, it cannot happen.

    Perhaps some of our readers are thinking, "why doesn't Up & Coming Weekly create a newspaper in Spring Lake." Well, we did. And, it had a talented editor and was successful. Perhaps too successful. The Spring Lake Beacon was delivered every two weeks in U&CW. It lasted about two years until the Town of Spring Lake decided not to support it. This caused the Chamber of Commerce (which was closely affiliated with the town and located in the Town Hall) to not support it. This lack of endorsement discouraged the local businesses from supporting it.

    At that time, we tried to make a difference by providing Spring Lake businesses and citizens with local news and views while advocating for open government and transparency. We were rebuffed. We hope the current situation in Spring Lake will be resolved quickly, amicably, and result in honest, caring, and dedicated people stepping up to rebuild Spring Lakes' reputation and take its rightful and respectable place in the leadership of Cumberland County. We also hope that this unfortunate and dire situation in Spring Lake serves as a subtle warning to Fayetteville, Hope Mills and other communities of the consequences when no local newspaper or reputable media keeps the public informed of what is going on in their government.

    It should also make all citizens skeptical of any elected county commissioner, city mayor or councilperson, town commissioner, or local government staffer who is opposed to the free press, news media, open meetings or the concept of transparency in government. The media, sometimes referred to as the "Fourth Estate," is America's watchdog of democracy at all levels of government.

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • 09ButterfliesThe weekend of June 21-23, Sustainable Sandhills will join forces with local businesses and organizations to celebrate pollinators. It’s only fitting, as June 17-23 is National Pollinator Week. Dubbed “Pollipalooza,” the local event creatively spotlights the many ways pollinators like bees, bats and butterflies impact our world — and our wellbeing.

    “Pollinators are vital to our ecology,” said Jonelle Kimbrough, executive director of Sustainable Sandhills. “We wanted to draw attention to the fact that pollinator populations are in decline.

    “One-third of the food we eat depends on pollination. We wanted an outlet to bring awareness to the community about the importance of pollination. We thought a fun event that would highlight food and beverages that are pollinated would be a fun.”

    Kimbrough noted that a lot of people don’t realize that tea plants depend on pollination. Winterbloom Tea came to mind as the perfect partner to showcase this fact. From 7:30-9 p.m., Friday, June 21, join the Pollipalooza Tea Party at 238 Hay St. Tickets cost $35 and include a hot and cold tea tasting, a honey tasting by Beehive Yourself and sweets by Ariana’s Cakes. There will also be an auction featuring items by Fayetteville Pie Company, The Household 6 Catering, Ariana’s Cakes, Sustainable Sandhills and more. Tickets can be purchased at www.pollipalooza.com.

    Saturday, June 22, from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m., visit Sink Field at Methodist University to learn about pollinators and how to make your outdoor space inviting for these essential creatures. There will be educational workshops, including Beekeeping 101 and Gardening for Pollinators, as well as children’s activities and vendors. Tickets cost $5 at the gate.

    “People can come to attend the workshops and learn about plants that pollinate and that bees are attracted to,” said Kimbrough. “And the Beekeeping 101 workshop will cover equipment, resources and certifications (involved with beekeeping).”

    Saturday, June 22, from 5-8 p.m., Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom will host “Nature’s Nectar: Bites and Brews Pollinator Party.” The offerings all focus on pollinated products. This event features a flight of five beer and wine creations— all influenced by pollinators’ efforts. The ticket price also includes a flight of five tapas-style delicacies, also featuring pollinated ingredients. There will be a live band and a silent auction as well. Tickets cost $55 and are available at www.pollipalooza.com.

    Sunday, June 23, enjoy Dirtbag Ales Famers Market from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. The market will maintain a focus on pollinated products in honor of National Pollinator Week. Vendors offerings include local honey, flowers, candles and produce. There will also be live music, craft beer and food trucks.

    Sustainable Sandhills will have an information booth and will be selling wildflower seeds and a Build-A-Buzz Children’s craft. The farmers market is free to attend. Prices for individual activities and products vary from vendor to vendor.

    A portion of the proceeds from Pollipalooza will go to Sustainable Sandhills, whose mission statement is: Through education, demonstration, and collaboration we are dedicated to supporting and enhancing the communities and environments of the Sandhills region for current and future generations. Find out more about Sustainable Sandhills at its website, www.sustainablesandhills.org.

  • 04JakobRyanAlthough it may not appear so, the leaders of both major political parties in North Carolina favor lowering the tax burden of large businesses. Their real dispute is about the scope and magnitude of the tax relief.

    Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has consistently opposed recent state budgets, crafted by the Republican-controlled legislature, that reduced the corporate tax rate from 6.9% in 2013 to 2.5% today. This year, Cooper seems likely to veto whatever budget emerges from the General Assembly, in part because it will contain a cut in franchise taxes, which tax the value rather than the net income of a business.

    The administration’s spokesman, Ford Porter, put it this way after the Senate passed its budget plan: “Governor Cooper will continue pushing for a budget that represents middle class families instead of special interests and corporate shareholders.”

    But Cooper has also requested and enthusiastically supported big tax incentives for companies that moved to or expanded their operations in North Carolina, including multimillion- dollar packages for Lending Tree, Honeywell, equipment manufacturer Greenheck Group, biopharmaceutical firm Cellectis, and Charlotte tech company AvidXChange, among others.

    More generally, Cooper and other Democratic leaders have sought to restore, protect and expand tax breaks for politically favored industries such as solar energy and film production.

    It’s not necessarily a contradiction to favor large but narrowly tailored tax relief over acrossthe- board reductions. It does require making certain assumptions — and they ought to be clearly spelled out so that North Carolinians can decide for themselves whether the assumptions are reasonable.

    One such assumption is that when it comes to reducing state tax burdens, some but not all companies are “worth it.” They are more important to the state’s economic vitality, one might say, either because of their sheer size or their expected future growth in sales, investment and jobs.

    Another assumption is that some companies are more responsive to taxes than others. If ACME Manufacturing is going to do business and employ people in North Carolina at roughly the same level regardless of how much tax it pays, the state might be better off collecting the revenue generated by the higher rate and spending it on public services, or so the argument goes. On the other hand, if Ach-Mee Manufacturing won’t come to or stay in the state unless it gets a tax break, North Carolina ought to give it to them.

    Finally, and most importantly, advocates of targeted tax relief assume that they or some other state officials are capable of reliably distinguishing the worthy corporate recipients from the unworthy ones — that is, they can know with confidence which companies are economically vital and most sensitive to tax burdens.

    When Gov. Cooper insists, for example, that North Carolina shouldn’t cut state corporate or franchise taxes across the board but that our state should devote more tax incentives to film and TV production, he is suggesting that media companies are more valuable to the state’s economy than other kinds of firms, are more likely to do business elsewhere if they don’t get their way, or both.

    There are surely North Carolinians who find these assumptions plausible. I don’t. I think economies are far too complex a set of systems to be measured, forecast and planned at that level of detail. I don’t think it wise to put state officials in the position of choosing among “worthy” businesses or industries, which I suspect will inevitably lead to political favoritism and perhaps even rank corruption in the long run.

    Of course, even if it were technically feasible and politically sustainable, I still think it would be grossly unfair to tax companies differently based on size, location, average wages or industry. Uniform taxation advances both fairness and efficiency. If a billionaire came to your county and offered to live there in exchange for exempting her mansion from property taxes, on the grounds that she’d boost the local economy by spending lots of money, wouldn’t you want your county commissioners to say no?

  • 15Strike2“Strike at the Wind!” – a play beloved by generations – returns to Givens Performing Arts Center for two shows as part of the 50th anniversary of Lumbee Homecoming.

    The iconic drama, which tells the local story of the Lowrie War in 1865, will be performed Saturday, June 30, and Sunday, July 1.

    “Strike at the Wind!” returned in 2017 after a 10-year hiatus, thanks to the collaborative efforts of the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and the Lumbee Tribe.

    The play ran from 1976 to 1996 and was staged at the Adolph Dial Amphitheater at the Lumbee Tribal Cultural Center. It returned in 1999 and again in 2007.

    Jonathan Drahos, who is directing the play, said 95 percent of the 2017 cast is back, including Matthew Jacobs and Wynona Oxendine, who play the lead roles of Henry Berry Lowrie and his wife, Rhoda Strong.

    “Everyone is excited to be back again this year,” said Drahos, director of UNCP Theatre. “The fact that most of the cast is back is a real positive step in the right direction. They were inspired last year by the spirit of the play and the audience response.”

    The play chronicles the life of Lowrie, who led a band of men in a seven-year battle against those he believed killed his father and brother.

    “The play celebrates the heroic effort of a culture of people,” Drahos said. “This story is one example of the enduring spirit of the Lumbee people and how much their culture has changed history.

    “Henry Berry was someone who was able to move the conversation forward toward equality and justice, and that, to me, is the most important aspect of the play. His gang had Native Americans, whites and blacks – people of all races – fighting together for one cause. We need important causes like that in order to progress.”

    This year, the play will feature live musical performances by local artists, including Charly Lowry, Mark McKinney & Company, Lakota John, Alexis Jones and Kirk Blue. They will be performing the play’s original songs composed by the late Willie French Lowery.

    “Live music, I think, is going to be a major shift from what the audience saw last year,” Drahos said. “It adds a new element. It’s going to be exciting.”

    Wynona Oxendine, a graduate of UNCP’s theatre program, teaches drama at Seventy-First High School.

    “This play tells such a legendary story,” she said. “This year, the audience is in for another high energy, epic production. We are all super excited!”

    The June 30 show begins at 8 p.m. and the July 1 at 5 p.m. Tickets prices for the evening shows are $15. Call 910-521-6361 or visit www.uncp.edu/gpactickets to purchase tickets.

  • 06Splash Pad 2 Seeking reprieve from the summer heat wave

    The Fayetteville-Cumberland Parks & Recreation Department has taken steps to provide comfort zones during the summer heat wave. Splash pads now remain open daily until 8 p.m. Splash pads are located at Kiwanis, Massey Hill and Myers Park recreation centers. The Splash pad at J.S. Spivey Recreation Center is closed for repairs and will re-open when the maintenance is completed. Public swimming pools on Langdon Street, at College Lakes Recreation Center and Westover Recreation Center are open Tuesday-Sunday.

    Recreation centers also provide reprieve from the heat with air conditioned, public facilities.

    Local government takes time off

    Fayetteville City Council takes July off each year, primarily so members and administrators can take vacations. City spokesman Kevin Arata said the specifics are privileged for security reasons. When City Manager Doug Hewett takes time off, an assistant manager fills in.

    “Someone is always designated to be in charge,” said Arata. “And even when Doug’s out, he’s still usually checking email, and council members still call.”

    Cumberland County Commissioners also cancel monthly meetings in July.

    “Members of the management team try to schedule leave during July when the commissioners are not meeting,” said Assistant County Manager Sally Shutt. “This leave is coordinated so that either the county manager or one of the assistant county managers is always in the office.” When the county manager is out of the office, she assigns an assistant county manager to be in charge, Shutt added.

    Animal control department

    Cumberland County has a new animal control director. County Manager Amy Cannon has appointed Elaine B. Smith to succeed Dr. John Lauby, who left the department in April. Smith was selected for the position after a recruitment process that attracted applicants from across the country. She has served as the county’s animal control enforcement supervisor in charge of 21 animal control officers.

    “We welcome Mrs. Smith to our leadership team and look forward to working closely with her as we tackle new and existing challenges in animal care and control here in Cumberland County,” said Tracy Jackson, assistant county manager.

    Smith’s professional experience includes working for the North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the nonprofit Fayetteville Animal Protection Society. She is a graduate of North Carolina State University.

    A proud military family

    Army 2nd Lt. Austin Miller is a new platoon leader with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg. He is shown with his family, which includes President Trump’s choice to lead American and NATO forces in Afghanistan. Army Lt. Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller said American troops were needed in Afghanistan to ensure major terrorist organizations, including al-Qaida and the Islamic State, remain unable to launch major attacks against the United States from that country.

    He said a revamped war strategy has made progress, but he doesn’t see an end to the 17-year conflict any time soon. Miller’s last assignment was as chief of Joint Special Operations Command. “I can’t guarantee you any timeline or an end date,” Miller told the Senate Armed Services Committee in a hearing to consider his appointment and nomination to four-star general.

    Army Gen. John Nicholson, a former 82nd Airborne Division commander, has led troops in Afghanistan since March 2016. Miller is expected to be confirmed in the coming weeks and take command in August or September, officials said.

    A tribute to a great American

    The WashingtonPost recently ran an article by Steve Hendrix titled “Bob Dole’s final mission.” It’s about former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole and what the patriot’s life is like at age 94.

    “Each Saturday, before Bob Dole sets off on his latest vocation, he has cornflakes, a little sugar on top, and a bottle of chocolate Boost. It takes less time to get dressed now that the former Republican presidential candidate allows a nurse to help him. But it remains a rough half-hour for a body racked by war injuries and age. Then comes the 20-minute drive to a monument the former senator all but built himself,” wrote Hendrix, who spent a day with Dole.

    Hendrix also wrote in his piece that “There, from a handicapped parking spot, Dole eases into a wheelchair as the greetings begin — ‘Oh my gosh, Bob Dole!’– finally rolling into his place in the shade just outside the main entrance to the National World War II Memorial. And then they come, bus after bus, wheelchair after wheelchair, battalions of his bent brothers, stooped with years but steeped in pride.”

    North Carolinians came to appreciate Sen. Dole for a couple of reasons: his military and government service and his wife Elizabeth’s service as a U.S. senator from the Tar Heel State. She is a Salisbury, North Carolina, native.

    “Bob Dole has been coming for years to greet these groups of aging veterans, brought at no cost from throughout the country by the nonprofit Honor Flight Network. As Sen. Dole’s mission- driven life has faded into history — combat hero, champion for the disabled, Senate majority leader, 1996 Republican presidential candidate — this final calling has remained, sometimes derailed by the doctors, but still a duty to be fulfilled,” Hendrix observed.

    “He has watched the number of World War II veterans decline over the years, from half the bus to just a few per group, the sun setting on the ‘greatest generation’ that saved the world. ‘I just met a fellow who was 103 years old, he (Dole) says. ‘Sometimes I’m the kid.’ Maybe it keeps him young,” Hendrix wrote.

    Dole’s wife told The Washington Post reporter that her husband is wired to serve. “She joins him frequently on the Saturday outings, helping to direct the receiving line, doubling the number of Senator Doles in the pictures and stories visitors take home. ‘It’s great, all these tremendous men and women,’ she says. ‘Bob has a goal. He wants to make a positive difference in one person’s life every day.’”

  • 01coverUAC0062718001It’s America’s birthday this week, and there is no shortage of celebrations. Our forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence 242 years ago. Their battle for freedom continued for eight more years before the colonies were freed from Britain’s grasp. In 1781, before America’s decisive win at Yorktown, the state of Massachusetts made July 4 an official holiday. It wasn’t until 1870 that Congress made it a federal holiday.

    Here is a list of local events celebrating the Fourth of July.

    Friday, June 29

    Field of Honor

    Visit the North Carolina Field of Honor, which is located at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum parade field downtown. Each flag on the field honors someone who has served or is currently serving in the armed forces. It is a salute to the modern patriots who have defended the hard-won freedoms the revolutionaries fought so diligently to claim almost 250 years ago. The flags come down July 6. Find out more at www.ncfieldofhonor.com.

    Saturday, June 30

    Cardboard Boat Race and Demolition Derby at Hope Mills Lake. The town of Hope Mills kicks of a weeklong celebration with a boat race. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be adult and youth races in single and multiple rower categories. Boats will be judged at noon with racing to follow. Boats will be judged on speed, style and spirit. All proceeds benefit Hope Mills Lake projects. Learn more at townofhopemills.com.

    The Hope Mills Lake CelebrationStreet Dance will take place 6-9 p.m. on Trade Street. It is free to attend. Food will be available for sale. Call 910-426-4109 for details.

    SwampDogs baseball

    Enjoy America’s favorite pastime as the Fayetteville SwampDogs host The Heroes Grub and Suds Benefit Event in support of the Lone Survivor Foundation. The foundation offers therapeutic retreats for wounded service members and their families. Proceeds from this event will benefit the LSF, which is building an additional retreat facility in North Carolina. For more information on the LSF, visit its website at lonesurvivorfoundation.org.

    Local breweries, food trucks and business vendors will be on hand, and the swamp will be filled with fun activities, including a military member softball game. For more information, call 910-426-5900.

    Sunday, July 1

    A Star-Spangled Kind of Day

    From noon to 5 p.m., celebrate at Cape Fear Botanical Garden. Enjoy a tasty treat from one of the food trucks that will be on-site. Indulge in a beverage from the garden cash bar, and listen to Open Road’s classic rock cover tunes. The band will play from 1-4 p.m. Embrace the backyard barbecue tradition on a grander scale with the many activities on tap – bounce houses, lawn games, crafts and more. This is a rain or shine event. Call 910-486-0221 for details.

    Heroes on the Water

    From 2-6 p.m., Heroes on the Water Combined Forces Chapter will be at Hope Mills Lake to provide active-duty service members, veterans, first responders and their family members an  opportunity to get on the lake for some kayaking and fishing. To register for the event or for more details, search the event on Facebook. Spectators are welcome but must provide their own seating. Call 910-426-4109 for details.

    Church at the Lake

    Join Common Ground, a band from Hope Mills United Methodist Church, and musicians from Highland Baptist Church and Grace Place for the Inaugural Church at the Lake at Hope Mills Lake. Bring a blanket or lawn chairs and get comfy around the gazebo. The event is free and runs from 6-9 p.m. Call 910-426-4109 to learn more.

    Independence Concert

    The City of Fayetteville and the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra come together Sunday evening to present a free concert in Festival Park. It’s free, open to the public and starts at 7:30 p.m. Bring a lawn chair or blanket to sit on and then kick back and enjoy patriotic and popular works to celebrate Independence Day. There will be fireworks immediately following. Call 910-433-4690 for more information.

    July 2

    Art and Jazz at the Lake

    Hope Mills Lake offers Art and Jazz at the Lake from 6-9 p.m. Listen to cool jazz performed by The All-American Jazz Quintet while watching local artists paint by the lake shore. There will be activities for children, including crafts, water color painting and drawing. Peruse arts and crafts booths set up by North Carolina artists, and stop by Big T’s or one of the many onsite food trucks. Call 910-426-4109 or search the event on Facebook to learn more.

    July 3

    Beach Dance

    Hope Mills continues its celebration with a Beach Dance at Hope Mills Lake. DJ Ronnie will provide music, and local food trucks will be on-site with food for sale. Call 910-426-4109 for details.

    Wednesday, July 4

    Firecracker 4-miler

    The Fayetteville Running club hosts the Firecracker 4-miler at the North Carolina Veterans Park. The course winds through the beautiful, historic sites of downtown Fayetteville. The event runs from 7-10 a.m. and costs between $10 and $30. There is also a 1-miler event, which starts at 8:15 a.m. Call 910-494-6708 for more information.

    Fort Bragg’s Fourth of July Celebration

    Each year, Fort Bragg invites the public to its parade field for a fourth of July celebration to remember. There will be music, parachute freefall demonstrations, the popular flag ceremony,  fireworks, food and beverages. This year’s headliner is country music star Trace Adkins. The event runs from 3-10 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Call 910-396-9126 to learn more.

    Hope Mills’ July 4th Celebration

    This is a busy day in Hope Mills with a parade from 10 a.m. to noon followed by Party in the Park from 4-10 p.m. at Hope Mills Municipal Park. There will be live music, bounce houses, horseshoe and washer tournaments, water slides, food and craft vendors and more. The celebration ends with fireworks, scheduled for 9:15 p.m.

    Red, White & Boat

    Spring Lake Outpost offers an entire day and evening filled with Americana. From 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., enjoy a day in the outdoors, floating down the river. Tickets cost $20-$60 an include a boat rental, local craft beer, sparkles and shuttle transportation. Call 910-248-3409 for more information.

    Thursday, July 5

    Hope Mills Food Truck Rally

    Every first Thursday July through September, Hope Mills hosts a food truck rodeo at Hope Mills Municipal Park. Enjoy outdoor music, great food, children’s activities, vendor booths and more. No seating is provided, so bring a lawn chair or a blanket to sit on. To learn more, call 910-426-4103.

  • 15HM lake 3As a youngster, Dr. Kent Dean remembers the hours he spent enjoying various forms of recreation on Hope Mills Lake. Now that the lake has finally returned, he understands there’s a strong desire for local people to swim and enjoy the opportunities for fun the lake offers.

    At the same time, as a veterinarian who’s practiced in Hope Mills for 31 years, he knows the town is wise to prohibit swimming in the lake until something can be done to lower the amount of fecal material that tests of the lake water have shown to be present.

    Dean said there are a lot of intestinal, and in some cases respiratory, infections that can be transmitted by goose droppings.

    His research found that a typical goose eats as much as four pounds of grass per day and can leave upward of a pound and a half to three pounds of droppings behind in that same period.

    That means a flock of 20 or 30 geese in one location like the lake could produce a maximum close to 100 pounds of droppings per day.

    That’s part of the reason the lake has tested for high levels of fecal waste.

    “If it’s in the water, you can get it,’’ Dean said of the various illnesses that can be transmitted by goose droppings. Infections can come from a number of sources, he said, including E. coli and a Protozoa parasite called giardia.

    Dean said giardia live in the intestinal tract of dogs and birds. “We can ingest it and it can cause bad diarrhea,’’ he said.

    While people in good health are less likely to be infected by something in goose droppings, Dean said there’s always a chance. The odds increase if someone has a compromised immune system.

    While people could become infected if the organisms enter an open wound on a person’s body, Dean said the most likely way is by swallowing the bacteria or breathing it in.

    One disease the geese can transmit is called psittacosis, which appears in humans as a flu-like ailment that includes pneumonia.

    Children, whose immune systems aren’t fully developed, are at risk, along with people who suffer from certain types of diseases or are undergoing chemotherapy.

    “Anybody that’s got an infection where their immune system isn’t functioning well, they’re more susceptible for sure,’’ Dean said.

    Dean said he drove by the lake recently and saw geese nearby. He is concerned about what options the town has to remove them.

    “You can’t shoot or poison them,’’ Dean said. “They are protected.’’

    Dean said there’s no practical way to sanitize the lake like a giant swimming pool.

    One feasible option could be to hire an outside company to chase the geese away.

    “Golf courses have a big problem (with geese),’’ Dean said. “There are people you can hire to bring in border collies and pester them enough to leave.’’

    Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner said the town hasn’t reached a decision on what to do about the ongoing problem with geese and other water fowl polluting the lake. A few people have continued to go swimming despite the warnings about the danger. She said town officials could increase police presence at the lake to discourage swimmers. They already have signs posted asking people not to feed the geese so they hopefully won’t congregate there.

    Warner hopes people will cooperate because town officials want to do everything possible to avoid imposing any real penalties for people who go into the water.

    “It’s kind of sad,’’ Dean said. “It would be nice if it wasn’t like that, where animals and people could use it together.’’

  • 14Doug WattsFamily, friends and many former players came to South View High School on a warm Saturday afternoon earlier this month to pay tribute to former Hope Mills Boosters baseball coach Doug Watts.

    Watts, himself a graduate of American Legion baseball at Whiteville in the late 1940s, gave 51 straight summers helping coach the sport he loved before finally retiring just before the start of this season.

    Mark Kahlenberg, current coach of the Hope Mills team, organized the ceremony at the South View High School baseball field where the Boosters play their home games, presenting Watts with a framed Hope Mills orange jersey to remember his years of service.

    Chip Watts, Watts’ son, threw the ceremonial first pitch to his father, who served as catcher.

    Asked why his dad gave 51 years to American Legion baseball, Chip said the answer was simple.

    “He felt he got to college (East Carolina) because of American Legion baseball,’’ Chip said. “He wanted to give that opportunity to other people.

    “He makes everybody feel important, whether you’re in the starting lineup or sitting on the bench. When you feel like you’re important, it tends to bring out the best in you.’’

    Jay Johnson, who went to high school at Cape Fear, was the shortstop on one of Watts’ best Legion teams, the 1984 squad that won the Eastern American Legion title and advanced to the state championship series before falling to perennial power Salisbury.

    “To me, it went way further and deeper than baseball,’’ Johnson said. “He was more like family with me. He was almost like another father.

    “Even after baseball, I’ve maintained a relationship with him. I love him as much today as when I first set foot on the field with him.’’

    Watts said he was thankful for all the people who have stuck with him over the years as he strove to keep American Legion baseball alive in Cumberland County. There were once a number of
    American Legion teams in Cumberland and surrounding counties. For the last several years, Hope Mills and Whiteville have fielded the only Legion teams in the Cape Fear region.

    “I think travel ball has taken some of the popularity away from American Legion baseball,’’ Watts said. He recalled when he played the game in 1948 in Whiteville, there wasn’t even television for people to watch at night.

    He said he stuck with it because he enjoyed watching young people battle to win every night, and for the chance to redeem themselves by being a hero in a game after making a costly mistake the night before.

    “When people come and tell you it’s the best years of their life, it was mine too,’’ he said.

     

    PHOTO: Doug Watts

  • 13HoodWhile the term “fake news” may be of recent vintage, the phenomenon isn’t. For decades, policymakers in North Carolina and elsewhere have trafficked in poorly understood, misleading or demonstrably false information – often unknowingly, although that’s bad enough – and made poor decisions as a result.

    A new survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics exposed one of the most egregious recent examples: the notion of the “gig economy.” For years, we’ve been told that the stable jobs our parents and grandparents once enjoyed are increasingly being replaced by short-term contracts, temp agencies and the proliferation of independent contractors, many of whom would rather not own their own businesses but are forced to do so by heartless employers and inexorable economic forces.

    This is a factual claim, although hard facts have rarely been in evidence. The just-released BLS report represents the first large-scale survey of its kind in more than a decade. It shows that contingent work and independent contracting are not up. They are down.

    In May 2017, 1.3 percent of U.S. wage and salary workers reported that they had been in their jobs for no longer than a year and expect to keep their jobs for no longer than an additional year. The latest time BLS asked this question, in 2005, 1.8 percent of respondents fit this definition of contingent workers. In 1995, the share was 2.2 percent.

    When BLS broadened the definition to include independent contractors and the self-employed, as well as wage or salary workers who’d been in their current positions for more than a year, the share of contingent workers was 3.8 percent in 2017, 4.1 percent in 2005, and 4.9 percent in 1995. As for “alternative employment arrangements” in general, as BLS defined them, there are fewer independent contractors as a share of the workforce today than in 2005, and about the same number of on-call workers, employees of temp agencies and people working for contract-services firms.

    Obviously, some professions and industries have become more likely to feature contingent workers and alternative arrangements over time, such as personal transportation. Uber drivers, usually working part time to supplement their salaries from other jobs, have displaced some full-time cab drivers. But other sectors have moved in the opposite direction, toward full-time employment.

    Progressive and populist populations have frequently cited the expansion of the gig economy, and its supposedly pernicious effects, as a justification for pet policies ranging from expanding health insurance and job-training programs to strengthening labor unions and restricting international trade.

    But it turns out that not only has there been no expansion of the gig economy in the first place, but also many of the millions of people who do work that way actually prefer their current  arrangements. Among independent contractors, for example, 79 percent said they’d rather work that way than be a traditional employee. And among temp workers, while a substantial number (46 percent) said they’d prefer a full-time job – and, of course, temp placements often lead in that direction – that’s a lower share than in 2005.

    At least in the case of poverty statistics, also fraught with misunderstandings and misinterpretations, politicians have a better excuse: the official statistics are themselves flawed.

    Is poverty lower, higher or about the same today as it was before the “War on Poverty” of the 1960s? If you go by the official measure, there hasn’t been much improvement. But the official  measure understates income, overstates inflation and leaves out public assistance programs such as Medicaid. Properly measured, the poverty rate is vastly lower today (less than 5 percent) than it was in the 1960s (30 percent).

    Whether the subject is employment, poverty, education or health care, there will never be perfection in public discourse. We are all prone to making errors or missing important details. But at the very least, we should check our sources, define terms more precisely and be particularly skeptical of gloomy claims about things being worse today than in the past. To be blunt, such claims are usually wrong.

  • 11CaribbeanThe Caribbean American Connection of Fayetteville, will host its 8th Annual Heritage Caribbean Festival Sunday, June 24, from 12-9 p.m. in Festival Park.

    “This is our festival where we give back to the community so they can learn about our culture,” said Sheron Baker, coordinator of the event.

    The festival will feature authentic foods, arts and crafts, local performers, African dancers, Salsa singers, games for the children, face painting, Reggae singers, clothing, vendors and more.

    “We have a lot of fun stuff we will be doing with the kids, and we will teach them about our culture,” said Baker.

    In 2006, President George W. Bush issued an annual proclamation recognizing June as Caribbean American Heritage Month. “The month is designed to let the community know what the culture is about and all about the Caribbean,” said Baker. “We share our culture, food, dance and the customs we did before we got here.”

    Baker added that the event continues to grow bigger each year, which is why it is being held in Festival Park.

    The Caribbean’s rich culture has historically been influenced by that of African, European, Amerindian and Asian traditions. “We have a lot of different tastes and types of food that we eat, and we wear certain ethnic clothing,” said Baker. “We listen to Reggae, Salsa and steel band music, and we love to dance.”

    The nonprofit organization also volunteers to help a local school. “We adopted a local school, and every Thanksgiving we provide to the school,” said Baker. “We also help with back-to-school drives, help flood victims, assist the Salvation Army with feeding the homeless, support the International Folk Festival and take part in Fayetteville State University’s International Culture Day.”

    Baker also noted that “We have fundraisers to raise money in order to make this event successful. We have local restaurants who sponsor us to help make this event great. We look forward to the community coming out to support our event.”

    Admission is free. For more information, call 910-261-6910

  • 09fourthFJune 22 marks 4th Friday in downtown Fayetteville. It is an exciting time the check out the new exhibits and activities. Every month, Cool Spring Downtown District sponsors a theme and coordinates with downtown businesses and galleries to host activities within that theme. It’s fun for the merchants as well as people who come to explore the small galleries, bookstores, bistros and shops while seeing exhibitors and artists of all types.

    This month’s theme is commUNITY, to celebrate the diversity within the community. Business owners will have posters set up with their stories of when they first felt like they were a part of the community, and a gift basket will be given away to those eligible after taking selfies with the stories of the owners.

    Every year, the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County invites the community to submit artwork for its ever-popular unjuried exhibit, “Public Works.” More than 150 pieces of art representing the diversity and creativity of this community will be on display through July 21. For details, call 910-323-1776.

    The Ellington-White Gallery University Art Faculty Exhibit features the works of visual art faculty members from Fayetteville State University, Methodist University and Fayetteville Technical Community College. The exhibit will hang through June 30. Call 910-483-1388 for details.

    Fascinate-U Children’s Museum brings a touch of whimsy to each 4th Friday celebration with activities for children. This month, visitors can learn paper folding techniques to create three- dimensional sculptures. Visit www.fascinate-u.com to learn more about Fascinate-U and the many summer activities it hosts.

    The Market House of Cumberland County holds monthly exhibits on local history for 4th Fridays, and this month, World War I is on display in the “Fayetteville – ‘Over There’” exhibit along with its more permanent exhibit, “A View from the Square: A History of Downtown Fayetteville.” Call 910-483-2073 to learn more.

    The Cumberland County Public Library will hold a local author showcase at 7 p.m. at the Headquarters Library. Local authors will be available to meet and talk to the community about their books and many writings, providing the chance to recognize and learn more about local authors and the diversity of their writing inspirations. To make a reservation for a table at the annual Local Author Showcase, visit theartscouncil.com/opportunity/local-author-showcase-cumberlandcounty-public-library.com and follow the instructions for submission.

    The June 4th Friday event is all about the commUNITY and unifying those in the community, locals and tourists, with events, shopping, galleries, exhibits, artists of every kind, entertainment and more. Call 910-223-1089 to learn more.

  • 08smoke in his eyesThe oldest conveyor of human thought and emotion is storytelling. It manifests in art of all forms. From the symmetry of the Giza pyramids to the poetry of Maya Angelou to Kendrick Lamar’s lyrics, through and through, we somehow feel closer to humanity as art transforms and validates our existence. We know we need it, but how does inspiration for art come about? In the brain, the heart, the soul, the divine... magic? This is the driving question of Shane Wilson’s new book, “The Smoke in His Eyes.” City Center Gallery & Books will host Wilson’s premiere North Carolina book reading event Thursday, June 28.

    As a child, Wilson remembers how he fell into his imagination and conjured up stories. Now as an English teacher at Fayetteville Technical Community College, he has two novelsunder his belt. The latest book saw its publication release by GenZ Publishing on May 18.

    “The Smoke in His Eyes” tells the tale of musicians. TJ is haunted by a mysterious and traumatic childhood event that rears its ugly head in visions. Muna, who appears as ethereal smoke, attempts to help him understand the nature of his visions.

    “The book explores both of their individual reasons for creating art and their inspirations for it,” said Wilson.

    Much like his first novel, “Smoke in His Eyes” falls into the magical realism genre. But the story holds fast to real-world actions and emotions. According to Wilson, the book is very much a North Carolina book. An entire section is even devoted to seeing the protagonist in the Appalachian Mountains.

    The surreal elements of the narrative, in turn, heighten the mysterious events of everyday life.

    “The best parts of life are the parts we have a hard time explaining,” said Wilson. “That’s what I would consider the magic of life, so I just like to dial that up when I write fiction. As adults, we’ve lost that sense of wonder a little bit. But there’s something in people that still likes fantasy, that escapism.”

     

    Magic is just another word for inspiration, in Wilson’s words. After writing his first novel, his anxiety was, quite simply, having no new story to write. No inspiration to tap.

    One line sums up Wilson’s fear: You’re going to have to figure out what you’re going to write about when you’ve run out of stories to tell.

    Wilson’s fascination with the origins of inspiration ended up fueling the themes of his second novel.

    “What is the compulsion to create and what is the compulsion to share?” questioned Wilson. “Essentially, the art we create is the only evidence for the existence of inspiration.”

    “The Smoke in His Eyes” contemplates the role of inspiration in music. The main character is a guitarist. In fact, Wilson learned to play the guitar for this novel and even wrote the original songs featured in the book.

    His dedication to craft reveals itself also in his upcoming book reading at City Center Gallery & Books. According to him, the reading would be disingenuous without music.

    “The talks are going to be like a VH-1 storytelling situation where I’ll read a little bit and talk about it and then I’ll play a song,” said Wilson. “I think it’s an interesting wrinkle or spin on the old classic book reading.”

    Wilson hopes the discussions at the book reading pivot toward the intersections of the different arts and how those arts help us make sense of our own lives.

    “(My) book is for somebody,” Wilson said. “It’s just that those people have to find it, and readings give me an opportunity to do that. I love to talk about art, really. It’s less about talking about my own stuff than it is talking about books. It’s really exciting.”

    The reading will take place at City Center on 112 Hay St. from 6 to 8 p.m. on June 28. It is free and open to the public. Call the venue at 910-678-8899 for more information.

  • 07dan cullitonA lot has been written about the diversity of Fayetteville City Council District 2. Another freshman politician has been chosen to succeed former Councilman Tyrone Williams. Williams resigned in May after being accused of attempting to bribe PCH Holdings’ Jordan Jones. The FBI’s Public Corruption Unit has been looking into the allegation.

    Local Chiropractor and construction contractor Dan Culliton was appointed by council to succeed Williams last week. “District 2 is traditionally not as apt to choose someone like me,” said
    Culliton, who is white.

    District 2 is one of four predominantly African-American districts created by the 2010 census to provide for the likely election of minority candidates. However, two other white men have been elected in recent years. Kirk deViere most recently served the district before deciding to seek higher office, paving the way for Williams. In the mid-2000s, businessman Paul Williams was the District 2 council representative.

    Culliton, 48, will be sworn in June 25. He finished runner-up to Tyrone Williams in last year’s general election and will serve the remainder of Williams’ term.

    Culliton told Up & Coming Weekly he isn’t sure if he will seek election next year. He said it will depend on the will of the people.

    “I’m going to be a strong voice for the district,” he said. Of his selection by city council, Culliton said, “They did the right thing; I’ve been engaged in the district for a long time.”

    The district is shaped like a fan with five blades. It also includes a satellite residential area near Fayetteville Regional Airport. Its population is 57 percent African-American.

    The Cumberland County Board of Elections says there are 16,740 registered voters in District 2, an impressive percentage of its 22,000 residents. Of that number, 9,498 voters are African-American. There are 5,039 white voters. But, only 2,600 voters turned out in the general election last November. Williams received a 56 percent majority.

    District 2 is thought of as primarily serving the downtown area and East Fayetteville. There are portions of 21 voting precincts in the district. It also covers a significant part of Haymount north of  Hay Street over to Westmont Drive. On the northside, it includes areas along Ramsey Street as far north as Tokay and Country Club Drives. To the west, the district blankets areas north of and along Bragg Boulevard to Cain Road, where it butts up to District 4. And, east of the river, District 2 encompasses mostly residential neighborhoods from Person Street to Cedar Creek Road out to I-95, exit 49. It goes south along Southern Avenue and Legion Road and on Owen Drive to Village Drive.

     

    PHOTO: Dan Culliton

  • 06Tommy GriffinGeorge T. “Tommy” Griffin was known as an innovator to colleagues. The courthouse crowd also knew Griffin as a fun-filled prankster. He was dedicated to the staff of the Cumberland County Superior Court Clerk’s office. Griffin was buried last week following his death from a long illness. He was 77 years old and served as clerk of court for nearly 30 years.

    Griffin was appointed in 1972, four years after what was then called “the new courthouse” was opened. He won election every four years after that without opposition. Griffin surprised a lot of people when he decided to run for sheriff in 2001. He lost the democratic primary to Earl “Moose” Butler in the 2002 Democratic primary election.

    In the early 1960s, he paid his way through college at what was then Pembroke State University. Soon thereafter, Griffin became involved with the state’s Administrative Office of the Courts in Raleigh. He was a leader in creating a unified state court system after Tar Heel residents passed a constitutional amendment. Under this uniform judicial system, administration and budgeting were centralized. All court personnel are now paid by the state, and the Administrative Office of the Courts is responsible for developing a single budget for the entire judicial system.

    North Carolina Superior Court clerks serve as probate judges. Domestic relations cases involving alimony, child support, child custody, divorce, equitable distribution and juvenile matters are also heard in this court. The clerks also maintain criminal court, civil court and juvenile court records as well as estate records. They provide courtroom clerks for all sessions of court in their respective counties.

    Colleagues were impressed with Gifford’s forward thinking when he became superior court clerk in 1972. As new computer database and record-keeping technologies became available, he implemented them as budgets would allow. Cumberland County began pilot programs that soon went statewide.

    Tommy Griffin was especially keen on his responsibility to the public, providing citizens access to all public court records.

    He also collected fines and court fees and doled out child support payments.

    Former Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Coy Brewer said Griffin was the driving force behind a pretrial release program that Cumberland County implemented to reduce overcrowding at
    the jail.

    Griffin’s senior assistant clerk, Linda Priest, took over for him when he retired in 2001. “He loved a good time” and was quite a jokester, she said.

    Chief District Court Judge Robert Stiehl noted Griffin’s ability to hire hardworking, smart people. Griffin’s survivors include his wife, Pamela, and two sons.

     

    PHOTO: George T. “Tommy” Griffin served as clerk of court for nearly 30 years.

  • 05NewsDigestSection of Cliffdale Road closed to traffic

    The Aberdeen & Rockfish Railroad grade crossing on Skibo Road will likely remain under construction a few more days. It has disrupted local traffic since June 18. The North Carolina Department of Transportation closed Skibo Road (U.S. 401 Bypass) in both directions between Cliffdale Road and Chason Ridge Drive. It provides access to Best Buy, Target and other nearby shopping areas.

    The busy corridor is scheduled to reopen at 5 p.m. Friday, June 22. Local motorists will likely use Glensford Drive, which runs parallel to Skibo as a detour.

    Railroad workers are replacing the rubber-type crossing with more durable concrete panels. Aberdeen & Rockfish completed the same type of improvement last year at Raeford and South McPherson Church Roads. After the rail improvements are made, NCDOT will repave the crossing to make a smooth driving transition.

     

    Cumberland County Schools funding boost

    The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners is increasing school funding by several million dollars for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The county is providing $80,150,000 to Cumberland
    County Schools for current expense funding.

    The amount is an increase of $686,891 above the current fiscal year. The school board and county commissioners settled a funding dispute during a mediation June 11.

    County commissioners also agreed to pay the schools 25 percent of tax revenues collected above the budgeted revenues for Fiscal Year 2018. Significantly, the county is also providing $1,315,299 for school nurses; $2,422,025 for School Resource Officers; and $865,093 for Crossing Guards, for a total of $84,752,417 of local county dollars for current expenses next fiscal year.

    “It is our hope that both boards will once again develop a multi-year funding agreement, and we look forward to having those conversations with our new school superintendent,” said Board of
    Commissioners Chairman Larry Lancaster.

    Downtown bridge repair delays

    Reconstruction of the North Cool Spring Street Bridge connecting Grove Street to Person Street will be delayed for several weeks. The city says repairs began in November 2017 and were expected to be completed by now. But problems that had not been found initially have added to the time schedule. This includes repairs to water and sewer mains, bank stabilization, storm drainage, curb and gutter and the sidewalk.

    A portion of North Cool Spring Street was washed away by flood waters from Hurricane Matthew in October 2016. Two other downtown bridges over Cross Creek are still closed, one of them – the Ann Street bridge – because of damage three years ago.

    Unattended cooking fires

    Fire officials say walking away from the range while cooking results in one of the most common causes of house fires. There have been at least two instances in Fayetteville of unattended cooking resulting in fires this month.

    The most recent was at a home on McMillan Street off Campbell Avenue downtown. The first arriving fire engine “found a single story, residential structure with fire showing from the front of the
    building,” said Deputy Fire Chief Hieu Sifford.

    Firefighters were able to quickly find the origin of the fire and extinguish the blaze. The lone occupant of the house was not hurt. Sifford said the fire was contained mostly to the kitchen, resulting in an estimated $8,000 in damage.

    The same day, fire crews said unattended cooking resulted in a kitchen fire in Windsor Terrace off Hillsboro Street. The occupant left his cooking on the stove and laid down to take a cap. Chief Sifford said a smoke alarm woke him up to discover the fire. He was not hurt.

    Recycling is up in Fayetteville

    North Carolina’s Recycling and Materials Management Section has released recycling numbers for all 100 counties showing a 5.3 percent increase in paper and container recycling compared to the previous year. Local recycling programs collected more than 1.7 million tons of traditional and nontraditional materials last year.

    “Recycling collection in North Carolina has expanded alongside increasing demand for recyclable material by in-state manufacturers,” said Wendy Worley, Recycling and Materials Management section chief. “Counties and municipalities are targeting much more than paper, cans and plastics. There are so many more materials that can be recycled, like construction debris, wood and electronics, and kept from going into the landfill.”

    North Carolina recovered almost 27,000 more tons of paper than the previous year and 8,000 more tons of metal. Plastics and glass tonnages remained essentially unchanged.

    The state says Cumberland County’s population has grown by 100,000 people since the 1991-92 fiscal year, but recycling here has increased by 32 percent since then. The city of Fayetteville was among the first to make curbside recycling available.

  • 04scott pruittCome, let us now praise famous Environmental Protection Agency administrators. Who’s the leader of the club that’s made for you and me? None other than America’s most fearless and quirkiest Protector of the Environment. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Scott Pruitt. And as the emcee almost said in “Cabaret,” “When you are finished with him, you don’t have to bring him back.” He is nonrecyclable. Unless you have been living under the lava at Leilani Estates in Hawaii, our man Scotty is probably the best-known EPA administrator in years for his many scandals.

    The president tells us he is going to drain the swamp in Washington, D.C. Who better to drain the D.C. swamp than a Swamp Thing like Scotty? It takes one to know one. Thinking about Scotty draining the swamp reminded me of one of the classic movies of all times, “Swamp Thing.” The plot of “Swamp Thing” is a bit convoluted, but basically, Dr. Alec Holland is a scientist who managed to get doused in a secret formula that grows plants, is set on fire and jumps into a swamp to put out the fire. Dr. Al mutates into the Swamp Thing, who is part plant and part man.

    Dr. Al is scary on the outside but a sweetie on the inside. He falls in love with the enormously talented Adrienne Barbeau, who plays a lady scientist who has to take a bath. The Swamp Thing and Scott Pruitt are similar in looks and may have been separated at birth. Scott undoubtedly got chosen for his job as a result of his resemblance to the Swamp Thing.

    Scotty can generate more scandals in a single bound than Superman can jump over tall buildings. And yet, he persists despite all his troubles. What is so colorful as a Scotty Scandal? Let me count some of the ways: $130 fountain pens for signing orders voiding environmental regulations; first class air plane flights to keep him away from the hostile, unwashed masses yearning to breathe free and clean air; a $43,000 Maxwell Smart cone of silence telephone booth for calling in orders for pizza and selling the mineral rights in National Parks; and renting a room for $50 a night from a lobbyist.

    Next time you are in D.C., see what sort of room you can get for $50 a night. If you find such a room, bring your AK-47 and Samurai sword, as you will need them for protection from things that  go bump in the dark in a $50 room. Scotty likes to use emergency sirens on his motorcade to clear the streets of mere motorists who could get in his way to important dinner reservations at a fancy French restaurant – must not allow the Vichyssoise soup to get cold.

    Let us stop for a moment to catch our breath. At the risk of boring you with scandal after Scotty Scandal, let us look at my two favorite Scotty Scandals.

    At the top of my list of entertaining scandals, I place Chickengate. After taking office as head honcho of the EPA, Scotty got in touch with Dan Cathy, the CEO of Chick-fil-A, with a business proposition. Scotty wanted to hustle up a Chick-fil-A franchise for his lovely wife, Marlyn. By the time this column reaches print, the Trump/Kim summit will be in the history books. As a sop for not giving up his nuclear weapons, the rumor mill has it that Kim will allow an American fast food restaurant to open somewhere in North Korea. If it turns out that Scotty gets a fast food franchise in Pyongyang, you will know that the fix was in. As the politicians and talking heads say on TV: “When you come to the dining room table and drill down into giving Scotty a Chick-fil-A franchise in North Korea, it’s a robust, win-win situation at the end of the day.” Scotty can then move to North Korea to sell chicken, allowing the EPA to escape his grasp.

    In a very close second place to Chickengate on the Richter scale of Politicians Behaving Badly, we find Scotty’s puzzling quest to purchase a used mattress from the Trump International Hotel in D.C. For reasons known only to Scotty, he sent a federal employee paid by your tax dollars to inquire at the Trump Hotel in Washington as to how much it would cost to get a used mattress from said hotel. By now, you are probably asking yourself, “Self, why would Scotty want a used mattress from Trump Tower?”

    Scotty is not just an ordinary Joe who wants a used mattress to save money. There must be another reason. Maybe he was planning on taking the mattress with him to Pyongyang when he sets up his chicken fast food franchise. There could be a shortage of Sleep Number smart mattresses north of the 38th parallel. Maybe he has been watching “The Godfather.” Scotty may have
    imprinted on the scene where Clemenza has to scout out locations for the Coreleone family to go to the mattresses to hang out when the war starts with the Barzini and Tattaglia mafia families. Perhaps The Donald can get Scotty used mattresses wholesale. Maybe Scotty just has a thing for stained bedding like a Glorious Leader of the Western World? As the president likes to say, “We’ll see.”

    What’s it all about, Alfie? As the great singer Tom Russell once sang: “Sky above. Mud below.”

     

    PHOTO: Scott Pruitt is probably the best-known EPA administrator in years for his many scandals.

  • 03MArgA joke going around a while back held that medical science wants to study U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan as they are the only human beings able to walk upright even though they are spineless.

    Whether this joke makes you chuckle or enrages you, “spineless” is used even by Republicans to describe both members of Congress and moderates across the country who stand silent no matter what Donald Trump says or does.

    Said Richard North Patterson in The Washington Post in April, “With few exceptions, congressional Republicans are cowed by this president. They are accustomed to making excuses for him, and if they were going to stand up to him, they’ve already had plenty of chances.”

    In The Boston Globe, Patterson also weighed in with this: “So completely has the GOP become Donald Trump’s personal chorus of sycophants that their thin cries of protest over tariffs evoke the quavering voices of captives in a hostage video.”

    Writing for The Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin addressed spinelessness. “First, unlike Senate and House Republicans during Watergate, there are few genuine leaders of principle whose sense of propriety is offended by Trump. The moral and intellectual quality of the current crew of Republicans pales in comparison to the type of Republicans who finally told Richard Nixon the jig was up.”

    Even sitting U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, a Republican from Tennessee, has used the word “cult” to describe GOP behavior in terms of Trump.

    This is not the way our government is supposed to work.

    Our Founding Fathers deliberately and carefully structured a balance of power among the three branches of government – executive, legislative and executive. Any one branch is to be kept in check by the other two branches. This requires courage and resolve, qualities not much on display these days in Washington or in the hinterlands.

    ********************

    The death of Anthony Bourdain earlier this month shocked the world. He achieved fame as a New York chef and went on to host a popular CNN series, “Parts Unknown,” in which he traveled the world sampling foods that looked wonderful and some that would curl your hair. In doing so, he introduced us to people, places and cultures we would never see firsthand. He chatted with locals from famous cities and remote corners of the world, ate whatever they recommended – some dishes were doozies by anyone’s standards – and did so with grace and kindness. Bourdain once said in an interview that when people share their food, they are sharing parts of themselves, and he did his best to try everything, including foods most Americans would never consider
    allowing past our lips.

    Along the journey, Bourdain wrote a number of cookbooks, including the wildly successful “Kitchen Confidential,” published in 2000 and which is once again atop the New York Times bestseller list. Who knew that he also wrote well-received fiction?

    A man of vast talents, Bourdain is mourned by those who loved him and people who knew him only by books and television. His intellect and love of people and adventure touched many of us.

    ********************

    Last but certainly not least, what’s up with the North Carolina General Assembly?

    In the waning days of the so-called “short” session, toxic (literally, in one case) legislation is popping up and getting traction.

    Ours is a nation that dramatically trails other developed nations in voter turnout, with voter turnout in presidential years somewhere around 55 percent and an embarrassing 40 percent in mid-year elections. The world’s leader in voting is Belgium, where an impressive 85 percent of voters bestir themselves to get to the polls. You would think our political leaders would want us to vote, but our state’s Republican leadership is pushing a bill to further limit early voting, an option used more often by minority voters than Election Day voting. You would think legislators would like more people to vote, unless, of course, they are not their kind of voters.

    Then there is a bill expected to pass that would limit how and when neighbors of hog-producing operations can sue the companies over offending odors from open-air waste lagoons and damage to property values. The bill comes in the wake of a $50 million verdict awarded in April to 10 neighbors of a hog farm, a verdict later reduced to $3.5 million, conforming to an earlier state law capping these damages. Such limits demonstrate more sympathy for business than for the people who must live with it.

    Let me describe the odor this way. Years ago, I was advised to wear only washable clothing to tour a “state-of-the-art” hog operation in Cumberland County, with about 5,000 animals packed into houses so tightly that only a handful of people were required to run the operation. The stench was overwhelming and sickening. When I arrived home, peeling clothes off as I entered the house, a visiting child took one sniff and said, “PU! Where have you been?”

    What are our elected leaders thinking?

  • 02PubPenWIDU radio personality and Fayetteville Observer columnist Troy Williams and I have journalistically crossed swords several times when it comes to perspectives on issues concerning the Fayetteville/Cumberland County community. This is not a bad thing. I respect Williams and consider what we do the pure essence of free expression. The free press accentuates the American privilege of free speech.

    Williams’ article in last Saturday’s Fayetteville Observer, titled “Council does the right thing with Culliton pick,” was perceptive in identifying and acknowledging those people who want to use local government for their personal enrichment and political gain. Williams has put the Cumberland County Democratic Party and Fayetteville City Council on notice that identity politics comes
    up short on substance when talent, qualifications and capabilities are ignored.

    The city voted 6-3 to replace District 2 Councilman Tyrone Williams, who resigned after the controversy relating to him requesting $15,000 from a downtown contractor, with Cumberland County Republican Dan Culliton, a white man, over Democrat Patricia Bradley. Bradley is an African-American woman currently employed by Fayetteville State University. She previously served as assistant city attorney and was assigned to the Fayetteville Police Department during the city’s “driving while black” racial profiling controversy.

    Bradley was no doubt the darling of local Cumberland County Democrats. Despite an aggressive Democratic campaign and political pressure from some of the sitting council members, common sense won out. Despite the pressure and a barrage of criticism from local Democrats, Councilwoman Tisha Waddell and senior council member Bill Crisp held their ground and stood on principle, joining their council contemporaries in voting for what was in the best interest of District 2 and the entire Fayetteville community. For this, they should be applauded and admired.

    To quote Williams’ Observer article, “common sense and decency prevailed.”

    He said something else in his article that struck a sensitive but relevant note with me. He wrote, “Without a doubt, a good government ought to be colorblind.”

    That statement reminded me of something William T. Brown once said. Brown was a Fayetteville educator and principal during the years of desegregation in the schools and later a trustee at Fayetteville State University. In a discussion with Brown about the need to encourage and promote greater racial harmony within our community, I suggested that people needed to be more open, more tolerant and colorblind. Brown smiled as he corrected me: “Not colorblind, Bill; people need to be color intelligent.”

    His point was that we always want to recognize and respect nationality and diversity, but character is what defines a person – and everyone needs to recognize this. Intelligence and character are what made Brown an exceptional educational icon and community leader. He was principal of E.E. Smith High School the first year that white students began attending historically black high schools in Cumberland County. To Brown’s way of thinking, intelligence, common sense, hard work and achievement were the keys to success. My conversation with him was more than two decades ago, and I have never forgotten those words.

    Entitlement and identity politics have put our city and county communities in peril, and it needs to stop.

    Local Democrats, many in the black community, are angry and disgusted with Tisha Waddell and Bill Crisp because Waddell and Crisp are independent thinkers with principles and integrity. They refused to be intimidated or bought off or have their core values compromised.

    The recent 6-3 vote that chose Culliton over Bradley was a mandate and somewhat of a godsend at the same time. Bradley, after Culliton’s appointment, referred to Fayetteville City Council as “a den of wolves and thieves” in a Facebook post. Really? This begs the questions: What was the real intention and motivation for getting Bradley elected? And, who is masterminding this league of helpless and hapless lemmings? It will be apparent soon.

    Honesty and integrity will win out when initiatives like this run out of strategy or logic or both. One thing is for sure, the 6-3 vote of the council for Dan Culliton has sent a resounding message. More and more people are beginning to connect the dots. Once the dots are connected, the only message that will be tolerated and acceptable to the citizens of Fayetteville will be the one that reads: “Fayetteville First!”

    Now, that’s color intelligent! Thank you, W.T. Brown.

    Thanks for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • 15Robins on Main 2Is Robin Burnum’s popular restaurant Robin’s on Main moving to a new location?

    The owner herself said the answer is very likely yes, but the questions of when it will move and where are long from being answered.

    Burnum was planning to do some much-needed improvement on the restaurant when building owner John Beasley informed her was entertaining offers to sell the property.

    No deal to sell it has been finalized, Burnum said, but when it is, she said Beasley informed her he’d give her 90 days’ notice before she would need to relocate.

    But Burnum said she was already giving thought to finding a new home for the business currently located on Main Street roughly across from the restored Hope Mills Lake.

    “The building is too small for me anyway,’’ she said. Burnum wants to stay in the general neighborhood where she’s currently located, and one of the first places she looked is literally around the corner from where she is – the former Hamilton-Porter Funeral Home building, now named Hamilton-Porter Enterprise, on Trade Street.

    The Hope Mills Board of Commissioners recently voted to modify the zoning restrictions on the Trade Street property, so Burnum could move her restaurant there. But there are other problems to consider.

    “It’s going to cost me a lot of money to get it to become a restaurant,’’ she said. “I’ve gotten prices for air conditioning and plumbing in the $40,000 range. The biggest cost is to turn it into a restaurant.’’

    Burnum is confident her loyal base of customers would follow her to the Trade Street location, but she’s concerned about being able to draw new business, since the new property isn’t on a busy street like she is now.

    She’s also giving some thought to a couple of locations on Main Street, where she’d have to construct a new building. One is across from the shopping center that will be anchored by the new
    Surge Trampoline Park. The other is just down the street from there near where a seafood market was located.

    Once she does move, Burnum wants to increase both seating space and cooking space in the new location.

    Her goal is to have a restaurant that will seat up to 80 people. Now cooking on a 26-inch grill, she plans on adding two 42-inch grills at her new home.

    “Here on Saturday and Sunday, we have an hour wait,’’ she said. “It’s crazy. It’s good, but it’s crazy.’’

    Burnum hopes a new location would allow her to increase the special events she holds for the Hope Mills community, like her efforts to recognize law enforcement and first responders.

    “Once a month I would feed the homeless,’’ she said. “I would do more for the community with the fire and police departments.’’

    In the end, Burnum said all of her efforts are geared toward helping her adopted hometown of Hope Mills.

    “I like the people,’’ the Rhode Island native said. “I’m away from my family, and the customers here, my loyal customers, are like my family. I’ve become attached to them.’’

  • 13DiscoveringHere is a present for you from a column several years ago – a few quotes about North Carolina.

    “North Carolina is, I believe, the poorest state in the Union: the part of it though which we traveled should seem to indicate as much... The few detached houses on the road were mean and beggarly in their appearance, and the people whom we saw when the coach stopped had a squalid, and at the same time fierce air, which at once bore witness to the unfortunate influences of their existence.” From the journal of Frances Anne Kemble, traveling through the state in 1838. As bad as things sometimes seem today, we’ve come a long way in the last 180 years.

    “A short time of conflict & the day is ours – ours for Freedom, for Right, for Self Government! They can never overcome, never conquer us, for we fight for our Birthright – Freedom!” An entry dated April 24, 1861, from the diary of Catherine Ann Devereaux Edmondston of Halifax County. Are we always so confident of quick victory at the beginning of a “just war?”

    “Between the lines (the South Carolina and Virginia borders)...was left an area which for years on end rejoiced in the generalization that it was a vale of humility between two mountains of conceit. The generalization is useful, as most generalizations are. A modicum of truth lies in it, a persisting modicum, borne out in the report of a modern North Carolinian that among his State’s neighbors there were only two classes of people, those who never had worn shoes and those who made you feel that you never had....(I)n a North Carolina (that is) recently more proud than humble, (there is) a continuing conviction that one man is as good as another and that if you don’t believe it he’ll show you he’s a damn sight better....” Jonathan Daniels, writing in the 1930s.

    “Daniel Boone... grew to manhood in the Yadkin River Valley near Statesville. He spent nearly half of his life here, and in fact did not settle west of the mountains until he was 41.” Joe Knox, in the Greensboro Daily News in 1976.

    “This, Mr. Chairman, is perhaps the Negro’s temporary farewell to the American Congress; but let me say, Phoenix-like, he will rise up some day and come again. These parting words are in behalf of an outraged, heartbroken, bruised, and bleeding, but God-fearing people, faithful, industrious, loyal people – rising people, full of potential force.” George White, North Carolina’s last black Congressman, in 1901, giving his farewell speech to Congress, after being defeated in a re-election bid.

    “I am, by nature, very conservative, but I am firm in my convictions.. I want to blaze a trail for other women. I know that years from now there will be many other women in politics, but you have to start a thing.” Lillian Exum Clement of Asheville, in 1920 or 1921, after becoming the first woman to be elected to the North Carolina General Assembly.

    “I shall continue to stand against wastefulness and extravagance in any activity. But there is a point, even in economy, beyond which self-respecting government cannot go. For to do so means not merely an abdication of its function but social bankruptcy.” Governor J. C. B. Ehringhaus, in 1933, justifying a new tax to support education. What would he advise in today?

    Want more? I stole all these quotes from a book that the UNC Press published 25 years ago. “Discovering North Carolina: A Tar Heel Reader” was edited by Jack Claiborne and William Price.
    Charles Kuralt said about it, “The most interesting book about North Carolina I’ve ever read.”

    If you’ve read the column this far, you’ll want to read this book too.

  • 12FTCC militaryFayetteville Technical Community College is an industry leader in awarding college credit for prior learning experiences to include military training. With over 200 military career evaluations and more than 250 programs of study, FTCC offers members of the U.S. Armed Forces and veterans the opportunity to pursue a higher education degree while utilizing the training they have completed as a part of their military career.

    Whether advancing within the military or transitioning to the civilian workforce, military students and veterans will find that FTCC is committed to their success. As the leader in credit for prior learning, FTCC specializes in translating military training to college-level learning and credit.

    FTCC is committed to offering service members and veterans the opportunity to complete programs of the highest quality and integrity as they pursue personal and professional success goals.  FTCC’s most popular and most flexible degree is the associate in general education, which allows students to capitalize on credits earned through military training and transfer with ease to one of FTCC’s partner institutions for an advanced degree.

    The associate in general education degree consists of 64 total semester hours, 48 of which may be applied from other colleges and institutions as well as from military training. To earn this degree at Fayetteville Tech, a minimum of 16 semester hours must be taken with our institution, either online or face to face. Often, many military students and veterans pursuing this degree only need to complete the general education courses, such as English, math and social science, to complete the degree.

    In addition to offering the associate in general education, FTCC offers several certificate and diploma programs. FTCC is committed to providing in-demand educational opportunities that will benefit students in the professional environment, giving them an edge on the competition when seeking employment on the civilian market. Several certificate programs in the criminal justice technology and supply chain management fields have been added recently. Many of the courses necessary for the certificates may be awarded through the training military service members and veterans have already received in their careers. Most of these certificates are completed within two semesters.

    FTCC recognizes the fact that service members train hard to achieve and maintain a standard of excellence and that their efforts deserve to be recognized in the civilian world. Awarding college
    credit for military training also serves our veterans as they make the transition from active duty to civilian life. Fayetteville Tech places these students on the fast track to earning educational
    credentials and being prepared for a competitive work environment.

    Students who wish to have their military training converted to college credit will simply need to submit the joint services transcript to FTCC by logging in at https://jst.doded.mil and following the
    prompts for submitting an official transcript.

    Email johnsontr@faytechcc.edu or call 910-678-0166 to answer any questions. Students can sign up now for fall classes.

     

    PHOTO: Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash.

  • 11ToyDriveAs a community, Cumberland County has many organizations that try to look after children and make the holidays a special time. The need is great, and budgets are often small. But a little creativity and generosity from those who are willing to give make a big difference. The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office presents “5 Days of Christmas in July Toy Drive” Monday, July 23, to Friday, July 27.

    “For the last 21 years, the Sheriff’s Office has been doing shop with the sheriff where we assist deserving, less than fortunate families that come from the Cumberland County Schools and are recommended by the school social workers,” said Shawna Leake, lieutenant of community policing for the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office. “I was getting inundated with calls from people asking how they can get on the list, and I found myself referring those families to The Salvation Army and Fayetteville Urban Ministry.”

    Leake added that she approached the Sheriff and asked if there was any way they could assist those agencies that they were referring people to. This is how “5 Days of Christmas in July” was established.

    The toys will be donated to the Salvation Army and Fayetteville Urban Ministry. The event organizers are asking for appropriate toys for school-aged children.

    “Please steer away from purchasing toy guns and other items of violence,” said Leake.

    Unwrapped toys can be dropped off at the following locations: July 23 at the Walmart at 2820 Gillespie St. from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; July 24 at J. P. Riddle Stadium from 5-10 p.m.; July 25 at the Sheriff’s Office at 131 Dick St. from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; July 26 at the Walmart at 4601 Ramsey St. from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; and July 27 at Fourth Friday at 311 Hay St. from 5-9 p.m. Bring an unwrapped toy to the baseball game on July 24 and receive $2 off the price of admission.

    “We appreciate the support of the community for this cause, and we want it to be a huge success so we can give toys to children,” said Leake. “Our goal is to help these agencies out in any way possible.” For more information, contact Lt. Leake at 910-824-4146 or sleake@ccsonc.org.

  • 10vegan festAudriaunna Kitterman is the first to admit she is still transitioning into a vegan lifestyle. She eats meat once and awhile, and the occasional fresh mozzarella. Changing what you’ve eaten all
    your life is no small task. But according to Kitterman, a movement to understand veganism and have more vegan food options in Fayetteville has been growing for some time. With her holistic training at the Prima Elements Holistic Wellness Center and veganism research in tow, Kitterman decided to establish the first Vegan Festival of Fayetteville, to be held Saturday, June 23.

    “I’m learning,” Kitterman said. “I’m understanding. I’m transitioning, and I know that there are other people within the (Fayetteville) community that are, too.”

    Three vegan food trucks are booked for the festival. One is coming all the way from Tarpon Springs, Florida; another from Charleston, South Carolina. A Venezuelan vegan food truck from Wilmington will be there as well. “They’ll have vegan arepas, which are completely to die for,” Kitterman said.

    Vendors of vegan-certified cleaning and cosmetic products are signed up. Educational booths and speakers on veganism will address misconceptions, transitioning and the health benefits.

    Five speakers from various disciplines are lined up for the festival so far.

    Jessica Carter works for the nonprofit Compassion Over Killing, based in Washington, D.C. As a vegan food and lifestyle coach, she will conduct a live talk and vegan cooking demonstration. Likewise, Dr. Amelia Jordan is a metaphysician, empath and vegan author leading a talk on bio-quantum physics.

    A holistic functional nutritionist will speak on the topic of the gut and the brain. A naturopathic expert is hosting an information session on the healing benefits of a vegan diet. Additionally, a board-certified life coach will speak on reiki and hypnosis treatment.

    According to Kitterman, certain misconceptions about veganism continue to persist in society. They relate to the nutritional merit of a plantbased diet, how and what to cook, and the culture of activism within the vegan community.

    Most notably, a vegan diet, which does not include meat, eggs or dairy, confronts the food pyramid mandate that a person needs a specific amount of meat for protein and dairy for calcium each day.

    Recent documentaries – “Forks Over Knives” and “Hungry for Change” – have shed light on major medical studies that posit the opposite. Doctors from the likes of the Cleveland Clinic and Harvard University contend meat and dairy aren’t as vital as they were once thought to be. In fact, meat and dairy increase the risk of various cancers and chronic illnesses. Vegetables, in turn,
    decrease those risks almost entirely.

    Another misconception, Kitterman said, can be summed up with this frequently asked question: Do you just eat salad all day?

    “You can probably do more with plants than you can with meats and other things,” she said. The possibilities are endless.”

    But it is the misconception about the culture of vegan activism that influenced Kitterman’s decision to put on the festival. According to her, many meat-eaters associate vegans with aggressive protestors. But for Kitterman and others, the lifestyle is a personal quest for a healthier relationship with food and the earth.

    Kitterman’s experience reflects the reality of the years it often takes to fully transition into veganism. She encourages those practicing all lifestyles to attend the festival.

    “If you’re not vegan, it’s okay. If you’re not vegetarian, it’s okay. Truly. Come,” Kitterman said. “Allow yourself to become educated. Try something new. Step outside of your comfort zone. Because the uncomfortable-ness means change. Change is growth, and growth is a beautiful, beautiful thing.”

    Along with its vendors and speakers, the Vegan Festival of Fayetteville will also feature flower planting for kids, drum circles and live entertainment.

    The festival is free and open to the public. It takes place at the Wellness Center on 124 Anderson St.,11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, contact the center at 910-483-8406.

  • 07recall petitionFayetteville City Council is considering asking the legislature for authority to give citizens the right to recall elected officials who misbehave in office. It’s an outgrowth of the attempted bribery case involving former District 2 Councilman Tyrone Williams. City attorney Karen McDonald told council several North Carolina cities have recall provisions in their charters. But, she said, there is no consistent pattern to the various arrangements.

    McDonald offered ideas that council members can consider, such as a method by which citizens could circulate a petition of grievances. It would require a predetermined percentage of registered voters’ signatures, which would be submitted to the Cumberland County Board of Elections. Once certified, the elected official would have five days to resign or face a recall election.

    Because council members are elected from districts, one question that remained unanswered is whether the vote would be in the district where the member was elected or citywide. “Whatever we do wrong impacts the entire city,” said Councilman Bill Crisp.

    “If city taxpayers pay for the recall election, city taxpayers should vote,” agreed Councilman Jim Arp.

    City Manager Doug Hewett cautioned that city council must take care in developing criteria for having members removed from office. “This is something that is extraordinary; an avenue of last resort,” he said.

    North Carolina does not provide for statewide recall elections. Virginia’s law states that recalls can be held when “neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties has a material adverse effect upon the conduct of the office.”

    Council is also considering a plan to do away with primary elections and extending terms of office from two to four years. Mayor Mitch Colvin said any such changes would be put to a vote of the people.

    “Primaries cost a lot of money and serve no purpose,” Crisp said. He said primaries cost the city $100,000 and that he wants to save the money.

    Councilwoman Kathy Jensen voted against the Crisp plan to cancel primaries. She thinks they help ensure the ultimate winners of the general election have clear support of the voters.

    Crisp also wants to raise the filing fees for city council candidates to one percent of the annual salary.

    Councilwoman Tisha Waddell objected, saying, “There are people who may not have a lot of money but have a lot to offer.”

    Crisp contended that candidates who have popular support could easily raise the money to pay the higher filing fees.

    City council took no action on any of the proposals but agreed to further discuss conditions that would justify including recall elections in the city charter.

  • 06I 95I-95 widening funded by federal government

    U.S. Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis have announced that Interstate 95 will be widened to eight lanes north and south of Fayetteville. A $147 million federal infrastructure grant has been earmarked for the project.

    The announcement said the project will provide for widening from exit 56 in Eastover to exit 71 in Dunn and between Fayetteville and Lumberton.

    The state Department Of Transportation also plans to widen the interstate from Dunn to Benson, where it intersects with Interstate 40. Little more has been said about the project, but Gov. Roy Cooper’s office released a statement that described the importance of the widening to military transportation and commerce.

    The state DOT indicated earlier that I-95 widening projects wouldn’t begin until 2026, but the $147 million federal grant could accelerate the project.

    Cliffdale Road widening opposed

    Fayetteville city officials hope to convince the NC DOT not to go through with a plan to widen a residential section of Cliffdale Road. Council adopted a resolution expressing opposition to a proposed $16 million project to widen the neighborhood stretch of roadway from two to four lanes with a center median.

    The roadway in question is the original onemile stretch of Cliffdale between Morganton and McPherson Church Roads. It is considered a state street over which DOT has jurisdiction. Residents
    of the area are opposed to the project. They fear a widened road would result in heavier traffic and a reduction of property values.

    County Government adopts new budget

    The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners has adopted its Fiscal Year 2019 operating budget. The ad valorem property tax rate remains at 79.9 cents per $100 of valuation. The budget, which must be balanced by state law, includes $478 million in total expenditures, with a general fund total of $316 million. That represents savings of about $7 million less than the FY2018 adopted budget. The decrease was attributed to the implementation of child care subsidies being paid directly from the state and no longer through county budgets.

    “We thought we had a pretty solid budget, and in the spirit of cooperation, we were able to come together and approve it unanimously,” said Chairman Larry Lancaster.

    County employees will receive a three percent pay increase. Funding for Cumberland County Schools totals $79,463,109. An additional $398,937 is budgeted for seven school nurses. In addition to the new nurses, the budget includes 11 new full-time and two part-time positions in the general fund and abolishes one full-time Animal Control administrative support specialist position. The new positions include two full-time and two part-time animal shelter attendants, plus a full-time veterinarian. Two telecommunicator positions will be added to Emergency Services for Animal Control dispatch.

    Festival Park Plaza leased

    A leading Fayetteville realtor is moving its offices to downtown Fayetteville to “better position itself in the marketplace,” said Denise Strother, CEO of ERA Strother Real Estate. She said as many as 100 employees will occupy the second floor of the Festival Park Plaza building at 225 Ray Ave.

    Developer Jordan Jones bought the building recently from the city of Fayetteville, which has signed a long-term lease for use of the first floor. The third floor is also leased.

    Strother says the 15,000 square feet on the second floor will house Strother Real Estate, SPM Property Management and Lendello Mortgage Co. as well as corporate offices. Jones has agreed to add 132 spaces to an extended parking lot at the rear of the building, according to Strother. She says the company plans to move into the building the first of the year once some upfitting is completed.

    Fayetteville businessman John Malzone said, “This is a great addition to our downtown workforce. Having a large, successful company relocate to our central city shows where the future of Fayetteville is. The future is downtown.”

  • 05BubbleIt seems that we have become a nation consumed by protests. Far too often, any occurrence that a few people object to results in some form of protest. They run the gamut, from boycotts to marches, verbal to physical attacks and other actions too numerous to list. A major point of despair for me is that most American protests originate and are executed in a bubble.

    This bubble description can be explained by sharing a comment the 13-year-old girl who I mentor made to me. This is the young lady I mentioned in a recent column addressing rap at the Dogwood Festival. She and I are reading a book by Sean Covey titled “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens.” Covey gives very thoughtful attention to the process of making sound choices. During our review of one section of the book, that 13 year old said to me, “When making decisions, I do some foreshadowing.”

    Dictionary.com defines foreshadowing as “to show or indicate beforehand; prefigure.” I think “prefigure” is the part of that definition that best reflects what this young lady is practicing. She is, within the framework of her beliefs and values, considering the likely consequences of the various decisions she might make in a given situation. That means she is looking beyond preconceived, knee-jerk, automatic responses to situations.

    If that young lady were to take this preconceived, knee-jerk, automatic response approach, she would be operating in a bubble. I contend that this is the condition of most protests in our time. Pick any protest you want that has occurred in the past 50 years, especially the most recent ones, and it will most likely fit this bubble description. Consider the rioting, looting and burning of businesses that followed the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, a black male, by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. The protesting was immediate and followed what has become the routine in protesting. It is done in a bubble.

    I think it is disgraceful that so many who protest in our time point to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement as their model, as justification, for protesting. I hold that most current protests seek to intimidate, to bully, others into yielding to their demands. I grew up in the 1950s and ’60s, during the Civil Rights Movement. I remember participating in a civil rights march that was led by Dr. King in Atlanta. It was a peaceful march during which I believe the aim was to touch the hearts of our oppressors, and by so doing, prompt them to do what was right. My observation is confirmed by the following from an essay titled “The Political and Rhetorical Strategies of Martin Luther King,” available at https://befreedom.co/the-real-and-rhetorical-strategies-ofmartin-luther-king.

    “MLK drew deeply from many sources: black history and Christianity; the revolution in revolutionary strategy accomplished first in India; the promise of America embodied in the Declaration of Independence, and Constitution, and the many global struggles against imperialism in Africa, Asia and South America. MLK was fully engaged with both history and the world he lived in.

    “Out of this mix King fashioned a powerful political and rhetorical strategy based on a set of closely interwoven concepts and practices: non-violent civil disobedience, love, the beloved community, the America dream and a revolution of values. He relied upon his faith and African-American history to counter fear and fatalism. For King the world is a product of interdependence
    and mutuality. He urged us to be conscious of our connection with everyone and everything.”

    In light of the King strategy described above and my observations from that Atlanta march, consider what I see as a clear example of “bubble protesting” that is totally contrary to the King strategy that proved amazingly successful. Anthony Wall, a 22-year-old black man, escorted his sister to her prom. Later that evening, they went to a Waffle House in Warsaw, North Carolina. An incident took place in the restaurant that resulted in the police being called and Wall being arrested. In the process of that arrest, a white police officer appears to choke Wall, and later, slam him to the ground. Here are the titles of a few of the many videos of the event as posted on YouTube, along with the number next to each title to indicate how many times it was viewed: Officer chokes 22-year-old during Waffle House arrest captured on video (6,800); Black man choked by officer at Waffle House in Warsaw, North Carolina (117,000); Waffle House Under Fire
    After Black Man Is Choked by Cop on Video (4,800); Video Shows White Cop Choking a Black Prom-Goer Outside a North Carolina Waffle House (57,000).

    Bernice King, daughter of King Jr., responded to this incident by calling for a boycott of all Waffle Houses. The following is from an article by Abbie Bennett titled “MLK’s daughter calls for Waffle House boycott after black man choked, slammed by NC cop.”

    “In a tweet on Thursday, King wrote: “Family, let’s stay out of Waffle House until the corporate office legitimately and seriously commits to 1. discussion on racism, 2. employee training and 3.
    other plans to change; and until they start to implement changes.”

    In the same tweet, King shared the News & Observer story about Anthony Wall, 22, who was at Waffle House after taking his 16-year-old sister to prom in Warsaw, North Carolina on May 5.

    Bernice King reads a newspaper article regarding the Warsaw incident and immediately calls for a boycott of Waffle Houses. Her response is certainly joined by many of those who watched one or more of the YouTube videos. Reports indicate there are growing calls for a boycott. The question I raise is how does this response to the Warsaw incident compare with the response that Martin King’s strategy would have produced? I contend they are at opposite ends of the response spectrum. Look again at that selection from the essay that speaks to the King strategy. I see none of those elements in the response of his daughter to the Warsaw incident. Even further, those elements are clearly missing from the “bubble protesting” approach that has taken hold in America.

    More importantly, “bubble protesting” repeatedly fails to produce measurable, positive results. The problem is these protests are not clear in defining ultimate goals and gearing actions toward achieving those goals.

    Look at the actions Bernice King calls for in her tweet. What’s the goal? How do her proposed actions move toward achieving some goal or goals? Not only is there this lack of goals and thoughtful actions in pursuit of them, racial tension and other protest issues are getting worse rather than better. Bubble protesters would do well to discuss foreshadowing with that 13-year-old I mentioned in my opening.

    Finally, the automatic response, the knee-jerk approach of “bubble protesting,” hardly ever allows for gathering and examining facts. This adds to the misguidedness of these efforts. In the Warsaw Waffle House incident, every video I viewed started at some point after the white police officer begins interacting with the 22-yearold. After the thousands of views and calls for a boycott, a video surfaces at http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article211130829.html.

    This video, accompanied by an article, shows the totally verbally abusive and disrespectful conduct of Wall and his sister that led to the police being called. Watching this video sheds a very different light on what happened in that Waffle House. Sadly, bubble protesters will dismiss this piece of information in the name of combating racism.

    That 13-year-old who employs foreshadowing would not dismiss it. She would recognize and act on the need for teaching and modeling respect for authority and for others. Obviously, this concept is foreign to bubble protesters.

    America needs to recognize and address the great harm being done to our nation by “bubble protesting.”

  • 03Bill ClintonLike a bad dream or a bad penny, former President Bill Clinton’s highly inappropriate, though not criminal, relationship with Monica Lewinsky from two decades ago periodically rears its ugly head. It nearly cost him his presidency, and over the years, it has haunted him, his long-suffering wife, Hillary, and her political aspirations, not to mention the rest of us. It nigh on ruined Lewinsky’s life. Now in her mid-40s and holding a master’s degree from the London School of Economics, she has been unable to find meaningful and sustainable employment under her own notorious name. In her TED talk, she addressed “public shaming as a blood sport” and described herself as the original victim of cyber bullying beginning in the late 1990s.

    The relationship popped up again recently as Clinton embarked on a book tour of his new novel, written with thriller author James Patterson. Instead of the book, news has centered on the Clinton-Lewinsky relationship, with the former president testily acknowledging that while he has publicly apologized for the affair on several occasions, he has never actually spoken to Lewinsky herself. With the United States and much of the world focused on the #MeToo movement, Clinton’s insensitivity and preoccupation with his own victimhood – “I left the White House $16M in  debt,” has not been well received. Even he has acknowledged this stance in recent interviews “was not my finest hour.”

    Poor baby!

    While the former president’s relationship with a young woman much closer to his daughter’s age than his own was not illegal, it was stunningly inappropriate for the most powerful man in the world to use her and discard her, leaving her alone for “shaming as blood sport” for more than 20 years.

    Clinton is hardly alone, though.

    American history is littered with presidential misbehavior in the libido department. Thomas Jefferson had six children with Sally Hemings, the younger half-sister of his late wife and his own
    “property” as a slave on his Virginia plantation. Grover “Ma! Ma! Where’s My Pa? Gone to the White House! Ha! Ha! Ha” Cleveland fathered a child out of wedlock and got to the presidency  anyway. Franklin Roosevelt maintained a long-running affair with his wife’s secretary, who was with him when he died. John F. Kennedy apparently spent about as much time dating around as he did running the country, and both Dwight Eisenhower and Lyndon Johnson reportedly enjoyed active social lives outside their marriages.

    Our current president may take the cake in the womanizing department, though. Donald Trump has bragged on tape about which body part he prefers to “grab.” One can Google “how many women have accused President Trump of sexual harassment/sexual assault/sexual misconduct/groping/rape” and come up with a different number in each category. Some cases have been
    settled and cash has changed hands, and others are out there for all the world to see. The latest is Stormy Daniels, who recently performed at a men’s club in Raleigh. The end to her legal dispute with the president seems nowhere in sight.

    04President Trump Official PortraitThe president and Mrs. Trump have dismissed his remarks about women as “locker room talk” and “boy talk.”

    Trump joins Clinton in crying “poor me.” The women are going after him, he says, and none – he repeats, not one – of the accusations contain a shred of truth, the groping tape notwithstanding.

    These women, apparently like Special Counsel Robert Mueller, have been sent by the Democrats and other unnamed enemies to derail his excellent presidency.

    It feels like we have been living for the last several years in the “season of men behaving badly,” with the domino-like downfalls of titans of show business, media, politics and business. Some fell with massive thunderclaps, while others eased themselves out of their important roles before their personal storms hit. In fact, though, men behaving badly has been with us since the founding of our country, and women are just now finding the power to call them on it.

    Clinton and Trump and others with great political power can point at others all they want to, but at the end of the day, the responsibility is theirs, and it is not associated with any particular party.

  • 02PubPenchildhood cancerPublisher Bill Bowman is on vacationthis week and yields this space to Rep. RichardHudson for an update.


    As the saying goes, “A little progress each day adds up to big results.” Just as longterm pressure creates diamonds or water in a river eventually smooths stone, dedicated and persistent efforts often yield big results. As we mark the first 500 days of the Trump administration, our continuous efforts in the House of Representatives have added up to some impressive wins for the
    American people. Make no mistake, there’s still much more work to do, but we are getting our nation back on the right track and making a real difference in people’s lives.

    This Congress, we’ve taken the lead on keeping our promises to the American people. So far, we’ve passed 695 bills out of the House, with 175 of them being signed into law by President Donald Trump.

    What are those bills we’ve passed? How about tax cuts that have led to more jobs and more take-home pay for working families across the country. How about bipartisan legislation to reduce the flow of fentanyl and synthetic opioids across our borders and to get these dangerous drugs off our streets. How about bipartisan legislation to give critically ill patients the ability to try innovative and potentially lifesaving medications. All of these and more have already been signed into law.

    This week, we also added two more major accomplishments to that growing list. Trump signed the bipartisan Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research (STAR) Act, the most significant pediatric cancer research bill ever passed by Congress. As the co-chair of the Pediatric Trauma Caucus and a proud father, I recognize how critical it is to care for our children, and this is another important step to help deliver hope and cures to children and their families.

    Another piece of legislation that was signed into law this week was the VA MISSION Act. This bipartisan bill seeks to make good on one of our most sacred promises – to take care of our men and women in uniform both before and after their service. By condensing all the various community care programs at the VA into one single program, we can empower veterans to more easily access a doctor who suits their unique needs. This bill follows the same principles of my bill, the Care Veterans Deserve Act, to make sure veterans can access private health care if they want.

    While we celebrate these accomplishments, I know there is still a lot of work to be done. Unfortunately, there are still more than 500 House-passed bills that are collecting dust waiting on action in the Senate. These are not meaningless bills either – they are critical initiatives like improving job opportunities for veterans and helping to end human trafficking.

    This Congress, Washington continues to be plagued by historic obstructionism. However, I know there is too much at stake to give up. As your voice in Congress, I’ll continue to push for our shared values. We must continue to fight every day, and I won’t give up until the job is done. There’s too much at stake.

  • 01coverUAC0061318001In general, we think we know history, or at least have working knowledge of it. Finding out differently can be enlightening and even jarring, but knowing the truth, in context, is freeing – for everyone. Tuesday, June 19, the North Carolina Civil War & Reconstruction History Center presents Hari Jones, an expert on the role of African-Americans in the Civil War. Jones’ speech “How the Civil War Made America Great” begins at 7 p.m. and will take place at Fayetteville State University in the Rudolph Jones Student Center.

    Jones has shared his extensive knowledge of African-American history on programs and documentaries aired on CSPAN, Fox News, NBC, PBS, BBC, the American Heroes Channel, the History Channel, the Smithsonian Channel and many local outlets. He was a content developer for the National Park Service museum at the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site in Tuskegee, Alabama, a content adviser for the American Civil War Center exhibit “Take Our Stand” and a content adviser for the National Archives and Records Administration exhibit “Discovering the Civil War.” He also curated the exhibit “Clearing a Path for Democracy: Citizen Soldiers of the Fighting Eighth in World War I” at the DuSable Museum of African-American History in Chicago.

    Jones credits his grandmother and great-grandmother with fostering his passion for history. “I was a curious child,” he said. “I was really interested in the military, so they directed me to books written by African-American authors like William Nell, whose book ‘The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution’ was published in 1852.” Jones read extensively about the African-American experience throughout our nation’s history, specifically seeking out sources written by African-Americans so he could learn about their viewpoints.

    Jones continued to study the military and history, eventually joining the Marine Corps where he served as an infantryman, an artillery officer and an intelligence officer. As an instructor at the U.S. Naval Academy, Jones had an experience that focused his passion for American history, specifically from the African-American perspective.

    “I taught Marine Corps practicum,” Jones said. “I asked one of my peers why there were no African-American teachings on American war, and he said, ‘because they didn’t write anything.’ I knew that was false, so I realized this was a need even in our military academies. So, when I retired, I went to the Library of Congress.”

    Jones spent almost every day there for about three years. During that time, he read books from the perspective of African-Americans. But when he wanted to study what he called “the big picture” and strategy, he found that the African-American voice was missing. “It was annoying because it was like telling the story of the NBA finals and making it appear there were no African-Americans on the court,” Jones said. “So, I started working more on finding primary sources. Once I was conversant, I wanted to share what I knew.”

    And he’s been doing that ever since. He said it’s not always easy, though, because Americans have certain perspectives ingrained in the collective psyche. And these perspectives are often factually incorrect and even destructive.

    “One of the biggest challenges in telling history accurately is that we have so many people invested in false narratives and who are even victims of false narratives,” Jones said. “Often, they’ve been successful and have even built their career on it. Think about it this way: If you go to the doctor and tell him lies about your family’s medical history, he can’t help you as he could if you told him the truth. America as a country cannot heal what ails us if we don’t face our truth.”

    When the North Carolina Civil War & Reconstruction History Center was in the early planning stages, senior consultant David Winslow took a group of leaders from Fayetteville to look at museums in Washington, D.C. The team visited the African American Civil War Museum. That’s where they first heard Hari Jones; he was giving a talk on the Civil War from the African-American perspective. “It was an eye-opening experience,” Winslow said. “This is an important part of the American story. We invited him to Fayetteville in 2012, and he gave a talk at Cape Fear Regional Theatre. It was filled to the rafters with more than 400 people. We knew we wanted to have him back, and this seemed like the perfect time. Where he is coming from is different (than) where others come from.”

    The presentation scheduled for June 19 focuses on the perspective that there were no losers – North or South, Union or Confederate – because the war effectively formed a more perfect union and secured liberty for millions of Americans who had not known such freedom before. In his talk about how the Civil War made America great, Jones stresses that the Civil War story “belongs to all of us. It is the story of how we got rid of that which made us less than great.”

    One way that Jones approaches the topic is his stance that in being honest about who we are as a country, we need to tell history not based on which side our ancestors fought on.

    “All of us who are Americans should be pleased with the outcome,” he said. “I hope this takes us to (a place) where, when we talk about this subject, we talk about it as Americans. I hope I
    can work in telling the story in such a way that people are not making it a race discussion but a discussion of how America became great. I want America to appreciate this chapter in our history as an American story – because it is an American story.”

    The lecture, which is free and open to the public, comes on Juneteenth, or Freedom Day, an American holiday that commemorates the June 19, 1865, announcement of the abolition of slavery
    in Texas. It has also come to commemorate more generally the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans throughout the former Confederacy.

    For more information, call the NC Civil War & Reconstruction History Center at 910-491-0602 or visit www.nccivilwarcenter.com.

    .

  • 17BMW G 310 R People in the motorcycle industry work hard to get people to buy their bikes. They work even harder to get consumers to buy into their brand and stay with it. Look at Harley-Davidson. They are geniuses at marketing. They market to every age, but the upper-tier motorcycle brands are out of reach for most first-time buyers. When I say upper-tier brands, I mean companies like Harley-Davidson, BMW, Ducati and now, Indian. Other brands have not had the commercial success of Harley-Davidson, but they have brand name recognition for other reasons, like reputation.

    A few years ago, I was at an event and was able to hear BMW’s vice president of marketing speak. He told us that BMW has an 88-year marketing plan. At the time, their concern was first-time motorcycle sales because, as an industry, those sales had been declining. They looked at various data points to decide their roadmap – average income, number of years of riding experience, and the cost of first-time bike sales. As a new rider, you have two choices: New or used. Cost is a big factor for the new rider. Traditionally, the upper-tier brands are not the first bike a person owns.

    These companies continue to work to get people into their showrooms. Harley-Davidson does a great job at community events and creating branded clothing, and most dealerships offer motorcycle riding classes.

    The folks at BMW are changing the marketplace again. This year, they have introduced the G 310 R with a starting price of $4,750, which includes antilock brake system, or ABS, brakes.

    A few weeks ago, I visited my friends at Garcia Motorsports in Raleigh, and they had just gotten in on the G 310 R. They are very accommodating and let you take a bike out for test ride. I hopped on. At first, I was blown away that you could get anything with the label BMW on it for this price. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it rode quite nicely. At 349 pounds, this bike is lightweight and nimble.

    The bike is clean, and there is no sign of a lack in quality for the price’s sake. The display features an LCD dash with a bar graph tachometer, gear indicator, shift light and trip computer. ABS is standard. This is a great feature for a new rider. When given the option, I strongly recommend getting ABS. It has saved me a number of times.

    The BMW dealership is on the outskirts of Raleigh, so it is easy to catch an Interstate, back roads and, of course, stop-and-go traffic. The bike was taller than I expected. The seat has a 30.9-inch seat height. There are different bike positions. Both sports and the cruiser are generally low. Some bikes ride high or more upright. In particular, I like being high because I can see over most cars and feel more comfortable in the upright position.

    From the stop light, it was easy to get going and get ahead of traffic. At the posted speed limits, the bike had plenty of power. If you like riding above the speed limit, then depending on your weight, you may want to add a windshield.

    BMW is also expanding the 310 line to include a 310 GS. If you are not familiar with the GS family, The GS refers to either Gelände/Straße (German: off-road/road) or Gelände Sport. The GS series of dual purpose off-road/on-road BMW motorcycles have been produced from 1980, when the R80G/S was launched, to the present day.

    Not only is BMW offering a sub $5,000 price entry bike, but so is Suzuki, Honda and KTM.

    This is also great news for people who already own a bike. Maybe you want to have a sport bike feel for a low price. If so, check out the Honda CBR300R or the Kawasaki Ninja 300. If you are looking for that naked sport bike feel, then check out the KTM 390 DUKE.

    I hope that more manufacturers follow suit and start creating lowerpriced options for first-time buyers and bikers who want the option of adding another bike to their collection for an affordable price.

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

  • 14concertGilbert1When Dr. Gerald Ellison approached Dr. Menno Pennink about ways he could help support the Gilbert Theater in downtown Fayetteville, Pennink was quick to suggest a classical concert fundraiser in his private music room on Person Street. With that, the seed that would become the Gilbert Theater’s Matinée and Fundraiser was planted. The afternoon of Sunday, June 10, the music room will open to a small number of ticket-holders for an intimate night of classical music.

    Pennink, a now-retired neurosurgeon, has been involved with many important ventures in Fayetteville since moving to the city in 1974. He was responsible for bringing the first computed tomography scan machine to the Fayetteville area in 1975. Pennink said, “Surgery was my profession, but I have been heavily involved in the revitalization of the downtown area.”

    Pennink has long been a believer in downtown Fayetteville as well as the arts and culture in the area. He is an accomplished concert violinist and began playing in the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra when he first moved to the area. He later bought and renovated the space on Person Street that would become his personal, private music room – The Capitol Room. Inside The Capitol Room, the floors shine beneath the overhead lights, and the space is graced by the presence of a Steinway & Sons concert grand piano.

    “The music room is sort of a hidden treasure,” Pennink said. “People don’t know about it. It’s not advertised.”

    The collaboration between Pennink, with his background in the arts and his long-term investments in downtown Fayetteville, and the Gilbert Theater makes sense. The program for the evening
    includes performances by Pennink as well as other classically trained musicians from the surrounding areas, including the renowned violinist Olesya Dashkevych of Winston-Salem. Musical selections to be featured include arrangements of classical chamber-music pieces by Beethoven, Schubert, Medtner and Massenet.

    All proceeds from the performance benefit the Gilbert Theater, which is preparing to enter its 25th season of providing the Fayetteville area with quality theater.

    The 2018-19 season opens in September with “Godspell.” The silver anniversary season will also include productions of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Doubt,” “The Laramie Project” and a stage adaptation of the classic C.S. Lewis novel “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.”

    The money raised from tickets to the matinée event will help the theater produce these shows and fund its many educational initiatives, including camps and classes for school-aged children. The Gilbert runs after-school classes for ages 8-15, a summer acting camp for ages 6-17, and glee/acting classes for ages 6-16. For those ages 16 and up, the Gilbert offers the Gilbert Actor Theatre Ensemble, G.A.T.E.

    The Gilbert Theater’s Matinée and Fundraiser will take place on June 10 at 3:30 p.m. at The Capitol Room, 134 Person St., in downtown Fayetteville. Admission is $30, and 50 tickets are available. Tickets can be purchased online at www.gilberttheater.com. For more information, contact the Gilbert Theater at 910-678-7186.

  • 13Cat GilbertSave the drama for ya momma, they say. But what if the drama is with your mom, your dad, your siblings, your partner – everybody? Well, then, you get a Tennessee Williams play. The last show of the Gilbert Theater’s 2017-18 season is Williams’ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” Emotions and temperatures ran high on the small stage of the Gilbert, along with a warning to the audience
    about a broken air conditioning system. Fortunately, the heat works in the play’s favor. You feel like a devil sweating your sins out in a packed Sunday church. And there’s plenty of sin to go around.

    One summer day in the South, a rich, dysfunctional family gathers to celebrate a birthday but disintegrates under the weight of their hate. Their lies. Money. Sex. You name it, they fight about it. Who is sleeping with whom? Who is getting the inheritance?  What is not being said? Questions swirl until you are stifled and exhausted.

    The play opens with a voyeuristic view of our main characters, husband and wife Brick (James Hartley) and Maggie (Nicki Hart). Shadow silhouettes behind white screens entrance us as they
    shower and ready themselves for Big Daddy’s birthday. Given the size and limitations of a theater like the Gilbert, it’s always so special and invitational when brilliant flairs of set design like this are executed.

    In this opening scene, Brick and Maggie are already arguing. Maggie wants sex. Brick wants silence – and his whisky. But this is merely the façade of their marital problems.

    Brick is interrogated incessantly about his drinking problem. Big Mama (Rhonda Brocki) fusses. Maggie alternates between seducing and blackmailing him out of drinking. Meanwhile, Big Daddy insists Brick stops “passing the buck.” You gotta love the tenacity of family sometimes, right?

    James Dean (of modern times) as Big Daddy is transfixing. Trained at the Lee Strasberg Institute in Los Angeles, Dean’s acting chops are light years above the mark. The green stage lighting
    on him as he contemplates old memories and confronts impending death gives eerie homage to scenes from Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo.”

    Overall, though, the production succeeds best at capturing how appearances are never what they seem to be.

    Brick and Maggie are a couple so clearly divided, there might as well be a 20-foot concrete wall, complete with batteries, trenches and moat between them. The instinct is to empathize for a spark plug like Maggie, settling for a husband who merely tolerates her presence. One gets the same feeling for Big Mama, who is berated by the misogynistic and cruel Big Daddy.

    But there’s sympathy to be had for Brick, too. He struggles with the confusion and homophobia that surrounds his friendship with the late Skipper.

    A claustrophobic time bomb of a tale, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” articulates how difficult it is to communicate, even with family, about our most deeply personal fears and issues. The play could be
    summed up entirely when Maggie says, “Lean on me,” and Brick replies, “I don’t want to lean on you. I want my crutch.”

    We can try to talk it out, but sometimes people aren’t ready to dissect and understand and fit each missing piece with another corresponding piece. They’d rather be a cat on a hot tin roof: do what is easy and avoid the conversation altogether.

    Some of the other standout performances of the night are from side characters like Mae (Staci Graybill) and the Reverend (Larry Carlisle). They manage to serve their characters while also alleviating enormous tension with understated hilarity.

    The Gilbert is closing out a season fraught with the caged hearts of those aching to be free. “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” is tense punctuation mark to that end. Shows will run until June 10. For tickets and information, visit www.gilberttheater.com.

  • 12Fayafter5Fayetteville After 5 presented by Bud Light brings Slippery When Wet, the Ultimate Bon Jovi Tribute Band, to Festival Park. A local summertime entertainment staple, Fayetteville After 5 is set for Friday, June 8.

    “This is the second installment in our Fayetteville After 5 summer concert Series,” said Sarah Suggs, marketing and events coordinator. “We open at 5 p.m. with the music beginning at 6 p.m.”

    The event usually opens with local talent, and this concert is no different. This month’s evening will feature local band Matrix as the opening act.

    The purpose of the Dogwood Festival Organization is to provide free events for the community. “The After 5 series really helps us raise more money to go towards our Spring Festival,” said
    Suggs. “We want to make the festival bigger and better each year.” Suggs added that each event is a fundraiser for the next event.

    Slippery When Wet was formed in 2003 by Jason Morey. The band members are Jason Morey, Adin Stickle, Jimmi Botsford and John Martin. The band has played over 1,500 shows throughout
    the United States. They were the headliners for more than 60 cruises on the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and played for the pre-game of Super Bowl 48 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. In 2018, Morey was chosen to perform as the only impersonator to Jon Bon Jovi in the Legends in Concert show.

    “We are hoping this will be the most successful After 5 season yet,” said Suggs. “We look forward to a huge crowd – so come out and enjoy good food and music.”

    Food trucks will be on-site. Beer will be available for purchase. No outside food, coolers or beverages will be permitted. Bring your blankets and chairs. Gates open at 5 p.m.

    The concert is free and open to the public. For more information, call 910-323-1934.

  • 11brgg carlos menciaOn June 9, at 7:30 p.m., as part of Army Entertainment’s Summer Comedy Tour, Fort Bragg will host a show featuring Carlos Mencia, Trish Suhr and Jordan Rock.

    Mencia is a comedian best known for his work as the host of the Comedy Central show “Mind of Mencia.” Mencia has also appeared in movies, including “The Heartbreak Kid” and “Our Family Wedding.”

    With a wide range of styles, including man-on-the-street interviews, studio comedy, commercial parodies, nationwide sold-out tours and films, Mencia is known for his ability to connect with a large and diverse audience. According to the MWR website, “In the last couple years, Mencia chose to go back to his comedic roots, allowing him to share his newest material with smaller and more intimate audiences. In addition to touring, Mencia is continuously writing material for television pilots and upcoming comedy specials.”

    Performing with Mencia will be Trish Suhr, best known for her work on the video game “Grand Theft Auto V,” and Jordan Rock, who previously worked for “Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell.”

    The show will be held in the Sports USA Building, 3-2102 Longstreet Rd., Fort Bragg.

    “Sports USA has a capacity of up to 1,000 people depending on the event, but we expect 400 to 600 people based on the number of tickets we’re selling,” said Anika Stickles of the Fort Bragg Marketing Office.

    Parking is available on-site. For more information, go to https://bragg.armymwr.com/calendar/event/army-entertainment-summer-comedy-tour/2256401/26970 or call 910-907-0739.

    Tickets for the show are $20 and can be purchased in person at Sports USA or online through the website listed above. The show is available to anyone 18 or older, and the doors open at 6 p.m.

     

    PHOTO: Carlos Mencia

  • 10ElectionFayetteville City Council elections have been non-partisan since the council-manager form of government was established in 1948. Regardless of the structure of local government, candidates for office are not identified by their political party affiliations. It’s common among municipal governments in North Carolina.

    State law allows four different types of municipal election methods. These four methods are outlined by the North Carolina Legislature in Chapter 163, Article 24 of the state’s general statutes. A municipality’s chosen method of election is codified in its charter. The Fayetteville city charter provides that all nine members of council and the mayor be elected every two years.

    The mayor is elected citywide. Council members are chosen in nine separate districts, which are comparable in size. At-large elections were eliminated in 2000 when a blue-ribbon commission recommended the current election method.

    If there are more than two candidates for each district seat, there will be a primary election. The primary will trim the number of candidates to two per district, and they would advance to the general election in November. If needed, the primary would occur in October.

    Some city council members want to change the terms of office to four years. Others do not. As a group, the body has done little to promote the proposition publicly. They scheduled a public hearing during the last meeting and only three people spoke. One speaker pointed out that two-year terms are the most constitutionally sound form of government.

    Members of the North Carolina Senate and House of Representatives serve two-year terms. U.S congressmen also serve for two years. Critics of longer terms of office contend that voters have
    short memories.

    City council took no action when reminded by city attorney Karen McDonald that the agenda called only for a public hearing.

    The mayor and city council are the “board of directors” for the municipal corporation. As such, they set policy, approve the financing of all city operations and enact ordinances, resolutions and
    orders. Their responsibilities also include appointing the city manager, city attorney and members of various boards and commissions.

    The city manager functions as the chief operating officer, administers the policy and decisions made by city council and oversees the day-to-day operations of city government. It is the city manager’s responsibility to ensure that all city services are delivered in an efficient and cost-effective manner and to provide vision and leadership to the city organization.

    Members promoting a change propose that half the members serve four-year staggered terms with the others elected in opposite cycles two years later.

    The cities of Durham and Wilmington have an interesting election pattern. Council members serve four-year terms. The mayor is elected every other year. Of the state’s largest cities, only Charlotte’s city council is politicly partisan, holding democratic and republican primaries with the winners meeting in the fall. Asheville, Greensboro and Winston-Salem elect their council members to four-year terms. Some are staggered. Durham voters hold all their members politically accountable at the same time.

    Most municipal elections are held in odd years. A few municipalities elect their officials in evennumbered years. Although municipal elections are conducted by county boards of election, only
    residents of the municipality are qualified to vote in city elections. These voters must have resided in the municipality for at least 30 days prior to the date of the election.

  • 09transitFayetteville bus fares will not be going up in the next fiscal year. City council denied a request by the Fayetteville Area System of Transit and its citizen advisory committee, which recommended across-the-board increases for all fare schedules. Transit Director Randy Hume had proposed a single trip fare increase from $1.25 to $1.50. The popular day pass would have gone up from $3 to $4. Mayor Mitch Colvin noted the increases would have resulted in local fares being higher than other cities.

    Hume said the fare increases would have generated $133,000, which the advisory committee indicated would have been applied to pay raises for bus operators. Officials said new bus operators earn $13 an hour. After six months, the hourly rate goes to $13.75. Hume told council that employee turnover, especially among bus drivers, is about 15 percent.

    Council members Jim Arp and Tisha Waddell said FAST should find creative ways to market the transit system to increase ridership. “We need to get on the bus,” Waddell said. She said an “active and aggressive marketing campaign” is needed to encourage more people to ride the bus.

    Councilwoman Kathy Jensen said her experience was that modern FAST buses are clean and safe. Several members pointed to the recent opening of the downtown transit center as a point of pride for the community.

    Finding the new District 2 council member

    City council heard from the nine citizens who would like to succeed Tyrone Williams as the District 2 council member. Williams resigned after being accused of attempted bribery in a local
    downtown business venture. Council asked the candidates to make five-minute presentations during a May 29 televised council meeting. Candidates appeared in alphabetical order.

    Former Fayetteville Police attorney Patricia Bradley told how she was raised in a poor neighborhood but won scholarships and grants and put herself through law school. “I am a fierce advocate
    for under-resourced communities” she said. Bradley lives in Haymount, having practiced law for 23 years. A portion of Haymount is in District 2, which stretches from Cain Road near Eutaw Village through downtown to east Fayetteville.

    Business owner Len Brown said he’s lived in the district since 1952. “I know District 2,” he said. He added that the community needs a full-time representative and claimed he could create more jobs than any of the candidates.

    Vernell Cruz is an advocate for the disabled and said she has lived in Fayetteville only 6 years or so. She told council she didn’t expect to be appointed but appreciated the opportunity to appear.

    Dan Culletin also lives in Haymount and is a known political entity in the district. He ran for the council seat in November and came in second. He applauded council for the way it handled the Williams situation. “Citizen engagement is the cornerstone of democracy,” he told council. He noted he is the only person running for the post who has already curried favor of District 2 residents.

    Mary “Bunny” English lives on Hillsboro Street near downtown. She said she is a former broadcaster and a lifelong resident of Fayetteville.

    William Gothard is a retired Army officer who manages a program at the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. He, too, is a Haymount resident and has served on the city’s Historic Resources Commission and Zoning Commission.

    Phillip McCorquodale is vice president of operations for Phillips Towing Service and a former chairman of the Cumberland County Local Emergency Planning Committee.

    George Mitchell is an Army veteran who is licensed in real estate and insurance.

    Sharon Moyer is the community engagement manager for Partnership for Children and is a former executive director of the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival.

    Real estate broker George Turner has also volunteered and has served on various city and county awards.

  • 08SwimmingWill indoor public pools become year-round facilities?

    With a fourth public swimming pool in the offing, it may be that Fayetteville’s two newest pools will soon become year-round facilities. City council is considering purchasing portable enclosures for the pools at Westover and College Lakes Recreation Centers.

    Parks and Recreation Director Michael Gibson said both pools were designed to accommodate tent-like inflatable domes supported by lightweight crossbars. Once installed, they could be raised and lowered with little effort to enclose the pools, making them useable in cold weather.

    The city administration is developing guidelines and procedures to accommodate high school swim teams and other aquatic clubs that have expressed interest in utilizing the pools. Swim club supporters note that the only local indoor pool of adequate size is located at Fayetteville State University.

    The hope is that Cumberland County Schools will be interested in joining with the city to finance the enclosures. Gibson estimates they would cost as much as $65,000 each. Additional annual operating expenses are estimated at $20,000 a year. The pools currently are open four months out of the year.

    Career criminals imprisoned

    Two Fayetteville men have been given lengthy federal prison terms as violent, repeat offenders. Dontrell Wright, 24, and Calvin Spearman, 23, both of Fayetteville, were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Louise Flanagan.

    Wright will spend 19 years in prison. Spearman was sentenced to 14.5 years. Both men will also spend 5 years of supervised release.

    Eastern North Carolina U.S. Attorney Robert Higdon Jr. said the defendants were named in a seven-count indictment in September of last year for robbing two local Subway restaurants and a
    Pizza Hut in January 2017.

    Wright and Spearman pled guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery, brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence and aiding and abetting. The U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of North Carolina has implemented the Take Back North Carolina Initiative. The program emphasizes the regional assignment of federal prosecutors to work with local law enforcement and district attorney’s offices to reduce the violent crime rate, drug trafficking and crimes against law enforcement.

    The investigation of this case was conducted by the Hope Mills Police Department, the Fayetteville Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

    Fayetteville man named VA Secretary

    President Trump has named Robert Wilkie to be the nation’s next Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Wilkie, a Fayetteville native, has been acting VA secretary since late March.

    His appointment is subject to Senate confirmation. Wilkie has also been serving in the Department of Defense as undersecretary for personnel and readiness. Prior to that, Wilkie was senior
    advisor to Sen. Thom Tillis, R-NC, and held numerous roles during the administration of President George W. Bush.

    “Robert is one of the most honorable and decent human beings I’ve ever worked with,” said Tillis. “Anyone who knows him has seen his drive to serve his country and his passion for honoring our nation’s veterans and service members, qualities that will be tremendous assets at the VA.”

    Wilkie replaces the previous VA secretary, David Shulkin.

    The VA is the nation’s second-largest government agency, charged with caring for 9 million veterans and more than 1,700 government-run health care facilities.

  • 07TeachersOn Wednesday, May 16, I was privileged to witness our teachers, who rarely organize or complain, some 25,000 plus, come to our General Assembly to voice their concerns over what they perceive is the Legislature’s lack of commitment to public education.

    Their visit left me with a plethora of thoughts and emotions. These wonderful teachers truly care for our children. Yet, they are reluctantly leaving the profession. They are going to other states to work. The teachers who are staying are frustrated and are very, very tired. The vast majority of them work two or three jobs just to make ends meet. They feel unappreciated and perplexed.

    Despite their obvious concerns and presence, teachers were not dignified by some. There were those of the Republican super majority who chose not to meet with teachers and instead kept their legislative doors closed, hiding behind posters claiming how they had raised teacher salaries over the past three sessions. This was upsetting to teachers who simply wished to voice their concerns and ask questions of their elected officials.

    Their questions:

    “Why will they not speak with us?”

    “Who came up with that $50,000 average salary figure? I am not making that.” The average pay for Cumberland County teachers is $41,000, which is $10,000 less than the claimed state average.

    As I met with teachers who were literally lined up from the mall to the legislative building, I stopped and made inquiry with groups of teachers from various counties. I asked each group how many of them worked more than one full-time job to make ends meet. More than half acknowledged that they worked multiple jobs, such as working in factories, clerking at convenience stores and delivering pizza. One teacher spoke of how humiliating it was to deliver pizza to his current students.

    According to the National Center for Education Statistics, approximately 16 percent of teachers nationwide have a second job. Currently, 53 percent of North Carolina teachers have a second job. This same percentage placed us as third in the nation in 2011, and there has been no improvement since that time. Once again, we are first in matters we should be last in and last in matters that we should be first in.

    Our teachers also expressed concern that our rapid accumulation of knowledge is exceeding our schools’ resources to prepare their students for such a pace. Technology will eliminate 50 percent or more of the current jobs. That is the bad news we must prepare for, as it is coming. The good news is 60 percent of our children will have an opportunity to land a job not yet invented.

    According to futurist Gerd Leonhard, our children must be able to learn quickly, think critically, be flexible and adapt as mankind’s advancements and accumulated knowledge will soon double
    every 30 days! What used to take centuries is now covered in a matter of days. Our accumulated knowledge accelerates proportionate to its advancement.

    What does this mean for the leaders of the free world? If we are honest, North Carolina is near the bottom in every major category of educational funding. There are myriad reasons why, but we
    have allowed ourselves to slip so far toward the bottom that it is considered by many to be a reasonable goal for us to achieve middle-of-the-pack status. This is being touted as excellence in education by both the Republican super majority as well as our state’s absentee superintendent of public instruction. However, the last I checked, middle of the road or middle of the pack is just what it is, mediocre. Our teachers are not buying it.

    For 12 years, we have allowed our educational system to spiral downward. Those who know, those who are in the trenches, and those who are the professionals felt compelled to assemble and do what heroes must do. They organized, marched and insisted on being heard – they raised their voices in respectful but strong unison. They are saying to us just as loud and just as bravely as they can, “Enough. The time is now to pursue excellence.”

    What does a top five education system look like? House Bill 888 (Professional Teachers & Administrators Accountability Act) is a great start.

    First, it is not just paying teachers a professional wage, a wage that is commensurate with the difficult job they do. It starts with excellent preschools, which are the trigger for young minds to read and to be curious. It emphasizes reading throughout the elementary years but specifically mastering all reading during the first three grades. It is a classroom stocked with great textbooks, labs and internet and technology resources. It is principals welltrained to lead their schools, support their teachers and have their backs. It is young teachers assigned to well-paid mentors who set high standards and demand the best from their young protégées.

    It is also a system that teaches parents to partner with their children’s schools and with their children to ensure they are receiving the knowledge and all that they will need for the jobs of the next century.

    The critics will say, “Throwing money at a problem will not fix it,” or, “We don’t need to be the best – maybe just be top of our region.” To those I say, why don’t we lift up excellence as a goal?
    Being mediocre is all but un-American; being less than mediocre is unconscionable. The price for our state to be in the top five of the nation is $100 a year for each citizen presently living in the state. An alternative way of financing this plan is to return our taxes to the 2015 levels.

    If we are reluctant to put this program into place statewide, then shame on us. We have tried everything else – charters, vouchers, special school districts, etc. What we have not tried is being the best. I am certainly open to trying this global approach in six to eight different school systems throughout the state to see if it works – but try we must. Imagine our state with the best schools in the nation!

    The next war on democracy will be waged on the battlefield of the mind. We are blessed to have so many members of our armed services here in North Carolina. Can you image sending those
    brave men and women to battle mediocrely trained and equipped? Would we dare scrimp on their resources? Like our military, our children’s education must equip them for the battle of who controls knowledge, and with it, immense power.

     

    PHOTO: Photo by Jose Moreno on Unsplash.

  • 06MemorialDayMemorial Day in this household is something to pause on for me. It’s looking at the flag that we see every day on our entertainment center and really, really looking at it.

    It’s thinking on my parents who were both killed in a military training exercise in 1981, the reason that this flag is in our house.

    It’s looking at the dog tags on it and thinking about my grandfather and his service, but also the stories he told of the ones who didn’t come home. Or the other pilot that he wondered about for years and tried to find for almost the rest of his life, only to find out this man died weeks after the last time Grandpa saw him in another fight in World War II.

    It’s thoughts of the crew at the Special Forces Association Chapter 1-18 and the stories they’ve told us around the bar there of their friends who didn’t make it home, in a mix of tears and some smiles to go with them. It’s watching my husband, Scott, try to figure out how to memorialize his friends who gave the ultimate sacrifice and then seeing him realize that he will never be able to truly do this as perfectly as he wants to.

    It’s a lot of piled emotions in one day.

    And it’s also me smiling as I put on my first dad’s Hawaii T-shirt and wear it for the day. Smirking that he wore his shirts so tight in the ’70s that in my time, I’d like to think this shirt was made more for my size. It’s Scott telling great stories of his friends that he’s eventually laughing about in the telling.

    It’s having our flag out on the front porch and a “Freedom” banner in the garden at the farm.

    We honor them all, but more importantly to me than anything else is the actual remembering. We keep talking about them all. And instead of solemnity all the time, we’re chuckling. And remembering the trueness of them in the imperfection.

    This is how we do Memorial Day, and I’m at peace completely. To me, this is fitting.

     

    PHOTO: The late Air Force Capt. Donald Fonke.

  • 05especiallyThis column is dedicated to a very special guy who works somewhere in the food service industry. I speak of Leon, an unknown folk hero who deserves recognition. I have never met Leon, but I feel I know him anyway. Leon, like Johnny Yuma, is a rebel. Leon is unafraid to buck society’s norms. He’s the kind of guy who made America great once upon a time. Leon is a rugged individualist willing to stand up against the job-killing regulations of the Deep State, which we all know stifle American ingenuity. I shall always think of Leon any time I enter a restaurant’s restroom that has been clumsily and cruelly targeted by Big Brother.

    You have seen the invasive tentacles of the Deep State yourself every time you go into a restaurant’s restroom. Ponder that dictatorial sign from the Health Department on the wall that states: “Each Employee’s Hands Must Be Washed Thoroughly, Using Soap, Warm Water and Sanitary Towel or Approved Hand-Drying Device Beginning Work and After Each Visit to the Toilet.”

    On said sign at Leon’s workplace, someone had hand-written in ink, “Especially Leon.”

    Now every time I see one of those signs, I think of Leon and laugh. The next time you enter a public restroom and see that sign, you, too, are very likely to think of Leon and laugh. But be careful; laughing in a public restroom can cause people to look at you funny if you are not talking on a blue tooth phone.

    But seriously, folks, this handwritten addendum to the Deep State’s sign is a direct attack on Leon’s ability to decide for himself whether or not to spread germs in the manner that he deems fit. Why should Leon – or anyone else – have to wash his hands if he doesn’t want to?

    Holy Typhoid Mary, the Deep State is once again interfering with our freedom. One can make the argument that Leon is facing a hostile work environment. Leon’s pain and mental anguish from this outrageous infringement on his freedom can only be eased by the application of a large money poultice, which can be secured after lengthy litigation and substantial attorney fees. I liken Leon and his heroic fight for the right to work with dirty hands to Mel Gibson in “Braveheart,” who shouts, “They may take our lives, but they can never take our freedom to handle food with germy hands!”

    Regulations are bad. They stifle competition and keep Darwinism from evicting people who want to make dangerous choices from the gene pool. If some people want to eat Tide Pods, it is their God-given right to destroy their gastrointestinal systems.

    The Deep State has no right to try to prevent the pursuit of foaming at the mouth or self-infliction of excruciating abdominal pain. The people have no Tide Pods? Let them eat at a restaurant where Leon works. The Tide Pod eaters may end up in the Saint Hubris Hospital for the Mentally and Gastronomically Challenged, but that is their right.

    Just because you can do something, means you should do it. If, for example, say a future presidential candidate were to travel to a faraway capital of a communist country, and while there, decide that he wants to enjoy a flood of entertainment by, as Putin put it, “Girls of reduced social responsibility,” if he can afford to hire such entertainers, who are we to say that would be wrong? If it can be done. It should be done. As the King of Siam once said, “So let it be written. So let it be done.”

    If we accept the proposition that the Deep State is out to ruin America by regulating such piddling things as hand washing, drilling for oil in national parks or supporting public education, then it’s time to end those things.

    All those post-apocalyptic movies and TV programs that show people murdering and eating each other after society collapses are just scare tactics from Hollywood and its evil twin the Deep State. We don’t need no stinkin’ rules. Rules are for sissies who can’t take care of themselves and have to rely on the Nanny State to impose order. As Chairman Mao once said, “Political
    power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” It’s every man for himself. That old saying about sinking ship protocol, “Women and children first,” is so yesterday.

    If The Donald wants to make the Chinese company ZTE great again by saving 75,000 Chinese jobs after his lovely daughter Ivanka gets a bunch of new trademarks from the Chinese government to sell books and various housewares in China, what of it? The Constitution’s Emoluments clause is a relic of the past. Constitutional limits preventing a President from financially benefitting from his office by doing favors for foreign interests are just the Deep State’s way of messing with the entrepreneurial spirits of Oligarchs.

    If Leon has dirty hands, he is not alone.

  • 03Roseanne barrRodney King’s plaintive words echoing across the decades are more on point than ever in the wake of our most recent national shouting match that leaves everyone sullied.

    First, comedian Roseanne Barr referred to two educated, professional African-American women who served key roles in the Obama administration as “apes.” Within hours, another comedian, Samantha Bee, called the daughter of our current president a word that cannot be printed in a community publication, if anywhere.

    How on God’s green earth did we get to this low point?

    Years ago, when I was an adolescent, I – like most young people just beginning to feel their oats – tried out a few forbidden words, including some with meanings I did not fully comprehend. At  some point in my linguistic rebellion, my mother got wind of it. A grammarian, a lover of the English language and a proper Southern mother, she was appalled and, as we say in the South, “was having none of that.”

    She and I had a sit-down on the topic of being kind and respectful to others and using the beautiful flexibility and versatility of the English language both properly and with care. I came away from our conversation understanding something I had not considered before … that unkind, uncivil, and “dirty” language reflects more on the speaker than it does on the intended target.

    Name-calling is cheap and easy, revealing a mind that either does not know or is too lazy to search for a precise and insightful word or phrase that actually means something. Referring to others as “apes” or with a four-letter expletive is not creative. It reveals minds too challenged or too lazy or both to come up not with scattershot but with words that have express meaning.

    04samantha beeBarr and Bee should be embarrassed not only for what they said about others but also by the sheer mediocrity of their choice of words.

    Clearly, our nation is as divided politically, geographically and educationally as we have ever been during my adult lifetime. I would have a difficult time scanning my circle of family, friends and acquaintances without being aware of which side they take. In other words, no one is neutral. There are next to no true “independents.” Virtually all Americans are in one camp or another. We agree with Barr or we agree with Bee, though we might not have used their cheap words, and no end to our current vitriol is in sight.

    Whatever else they may be, Barr and Bee symbolize two deeply disturbing aspects of American culture in 2018.

    An alarming percentage of us no longer value civility in our everyday lives or in other people. Courtesy matters less and less, as a trip down any roadway in the country quickly demonstrates with fist-shakers and fingerwaggers abounding. We barely notice profanity in person or in various media. Instead of shocking us as it did a generation ago, it has become the wallpaper of daily living. Barr’s and Bee’s language is so common that this column – a week or so after their utterances – may well be the last you hear about either of them.

    We also value language less. Finding and using the words that match what we want to express seems too hard for many of us, so we take the easy route – simple and overused words that have no clear meaning and “dirty” words so overused they have little meaning at all.

    In my dreams, we would all take Rodney King’s heartfelt admonishment, “Can’t we all just get along?” to heart. We can agree to disagree as we obviously do, but we do not have to speak like Barr and Bee.

    We could all learn from Winston Churchill as well. Churchill did not call names, but he was a world champion at the clever and targeted zinger. When Harry Truman remarked that Churchill’s replacement as prime minister “seems like a modest sort of fellow,” Churchill shot back, “He’s got a lot to be modest about.”

    That puts all expletives in their proper uncreative and below average place.

  • 01COVERIt’s fantastic! The Fayetteville Dinner Theatre returns after a 35-year hiatus with its inaugural performance of “The Fantasticks” under the direction of Jeanne Koonce, founder of Purple Door Productions. This romantic musical comedy premieres at the Ramada Plaza at Bordeaux July 27-29. It is being promoted and billed as “A unique theater experience.” 

    Veteran director Jeanne Koonce is no stranger to this facility. She was introduced to the original FDT, which was then known as the Bordeaux Dinner Theatre, as a young Army wife. An accomplished singer, actress and director, Koonce landed her first Fayetteville job in theater with FDT. 

    Billed as the longest-running off-Broadway show of all time, “The Fantasticks” is the perfect show for Fayetteville audiences. Playing off the talents of a strong cast, it has a clever storyline with lyrics written by Tom Jones and ageless music and songs by Harvey Schmidt. 

    Koonce sees the intimate setting of the dinner theater as providing another major strength for this production. The show is funny, romantic and intimate, and all with only eight characters. 

    “This is a musical with roots in Shakespeare, and the philosophy of young lovers and traditional family conflicts are carried forward,” Koonce said. “Under the plotline and humor, there is a deeper philosophy, depending on which character you are — the main one being, of course, ‘Be careful what you wish for.’ This show needs to be right in your face, and, like in Shakespeare’s day, the focus is on the actors. It is lovely this way.” 

    The cast is composed of local and regional talent many theater enthusiasts will recognize. The Girl, Luisa, is played by Fayetteville resident Amber Jansen, a junior at Massey Hill Classical High School.

    The Boy, Matt, is played by Ryan Ransom. Ransom is a St. Pauls native and a music/theater student at UNC Pembroke. 

    El Gallo is played by Clay Rogers. He is a native of Fairmont and employed by Givens Performing Arts Center in Pembroke.

    A strong supporting cast includes Robeson County natives Matt Jacobs and Steve Chambers as the meddling fathers and Denver McCullough as Henry, the old actor. McCullough has performed in many local and regional productions at Cape Fear Regional Theatre and the former Fort Bragg Playhouse. UNCP student Dakota Hammonds plays Henry’s sidekick, Mortimer. UNCP alumni Winona Oxendine is cast as the mute and stage manager. 

    The Fayetteville Dinner Theatre is being billed as “A unique theater experience.” Defined, this means the evening will include much more than a great show performed by talented actors. 

    The evening begins a with a V.I.P. reception and wine-tasting and sale at 6 p.m. hosted by Fayetteville area newcomer Cape Fear Vineyard & Winery. The winery will showcase seven of its unique and exquisite wines. CFVW is in Elizabethtown and features fine dining and lakeside lodging. It is the Cape Fear area’s newest destination for hosting weddings and events. “We are thrilled to be a part of this production,” said Jeff Martin of Cape Fear Vineyard and Winery. “We love supporting the arts in Cumberland and its surrounding counties.”

    At 6:30 p.m., a three-course, duel-entrée dinner will be served by the Ramada Plaza staff while the theater guests are entertained by Fayetteville’s own Cross Creek Chordsmen, an award-winning chapter of the Barbershop Harmony Society Choral Group. According to spokesman Joshua Gray-Heim, the group will present a repertoire of current hits as well as traditional four-part harmonies dating back to the 1800s and early 1900s. 

    The curtain will rise on “The Fantasticks” immediately following. But even then, the evening will be far from winding down. There will be plenty of prizes and surprises at intermission including a post-show meet-and-greet with the actors. The FDT and CFVW will give away a grand prize each evening worth hundreds of dollars. Prizes include a dinner for two at the winery with a complimentary bottle of wine, a flight of all seven of CFVW’s wines and a two-night stay in the cabins on the lake at CFVW.

    Proceeds from “The Fantasticks” will be donated to the Kidsville News Literacy and Education Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit, for securing reading and educational resources for Cumberland County children. CFVW will also donate all proceeds from the wine-tasting and sale to the foundation. 

     “With an awesome show, talented actors, a V.I.P. reception, an exclusive wine-tasting, a great dinner, door prizes, entertainment by the Cross Creek Chordsmen, and all culminating with a post-show meet-and-greet and grand prize giveaway, this will truly be ‘a unique theatre experience’” said FDT producer and Up & Coming Weekly Publisher Bill Bowman. “It’s all about giving the audience what they pay for. Value. Fayetteville residents appreciate good theater and great entertainment, and that is what we are going to provide for them.” 

    Bowman also expressed his appreciation and thanks to the FDT supporters and sponsors: Ramada Plaza, Allegra Printing & Imaging, Five Star Entertainment and Women’s View Magazine.

    Tickets cost $75 per person with discounts for Seniors 65+ and active duty military. Show dates are July 27, 28 and 29. To make reservations or to learn more about the show, visit www.fayettevilledinnertheatre.com Tickets are also available from 8:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. at the FDT Box Office at the Ramada Plaza. Call (910) 391-3859 for more information. 

  • 06FourthFri

    Fayetteville is an art-friendly town, so much so that one Friday every month the entire Downtown community celebrates the arts, bringing festivities, fun and creativity to the community. 

    This 4th Friday, June 23, the Arts Council continues its exhibit “Public Works,” which showcases the work of local artists. 

    One of the greatest things about this exhibit is that it’s not juried. That means that anyone who enjoys making art is welcome to submit his or her art for the show. 

    There are more than 200 colorful creations gracing the Arts Council’s walls, all of them from local artists. 

    This truly embraces the spirit of the belief that art is for everyone. The exhibit hangs through July 6. Call (910) 323-1776 to learn more. The People’s Choice winners are:

    • 1st Place: Robson Spinelli – “Venezia Grand Canale”

    • 2nd Place: Michelle Bir – “Timshel”

    • 3rd Place: Sunyoung Kim – “My Dream”

    • Honorable Mention: Griffin Carrick – “Delightfully Redundant”

    • Honorable Mention: Nancy Whaley Chandler – “Bear Family”

    • Honorable Mention: Marlene Wellard – “The Wonderland of Childhood”

    Ellington-White Gallery hosts the opening of a new exhibit by local artist and educator Soni Martin this 4th Friday. The exhibit, called “Resemblance,” features an entirely new body of work. This show has been a year in the making. The opening reception lasts from 5 to 9 p.m. and features an artist talk. Find out more at www.elington-white.com

    Cape Fear Studios opens a new exhibit featuring “Jeremy Sampson Plein Air Paintings” along with pottery from visiting artist Ben Owen in the main showroom. As an artist co-op, Cape Fear Studios showcases the work of its members year-round. On any given day, visitors will find artists that work in their studios. Member artists also sell their work at Cape Fear Studios. From pottery to paintings to jewelry, there’s always something interesting to see here.

    Headquarters Library presents Rhonda Emileo from 2-U-Keys from 7 to 9 p.m. Their ukulele music brings the sounds of the beach to the sandhills. Fascinate-U Children’s Museum’s 4th Friday special for families has free admission from 7 to 9 p.m. Children are invited to make crafts as part of the celebration. This month, the craft is spring flowers. Find out more about Fascinate-U at www.fascinate-u.com.

    At the Fayetteville Transportation Museum, don’t miss the “St. John’s Episcopal Church - The First 100 years” exhibit. Learn about the architecture symbolism in stained glass windows in the church. The Museum Annex includes vintage cars, a replica 1920’s gas station and Fayetteville’s 1880 Silsby steam pump engine. The museum is open from 6 to 10 p.m. for 4th Friday.

  • 17EvelyndAriasEvelynd Arias

    Seventy-First • Soccer • Junior

    Arias, who was captain of the Falcon soccer team last season, had a grade point average of 4.05.

    18emily vanhoozer

    Emily VanHoozer

    Gray’s Creek • Soccer • Senior

    VanHoozer recently celebrated her graduation after compiling a 4.66 grade point average.

  • 16Hope

    Barnes Smith and Reese Walker, seventh-grade classmates at Max Abbott Middle School, have known each other since kindergarten. When Smith learned his longtime friend had been diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer called Ewings Sarcoma, he wanted to do more than just send her get well wishes.

    “He came to me and asked if they could do something for Reese,’’ said Max Abbott principal Carla Crenshaw.

    Beyond being friends, Walker and Smith are also athletes, Walker playing volleyball and Smith baseball at Max Abbott. So, the idea of Runs for Reese was born.

    “It was a sponsorship for every run they scored,’’ Crenshaw said. “It really motivated our kids, and they ended up winning the conference championship this year. They dedicated that to her as well.’’

    The Runs for Reese campaign raised over $600 which was presented to Walker’s family to help offset the expense of her treatment.

    In addition to raising the money, Smith also wears a special green bracelet as a tribute to Walker and her fight against cancer.

    “We can’t wear them when we play,’’ Smith said. “I wanted to do something for her. I knew the medical expense for the treatment was really high. So I wanted to do something to help her and her family.

    “The treatments are intense. I just wanted her to get through it, and with us behind her, I felt like she can do it.’’

    Crenshaw thinks it’s likely if Walker is still undergoing treatment when school resumes in the fall, her eighth-grade classmates will continue to try and help her. “We’ve talked about a couple of different things,’’ Crenshaw said. “She is a big part of their class.”

    Westover High School will need to do a quick turnaround to replace head football coach Stephen Roberson. Roberson, who guided the Wolverines to a share of the Cape Fear Valley 3-A Conference title last fall, is leaving to become head coach at C.A. Johnson High School in South Carolina. 

    Roberson takes over a program that was 1-9 last season and hasn’t fielded a winning team since 2009.

    Westover will be starting summer workouts soon and needs a head coach in place as quickly as possible to maintain continuity.

    Photo: Barnes Smith

  • 15CapeFear

    Just two days after they fell to North Davidson in two straight games for the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4-A softball championship, Cape Fear’s players and coaches Jeff McPhail and Mack Page returned to Doris Howard Field at Cape Fear to pack things up for the season.

    It was the second straight year Cape Fear lost in the finals, again failing to hit in a series-opening loss, then having to dig itself out of too deep a hole after dropping the first game.

    McPhail made no excuses and didn’t spend time discussing what might have been. Instead, he talked about the season ahead and what Cape Fear can do to remain one of the best softball teams in North Carolina. 

    One thing the Colts have no control over is how strong their conference opponents are. Next year the Colts will be in the 4-A/3-A Patriot Conference. Two teams in that new league, E.E. Smith and Terry Sanford, were winless this season. Westover, Douglas Byrd and Pine Forest combined for 13 wins.

    The only teams in the new league with winning 2017 records, aside from Cape Fear, will be South View and Gray’s Creek.

    McPhail said Cape Fear has tried to schedule tougher nonconference foes like it did this year with Marlboro Academy and Whiteville, but added they’ve not been able to work out games with some of the better teams in the state.

    “We’re going to try to sit down and look at some other schools, see if they want to come down or us go up there,’’ he said. “The last two or three years we tried, and their schedules were booked.’’

    Beyond scheduling concerns, McPhail loses four talented seniors in Haley Cashwell, Bri Bryant, Kaitlyn Knuckles and Kayla Molivas, all starters. 

    “Next year we’ll be kind of young on the varsity,’’ he said. “I feel the next two or three years we’ve got some good players coming up. And we’ve got our pitching back.’’

    Mackenzie Peters and Katie Murphy both saw action in the state playoffs and will return in the circle for the Colts.

    Among the biggest graduation losses is Cashwell, who earned All-American status during her four-year career and leaves with five N.C. High School Athletic Association fast-pitch softball state records.

    Cashwell plans to play more travel softball this summer as she prepares to enroll at Wingate.

    “I’m thankful I got to spend time with my best friends,’’ she said of her years at Cape Fear.

    Cashwell expects to play middle infield at Wingate, which was 25-25 overall and 10-10 in the South Atlantic Conference this season, losing eight of its last 10 games.

    “I’m going to better myself as much as I can, keep practicing and get better at everything,’’ she said.

    Photo: Haley Cashwell graduates this year. She earned All-American status during her four-year softball career at Cape Fear and leaves with five N.C. High School Athletic Association fast-pitch softball state records.

  • 14Byrd bryheem

    There are still more questions than answers as Mike Paroli tries to restore the Douglas Byrd football program to the glory years it enjoyed under him and his father Bob Paroli during most of the 1990s.

    But during this year’s spring practice, the younger Paroli focused on finding a quarterback and continuing to build on a successful year in the weight room as the Eagles seek to improve on a 0-11 record last year.

    “Our strength has increased, and our attendance has been good,’’ said Mike Paroli. “We still need a situation where a good number of jayvees are coming to the varsity. That hasn’t happened the last two years.’’

    Despite not having the kind of overall numbers he’d like, Paroli aims to play two-platoon football as much as possible this season. “We had a couple of games we were up in the fourth quarter and didn’t win,’’ Paroli said. “Others were close at halftime, and things got away quickly for us in the second half.

    “We’re trying to find 22 kids so at some point we can win a game in the second half.’’

    Paroli is also looking for a quarterback. The top contenders are Kamahree Futrell and John Carroll. Carroll played wide receiver and running back last season. Futrell started on the junior varsity and was promoted during the season.

    “John took a physical pounding but never got hurt and never fumbled,’’ Paroli said. “We want to get to the point where we feel we can hand it off or give it or toss it or they can run it.’’

    Bryheem Swanson will be a senior defensive back for Byrd this season. Like his coach, he feels discipline and mental strength are keys for the Eagles to prevent games from slipping away at the end like they did last season.

    “Last year we had a lot of close games,’’ he said. “When the second half rolled around we couldn’t finish.’’

    Swanson thinks the Eagles have weeded out players who didn’t want to commit to the program fully. “Now we’ve got people willing to work hard and stay in the weight room every day,’’ he said.

    Swanson feels spring practice has gone well for the Eagles and hopes it translates into a better season this fall.

    “We didn’t put up a lot of points because teams were bigger and stronger than us,’’ he said. “We’ll put the offense to the test and try to score more points than we did last year.’’

    Photo: Bryheem Swanson will be a senior defensive back for Byrd this season.

  • 13Tori Harper Album Cover

    Christian 107.3 loves new artists. We love beefing up our playlists, keeping them as fresh as possible — adding new music weekly, peppering in independent artists, all while playing the hits you know and love. 

    Nestled among well-known artists is recently-debuted 17-year-old Tori Harper, based in Nashville,Tennessee. 

    This singer/songwriter is exceptionally wise for such a young mind, as evident in her premier single, “After Dark.” Her hauntingly sweet voice is matched with passion and vigor, pouring out wisdom beyond her years as she lovingly offers comfort and hope to a friend in need in this new tune. 

    In September of last year, Tori’s friend confided in her that his family discovered his sister was dealing with a severe eating disorder. Tori couldn’t believe it. This girl she knew was so joyful and beautiful. How could someone who seemed so happy be living under such a heavy weight?

     Then it hit her. Her friend’s pain was her pain. Tori had also been through dark times over the past couple of years, searching for acceptance and love. She had made some bad choices and found herself very hurt and in deep pain from rejection. 

    “I just felt alone, like no one saw me — but, especially, I felt like God didn’t see me,” she said. “I knew He existed, and I believed He was working in other people’s lives. I just felt like I’d come to this place where He didn’t want to have anything to do with my life.” 

    That night, Tori got out her journal and poured out her heart for her friend. She considered how we all wear masks, hiding the pain that’s right beneath the surface. Tori’s journal entry became the lyrics to “After Dark,” where she compared what God said is true to the lies her friend believed about herself. 

    Tori heard recently that her generation is one of the most stressed, anxiety-ridden, addicted generations ever seen. She believes when lies and dark places cloud God’s truth, we must speak the word of God over our lives and declare who He says we are — that He has created us uniquely in His image, and can help others to see the same in themselves. 

    Tori wrote “After Dark” to remind her friend and herself that “There is life after sadness/There is hope after madness/There is joy after a broken heart/ and there’s light after the dark.”

    Want to hear this song? Give us a call at (910) 764-1073 and make your request, or submit it online at Christian107.com. 

  • 12FTCC

    Fayetteville Technical Community College is an industry leader in awarding college credit for prior learning experiences including military training. 

    With over 200 military career evaluations and 250+ programs of study, FTCC offers members of the U.S. Armed Forces and veterans the opportunity to pursue a higher education degree while utilizing the training they completed as part of their military career. FTCC recognizes the fact that service members train hard to achieve and maintain a standard of excellence and that their efforts deserve recognition in the civilian world. Awarding college credit for military training also serves our veterans as they make the transition from active duty to civilian life. FTCC places these students on the “fast track” to earning a degree and being prepared for a competitive work environment. 

    Whether advancing within the military or transitioning to the civilian workforce, military students and veterans will find that FTCC is committed to their success. As the leader in Credit for Prior Learning, FTCC specializes in translating military training to college-level learning and credit. 

    FTCC’s most popular and most flexible degree is the Associate in General Education, which allows students to capitalize on credits earned through military training and transfer with ease to one of FTCC’s partner institutions for an advanced degree. 

    The Associate’s in General Education degree consists of 64 total semester hours, 48 of which may be applied from other colleges and institutions as well as from military training. To earn an AGE degree at FTCC, students must take a minimum of 16 semester hours at our institution, either online or in person. Often, military students and veterans pursuing an AGE only need to complete the general education courses such as English, math and social science to complete the degree. 

    FTCC awards credit for military training based on recommendations provided by the American Council on Education, a major coordinating body for the nation’s colleges and universities. The institution specializes in the assessment of nontraditional learning experiences. 

    In cooperation with the U.S. military, a team of expert evaluators employed by the American Council on Education conducts extensive research regarding military training and recommends credit for specific college-level courses based on the results of their findings. The evaluators at FTCC then review these recommendations and equate the ACE’s recommended courses to FTCC courses. The results of these coordinated efforts are encouraging for military students and help to ensure success in their careers and beyond. 

    On a case-by-case basis, FTCC evaluators also evaluate credits for additional training from military schools and other learning opportunities which may not have been evaluated by ACE. These credits must be approved by curriculum subject-matter-experts. This practice ensures the integrity of FTCC programs and provides the reassurance that FTCC is serving students with the highest standards.

    Students who wish to have their military training converted to college credit can submit the Joint Services Transcript to FTCC by logging in at https://jst.doded.mil and following the prompts for submitting an official transcript. Email johnsontr@faytechcc.edu or call (910) 678-0166 for more information. Students can sign up now for fall clases. 

  • God called you into ministry. You need preparation to follow that call. For some, that preparation requires biblical and theological preparation. For others, preparation involves leadership skills. 

    Many Christians have the idea that all they need is Bible study. Besides, the Holy Spirit will give me everything I need to do the work of ministry. Right? Yes and no. It is true that the Holy Spirit will lead and guide you in ministry. But that truth does not mean you should not prepare! 

    Everyone God calls into ministry should be involved in regular Bible study. This fact is a given. But a question must be asked: How do I properly study the Bible? This is where a Bible college or seminary plays an important role.

    What is a Bible college?

    Bible colleges are undergraduate programs that have a unique focus on the Bible and a biblical worldview to their general education studies. In other words, you can get an Associate degree or bachelor’s degree at a Bible college.

    While you can often major in nursing, criminal justice, etc., the major focus of most Bible colleges is studying the Bible, doctrine, and professional skills needed in ministry. Courses include Old Testament Survey, New Testament Survey, Doctrine, Life of Christ, Greek, Hebrew and basic general education courses.

    Bible colleges serve an important role in higher education. Obviously, you get the foundational teachings in Bible, doctrine and ministry. But you also study grammar, history and philosophy from a biblical worldview. 

    Many students will attend a Bible college for their first two years (associate degree) to get a biblical foundation before transferring to a university that trains them in a field, such as engineering, medicine or biology. The advantage is that a Bible college is often significantly more affordable than a state university or private college.

    What is a seminary?

    Bible colleges and seminaries are similar yet different. They both focus on Bible, Christian ministry and doctrine. However, Bible colleges are designed as undergraduate programs (associate, bachelor’s) whereas seminaries are graduate level (master’s, doctoral).

    The other major difference is that seminaries normally focus more on leadership roles within ministry, like pastors, worship leaders and missionaries. Some students attend seminary before moving into a doctoral program to teach in biblical higher education.

    What’s the Difference Between Bible College and Seminary?

    Bible colleges require a high school diploma (or equivalent) for entry. Seminaries require a bachelor’s degree. Therefore, some students attend Bible college to go on to pursue greater studies at the seminary.When this happens, they often get credit for courses already taken.

    If you believe God has called you into ministry, then attending a Bible college and/or seminary is an important part of your preparation. While you could attend one and not the other, you may find a greater depth by attending both.

    Much of that decision depends on what is required for the job or ministry you are pursuing. To be a pastor in your denomination, does it require a degree? If so, what kind? Are you preparing for ordination and need a better foundation?

    The difference between Bible college and seminary may be summarized in one word: purpose. What’s the purpose behind your education?

    Why Should I Attend a Bible College?

    It’s been said that the foundation is key to everything. Consider a house. If the foundation is strong, the house is strong. But a weak foundation leads to issues all throughout the house. Attending Bible college is like building a solid educational foundation.

    At Carolina College of Biblical Studies, our mission is to disciple Christ-followers, through biblical higher education, for a lifetime of effective servant leadership. If we can help you reach your ministry goals, let us know.

    To learn more about Bible colleges, download our “9 Answers to Your Questions About Biblical Education” from our website at www.ccbs.edu.

  • 16Arana BlakeArana Blake

    Massey Hill Classical School Soccer Sophomore

    Blake attends Massey Hill but plays soccer for Seventy-First. A team captain for the Falcons, she had a grade point average of 4.25.

     

     

     

     

    17Devyn AdamsDevyn Adams

    Gray’s Creek Cross country and wrestling

    Sophomore

    Adams compiled a 4.25 grade point average while competing in two sports for the Bears.

  • 15DonationsCumberland County high school football games will return to 7:30 p.m. kickoffs beginning this fall.

    The matter was recently reviewed by the county’s senior high school principals and football coaches, and the overwhelming consensus was to drop the 7 p.m. kickoffs for a return to 7:30 p.m.

    Vernon Aldridge, student activities director for the county, said there were a number of reasons the change
    was made. 

    Parents of athletes complained it was difficult to make away games and even home games on time when they got off work at 5:30 and 6 p.m. Concession stand volunteers also found it difficult to get in place and get set up in time.

    The coaches also said they felt rushed in preparing teams for games on Friday with the earlier kickoff.

    Cole Humphrey’s Legacy

    The Cole Humphrey Endowment continues to reap financial benefits for the Cape Fear High School athletic program. The fund, established in memory of the standout Cape Fear athlete, who died in a 2013 automobile accident, recently gave $2,000 to the Colts’ athletic program.

    Larry Ellis, Humphrey’s grandfather, said the family has been reasonably pleased with the success of the fund but is hopeful that it can do even better.

    “You’d like to see it grow as fast as it can so the payout could be higher,’’ he said.

    Ellis said he expects this year’s annual Cole Humphrey run to generate another $5,000 to the endowment after all expenses are taken care of.

    The concern is to keep the fund in the eyes of the community. “Cole’s class graduated in 2014,’’ Ellis said. “The 2017 class graduating this year were freshmen when Cole was a junior.

    “Every time a year goes by, the proximity of kids and their families (to Cole’s memory) gets stretched more. We’ve got to do a good job to make sure we keep it in front of everybody.’’

    Ellis said Humphrey’s family has discussed with Cape Fear Principal Lee Spruill and athletic director Matt McLean plans for promoting the fund at a football game this year.

    “Your child may not have gone to school with Cole, but they will benefit because of the proceeds that help the athletic program,’’ he said.

    Photo: (Left to right) Jana Humphrey, McCrae Humphrey, Wendell Smith, Jake Thomas, Larry Ellis, Ann Ellis. Smith and Thomas coach baseball and softball respectively at Cape Fear. They are receiving a check from the Cole Humphrey Endowment. 

  • 14David LovetteGoing 2-9 and failing to qualify for the state football playoffs isn’t part of the Gray’s Creek tradition.

    “We’ve got a lot of room for improvement,’’ said Bears’ head coach David Lovette as his team went through this year’s spring conditioning sessions. “We didn’t have a typical Gray’s Creek season last year. We want to get back to where we were in the past.’’

    Lovette doesn’t make excuses for what went wrong, but if he did he’d certainly be able to point to one area that was beyond his and the team’s control. The first two weeks of the 2016 season the Bears lost five offensive linemen. Four of them didn’t return for the remainder of the season.

    “We couldn’t move the football,’’ he said.

    But there is reason for optimism this year. The Bears’ junior varsity team was 8-2 last season, and some solid prospects from that team will be joining varsity this year.

    “We’ve gotten stronger and have another year of maturity,’’ Lovette said. “We’re going to try and show some of those things on the football field.’’

    One big change for the Bears this year will be a new quarterback as Nathan Scott moves up from being a backup wide receiver and junior varsity quarterback to take over on varsity.

    “I want to come up as a leader,’’ Scott said. “I don’t want to be the guy everybody doesn’t want to come to. I want to be the first guy people come to.’’

    He saw action in one game as quarterback last year against Westover and doesn’t feel he acquitted himself well.

    “I’m working on losing weight,’’ said Scott, who considers himself more of a passer than a runner. “I’ve gotten stronger, but I’m getting faster to fit into this run-oriented offense.’’

    Lovette was pleased with the early turnout for the Gray’s Creek practice sessions. “Everybody is out here that’s supposed to be here,’’ he said. “We’ve got about 60 or 70 kids, and that’s pretty good for us.

    “We’re excited about it.’’

     

    Photo:David Lovette, head coach of the Bears

  • 13Trojans ElijahErasing bad memories and finding a new quarterback were the main points of concern for Pine Forest during the recent spring football conditioning period.

    Elijah Robinson, who will be a senior offensive lineman for the Trojans this fall, best put things into perspective. “We want to put all the bad seasons behind and keep moving forward,’’ he said. “We are growing as a team, and we want people to see that. We’ve got to start fresh and get right this year.’’

    The Trojans got off to a strong start in 2016 but limped home with a 7-5 record that included a first-round state 4-A playoff loss to West Johnston.

    Finding a quarterback will be a critical part of making any major improvement happen. Head coach Bill Sochovka is looking at two main candidates for the job, Lavonte Carter and D.J. Jones.

    But there’s something else he’s got to develop that may be even harder, and that’s leadership. “We lost a good core of seniors that had good leadership qualities,’’ he said. But as the Trojans assembled for their first spring practice, Sochovka was glad to see everyone he was expecting to be out was on the field and ready to start five minutes ahead of time.

    Aside from the quarterback position, the other major concern for the Trojans is the secondary, where graduation took everything, and Pine Forest will be starting from scratch.

    Elsewhere, things are looking up. “We have a good core in the offensive, and defensive lines and even our skill positions were young,’’ Sochovka said.

    There’s good news and bad news at running back, where the Trojans will be seeking some new faces. The good news is the Trojans should have some speed at the position, but the bad news is most of those players missed spring workouts because they were still involved in the state track competition.

    “We slowed our offense down last year,’’ Sochovka said. “We want to be a faster tempo.’’

    Sochovka said another focus of the Pine Forest spring would be getting the team in actual playing shape. “There’s nothing like actual football practice to get you in condition,’’ he said.

    Sochovka said he prefers the option to have the full squad out for conditioning versus working with just 21 players a day for a number of reasons. He likes players who play multiple sports, so going with the later spring practice allows more of them to be able to take part.

    “I think it gets everybody focused,’’ he said. “It puts a taste of football in their mouth, and for kids who worked hard in the weight room it shows it’s paying off.’’

    Robinson said he hopes the Trojans become more of a family this season. “The more we come together as a team, the better the season is going to come out,’’ he said.

    Photo: Elijah Robinson will be a senior offensive lineman for the Trojans this fall. 

  • 12CinemaPirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

    Sequels are a tough business. Despite being constantly fed into the marketplace, it’s rare that they live up to the success and capture the magic of the original film on which they are based. 

    In the case of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, the sequels have been fun. Or at least, that had been the case (for the most part) until now. The new film “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” lacks the fun and can’t sustain the promise of the earlier films in the franchise.

    The general plot in “Dead Men Tell No Tales” is of the search for the Trident of Poseidon. This legendary artifact bestows total control over the seas to its possessor. Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites) is looking for this artifact to help his father, who is trapped in a watery grave. Henry enlists the assistance of the illustrious Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp).

    Jack is being hunted by the vicious Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) in Salazar’s quest to eliminate all the pirates from the seas. This leads our heroes Henry, Jack and Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario) ­­— who is under investigation for being a witch — on a high-seas adventure. Can the trio work with others to find the Trident or will they get lost at sea?

    “Lost at sea” is a good phrase for describing this film. From the opening scene, we are led on a meandering journey that should elicit joy. Instead, I felt like I was watching a franchise that had left its better days behind it. The original film, and some of the subsequent sequels, showcased a whimsical Jack Sparrow character who was fun. Instead, Depp’s portrayal here felt forced and borderline painful.

    Action sequences were swift and engaging, but lacked the punch needed to be special. At times, I felt some of the fights were about a more violent and shocking exhibition rather than the choreographed mayhem of the previous films.

    Much of the story felt forgettable, though I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention there is some plunder in a scene after the credits conclude. 

    While some scenes were definitely fun to watch on the big screen, I just couldn’t shake the feeling of a well drained of all its water. If the filmmakers intend to go any further with this franchise, the element of fun needs to be restored. Until then, I’m thinking more and more, a pirate’s life may not be for me.

    Paul’s Grade: C-

  • It’s hard not to play along when children come up with cute untruths.

    Unfortunately, many politicians have yet to grow out of the toddler phase when it comes to spotting and discarding spurious correlations. They insist matter-of-factly that without their favorite spending program or regulation, some huge chunk of the economy would cease to be or some favorable social trend would
    reverse itself.

    The most naïve and destructive behavior is to misuse the concept of the “multiplier effect.” A politician will say that for every dollar spent on such-and-such, the public will receive multiple dollars back in economic activity and thousands or even millions of jobs. In most cases, the statement isn’t just invalid. It’s idiotic.

    These politicians are citing economic impact studies that take the amount spent and run it through a model that estimates the local expenditure on labor and materials and the resulting employment implications. While such data can be useful — particularly if you are thinking about going into the business of supplying labor or materials to a particular project, firm, or industry — it doesn’t speak at all to the net economic benefits.

    Getting to the net requires that you estimate the benefit of using those dollars on some alternative expenditure. Economists call this the opportunity cost. If you spend $9 eating lunch at Jersey Mike’s (highly recommended, by the way) you can’t spend the same $9 on some other meal, or on buying socks after having skipped lunch altogether. More broadly, the resources you consumed getting to and from the sub shop, including the minutes, can’t be devoted to something else. These represent the opportunity costs of your Jersey Mike’s excursion.

    In public finance, the opportunity cost comes at two stages. Certainly the tax dollars spent on, say, highway construction can’t be spent on public schools or law enforcement. That’s the second stage of opportunity cost. But there is also an opportunity cost to converting private dollars, earned through voluntary means, into tax revenue in the first place.

    When people keep more of what they earn, that money doesn’t disappear just because it no longer shows up in the government’s balance sheet. It is devoted either to current private consumption or to private investment, both of which have economic impacts of their own. When politicians claim huge economic bonanzas from subsidizing sports stadiums, convention centers, or economic-development projects, they typically ignore this foregone private expenditure altogether.

    The only real justification for a government program is that private individuals, spending a given amount of money through voluntary exchange, wouldn’t get as high a return on that money as the government would by taxing the money away from them and devoting it to some public purpose.

    The case isn’t that hard to make when it comes to basic governmental services such as law enforcement and the courts. Beyond that, you have to argue that government policymakers are likely to know better than citizens how best to spend the citizens’ own money. There are such cases — public goods for which, for technical reasons, private individuals are not presented with the information (prices) they need to make the best decisions. But such cases are not the norm.

    Those who assert the magic of multiplier effects to justify their pet programs may be dissembling. But it is my experience that most of the time, they don’t know enough about the matter to be lying. They are just repeating what they’ve heard, or imagining spurious connections on the basis of
    limited experience.

    It’s their business if they choose, Peter Pan-like, not to grow up. But they should keep their hands out of the wallets of the grownups.

  • 10BBQThe world of competitive barbecue is a fierce one. It takes skill, patience nerves of steel — and an awesome recipe. It’s where Mac’s Speed Shop Head Chef Kevin Kuruc thrives. 

    Fresh off a win at the Beer, Bourbon and BBQ Festival in Charlotte, Kuruc headed to the renowned Memphis in May barbecue championship. The Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking contest is not for the faint of heart. Kuruc came out on top, though, placing second in the Whole Hog category. 

    “Whole hog and shoulder are hotly contested because those are the categories where a team typically takes home the Grand Prize. That’s why we are so thrilled with our 2nd Place in Whole Hog,” says Kuruc. “Many competitors focus totally on competing. The fact that we compete, place and have multiple restaurants in multiple markets makes our Whole Hog victory particularly sweet.”

    With 236 teams participating, the competition was fierce. Kuruc went head to head with some familiar competitors. The Big Bob Gibson’s team made Memphis in May barbecue history when it took home its fifth grand champion trophy. 

    Melissa Cookston’s Yazoo’s Delta Q took home its fifth first place in Whole Hog, and 10 Bones BBQ repeated its first place win from last year in Ribs. Big Bob’s win in Shoulder was its remarkable 10th category victory.

    With a recipe this good, it’s no wonder Mac’s is thriving. There are currently locations in Charlotte’s Steele Creek area, Lake Norman, Matthews, and in Greensboro, Greenville, S.C., and right here in Fayetteville. Serving up ice-cold brews alongside mouthwatering menu items like barbecue (of course), gourmet burgers, homestyle sides, filling salads and hearty appetizers, Mac’s is known for its friendly atmosphere and great-tasting fare.

    What started in an old transmission shop in the South End neighborhood of Charlotte is now serving up award-winning goodness across the state. 

    Locally, Mac’s is a boon to the community in more ways than one. This local watering hole sponsors events like Hogs & Rags, which not only puts on a great ride but also donates thousands of dollars each year to worthy organizations in the community. The military-friendly venue routinely hosts events for local units. As a live music venue, Mac’s consistently books local talent. The Fayetteville restaurant has also undergone renovations and warmly welcomes anyone who is looking for a good meal in a friendly atmosphere.

    Find out more about Mac’s at MacSpeedShop.com.

    Photo: Mac’s Speed Shop took second place in the Whole Hog category at the Memphis in May World Barbecue Cooking Contest on May 13.

  • 09FayAfter5It’s spring. The warm weather is perfect for festivals, trips to the beach and music under the stars. That’s where Fayetteville After 5 excels — music under the stars. 

    The second Friday of the month, May through August, local bands and regional headliners hit the stage for an evening of entertainment and memory-making. The season opened on May 12 with The Tams. 

    On June 9, 120 Minutes brings best of the ’90s to Festival Park. Hailing from Raleigh, the band features covers of all the ’90s favorites 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, Smashing Pumpkins, Blur, Collective Soul, Green Day, Stone Temple Pilots, Everclear and more. 

    “I love getting to see the joy in people’s faces when we start into one of their favorite songs,” said bandmember John Booker. “Watching people sing along with us, dance, and just enjoy life. It’s always a big party, these songs are pure fun.”

    On July 14, On the Border: The Ultimate Eagles Tribute Band returns to Fayetteville After 5. The Charlotte-based band is a favorite in Fayetteville and performs along the east coast as far north as Boston. It’s a family-friendly show and one sure to get your feet tapping and have the midway filled with dancers.

    July 22, Country music performer Kasey Tyndall will play. Tyndall is from Eastern North Carolina. She struck out for Nashville in 2014 and by 2016 had more than 100 tour dates. Her recent EP “Everything Is Texas” has all the hallmarks of a country song, namely heartbreak. But it’s based on a true story.

    “Fayetteville After 5 is always a blast, I’ve been able to make it out to a few of them in the past, and I even played one a few years ago with my U2 tribute band,” said Booker of 120 Minutes. “We’re honored to be able to bring all these great ’90s covers to the good people of Fayetteville — to take us back to all the fun hits of the ’90s and just unwind, relax and enjoy great times and great music.”

    The gates open at 5 p.m. Music starts between 7 and 7:30 p.m. No outside food or beverages are permitted in the park. R.A. Jeffries offers beverages for sale. There is also food available for purchase. 

    Bring a blanket or a chair to sit on and your friends and family to share the experience. Find out more about Fayetteville After 5 at www.faydogwoodfestival.com or by calling (910) 323-1934.

  • 08SummerSoundsCape Fear Botanical Garden provides not only a beautiful natural oasis for relaxation; it also provides entertaining and educational events. This summer, visitors to the garden can experience a performance series called “Third Thursdays.” 

    Every third Thursday of the month from March to September, the garden is filled with different types of education and entertainment. Events range in scope from piano concerts to sustainable workshopping. The varied offerings are entirely intentional. 

    “Our Third Thursday series is a way for us to connect with a larger part of the community,” said Taryn Hughes, marketing manager at Cape Fear Botanical Garden. “We want to be able to attract different crowds, so each event is a whole new experience. We also want to give visitors the opportunity to walk the grounds after hours.”

    The second Third Thursday features a piano player, but it is not a typical piano concert. “Our next Third Thursday is Piano Pizzazz on June 15. Our hours are extended to 9 p.m., and the programming will start at 6 p.m.,” Hughes said. “It is a family-friendly event, so feel free to bring children! 

    “This will be different from a normal piano recital since Casey T. Cotton is not only a performer but also an entertainer. You’ll be able to enjoy music and laugh the night away. It’s the perfect combination. Beer and wine will be available from our cash bar and the food truck, R Burger, will be serving up their best.” 

    Casey T. Cotton was born in St. Louis and raised in California. He began playing the piano when he was just 7 years old. Music was a hobby for him during his childhood and his military career. 

    It remained a hobby until after he retired from the military and the defense contract business. Now, he focuses on his music career full time. As a professional pianist, singer and songwriter he travels and performs at venues and events across the country. In 2016, Cotton founded Blazin’ Keys Entertainment, which specializes in live dueling piano shows. 

    In addition to the incredible entertainment, Third Thursdays also offer the opportunity to see the garden from a different perspective. Third Thursday events last from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. 

    Under normal circumstances, the garden closes at 5 p.m., so attending one of these events showcases the evening beauty of the area. “We plan to have the event in our beautiful Orangery, but guests are more than welcome to walk around the garden and soak up nature in a different light,” Hughes said. 

    The next installation of Third Thursday is Garden Folk on July 20. There will be folk music and the author of “Gardening in the South,” Mark Weathington. Participants can enjoy music amongst the flowers and chat with Weathington about his work. 

    Third Thursday is specifically a summer series. Admission to Third Thursday is free with membership or paid admission to the garden. 

    The last event will be held in September, but the Cape Fear Botanical Garden has events all year-round. Find out more about them at www.capefearbg.org. 

    Photo: Casey T. Cotton will perform on June 15 for Cape Fear Botanical Garden's Piano Pizzazz night. 

  • 07AgenciesPrivate and non-profit agencies that provide valuable services to the community are often referred to by local governments as “outside agencies.” 

    They offer services that are aligned with city and county strategic plans but are not part of the government. Over time, these offices have become at least partially dependent on some government funding. Many of them also receive funds from the Cumberland County United Way. 

    The annual budget process can be disappointing for the outsiders as city and county governing boards deal with revenue deficits and downturns in tax receipts. Cumberland County Manager Amy Cannon has proposed 15 percent cuts in current fiscal year appropriations for the 21 agencies receiving support from the county. 

    Fayetteville’s Airborne & Special Operations Museum, which is owned by the U.S. Army but funded by a private foundation, received $200,000 from the county this year. The contribution would be reduced to $170,000 if county commissioners approve the community funding budget as submitted. Smaller offices, like the Contact telephone crisis hotline, would lose $1,000 of its $6,874 budget. The Cumberland County Veterans Council received $7,000 this year and would lose $1,050 next year. The Center for Economic Empowerment and Development, would lose $1,600 in the year ahead.

    In all, county government provides nearly $789,000 to local agencies which would be cut by $117,500 in FY18. The City of Fayetteville is not proposing any budget cuts for the outsiders.

  • 06Scholarship ImageCumberland Community Foundation is awarding nearly $180,000 in scholarships to local high school students. Ninety-three of the grants totaling $179,400 were selected by the Cumberland Community Foundation Scholarship Advisory Group. 

    Most of the awards were based on financial need, academic excellence and citizenship. A few other scholarships were based on a special skill or area of interest, such as chemistry, fire science or elementary education.  

    Foundation Board Member Gail Riddle said she got a lot out of reading the scholarship applications. “It has renewed my faith in our future,” Riddle said as the scholarships were announced. “To the parents, I want to thank you for raising your students to be the best that they can be,” she added. 

    Cumberland Community Foundation was established in 1980 with a gift of $576,840 from Dr. Lucile Hutaff.  She had a vision of the community coming together to make life better. Today the Foundation is regarded as one of the most successful community foundations in the country. 

    It is supported by thousands of people from all walks of life and varied charitable interests. “The Foundation manages over 500 individual charitable funds totaling over $76 million,” said Executive Director Mary Holmes. 

    This year’s scholarships ranged from $500 to $10,000. The Dr. Lu, Sylvia and Daniel Kiang Scholarship for Chinese Students Fund awarded Yi Dong, Shuang Wu, Chung Lam Lau (renewal) and Yu Diyang Zhang (renewal) scholarships of $10,000 each. Wu will attend North Carolina State University. The others are attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

    Sixteen local students each received $3,000 Ella Smith Downing scholarships totaling $53,000. A 17th student was awarded a $5,000 scholarship from the same fund. 

    Alexandra M. Thomas received a smaller but equally significant $500 scholarship from the Leonard G. McLeod Theatre Scholarship Fund. Le Feng also received a $500 award from the Robert N. Shuller SfL+a Architects Scholarship.

    Cumberland Community Foundation also awards an additional $500,000 in scholarships annually through the Robert H. Short/Cumberland Community Foundation Scholars Program.  

    For the last five years, these scholarships were reserved for Cumberland County high school graduates who elected to attend Fayetteville Technical Community College, Fayetteville State University or Methodist University. 

    Selection was administered by the colleges with emphasis on filling the gaps in funding for each applicant student based on their unique financial needs. These awards ranged from $300 to $12,000 per year. In the last five years, the Robert H. Short Scholars Program has awarded $2,377,000 to the three local colleges.

    Excerpts From an Epitaph by Mary Lynn Bryan on Behalf of Her Friend, Dr. Lucile Hutaff

    Dr. Lucile West Hutaff, a Fayetteville native, graduated from Fayetteville High School in 1929. She attended Women’s College in Greensboro for two years and received her medical degree from the University of Rochester School of Medicine. 

    Dr. Hutaff returned to Fayetteville in 1972 upon her retirement as a professor at Bowman-Gray Medical School in Winston-Salem. She started Cumberland Community Foundation in July 1980 with an unrestricted gift of over $575,000. Cumberland County will be forever grateful for the vision and dedication of Dr. Lucile Hutaff for her gift of the Cumberland Community Foundation, and for leading the way by example.

  • 05NewsDigestFayetteville Competes With the Biggest and Ranks Among the Best

    Governingmagazine has announced the top-ranking cities of its first-ever national survey framework of seven essential elements that define high-performance government and empower innovation. The survey found Fayetteville ranks among the biggest and best. 

    The periodical is a division of e.Republic, the nation’s only media and research company focused exclusively on state and local government and education. Based on the results of its inaugural survey and analysis, the city of Phoenix, Arizona, was named the Top Performing City Overall. 

    Cities across the country participated in the survey, which assessed capacity and competence in seven key areas. In recognition of their innovative and effective practices in city management and citizen service delivery, the top 10 performers overall aside from Phoenix are: El Paso, Texas; Fayetteville, North Carolina; Las Vegas, Nevada; Louisville, Kentucky; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Riverside, California; San Diego, California; San Jose, California and San Antonio, Texas. “People are increasingly looking to local government for solutions that address the nation’s biggest challenges,” said Steven Bosacker, an official with a subsidiary of Governing

    “City leaders across the country are proving how dedicated they are to establishing high-performing administrations that respond to the needs of their communities,” he concluded.

    Blackwell Responds to Tucker’s Decision Not to Seek Re-election

    Since former Chief Assistant Court Clerk Cindy Blackwell announced her candidacy for Cumberland County Clerk of Superior Court, incumbent Clerk Kimberly Tucker has said she would not seek re-election. Judge Jim Ammons passed over Blackwell four years ago when he appointed Tucker to the top post. 

    Announcing her candidacy last month, Blackwell said, “The clerk is not just an elected office. It’s a job with real work to be done, and the people deserve a clerk that wants to work. I will show up for work and make sure the citizens have an advocate for them in the courthouse.” The clerk was accused in a WRAL-TV Investigation of spending a lot of time at home and not going into the office regularly, an allegation Tucker denied. 

    Another Accused Pedophile Jailed

    Joe Caldwell Jr. will likely spend the next few months in jail as he awaits trial on numerous charges of sexually abusing children. 

    His bond is set at $2.3 million. Caldwell, 34, was arrested by the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office Warrant Squad at an apartment in the Topeka Heights complex. “He is charged with 23 counts of sexual offenses against children,” said Captain Bobby Reyes, assistant chief of detectives with the Cumberland County Sheriff’s office. Reyes would not comment on how many children may have been involved. He said no further information could be disclosed because the investigation is on-going. 

    All Gave Some; Some Gave All

    Former Fayetteville City Councilman and longtime civic leader Don Talbot admonished the hundreds in attendance at this year’s Memorial Day ceremony to remember those who “wrote a blank check to the United States with a value up to and including
    their life.”

    Talbot almost single-handedly founded Fayetteville’s Freedom Memorial Park on Bragg Boulevard to honor veterans who gave their all in wars past and present. 

    “This remains a day of appreciation for the men and women who have sacrificed for us,” Talbot said. Freedom Memorial Park is an anchor for what has become a local focal point of Fayetteville’s living association with the military. 

    The Army’s Airborne and Special Operations Museum across the street and the North Carolina State Veterans Park also anchor the ceremonial corridor.

                                 

  • 04RezoningFayetteville City Council has a unique opportunity to show how it governs in a sticky situation during a public hearing June 26.

    That Monday night, the Council decides whether to rezone property from rural residential to limited commercial. It’s the kind of hearing the Council has decided on countless times. But this rezoning hearing is different.

    For one, the property is not in the Fayetteville city limits ­— yet. Secondly, the people who are fighting the proposed rezoning are not city residents. They have not elected anyone to the governing body to represent their interests.

    Here’s how that works. A couple of commercial developers from Florida and Charlotte want Fayetteville to rezone 16 acres outside the corporate limits so they can get city water and sewer. To get sewer, the developers voluntarily annex the property into the city. As of late, there’s no requirement to be annexed for water, but sewer is another matter.

    But here’s the rub. This “high-end” retail store’s parking lot and an area designated as public space abut the backyards of homes on Windy Creek Way in Wendemere, a well-maintained subdivision whose front entrance borders the city limits.

    Plus, the developer proposes to jam this “high-end” retail store right next to Stoney Point Elementary School. It’s where King, Stoney Point, Rockfish and Lakeview roads meet.

    The developer also proposes to reopen a closed portion of King Road just before it reaches the intersection. The resulting fork on King Road would funnel traffic into the commercial property via a traffic circle. That could add to or alleviate the early morning logjam at the intersection.

    On the surface, it looks like a ridiculous location to put a commercial retail store. I dread having to go that way on weekdays mornings, especially when school is in session.

    The developers won’t say what kind of “high-end” retail store, but rumors abound that it’s a Publix or Trader Joe’s grocery store. There is no mention of what will go in the outlying parcels fronting Rockfish Road.

    There’s a Harris Teeter across the street and a Food Lion on the other side of the high school football field, part of the campus that makes up Stoney Point Elementary and Jack Britt High School. There’s also a slew of open commercial property along Rockfish Road heading toward Camden Road.

    Here’s another issue for the Council to chew on. Its own planning staff recommends not rezoning the property because the land use plan says it’s supposed to be for residential development. That usually means single-family houses. But the Rezoning Commission, made up of people appointed by City Council, voted 3-2 to recommend rezoning.

    So, it’s the classic commercial development rights of a landowner versus residential neighborhood quality-of-life rights for an entire neighborhood the Council must decide on. The Council also must consider getting a PWC water-sewer customer and taxpaying commercial property.

    Then there’s Shivani Kohut, a Wendemere resident. She galvanized the surrounding community to fight the rezoning. Last week, she and supporters packed a Stoney Point Recreation Center meeting room with residents from Wendemere and adjoining neighborhoods ­— some from within city limits — to plan a strategy to convince Council NOT to rezone the property.

    I attended the meeting, where at times participants couldn’t wrap their minds around the issues that Council is allowed consider in its deliberation. Instead, emotions ventured toward the possibility of crime festering in the parking lot and designated public areas.

    They should instead talk about quality-of-life issues: mosquitoes in a proposed retention pond next to the elementary school, flooding caused by more impervious pavement, parking lot lights illuminating people’s backyards and traffic congestion at an already congested intersection where gridlock happens often.

    But calmer minds prevailed. Shivani and a cadre of supporters organized a public information campaign. It includes passing out a flyer asking area residents to sign a petition against the rezoning. 

    The flyer also urges those affected to call or email Council members about their concerns and to donate money for a lawyer. Finally, the flyer urges people to show up at City Hall Monday, June 26, to fill the chamber. The group also published a Facebook page: Say NO To Commercial Greed.

    I contacted all Council members via email and asked them if they had visited the site, if they had an idea of how they would vote, and if they had ever deliberated over a public hearing where Council action would affect non-city residents.

    Only two responded. One — a person who I’ve always thought well of in the past — berated me for asking if he had an idea of how he would vote. Note, the question did not ask how they would vote; it asked if they had an idea of how they would vote. Perhaps the question could have been phrased better.

    But as a constituent, I have the right to ask any question regarding an issue that affects me, and I have the right not to be chastised by someone elected to represent my interests.

    Bill Crisp, whose district abuts the area, responded in his usual diplomatic manner. Crisp said he visited the site and does have an idea of how he will vote. He will keep his intentions close to the vest until he’s heard everything at the public hearing.

    The silence from the others is interesting. 

  • 03PadorasAre you tired of hearing about Russians influencing the late great presidential election? Are the White House leaks making you wish for the return of Nixon’s plumbers to plug up the gusher of troubles flooding the lawn at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.? Let’s wander down memory lane this week to figure out what is causing all the commotion in Washington, D.C. 

    Surprisingly enough, it is not the occupants of the White House who are causing our current troubles. At the risk of mimicking Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway, the current troubles are not Trump’s fault, or even the fault of the First Son-In-Law and Putin Pal, Jared Kushner. 

    Come take a walk on the wild side of Greek Mythology. Ponder our old friend Pandora, who caused troubles to begin on Earth way back in the golden days of yesteryear. 

    Once upon a time in Greek Mythology (which will soon have to be taught in schools again as a result of President Pence mandating the teaching of Christianity), there were only men. Women had not arrived. In the beginning, men were immortal and made of gold. They hung out on Mount Olympus partying down with the gods. But after a while, things started to go south. The men turned into silver but were no longer immortal. The men left Olympus and did all sorts of cool things that resulted in them becoming the Greek heroes of mythology. Nothing gold can stay, so that age ended, too. Men were condemned to work and suffer to support themselves in the age in which we now find ourselves. 

    Prometheus , who was a man, comes along and plays a trick on the gods by doing some fancy butchering of an ox. This results in the gods getting lousy cuts of meat and men getting prime rib. 

    Zeus, king of the gods, is not amused. He takes fire away from men so they can’t barbecue the steaks they stole from the gods. Prometheus, being a tricky dude, steals the fire back from the gods. He gives fire to men so the barbecuing, lying and beer drinking can resume. 

    This really hacks off Zeus. He chains Prometheus to a rock and sends an eagle to eat Prometheus’s liver each day. This is a very unpleasant experience for Prometheus. His liver grows back each night. The eagle returns for some Grecian Liver Puddin’ every day. Eventually, Hercules frees Prometheus from his role as a buffet dinner. The eagle has to go on food stamps.

    You would not like Zeus when he is angry. Now. Zeus is angry at all men. So what does Zeus do? What will cause the men misery? Easy. Zeus makes a woman. He takes a hank of hair and a piece of bone and makes a walkin’ talkin’ honeycomb named Pandora. Pandora is absolutely beautiful, being the first woman and all. Compared to lumpy Greek men, she faced a pretty low bar for beauty. 

    Pandora shows up at the door of Epimetheus, who is the brother of Prometheus. Epi was warned by Prometheus not to accept any gifts from Zeus, but Epi is smitten with Pandora’s beauty. Like Nancy Sinatra once sang, Epi and Pandora get married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout. As a wedding present, Zeus gives Pandora a real pretty box but tells her not to open it. 

    You try telling a woman she can’t open a present and see what happens. Just as Zeus planned, Pandora can’t resist opening the box. Zeus had packed the box with all sorts of evil stuff — poverty, misery, type 2 diabetes, depression, smoker’s cough, death and Dook fans. When she opens the box, all the evil escapes into the air to infest mankind forevermore. The only thing left in the box after she belatedly slams it shut is hope. Realizing that it is too late to get the troubles back into the box, Pandora opens it again and lets hope out into the world. Hope flutters out of the box and shows
    up when things are at their worst. 

    As Emily Dickinson once wrote, “Hope is the thing with feathers.” Emily may have been thinking of Pandora when she wrote that. Or Emily may have just been hungry and was wishing and hoping for Colonel Sanders to invent his delicious Kentucky Fried Chicken with its eleven secret herbs and spices. We shall never know for sure.

    Don’t blame Trump for the problems in D.C. Don’t blame it on the Bossa Nova either. It is more historically accurate to blame Pandora for the troubles you see on the “Nightly News” or read on the Fake News on the internet. Just be glad she let hope out. 

  • 02MargaretReally?

    The president of the United States called the FBI director “crazy, a real nut job?”

    A comedian posted images of herself holding what appears to be the president’s bloody,
    severed head.

    A motorist jabbed her pointed middle finger in my direction.

    Really?

    What is happening to our country?

    Americans are clearly concerned about increasing incivility in our society, describing it in words ranging from “rudeness” to “pathological.” 

    A quick peek at the Amazon book section finds nine pages of books addressing this emerging behavior in our country with titles including “Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for the Workplace,” “Choosing Civility: The 25 Rules of Considerate Conduct,” “Civility in the Digital Age: How Companies and People Can Triumph Over Haters,” “Trolls, Bullies and Other Jerks,” perhaps most relevantly, and “Civility: Manners, Morals and the Etiquette
    of Democracy.” 

    I vacillate between thinking of our current vile and toxic atmosphere as the decline of basic civility or the rise of bullying, but it is probably both. The good news is that Americans are aware of and worried about it. A study last year by The Associated Press and NORC at the University of Chicago found that we do believe our society is less civil than it was 30 years ago, particularly in politics.

     Here are some key findings:

    • Two-thirds of us think last year’s political campaigns were even more rude than the what has become the norm in rudeness.

    • A full fourth of us admit to using the F-word at least once a day.

    • Most of us agree that remarks or jokes about race, gender and sexuality should not be made in public. We are more tolerant of such remarks uttered in private.

    • A full 80 percent of us say political leaders should be held to higher standards of behavior than the rest of us.

    We can only hope.

    -------

    As the mother of two young adults with that mysterious Y chromosome — i.e., men — I am sensitive to the adage, “A son is a son until he takes a wife, but a daughter is a daughter all her life.” 

    I recently stumbled across a Huffington Post piece by Marlene Kern Fischer, “Six Things You Should Know About Having Grown Sons,” which will likely interest other mothers of boys and maybe the boys themselves. 

    1. He won’t communicate more. Probably true, but he still loves you. You will always be Mom.

    2. He will still make a mess. Definitely true.

    3. He will still enjoy games that involve balls. Ditto.

    4. He will still be cuddly. True. Somewhere deep in his DNA he remembers your hugs, your snuggles as you read books together and your comfort when he was sad or hurt. He is in some ways just a large little boy.

    5. You will be able to count on him.
    Definitely true for what really matters, although he will still forget to make beds and take out
    the garbage.

    6. He will bring home someone else for you to love! Yes! I am very blessed.

    -------

    I know. I said I would not, but I have one more tattoo encounter to share.

    At a recent lunch on a lovely covered patio, I noticed that several, maybe most, of the servers were wearing black bands on their arms, some at the wrist and some higher up the forearm.

    Were they protesting something? Did they have wrist or elbow troubles? Did the bands help stabilize heavy trays laden with food?

    So I asked our server, a handsome young man named Jason, whose arm appears in this photo.

    It was none of the above. The bands are required by restaurant management to cover up — you guessed it! — tattoos!

    Who knew?

  • 01COVERAs the 2016/2017 season comes to an end, Gilbert Theater celebrates the best of this year at the 5th annual 2017 Pryer Awards on Friday, June 9 from 6-9 p.m. at the new Taste of West Africa building. Named for the Gilbert Theater Founder, Lynne Pryer, the awards are a way to celebrate the season and get feedback from the audience.

    “The Pryer Awards is a way for us to honor the work that has taken place onstage in the previous season,” said Matthew Overturf, artistic director of the Gilbert Theater. “Audiences have the opportunity for each show to vote for their favorite actors, actresses, director, costume design and so forth.” 

    Overturf added that throughout the entire season the audience is asked to pick up a ballot in the lobby to vote for their favorites. The votes are tallied and the nominees are announced. Then, on the evening of June 9, the winners of each category are announced.     

    “This is our biggest fundraiser of the year,” said Overturf. “We will have door prizes, heavy hors d’oeuvres and drinks.” The event will feature good food, an open bar and a silent auction. There will be special entertainment from the students in the Gilbert’s educational Glee Program and the cast of “The Secret Garden.”

    “The Secret Garden,” a musical, was a huge success. The show is about a young girl whose parents die of cholera in India. She is sent to live with her maternal uncle, Archibald Craven, who she has never met. 

    While there, she befriends a lot of the help in the house and discovers a garden that was the garden of her uncle’s late wife. The girl helps bring the garden back to life, and the spirits of her ancestors come in and out to help her.

    “The show ends with this wonderful reconciliation and the family comes back together after this period of grief,” said Overturf.  

    The Pryer Award silent auction will feature items such as a men’s grooming package, a package from the Cape Fear Botanical Garden that includes a Pavilion rental, a Martini package that includes a bottle of vodka, a women’s beauty salon day package and more.       

    “Come out and join us for a fun night of entertainment, food, drinks and honoring the work that has taken place on our stage,” said Overturf.      

    Tickets cost $40. The Taste of West Africa is located at 107 Person Street. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (910) 678-7186 or visit www.gilberttheater.com. 

    A New Season at Gilbert Theater                                                                    

    Theater has the ability and the potential to change the world. For its upcoming season, Gilbert Theater introduces a lineup that will captivate and entertain the audience as well as provoke them to think.   

    “We are very excited about our upcoming 2017-2018 season,” said Overturf. “This is my first full season as artistic director, and I just started on February 1.” Overturf added that he is excited about being able to choose this season and he is a firm believer that a season should reflect the theater and the time. 

    The first show of the season is “Evil Dead: The Musical.” It will run Sept. 22- Oct. 8. 

    “It is a very campy adult show and it is based on the film by Sam Raimi,” said Overturf. “It is a bloody, gory and raunchy kind of horror.” 

    The next show of the season is “It’s a Wonderful Life.” “This one is a very popular show based on the film of the same name,” said Overturf. “It is a wonderful show for the holiday season and people tend to come out in droves to see it.” Overturf added that he thinks that the show is becoming a Fayetteville staple. The show will run from Nov. 24 - Dec. 4 and Dec. 15-17. There is a student matinee on Nov. 27 and Dec. 4 at 10 a.m.  

    “Venus in Fur” is next on the list. It will run Feb. 2 –17. “(The show) explores the dynamic between the actor and director and the dynamic between a dominant and submissive,” said Overturf. “It is a very sexual and erotic show that deals with how we look at people in relationships and how the power dynamics can shift.” Overturf added that this show is really great for couples.    

    “Antigone” runs April 6–April 22. “This is a Greek classic by Sophocles that is about a woman who has to make a very difficult decision to follow her faith and what is right, or to follow the law, and how that dynamic affects her and her family overall,” said Overturf. “This show is very poignant for our time with the things that have been going on in the world.”               

    The final show of the season is “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” which begins June 1 and runs through June 10. “It is about a family coming back together for the patriarch’s birthday,” said Overturf. “There is some greed and one of the children, Brick, is struggling with what he wants his life to look like.” 

    Overturf added that Brick’s wife, Maggie, wants to have a child and they are supposed to be the heirs to the family fortune but because they don’t have children it is a bit in question. Brick’s brother is trying to hone in on the family fortune. Greed, secrets and family strife rise up in this classic Southern play.                         

    For more information and ticket information, call (910) 678-7186. 

  • pryor awardsLocal theater is a labor of love. It requires hard work and long hours, usually on top of commitments like holding down a job and taking care of family. It can be grueling, but passion is what drives many in the community to sacrifice their time and energy to create great art right in the heart of Fayetteville. In order to give these dedicated and talented people the recognition and appreciation they deserve, the Gilbert Theater hosts the Pryer awards.  The awards are inspired by Lynn Pryer, the founder of the Gilbert Theater and all of the work that he did in support of the local artistic community. 

    This year will be the fifth annual Pryer award celebration. Robyne Parrish the artistic director and co-education director for Gilbert Theater said, “We wanted to honor the actors and designers that give of their time and talents for very little pay. It is a time that the entire Gilbert community and the arts community at large can come together to celebrate and inspire one another.”

    This year the Pryer Awards celebration is on July 1 at 6 p.m. Tickets cast $40 per person. This fee will go to further supporting the Gilbert Theater. Parrish says the celebration will feature,”… door prizes, a full bar with beer, wine and alcohol plus soda and tea as well as an awesome silent auction and delicious food and desserts, entertainment and, of course, the awards ceremony. This year, we will be honoring Lynn Pryer with the lifetime achievement award.” Reservations or pre-purchasing a ticket is encouraged, there is expected to be 120 attendees. 

    The Glee Club and the cast of Young Frankenstein, which was the season musical, will provide entertainment. The silent auction is another highlight of the night. Guests can compete to win a number of incredible prizes. Parrish noted that “Anything and everything!” is available. She mentioned that some of the items up for auction include, “Art and sculpture, food and drink, evenings out on the town, theater tickets and spa treatments.”

    The Pryer Awards is a community-oriented event. This is truly an opportunity for the community to give feedback on the performances that they saw throughout the year. According to Parrish, “Throughout the year, the audience votes for their favorite artists from each production.  Nominees are chosen and in the end, votes are tallied and one artist gets the award.”

    This year the Gilbert continues a relatively new addition to the awards given. Last year was the very first iteration of the Lifetime Achievement Award. “It is a wonderful way to honor someone who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to keep the arts alive in our community and beyond,” Parrish said. This award is particularly special with the growing amount of pressure on the arts community. It is often the first community to suffer budget cuts; though the value of the arts is priceless. Supporting these awards through attending, voting and participating in the silent auction supports not only the Gilbert Theater but the Fayetteville artistic community as a whole.

    For more information or to purchase a ticket visit www.gilberttheater.com. 

  • coverIn an All-American city like Fayetteville, there is no shortage of events to celebrate America’s birthday. Fayetteville and the surrounding communities have several family-friendly options for a fun-filled weekend. It’s time for music, fireworks, food and fun. Here are some of the ways you can join in the celebration of America’s 240th birthday:

    Fort Bragg- US Army MWR

    Every year, Fort Bragg opens its gates to the community for a 4th of July celebration like none other in the area. The afternoon kicks off with music followed by a free-fall parachute demonstration. Next up, the flag ceremony honors each state in the nation. During the flag ceremony, the crowd cheers for the colors for each state as the flags pass by. 

    Throughout the day and evening, vendors offer food and beverages for purchase. 

    The 4th of July Celebration is presented by AAFMAA and runs from 3 – 10 p.m. at the Main Post Parade Field. Come early and bring a tent or other covering to enjoy the day. All tents belong in the designated tent area. Call 396-9126 to make reservations. Space is limited. 

    Bring the kids because there is an entire section of the parade field dedicated to them. Kiddieland includes bounce houses, slides and rock climbing walls. Admission for Kiddieland is $10 per child with unlimited use. Kiddieland is open from 3 - 8 p.m.. 

    Pets, glass bottles and BBQ grills are not allowed. The event is free and open to the public. Arrive early. There will be a lot of traffic. The parade field opens at 1 p.m..  

    For more information call 396-9126. 

    N.C. Symphony Independence Day Concert

    Get a jump on the 4th of July celebrations at the N.C. Symphony Independence Day concert in Festival Park. This concert salutes all things American with well-loved favorites and classics that will have the audience singing along. It takes place on Friday, July 1 at 8 p.m. in Festival Park. Don’t miss the fireworks right after the show.

    The program begins with “The Star Spangled Banner” and features a salute to all branches of the military featuring various selections.  It is conducted by N.C. Symphony Associate Conductor David Glover. Scott MacLeod will join the orchestra to sing selections.   

    Lawn chairs are welcome.  Concert goers may bring food and beverages. Vendors will be on site as well.

    Pets are not permitted. Gates  open at 5 p.m. 

    This performance is part of the Symphony’s summer “Concerts in Your Community” free concerts presented throughout the state. 

    For more information visit www.ncsymphony.org. 

    Fayetteville Swamp Dogs

    Ahh, the Swamp. There is no place like it when it comes time to have fun. All season long, the SwampDogs entertain and amuse with great baseball as well as events the entire family can enjoy. But for America’s birthday, the team pulls out all the stops with a big game followed by an even bigger fireworks display. Come out on Sunday, July 3, and catch the game against the Wilson Tobs at 7:05 p.m. at   J. P. Riddle Stadium. Make a night of it, enjoy the fireworks and celebrate America’s 240th birthday at the swamp.

    Box seats are $9, general admission cost is $7 and military and kids for $6.  Food and beverages can be purchased at the stadium. 

    Gates open at 5 p.m. Purchase tickets ahead of time and arrive early for the game. 

    For more information call 426-5900.  

    Hope Mills

    For all the fun that comes with the 4th of July without the big-city hassle, come to Hope Mills. The Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Department hosts its annual 4th of July Parade at 10 a.m. The starting lineup is at Hope Mills Middle School. 

    Later, at the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation department, the party kicks off at Municipal Park. Children’s games begin at 4 p.m. Come ready to eat. Vendors will be on site with food and drinks available for purchase. 

    Come to watch, or better yet, compete in one of the many tournaments. Choose from the frozen T-shirt contest, corn hole, horseshoes and washers. 

    The opening ceremonies and welcome take place at 6 p.m. followed by “The National Anthem” sung by Madison Bryant, who is Miss Fayetteville Dogwood Festival.  

    David Arthur and the Southern Tradition Band provide the evening’s entertainment followed by fireworks at 9:15 p.m.  

    Admission is free. For more information call 424-4555. 

    Spring Lake

    Spring Lake’ s Main Street party runs from noon to 9 p.m. This may be a small town festival but there is plenty to do — including a car, truck and bike show, a dunking booth and Kidz Zone. Come hungry. There will be food vendors. The program also includes live musical entertainment on stage. Call 497-8821 for more information.

    Firecracker 4-Miler

    Before heading to the barbeques, concerts and parties, start July 4th off with a four-mile road race. The Fayetteville Running Club’s Firecracker 4 Miler is designed to promote running as a part of a healthy lifestyle in the community. Enjoy the winding trail’s historic parks and beautiful downtown scenery. It starts at 7 a.m. Find out more or register at https://its-go-time.com/firecracker-4-miler-2016

  • grilled gingerGrilled Ginger is an authentic Vietnamese restaurant nestled in a strip mall off Yadkin Road. 

    Owners Thanh Vo and his wife, Han Nguyen, were both born in Vietnam and immigrated to the United States. They first moved to California, where Vo was an engineering and computer science student before deciding to become a chef. Later, they moved to Fayetteville, where their two children, now ages five and two, were born. They opened Grilled Ginger a little over five years ago, and recently celebrated their five-year anniversary in May.

    Lunch is usually more crowded than dinner, compliments of Fort Bragg, however, dinner consists usually more of families. Grilled Ginger is closed on Wednesdays for their day of rest. They prefer to have a day off in the middle of the week so they can take their children to appointments, and also because they usually get a large after church crowd on Sunday afternoons and evenings.

    The restaurant’s name comes from the main ingredient in their food  — grilled ginger. The ginger is grilled very slowly before it is cooked and then added to the food. 

    According to Vo, who is the chef for Grilled Ginger, the most popular item on the menu is their soup, which they call ‘pho.’ Pho is a popular Vietnamese noodle soup, which can either contain seafood, chicken or beef, or a combination of those. Another popular item on the menu is the eggroll or spring roll. As per Nguyen, the reason their eggrolls and spring rolls are so popular is because everything is made completely fresh.

    In addition to authentic Vietnamese cuisine, Grilled Ginger offers a selection of beer, and both red and white wines. They also serve smoothies and bubble tea. 

    Inside, the décor of Grilled Ginger exhibits the owner’s ties to Vietnam. Upon first walking in, there is an authentic Vietnamese red dress and hat on display. Adorning the walls are beautiful paintings, which were hand painted by Nguyen’s friend in Vietnam, and then shipped by boat to the United States. Two of the paintings are portraits painted of Nguyen and of her aunt. 

    The open concept of the restaurant, complimented by the warm colors of the walls and the friendly nature of the workers, creates a casual and relaxed dining atmosphere.

    A neat aspect of Grilled Ginger is that it truly is a family affair. Nguyen’s aunt, Lien Sherman, owns the strip mall off Yadkin Road where Grilled Ginger is located. Sherman immigrated to the United States before Nguyen and Vo, where she met her military husband. She then was able to sponsor Nguyen when she immigrated. They expressed the deep desire to bring as many family members from Vietnam to the United States as possible. 

    Grilled Ginger is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Sunday from 12 to 8 p.m. and closed on Wednesdays. 

  • news6Are airborne troops still needed in modern warfare? The question arises in military circles from time to time.  Some consider airborne impractical in modern warfare - and expensive. Combat jumps have been few and far between since World War II. Army paratroopers are most visible in the Fayetteville/Fort Bragg community. Rotating brigades of the 82nd Airborne Division comprise our nation’s Global Reaction Force (GRF). The GRF is designed to rapidly deploy in an emergency with wheels up in 18 hours.

    Military scholar Marc DeVore’s 2015 study “When Failure Thrives” shocked the airborne community. DeVore argues that the airborne still exists because of “institutionalization and military culture.”  He suggests that U.S. airborne forces are more a product of the airborne community’s lobbying efforts rather than logical calculations. He concludes that technology advances have all but removed airborne soldiers from the modern battlefield. “We’ve gone 38 years with it being tough to say any given airborne operation was necessary to accomplish the overall objective of a given operation,” DeVore said in an Army Times interview. 

    Pentagon leaders don’t buy the assertion. They acknowledge that a major airborne air assault is a low-probability option, but that it remains a vital capability and deterrent. “It’s not an Army requirement. It’s a national security requirement,” says Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of XVIII Airborne Corps. Most of the Army’s top leaders have airborne backgrounds:  Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, Vice Chief Gen. Daniel Allyn, U.S. Special Operations Commander Gen. Joseph Votel and acting Army Secretary Patrick Murphy all served at Fort Bragg. Nine of the Army’s 13 four-star generals have led or served in the 82nd or XVIII Airborne Corps.

    Airborne also offers training, morale, retention and recruiting perks and a pay bonus. Soldiers who are required to jump out of airplanes as part of their military duties are entitled to “Jump Pay” or “Parachute Duty Pay.” There are two rates of Jump Pay, regular and HALO (High Altitude, Low Opening). Regular jump pay is $150 per month. HALO parachutists receive $225 per month. And there’s prestige. Members of the 82nd Airborne consider themselves the Army’s elite. They wear distinctive headgear setting them apart from regular forces. 

    No one suggests parachuting is obsolete; Special Forces and the 75th Ranger Regiment frequently jump into enemy territory. But does the Army need five-plus brigades -- three of them at Fort Bragg -- with ever-tightening budget restraints? Former XVII Airborne Corp Commander Lt. Gen. Joe Anderson said airborne brigades cost about 10 percent more in maintenance than standard light infantry, but roughly a third as much as an armored unit. 

    Over the last 15 years, members of the 82nd have seen more than their fair share of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan — but they were not involved in combat jumps. Army leaders note an air drop is the only way to get a substantial force into a conflict quickly when there’s no airstrip handy. “Today the application of a large-scale airborne assault is low probability, but it’s high consequence if we’re not absolutely prepared to do it,” said Brig. Gen. Brian Winski, deputy commander of the 82nd Airborne Division. 

  • news5Naloxone is a medication used to counter the effects of opioid overdose. Morphine, Percocet and heroin are in that class of drugs.   Naloxone is used to counteract life-threatening situations by allowing an overdose victim to breathe normally. It’s a non-addictive medication now available without prescription in North Carolina. Governor McCrory recently signed legislation making naloxone more accessible. “It has already saved the lives of 3,300 North Carolinians,” he said.  North Carolina is the third state in the country to issue a standing prescription order statewide for naloxone. 

    Naloxone is traditionally administered by emergency response personnel. Fayetteville police were first equipped with it just over a year ago, according to police Captain Lars Paul. All patrol officers and narcotics detectives carry it. Paul says a company that makes the drug provided the department with several hundred does of Naloxone. EVZIO is a hand-held, single-use naloxone auto-injector developed by Kaleo Pharma of Richmond, Virginia. EVZIO should be given right away and does not take the place of emergency medical care. “EVZIO kits of two injectors and audio instructions are expensive, costing nearly a thousand dollars,” Paul said. Now however, an inexpensive Naloxone nasal spray is on the market and available over the counter for about $12. Improperly used prescription pain medications like Percocet and oxycodone are still the number one cause of opiate overdoses. But, stricter federal regulations governing them are making them harder to get and more expensive. Paul says “people start off using legitimate prescription pain killers and then turn to heroin as a cheaper option.”

    Dr. Steven Stack, the 170th president of the American Medical Association, recently issued an open letter to America’s physicians on the opioid epidemic. It read in part “The medical profession must play a lead role in reversing the opioid epidemic that, far too often, has started from a prescription pad. For the past 20 years, public policies — well-intended but now known to be flawed — compelled doctors to treat pain more aggressively for the comfort of our patients. But today’s crisis plainly tells us we must be much more cautious with how we prescribe opioid. Tens of thousands of Americans are dying every year and more still will die because of a tragic resurgence in the use of heroin.”

    Alternative forms of pain management may reduce the use of addictive drugs. Experts agree that medication is a necessary and sometimes lifesaving part of the pain-management equation. The latest trend, said Steven Stanos, D.O., medical director of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago Center for Pain Management, is to take a more comprehensive approach to treating chronic pain, a “bio-psycho-social approach.” The “bio,” or biological, part means treating the physical or underlying root causes. The “psycho,” or psychological, part addresses the depression, fear and anxiety that can accompany chronic pain. The “social” part pertains to a patient’s ability to function in society. Very few doctors have specialized training in pain management. In fact, only three percent of U.S. medical schools offer courses in it. In Fayetteville, there are 15 doctors who specialize in chronic pain management ranging from acupuncture to therapeutic         laser treatment.

  • stadiumThere appears to be growing interest in bringing minor league baseball back to Fayetteville. An informal study of stadiums conducted by Up & Coming Weekly reveals that a ballpark proposed for downtown Fayetteville, if approved, would be the Taj Mahal of Single-A stadiums on the east coast. Barrett Sports Group (BSG) has proposed a nearly $47 million facility to Fayetteville City Council. That would make a ballpark adjacent to the Prince Charles Hotel the most expensive stadium in Single A baseball by far. 

    The existing stadium that comes the closest in cost is Constellation Field in Sugar Land, Texas. It was built in 2012 at a cost of $36 million, or $37.8 million in 2016 dollars, according to the U.S. Inflation Calculator. The Sugar Land team plays in an unaffiliated league on the caliber of Triple-A baseball. The stadium seats 7,500. It was the result of many years of effort by the city of Sugar Land, its citizens and a public/private partnership. No general fund dollars were spent to build the stadium. It was funded with a portion of sales tax revenues made available only for economic development purposes. Expenditures by visitors to the stadium generate sales, as do hotel occupancy taxes that benefit the city and Sugar Land residents. Similar revenue sources would not be immediately available to the City of Fayetteville and would require the cooperation of the state legislature and County of Cumberland to accomplish over time. County Commission Chairman Marshall Faircloth has said the county has no interest in helping to fund the ballpark.

    Up & Coming Weekly reviewed construction costs of typical Single-A minor league ballparks built on the east coast of the United States.  Pensacola, Fla., Bayfront Stadium opened in 2012 with a seating capacity of 5,000. Construction cost was $18 million or $19.2 million in 2016 dollars. The stadium in Bowling Green, Ky., was built in 2008 at a cost of $28 million or $31.2 million in today’s dollars. Whitaker Bank Ball Park in Lexington, Ky., opened in 2001 and seats 7,000. It’s a Single-A affiliate of the Houston Astros, the same team interested in Fayetteville. It cost $13.5 million in 2000 or $18 million today. The State Mutual Stadium in Rome, Ga., was built at a cost of $15 million in 2001 to seat 5,100. That cost today would be $18 million. 

    While BSG Consultants have recommended a $47 million stadium for Fayetteville, Mayor Nat Robertson tells Up & Coming Weekly he believes the city can build a park for about $30 million in what he calls “non-traditional, out-of-the-box financing” without a bond referendum or tax increase. He is recommending to city council’s newly-appointed stadium subcommittee that it designate the $6 million economic development pledge from PWC for the stadium. He believes the city-owned Festival Park Plaza Building and Robert Williams Business Center, both of which the city owns, could be liquidated for $9 million. He would like the city to request $10 million dollars from the general assembly for economic development. Finally, Robertson suggests that the city set aside $1 million a year for five years in general fund revenues for the stadium. The Houston Astros ownership has asked the city for a commitment by mid-August. 

  • News1A Hope Mills man was jailed on incest charges growing out of an investigation of a runaway juvenile. Oliver Bragg’s daughter ran away from her Round Grove Place home in Hope Mills. Now Bragg, 42, is charged with first degree statutory sexual offense and taking indecent liberties with his own child. Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Sean Swain says a routine runaway child report filed with the sheriff’s office in early April became something much more. Three days later, the Cumberland County Department of Social Services notified the sheriff that an uncle of the child, Timothy Brock, had reported that her father had been engaging in sexual intercourse with her since she was in the 7th grade. Brunswick County social worker Carrie Nelson disclosed details of the allegations, which began when she was 12 years old.  During a medical exam of the child on April 28, she again stated that Bragg made her preform sex acts. Bragg is being held in the Cumberland County Jail on $100,000 secured bond.

     

    news2Sunday Bus Service Planned for Fayetteville     

    Sunday bus service is provided in Raleigh, Durham, Greensboro and Wilmington. It’s not available in Fayetteville, but may be in the not too distant future. Fayetteville Area System of Transit Director Randy Hume told his citizen advisory committee he hopes to recommend initial Sabbath service in Fiscal Year 2018. His plan is to initially make it available on the eight busiest bus routes. The anticipated annual cost is $360,000. “Typically ridership on Sunday is about 20% of weekday usage,” said Hume. In Durham, he says, it’s higher at 26%. Sunday transit service has been a part of FAST’s Transit Development Plan for several years. As planned a year from now, and if approved by city council, Sunday buses would run on Routes 5, 6, 8, 12, 14, 15, 18 and 19. Door to door FASTtrac service for the disabled would parallel fixed route service.

     

    news3If You See Something Say Something                     

    Fayetteville Police are again reminding residents to report suspicious activity to 911 in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security’s “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign. The request comes in the wake of the June 11 massacre at the Orlando night club. “We have not received notification of any local threats here in Fayetteville and we do not believe there is any immediate threat to our community,” said Police spokesman, Lt. David McLaurin. But “we need our citizens to be vigilant,” he added.  “If You See Something, Say Something” engages the public in protecting the homeland through greater awareness. To report suspicious activity, police ask that residents contact local law enforcement and describe specifically what was observed. That would include who or what was seen, when and where it was seen and why it was suspicious. If it’s an emergency, call 911 immediately. Suspicious activity could be unusual items or situations. For example, a vehicle parked in an odd location or a package left unattended. A person questioning individuals at a level beyond curiosity would be considered suspicious as would someone paying unusual attention to facilities or buildings beyond a casual interest. 

     

    news4New Fort Bragg Green Beret Commander      

    (photo of Col Moses was not available)

    Col. Bradley D. Moses has assumed command of 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Bragg. He takes over for Col. Robert Wilson whose next assignment is at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Moses previously served as commander of the group’s 3rd Battalion. The 3rd Group is one of five active duty Special Forces Groups in the Army. It’s now responsible for special operations assignments in Africa. For the last 13 years, Special Forces soldiers from 3rd Group have deployed almost always to Afghanistan and, to a lesser extent, Iraq. “The group’s transition is the result of an overarching look at how special operations forces were being allocated,” Wilson said. From ISIS to Boko Haram and al-Qaida, the 3rd Special Forces Group has been called on for numerous deployments in recent years. Those deployments have been costly. Forty-nine stone pavers on the 3rd Special Forces Group Memorial Walk honor the soldiers who died in Iraq or Afghanistan since 2001.

  • MargaretI cannot get the sad story of the Stanford University rape case out of my mind.

    Maybe it is because I was part of the group that established the Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County and counseled victims of sexual assault from adolescents to senior citizens.

    Maybe it is because two decades ago, a young man of my acquaintance was accused of date rape at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was prosecuted by the state and defended at great cost to his family. The case ended in a plea arrangement, and his life continued, though hardly unscathed. I do not know the young woman involved, but I feel certain her life has changed as well.

    Perhaps it is because I am the mother of the Precious Jewels, two sons and a daughter, and adore each of them.

    Everyone with a television or internet access has heard the disturbing story. A promising student and Olympic swimming hopeful at the prestigious Stanford University was convicted of sexual assault of a young woman as she lay unconscious behind a garbage dumpster having passed out from alcohol consumption. The 20-year-old attacker was caught by two passersby, who tackled him as he ran away and turned him over to law enforcement. Compounding the already horrendous situation was the trial judge who gave the convicted felon an astounding six-month sentence, announcing in court that any more time would have “a severe impact on him.” His own father did more damage by penning an astonishing letter to the court, whining that his son’s life is now forever changed and “that is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20 plus years of life.” He could have received 14 years.

    The sad dad spoke on behalf of his son, but the 23-year-old victim who has not been identified spoke for herself, leaving no doubt that her life has been upended in ways equally if not more profoundly than that of her now-tarnished golden boy attacker. 

    I do not know if this incident and many others like it are more prevalent among American college students than they once were, but I do have some thoughts about what we have seen in recent years.

    Alcohol is often the fuel that ignites these assaults, but we are fools if we think we can keep it away from young adults. With all good intentions three decades ago, we required states to institute 21 as the legal age to purchase and consume alcohol. In every other way, we allow those 18 and older to be adults. They can get married, can buy a house or a car on credit, can serve and die for our nation in combat. But have a beer legally? No way, we say. We may have saved some lives on the highway, but we have turned alcohol into forbidden fruit. We have turned our young people into lawbreakers when they buy and consume it and ourselves into hypocrites for looking the other way. Our national policy has been a national failure and needs to change.

    Sexual assault is sexual assault no matter where it occurs. It should be dealt with by law enforcement and our legal system, not by college and university administrators who all too often have vested and strong interests in protecting their institutions. Baylor University is but the latest school to apologize for mishandling sexual improprieties within its football program, and it is probably not the last. These are criminal justice matters, not college pranks.

    Somehow, we as responsible adults are not communicating effectively enough with our young adults about how to conduct themselves. Drunkenness is not an attractive or desirable state of being, and it does not promote good judgment. People who are drunk do things they would never do otherwise, and drunkenness is not a legal excuse. “Beer made me do it” does not fly in a court of law, whether the offense is jaywalking or attacking an unconscious woman. By the same token, while a 23-year-old woman drinking herself silly is not a crime, it does leave her open to an attack by a sexual predator, like the Stanford swimmer.

    And, finally, respect for each other is overdue for a comeback with all of us. We live in a society that has adopted insulting each other as a sport — think Donald Trump. We give a pass to people who hurt each other’s feelings, and it is a short jump from that to hurting each other’s bodies. Many of our young adults seem to have missed the lesson on respect, and it is up to us to acquaint them with the concept.

    My favorite litmus test that I passed on to my Precious Jewels is simple.

    Do you want your family and friends to read about what you are doing on the front page of the paper and all over the internet?

    If not, don’t do it.

  • PUB PENHa! Now that I got your attention, I will confess that I am a big fan of building a baseball stadium behind the Prince Charles Hotel in downtown Fayetteville and attracting a minor league team we can call our own.

    However, the devil is in the details, and no one has better articulated this than local business owner and community activist Michael Chandler. Read his editorial “Fool Me Twice? “on page 9 in this edition, and consider yourself forewarned of the complexities and hazards in negotiating a project of      such magnitude.

    And, if Chandler’s message is not enough, let me contribute this

    addendum: It is the opinion of this writer that our community could afford to build all three of the quality-of-life amenities proposed to us during the past year: a baseball stadium; a downtown performing arts center; and a North Carolina Civil History Center - and do it without a major tax increase. 

    All we have to do is convince the Wizard of Oz to provide the elected leadership of Cumberland County and the City of Fayetteville with the heart that would enable them to empathize with our citizens, overcome traditional pettiness, see vision and embrace cooperation and fellowship for the common purpose of moving this community forward

    They would also need a brain to fiscally and strategically come up with a financial plan that would make these countywide economic game changing prospects a reality. 

    And, finally they would need the courage to step up and step out with innovative ideas and strategies that serve all the residents of Cumberland County. Yes, political courage. Unfortunately, the majority of our elected officials are only expert, adept and enthusiastic about one thing: getting elected to an office and remaining there. Historically, some have served decades with little or no contributions to the betterment of our community. 

    Hey, don’t kill the messenger. I will close with this: I proudly spent six years on the Cumberland County Civic Center Board. I was on the controversial board that built the Crown Coliseum.  Granted, the Crown remains an easy target when looking for something to complain about, and I will not dispute or defend the historic fiscal facts of its operation. However, one of the main reasons this complex did not and has not reached the expectations of Cumberland County leaders is because from the very beginning the City of Fayetteville, and consequently, its residents sat on the sidelines criticizing it, complaining about it, vilifying its mission, its management, its location and identifying it as the Bubba Dome. 

    There was never a buy in from the Fayetteville Community.  Consequently, Cumberland County Commissioners distanced themselves from the albatross, allowing a decade of $3 million-a-year losses until a private firm (Spectra) was hired to come in to stop the bleeding and initiate the turnaround. That bold, but veiled act of courage and daring leadership was actually that of County Commissioners Jimmy Keefe and Ed Melvin, who at the time served as the Coliseum’s liaison. Neither of them sought credit or received credit for that bold and unprecedented initiative. They did the right thing for the right reasons, and that resulted in saving Cumberland County taxpayers millions of dollars. 

    I digress:  Here’s my point about the  prospect we have for getting a downtown baseball stadium and a Minor League baseball team for our community. This must be a project where ALL local entities come to the table to take ownership of it: The City of Fayetteville, County of Cumberland, Chamber of Commerce, economic development organizations, Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and private investors. Celebrate it! Something this good must be good for everyone. Otherwise, without inclusion and cooperation, the stadium may still be built and the team may still come; however, like the Crown Coliseum, it will always exist with a mist of skepticism and negativism that will never disseminate. And, again, we will have paid for the privilege. 

    We have only one opportunity to get this right. So, let’s all play ball! We can do this! 

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • 20 Danny GokeyShout for joy! With summer fully upon us the social horizon is beginning to look better than it did at the beginning of 2021. Canceled shows and concerts from last year are finding their way back to local venues, outdoor (and most indoor) attractions are up and running.

    As exciting as that is, recent conversations with a couple of recording artists suggest the (cringe!) new normal will be a little different. Danny Gokey, who many know from his top 3 slot on American Idol alongside Adam Lambert and winner Kris Allen a dozen years ago, opened up recently about life and touring after the pandemic.

    Danny is a devoted family man, and enjoys time with his wife, Leyicet, and their four children. When the shutdowns punched the music industry right in its touring gut last year, he found himself able to spend more consecutive days at home than he has since he walked off the Idol stage in 2009. And he liked it. In the last year, he's collaborated on recordings with several top artists including Koryn Hawthorne, Belonging Company and bilingual recordings with Evan Craft and Christine D'Clario.

    Known for amazing dancing during his shows, when I caught up with him in early March last year, he was out of breath from rehearsing for his Spring tour. However, before the tour could even launch, it was canceled as venues around the country closed their doors. More recently, a decidedly more composed man sat down with me for a few minutes as we talked about his abbreviated Spring 2021 tour which stopped in Dunn, North Carolina.

    When I asked Danny what he thought about touring life going forward, he didn't hesitate. “I'm not going to do as many shows,” he said. “I was doing 120 dates a year, and I'm not going to do that any more.” As a Gospel Music Association Dove Award Winner with at least three Grammy nominations, I asked Danny how he planned to make up the difference from his previous level of touring income. “I don't think it's about making it up,” he quickly answered. “It's about deciding what's most important,” and indicated connecting with fans is important, but family takes priority over that.

    The sentiment was echoed by Colton Dixon, another American Idol alumnus, who became a father to twin girls Dior and Athens during the pandemic-related shutdowns. Colton recently missed a local tour date due to a COVID outbreak among tour crew, and seemed almost relieved about it when we spoke just before Father's Day. Going forward he says, “I'll be more selective about what dates I agree to.”

    While you might not see Colton nearby this summer, you can catch a performance of his latest single, “Made To Fly” on ABC's “Good Morning America” on July 9. The song begins with a nod to his own father, who he says was a strong and positive influence in his life. And as we begin to see less of him and other favorites in concert in the near future, we can likely count on the fact that's what's happening in their homes. As fathers, mothers, husbands and wives, the artists we know and love are having more and better influence in their own homes.

    21 Colton Dixon 2020 cr Jimmy Fontaine billboard 1548 compressed Pictured Above: Danny Gokey (Photo Coutesy www.facebook.com/DannyGokeyOffical/)

    Pictured Left: Colton Dixion (Photo Coutesy www.billboard.com

  • 08 2021 Sue Kelly Community Service AwardThe Fayetteville Public Works Commission received an American Public Power Association Sue Kelly Community Service Award June 22 during APPA’s National Conference in Orlando, Florida. The award recognizes “good neighbor” activities that demonstrate the commitment of the utility and its employees to the community.

    PWC partnered with the city’s downtown district to bring Prismatica, an interactive, public art installation, to light up the downtown after the city reopened following the COVID-19 shutdowns. “Prismatica-Powered by PWC” celebrated and highlighted the value of public power for a month and increased foot traffic by 30 percent, lifting both the economic outlook of businesses and the spirit of Fayetteville’s community.

    “PWC exemplifies the power of togetherness - the power of collaboration with their actions. They not only supply our growing region with quality/reliable infrastructure, but they believe in being good neighbors; and dedicating their resources to support the community,” said Bianca Shoneman, President and CEO, Cool Spring Downtown District, Inc.

    Annually, PWC employees have a strong commitment to the United Way of Cumberland County. In over 20 years, PWC employees have given more than $2 million in support of United Way. With donations projected to be down in 2020 because of the pandemic, employees stepped up and increased support by 9 percent with a $156,000 campaign.

    “PWC’s efforts and commitment to improving lives are evident in their work and through interaction with their staff,” says Amy Navejas, President, United Way of Cumberland County.

    “Their efforts stand out as they go above and beyond to encourage workplace support of those in need not only through generous financial support totaling over $2.2 million, but through volunteerism and dedication to numerous community events.”

    Throughout the years, PWC has remained service-driven and continues to implement various programs that greatly benefit its community. Other initiatives recognized by the APPA Award include:

    •Increasing awareness of bidding opportunities to keep more dollars in the local economy through its Building Business Rally initiatives.

    •Establishing a local Line worker program with Fayetteville Technical Community College, addressing concerns of an aging workforce, and need for line workers. PWC provides resources to the program including donating/setting the poles for the class pole yard.

    •Increasing renewable energy production, engaging customer participation in affordable renewable energy and lowering demand costs/customer rates by building NC's first Public Power Community Solar Project. The project provides Fayetteville’s transient military community, including renters, the ability to participate in solar energy without long-term rooftop solar investment.

    The American Public Power Association is the voice of not-for-profit, community-owned utilities that power 2,000 towns and cities nationwide. The APPA represents public power before the federal government to protect the interests of the more than 49 million people that public power utilities serve, and the 93,000 people
    they employ.

  • 04 CPL Mojave LittlejohnA Fort Bragg paratrooper assigned to the 20th Engineer Brigade died during an accident while en route to a training range on Thursday, June 17.

    Corporal Mojave Littlejohn, 21, a native of Roseville, Michigan, was a horizontal construction engineer, in 161st Engineer Support Company (Airborne), 27th Engineer Battalion (Airborne), 20th Eng. Bde. Littlejohn was involved in a collision while operating a military truck, resulting in his death.

    “Cpl. Littlejohn was an exceptional Soldier, friend and paratrooper,” said Lt. Col. Shawn Polonkey, commander, 27th Eng. Bn. “He had a larger than life personality, a razor-sharp wit, and an ever-present sense of optimism. He was incredibly proud to be a paratrooper, and unmistakably loved his family, his nation, and those with whom he served.”

    Littlejohn, a competitive weightlifter and fitness enthusiast, enlisted in the U.S. Army in March 2019. He was assigned to the 27th Eng. Bn. in September 2019 after completing Basic and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and graduating from the U.S. Army Airborne School.

    He conducted airborne operations at Sicily and Luzon drop zones and served hundreds of hours behind the controls of bulldozers, excavators, graders and other heavy engineer equipment.

    “Cpl. Littlejohn was an integral part of the many important missions undertaken by the company, performing commendably,” Polonkey said. “We will keep this Rock paratrooper, his family, and his friends in our thoughts and prayers.”

    The incident is under investigation.

    Pictured Above: Cpl. Mojave Littlejohn 

  • 10 10 FTCCThe Paul H. Thompson Library at Fayetteville Technical Community College was awarded an $11,936 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to create a Makerspace Lab to serve FTCC students.

    Makerspaces are collaborative work areas with a variety of equipment. At the Paul H. Thompson Library, the grant will be used to purchase a computer, a 3D printer, a Raspberry Pi computer and a Cricut cutting machine, as well as furniture and related supplies to support curriculum programs and to improve learning outcomes of students.

    Library Director Laurence Gavin said the Makerspace Lab will be an active learning space where students will be able to work independently or in small groups to create, learn and share ideas to achieve their educational goals through access to a variety of educational technologies.

    The grant funds were provided by the Institute through the federal Library Services and Technology Act, which aims to help libraries deliver relevant and up-to-date services for their communities. The State Library of North Carolina administers the grant program in this state and funds projects in libraries across the state that advance excellence and promote equity by strengthening capacity, expanding access and community engagement.

    The Paul H. Thompson library received one of 47 competitive grants awarded to North Carolina libraries for fiscal year 2021-2022 from a federal allotment of $4.8 million. The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas.

    Through the LSTA Grants to States program IMLS provides funds to State Library agencies using a population-based formula. State libraries may use the appropriation to support statewide initiatives and services; they may also distribute the funds through competitive subgrants to public and academic libraries. To learn more about the Institute, please visit www.imls.gov.

    For more information about North Carolina’s LSTA program visit the State Library of North Carolina’s LSTA web page at https://statelibrary.ncdcr.gov/services-libraries/grants-libraries/lsta-grant-information or contact the State Library’s Federal Programs Consultant at 919-814-6796.

  • 05 Jack Britt athletes 2The Jack Britt Outdoor Track and Field team placed two athletes in the 2021 North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s 4A Mideast Regional Championship Meet. Brian Marquis Jr. finished second in the 800-meter run at the regional championship, taking home the silver medal for Jack Britt. James Stover finished 3rd, taking home the bronze medal. Their finishes qualified them both for the State Championship. This was the first time Jack Britt has ever had two men's runners qualify for the Mideast Regional Championship in the same season in the 800-meter run. Both athletes were teammates in the 4 x 400-meter race which placed 4th overall, finishing two-tenths of a second behind the bronze medal team and also qualifying for the State Championship meet.

    Pictured above: Brian Marquis Jr. (left) and James Strover (right) 

  • 02 line of babiesLooking for just the facts? Here they are.

    The United States is facing an accelerating downward trend in our national birth rate, resulting in the slowest population growth since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The recent Great Recession of the 2000s made the decline even more pronounced, with the birth rate for women in their 20s falling 28% since 2007. It is rising among women in their 30s and 40s, but not enough to offset babies not being born to 20-somethings whose fertility is generally the highest. Our birth rate is below replacement level for native-born Americans.

    North Carolina is not immune to this trend. Our birth rate’s most recent peak was in 2007 when 131,000 bundles of joy arrived to North Carolina families. Post Great Recession in 2013, only 119,000 babes arrived, a 9% decline. According to Carolina Demography at UNC-CH, that is about 20 fewer births each year for every 1000 women under 30.

    Several western European nations including Spain, Italy, Greece and Luxembourg have birth rates well under 2 per woman of childbearing age, well below the replacement rate. Asian nations including China, South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan are also facing declining birth rates. The implications for all of them, and increasingly for us, as well are clear and stark. The United States is now an “aging economy,” with more people 65 and older than people younger than 15. Senior benefits such as Social Security and Medicare pose significant financial burdens on workers, generally younger people, who will struggle to meet senior needs. In addition, seniors consume fewer goods, which limits growth in domestic markets. And since wealth is more concentrated among older people, wealth disparity also grows.

    So, what is causing slowing birth rates?

    Every woman has her own story, of course, but there are trends, made possible by reliable contraception available for less than a century. Increasingly, women are delaying motherhood until they complete their educations and are settled in careers, often meaning well in to their 30s and sometimes 40s. This has been true for decades for upper middle class and highly educated women, and it is now the case for women throughout the nation, especially in urban areas with employment opportunities and thriving economies.

    Young women also worry about affording children, a kind of parental sticker shock. They report concerns about the high costs of housing and child care, sometimes piled atop existing student debt. They also acknowledge that children, however wanted and loved, can and do derail careers that have taken years to prepare for and build. They understand that this happens to mothers far more often than it happens to fathers.

    Other declining birth rate nations are approaching the problem with various financial incentives — one-time payments for a new baby — a so-called baby bonus, monthly stipends for children, free school lunches, generous maternal and paternal leaves, subsidized day care and tax incentives. Hungary exempts women with 4 or more children from paying incomes taxes for their lifetimes. Some of this may be helping, but no European country has reached a replacement birth rate. The only nations that have are emerging economies, many in Africa.

    The United States sports a poor record of family support, both financially and in safety net services. Our attitude has been “these are your children, so care for them yourselves.” That is true, of course, but we maintain that stance at considerable risk to all of us. Like European countries and some Asian nations, we must find ways to support young families, lest we find ourselves with too few of them to drive and maintain our economic health.

  • 12 N1905P37003H CopyFort Bragg’s Child and Youth Services is offering free summer sports clinics to military affiliated children.

    The clinics will offer four different sports: football (ages 6–12), soccer (ages 5–14),
    basketball (ages 5–14) and baseball (ages 6–12). A current sports physical and CYS registration is required for participants.

    “There will be three clinics per sport and a capacity of up to 10 children per class,” said Evelyn Eggins-Alston, program operations specialist for CYS.

    The clinics will take place at the Polo Field for football and soccer; baseball will be at Armstead Field; and basketball will be at Tolson Youth Center located on Fort Bragg from Monday through Thursday 9-11 a.m. and 5-7 p.m.

    “The summer sports clinics taking place this summer offer an opportunity for our military families to involve their CYS-registered children to do outdoor athletic activities,” said Elvia Kelly, Fort Bragg Garrison spokeswoman.

    “During the pandemic last year, many services were closed or cancelled, including the sports clinics. The goal this year is to help our youth get involved with our sports program as an avenue to learn or improve new skills and, ultimately, for the children to have fun in the process.”

    Although June clinics have commenced, the July schedule offers football and soccer clinics July12-15, and basketball and baseball clinics July 19-22.

    “This year we decided to conduct a free clinic so that our families would be reintroduced to our sports program,” Eggins-Alston said.

    The Youth Sports Program will provide 12 coaches in total for the clinics. As per new guidelines, masks will not be required while actively participating and equipment will be sanitized between classes.

    For more information, please contact the Youth Sports & Fitness Office at 910-396-5437.

    “While the Child Youth Services sports clinics are held during the summer, military-connected families can involve their children in upcoming sports or other activities throughout the year,” Kelly said.

    Parents can learn about current programs offered by the Youth Sports & Fitness program by calling 910-907-5832, visiting the website https://bragg.armymwr.com/programs/cys-services-sports-fitness or by visiting the Tolson Youth Activities Center on Fort Bragg.

    The registration deadline for clinics is noon on the Friday prior to the start of the clinic.

  • 11 N1608P37005HThe Family Child Care Program at Fort Bragg is looking for in-home child care providers who live on post. The FCC offers free training, certification and assistance for providers.

    “The only providers that can actually be a part of the program are those that live in government owned or leased housing located on the post,” said Evelyn Eggins-Alston, Child and Youth Services program operations specialist for Fort Bragg.

    The program offers extended hours — whole day, part day, extended, overnight, weekends and hourly care in a comfortable home setting.

    “FCC is an integral part of our childcare system available at all Army garrisons,” said Eggins-Alston. “It provides quality home-based care for children 4 weeks to 12 years of age.”

    The program began in the early 1980’s and the certifications are transferable to other installations. It allows flexibility for the parents seeking childcare while alleviating some of the strain on regular Child Developmet Centers, where waiting lists are not uncommon.

    Those interested in becoming certified can go into the FCC director’s office located on the 4th floor of the Soldier Support Center on Fort Bragg or call 910-396-3823 for information.

    “They’ll have an interview and then will be provided paperwork and a welcome packet,” Eggins-Alston said. “There will be a background check and then will come the training they need. We will make sure their training is maintained and includes CPR, food handling, fire and safety, and more.”

    CYS oversees the program, but providers do enjoy some autonomy in how they run their service. The providers are free to choose what age group they are comfortable providing care for, and the limit for children per home depends on the ages in each house. Providers are their own entrepreneurs, but FCC does provide oversight tours and regulatory guidance and conducts four mandatory annual inspections and unannounced monthly visits, Eggins-Alston said. FCC offers subsidies along with some start-up bonuses for interested childcare providers.

    After the providers' week-long training and in-home inspections, they will create a contract with the parents on the hours and pay.

    In-home providers are independent of the Child Development Centers. “The way they get paid is they make a contract with the parents... we do have policies they can look at and decide how much they want to charge the parents, then what we will do at CYS, we offer 15% cost savings compared to our school programs for the parents.”

    The more qualified providers with the Child Development Associates will be eligible for a one-time $300 starting bonus and an additional monthly $50.

    Parents looking for childcare don’t have to live on post to take advantage of the service, but all children in care must be registered. For more information on registering children for care on post visit https://public.militarychildcare.csd.disa.mil/mccu/ui/#/

    “There shouldn’t be any children in the home that aren’t registered, because the children in the same house need to have the same immunizations as the other children," Eggins-Alston said.

    In-home providers offer flexibility that Child Development Centers, which have set hours, cannot.

    “Some parents are dual military or single parents, and they may need longer hours other than what our centers provide so the in-home provider can choose to go longer or more flexible hours,” Eggins-Alston said. “Maybe those that need weekend care, or during deployment, this program is there to pick up the slack where we can’t.”

  • 03 Richard Hudson with veteransThank you, President Biden.

    That’s not something I say often — but last week, the President was in North Carolina to discuss COIVD-19 vaccines. While we do not agree on many issues, I appreciate the President coming to our state and highlighting our role in the success of Operation Warp Speed to make vaccines available to anyone who wants them.

    I believe issues like recovering from the pandemic should always be bipartisan and focused on helping you and your family.
    Another bipartisan issue should always be caring for our troops, their families and veterans.

    I say it a lot, but being Fort Bragg’s Congressman is truly an incredible honor that I take very seriously. Our men and women in uniform, as well as their families, sacrifice for our freedoms every day. In Congress, I am working to make sure our troops have the support and resources they deserve and made real progress on several fronts in recent weeks.

    First, the U.S. Department of Defense issued a final rule to allow service members to pursue medical malpractice claims in the military. This is thanks to my Rich Stayskal Act which was signed into law in 2019. I am thrilled to see this rule issued after more than 3 years of work on behalf of soldiers like Rich.

    I first met Sgt. 1st Class Rich Stayskal, a Green Beret and Purple Heart recipient from Pinehurst, in 2018 after his stage 4 lung cancer had been misdiagnosed by the military. Unfortunately, due to an outdated law, Rich and other service members were not able to have access to medical malpractice claims like other Americans.

    While we were successful in changing the law in 2019, it took the Defense Department until this month to issue this rule. Now with $400 million of funding, claims can begin to be processed by the Department as early as next month.

    Nothing can right wrongs that were made, but this law is a huge step toward providing relief to heroes who deserve it. And I pray the deterrent effect will prevent medical malpractice in the future.

    Also last week, I introduced the Vanessa Guillén Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act. As Fort Bragg’s Congressman, I’m proud to help lead this bipartisan legislation that seeks to end sexual assault in the military, hold violators accountable and support survivors.

    Sexual assault is an affront to the values of our military and the nation it defends. We must accept that what we have tried in the past has not worked — as in the tragic case of Spc.Vanessa Guillén who was sexually assaulted and murdered at Fort Hood in Texas last year.

    We owe it to victims like Vanessa and their families to do everything we can to end sexual assaults in the military. Our men and women in uniform sacrifice every day to keep us safe and we have a responsibility to ensure all service members are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.

    Finally, another bill I introduced to help families at Fort Bragg also made a big step forward last week. After hearing from many of you about the inconvenience and hardship of having to travel several hours to have court cases heard, I joined with Congresswoman Deborah Ross and Senators Burr and Tillis to introduce a bipartisan bill to allow all court cases stemming from Fort Bragg to be heard in the Eastern District's courthouse in nearby Fayetteville.

    Last week, the bill passed both the Senate and the House and headed to President Biden’s desk for his signature. This common sense bill is a good example of how government should work — we saw a problem, found a solution and Republicans and Democrats worked together to pass a new law.

    Pictured Above: Congresman Richard Hudson talks with veterans at Memorial Day event (Photo courtesy https://husdon.house.gov)

    While I wish we could get Republicans and Democrats together to solve problems more often, I am committed to bipartisanship and continuing to stay focused on the issues that matter to you.

    We have a lot of work to do to grow our economy, slow inflation and out-of-control spending, address rising crime, secure our border, and defend our Second Amendment and the right to life. As I work on common sense solutions, rest assured I will always show up to work for you.

  • 16 Fort Bragg Fourth of JulyFort Bragg will host its annual Independence Day celebration with a return to a pre-pandemic line-up that includes music, demonstrations, food and lots of family-friendly fun. The event was streamlined last year due to COVID-19 restrictions but returns with a full afternoon of entertainment leading up to headliner Foreigner before the evening culminates with a fireworks display.

    “We know the community is excited to get out and celebrate together,” said Theresa Smith, Fort Bragg’s Special Events Coordinator. “The Fourth of July celebration has always been a popular event, and we expect this year will be no different.”

    The celebration begins at 3 p.m. on the Main Post Parade Field. The event is free and open to Department of Defense ID card holders and guests with a visitor pass, which can be obtained at the All American Visitor Center, Smith said.

    There will be food and drink vendors on site with an assortment of items available for purchase to include barbecue, ice cream, funnel cakes, Philly cheesesteaks and more.

    Guests will enjoy a parachute demonstration by the Golden Knights. Returning this year is the popular Flag Ceremony, a long-standing tradition that highlights the nation’s states and territories, as well as the units that call Fort Bragg home, Smith said.

    The musical line-up includes the 82nd Rock Band, local band The Fifth and Foreigner.

    Local rock band The Fifth was formed in 2001 by former Cold Sweat vocalist Roy Cathey. The band has since built a strong and feverish following by touring the east coast and giving fans exactly what they want — a great show and a good time, every time. The band has enjoyed a string of successes including music featured in television ads for Dodge Ram and television promo ads for “The Voice” and “Grey's Anatomy.” The Fifth has seen a two-week tour in Japan, a Top 10 single ("The Gift") on WVRK-FM Rock 103 in Columbus, Georgia, and a Monster Energy sponsorship. Cathey said the group will release a new album later this year. You can find their music on https://www.reverbnation.com/thefifth. For more information of the band visit www.facebook.com/thefifthmusic.

    The Fifth kicks off their set at 6:45 p.m. and Foreigner is scheduled to take the stage at 8:15 p.m.

    Hailed as one of the most popular rock acts in the world, Foreigner has a musical arsenal that continues to propel sold-out tours and album sales.

    Foreigner is responsible for some of rock and roll’s most enduring anthems including “Feels Like The First Time,” “Urgent,” “Head Games,” “Cold As Ice,” “Waiting For A Girl Like You,” “Hot Blooded,” “Juke Box Hero” and the worldwide #1 hit “I Want To Know What Love Is.” Foreigner has 10 multi-platinum albums and 16 U.S. Billboard Top 30 hits.

    The group continues their success more than 40 years in the business with massive airplay and continued Billboard Top 200 album success. Audio and video streams of Foreigner’s hits are over 15 million per week.

    Foreigner is Mick Jones (guitar), Kelly Hansen (lead vocals), Jeff Pilson (bass, vocals), Michael Bluestein (keyboards, vocals), Bruce Watson (guitar, vocals), Chris Frazier (drums) and Luis Carlos Maldonado (guitar, vocals).

    Group founder and Songwriters Hall of Fame member Jones is the maestro whose songwriting, indelible guitar hooks and multi-layered talents continue to escalate Foreigner’s influence and guide the band to new horizons.

    “Live music is at the heart of what we do and I’m thrilled to be back on the road and visiting so many places over the next year. Looking forward to seeing you all out there,” Jones says.

    Lead singer Hansen says "I am so looking forward to getting our feet back on stage and the crowd in front of us! I have read and heard so much about how people want to get back to live music. It’s such a part of the fabric of who we are and we can’t wait to get out there and reclaim this piece of our lives. Can’t wait to rock it out!"

    In June, Foreigner announced a year-long, 123-date concert tour across 16 countries. The Greatest Hits of Foreigner Tour takes the band to 72 cities in 42 U.S. states, including their Fourth of July concert on Fort Bragg.

    “We will, of course, end the night with our fireworks display at 9:45 p.m.,” Smith said. “Fort Bragg is notorious for having the largest fireworks display in the area, and this year will be no different. We expect approximately 15 minutes of a vibrant fireworks display with an assortment of sizes.”

    The Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Program is bringing back tent city this year for those who want shade. Reservations are required and will be on a first-come basis. You must be a DOD ID card holder to rent space. A space costs $20 and a space and tent rental is $40.

    Pets, glass bottles, grills are not allowed at the event. For a full list of prohibited items visit https://bragg.armymwr.com/application/files/9315/6105/4803/brgg-special_events-Prohibited_Items_Bag_Policy-4th_of_July.pdf

    Guests are encouraged to arrive early and plan for heavy traffic flow. Parking is available with general and handicap parking designated. A parking map is available on the website.

    “People can look forward to celebrating Fourth of July together with live music, local food vendors, beer, and unique Fort Bragg traditions,” Smith said.

    For more information about the event visit, https://bragg.armymwr.com/calendar/event/july-4th-celebration/5184435/23521

    Pictured below:

    Foreigner (left) and local band The Fifth (right) will perform at the Fourth of July celebration on Fort Bragg. (The Fifth photo by Raul Rubiera)

    30 Foreigner group photo31 the fifth courtesy facebook

  • 06 N2108P16005HThe Cumberland County School District is partnering with Cape Fear Valley Health System to offer COVID-19 vaccination clinics at local high schools. Individuals ages 12 and older can get vaccinated with the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine while supplies last. “We are excited to offer the opportunity for eligible students and their families to take their shot,” said Shirley Bolden, CCS Director of Health Services.

    “We encourage families to attend together, as getting vaccinated will help protect everyone from COVID-19.”

    Appointments are not necessary for these walk-in clinics. The first clinics will be held July 14, from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. (first dose) and Aug. 4, from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. (second dose) at Jack Britt High School, 7403 Rockfish Road; 71st High School, 6764 Raeford Road; South View High School, 4184 Elk Road in Hope Mills, Gray’s Creek High School, 5301 Celebration Drive; and Douglas Byrd High School, 1624 Ireland Drive. A second series of clinics will be held July 15, from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. (first dose) and Aug. 5, from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. (second dose) at Terry Sanford High School, 2301 Fort Bragg Road; E.E. Smith High School, 1800 Seabrook Road; Pine Forest High School, 525 Andrews Road; Cape Fear High School, 4762 Clinton Road; and Westover High School, 277 Bonanza Drive.

  • 07 N2108P16003HThe Cumberland County Department of Public Health is set to close the vaccination site at the Crown Coliseum on June 30 and focus vaccination efforts in other areas of the county.

    The Health Department will continue to host frequent vaccination clinics at the Health Department located at 1235 Ramsey Street in Fayetteville but will also continue outreach vaccination efforts to give county residents options which may be closer and more convenient for them.

    “Closing the Crown Coliseum is a natural next step for us in this pandemic as our numbers at the Crown have steadily declined,” said Dr. Jennifer Green, Cumberland County Public Health Director. “We look forward to continuing our outreach efforts and meeting the community where they are.”

    Cumberland County continues to see a downward trend of critical statistics according to June 21 data listed on the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 Dashboard. With an overall downward trend in positive cases, over 28% of the county population have been partially vaccinated, and 26% are fully vaccinated. These figures do not reflect Fort Bragg, Indian Health Service or the Veterans Affairs numbers.

    Cumberland County Department of Public Health supports the NCDHHS incentives to citizens to receive a chance to win a million dollars for those older than 18 years of age or $125,000 for those 12 to 17 years of age. More information can be found at https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/summervaxcash.

    Cumberland County Updates

    The Health Department reports four Cumberland County residents have died of COVID-19 since June 11, bringing the total to 321 deaths. There have been 30,195 cases in Cumberland County reported since the onset of the pandemic.

    As of June 23, Cumberland County’s COVID-19 positive test rate is at 4.5%. The World Health Organization recommends a positive rate at or below 5%.

    Twenty-eight providers in Cumberland County offer vaccinations at 48 locations. Find your spot at https://myspot.nc.gov/ to become fully vaccinated.

    Vaccine Clinic Information

    All individuals (age 12 and up) may schedule appointments on the County’s COVID-19 vaccine page at https://www.cumberlandcountync.gov/covid19/vaccination. An online application form allows individuals to choose their own appointment date and time for the first dose and second dose of the vaccine. Second doses are automatically scheduled after the first dose is received.

    Upcoming clinic dates include:

    June 30, Crown Expo Center, 1960 Coliseum Drive (last day at the Crown), 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. for 2nd Dose Pfizer. The stand-by lane will be open.

    June 30, Murchinson Townhouses, 201 Rosemary St., 5-7 p.m. for the J&J vaccination.

    July 1, Health Department, 1235 Ramsey St., 3rd floor auditorium by appointment only (same day appointments available) from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. for J&J and 1st dose Pfizer.

    July 6, 7, 8 vaccinations will be available at the Health Department, 1235 Ramsey St., 3rd floor auditorium by appointment only (same day appointments available) from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. for J&J and 1st dose Pfizer.

    Visit www.cumberlandcountync.gov/covid19/vaccination to make an appointment. First and second doses are the same. Individuals may attend a “second dose clinic” to receive their first dose. However, they will need to find another location when due to receive the second dose. Call 910- 678-7657 weekdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. if you need assistance with the form or have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine.
    Individuals who need transportation to and from the vaccination site can call 910-678-7619 weekdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for assistance.

  • 19 N1808P16001HHave you ever found yourself not knowing how to navigate through a specific issue?

    I have been in this situation many times. Establishing a relationship with my mentor is what broke this cycle in my life.

    Growing up, I displayed a love for music. Dating back to even my diaper-wearing days, the rhythmic beats of drums captured my attention and motivated me. As I approached my teenage years, I wanted to play the drums at church. As I stepped closer to the drums at my church, I realized that I did not know how to play that shiny five-piece instrument and that I needed a teacher. What happened next was my game-changer. I heard the baritone, barren voice of the church’s drummer ask me, “Do you know how to play the drums?” I responded that I did not, and he became my drum teacher and eventually a trusted mentor.

    While enrolled in beginner drum lessons, I learned the mechanics of drumming and music performance. However, I also learned the value of character traits such as hard work, persistence and endurance.

    My teacher went beyond music; he became my first mentor. He routinely asked about my grades and never failed to remind me that drumming was secondary to my academics. He always sought ways to speak positively, encourage me and make certain that I knew he cared about me.

    Twenty plus years later, he and I still have an ongoing mentor/mentee relationship, and he continues to support me as I navigate manhood.

    Giving back to others has become my life’s mission, and being a mentor is my passion. I have worked in education for the past ten years in various capacities to share my passion. As the Male Mentoring Coordinator at Fayetteville Technical Community College, I provide academic support to enrolled male students as they work towards completing their programs and overcome common barriers that may impede their academic success. My recent efforts are aimed at developing literacy, employability and promoting a healthy lifestyle among the male students.

    Building meaningful relationships represents my overarching objective as a mentor. I often refer back to my younger days when I had a mentor and I try to model my mentoring approach after his “check and connect” model. At FTCC, I provide weekly “check and connect” conferences and group meetings with students whom I mentor. These meetings provide academic advising and personal support and also help students find and obtain work.

    It is a joy and privilege to guide students through their scholastic and personal endeavors. Everyone can benefit from additional support to reach success — whether personal, academic or professional. I invite you to join us for Fall semester; classes begin August 16, and you’ll have plenty of FTCC resources to help you find your way forward. At Fayetteville Technical Community College, Mentoring Matters! Contact me at wombleg@faytechcc.edu for information about how the Male Mentoring program at FTCC can help you.

  • 09 little girl book bagThe Cumberland Community Foundation, Inc., awarded the Cumberland County Public Library a $7,500 Summertime Kids Grant. Every summer since 1992, the foundation’s Summertime Kids Grants program has helped more than 1,000 youth have life-changing summer experiences.

    The library’s 2021 summer reading program serves children from birth through grades 6-12 at library locations. The library is using the Summertime Kids Grant to provide books and bags to children and teens attending summer camps offered by local nonprofits, neighborhood groups and other community organizations. 
     
    Cumberland County Public Library staff will visit camps from June through August at Cape Fear Botanical Garden, Cape Fear Regional Theatre, Fayetteville Urban Ministry, Inc., the Salvation Army, Fayetteville-Cumberland Parks & Recreation and Moore Street Foundation. Each child will receive two age-appropriate books and a book bag. Additional support for library’s outreach program to the camps is provided by the Friends of the Library.
    For more information on other free programs provided by the Cumberland County Library system, please visit www.cumberland.lib.nc.us or call 910-483-7727. For more information on the Summertime Kids Grants Program www.cumberlandcf.org/for-nonprofits/summertime-kids.html.
     
  • 1A IMG 6781The U.S. Army Airborne & Special Operations Museum will open the "Traveling Korean War Memorial" on the Museum's Parade Field from June 25-28. The exhibit opens at 10 a.m. on Friday, June 25 and runs through 4 p.m. on Monday, June 28.

    “We are honored to host this inspiring memorial on the 71st anniversary of the start of the Korean War,” said Jim Bartlinski, Museum director. “This exhibit provides a visible and impactful reminder of the 5.8 million Americans who served during the Korean War, and the 54,246 who died during the conflict.”

    On opening day, Korean War veterans and former prisoners of war – Jake Roth, Bud Wilson and Dick Earl – will be available to provide interviews and share their personal stories of courage.

    The memorial consists of life-sized statues representing a platoon of 19 service members: 14 Army, three Marine, one Navy and one Air Force. The troops wear ponchos covering their weapons and equipment.

    The Korean War is sometimes called the "forgotten war." Nevertheless, it will never be forgotten by the tens of thousands of veterans who served during that conflict. The Museum currently has a Korean War section in permanent exhibit gallery.

    On June 26, author Melinda Pash will also visit the ASOM to discuss her book, “In the Shadow of the Greatest Generation: the Americans Who Fought the Korean War.” This event is free to the public and will take place in the Yarborough Bank Theater of the Museum at 2 p.m.

    The Traveling Korean War Memorial will be open and free to the public 24 hours a day for the duration and will be lit at night.

    2A korean war memorial poster JPEG

  • 12 British Invaders picSummertime is the perfect season to have outdoor, family-friendly events. That’s exactly what Gates Four is offering with their Summer Concert Series. On June 26, the British Invaders band will be performing at the Gates Four Golf & Country Club Pavilion. The band 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.

    The Beatles formed in the 1960s and when they hit the scene in the United Kingdom, their fan base exploded. The Beatles were dominating the music scene in 1963, with women, men and young people of all ages going crazy over them. The term “Beatlemania” was coined by the press to describe the scene at Beatles concerts, and even during their travels. The Beatlemania was so strong, that during their concerts people couldn’t even hear the music being performed, due to all of the loud screaming fans. So, in 1966 the Beatles decided it was best for them to remain a studio-only group.

    The Summer Concert Series will allow those in attendance to step back into what is remembered by many as one of the greatest musical eras. The British Invaders have been known for their striking resemblance to the Beatles band which is one of the many reasons they were selected to play this year’s Gates Four Summer concert series.

    “Getting people out after 2020 and bringing the music they want to listen to, and bring something appealing to all ages, was the goal in putting together this line-up,” said Greg Adair, coordinator for Gates Four Summer Concert Series.

    Tickets for all concert dates are available for purchase online at www.fayettevilledinnertheatre.com. Tickets are $60 per person and include the concert, food and lawn seating (bring your chairs). Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. with food (included with ticket price) served from 6 to 7:30 p.m. A complete line of beverages will be available at three convenient full-service cash bars serving Healy Wholesale beer, 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.

    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.

  • 27 school uniformsThe Cumberland County School Board has approved a policy change for the 2021-2022 school year which ends a requirement in 26 schools that students wear uniforms. Families will still have the option of allowing their children to wear uniforms when they return to school in the fall. Cumberland County Schools Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelly, Jr., gave the Board of Education an update on the district's school uniform requirements. He said the negative, financial impact of COVID-19 presented the need to modify school policy. Connelly said the waiver will provide sufficient time for the district to determine an appropriate path forward at each school. There will be no consequences imp sed upon students for uniform violations; however, student dress code requirements will remain in place. According to Dr. Connelly, the administration will provide another update to the Board in the coming months.

  • 10 dogs in yardCumberland County residents who own pets will no longer be required to pay a pet privilege license effective July 1. The change is part of the revised Animal Ordinance approved June 7 by the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners at their regular meeting.

    Commissioners adopted the new ordinance after the proposal was presented at the May 13 Agenda Session meeting by Animal Services Director Elaine Smith. Dropping the pet license fee was one of several changes in the new ordinance. Smith told commissioners the pet license program was no longer economically practical due to a decline in fees collected.

    “The revenue declined rapidly and significantly over the last five or six years, and it has reached the point where the revenue generated is not making up for the amount of labor, the cost of mailing, postage and fees we pay to our database company,” Smith said. “It has a very shrinking benefit over returns.”
    Most counties in North Carolina do not have pet
    licenses, Smith said, and the Animal Services Department found the licensing requirement to be a disincentive for people getting their pets vaccinated against rabies.

    Current Cumberland County regulations require a pet privilege license for every dog and cat four months of age and older. The annual fee is $7 per animal if the pet is spayed/neutered, or $25 if the pet is not spayed/neutered. Licenses were available at the Animal Services office or through most veterinary clinics.

  • 26 women walking outdoorsI often hear, I need to start exercising. That is an opportunity to talk about fitness, but the decision to begin any type of change that involves lifestyle and fitness is a personal decision.

    There are five stages of health behaviors that assess a person’s readiness to change with a new and healthier behavior, according to the Transtheoretical Model.

    Precontemplation — In this stage there is little or no interest in starting an activity and the person feels it is irrelevant to their life.

    Contemplation — The person is still inactive but is becoming interested in beginning an activity and starts to realize the importance in relation to their lifestyle and health but not ready to make that start to
    a change.

    Preparation — You are ready to become engaged in an activity. The importance of being active becomes relevant and it may begin with short walks, occasional visits to the gym but still inconsistent.

    Action — Engagement is regular physical activity becoming consistent and begins to develop into a routine. The activity is becoming an important part of your life and you find yourself beginning to set a pattern as the months roll by! Six months of continuing your schedule indicates that you are becoming confident in your regimen and results.

    Maintenance — You are excited and feel confident with your accomplishments. Mentally and physically, you see and feel a difference and beginning to advance to other goals and challenges!

    You have been consistent at keeping your goals for more than six months. You are making a continued commitment and are engaging in a lifestyle.

    It is not always easy to get to this stage and many times, the start of an activity will become faced with obstacles and the person can become discouraged before they have gotten started. As an example, Rita has decided to walk three days a week and is doing great with her plan and things come up that interrupt her walking.

    What happens is that she begins to put off something that she is enjoying until the next day or the next and a great start has stopped before it developed into something that would have been beneficial.

    A SMART goal which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time Bound is an excellent format to follow for goals.

    If Rita had a SMART Goal continuing with walking may have helped her focus on a walking regimen. A SMART Goal for Rita: I will begin walking on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 7 a.m. for twenty minutes each day to improve my stamina for one month.

    In this scenario Rita established a time, duration and reason for her exercise which was attainable. Making the decision to be begin a fitness regimen after an illness, injury or being inactive can be rewarding and challenging.

    Be kind to yourself with expectations, approach with a slow start because some apprehension is normal. Surround yourself with friends, groups and social media groups that have similar or the same goals. Select an activity that you like and read articles on the benefits. Place your clothes out the night before as a gentle reminder.

    Reward yourself for reaching your goals and add new goals as you progress and see results of a new you!

  • 11 IMG 2395Here we go again, another Atlantic hurricane season to weather through — a long spell over the summer that traditionally runs from June through November.

    At least one named tropical storm has formed in the Atlantic prior to June 1 — which is the official start of the season — every year for the past half-dozen years.

    Fayetteville PWC reminds everyone that now is the time to start thinking about how you can prepare for the 2021 hurricane season.

    On their website, PWC has posted various sites for checklists, planning tips, FAQs and other resources for its service territory to help customers prepare for hurricanes and other emergencies.

    This season is expected to be another active Atlantic hurricane season with as many as 10 hurricanes forming, according to the federal government.

    “We’re prepared really at a moment’s notice for any emergency,” said Elaina Ball, the recently named CEO and general manager of Fayetteville PWC.

    The free PWC 2021 Storm Guide is now available. Besides being distributed directly to PWC customers, the guide will be available online. Not only does it contain information that pertains to electric and water, but there's an important added section on flooding.

    “It’s not just about the utility service,” Ball said. “It’s really about our community. Making sure they are prepared for everything.”

    As for PWC, Ball said the company is prepared year-round for any kind of storm emergency. “Our crews are a 24/7 operation,” she added. “We need to make sure that, not only on the power side but on the waste-water side, that our systems are prepared for extreme weather. We work year-round to conduct maintenance and make sure we have tools, equipment and materials to be able to respond during a significant storm event like a hurricane."

    “We’re really always on,” Ball said. “Our team works and lives in the community which is an added benefit during storm season. It helps reduce our outages when storms do come upon us so we’re not dispatching crews from other communities. We live and work here so that’s an added advantage of PWC and our workforce.”

    PWC already has an emergency plan of operations in place and is ready to implement it at a moment’s notice.

    “Should there be a hurricane,” she said, “we have an incident command structure able to respond to a hurricane to ensure that, first and foremost, puts the safety of the public and our employees at the forefront. But also that we can direct operations during those emergency events in a sufficient manner, making sure we get response to the highest areas of need to get the majority of customers back quickly and that we can provision our crews to get them what they need to get the power back on.”

    The municipal utility, Ball said, is continuously looking at ways to improve response time. “And I think one of the tools we have that really is going to help us during major storm events is our outage management system. We did just recently upgrade and this system allows the utility and customers to be able see real-time information relative to the status of our power.”

    Customers can sign up with the outage management system through the PWC online customer portal to get outage notifications even during normal times, not just during hurricane events.

    “If there’s a power disruption in your neighborhood and you’re out of power,” Ball said, “you will receive a message, and that will also notify you as soon as the power’s turned back on. At a higher level, the utility can see through the outage management system how many customers are out in an area based on how many outages are showing up in the system. It gives us a better idea of where to pinpoint trouble maybe, and that gets our crews to the areas where they can troubleshoot and make repairs more quickly.”

    Customers are encouraged to have a plan in advance of a looming hurricane.

    Jon Rynne, the chief officer for the PWC electric system, recommends that citizens have a plan for not dealing with power or possibly having a loss of water wastewater facilities during a hurricane or in the days that follow.

    Some of the general precautions often heard from Emergency Management, he said, “are definitely about buttoning up the house if you can. All the things that can become projectiles that can damage your property even further. From the other perspective of having all your things organized so that if you need to evacuate in the case of a flood or something of that nature, have them together so you can go before it’s too late.”

    Have non-perishable foods such as canned goods on hand to eat, Rynne said,so that when the refrigerator is out and customers lose power they still have something they can use to feed themselves and the family. Obviously, having a supply of water and be sure to follow guidelines for how much water you need for how many people you have in your home.

    In addition, consider putting together a “go box” with any important documents and medications that you can simply toss in your vehicle and leave if there’s a need to evacuate.

    In terms of more things specific to the electric system, Rynne said, people need to know what they can and can’t do with a generator: “Not back-feeding with your generator. If folks don’t know or don’t have the provisions in place that can safely inter-tie a generator with their home, they should not inter-tie them."

    “They should use extension cords and just plug in the really critical loads in your house so that you can get through the really critical loads that you need in your house to get through the period that you don’t have power,” he advised. “Because it becomes a very dangerous situation if you back-feed the high-voltage system, and we’re trying to do restoration efforts. It obviously presents quite a hazard and when the guys do restore power, if you are in that condition, you’re going to have a lot of damage to the service on your house and that generator when we restore.”

    Generators should be installed per code and properly, according to Rynne. When people take shortcuts, he noted, that’s when it gets a lot more dangerous.

    “That is an issue we always run into,” he said, “particularly if there’s a long outage and people get to the point where they just can’t stand it without having the generator running.”

    Another suggestion is that people do their routine tree trimming and removal that they should do in their yards. That’s because when a hurricane rolls through, anything of that nature comes down.

    “So, unfortunately, the utility can only clear trees within the right of ways and easements that they have,” said Rynne. “And if people have dangerous trees in their yards, the hurricane’s going to bring it down and it can cause damage to the system and cause outages. So there’s a lot of pieces and parts to it.”

    Carolyn Justice-Hinson, spokeswoman for Fayetteville PWC, also said much can be prevented with the right planning.

    The utility’s customers with medical equipment eligible for the medical priority program can be made a priority in emergency weather situations, she said. This requires a doctor’s certification. Call to find out more about the program.

    For more information on how to prepare for hurricane season visit www.faypwc.com/ call 910-483-1382.

    Pictured Above : A utility crew works to repair service after severe weather. (Photo courtesy PWC) 

     

  • 19 Picture1Cape Fear Studios is hosting Evoke, an exhibit featuring member artist Angela Stout. The exhibit features her striking art creations in oil and will be shown June 23 through July 25. Stout is a contemporary painter, printmaker, photographer and sculptor.

    Also a veteran, Stout teaches art classes to the public. She is a graduate of Fayetteville State University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Studio Arts. Stout exhibits frequently in group exhibitions and competitions locally, nationally and internationally. Her artwork deals with evoking a feeling and the social condition.

    Cape Fear Studios is also excited about having its first open reception in a year on Fourth Friday, June 25 from 5–7 p.m. The event if free.

    Cape Fear Studios is a non-profit artist co -op, offering original pottery, woodwork, glass, jewelry, metalwork, paintings and photography. The Studio’s workshops and retail section will also be open to visitors.

    Cape Fear Studios is located at 148 Maxwell St. The Studio will be open Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Questions can be directed to: artgallery@capefearstudios.com, or 910-433-2986.

  • 03 WIlmington Lie coverThousands of people and families have cycled through our community over the years, some for a weekend, some for a few years and many with the military. Relatively few of us, however, have spent our formative years here, and even fewer of us have excelled on national and international stages like David Zucchino and Chris Hondros. Both are graduates of Terry Sanford High School, though decades apart, and both went on to become legends in their respective fields. They knew of each other but
    never met.

    David Zucchino, a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, recently received his second Pulitzer Prize for “Wilmington’s Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy.” It is an examination of the only overthrow of an elected government in United States history. Blessedly, a more recent attempt, the January 6th insurrection in Washington, failed. Zucchino lays bare this heretofore little-known and shameful moment in our state and nation’s history. His first Pulitzer award came in 1989 for his series “Being Black in South Africa,” published in the Philadelphia Enquirer. I asked the author how growing up in our community shaped him, if it did at all, and he very kindly responded.

    “I went to high school in Fayetteville after my father, a U.S. Army First Sergeant, was transferred to Fort Bragg. As a high school student, I spent several fascinating evenings trolling along Hay Street and taking in the heady mixture of strip clubs, juke joints, saloons, hookers, fistfights and drug dealers. People from all over the world were drawn to Fayetteville at the time, with the Vietnam War in full swing and the Army sending troops back and forth. For reasons that are still obscure, even to me, my exposure to that tawdry scene motivated me to travel the world and seek adventures in faraway places.”

    I would love to have asked the same question of Chris Hondros, but he was killed in Syria in 2011. He was barely 41. An accomplished photographer from his teenage years on, Hondros became a war photojournalist who covered conflicts the world over, including in Liberia, Iraq, Kosovo, Angola, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan. He and a British filmmaker died in a mortar attack by Syrian government troops. His war photography graced the covers of Newsweek and The Economist, as well as the front pages of The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. Some local residents remember Hondros as a photographer for the Fayetteville Observer in the late 1990s, but he was destined for the world theater. He remains on the world stage today in a riveting documentary, “Hondros,” currently available on Netflix, and in an exhibit of some of his photographs currently at the Gregg Museum of Art at NC State, Hondros’ alma mater. The photographs, given to the museum by Hondros’ employer, Getty Images, are both arresting and haunting as they record human behavior and its consequences. Several are familiar even if we did not know who took them. The centerpiece is Hondros’ photograph of a young Liberian government fighter leaping in jubilation as his troops prevail in battle. This well-known photo is one of two Hondros works that received Pulitzer nominations.

    Every community has sons in whom it takes pride, but few have nurtured sons whose work has meaning to people they will never know which sheds light on people, events and issues that shape us and the world around us.

    David Zucchino and Chris Hondros have both achieved that, and we are better for their work.

    02 CHondros Agromeck1992 Pictured Left: Chris Honros Self-portrait for the 1992 agromeck, NC State University.

  • 09 fans croppedThe Department of Social Services is seeking box fans to distribute to eligible citizens this summer through the Fan Giveaway Program. The program provides relief to residents who do not have access to air conditioning during hot summer months. DSS is accepting donations of new box fans from civic organizations, churches, businesses and individuals in the community. The Social Services building is closed to the public so donors are asked to make an appointment to drop off fans. Call 910-677-2536 for more information.
    Citizens eligible for the Fan Giveaway Program are those individuals whose income falls below 200% of the current poverty level or who have a family member in the home under the age of 2, over the age of 60, or with a heat sensitive medical condition. Citizens are asked to call 910-677-2388 or 910-677-2389 to speak with a social worker and have an assessment completed. Eligible citizens will be given a date, time and location for fan pick up. DSS is located at 1225 Ramsey St.

  • 07 police do not cross crimeTwo 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers were found dead in a barracks room on Fort Bragg June 11. Spc. Joshua Diamond, 35, of Plymouth, Massachusetts, and Pfc. Matthew Disney, 20, of Aberdeen, Maryland, are possible victims of drug overdoses. “We do have credible information that the soldiers were involved with illicit drugs,” said Chris Grey, spokesman for the Army Criminal Investigation Division. Diamond and Disney served as field artillery radar operators and were assigned to 2nd Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment. “Our thoughts and prayers are with their loved ones and fellow paratroopers during this difficult time,” said Col. Phillip J. Kiniery III, commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team. Both men joined the Army in 2019. Diamond was a combat veteran having deployed to Iraq in 2020.

  • 17 Green Book Web Inside 1140x450 2The North Carolina African American Heritage Commission, a division of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, has created a new traveling exhibit about sites important to, and personal memories about, American travel during the “Jim Crow” era of legal segregation. The Navigating Jim Crow: The Green Book and Oasis Spaces in North Carolina traveling exhibit will be at the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex though July 9.

    “The Negro Motorist Green Book,” published between 1936 and 1966, was both a guide and a tool of resistance designed to confront the realities of racial discrimination in the United States and beyond. The book listed over 300 North Carolina businesses — from restaurants and hotels, to tourist homes, nightclubs and beauty salons — in the three decades that is was published.

    The exhibit highlights a complex statewide network of business owners and Green Book sites that allowed African American communities to thrive, and that created “oasis spaces” for a variety of African American travelers.

    Eight vibrant panels form the traveling exhibit, showcasing images of business owners, travelers and historic and present-day images of North Carolina Green Book sites.

    The words of African American travelers and descendants of Green Book site owners are featured prominently in the exhibit. Each of these stories are from oral histories collected by the AAHC in 2018 and 2019.

    This exhibit was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and there is no fee to see this exhibit. Two versions will tour the state’s African American cultural centers, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, history museums, historic sites and libraries. For more tour dates and locations, visit https://aahc.nc.gov/green-book-project. For additional information about the exhibit, call 919-814-6516.

    The Museum of the Cape Fear is located on the corner of Bradford and Arsenal avenues in Fayetteville, is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday from 1-5 p.m. The museum operates under the Division of State History Museums, Office of Archives and History, within the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

  • 04 PITT IMG 7324What is so rare as a wedding in northern Virginia? Love is once again in bloom as the Rona mostly fades into the rearview mirror. Postponed nuptials spring forth unabated. We took our first big road trip since the Rona to attend the splendid wedding of my brother’s granddaughter.

    The festivities were held in a Mega Church with 300 of the wedding party’s closest friends. Having never been in an Mega Church we did not know what to expect. The Mega Church is doing something right as the congregation consisted mostly of Millennials and their kids. Many mainstream churches have aging congregation syndrome. They tend to have as John Prine once sang, “Hearing aids in every pew.” The bride’s relationship to me is that of great niece once removed or something like that. It puts me in a demographic that emphasizes the effects of calendar creep — e.g., older than dirt.

    The ceremony was upbeat and filled with laughter. Although the bride and groom were no longer teenagers, to quote Chuck Berry’s song “You Never Can Tell” — “You could see that Pierre did truly love the mademoiselle.” The vows were interesting. The bride promised to joyfully and/or meekly submit to the leadership of the husband. My wife, who is a lawyer, seemed a bit surprised by this section of the vows. Personally, I thought it was a great idea. Unfortunately, I have had absolutely no luck convincing her to either meekly or joyfully submit to me. Knowing my great niece is not a pushover by any means, all I can say is good luck to the groom on that part of the vows. But as Mr. Berry said, “C’est la vie, say the old folks, It goes to show you never can tell.” We wished them well.

    In my last column I whined about the lack of Cicadas in Fayetteville. I got my wish for an insect chorus in Virginia. The motel where we stayed was surrounded by trees featuring an abundance of Cicadas in lust. The love song of thousands of horny Cicadas sounded like Martian spaceships. It was beyond loud. It was colossal. Stupendous. The 17-year wait was worth it. Them bugs can belt out a love song better than J. Alfred Prufrock.

    We headed into the District of Cicadas after the wedding for a fact-finding mission to see how our nation’s capital has survived the Rona. We had reservations at The Churchill, our favorite D.C. hotel in the Dupont Circle area. Having stayed there many times I did not read the fine print on the emailed confirmation. Oops, large mistake. In the interim since our last stay, The Churchill had decided to add what they euphemistically call a “Resort Fee” of $100 a night. That is on top of the room rate. Woody Guthrie warned about Resort Fees in his song “Pretty Boy Floyd”— “I’ve seen lots of funny men/ Some will rob you with a six-gun/ And some with a fountain pen.” It was my error by not reading the fine print so it was my fault. However, to both of my Gentle Readers, study the fine print to look for the words “Resort Fee” before you confirm your reservation. You will be glad you did. Do as I say. Not as I did.

    D.C. is still pretty much in the depths of the Rona lockdown. Many stores have closed. People on the streets are wearing masks. Even the Starbucks only has take-out caffeine. Traffic is actually very tolerable as there ain’t much. We were in walking distance of Obama’s D.C. residence so we walked over to pay our respects. We got as close as the end of his street where a D.C. cop was parked. Uh oh. That did not look encouraging. I walked over to the car as non-threateningly as I could. “Any chance we can go see the house?” I asked. “Not a chance” he replied. But I had to ask anyway. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

    We had more luck with the museums. Most of the Smithsonian museums have not reopened. The ones that are open use free timed tickets to keep crowds controlled. We spent five hours in the National Gallery of Art which gave us hope that the Rona closings are actually going to end at some point. After being booted out at closing time, we attempted to get an Uber ride back to our hotel. No luck. We had never been anywhere that Uber wasn’t available. The Rona struck again. Plan B involved going back on the Metro. My wife is not a fan of subways but the alternative was to sleep on the street so away we walked.

    As we walked, a very nice lady carrying her painting of Saint Lucy approached us. Out of the blue she asked us how long we had been married. I told her 45 years. She then told us we were “cute.” This officially marked the line where we went from the north end of middle aged to the elderly “cute.” I have certainly been called worse things than cute. In fact, this was the first time I had ever been called cute. I wasn’t even cute as a baby.

    When we reached the Metro it was rush hour. No crowds. Lots of empty seats. The Rona still lives in D.C. Get vaccinated. The life you save may be my own.

  • 01 AAL8L9IIt was a beautiful warm summer day at Arsenal Park last week when residents, state dignitaries and local officials gathered to break ground for the North Carolina Civil War & Reconstruction History Center's History Village.

    The ceremony marked the beginning of the next stage of development of the statewide Civil War History Center. The ceremony was an impressive "who's who" of those who genuinely care about North Carolina's history, heritage and Fayetteville's future. These are the people who understand the importance of embracing history as it pertains to human rights and the freedoms we enjoy today as Americans, but, unfortunately, many times, we take for granted.

    The keynote speaker was Clemson University history professor Orville Vernon Burton. Burton is an award-winning author of the book "The Age of Lincoln."

    In addition, former North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt was in attendance and currently serves as the honorary chairman of the history center. However, locally and for over a decade, the hard work, dedication, perseverance and leadership for bringing the NCCWHC to Fayetteville is the History Center's Foundation Chairman Mac Healy and long-time resident and Fayetteville advocate Co-Chair Mary Lynn Bryan. Together, they represent a tour de force of spirit, enthusiasm and heart for what constitutes a healthy and robust community. They understand that American history cannot be changed or altered — only studied, appreciated and understood as it pertains to humanity.

    This $80 million center will be part of the North Carolina state museum system. It is a godsend to the Fayetteville community, and we should be proud and grateful that the state has chosen our community for this honor. We, as citizens, should be Fayetteville proud that over $30 million in private funding has been secured for this Fayetteville and Cumberland County project. And, everyone should be overly excited about the economic impact this facility will have on our community in terms of consumer spending, creating new jobs and increasing tourism. These are all the things you would think our local mayor and city council would embrace.

    Well, unfortunately, Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin's absence at the groundbreaking was conspicuously noticeable.

    This once-in-a-lifetime Herculean accomplishment could be the pinnacle and highlight of Colvin's mayoral career. After all, being an integral part of bringing an $80 million state-supported museum to the Fayetteville community would be a pretty impressive accomplishment when pursuing a political career. However, to make that happen, one must set self-serving politics aside, and all city residents' welfare must become a priority. And that takes cooperation, communication and flawless leadership.

    The mayor and our city and county leadership will never again have a more opportune time to showcase their leadership skills or demonstrate their love of this community than by providing this museum. Everyone would be proud of an institution that would provide valuable learning and educational experiences for future generations. They, the mayor and city officials, have the power to make it happen.

    In closing, history is history. It cannot be changed, altered or modified. Thank goodness that telling the truth has never been a bad thing. That being said, this is Fayetteville's chance to make history! Let's do it!

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • 06 Chrysostom ManuelThe Greek community and much of Fayetteville are mourning the loss of Rev. Chrysostom Manuel, Pastor Emeritus of Sts. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church. He died on June 11, following a period of declining health. He was 89. Manuel served the Fayetteville community for 37 years retiring as an active priest in August 2000. During his time in Fayetteville, the church sanctuary was built in 1964, with classical Byzantine iconography and architecture. The church was consecrated in 1984, and the education building with a library was completed in 2005. In 1964, Fr. Manuel became the first Orthodox clergyman to earn a master's degree from the Duke University Divinity School. He is survived by his wife of almost 60 years, Amphitrite Anthoula Constantelos Manuel, four children and eight grandchildren.

    Pictured: Rev. Chrysostom Manuel 

  • 08 TaxPuzzlePiecesHC1604 sourceFayetteville and Cumberland County property tax rates will remain as they are in the 2021-22 Fiscal Year which begins July 1. The city of Fayetteville’s operating budget will be $240.3 million. “I’m very pleased that we are able to continue our high level of service to residents,” Mayor Mitch Colvin said. “We’ve been able to focus on key strategic areas as set forth by Council.” The property tax rate will remain at $49.95 cents per $100 of assessed valuation. Cumberland County's property tax rate will also remain the same at $79.9 cents per $100 of property value. County Manager Amy Cannon’s $502 million budget plan includes more than $340 million for the county's general fund and $83 million for the school system. Most school funding is provided by the state. Cannon said she had expected to see a revenue drop over the course of the last year, but that didn’t happen. In FY22, sales tax revenue is expected to go up by close to $10 million. The city and county will receive combined stimulus funding of more than $113 million through the American Rescue Plan.

  • 22 Audra Ferguson freemomhugsThe month of June is observed as LGBTQ+ Pride Month and holds significance for members, supporters and
    allies.

    Several local organizations continue to strive for tolerance and inclusion. Leading the local effort is Fayetteville Pride, which focuses on instilling pride, celebrating unity and embracing diversity and inclusion while providing education and support within the LGBTQ+ community.

    When the organization started in 2017, Fayetteville Pride Board President Sam DuBois said he expected pushback, but most efforts have been met with a positive response.

    Fayetteville’s chapters of Free Mom Hugs and PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) offer various resources to the community.

    “We’re a group of moms and allies that get together either at events or we host things and we just celebrate the members of our LGBTQ community,” said Audra Ferguson, Free Mom Hugs Fayetteville/Sandhills chapter leader.

    Free Mom Hugs organization was established 2014 by Sara Cunningham, a southern Christian mother fighting for LGBTQ+ rights for her gay son. The organization became a 501(c)(3) non-profit in 2018. For more information visit, https://freemomhugs.org
    Ferguson said she joined when she met the local chapter at a Pride event with her two sons who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community. She joined after she fell in love with their mission.

    “We go and give a hug to people who may just need a hug, we can be a stand-in parent if someone’s getting married and their family doesn’t accept that, we go and be their stand-in parent,” she said. “We just go out and support, be that for someone who doesn’t have it.”

    The organization also blocks protesters at Pride events, drag shows and more by standing guard without engaging.

    “In my group I always post different articles and resources to help people learn things they might not know,” Ferguson said.
    PFLAG Fayetteville works with parents and families and friends of LGBTQ+ individuals in providing support, education and advocacy.

    “Sometimes people come in with questions, sometimes they just want to observe what other parents are going through,” PFLAG Fayetteville Board President Devra Thomas said. “We are seeing less of let's not talk about it but more how do I talk about it, I need more information rather than this is not something I want to deal with.”

    The organization hosts monthly support meetings on the first Thursday of every month at 7:30 p.m. The meetings are currently over Zoom but are in the process of resuming into in-person meetings. For more details follow @pflagfayetteville on Facebook.

    “Back in spring I had a mom contact me through email whose teenager was starting to have questions about their gender identity,” Thomas said. “She just wanted to talk to somebody and asked what the right thing was that she was supposed to say, so we jumped on a phone call, had a great conversation.”

    “I identity as bi-sexual and have several family members who identity various ways,” Thomas said. “Pride month is a great month to see who else is in this space and fight for those rights. Any time we can get together and have a party and celebrate is great.”

    Thomas mentioned there is a slow and steady upward trajectory for continued interest in pride in Fayetteville. With more information shared and more public recognition, some have seen increased support for the LGBTQ+ community.

    Nadine Alonzo, a Major assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg identifies as a member of the LGBTQ+ community and recalls how things have changed over the years for members of the community even in the service.

    “I couldn’t let people get close to me, people who I loved and served with, because I didn’t want them to have evidence, not because I thought they would tell on me, but because if they ever put me in a military court martial or asked to testify, I didn't want to put them in that position,” Alonzo said. “This was between 2002-2011, so that was what it was like beforehand, and people now may not know that and that’s why history is important.”

    Alonzo said she has been lucky to be in the 82nd Airborne Division at Bragg and for their acceptance.

    “I look diverse, not like most ladies that serve, seeing me knowing you can probably guess what my sexual orientation is,” Alonzo said. “They are willing to look past that and look at me as an officer and give me a lot of opportunity which I am grateful for because that’s not always been the case.”

    Before gay marriage was legalized and it was legal by law to be gay in the military, she didn’t always feel accepted or comfortable during the days when “don’t ask, don’t tell” was the official policy for being gay in the military.

    “It was tough, it gets dark and lonely because you can’t let people get to know you because, back in the day if someone had evidence, I could get kicked out, so I had to be very careful,” Alonzo said.

    Originally from Long Island, New York, Alonzo joined the service after 9/11 to support her country and to give back to the country that helped her immigrant parents establish themselves.

    “To be an out person that other young people can see, and it probably helps them seeing me walk around in a leadership position, I am trusted by others and it legitimizes who I am and what I represent other than my rank and uniform,” Alonzo said.

    Representation is one way to help end the stigma still associated with the LGBTQ+ community.

    Alonzo said people often act tense when same sex couples show affection and she encourages people to relax, and to treat them the same as everyone else.

    Members of the LGBTQ+ community living their truth is perhaps one of the best examples for those who have questions or concerns, some advocates say.

    “The more we educate, the more people come around," Ferguson said. "It used to be so many years ago that it’s a choice, and well it’s not.”

    “There isn’t equality still and a lot of discrimination against the LGBTQ community — it's our hope to help that dissipate and make it better in the future for our children or our children’s children,” Ferguson said.

    For more information visit, http://www.FayettevillePRIDE.org/

    23 devra Pictured above: Audra Furguson is chapter leader of Fayetteville's Free Mom Hugs. 

    Pictured Left: Devra Thomas serves as Board President of PFLAG.

    Pictured below: Nadine Alonzo and her partner, just want to be treated like everyone else.  24 Maj 2  

  • 25 on barbeque REEDWhy would John Shelton Reed write another book about barbecue?

    After all, he is a co-author of the recently revised classic, “Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue” and in 2016, author of “Barbecue” in the UNC Press’s “Savor the South” Cookbook series.

    The retired Kenan professor of sociology at UNC-Chapel Hill is the author of more than 20 books. He likes to write books and articles and other commentary that connect readers to their culture.

    His new book, “On Barbecue,” is a compilation of writings about barbecue.

    Barbecue means different things to different people. Just remember how many ways the term is spelled: barbecue, barbeque, bar-b-que, and so on. Reed explains how the term probably came about.

    He writes, “the word came into English only some 500 years ago. In the first decades of the 1500s Spanish explorers in the Caribbean found the locals using frameworks of sticks to support meat cooking over fires. They did this either to slow-cook it or to cure it and preserve it (as we do with country hams and jerky today.”

    This apparatus was called something that the Spaniards heard as barbacoa, which soon became a Spanish word and then an English word that referred to the cooking device or method, not the resulting cooked meat.

    Only in the 1800s did the term begin to be used to mean the cooked meat. As late as 1894, when the Statesville Landmark wrote about barbecue being served at an event, “the paper put the noun in quotation marks, suggesting that the usage remained colloquial. Still, by then, everyone seems to have known that it meant something you could put on a plate or in a sandwich. Once that was understood, Southerners began the eternal argument about what barbecue is.”

    Reed writes, “whole hog in eastern North Carolina, mustard sauce in parts of South Carolina, mutton in Owensboro, Ky., ‘dry ribs’ in Memphis, beef brisket in Texas and so forth.”

    Reed celebrates these differences, writing that he would order Memphis ribs in Memphis, but would pass it by if it were offered in North Carolina or elsewhere.

    He mourns the development of “mass barbecue” chains that he calls “IHOB” or International House of Barbecue with menus, “where you can pile Texas brisket, Memphis ribs, and Carolina chopped pork all on one plate.”

    However, Reed has no doubt. “All understand that cooking with hardwood makes the difference between barbecue and roast meat.”

    He describes the world championship barbecue cooking contest in Memphis where barbecue is defined as “pork meat only... prepared on a wood or charcoal fire.”

    He recognizes that many so-called barbecue restaurants “serve slow roasted meat untouched by even the bottled kind of woodsmoke and call it barbecue.”

    Reed asserts this product is not barbecue and calls it instead “faux ‘que.”

    “You see the problem. We start with barbecue cooked in a pit over live coals, or with heat and smoke from a stick burning firebox, and we end up with a Boston butt in a crock pot. Somewhere along the way we've crossed the line between True ‘Cue and faux ‘que. We do not intend to draw that line, just to point out that there is a hierarchy here, and the purveyors of faux ‘que are at the bottom of it.”

    “Why do we care? Because we believe that real barbecue is rooted in three things increasingly lacking in today's world: taste, tradition, and a sense of place. Because we think the world will be a better place with more real barbecue in it.”

    You do not have to agree with Reed’s hardline stance about the necessity of cooking with wood coals to learn from and enjoy his great storytelling gifts about one of our favorite foods—true or faux.

  • 14 DW 8Local entrepreneur Dr. Fred Surgeon, and wife Anita, have once again created a vision for an entertainment venue that caters to the adventurous and focuses on customer service. As the owners of Sweet Valley Ranch, the Surgeons recently opened their latest and perhaps most exciting venture yet — Dinosaur World. The prehistoric adventure awaits visitors of all ages, and like Sweet Valley Ranch itself, has been years in the making.

    Sweet Valley Ranch was established in September 2016 when the Surgeons purchased the land off of Sunnyside School Road. At the time they purchased 186 acres of raw land, for a few horses and goats. However, Dr. Surgeon saw potential with the land layout and knew that this could really become a place to share with the community. The ranch now consists of 300 acres.

    Sweet Valley Ranch is more than just a business to the Surgeon’s, it is also a place that calls back to Dr. Surgeon’s own upbringing and he hopes it will eventually be their legacy.

    “Sweet Valley Ranch is hands down, out of all the businesses, is one we had to do everything from
    the ground up,” said Dr. Surgeon, owner of Sweet Valley Ranch.

    After about 12 months of owning Sweet Valley Ranch, they decided to expand their animal collection with rabbits and peacocks. “When you said you want that animal, you have to understand the certain care and living situation for that animal,” said Dr. Surgeon. About six months after the rabbits and peacocks they expanded with introducing cows and horses.

    Now the farm has around 350 animals of different types, from cows and horses, to peacocks and reptiles. The possibilities with the lay of the land were endless, and Dr. Surgeon knew that owning and running this farm in this location was an opportunity to give back to the community.

    “Every business I own relates back to some part of my past. Sweet Valley Ranch is no different. Growing up my family lived on a farm, and I can remember times that we would be waiting on the chickens to lay eggs, so we could eat them for breakfast,” said Dr. Surgeon.

    At Sweet Valley Ranch there is a 1954 Farmall tractor that belonged to his grandfather. This tractor is the most valuable possession to him on the farm, reminding him of his childhood and growing up
    on a farm.

    In 2017, the vice president of the company mentioned doing Christmas lights on the farm. So, Dr. Surgeon joined a display company out of Missouri. Once everything came in and the team looked at the extent of the project, they realized they needed more time to plan it through. Fast forward to 2020 and the COVID pandemic - the Surgeon’s realized that they could bring the joy of Christmas to the people of the community and give them something other places couldn’t — animals. With hard work and attention to detail, they were able to bring a Christmas light display to the community. The success proved to be incentive for the planning and development of Dinosaur World.

    Now in 2021, Sweet Valley Ranch has opened its gates once again for Dinosaur World. It is a perfect place for the family to experience adventure and see many of the different species of Dinosaurs that now rule over Sweet Valley Ranch.

    Different Ticket Options include:

    Regular admission includes access to the Dinosaur World Trail, Abandoned Research Lab, Reptile House, Fossil Dig and Farm Animals

    Regular admission with Farm Tour includes Dino World Trail, Abandon Research Lab, Reptile House, Fossil Museum, Fossil Dig, and a 30-minute guided tour to experience all Sweet Valley Ranch has to offer. Guests will be riding in a covered wagon pulled by a tractor.

    Regular admission with Rescue Mission includes all mentioned above with an Interactive two-hour nighttime attraction that begins on Saturdays at 8:30 p.m. Participants are tasked with the mission of locating missing staff members who were involved with the creation of Sweet Valley Ranch’s Dinosaur World. Beware of “Big Rex” and his friends because they are hunting, too. Guests will also be riding through the farm to experience the lights and farm animals.

    Regular admission with Farm Tour and Rescue Mission includes all mentioned above.

    The Sweet Valley Ranch also has additional excursions that can be purchased onsite such as the Go-Kart Nature Trail Tour, Bouncy Castles, Fishing at the Ranch and Dino-playland.

    The trail is a paved trail in the woods, and it offers over 25 animatronic dinosaurs. This experience is one that will take guests back in time to when dinosaurs ran the world. It is not only a fun interactive experience, but an educational one as well.

    Sweet Valley Ranch also has concession areas, a produce stand and a gift shop with something for all price ranges. While Dinosaur World is sure to continue to be a summer success, fall will bring the return of the 10-acre Corn Maze, Haunted Hallows of Cedar Creek and the Festival of Lights.

    “We don’t have to have the biggest and best at the farm, because we do our best to make it about the customer and their experience. Customer services is a big part of the farm,” said Dr. Surgeon.

    Over 30% of the animals homed on Sweet Valley Ranch are rescues, providing them a safe, caring environment to grow and prosper. Sweet Valley Ranch does not only support local businesses but has also created job opportunities for many people within the community.

    Sweet Valley Ranch is located at 2990 Sunnyside School Road in Fayetteville. For more information on tickets and events visit www.sweetvalleyranchnc.com/.

  • FAY COMICCONComic Con is returning to Fayetteville’s Crown Complex Convention Center June 19-20. This is a family event, where everyone can come and enjoy their favorite comics, video games and more.

    Among celebrities scheduled to appear include John Turk, Kerri Hoskins and Lia Montelongo (“Mortal Kombat”); Gigi Edgely (“Farscape”); Megan Hollingshead (“Yu-Gi-Oh!”); wrestlers Magnum T.A., Caprice Coleman and Lex Luger; and many other actors, artists and writers in the industry.

    There will be much to see and do, like take part in a cosplay contest where the winner will take home $500. Vendors will be selling your favorite video game and comic character merchandise. There will also be four food trucks, with Italian ice and kettle corn. The Crown will also be serving concessions. The lines are expected to be long for same-day ticket purchase, so organizers are also bringing some Comic Con outside to entertain guests to keep spirits up outside the building.

    While the Crown has returned to full capacity, to help with overcrowding at certain vendor booths, the event coordinators decided not to run the American Tattoo Society tattoo alley this year. The tattoo alley will return to Comicon in 2022.
    One of the biggest changes Comicon has faced coming back after a year of pandemic life is ticket sales. Due to the box offices at the Crown not being in operation, it has challenged the coordinators in how to get tickets out to the public. However, if there is a will, there is a way! Tickets can be purchased from the Comic Con website https://fayettevillecomiccon.com/, at the comic shop in Fayetteville called Dragon’s Lair, or on the Crown Coliseum website. Tickets for a single day will cost $15 and a weekend pass will cost $25 per person.

    Comic Con of Fayetteville has been around for 5 years, and each year producing two events. Due to the COVID pandemic in 2020, they were not able to hold the event, but that did not stop coordinators from planning for 2021. The sponsors for June 2021 Comicon are the American Tattoo Society and Fayetteville State E-Sports.

    For more information on Comic Con visit https://fayettevillecomiccon.com/. For panel and main stage schedules, visit the website or www.facebook.com/fayettevillecomiccon for information.

     

  • 05 Fitchpatrick StephanieUNC Health Southeastern has appointed two new directors: Stephanie Fitchpatrick as director of critical care services and Magenta Smith as director of inpatient services.

    Fitchpatrick earned a bachelor in nursing degree in 2020 and a master’s in science nursing degree in 2021, both from Chamberlain School of Nursing in Chicago. She also earned certification as a national registry paramedic from Clark State Community College in Springfield, Ohio, in 2006.

    Before joining UNC Health Southeastern as emergency services coordinator in February 2019, Fitchpatrick held various nursing roles including head nurse/unit educator, flight nurse/crew manager, paramedic, staff nurse, and community educator.

    Fitchpatrick lives in Fayetteville with family.

    Smith earned an associate’s degree in nursing from Sandhills Community College in Pinehurst in 2001. She earned a bachelor of science degree in nursing in 2005 and is currently pursuing a master of science degree in nursing, both from UNC Pembroke.
    Smith has worked for UNC Health Southeastern for 20 years in the following nursing roles: nurse manager, clinical effective nurse and staff nurse.

    A native of Robeson County, Smith currently lives in Fairmont with her family.

    06 Smith Magenta

    Pictured : Stephaine Fitchpatrick (above) Magenta Smith (bottom). 

  • 08 ReflectionsTrialByFiredoubleWith the beginning of summer and people looking for outdoor entertainment, the Rock’n On The River summer concert series is the perfect opportunity to hang out with friends, enjoy food and drinks, and dance the evening away.

    On June 18, all are invited for live, free entertainment from local Fayetteville band Reflections II and North Carolina band Trial by Fire.

    Reflections II is a widely known local Fayetteville band of three professional musicians. Bringing a variety of music to the table from pop to Motown and the oldies. Known for their entertaining performances, the band will kick off the evening at 6:00 p.m. and it is sure to be a show you won’t want to miss.

    At 8:15 p.m., headliner Trial by Fire takes the stage. The tribute band is named for Journey’s album of the same name released in 1996. Back in the day, after an injury suffered by lead singer Steve Perry, Journey was unable to tour and promote the album “Trial by Fire.” Now, five seasoned musicians from North Carolina are bringing the tour to life with area audiences — recreating the glory days of the Journey era to their fans.

    Rock’n on the River is a free live concert, sponsored by Healy Wholesale, Bob 96.5 FM radio, and Up & Coming Weekly. The event will have beverages sold by Healy and food exclusive to Deep Creek Grill. Coolers and outside food are prohibited at this event. Pets are also not allowed onto the concert grounds. There is a $5 parking fee per person.
    The event is first come first serve, as the venue can only host 1200 to 1400 people.

    “Bringing a well-rounded live concert series to get people out after lockdowns in 2020, and having something they will enjoy listening to is the goal,” said Greg Adair, event coordinator.

    Each monthly concert showcases a different genre of music, bringing together different crowds of people for a good time with friends and family.

    Rock’n On The River is located at 1122 Person St. in Fayetteville (behind Deep Creek Grill). Parking for the event will begin at 5:00 p.m.

    For information on the concert series, visit https://www.facebook.com/Rockn-On-The-River-271048666818630

    07 rockn logo jpeg

  • 20 virtual dataSome people may think the world runs on Dunkin’ when in fact, it runs on data! You may think money makes the world go around when actually, data makes the money that makes the world go around. Have you ever heard the saying, “Behind every great man, there’s a great woman”? There is a line in a Beyoncé song that says, “I hear you be the block but I’m the lights that keep the streets on.” Money is that “great man that is the block.” And data is that “great woman that keeps the street lights on!”

    Data is changing the face of the world in many ways. From our devices tracking our every move to artificial intelligence, data is at the root of it all. Businesses thrive on data to help improve processes, save money and maximize profits. Decision-makers rely on data to help make key decisions on business practices and processes. Data helps find solutions to problems that are as close to predicting the future as humanly possible. Data helps businesses be extremely strategic in their approaches to
    success.

    Data is extremely important. It molds everything we do so it’s vital that it is managed properly, kept secure and accessible immediately. The Information Technology Database Management curriculum program at Fayetteville Technical Community College prepares graduates for this purpose.

    Course work includes the development of a student’s ability to understand the role of databases and database management systems within the field of Information Technology, to demonstrate knowledge of SQL data definition and SQL, to develop queries to extract information from large databases, and to implement a database solution in the area of Information Technology. Graduates understand the components of how information support systems and services work and are able to create, store, communicate, exchange and use information to solve technical issues related to database administration.

    Graduates should qualify for employment in entry-level positions within the database administration field providing support to database administrators wherever reliance is on computer systems to design and management information. The program will incorporate the competencies of industry-recognized certification exams.

    As the “keeper of data,” you will be responsible for ensuring the database is functioning proper, secure and is available to pertinent users. You are also responsible for ensuring that necessary backup and recovery plans are in place, if a database should suffer loss. You should be familiar with and support the different technologies that are used for a database to function at its optimal level, while providing support to data managers.

    The duties of some systems administrator technicians include managing database environments as well as planning, implementing, configuring, and administering various database managements systems. They are also required to implement, configure, administer and secure database applications.

    Data is a fast growing, highly lucrative field. FTCC will prepare you for what’s needed to enter the field of data. Sign up to take classes today. Fall classes begin Aug. 16. For more information, please contact Tomica Sobers at sobersto@faytechcc.edu or 910-678-7365.

  • 23 Chemours logoThe Cumberland County Board of Commissioners has decided to engage a law firm to deal with Chemours contamination of well water in the Gray’s Creek area. “Developing a long-term financially sustainable water system that will address GENX contamination is one of this board’s top priorities,” said County Commission Chairman Charles Evans. County Manager Amy Cannon noted the county has been in discussion with Chemours for a year and a half about funding a public water system to address the contamination of private wells in the area near Chemours’ Fayetteville Works plant on the Cumberland-Bladen County line. “We had hoped to be able to resolve it to our mutual satisfaction,” Cannon said. “At this point, we believe the next step is to hire a legal team to assist us with funding.” Cannon has projected that it will cost about $64 million to build a water system in the Gray’s Creek area. Commissioner Toni Stewart, who lives there, said her neighbors are worried about their health. “Ultimately the sooner we can get a public water system in place the sooner we can mitigate this serious public health issue,” said County Attorney Rick Moorefield. In January 2020, Cumberland County Commissioners agreed to set aside $10.5 million to help pay for public water in the area. The first phase would provide water along Alderman Road and the Gray’s Creek Elementary Schools.

  • 22 dad son grandson pics in picsWoven into the fabric of who and what we've become, we all have threads of regret muting the bold colors of success in our lives. There's not much I'd change about the path I've walked thus far, because to change any one of them would be to alter the outcome. Some of life's highest pinnacles rise from the low ground of pain and defeat. It seems somewhat apropos at this time of year to realize my single greatest regret is that I didn't have my dad to share most of the highs and lows with.

    A veteran of World War II, Billy DeBruler was a high school track athlete raised in western Kansas. His adoptive family owned a local pharmacy and had always intended that he join the family business, which was perhaps the furthest thing from his mind during high school. After invading Poland, Hitler had become the scorn of the western world, and as the Allied nations got increasingly involved, the boys in dad's small town were becoming men and volunteering to ship off and right this great wrong.

    By volunteering as a Navy harmacist Mate, my dad was able to get his parents' signatures to join before his 18th birthday, and was soon on his way to Navy Boot Camp, followed by a trip to Hawaii. Not the paradise Hawaii, the naval base Hawaii. The unfortunate twist in the story is that Pharmacist Mates were not as great a necessity in the war raging in the Pacific as were medics to accompany the Marines as they roamed the tropical jungles. So began his career as a Combat Medic.

    He carried fond memories of the friends he made, and had mementos from Hawaii around the house, but the haunting memories of the rigors and horrors of combat were a silent and driving force behind much of his adult life. The same kid who made the local paper for both his athletic and academic abilities in high school and earned medals on the local track and remote jungles, saw his first marriage collapse from what we now commonly know and treat as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

    I don't remember seeing any uniformed men walk up to the door, but I remember my dad holding a letter and weeping at the table after receiving the news his first-born son had died in the jungles of Vietnam. I recall him pouring all that he missed from that relationship into my brother and I — the two children from his second marriage. I have fond memories of building lopsided projects in his little workshop in the basement, the cold and smell of the meat locker in the store where he worked as a butcher, and the trips to the lake on Independence Day because you couldn't use fireworks in town.

    Dad traveled to see us just after our first son was born. I have a single photo of the two of them together in the driveway of our southern Arizona home in 1980. He died less than a year later, succumbing to the effects of cancer brought on by the habit he picked up while he was in the Navy. He had truly been-there-and-done-that, and could have steered me through and maybe even around some of life's hardest moments.

    And there it is — the thread of regret. If your dad is still living, go to him. If you have children, open up to and listen to them. Let the shared experiences become a beautiful part of the tapestry of your life.

  • 21 N1912P35012H Open businessA lot has certainly changed since this time last year, therefore, inevitably so have the markets. And maybe you have decided it’s time to own your own business and do what you’ve been putting off for years. As a potential buyer or entrepreneur, it is important to understand which industries you might be interested in, what types of businesses find success in your area, etc., in order to find the right business to buy.

    Buying an existing business already comes with several benefits. For instance, an existing operational and financial history (i.e., you are not starting from scratch), offers less risk. Particularly this past year, surviving businesses had to change and/or evolve to stay afloat uring lockdowns and capacity limitations. By purchasing an existing business, you inherit this insider knowledge.

    Of course, choosing the right business goes beyond surviving the pandemic. There are a few personal elements to consider and evaluate:

    1. What is your current lifestyle?

    2. What are your skills and strengths?

    3. What is your target market? In what industry? Have both factors been positively or negatively influenced by the pandemic?

    4. Where are you located? Where will your business be located?

    5. What are your price parameters?

    First and foremost, do you already own several businesses? Are you hoping to add another to your portfolio? In this case, you may need to look for something that does not need much day-to-day involvement as you may already have your hands full. Or, are you free as a bird and looking for your next large project? In this scenario, a business that needs a more hands-on approach may be better suited for you. This goes hand-in-hand with your skills and strengths. Depending on your level of involvement, you will need to choose a business that falls within your skillset. Does it need help with its marketing? Are there operational or inventory issues? Is it a computer-based business or more consumer-facing? You do not want to get involved in a business that does not fall within your comfort or skill level.

    Next, you need to consider what industry you’d like to enter — and therefore, your target audience, as well. Is this business within fashion and beauty or IT support? Although both can impact large groups of people, you should narrow down what your specific consumer might look like. Understanding this will help you best perform within specific marketing and sales parameters.

    Finally, two very important things to consider that will also affect each other — location and pricing.

    Before you buy a business, think about whether you know and understand consumer preferences in the market area or segment of your choice. Although you can virtually run a business from anywhere, is that the best option for you specifically? Keeping that in mind, location will also inevitably affect business’ sales price. You need to figure out what you are willing to invest, and how long until you may see a return on your investment.

    Contact us today to get started on your path to entrepreneurship. Transworld Business Advisors has created the Buyer Match program that will match you with businesses that meet your criteria when searching for the right business to buy. With a wide array of businesses for sale, our advisors can help you narrow down your wish list and find the perfect business based on your criteria.

  • 09 Carla Fagan3In honor of June 19th, known as Juneteenth, Up & Coming Weekly sat down with Dr. Carla Fagan, Director of the Social Work Program and Associate Professor of Social Work at Methodist University. We asked her to help us understand the history and continued relevance of Juneteenth.

    Can you explain the significance of Juneteenth?
    Dr. Fagan: Juneteenth is short for June 19th. On June 19, 1865, Major Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas, with orders to read General Order Number 3 — a proclamation stating that all enslaved people were to be set free. “The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involved an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.”

    Most people know that Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, freeing enslaved people. There are many versions of why this news did not reach Texas, but it did not until June 19, 1865.

    For African American people, Juneteenth is Independence Day, Freedom Day - the official end to enslavement. Juneteenth represents many different things to different people. Juneteenth is a day to remember, a new beginning. It is a day to celebrate the resilience of our people, to bring families together to reflect, to educate, raise awareness about the many challenges faced by African Americans — how far we have come and how far, still, we have to go, to reach that place of total freedom, equality, equity and inclusion.

    How does Juneteenth compare to other days of remembrances?
    Dr. Fagan: Juneteenth is not as well-known as other remembrances. While it is celebrated in 48 of the 50 states, efforts to make it a national holiday have not yet been successful. Most recently, Sen. Ed Markey (D) introduced S.475-Juneteenth National Independence Day Act earlier this year. One could compare Juneteenth to Independence (July 4th), Armistice Day (now Veteran’s Day-Nov. 11th), or International Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27th). These days of remembrance are about freedom — the end of British rule, the end of WWI, the freeing of the Jewish people in Auschwitz. All represent a new beginning, as does Juneteenth. All represent the mandated end of oppression, enslavement, genocide, but also signal the beginning of a new struggle to keep the freedoms won. Juneteenth inspires African Americans to remember the resilience of our ancestors, celebrate their victories and educate and motivate our children to follow their dreams.

    How do you celebrate Juneteenth personally, and how can others?
    Dr. Fagan: As an African American woman, Juneteenth is a great time to reflect on who I am, where I came from and where I am going. I take great pride in my heritage. My people have had to be stronger, more resilient, more determined and more skilled, just to survive. Historically, African Americans have had to be twice as good to get half as far. Living while Black can be hazardous to one’s health if one does not remain ever vigilant and wary. Living with micro-aggressions and being the target of explicit and implicit bias can be very tiring and wearing on the psyche. Juneteenth is a time of reflection, new inspiration and renewal.
    “We’ve come this far by faith, leaning on the Lord, trusting in his Holy Word, He’s never failed me yet…” (lyrics by Carlton Pearson). Juneteenth is a time to renew spirit, mind and body.

    Juneteenth is a time to spend with family, reconnect with our history, our heritage and share this heritage with others. Juneteenth celebrations are filled with educational activities, family reunions, games, decorations, symbols, sharing all the greatness of African American history. Juneteenth is also an opportunity for African Americans to embrace others and share our history with the rest of the world. This world can only celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion if we all learn to practice these principles in our everyday lives.

    How can we honor Juneteenth and be better allies in general?
    Dr. Fagan: This country has committed a huge disservice to all people in that history has been distorted, sanitized and plain lied about. There are hundreds of historians who have carefully researched American history and have exposed the many untruths told in our history books. Recently, many more people are becoming aware of this and are asking to learn the “truth.” The willingness of people to recognize the distortions in our history books is a first step to learning the truth. Education, affirmation, understanding, all play an important part in laying bare the real history of this country.

    Why did it take 2 1/2 years for the enslaved people of Texas to learn that they had been free for 2 1/2 years? Why, in 2021, are African Americans still fighting for the right to vote? Why must I teach my son how to respond if stopped by the police? Why must I still be twice as good to get half as far?
    Allies have stepped up all through the Civil Rights Movements and have marched shoulder to shoulder, sacrificed their lives and freedom, stood by to the end. That kind of commitment is still vital in the struggle of African Americans to achieve equity and inclusion.

    Considering recent events and the racial injustices being highlighted in the country, what can we do as individuals in terms of activism, education and more, to be supportive and fight injustice?
    Dr. Fagan: Fighting injustice requires one to be a strong proponent of social justice, equity, inclusion and diversity. Having said that, one must be willing to learn, think, examine one’s personal values and take a stand.

    The Black Lives Matter movement encompasses people from all races, ethnicities, etc. This has been somewhat downplayed by media. Black Lives Matter is a vehicle through which all people can take a stand for equity and inclusion. Over fifty years ago, the Freedom Riders, young people — Black and white — risked their lives to integrate interstate transportation. They took a stand.

    One of the ways change takes place is by communicating, one-on-one, with a person with a different point of view. We must communicate with people who view African Americans as less than, and, one by one, deconstruct their arguments. This requires that we have the facts to back up our points. There are still people out there who respond positively to facts.

    When you witness a micro-aggression or implicit bias, don’t just ignore it. If someone tells a racist joke in your presence, call them on it. We must learn to have the courage of our convictions.

    If you witness unwarranted aggression against African Americans, speak up. And, yes, doing the right thing is not always the easiest thing.
    Elected officials at every level make policy that impacts social justice. We must elect people to office who support equity and inclusion. Sadly, we have learned that bias transcends political party. We must carefully scrutinize the positions of candidates regarding social justice.

    Are there any books, clubs, movies that can help educate people?
    Dr. Fagan: There is a wealth of information out there. We just need to want to find it. Some of my favorites are: “13th “ directed by Ava Duvernay on YouTube and Netflix; “Amend” on Netflix, and any book written by Ibram X. Kendi (“Stamped From the Beginning”). Authors James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, bell hooks, Michelle Alexander, Ijeoma Oluo are among my favorites. Circa 1865 is an organiza
    tion in Fayetteville that will sponsor a Juneteenth Virtual Festival this year. Organizing Against Racism Cumberland County is committed to educate the community and take action against racial inequities, wherever they exist. Juneteenth.com, is a repository of information about this historic day.

    You marched and participated in the civil rights movement in the 1960s. What can you share about your experiences?
    Dr. Fagan: Growing up in New York City, I did not regularly experience overt racism. I could eat a hotdog and drink a Nehi at the counter in Woolworths on 125th Street in Harlem as a child in the early 1950’s thanks to the efforts of Adam Clayton Powell. I remember visiting family in North Carolina, moving to the back of the bus, drinking from the “colored” water fountain, sitting in the balcony in the movie theater in Plymouth, North Carolina, and not fully understanding why.
    I first became aware of the bigger issues at age 10 when I brought an article for current events to school that was about a boycott in Clarendon County, South Carolina. When my teacher asked me why I chose that article, my response was that I felt sorry for the people who were conducting the boycott because they were losing their jobs because they were fighting for civil rights. Further discussion led to a food drive by my elementary school to support the people of Clarendon County participating in the boycott.

    Growing up in New York City (Brooklyn) gave me opportunities I probably would never have had in other parts of the country. I attended Hunter College High School after elementary school. I had to pass a test to get into Hunter. I attended City College of New York (now City College of CUNY) — free tuition — and am a founding member of the Onyx Society, the first Black student organization at CCNY.

    Upon graduation, I worked full time in corporate New York. I joined the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and volunteered in the New York office. I later joined the Black Panther Party. The activism of my youth taught me many lessons. I learned that the country that I thought I was a citizen in was the country that wanted to keep me oppressed, depressed and a failure. But I was blessed to have the tools to fight back and that is what I did.

    Is there a parting thought you’d like to share with our readers?
    Dr. Fagan: If you shake a bottle of soda and take off the top, the explosion is all that Juneteenth brings forth when an African American is asked to respond to it. Juneteenth is celebration, introspection, raising awareness, intrusion, education, frustration. Juneteenth can invoke anger, pain, grief, emotions that keep us connected to our reality. This is a huge topic, needing much more than one article to do it justice, but this is a good start. Thank you for the opportunity!

    Pictured above 14 Juneteenth Plaque Texas wiki12 27 0309a we march: Dr. Carla Fagan 

    Pictured on left: Photograph of the Civil Rights March on Washington Aug. 28, 1963. (photo courtsey National Archives)

    Pictured on right: A plaque in Texas commemorates Juneteenth. (photo courtesy of Wikipedia) 

  • 04 N1204P47005CStudents who graduated from a North Carolina high school in 2021 may be eligible for grants of $700-$2,800 a year for two years if they enroll this fall at one of the state's 58 community colleges.

    The new Longleaf Commitment Program provides grants, not loans. Funds do not have to be repaid. The program starts for the Fall 2021 semester and will conclude at the end of the Spring 2023 semester.

    Here are the eligibility requirements:

    •2021 graduate of a North Carolina high school.

    •Be a North Carolina resident for tuition purposes.

    •Be a first-time college student (Career & College Promise and Early/Middle College High School students are eligible).

    •Enroll in a curriculum program during the 2021-22 academic year with at least 6 credit hours per semester.

    •Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for 2021-22.

    •Have an Expected Family Contribution from $0 – $15,000. (EFC is based upon student’s FAFSA determination).

    •Renew FAFSA for the 2022-23 academic year and meet the Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements of the college
    The program will supplement the federal Pell grant and existing aid with the aim of helping students earn an associate degree and/or credits to transfer to a four-year college of university in North Carolina.

    Students do not have to make a separate application for a Longleaf Commitment Program grant. They will be automatically considered for the grant upon applying to FTCC for Fall 2021. Those who meet the eligibility requirements will receive an award letter from the financial aid office.

    For information about FTCC’s admissions process visit www.faytechcc.edu/apply-now/ftcc-admissions/#steps or contact the Admissions office at admissions@faytechcc.edu or 910-678-8473.

    For more information about the Longleaf Commitment Program visit www.nccommunitycolleges.edu/student-services/north-carolina-longleaf-commitment-grant

  • 15 2019 4The month of June has been observed as LGBTQ+ Pride Month since 1970 to honor the Stonewall Uprising in 1969. According to the Library of Congress, the commemorative month’s purpose is to recognize and honor the impact of the LGBTQ+ community on history locally, nationally and internationally.

    “It does have a lot of significance for me personally, obviously,” Fayetteville Pride Board President Sam DuBois said. “The amount of friends and families of LGBTQ+ community that have come out and supported us really shows me how far we’ve come over the years.”

    Fayetteville Pride was established in 2017 and focuses on instilling pride, celebrating unity and embracing diversity and inclusion while providing education and support within the LGBTQ+ community.

    For more information on the organization visit www.FayettevillePRIDE.org/

    DuBois said he used to think of Fayetteville as an uber-conservative area and expected pushback when the organization first started.

    “But at the end of the night we were flabbergasted by the positive response from people attending the event,” he mentioned. “It has been extraordinarily welcoming
    to Pride.”

    Due to the pandemic the Pride Fest 2021 is postponed until further notice.

    “We have hopefully reached a satisfactory substitute with Cool Springs Downtown District, and we will be setting up an info table at their weekly Summer Markets downtown and there will be part of the field dedicated to the Pride Community Picnic on June 24 from 4-8 p.m.,” DuBois said.

    The Summer District Markets are held on Thursdays and will feature live entertainment, food trucks and games.

    “Everyone is welcome, come with that attitude and we are happy to have you,” he said.

    There are a number of other Pride events scheduled this month.

    There will be a free online chat event June 20 from 8-9 p.m. The Free Mom Hugs Social Happy Hour is hosted by the Free Mom Hugs Fayetteville/Sandhills chapter. For more information visit, https://freemomhugs.org

    The NC VA Coastal Health Care System invites all LGBTQ+ veterans and allies to participate in the 2021 Pride Car Parade & Drive-Thru from 10:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. on June 21. The event will take place at the Fayetteville VA Health Care Center at 7300 S. Raeford Road. Participants are encouraged to decorate their cars for the free event.

    The Rainbow Reunion, a business mixer for LGBTQ+ community to network and connect, will be held Jun. 26 and 27 at Hampton Inn & Suites located at 2065 Cedar Creek Road. The event will have a happy hour mixer from 4-6 p.m., a kickback from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and a night swim from 8-10 p.m. The hotel will have limited rooms and those interested can book by calling 910-635-3200

    Cool Spring Downtown District will host Drag Me Downtown on June 25 from 5-9 p.m. on Maxwell Street featuring performances by local drag queens, and a cabaret headlined by Miss Minnie Bouveé. Tickets are available for purchase on their Facebook page, $25 general admission and $125 for a VIP Table seating up to 6 people.

    Drag Me to Designer BINGO will take place at Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom from 6-9 p.m. on June 30. The event will feature Tatianna Matthews. Tickets are $40 with a portion of the proceeds going to Fayetteville Pride. Dirtbag Ales is located at 5435 Corporation Drive in Hope Mills.
    For more information about Pride events, follow @fayncpride on Facebook.

    Pictured above: Although the Pride Fest 2021 was postponed, there are a number of local events scheduled in June to celebrate diversity in support of pride month. (Photo Courtesy of Fayetteville Pride). 

    18 2019 6Pictured bottom left: Morgan Richards preforms at an event 2019.

    Pictured bottom right: Friends come together to enjoy an event celebrating diversity and inclusion. 19 2G6A0204

  • 03 National Indoor Soccer LeagueA new sports federation is including Fayetteville among its franchises. The National Indoor Soccer League says Fayetteville's Crown Coliseum will be home to men’s and women’s teams. The Fayetteville Fury will participate in the NISL's inaugural season which will begin in late December. Inspired by his four daughters, NISL executive board member Joshua Blair saw the opportunity to break new ground beyond bringing professional soccer to the host cities.

    "Let’s face it! There is a lack of professional sports teams where our girls can interact with and emulate the male athletes," he said. The NISL will be the first professional indoor soccer league in the country to have both men’s and women’s divisions.

    "It is nonstop action and it’s going to be great for the city of Fayetteville and the surrounding area," said team co-owner and operator Andrew Haines. The NISL was formed in January and its first franchise, the Memphis Americans, was unveiled in
    late April.

  • 02 taxesNo one — I repeat, no one, enjoys paying taxes. I can almost feel my blood pressure rise when income taxes come due. That said, we all want safe and accessible roads, high quality public education for our young people, and the same quality health care for Americans of all backgrounds and ages. The reality is that our taxes support those goals.

    The ongoing American myth has been that we all pay our fair share, like it or not, and that wealthy individuals pay more.

    ProPublica exploded that myth last week as part of its ongoing analysis of our tax system. The non-profit investigative journalism organization which exposes abuses of power and betrayals of the public trust released secretly obtained IRS documents confirming what millions of Americans have long suspected. The richest of the rich are not paying their fair share of income taxes at all, much less more than the rest of us. In fact, several of the 25 wealthiest Americans as defined by Forbes magazine managed to pay no income taxes at all! These include such household names as Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Elon Musk (Tesla), Bill Gates (Microsoft), and the grandfatherly Warren Buffet (all manner of investments), all of whom have more money than they could ever spend.

    Moral considerations aside, there are no allegations that any of these people did anything illegal by paying a miniscule percentage of their wealth in income taxes or none at all. They simply took advantage of existing federal and state laws that treat “wealth” differently than “income.” Mere mortals earning a paycheck from which taxes are deducted cannot take advantage of these laws, which generally require the services of high-dollar attorneys and accountants to navigate.

    Here is the situation. The average American has an income of roughly $70,000 and pays income taxes of about 14-percent, usually deducted by the employer. The wealthiest Americans do not earn much in salaries. Instead, they make money on their assets — dividends on stocks, for example, and their tax bills come due when they sell assets. They are also able to take offsetting losses on their investments, thereby lowering their earnings, in some cases, to zero. According to ProPublica, while Joe Blow pays 14-percent on his salaried income, the 25 richest Americans paid a true tax rate of only 3.4-percent on what they took in between 2014 and 2018.
    Is this legal? Yes. Is it fair? Most Americans do not think so.

    The wealth gap in our country, often referred to as wealth inequity, has grown significantly in recent decades. It has become not only a starkly divisive issue among Americans across the wealth spectrum but a political issue. Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and other leftish political figures have raised the issue in public debate, and they are right to do so. Congress is beginning to talk about tax code reform, albeit tentatively, and President Biden is cheering on that conversation.

    In a democratic republic, fairness is the underlying concept. Our system will work only as long as we believe it is fair. We all want to believe that we will be treated fairly by our legal system. We all want to believe that we have access to quality health care and that our children will be able to get educations that will make them productive adults. We all want to believe that we have a shot at upward mobility. It is sometimes hard to believe any of that.

    Paying taxes is a necessary reality. Most of us recognize that and are willing to pay our fair share, but we want everyone else to do so as well. We do not want to feel like schmucks as asset-heavy folks zoom past us in their Teslas.

  • 01 Tisha Waddell Dis 3This week Publisher Bill Bowman yields his space to Fayetteville City Councilwoman Tisha Waddell who sets the record straight and combats the rumors and innuendo that have undermined her effectiveness as a public servant. Thank you, Councilwoman Waddell, for serving our community.

    To my Fayetteville constituents:

    I am not running for re-election, and I am also NOT running for Mayor. I appreciate all the support I have received and even the naysayers, as you have each helped me grow. I am also grateful to the handful of people I shared my decision with before submitting this article that completely understands why this is my choice.

    There was a marked difference between the first two years I served as an elected official and what will be my last. I was fortunate to serve with councilmen like Ted Mohn, Bill Crisp and Jim Arp. These legislators weren't perfect, but they researched, were more consistent in policy application, and were not afraid to challenge the status quo. It was demanding but rewarding. I learned quickly and was complete in my decision-making. I earned a stable reputation as one who weighs the facts and makes decisions based on what's in the community's best interest, whether it was popular with the political bullies or not.

    I regret that those new to their positions have not benefited from serving under different conditions and hope the tide shifts for them and all of us represented by them.

    Had my first two years been anything like my last two, there wouldn't have been a second term. It is difficult to accept the amount of hypocrisy and fear in our local government and even more so that it is excused as expected. We should not expect our leaders, at any level, to be ego-driven or inconsistent in process and policy.

    Disagreements should not be allowed to become flashpoints, and unstable agitators should not be permitted to pull focus away from our legislator's actual responsibilities. The abusive mishandling by members of the Council or members in the community of our leaders should not be tolerated. Whether we like them or not, they were elected by a majority of the people who voted and belong precisely where they are.

    Initially, I only promised to do my part to communicate and make sound decisions. Focusing on sharing the tools needed to guide their elected's choices for this city and removing barriers to access between them and their representative has hopefully helped District Three understand their power.

    When looking back, I hope the things people remember are that I supported legislation that seeks to increase transparency in how the Council makes decisions. I've called for undeviating policy practices in the hopes that we could level the playing field for future council members to be able to do their job.

    I've helped the Council shift its focus from implementing fee increases to more meaningful investments into our neighborhoods through street resurfacing and stormwater investments. There have been measurable successes in some regards, and in others, the needle has barely moved.

    I respect each of my peers on Council and recognize where we have worked well and where there is room for improvement. It was my great pleasure to work in this capacity, and I will always be fond of how God chose to use me in this season.

    I have learned that it isn't one person's job to change leadership, directly or indirectly. That is the job of all the citizens in this city who are of voting age. So, as some celebrate the announcement of my departure from the Fayetteville City Council and others are saddened to lose me as one of their champions for common sense in governing, the takeaway for all should be to register to vote, VOTE, and then hold your elected accountable by staying involved. Your city is counting on YOU!

  • Judge John TysonAppeals Court Judge John Tyson has been cleared of an assault allegation after a state prosecutor said there is no evidence of a crime.

    “My client is pleased to hear of the rightful dismissal of the summons against him,” attorney David Courie said in a statement released today. “False allegations should be dismissed. It is bad enough to be falsely charged and to suffer a rush to judgment by some despite the evidence, but it need not be followed up by blind prosecution.”

    In May, Myahtaeyarra Warren swore to a magistrate that Tyson committed assault with a deadly weapon by attempting to hit her with his SUV. Warren had been protesting in the vicinity of the Market House in downtown Fayetteville when Tyson drove his vehicle around the traffic circle on May 7.

    At least two other protestors reported witnessing the incident, claiming people had to “jump back to not get hit by the vehicle” and “people standing on the mural section had to back up to the fence…”

    The charge was referred to the independent Conference of District Attorneys after the local District Attorney’s office recused itself from handling the case, citing conflict of interest as Judge Tyson hears direct appeals of cases prosecuted in the county.

    According to Cumberland County Court documents released June 11, “the State obtained, reviewed, and agreed to release six different city cameras that captured various aspects of the described event.”

    The state reviewed the footage with Warren on June 10. “After this review, Ms. Warren and her mother acknowledged that Ms. Warren was standing on the sidewalk, leaned up against the fence before, during, and after Tyson’s car passed by them. Tyson’s car never moved towards Ms. Warren or any other protestor present.”

    The Dismissal document goes on to state that “the State finds no credible evidence that a crime was committed … the video evidence clearly shows no interaction between Ms. Warren and Mr. Tyson and no evidence of an assault.”

    The document further provides that “none of the three people on the circle side of the street reacted in any way to Mr. Tyson’s vehicle passing.”

    After the summons was dismissed, Courie elaborated on Tyson’s service as a lawyer, judge, professor and local businessman. “He has spent his life taking responsibility, caring for his family and others, and investing and giving back to his hometown and state.”

    “Our laws and criminal justice system cannot support the opportunistic use of the law and smearing of honest reputations earned over a lifetime of work and contributions to our state,” Courie said in a statement. “It can ruin lives and reputations, undermine the credibility of actual criminal acts, and result in the wasting of valuable local law enforcement and court resources in our community.”

    Pictured: Judge John Tyson courtesy nccourts.gov

  • 01 UrineTown0005 2The Broadway musical “Urinetown” opened at the Gilbert Theater to sold-out shows, an indication that audiences are willing to overlook the odd title in exchange for an evening of hysterical entertainment.

    Set in a dystopia where the masses are suffering from a drought, one giant corporation has monopolized bathroom usage. Citizens are forced into a pay-per-use urinal by law, with the ultimate punishment of being sent to Urinetown. The musical addresses important social issues and freedoms while keeping it fun with music.

    The show is narrated by Officer Lockstock (played by Zech Williams) and Little Sally (played by Hannah Smith) who win the audience’s heart with their mesmerizing performances. Smith does a terrific job with her vocals and acting in her debut show at the Gilbert.

    “Urinetown” is a satirical comedy written by Greg Kotis and directed at the Gilbert by Robyne Parrish. The show draws in the audience for a night filled with many laughs.

    The first act reflects on the injustices done by the Urine Good Company and its president, Mr. Cladwell (played by Bill Saunders) — a shrewd, selfish man. The lead Bobby Strong (played by Tim Zimmerman) begins to light the fire of revolution and justice amongst the people after his father, Old Man Strong (played by Gabe Terry) breaks the law and uses the urine facility without paying and is sent to the ultimate mysterious bad place – Urinetown.

    Hope Cladwell (played by Linda Flynn) is the naive, kind daughter of Mr. Cladwell, who falls in love with Bobby Strong, leading to a series of humorous interactions and drama.

    “There is the star-crossed lover’s aspect,” said actor Jacquelyn Kessler (who plays McQueen).

    While the lead urges the masses to uproot governmental control and tyranny, the urine facility’s supervisor Penelope Pennywise (played by Jennifer Newman), Lockstock, and rest of law enforcement and UGC’s employees resist their advances.

    Newman, also in her debut at the Gilbert, deserves a special shoutout for her performance of Penelope Pennywise.

    With musical delight, the show encompasses a classic class struggle between the rich and poor, the have and have nots and sends the audience for a spin to question different social constructs like the legal system, capitalism, corporations, corporate mismanagement and bureaucracy.

    The latter half of the show focuses on the masses kidnapping Bobby Strong’s love interest and leading lady Hope, to get her father and villain to agree to their terms. The corrupt old man then refuses to save his daughter and has Strong arrested and sent to Urinetown.

    What happens next reflects strongly on misuse of power and authority by the rich and law enforcement, as Urinetown is a violent death to anyone who disagrees with the authority. The production’s last bit shows Hope leading the masses against her father. The show, however, doesn’t necessarily end in happiness for all as many lose their lives or move away due to lack of water after their freedom led to overuse of the resources, as Lockstock narrates. Overall, the production delivers a fantastic time with great actors, band and a successful execution by the crew.

    “It has all the things you want to see in the musical, it’s got love, heartbreak, death and fantastic characters, so any big Broadway musical lover is going to love this show,” Parrish said.

    For tickets or more information call 910-678-7186 or visit www.gilberttheater.com

    Above photo: The cast of "Urinetown" delivers an entertaining performance at the Gilbert Theater. (Photo by Tori Barker)

  • 07 ManPointingGunHC1607 sourceJune is National Gun Violence Awareness Month, and while crime has gone down overall during the pandemic, homicides and other gun crimes have surged nationally, according to a recent report.

    The city of Fayetteville’s 2021 murder rate will likely exceed the local record of 31 violent deaths set in 2016. There have been 21 homicides in Fayetteville so far this year, according to police spokesman Sgt. Jeremy Glass. That’s a 38% increase over the first half of last year. There were 13 homicides during the first six months of 2020 and 11 during the corresponding period in 2019. “There are too many victims of gun violence that could have been prevented,” Gov. Roy Cooper has said.

    CBS News recently researched the 2019 murder rates of 65 U.S. cities with more than 100,000 residents. Fayetteville was ranked 55th. Charlotte was tied with Nashville, Tennessee, for 59th place. Winston-Salem was rated 56th, Durham 52nd, Greensboro 44th and High Point 34th. The lower the number, the higher the murder rate. CBS News’ calculations used the FBI's 2019 Crime in the United States data, as well as information culled directly from city police officials and the U.S. Census Bureau.

    Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins says the record sale of guns in 2020 was a major factor for the increase in homicides so far this year. “Violent crime is increasing around the nation and we’re part of it,” she said.

    The National Shooting Sports Foundation noted that 2020 was record-breaking in nearly every measurable metric. More than 8.4 million people purchased their first guns last year. The increase in homicide rates across the country is both historic and far-reaching, as were the social movements that touched every part of society in 2020.

    "Those that are predisposed to commit violent crime are not likely to remain in their homes away from other people because there is a stay-at-home order," said Kansas City Police Sergeant Jacob Becchina. “I think the pandemic — COVID — has had a significant emotional impact on people across the country,” Detroit police chief James Craig said.

    Chief Hawkins agrees with Craig. She told Up & Coming Weekly that individuals are not processing how they manage disputes. What used to be a fist fight has become a gun fight.

    Hawkins said that it’s difficult for law enforcement agencies to prevent murders, most of which are inflicted as the result of domestic disputes, gang activity, violent conflicts and predatory violence.

    “We absolutely are proactively on the forefront to eliminate crime,” Hawkins said. “The entire department works very hard to incorporate technology into solving crime.”

    She said that most of the 100 downtown video cameras are operating. They are monitored during special events such as the Dogwood Festival and baseball games at Segra Stadium.

    The National Council for Home Safety and Security has ranked North Carolina’s 50 safest cities. Fayetteville is not among them. Hope Mills is ranked 42nd. Pinehurst is North Carolina’s safest municipality. True to its image as an upper-crust resort community, Pinehurst recorded a low 0.93 per 1,000 violent crime rate along with the lowest property crime rate in the state.

  • 11 MU Golf National ChampsMethodist University erased a four-shot deficit on the final day of the NCAA Division III Women's Golf National Championship in May and scored its 26th Championship.

    “To say I am excited is an understatement,” said head women’s golf coach Tom Inczauskis as his team was greeted on campus by students, faculty and staff after the long trip from East Lansing, Mich.

    “I am so proud of the players and all they’ve overcome during this COVID-impacted school year and athletic season.”

    Combined with the success of the men’s golf team, which finished as the national runners-up, the MU women brought home the Monarch’s 38th national championship in golf.

    The women’s team — consisting of Ingrid Steingrimsen, Jillian Drinkard, Paige Church, Maggie Williams and Abby Bloom, and led by Inczauskis and assistant coach Brock White — took over second place from George Fox University with Day 2’s tournament-low round of 300, inching to within one stroke of leader Carnegie Mellon University.

    CMU extended that narrow margin to four strokes but was unable to hold off Methodist in the final round.

    The deficit was down to a single stroke after three holes, was erased on No. 4 and tilted in Methodist’s favor on the par-4 sixth hole, when the Monarchs played the hole in even par while CMU played it in three over.

    That three-stroke advantage grew to as many as six before Methodist settled for a five-stroke victory and its national title.

    “I can’t thank the team enough for all their hard work, sacrifice and days on the road,” added Inczauskis. “They came together as a team. They played their best golf when they needed it most. They stayed upbeat and positive throughout the event. I hope they enjoy the moment with their families, friends and supporters. They had one of the greatest seasons in Methodist women’s golf history and I look forward to our future successes together.”

    At Oglebay Golf Resort in Wheeling, W.Va., the MU men’s golf team took home second place in the national championship tournament. A pair of Methodist golfers — Cooper Hrabak and Andre Chi — finished in the Top 5 in individual scoring.

    Hrabak ended in a two-way tie for second place. That is the highest finish by a Methodist golfer in the NCAA championships since Jeff Wells in 2015. Chi finished in a two-way tie for fourth place and just one stroke back of Hrabak.

    Methodist secured its spot in second place early in Round 4, then finished 11 strokes ahead of third-place Guilford College, falling short of Illinois Wesleyan University for the title by 13 strokes. The MU men’s golf team’s most recent NCAA Championship was in 2018.

    You can find additional information on the women’s and men’s championship matches at mumonarchs.com

  • 09 20210516 Dinner Theater Promotion 010The 2021 Fayetteville Dinner Theatre will present “Beyond Broadway: Music of Our Time” June 17-19 at the Gates Four Golf & Country Club. Tim Zimmerman and Linda Flynn will headline the show with special guest Tyler Tew.

    Zimmerman and Flynn will perform popular Broadway musical hits for the audience.

    “Tim used to work on cruise ships, and this is a show he did,” Flynn said.

    “He included me in this and I helped him with the backstage stuff. It’s Broadway shows rockified cause that's Tim’s whole style, he makes Broadway rock ’n’ roll.”

    The musical will focus on duets with mild banter in between by Flynn and Zimmerman, including mashups, medleys and hits from shows such as “Phantom of the Opera,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Les Miserables” and more.

    Written by Zimmerman and directed by Up & Coming Weekly Publisher Bill Bowman, the dinner theatre will commence at 6 p.m. with a welcome reception and wine tasting followed by a dinner and the performance at 7 p.m.

    “I think we have got something like 13 to 14 numbers in the show, the first act is 45 minutes long and the second act is 30 minutes long,” Zimmerman said.
    “This is going to be a night of all your Broadway favorites, Broadway tunes from classic and modern as well.”

    There will be three performances. The June 17 show will be a dessert preview which includes the welcome reception and dessert (no dinner). Tickets are $40 per person.
    Tickets for performances on June 18 and 19 will be $75 for general admission or $95 for VIP seating. The dinner theatre offers senior (age 65 and up) and active duty military discount tickets for $65.

    Although a wine tasting is part of the welcome reception, wine will also be available for purchase. All wine sales will be donated to The CARE Clinic, which provides free quality health care to eligible uninsured, low income adults who live in Cumberland County and surrounding areas. The CARE Clinic relies entirely on the generosity of donors, grants from foundations and fundraising events.

    Tickets for all shows can be purchased at www.fayettevilledinnertheatre.com

    “We are excited because COVID has restricted everything and not everyone can plan a trip to New York City, so we are bringing Broadway to them,” Bowman said.

    “Beyond Broadway” will be a more refined version of the headliner show Zimmerman performed on cruise ships, Bowman said.
    The dinner theatre will also showcase local musician Tyler Tew.

    “I was trying to get some music out and when the opportunity came up with the Fayetteville Dinner Theatre for me to come out as a special guest and perform, I thought it was great,” Tew said. “It's strictly country music, growing up hunting, fishing, my family listened to country and that’s something I relate to.”

    Tew, a singer-songwriter and guitar player, will perform a half-hour set. He said he is excited for people to hear his music.

    “One of the things that the Fayetteville Dinner Theatre aims to do is showcase local talent and give young people a chance to perform while maintaining a quality performance for the audience,” Bowman said.

    So far, audiences approve. The last Fayetteville Dinner Theatre show “A Sinister Cabaret” in April sold out both performances and prompted Bowman to offer a third performance this time around.

    Bowman said he is expecting a similar response for “Beyond Broadway.”

    “It's definitely a great dinner theatre show, and Gates Four is the perfect venue,” Bowman said. “We know that there is definitely demand for this kind of entertainment.”

    “We’ve got good theatre here with Cape Fear and the Gilbert but we didn't have a dinner theatre,” said Bowman who resurrected the Fayetteville Dinner Theatre a few years ago.

    “People had to go to Greensboro, Raleigh or Charlotte for dinner theatre," he said. "We really found the right niche to be able to pull all this talent together to perform. It has been very rewarding.”

  • 03 IMG 7268 cicadaStart your day with a misquote from Pete Seeger: “Where have all the Cicadas gone? Long time passing? Long time ago?” The rest of America is crawling with lovelorn Cicadas of Brood X. As of the delivering of this column to Up & Coming Weekly for deposit into the dust bin of literary history, eastern North Carolina seems to be a Cicada-free zone. Cicadas ignoring the Sandhills is yet another unwarranted indignity visited upon Fayetteville. One can only hope that when this column appears, we will be enjoying the return of the 17-year locusts. Perhaps if we face the rising sun, bend the knee to them, and address them by their official name Pharaoh Cicada they will grace us with their presence and sing us a happy tune.

    Until the Cicadas return, let us ponder the world their parents left in 2004 and their grandparents left in 1987. Hop on board Mr. Peabody’s Way Back Machine. It’s time to see what the world looked like when the Cicada’s parents visited us by in 2004. George W. Bush was President. The first major infestation of the internet occurred in February when Mark Zuckerberg’s cyber version of “Rosemary’s Baby” was born as Facebook in his Harvard dorm room. Ever since Facebook’s birth, all has been sweetness and light as the polite and reasoned discussions on Facebook have brought Americans closer together. Facebook has his father’s eyes.

    The last episode of the TV show “Friends” aired on NBC in 2004. The fact a reunion show of “Friends” is airing on HBO Max 17 years after the series finale leads me to believe that the stars of “Friends” are not human. They are very large Cicadas wearing human shells. Expect to see Jennifer Anniston shed her exoskeleton on national TV revealing a large but very attractive insect selling beauty products.

    Ken Jennings won 74 straight Jeopardy games in 2004. His return as a possible host to replace Alex Trebek 17 years later means Ken also is a giant Cicada in human form.

    In 2004, the Russian tanker Tropical Brilliance got stuck in the Suez Canal for 3 days. Seventeen years later in 2021, the tanker Ever Given got stuck in the Suez Canal. The Ever Given is yet another giant aquatic Mother Bug Cicada teeming with pupae.

    The year 2004 saw Yasser Arafat fading out ultimately crossing the Great Divide into the land of 70 virgins. These virgins turned out to be Catholic Nuns armed with rulers. Yasser was condemned to fail to learn his multiplication tables resulting in his knuckles being rapped for eternity.

    In an attempt to jump start a fading career, Janet Jackson experienced a half time wardrobe malfunction at the Super Bowl between New England and the Carolina Panthers.
    From the 2004 Crime Desk, Martha Stewart was sentenced to 5 months in prison for lying to the Feds. Lance Armstrong won the Tour De France but was disqualified later for doping.

    Edvard Munch’s most famous painting “The Scream” was stolen from an Oslo Museum. It was recovered and went on to appear on coffee cups, key chains, tee shirts and pillowcases to enlighten art lovers everywhere.

    What did the grandparents of Brood X see when they were riding the “Love Boat” of insect ecstasy back in 1987? Let us count the ways. All kinds of colorful stuff was happening. President Ronald Reagan dared Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall. The Dow Jones average closed above 2000 for the first time. Michael Jordan scored a Chicago Bulls record of 58 points in a single game. Mike Tyson beat James “Bonecrusher” Smith in 12 rounds for the Heavyweight Championship. The Teflon Don John Gotti was found not guilty of racketeering. Jim Bakker resigned from PTL over accusations from his secretary Jessica Hahn.

    Austrian Chancellor Kurt Waldheim forgot he was a Nazi. The U.S. Justice Department remembered and barred him from the U.S.

    Gary Hart dropped out of the race for President after sailing on the good ship Monkey Business with Donna Rice. Michael Jackson tried unsuccessfully to buy the skeleton of the Elephant Man. The movie “Fatal Attraction” is released setting off a rush for boiled bunny recipes. Out west in Midland, Texas, Baby Jessica fell into a well and was rescued in a rare feel-good moment for America. Unwilling to allow the good feeling to last, 3 days later the Dow Jones average fell into a financial well, dropping 22% in one day.

    Robert Bork’s nomination to the Supreme Court fell into a legal well never to be seen again. His replacement nominee Douglas Ginsburg admitted to smoking pot and withdrew his nomination. Third choice Anthony Kennedy got the consolation appointment to the Supreme Court.

    Sonny & Cher performed with each other for the last time singing “I Got You Babe” on Letterman proving irony was dead. In December, Manson follower Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, who attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford, escaped from prison and was captured 2 days later, proving it’s always something.

    So Brood X, if you are out there, we need you. Make your parents and Grand Daddy Pharaoh Cicada proud of you.

    Don’t leave us waiting at the Cicada Alter. All is forgiven. Please come home.

  • 04 SHP Colonel Freddy L Johnson Jr FIThe North Carolina Highway Patrol has sworn in a new commanding officer. Colonel Freddy L. Johnson Jr. has been named the 28th commander of the S.H.P. He is a Cumberland County native and has been in public safety work all his life. After graduating from South View High School in 1989, Johnson was hired as a full-time firefighter and since 1996 has served as deputy chief of the Stoney Point Fire Department. Colonel Johnson attended Fayetteville State University and earned a criminal justice degree. He joined the North Carolina Highway Patrol as a State Trooper in 1995 and was assigned to Robeson County while maintaining his volunteer firefighter responsibilities. Johnson’s promotion ceremony on June 4 included remarks from Governor Roy Cooper, and N.C. Public Safety Secretary Erik Hooks.

    Pictured Above : Col. Freddy L. Johnson Jr. 

  • 02 group work from homePlenty of politicians, planners and business folks think they know what North Carolina’s post-pandemic economy will look like. But few seem entirely sure. They are noticeably hedging their predictions, which I consider to be a wise precaution. They ought to be hedging their bets, as well.

    There are unanswered questions across multiple economic sectors and time frames. For many decisionmakers, however, perhaps the single most important questions involve the fate of hybrids.

    I’m not talking about motor vehicles. I’m talking about work schedules. With so many North Carolinians having experienced months of doing their jobs from home, will they want to come back to the office full-time? If so, there won’t be meaningful changes in traffic patterns, consumer behavior, and the market for commercial and residential real estate.

    However, if a significant share asks employers to stay remote indefinitely — or, more likely, to split their workweeks between office and home — the result could be disruptive. I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way. But even net-positive innovations have transition and transaction costs.

    The early signals are noisy. Some workers are clearly desperate to get back to the office. They found being at home distracting, even without school-aged children needing frequent attention, and embrace the rigid separation of worktime and personal time that a physical commute can reinforce. Others quite enjoyed doing their jobs remotely. It saved them the time and expense of commuting, and of dressing up. They embrace the intersection of work and home for its flexibility.

    As for employers, some found remote work fairly easy to inspire, manage and evaluate. Others felt their teams, dispersed by geography and otherwise out of sync, became less productive. This sentiment appears to be widespread in occupations such as banking, finance and law. American Enterprise Institute analyst Brent Orrell calls it “a move that appears to be driven by a mix of tradition and a concern for new hires who need regular coaching on work practices and expectations.”

    Of course the smart money will be wagered on some kind of midpoint. Many workers will resume a regular schedule. But not all. One recent academic paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research projects that home-based work will account for 20% of full workdays in the United States, up from 5% before the COVID crisis. Amanda Mull, a staff writer for The Atlantic, predicts that many professionals will ask for hybrid schedules: three days a week in the office, two at home.

    Such developments would have major consequences. The NBER paper estimated that if a fifth of workdays happened at home, consumer spending in major city centers would decline by as much as 10%. Think fewer workers parking their cars in decks, eating out for lunch, or running errands on the way home. Think major employers shrinking their footprints the next time they renew their leases.

    Now consider what’s happening with urban transit across the country. Ridership across all categories fell dramatically during the crisis, but declines in rail use were especially large, in part because the very professionals most likely to be able to do their jobs from home also make up a disproportionate share of rail users.

    The only relevant case in North Carolina is Charlotte — and it’s a revealing one. Bus ridership in the Queen City is down by about 49% year-to-year. Light rail ridership is down 71%, and isn’t bouncing back as fast as bus usage is.

    I confess that I’ve been a rail-transit skeptic for a long time. I already thought the Triangle area was wise not to pursue a long-proposed rail line. That decision looks even better in retrospect.

    If more jobs move to hybrid schedules, many North Carolinians will likely move further away from central cities, to exurbs and low-density counties. They’ll consume public services, of course, but not the same ones, from the same jurisdictions. And they’ll likely vote differently than their rural neighbors do.

    Hybrids could be the wave of the future.
    Who knew?

  • 05 11 The District Summer Market Logo light in dark out 1The Cool Spring Downtown District has launched the District Summer Market at Festival Park. This combined farmers and makers market is scheduled to operate from 4-8 p.m. every Thursday through Aug. 26 (except July1). Market wares, food, beverages, free entertainment and other activities will be available. Vendors are selling a variety of wares and products at the market each week including locally grown produce, meat and seafood as well as locally made artwork and artisan goods. Food and beverage trucks are selling meals and drinks. Canned beer from Bright Light Brewing Company and Lake Gaston Brewing Company will be available at the Cool Spring Downtown District tent.

  • 06 71779616 10156368551201969 3438027097455460352 nThe Dogwood Festival’s mini-fest which was postponed earlier this year is being held June 11-12 at Festival Park off Ray Ave. Live music from the Throwback Collaboration Band and On The Border will be staged on day one. The second day features a car and motorcycle show, as well as scaled-down collections of arts and crafts. Food vendors will provide snacks. "We're all very excited for this opportunity," said Sarahgrace Snipes, who was recently named Dogwood Festival Executive Director. The scaled down mini-fest is among the first events being held at Festival Park since the COVID-19 pandemic began early last year. The festival runs from 5-11 p.m. Friday and from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free. Donations are being accepted.

  • 08 outdoor group healthy livingWith more COVID-19 vaccinations across the country, many Americans are looking forward to resuming their lives and returning to normal. This June, during Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, the Alzheimer’s Association — Eastern North Carolina Chapter is encouraging residents to make brain health an important part of their return to normal.

    “The past year has been extremely challenging for most Americans,” said Lisa Roberts, Executive Director, Alzheimer’s Association — Eastern North Carolina Chapter. “Chronic stress, like that experienced during the pandemic, can impact memory, mood and anxiety. As North Carolina residents begin to return to normal, we encourage them to make brain health a priority.”

    The Alzheimer’s Association offers five suggestions to promote brain health and to help North Carolina residents restore their mental well-being.

    Recommit to Brain-Healthy Basics

    Evidence suggests that healthy behaviors took a backseat for many Americans during the pandemic. Gym memberships were put on hiatus, social engagement became more challenging and many Americans swapped out healthful eating for their favorite comfort foods, take-out meals and frequent snacking while working remotely. One study published recently found participants gained nearly 1.5 pounds per month over the past year, on average.

    The Alzheimer’s Association — through its U.S. POINTER Study — is examining the role lifestyle interventions,including diet, may play in protecting cognitive function. Right now, many experts agree that people can improve their brain health and reduce the risk of cognitive decline by adopting healthy lifestyle habits, preferably in combination, including: exercising regularly, maintaining a heart-healthy diet, getting proper sleep, staying socially and mentally active.

    Return to Normal at Your Own Pace

    Many Americans are eager for a return to normal life following the pandemic, but others are anxious. In fact, one recent survey found that nearly half of adults (49%) report feeling uncomfortable about returning to in-person interactions when the pandemic ends. For those feeling anxious, the Alzheimer’s Association suggests taking small steps. It may also be important to set boundaries and communicate your preferences to others in your social circles.

    Help Others

    There is evidence to suggest that helping others during the pandemic may not only make you feel better, but it may be good for you as well. Research shows that helping others in a crisis can be an effective way to alleviate stress and anxiety. One study published during the pandemic found that adults over age 50 who volunteer for about two hours per week have a substantially reduced risk of dying, higher levels of physical activity and an improved sense of well-being. To help others and yourself during June and throughout the year, volunteer in your community,run errands or deliver meals to a home-bound senior or donate to a favorite cause, such as supporting participants in the Alzheimer’s Association’s The Longest Day event on June 20.

    Unplug and Disconnect
    Technology has dominated our daily lives during the pandemic like never before. While technology has kept us connected through COVID-19, it has also created fatigue for many Americans. Experts warn that excessive stimulation coming from our phones, computers, social media sources and news reports can add to our already heightened anxiety levels. To avoid technology overload, experts advise setting limits on your screen time, avoid carrying your phone everywhere, and disconnecting from digital devices at bedtime.

    Control Your Stress Before it Controls You

    In small doses, stress teaches the brain how to respond in healthy ways to the unexpected, inconvenient or unpleasant realities of daily life. Prolonged or repeated stress, however, can wear down and damage the brain, leading to serious health problems including depression, anxiety disorders, memory loss and increased risk for dementia. Reports indicate that Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers are especially vulnerable to physical and emotional stress. The Alzheimer’s Association offers tips to help manage caregiver stress. Meditation, exercise, listening to music or returning to a favorite activity you have missed during the pandemic are just some ways to manage stress. Do what works best for you.

    “The COVID-19 pandemic has been an overwhelming time for all of us,” Roberts said. “It’s important for people to know there are steps we can take to lessen the stress and anxiety we might be feeling. It can be easy to take brain health for granted, but now more than ever, it’s a good idea to make it a priority.”
    Currently, the Alzheimer’s Association and representatives from more than 40 countries are working together to study the short- and long-term consequences of COVID-19 on the brain and nervous system in people at different ages, and from different genetic backgrounds.

    During Alzheimer's & Brain Awareness Month, the Alzheimer’s Association in North Carolina is hosting virtual events for participants to learn about research in the areas of diet and nutrition, cognitive activity and social engagement.

    “Healthy Brain, Healthy Body, Healthy You Symposium” — will take place on June 7-11. Discover strategies and activities to incorporate into your plan for healthy aging in our seven-part series. Sponsored by Sharon Towers, this interactive virtual experience includes sessions such as a cooking demonstration and gentle yoga. Join all sessions or just those of interest.

    Part 1: Healthy Living for Your Brain and Body Overview took place June 7
    Part 2: Mindfulness Matters was scheduled for June 8
    Part 3: Med Instead of Meds: Eating the Mediterranean Way for Better Health is scheduled for June 9
    Part 4: Gentle Yoga (seated) is scheduled for June 9
    Part 5: Engaging with Art is scheduled for June 10
    Part 6: Mediterranean Cooking Demonstration is scheduled for June 10
    Part 7: Gentle Yoga (Mat) is scheduled for June 11

    “Taking PRIDE in Healthy Living” — will take place virtually on June 17 from 6-7:30 p.m. Science provides insights into how to make lifestyle choices that may help you keep your brain and body healthy as you age. Join us to learn about research in the areas of diet and nutrition, exercise, cognitive activity and social engagement. Hear from panelists such as Dr. Rhett Brown, a top healthcare provider for LGBTQ+ individuals and others who provide services and social activities to the LGBTQ+ community across North Carolina.

    “The Longest Day®” — leading up to and culminating on June 20, the summer solstice and the day with the most light – local residents will join advocates across North Carolina and the world to participate in The Longest Day to fight the darkness of Alzheimer’s through an activity of their choice. Together, they will use their creativity and passion to raise critical funds and awareness to advance Alzheimer’s Association® care, support and research programs. Participants can support the event at home, online or in-person – biking, hiking, playing bridge, knitting and more – to shine a light on the more than 6 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias, and the more than 11 million family members and friends providing care and support.

    Additional information on virtual educational programs and other care and support resources or how to get involved with the Association, can be found by visiting the Alzheimer’s Association, Eastern North Carolina Chapter at www.alz.org/nc or by calling our 24/7 Helpline at 800-272-3900.

  • 12 COVID vaccine cardCumberland County improved from a Substantial Spread of COVID-19 to a lesser tier on May 27,
    according to the N.C. Department of Health of Human Services county alert system. This is based on the case rate, positive percentages and hospital impact scores. Cumberland County is one of 41 counties statewide that improved from Orange Tier (Substantial Spread) to Yellow Tier (Significant Spread). The County Alert System is updated biweekly.

    The Cumberland County Department of Public Health is offering the COVID-19 vaccine to individuals ages 12 and up at locations throughout the county. According to the state, 309 Cumberland County residents have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. There have been 29,531 cases in Cumberland County reported since the onset of the pandemic.

  • 01 DW 3It’s time to shed the gloom, the doom and the masks! Fayetteville is emerging from the restraints and restrictions of COVID and coming alive again with the traditional summer sights and sounds of our diverse All America City. Truly international in scope, Cumberland County is home to people and organizations dedicated to supporting and nurturing the local traditions that define and enhance our unique community. Spring and summer are when Fayetteville comes alive with activities and events to entertain and excite the entire family. There is something for everyone.

    The Dogwood Festival is one familiar venue to bring the family outdoors to enjoy local music, food and artists. It’s finally back with a Mini Festival scheduled for June 11-12 at Festival Park. Smaller in scale this year, but just the beginning of returning our community back into the vibrant entertainment hub we’ve come to
    appreciate.

    What would summer be without music? Our local residents don’t have to answer that because there are multiple concert series already in full swing in our area. The Rock’n On The River series returns to Deep Creek on June 16 with Reflections II and Trial By Fire — two bands that are sure to have you singing along, dancing and enjoying time with friends.

    The new music venue, the Pavilion at Gates Four Golf & Country Club, hosts Beatlemania on June 26. With concerts lined up through September, there’s sure to be something to please fans of all music genres.

    The newest and most exciting outdoor family entertainment attraction developing in eastern North Carolina is right here in Fayetteville east of the river on Sapona Road — Sweet Valley Ranch.

    If you haven't heard about it by now, you will in the near future. Sweet Valley Ranch opened last year to over 17 thousand visitors who came to view and enjoy their drive-thru Christmas light display, the Festival of Lights. Beginning today, June 9, Sweet Valley Ranch is opening Dinosaur World.

    Dinosaur World is the latest attraction on the 300 acre working farm that takes visitors on an adventure through a nature trail inhabited by the prehistoric creatures. Visitors of all ages are in for a unique experience.

    It is only the beginning of what we predict will become Fayetteville and Cumberland County’s #1 family fun, educational and entertainment destination. Up & Coming Weekly will be showcasing this multi-dimensional enterprise and it's entrepreneurial owners, Fred and Anita Surgeon, and the major economic impact it will have on our community.

    Stay tuned and be careful: the Dinosaurs are coming!

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • 14 N1707P32006HI was sitting at a stoplight on a calm Sunday morning near the end of May. It was 7:30 in the morning, and traffic was light because not much is open is that time of morning. As I waited for the light to turn, a couple pulled up next to me. I looked over, and they were both wearing masks. Suddenly all the craziness of the last 15-months came flooding back in. The shut downs, the lines, new terms like social distancing, essential worker, and North Carolina's own Wait, Wash and... whatever the other W was.

    Then my mind casually wandered over to the social games of follow the leader we played. I think toilet paper was first. The object was to buy and store as much toilet paper as you could. Bonus points if you could balance a stack 4-feet higher than the top of your shopping cart on the way to the checkout.

    It started to look like a late snow was predicted when bottled water came in as a close second in the game. Disinfecting wipes changed my mind. Those were not traditionally a weather-related buyout item. Nor were hand sanitizer, webcams or 2x4's.

    As America settled into her 'new normal' though, a new series of shortages began to emerge: used cars. Then houses. Followed by jobs for blue collar and food service workers and recreational vehicles for remote-working urban couples.

    I could have gone on, but the light turned green. As I drove, my gas gauge reading near-full, I was reminded of the actions of friends and neighbors during the recent and short-lived gas shortage. That's when it all came full circle. The shortages, the anger, the frustration and even desperation were all driven by the same things: greed and discontent.

    I'm reminded of a Bible passage written by the Apostle Paul from 1 Timothy 6 which begins, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.”

    As we were clearing store shelves of one item and then the next, following the lead of neighbors, friends and family, we made even the most nonsensical items our top purchase priority and getting our share before it was gone.

    The Bible passage continues at 1 Timothy 6:9 saying, “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.”

    That brings me back around to today. And I wonder about our collective tomorrow. Many think the Bible is an archaic document filled with idealistic stories, but look around. There's an amazing wealth of knowledge and understanding of what drives people hundreds of generations and later. When the Bible is as close as it is on humans and their behavior, it makes it that much easier to believe when it talks about God.

    And that's the story in a nutshell — the story of God and the human race. Open it. Read it. When you see yourself, look closer and you'll see the God who has been trying to reach us since the dawn of time.

  • 10 FTCC Photo 3 DSC 7425 Natasha BrownFayetteville Technical Community College held its 59th Annual Commencement exercises outdoors on its Fayetteville campus May 14. The event marked a return to in-person commencement exercises. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the College held a virtual graduation in 2020. The easing of constraints made it possible for FTCC to hold in-person ceremonies this year even as safety protocols were observed.

    For the first time, the College held its commencement exercises on its Fayetteville campus, under large open-air tents. Three separate ceremonies were held simultaneously in three locations on campus to allow for social distancing. Graduates were under the tents. Family and friends watched from outside. The ceremonies were also streamed live and recorded for later viewing.

    More than 600 graduates participated in the in-person ceremonies. All 1,970 of the College’s 2021 graduates were included in a virtual ceremony that premiered on May 15.

    The keynote speakers at this year’s ceremonies included the Hon. Robert Wilkie, former Secretary of Veterans Affairs; Dr. Mark Sorrells, FTCC’s Senior Vice President of Academic and Student Services; and Dr. Murtis Worth, the College’s Dean of Nursing. Wilkie, a native of Fayetteville and a graduate of Reid Ross High School, was also the keynote speaker for the College’s virtual graduation ceremony.

    Wilkie told graduates that he had watched FTCC grow from a small technical college into “a wonderful institution dedicated to the human spirit.” He said education is a gift that can transform a person’s life. He urged graduates to use that gift to find and pursue their passion.

    “Remember what you’re passionate about, what will make you get up every day for the rest of your life,” he said. “Whatever you’re lacking in optimism, remember your special responsibility because of where you are, and what you’ve been granted. To hold up those who don’t fall to cynicism and to hold up those who see a world not as it is, but as it should be. So, be passionate.”

    FTCC President Dr. J. Larry Keen visited each ceremony. At Tent B, taking place on the front lawn of the Tony Rand Student Center, Keen told graduates success is not a destination, but a journey.

    “Please don’t stop here today, and say you made it,” he said. “But understand the real joy is in the journey. Take what you’ve learned, apply it and experience joy with every step that you take because it takes you to better fulfillment of life and the things you do. Every single person has purpose, has an opportunity, a series of opportunities to
    do well.”

    FTCC’s 2021 graduates earned a total 3,926 associate degrees, diplomas and certificates from 280 curriculum programs in these areas: Allied Health Technologies, Arts and Humanities, Business, Computer & Information Technology, Engineering and Applied Technology, Math and Sciences, Nursing, and Public Service.

    In addition, 76 students graduated from the College’s Adult High School program and 43 students graduated from the High School Equivalency program.

    Pictured Above: Keynote speakers encpuraged graduates to remain passionate about their goals. (Above Photo by Natasha Brown)

  • Urinetown 4 03Gilbert Theater’s newest musical “Urinetown” is set to open June 4 and run through June 13, bringing some clean toilet humor to the public. Written by Greg Kotis, the musical originally premiered on Broadway in 2001, and it satirizes various social constructs.

    “One big-wig has taken over everything in the story and is monitoring the water use and making huge amounts of money doing so,” said director Robyne Parrish. “People literally have to pay to pee under the threat that they will be sent away to this place called Urinetown, if they disobey.”

    The storyline is set in a dystopia where a water shortage leads to governmental ban of private toilets and how one man, Bobby Strong, stands up against the unjust system.

    “The question is, ‘what is Urinetown?’ Is it a jail, is it an island somewhere, is it a work camp, what is it and you find that out as the story progresses,” Parrish said.

    The lead of the story rallies the town people to speak up and make change in the town, actor Quentin King said.

    “The main character meets and falls in love with the villain’s daughter, Hope, so there is a little bit of the star-crossed lover’s element,” actor Jacquelyn Kessler said.

    The musical puts a satirical spin on the legal system, and questions capitalism, corporations, corporate mismanagement and bureaucracy.

    “It has all the things you want to see in the musical, it’s got love, heartbreak, death and fantastic characters, so any big Broadway musical lover is going to love this show,” Parrish said. “Huge built-in numbers and great dance numbers, sweet ballads, it just has a little bit of everything for everyone.”

    Urinetown also mocks Broadway musical shows like “The Threepenny Opera” and “Les Misérables.”

    “It’s going to talk about social constructs so it will be a lot of poor versus rich for a lot of the scenes so hopefully the clothes will reflect that. One group will be dressed posh and the other very raggedy Ann,” Kessler said.

    Artistic Director of the Gilbert Lawrence Carlisle encourages potential audiences to not shy away from the production because of the title.

    “People should not be turned down by it being called “Urinetown,’ it’s good family fun and there’s something for everyone,” Carlisle said. “The opening night is sold out already.”

    For more information about the show and to purchase tickets, visit https://www.gilberttheater.com/index.php

  • 06 CAP02810 1 CroppedLegends Pub will host their 24th annual Spring Fling the weekend of June 4-6. Known to many locals for its welcoming and altruistic nature, the pub, located at 4624 Bragg Blvd # 1, has hosted the event since owner Holly Whitley purchased it about 25 years ago.

    “We take care of our own in our own community, we feel as though our own community needs this more than anything,” Whitley said. “It’s quite phenomenal for a little biker bar on the boulevard.”

    Spring Fling began way before Whitley owned the pub. She and a group of friends would host parties at Whitley’s house and called it the Gypsy Women Spring Fling.

    “It was just a get-together of friends and then when we bought the bar we thought of having it there and at that time one of our friends had had a motorcycle accident and they needed our help so we decided to turn the party into a benefit,” she said. “And that’s how we all started as a group and Spring Fling is now our largest benefit of the year.”

    Whitley, in Fayetteville since 1979, bought the pub in the 90’s. Ever since, each year the Spring Fling has raised money for many different individuals and causes in Cumberland County.

    “We’ve been around for 25 years and I have got a good, solid base of people that have been with me for many years, supported our benefits and each other, and they knew if hard times came, we would be there to support them as well,” she said.

    This year's Spring Fling will benefit the local non-profit Seth’s Wish, a charity helping those affected by homelessness and food insecurity.

    “We had a space in Fayetteville for three years and last year a drunk driver drove their car through our building, which is why Holly is doing the Spring Fling this year to help us get into a new building,” said Seth’s Wish Founder and Executive Director Lindsey Wofford.

    The non-profit offered hot meals and a place for the homeless to relax during the day. At their old site they also had a clothes closet, food pantry, hygiene closet as well as hot showers for people to use.

    “With COVID and the car hitting our building we are really depending on the Spring Fling to move towards our goal of getting into a new space, since all our funds are being constantly exhausted,” Wofford said. “We help house families as well, helping with electric bills, helping people with hotel rooms during winter nights, so it's constantly a game of keep up.”

    Whitley said she has helped Seth’s Wish before and has since gotten to know Wofford and how she works.

    The 2021 Spring Fling will be a free event for all with the kick off on Friday, June 4 with free pizza and a pool tournament starting at 8 p.m. People are encouraged to bring donation items for the raffle and auction, as well as gallon sized canned food items or small pop-top canned food and personal hygiene items.

    Saturday will feature the Scott Sather Memorial Poker Run, a motorcycle ride where participants stop at designated locations to pick up cards and build the best poker hand. The event will begin at 1 p.m. and end by 4 p.m. before the auction.

    “We do the Scott Sather Memorial Poker Run in honor of Scott Sather, a regular at our bar, he was killed in Iraq in 2001, and we always have a toast for him,” Whitley said. “He was a part of our family.”

    Raffle tickets will be available for purchase for $20 each or $100 for 10 tickets.

    “One of our bigger raffle prizes this year is a 70-inch TV among other things,” Whitley said.

    The event will feature the live-band Bone Deep from Raleigh after the auction at the end of the night.

    On the last day of the Spring Fling, there will be a Bike Show, from 1 to 4 p.m.

    “After the show, we usually have a lunch of hotdogs and barbecue sandwiches,” Whitley said. “I don’t ask people to pay for the food because I love people to eat at the bar, just come on down and join us.”

    The competitions will feature different awards and prizes, she said.

    The 2020 Spring Fling was cancelled due to the pandemic but the pub reopened with a remodel and was revamped.

    “My staff has been with me for a long time, they all stuck with me through the pandemic and came back, so I didn't have an employment issue coming back,” Whitley said. “I had a lot of support from the community in being able to pay my rent and
    utilities.”

    Over the last 25 years, Legends Pub has raised over $50,000 each year.

    “The Spring Fling is our biggest event, but we do other events throughout the year as well,” Whitley said. “Over the last 25 years or so I would say we may have raised about a million dollars or so for our community. “We never know when someone has the need, so God forbid something happens.”

    Wofford hopes with the help of the money raised with Spring Fling, Seth’s Wish can be back in a building space by this fall before the weather starts getting cold.

    “I chose this community to be where I raised my children, and they’ve grown up and become successful here,” Whitley said tearing up. “I just feel like you have to build on your own community. As much strife as we've had in our community this last year, it’s been so hard on all of us, my daddy used to always say, we got to take care of our own, never forget our own.”

    Pictured Above: The 2021 Legends Pub Spring Fling will benefit Sth's Wish, a local charity helping those affected by homelessness and food insecurity. (Photos by Christy Alphin)

  • 05 Circus Noir by Robert ArbogastIn an effort to continue the discussion on social justice, Ellington-White Contemporary Gallery is exhibiting Art & Social Justice, a national juried exhibition until June 26. For gallery owners Dwight Smith and Calvin Mims, like many of the exhibits, it is a way “for people to see the world from a different perspective.”

    Over 155 works of art were sent to be juried into the gallery or the online exhibit based on the prospectus: “We are living in a tumultuous time; the pandemic has illuminated many of the inequities in our country. How do we move towards equity? Why do we seem to be moving away from fairness? Make an impact with your visually representation of feelings and thoughts on social injustice today … we hope the exhibition will continue the discussion of our path to social justice.”

    Although the dominant theme in the exhibition is Black Lives Matter, artists have submitted an unexpected range of themes, styles and mediums based on the principle of social justice: every individual in a society has the same rights and opportunities to be treated fairly and equitably by the society they live in.

    An unexpected subject by Korean artist, Sueim Koo, from Ridgefield, New Jersey, is a good example of why visitors should come to the gallery or visit the exhibit online and take the time to read the artists’ statement. In her work titled “Marriage Life (I was Covering my Eyes, Ears and Mouth),” Koo mixes abstraction and realism, predominantly green and pastel colors, abstracted faces are covered by realistic hands and arms on a background of patterns.

    Without knowing what the artist intended, “Marriage Life” immediately leads us to understand there is a hidden social justice theme taking place. Koo’s artist’s statement is specific: “I am covering my eyes, ears and mouth with my hands in reference to the principle ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.’” It is also in direct reference to a Korean proverb about marriage. According to this proverb, a new bride should be blind for three years so she will not criticize anything she sees, dumb for three years so she won’t speak out and say something she may regret later, and deaf for three years so she won’t be upset by being scolded.”

    Koo’s work is built on a basic social justice premise: the value of oneself in a culture (and to herself) is not greater or lesser than others. The artist speaks to this by stating, “the proverb of the bride can also be used to describe my life as an immigrant … I would sometimes avoid situations in which I would be seen as a foreigner … there were many times I had to pretend not to see or not to hear in order to overcome feelings of humiliation. We must avoid these hurts caused by unfair beliefs about people with different skin colors, different language, different cultures and different gender.”

    In sharp contrast to “Marriage Life,” the digitally enhanced gouache titled “Circus Noir” by Robert Arbogast, from St. Augustine, Florida, stands out in the exhibit. Smaller than many of the works surrounding the print, the artist has said much with a minimal graphic design. Shapes and text in black, red, white and minimal green will speak to viewers from across the gallery to look closer — the artist mixes signals to create intent. Arbogast’s statement clears up the confusion: “’Circus Noir’ was inspired by circus posters. In that context, the image could be interpreted as a ‘trick shot,’ shooting a lit cigarette from a man’s mouth. The image can also be viewed as execution, the black man smoking a last cigarette before being shot. The ambiguity is intentional. But the hand holding the gun is white, an intentional reference to the epidemic of Black men being murdered by policemen.”

    The above are only two of the thirty-six works hanging in the gallery. The styles range from realism to abstraction, textiles, mixed media to paintings. Just as diverse are the social justice themes artists addressed in their work. Black Live Matter is a prevalent theme, but other themes include, but are not limited to, #MeToo, sexual orientation and gender identity, immigration and poverty.

    Curator- juror, Rose-Ann San Martino, must have had a difficult time selecting the award winners from such a varied range of work; but her experience as a professional artist, art advocate and being involved with Ellington-White Corporation since 2008 is a strong background of experience. San Martino studied drawing and painting at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C. Her work has been exhibited locally and nationally in group and solo exhibitions and can be found in private collections throughout the United States.

    San Martino worked from a valid system of assessment: “The work had to be well crafted, adhere to the theme of the exhibit, and the intent of the work needed to be immediately recognizable. Many excellent works were submitted, but the subject did not follow the theme of social justice.”

    She continued, “How does one select between a textile wall hanging, a print, photograph or a painting for an award? It’s never a hierarchical decision based on a medium, the image needed to be instantly recognizable and reflect what the artists included in the artists’ statement. Being recognizable can fall into the cerebral or sublime. For example, the first-place winning entry, a black and white photograph by Richard Perry, from Chapel Hill is an example of the cerebral — a hand pressing against a chain link fence is an image which immediately symbolizes not just one theme, but many themes of social justice.”

    As the curator and juror of Art & Social Justice, “I was not surprised but pleased that artists addressed so many different themes, and their approaches to the themes ranged from extremely serious to humorous and even quirky. For visitors to the gallery, or the online exhibit, should take the time to read the artist’s statement. We all bring our own meaning to a work but reading the artist’s statement may give someone a new way to look at a theme or an artist’s approach to a theme.”

    Other awards by San Martino include Jeremy Wangler, “7,” photography (2nd), and Sueim Koo, “Marriage Life (I was Covering my Eyes, Ears and Mouth),” mixed media (3rd). Honorable Mentions were given to a textile wall hanging titled “Gaslighter” by Mel Dugosh and “Circus Noir” by Robert Arbogast.

    You will have to visit the gallery (or go online) and see firsthand how artists have created works which intersect with political activism and social justice causes. The only artist from Fayetteville in the exhibit is Andrew Johnson.

    The exhibit is a means for raising awareness about social issues and affecting positive change. For information and to view the online exhibit, visit www.ellington-white.com/art-social-justice-exhibition. The gallery is located at113 Gillespie St. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Wednesday – Saturday. For more information email ewp-arts@hotmail.com or call 910-483-1388.

  • 01 Fisher1Pacific Islanders make up 1.4 million and Asian Americans make up 22.9 million of the U.S. population. The AAPI population has doubled from 2000 to 2019 and is projected to surpass 46 million by 2060 according to the Pew Research Center. Asian Americans trace their roots to more than 20 countries in East and Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent.

    “One of the biggest issues facing the community right now is how the Asian American community is viewed as a monolithic group, leading to issues facing a diversity of populations being overlooked, particularly highlighted over the past year are barriers to accessing services,” said Ricky Leung, co-founder and senior director of programs for North Carolina Asian Americans Together, or NCAAT.

    Language needs and socioeconomic levels vary drastically for different Asian American populations which leads to decision making that would gloss over the very real needs of already underserved communities, Leung said.

    The NCAAT is a 501(c)(3) nonpartisan, nonprofit organization focused on bringing together the Asian American community in North Carolina through civic engagement and political participation. For more information on the NCAAT mission or volunteer opportunities, visit https://ncaatogether.org/

    “Between the 2008 and 2012 elections, the Asian American eligible electorate in North Carolina grew by 27.8%, compared to overall statewide growth of 6.1%,” Leung said. “However, Asian American eligible voters are still behind in turnout and have the lowest voter participation rate of any racial minority in the state.” One reason behind this issue was that according to a 2016 study, over 70% of Asian Americans had never been contacted by a political party or candidate, he said.

    “Even when they were contacted, the outreach was unlikely to have been culturally competent or to have taken into account the language needs of this diverse population,” Leung said

    Founded in 2016, NCAAT’s goal was to fill this gap by focusing specifically on increasing civic engagement and political participation in the Asian American community. NCAAT was the state’s first and only pan-Asian social justice organization.

    Since 1978, May is observed as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month in the U.S.

    Master Sergeant Cathy Fisher of the U.S. Air Force is stationed at Fort Bragg and celebrates her Asian American Heritage year-round but is excited about the opportunity to introduce others to her heritage during the nationally recognized month of May. She identifies her heritage as Thai, and a mix of Thai, Laotian and Chinese ethnicities.

    “Food is a big part of Thai culture, as well as Asian cultures in general,” she said. It was always fun for me to introduce my non-Asian friends to food they had never seen, smelled or tasted and I brought in spring rolls for my coworkers a few weeks ago in celebration of Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month.”

    One of her favorite things about Thai culture is the Loi Krathong, a water festival. “The first year I attended, my mom explained to me that the tradition of Loi Krathong was to light the candle that was put inside of a lotus flower-shaped candle holder, make a wish and then send your lotus flower out on the water for your wish to be released and come true,” Fisher said. “It was such a beautiful sight.”

    Fisher said she enjoys the diversity in the Department of Defense and has met many in the service with her cultural backgrounds and part of the AAPI community which has been great.

    Many DoD installations celebrate AAPI Heritage Month by inviting speakers and veterans to share their experiences in overcoming challenges that face the AAPI community, and or celebrate the culture by hosting events where people can sample authentic cuisine as well as experience cultural elements like dance or music, she mentioned.

    “As an Asian American woman, I was raised to be quiet and accommodating, the stereotype of being quiet, timid and subservient is a common one that is applied to Asian women,” Fisher said. “The Air Force taught me to speak up, it helped me find my voice to share new ideas, teach others what I had learned and to advocate for those who needed my help.”

    With the COVID-19 pandemic, the country saw a rise in hate-crimes against Asian Americans. According to a study by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University hate crimes against Asian Americans rose by 149 percent between 2019 and 2020, in spite of overall hate crimes in the country declining.

    The Anti-Asian sentiment has been deeply disheartening for her and has made her worry about her 70-year-old elderly mother, Fisher said.

    “A lot of feelings of helplessness came up as I saw more violence towards the AAPI community,” she mentioned. “I try to choose compassion when I don’t understand a situation and I couldn’t understand why anyone would attack an elderly Asian woman or shoot people for going to an Asian massage parlor.”

    Leung said some ways to spread awareness about issues affecting the AAPI community is to read more diverse authors and learn about the diversity of experiences of various communities.

    “Be intentional in outreach, think about who all is directly impacted and what are the best ways to make services more accessible to those who need them the most,” he said. “Thinking through language, culture, technology, means various parts of accessibility.

  •  02FTCC Foundation received a grant of $250,000 from Cumberland Community Foundation for the expansion of the nursing program and renovation of the Nursing Education and Simulation Center. The grant is the second largest grant received by FTCC Foundation for the nursing expansion. The largest grant received for the project was from the Golden LEAF Foundation for $961,200.

    “Cumberland Community Foundation makes a significant difference in improving the lives of the citizens of Cumberland County,” said FTCC President Dr. Larry Keen. “Our Nursing Education and Simulation Center has been enhanced significantly by their support and ongoing commitment to the students, faculty and our community members by their generosity and ongoing fulfillment of their vision and mission.”

    The grant is in honor of Cumberland Community Foundation’s 40th anniversary. The lobby in the Nursing Education and Simulation Center will be named for Dr. Lucile West Hutaff, the founder of Cumberland Community Foundation.

    Dr. Hutaff was the first full-time female faculty member at Bowman Gray School of Medicine where she served for 29 years. Her career was dedicated to helping others through preventative and community medicine. When she retired and moved back to Fayetteville, she created Cumberland Community Foundation with a donation of stock valued at $576,840. In 2020, Cumberland Community Foundation assets were valued at $115,419,715. CCF has paid $61 million in grants and scholarships since its inception.

    A second room in the Nursing Education and Simulation Center will be named in memory of the founders of the first five community endowments at Cumberland Community Foundation. These endowments support the best opportunities and greatest needs in Cumberland County, NC, every year. The founders are: Rachel W. and J. S. Harper; Elizabeth E. and Thomas R. McLean; Mary Y. and Walter C. Moorman; Iris M. and James M. Thornton; Mary B. and Wilson F. Yarborough.

    FTCC will renovate the building that formerly housed the childcare center to create a dedicated nursing education facility. This will add new simulation and skills labs, classrooms, meeting spaces and faculty offices for the nursing program. Three nursing programs will be housed in this facility – Associate Degree of Nursing (ADN), Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), and Certified Nurse Assistant I & II (CNA). These programs will be moved to the 33,500-square-foot, 2-story building from their current location in the Health Technologies Center, which will continue to house 13 other programs. The first floor of the nursing education facility will be completely renovated. The second floor includes 9 classrooms and 10 faculty offices and will not need renovation at this time. This renovation and expansion will allow FTCC to increase its capacity for nursing students and to provide much needed graduates to the medical community.

    FTCC Foundation partners with donors to support Fayetteville Technical Community College by raising awareness and financial resources to provide college access for students to attain their educational and career goals. The mission of FTCC Foundation is to foster and promote the growth, progress and general welfare of FTCC, provide supplementary financial support to the College and its students, and advance and enrich the services provided for students, the community, alumni, faculty and staff. FTCC Foundation manages more than 200 scholarship endowments and other funds.

  • flag on fenceline 01We Americans just marked a special day in our nation’s official calendar.

    On Memorial Day we honor those who have sacrificed in military service to our country, particularly those who have given their lives to protect the rest of us. It is and should be a day of reflection and remembrance for those of us fortunate enough to live in our free nation.

    While we are a great nation, we are not a perfect nation, and among our imperfections is that we seem to have lost the concept of service to others in many areas of our common lives. We talk the talk about service to our country, but we do not walk the walk with respect to members of our armed services. Some of them live in actual poverty as many in our Cumberland County community know well. I cringe when I see public service announcements begging for funding for various veterans’ projects, not because the projects are not worthy but because caring for our veterans is a public responsibility to be borne by their follow Americans, not only those who choose and are able to donate.

    Public service workers, government employees and others who jobs are to serve the American public are routinely both overworked and underpaid at the same time they are denigrated as “bureaucrats” and people who feed at the public trough. Elected officials are considered impotent and incompetent, sometimes outright corrupt, and competent, capable and honest people decline to run for critical elective offices because of it. Important civil service jobs in both federal and state governments go unfilled because of low pay and low public esteem.

    It is hard to know when public service became a negative, even dangerous, calling. Ronald Reagan, an icon to many, gave voice to the sentiment when he said in an August 1986, press conference, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” It would be an amusing remark if it were not so insulting. Yes, government is cumbersome, slow and frustrating, but it tackles problems, issues and emergencies that the private sector does not. The private sector does not fund the highway system, educate the vast majority of Americans, or provide health care for people who cannot afford our outstanding but wildly expensive medical system.

    We all see where public service ranks on the career status ladder — almost the bottom rung. It has been camped out there for decades. What has also become apparent relatively recently is that public service is actually dangerous. Dr. Anthony Fauci, a medical doctor who has devoted his entire professional life to American public health has personal security. Members of Congress are escorted around the U.S. Capitol by armed National Guard troops and Capitol Police. Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot in the head 10 years ago, and Reagan’s own press secretary James Brady was disabled for the rest of his life by a bullet intended for his boss, the President.

    John Kennedy’s take on government service was the opposite of Reagan’s. In his inaugural address, Kennedy famously called for Americans to “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” We have come a long way since then but in the wrong direction.

    In an autocratic government, one person or a small group is in charge, and the people have little or no input. In a democracy, we the people are the government.

    It is time that we both respect and reward those among us who keep the wheels of government turning for all the rest of us. This includes all who serve from the highest to the lowest, and especially those who serve us in the U.S. military.

  • 16 readingCumberland County Public Library presents “Tails and Tales” from June 1 to Aug. 15 at the Cumberland County Public Library. “Tails and Tales” is one of many 2021 Summer Reading Programs for children, teens and adults. It is designed for someone to read books, watch programs and win prizes. Participants keep track of their reading and earn virtual badges for the chance to win prizes like headphones, gift cards and color-changing mugs. Grand prizes include an annual family membership to the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro, a $100 gift card and a Kindle. Individuals can tack their progress by using a reading record which can be picked up at any library branch or downloaded and printed. Find your nearest branch and more information about the Summer Reading Program at https://cumberland.lib.nc.libguides.com/srp

    “Tails and Tales” is the perfect way to keep children and teens engaged in learning while school is out. Prizes start at just five hours of reading. The program helps improve reading skills, promotes creative thinking, imagination and storytelling. Teens can participate in fun activities like games, challenges and missions.

    Adults can take advantage of BookMatch, a new service that helps adults find their next great read. Customers can fill out a short questionnaire on the library’s website to identify books matched to reader interests and librarians create a customized list of book titles.

    Keep up with Summer Reading by following the library’s social media pages at facebook.com/CumberlandCountyPublicLibrary or YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/channel/UCkKV_zbl08357r3rtgc0yxA. All library branches re-opened to the public in May. Library hours are Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit the library’s website at cumberland.lib.nc.us for more information and links to social media. Curbside service is available at all Library branches.

  • 15 185280188 122653423297614 3418956082562043674 nThe City of Fayetteville and Fort Bragg have agreed to build a sports complex on 70 acres of undeveloped property on post near I-295 and McArthur Road. City Manager Doug Hewett and Fort Bragg Garrison Commander Col. Scott Pence signed the agreement at City Hall May 21. The sports complex was approved by voters in the 2016 $35M recreation bond referendum. “We are excited to bring this project one step closer to fruition, but we are even more excited about this new partnership with Fort Bragg that will provide us with 70 acres of additional park land conveniently located along I-295,” said city manager Doug Hewett. “This is a win-win for Fort Bragg and for the City of Fayetteville and we appreciate their partnership,” Pence added noting that more than 70% of local service members and their families live in Fayetteville and the surrounding communities. The sports complex will include baseball fields, playgrounds, restrooms, walking trails, parking spaces and open areas. Construction is expected to begin in early 2022.

    Pictured Above: Fort Bragg Garrison Commander Col. Scott Pence (left) and City Manager Doug Hewett (right) recently signed an agreement for a new sports complex. 

  • 16 2021 Distinguised Grad Maria ChoiMethodist University graduated more than 200 students on May 8 during the first outdoor commencement ceremony in the school’s history. The commencement, held at Segra Stadium in downtown Fayetteville, graduated seniors from the class of 2021, but also recognized graduates from the class of 2020, who missed their in-person commencement when the global pandemic hit.

    “Graduates, I’m proud of you. Together, we’ve been through a long dark season because of COVID,” said Dr. Stanley T. Wearden, MU’s president.

    “I have witnessed your resilience and have seen you make countless sacrifices. I have witnessed you rise above challenges and uncertainty of these times. It has been a sacred privilege to spend this time with you.”

    Students, faculty and staff were able to make a far-from-ordinary academic year successful with hybrid learning and modified events, which resulted in the campus staying open for residential living and in-person classes all year while many colleges and universities across the state and nation shut their doors.

    One of these modified events was the commencement ceremony, which is usually held indoors. Methodist University became the first institution of higher learning to partner with Segra Stadium downtown to host the open-air ceremony.

    While some aspects of MU’s commencement changed, the ceremony remained one that honored the many accomplishments of its students. Eight students were recognized for their recent commission into the U.S. Army, while graduates Elias Rodriguez (Argentina) and Hamza Boubacar Kassomou (Niger) were recognized as the first MU grads from their respective countries.

    Aiden Sherry was presented with the L. Stacey Weaver Award, which is awarded to a Spring graduate via a vote from MU faculty. The student must exemplify academic excellence, spiritual development, leadership and service.

    Darryll Decotis and Rachel Townsend became the first MU recipients of the Algernon Sydney Sullivan and Mary Mildred Sullivan Awards. These awards are given to the students who demonstrate a noble character and act as humble servants who place service to others before their own self-interests.

    Distinguished graduates Allison Nagel (2020) and Maria Choi (2021) were selected by a vote by the senior class to share a few words during the ceremony.

    “The close-knit community at Methodist is what makes our experience so much different than that at other colleges,” said Nagel. “I want to say ‘thank you’ to every single person I’ve encountered at Methodist, and I challenge you to reach out and do the same. Even when you struggle, the people around you here today want you to succeed as much as you want to succeed yourself.”

    “We’ve experienced so much in the past few years,” added Choi. “How much more will we learn and grow in the coming years? Every day, we have the opportunity to leave the world a slightly better place than it was when we woke up.”

    The commencement address was given by long-time MU baseball coach Tom Austin, who was recently recognized as the winningest active baseball coach in NCAA Division III.

    Austin, who has earned more than 1,200 career wins at Methodist University since joining the staff in 1980, gave graduates several pieces of advice for their life
    after MU.

    His advice included be on time, be prepared, give a great effort, do the job no one wants to do, have a great attitude and great body language, treat others with respect and do the right thing.

    “I’m going to throw you one final pitch,” Austin said. “I hope you get a job you love as much as I love this job here at Methodist. Congratulations graduates, may God bless you and guide your every step.”

    Following his speech, Wearden presented Austin with the University Medallion, one of Methodist’s highest honors.

    Pictured Above: Distinguihed graduate Maria Choi (pictured) and Allison Nagel were chosen by their senior class to make remarks during the ceremony. 

  • 12 DSC 0593 ClarkAfter a year of being masked, isolated and vaccinated, the sun is shining — literally and figuratively — and it is finally time to venture back into the great outdoors. 

    There are a number of local area sites and activities that offer a chance to see and experience the wonders of nature. You don’t have to go far or spend much money if you look to our own Fayetteville-Cumberland Parks and Recreation.
     
    “There is something for everyone at Clark Park,” said Jennifer Smith, Ranger Supervisor at Clark Park Nature Center. “The city’s second largest regional park remains a natural area dedicated to preserving the environment and educating the public about nature.”
     
    About 27,000 people per year enjoy programs and the Nature Center. Thousands more enjoy the playground and park trails. Spring, summer and fall are all busy seasons, Smith said.
     
    “The Nature Center offers programming for educators, groups, individuals and families plus self- guided experiences,” Smith said. “You can attend a class on fall fungi or take a Star Wars-themed archery class. The Nature Center features 23 live animals including eight species of turtles native to North Carolina.”
     
    The Nature Center also has museum exhibits and displays on natural history, and all of them have interactive elements. You can search for 38 of North Carolina's smallest frogs, toads, snakes, salamanders, lizards and turtles in an exhibit created by wildlife artist Joe Morgan. 
     
    Morgan hails from Liberty, North Carolina, and his work has been featured in museums around the world such as the Smithsonian Institute and also in film and TV. You can get rewards for finding the creatures with some prizes and take home your own set of baseball-style animal fact cards.
     
    There are self-guided activities to get you moving and exercising out on the trails, Smith said.
     
    StoryWalks break the notion that reading only happens within libraries and that parks are only for exercise and recreation. Visitors can stroll along the River Trail with a story to guide their way. The stroller-friendly paved trail is less than 1/2 mile in total. 
     
    Stories change about four times per year. The project is a partnership between the Cumberland County Public Library and Information Center and Fayetteville Cumberland Parks and Recreation.  It was funded by a grant from the Women's Giving Circle of Cumberland County, through the Cumberland Community Foundation, Inc. 
     
    The Great Pinecone Scavenger Hunt is a themed activity that gets visitors to explore the unpaved, woodland trails of the park. They search for large golden pinecones hidden along the trail as they experience topics such as tree bark, spring flowers and winter buds. Sheets for the hunt are outside the Center.
     
    “We have three park rangers that do the majority of our programming, plus two ranger supervisors who do most of the administration,” Smith said.  
     
    “One of our rangers actually majored in recreation, but the rest of our staff are all science nerds. Two studied biology and two studied wildlife. They love doing in-depth programs on plants and animals, and all are involved in monitoring local populations of birds, frogs and toads, moths and other creatures. Our recreation ranger is amazingly creative at coming up with fun programs that really engage his audience. He has a following of regular customers.”
     
    Most popular activities at the park are the public animal feedings, campfires with storytelling and archery programs, Smith said. 
     
    “This is because they appeal to a wide age range,” she said. “Families with young kids enjoy watching the animals eat, and the older kids enjoy the thrill of gathering around a fire at night or learning how to fire an arrow.”
     
    Park visitors ages 5 and up should be prepared to don their masks while in the Nature Center and practice social distancing guidelines. All visitors should also sign in at the front desk.
     
    Nature Center hours during COVID are 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For the latest programming information and learn more about the park visit www.fcpr.us/parks-trails/parks/clark-park
     
    “The most valuable thing we do is to create and maintain awareness of the wonders of nature, especially in the young, and to maintain a place where people can go and still have the chance to see something amazing, like a tiny Cope’s gray tree frog curled in the knot of a tree,” Smith said.  “Clark Park is an island of diversity, preserving some species that have resided here since the time of the last ice age. The rangers have to keep awareness of that flowing out into the community, in order to keep the park and its biology valued and intact.”
     
    There are a number of activities available at Clark Park and Lake Rim Park for visitors of all ages and abilities. Most activities are free or charge a minimal fee to cover expenses, such as $3 to build a bee house or $5 for archery targets. 
     
    A schedule of activities is updated monthly on www.fcpr.us/parks-trails/parks or call Clark Park at 910-433-1579 and Lake Rim Park at 910-433-1018.
     
  • 11 The District Summer Market Logo light in dark out 1The Cool Spring Downtown District will launch The District Summer Market in June at Festival Park. This farmers-and-makers market is scheduled to be open to the public from 4-8 p.m.every Thursday starting June 3 through Aug. 26. The exception will by July 1, when the market will be closed.

    About 25 vendors will be selling their products each week, and they include a variety of farmers, ranchers, artists and artisans.

    Saira Meneses, co-owner of Purpose Driven Family Farm, expressed her own excitement: “We’re thrilled to be part of The District Summer Market this year; it's going to be, without a doubt, a great addition to downtown Fayetteville, and my husband, AJ, and I are looking forward to introducing our farm and unique products to attendees.”

    Purpose Driven Family Farm raises its livestock using organic/non-GMO methods and sustainability practices on a 10-acre farm in Parkton. Owners AJ and Saira Meneses believe in raising thier animals humanely and with integrity, love and respect, because they know that happy, healthy animals mean better products for their community. Learn more at www.purposedrivenfamilyfarm.com/

    As a part of its ongoing objective to position downtown as a viable arts-and-entertainment district, Cool Spring’s Chief Executive Officer, Bianca Shoneman, continues to seek opportunities to create and/or host family-friendly activities that bring people downtown to shop, eat and play, safely.

    “We simply recognized the fact people are looking for more opportunities to intentionally spend their money on locally produced food, art, etc. in 2021,” Shoneman said, “and thanks to the support of the city of Fayetteville, The District Summer Market will be a fantastic opportunity for downtown’s visitors to shop local while enjoying a fun, family-friendly outing in our lovely Festival Park.”

    Cool Spring Downtown District is planning to invite local food trucks and musicians to participate in the market once restrictions are lifted. Additionally, a variety of games such as cornhole, Connect 4, and ladder ball will be available for groups to enjoy playing on Festival Park’s spacious lawn.

    “We’re extremely excited for the grand opening of The District Summer Market and are looking forward to serving folks through our pasture-raised and nutrient-dense pork, beef, chicken and eggs,” an owner of Spartan Tusk and Feather Livestock said. “We believe this market will change the way people look at the food they’re consuming.”

    Spartan Tusk and Feather Livestock is a veteran-owned-and-operated family farm, located on 60 acres in Shannon, that produces antibiotic-free, hormone-free, and humanely raised food products. Owners Adam and Tiffany Jeter pride themselves on providing sustainable, healthy foods for their community. Learn more at facebook.com/SpartanTuskandFeatherLivestock

    Cool Spring Downtown District is inviting the public to apply to be a vendor for one or more of the 12 markets being planned over the summer. Email marketmanager@coolspringfay.org for more information. Additionally, if a company is interested in sponsoring one or more of the markets, email bianca@coolspringfay.org.

    The public may follow all market plans and happenings on Cool Spring Downtown District’s website https://visitdowntownfa

  • 09 mental health servicesAbout 1 in 5 American adults will experience a diagnosable mental health issue, according to a survey by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

    Over the last year with the COVID-19 pandemic isolating people across the country and world, there has been an increase in adults seeking help for anxiety, depression and other mental conditions, a screening by Mental Health America found.

    The Issue

    “With the pandemic we really saw an increase in the number of overdose-deaths, alcohol and substance abuse problems, depression, suicide attempts, all of that has gone up,” said Mark Kline, department chair for psychology at Methodist University. “Therapists in Fayetteville and the state have noticed that there’s not enough therapists for all the people who need help.”

    Since 1949, the month of May has been celebrated as Mental Health Awareness Month across the U.S. to raise awareness and educate people about different mental health illnesses. Many organizations host awareness campaigns, events and more.

    Many health care professionals say mental health topics are not given the importance they should in terms of public perception and its relation to overall health.

    “When the pandemic first started people were struggling with feeling isolated, they didn't have enough connections or weren't able to establish them because they couldn't go out, recreation was greatly reduced, plus additional stress with kids being home-schooled,” said Dr. Michael West, Deputy Commander for Department of Behavioral Health,
    at Womack Army Medical Center on Fort Bragg.

    According to SAMHSA, only 48.2% of adults in North Carolina receive treatment for their mental health, ranking the state 33 out of 50 for providing access to mental health services.

    “It’s a society wide problem, we are doing some things that are in the right direction like the mental health awareness month, on campus we do a lot of reaching out, we have different events we do for mental health awareness days, just to let people know it’s not a moral failure, there's nothing wrong with them and that it’s a normal part of human life and there is help available,” Kline said.

    Stigmatization is the main hurdle keeping people from seeking help, he said.

    Causes

    “You really can't separate mental and physical health, they really influence each other,” Kline said. “My argument would be that mental health is just as critical a need in our community as physical health and with COVID it really kind of brought that to the forefront.”

    Dr. West says for soldiers, many stressors come from managing the pace of Fort Bragg being a premier operational post, things move very fast and there's a lot of demand on the soldiers and their families.

    Many have to balance the job of serving their country, demands at home and still try to have a personal life, make time for hobbies and such, he said.

    “When those things get out of balance at home or work, during deployments, we think PTSD can happen, but one can also get depressed or anxious, people can develop marital or relationship problems, a whole bunch of stuff can come out with an imbalance of life,” Dr. West said.

    Although there is no one single cause of mental illnesses, many factors like genetics, environmental factors, brain injuries, life experiences and more can affect one’s mental health.

    “We really look at five areas — sleep, activity, nutrition, spirituality or purpose and then there’s what we say to ourselves, are we someone who accepts when we make mistakes or we beat ourselves up and get into negative self-talk because all that does is bring people down,” Dr. West said.

    “Those five areas are things that are very important and getting into routines and it's horrible during the pandemic to get into them because things are open and then they are closed, you can do this or can't
    do that.”

    See Something, Say Something

    Dr. West suggests people be more observant to notice if their friends or family are acting differently.

    “If a person who’s always been calm, relaxed and chill and suddenly they are now angry, irritable and stressed out, or negative in their approach, those are changes and things we have to take time to observe,” Dr. West said. “Then be willing to say something, sometimes it's to the individual and saying ‘hey, what's going on’ and being their buddy and sometimes it's talking to someone else and getting some assistance for them.”

    There is a lot of pressure on the person experiencing mental health issues to seek help, but friends and family can be a helpful resource to get them help before things get hard, Kline mentioned.

    “If you recognize a family member is struggling, it’s pretty easy to look up resources, just in Fayetteville, there are several mental health agencies, several practices, and a lot of resources,” he said. “And sometimes if a friend or family member can help facilitate that, let them you know ‘hey, I can sit with you when you contact them or ride with you there,’ that makes it a lot easier for people to access those resources.”

    Dr. West said that people need to reach out and express worry and ask how they can help when they see someone in distress.

    “Realize that we are all people, all have challenges, if not today then tomorrow or day after, we all have things that come up so asking for help or assistance is really not a big deal,” he said.

    Resources

    The SAMHSA treatment referral helpline 1-877-726-4727 is available Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 8 pm. EST and connects people with local resources and information on mental health. Those in immediate need can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) available 24/7.

    At Methodist University’s Center for Personal Development, a fully staffed mental health provider offers free mental health services to staff, faculty and students.

    Cumberland County lists local mental health organizations and providers on their website www.co.cumberland.nc.us/departments/mental-health. Their page lists a 24-hour Access and Information Line offered by Alliance and can be reached at 800-510-9132.

    The Department of Behavioral Health at Fort Bragg offers a full range of mental and behavioral health care to active-duty soldiers, families and children. They offer services to manage substance abuse issues. The Intrepid Spirit Center works with those suffering from traumatic brain injuries, pain management and more.

    “Many deployable units have behavioral health assets or officers, there’s military family life counselors that are here to help with very straightforward problems of life,” Dr. West said. “We also have behavioral health consultants who work with individuals with minor psychological issues, managing stress or physical conditions.”
    Womack’s Behavioral Health Department serves Department of Defense members with a team of counselors on Fort Bragg.

    The Peer Support Program at Fort Bragg offers support to those who have recently lost a relationship and they meet at various times and places and can be found on Facebook, Dr. West said.

    The VA Suicide Crisis line is 1-800-273-8255 or one can text 838255 or live chat by visiting www.veteranscrisisline.net to get helped by qualified responders. For those looking to support near you visit www.veteranscrisisline.net.

    “Just because a person comes to behavioral health does not mean they can't do their job or deploy, those are very unique cases,” he emphasized.

    Military One Source offers confidential counseling to military and family members. Military One Source can be reached at 1-800-342-9647 or by visiting www.militaryonesource.mil 

    “The Department of Behavioral Health is a great resource; we like it when people come in early so we can help get things on track quickly rather than waiting until the problems have really deepened and become much more ingrained.” Dr. West said.

    Maintaining Balance

    “Make sure you are doing things to take care of yourself, it’s different for different people, some it's going to the gym, for some it's spending time with family, or quiet time,” Dr. West said. “And really trying to maintain those balances of what you know helps you regain your resilience to help you to
    manage stressors.”

  • 07 Murphy and AdamsThe Cumberland County Board of Commissioners honored Demetria Murphy with the Cumberland County Cares Award in recognition of her volunteer work in the community. Murphy is a member of the Fayetteville Cumberland Re-Entry Council. The Council helps men and women who have been through the criminal justice system make positive re-integration into society. The Council provides support and resources to help individuals obtain employment or education opportunities.
    “Ms. Murphy has certainly made a positive impact on our community,” said Commission Vice Chairman Glenn Adams who described her “as a unique and inspiring young woman who speaks passionately about her volunteer efforts and her efforts to help those who are looking for a second chance in life.” Murphy also founded the Youth Diverse Intervention Group which works to promote positive influence and actions in the lives of young people. She also volunteers with the Veterans Empowering Veterans Organization and helped organize a much-needed food bank. The Cumberland Cares Award recognizes individuals, groups and agencies that have made outstanding contributions toward a better quality of life for Cumberland County’s citizens.

    Pictured Above: Demetria Murphy (left) was presented the Cumberland County Award by Glen Adams (right). the county commision vice chairman. 

  • 04 IMG 7043 PittWatching Lynne Cheney get booted out of her House Congressional Republican leadership position for failing to worship the Former Guy got me thinking about Greek mythology. Lynne got her head chopped off because she refused to kiss the Former Guy’s nethermost region of his rather expansive anatomy. Either one of my Gentle Readers might rightly ask by what bizarre stretch of logic does the Former Guy fit into Greek mythology? No person could rationally compare the Former Guy to mythological characters. “Au contraire” as a snail-eating Frenchman might say. Recall Otter in “Animal House” who once said: “I think this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part.” And as Bluto almost replied: “I’m just the guy to do it.” Jules in the movie “Pulp Fiction” once said in a slightly different context, “Allow me to retort.”

    So I shall retort.

    The Former Guy has been diagnosed from afar as having Narcissistic Personality Disorder. This begs three questions: 1. Who was Narcissus? 2. What is Narcissistic Personality Disorder? 3. If the diagnostic shoe fits, does the Former Guy wear it?

    Let’s begin with Narcissus. Narky, as his buddies called him, was what was known back in the Grecian Formula days as a Pretty Boy. He was even prettier than the Artist Formerly Known as Prince. Narky did not care about other people’s feelings as he was too superior to associate with people or even Gods.

    One day Narky was out hunting in the deep forest when he was spotted by a lovely mountain nymph named Echo. Nymphs were beautiful young female spirits. Zeus would frequently make whoopee with nymphs except for Echo. Echo’s job was to keep Zeus’ wife Hera busy by talking to Hera while Zeus was out sporting with other nymphs. Eventually Hera found out Zeus was tom catting around. She blamed Echo for covering up for him. Hera laid a curse on Echo that caused Echo to only repeat what someone had said to her. This made Echo both a boring and irritating conversationalist.

    It was love at first sight for Echo when she got a gander at Narky. Narky called out: “Who is there?” Unfortunately, Echo could only repeat what Narky said. Her limited conversational style irritated Narky mightily. He angrily rejected the lovesick Echo leaving her in the woods to pine away for him. Echo’s love sickness caused her body to fade away into the ether. Only her voice remained which could only repeat words yelled into a canyon. That is why echoes were named for poor Echo.

    Things did not end much better for Narcissus. He left Echo to go sit by a pool of water to get a drink. When he looked into the pool he caught his first glimpse of his beautiful self. Apparently, mirrors had not yet been invented. Having never seen himself before, he fell immediately in love with his own reflection. Narky was pretty but he was not too bright. He thought there was a beautiful young man in the pool not realizing it was just his reflection. When Narky reached into the pool to touch his beloved self, the ripples made his reflection disappear. Narky was so smitten by his own image that he could not leave the pool. He sat there falling in love with himself while forgetting to eat. He withered away, dying by the pool admiring his own reflection. There may be a moral hidden somewhere in this story. See if you can find it. Psychiatrists have stolen the story for their own purposes.

    Psychiatrists have a handy book of psychiatric disorders called the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” which they use to assign patients into neat little categories of mental woes. The nutshell description of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is the patient is described as arrogant, self-centered, demanding and “often have high self-esteem and may believe they are superior or special compared to other people. However, they seem to need excessive praise and admiration, and they may react poorly to perceived criticism.”

    The Shrinks will diagnose a patient with NPD if five of the following criteria are met: “A grandiose sense of self-importance; preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty; belief that the patient is special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with other special or high status individuals; a need for excessive admiration; a sense of entitlement; interpersonally exploitive behavior; a lack of empathy; envy of others or belief others are envious of him; or a demonstration of arrogant and haughty behavior.”

    Gentle Reader, I leave it to you to decide if the Former Guy meets five of these delightful character traits to warrant a sidewalk diagnosis of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. One clue is that the Former Guy spent an inordinate amount of time and taxpayer dollars on his golf courses. Golf courses are known to have water hazards into which the Former Guy could have spent many hours staring lovingly at his own reflection. His cult followers mimic Echo by consistently repeating his false charges. Barry Goldwater once campaigned for President with the slogan “A Choice Not an Echo.” The Former Guy flipped Barry’s slogan to “An Echo not a Choice.” It was off with her head for Ms. Cheney who chose not to be an Echo.

    Love is a many splendored thing.

  • 03 Covid vaccine car windowPart of being human is the desire to organize our knowledge to understand it better, and Americans seem quite adept at this. Marketers have long since categorized us by our shared beliefs, and now a researcher has applied this technique to Americans who have not been vaccinated. We have known since COVID-19 vaccines became available that certain groups of people are getting vaccinated at lower rates than their fellow Americans, among them Republicans, people of color and rural residents. Harvard public health assistant professor Dr. Sema K. Sgaier is grouping us not by our demographic characteristics but by our shared beliefs.

    Before we look at the holdouts against herd immunity, there is clearly a vast category that the Times dubs Enthusiasts, of which I am a happy member. These are folks thrilled to be vaccinated. I was so relieved to stick my arm out the driver’s side window for my jab at a vaccination site that my neighbor whose arm was out the passenger window feared my giddiness would make me hyperventilate. Most Americans fall into this category now that 60% of us have had at least
    one shot.

    So, who is holding out against herd immunity in our nation? Writing in The New York Times, Sgaier posits four different categories for those who remain doggedly unvaccinated.

    Eight percent of them she calls Watchful. These are folks who are waiting to see what happens next. Did my cousin have side effects? What about the fellow around the corner? They are likely mask wearers and may eventually get vaccinated to protect themselves and others. They make up 8% of the unvaccinated nationally.

    Then we have the Cost Anxious. The federal government has made vaccinations free for virtually all of us, but these folks are concerned about the time involved to leave work or home. Making vaccinations convenient is most important to those group, which makes up about 9% of the unvaccinated.

    As always, in a free society, we have System Distrusters. They believe the system, and in this instance the health care system, treats them unfairly. They may believe the system targets people “like them” or that vaccines will secretly change their DNA. They might respond to a trusted friend or adviser to set them straight, but in the meantime, they make up about 4% of the no-vaccine-for-me crowd.

    And, finally, Sgaier labels the COVID Skeptics. These folks believe COVID-19 is no big deal, perhaps even a pandemic engineered to manipulate people around the world, particularly Americans. They cite their aunt, cousin, next-door-neighbor who had COVID and is “just fine.” They make up about 14% of the unvaccinated, and will likely not take the jab, as one Skeptic told me, until “I am damn well ready.”

    So how does North Carolina’s unvaccinated break down in Sgaier’s system?

    Most of our unvaccinated folks are indeed stubborn Skeptics, doing their own thing no matter how it puts others at risk. Then comes our Cost Anxious crowd, who do not want to miss work or something else important for a shot. The Anxious are followed by the Watchful, many of whom will ultimately get vaccinated once they feel confident about their friends and family who have done so. And, finally the System Distrusters come in at 2.5%.

    Sgaier’s research, especially when reviewed state by state, reveals a patchwork of reasons why the national vaccination rates are slowing down despite no-cost availability. Some states are all in, and some barely so. The CDC puts North Carolina at 38th in the nation for adults having at least one dose.

    Americans do have the right to choose for ourselves, but vaccine hesitancy is a real thing that is affecting all of us. No one should be forced to get vaccinated, but we should all think not only of ourselves but of the greater good. The Bible puts it this way — Love thy neighbor as thyself.

  • 02 Dogwood FestivalWell, from where I sit it looks like Fayetteville is starting to come alive again after being stymied for nearly two years dealing with the COVID pandemic. We see more and more people venturing out eating, shopping and actively searching out events, activities and things to do outside the confines of their own home. Art, cultural and recreational events that were so bountiful prior to the pandemic are starting to make a comeback.

    I recently received a call from Sarahgrace Snipes, the new Executive Director of the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival. She was very excited and eager to tell me that the City of Fayetteville has finally given them permission to use Festival Park for this year’s Dogwood Mini Fest. This event was previously scheduled to be held in April at Westwood Shopping Center, but again COVID-19 ended up being Dogwood’s party pooper. Since arriving in Fayetteville from Wilmington, Sarahgrace has literally “hit the ground running." And, standing up the Dogwood Festival’s Mini Festival at Festival Park on such short notice will be a major accomplishment. One that will be very much appreciated by this community. The Dogwood Festival is free to the public and will feature many of their traditional events like the car & motorcycle show, art and craft displays, local vendors and entertainers, and, of course, great food and a live music concert. Everyone needs to support this event on June 11 & 12.

    Speaking of music concerts, Fayette-ville residents eager to be outside in the fresh air are turning out in huge numbers to the many musical concerts scheduled for the Fayetteville/Cumberland County community. Gates Four Golf & Country Club launched their Summer Concert Series on May 16 with a Beach Music Bash at The Pavilion. Their musical series of five monthly concerts will present award winning musical talent and entertainment ranging from classic Carolina Beach music to the Beatles and hits from the 60s. On July 17 they will present a Retro 80’s Rock Concert & Party. The Series is produced by the Fayetteville Dinner Theatre in conjunction with Gates Four and the public is invited. All the concerts are ticketed events but with a twist: all food, beer and wine are included in the ticket price. For the list of concert times and dates go to www.fayettevilledinnertheatre.com.

    Another great outdoor music concert series was launched last week when Rock’n On The River showcased two great bands on the banks of the Cape Fear River at Deep Creek Outfitters. Hundreds of rock music enthusiasts turned out to see, hear and experience Mostley Crue and Shoot to Thrill. They did not disappoint. This concert series is produced and engineered by local Fayetteville resident Greg Adair with Healy Whlse., Up & Coming Weekly, 96.5 Bob FM and The River 106.5, and the support of dozens of local businesses. Their next event is on June 18 featuring Reflections II and the Journey tribute band Trail by Fire. Follow Rock’n On The River on Facebook for details.

    Yes, Fayetteville is coming alive again. The sights and sounds of the joyful outdoors are everywhere. Seek them out, enjoy and support them. Here’s a few suggestions: Clark Park, Cape Fear Botanical Garden, Veterans Memorial Park, Lake Rim Park, Cape Fear Trail, the Rose Garden at FTCC and one of my very favorites, Fayetteville’s newest and most exciting destinations, the Sweet Valley Ranch and Dinosaur World.

    So, whether you are into attending a local festival, enjoying a music concert on the river, or smelling the pretty flowers, Fayetteville and Cumberland County have a never-ending array of wonderful outdoor places for you to go, see, enjoy, relax and de-stress.

    Thanks for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

    Caption: The Dog Wood Mini Fesival is schedued for June 11-12 at Festival Park. Musical entertainment, food and vendors are planned. (Photos of previous events courtesy of Fayetteville Dog Wood Festivals) 

  • Cho S2 press image 3 1 06Positivity with a ponytail. The music, the message and the motorcycle. These are just a couple of the taglines someone recently suggested for the daily radio show I have the pleasure of hosting on WCLN.

    Ultimately, I'll probably not use either of them, but it's nice to know people take time to notice. That's something our sorely disconnected world needs a little more of: People noticing one another.

    Over the past several months my wife and I have begun watching the independent video series, “The Chosen” from director Dallas Jenkins. None of us can comment with surety on how accurately the personalities of any of the Biblical figures is depicted, but the series has gone a long way to making them all more understandable.

    “The Chosen” walks viewers through the early days of Jesus' time in ministry, offering backstories of the people we often reduce to supporting actors as we read the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John in the New Testament.

    The more we learn about the environment in which these people and their stories were birthed, the better we understand the counter cultural message of the Gospel.

    I think too often we conjure the image of Jesus wandering from lame to leper in a white robe with His hands held just so, speaking in language too haughty for most to comprehend.

    That's probably far removed from the truth. Jesus was born into a gritty world, and a land which was dominated and occupied by Rome — an invading nation bent on ruling
    the world.

    As Jesus’ ministry unfolds in the first four books of the New Testament, what I see is someone who noticed. He noticed pain. He noticed suffering. He identified with those who were poor and hungry, weary from the weight of the oppressive occupation, and anxiously hoping for a heroic figure to swoop in and save them all. Ultimately that's what they got, but they simply missed it.

    The Jewish people of that day had crafted a military hero from hundreds of years of stories. A hero who would defeat all the enemies of Israel, based on their current situation.

    The hero who showed up, however, was a kind, understanding man who worked with common people to help them better relate to God and the people around them.

    He taught them to love one another, and to treat even their greatest enemy with compassion.

    Jesus taught us to do what we need to do more of to move this world and any situation toward a more peaceful resolution in every way: He taught us to notice.

    When we truly notice those around us we begin to understand. We identify with their pain, we identify we their suffering, and when we notice those around us who are hungry and poor in any number of ways, we find the same hope that Jesus offered. That hope promises there is more in this world than our situation, and many ways to live a full life regardless of it.

    Pictured above: "The Chosen" is the first ever multi-season series about the life of Christ. (Photo courtesy Angel Studios)   

  • FinancialAdvisorHC1501 source 05In modern times, military members have numerous resources when they start transitioning out of the military. A large number of those resources focus on business ownership. I have experienced firsthand that most of those resources are limited until you are within a few months of separation. Furthermore, the resources focus on the skills necessary to run a business, not the different options to becoming a business owner.

    The business ownership process takes longer than transiting into another job/career. Even once you get your company up and running it may take a while to replace your income. My goal is to provide the necessary knowledge sooner to ensure members have the time necessary to plan. Veterans perform well as business owners but may not know their options before leaving the service.

    This column intends to educate readers on three different methods of obtaining business ownership and identify the need to surround yourself with qualified advisors.
    Each of the three most common methods to business ownership has its benefits, risks and concerns.

    Start-up

    Start-ups allow you to control every step and process. They can sometimes allow for little to no initial capital. This is a common way to bring new ideas to market. Although those are very appealing benefits for start-ups, they also have a lower success rate than the other two options, as you often find yourself filling countless roles with little support. Even if your small business is successful, it may take several years for the company to become profitable.

    Franchise

    Not all franchises are created equal, but in general the value is in proven processes, purchasing power, brand recognition, knowledgeable support, training and higher success rates. Franchises allow for more accurate strategic planning than a start-up, as you have more data to support your goals. Those benefits do not come for free as there are typically both upfront and ongoing fees, but many franchisors offer a discount for veterans. There are countless different franchises so it is wise to work with a franchise consultant who can help match your criteria to the right opportunity.

    Established business

    Those coming from outside the business world may not know that you can find a profitable business for sale at reasonable prices. This business acquisition strategy allows you to enter something that is already established, with customers, employees and processes. This means from day one you may have a return on your investment. Sometimes the existing business for sale is a franchise and other times the business is fully independent. In my opinion, this area has the highest risk if you do not have a strong team of professional advisors to help make informed decisions. Business sales typically take around nine months from start to finish.

    As you transition out of military service you will face countless decisions. Surrounding yourself with advisors early in your decision process will smooth the transition into business ownership. Because every person’s situation is different and requires specific considerations, it is important to find an advisor who can tailor their service to help you meet your goals.

  • virtual hands on keyboard 04Cloud computing has become the norm. And with more entities adopting a cloud posture, opportunities abound for individuals who have some level of expertise in this specialization.

    What is the Cloud? Cloud technologies, such as AWS (Amazon Web Services) and Microsoft Azure, allow organizations to migrate their data storage and computing capabilities off premises. The three most common cloud models are Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). The models are implemented in a virtualized environment.

    In a nutshell, virtualization is the ability to “split” one physical server into multiple servers using a specialized “operating system” (hypervisor) and/or software. To explore virtualization, you can download VMware Workstation Player or Virtual Box; both are available free for personal use. Each virtual server is viewed as a stand-alone entity from the outside world with its own CPU, memory and storage. In reality, the resources of the physical server are being shared by the virtualized servers. Benefits include reduced hardware costs, increasing efficiency, resiliency and elasticity (ability to increase/decrease computing resources on demand), as well as conserving energy and minimizing hardware footprint.

    Why are Organizations Moving to the Cloud? One reason many organizations are moving to the cloud relates to security. Cybersecurity attacks are increasing, yet the talent pool of security experts is not keeping up with the demand. Moving to the cloud mitigates this situation, as cloud companies are able to offer advanced security options and solutions. Another reason relates to cost. By moving to the cloud, the cost of storage, applications and computing cycles can be structured based on a variety of options from on-demand pricing, pay-as-you-go, to a “subscription” based model. All this, without the need to purchase, set up or maintain physical equipment.

    Who is Moving to the Cloud? Organizations of all sizes are moving many of their computing capabilities to the cloud. Even a sole developer can benefit from using the cloud as they would have a plethora of services and computing options available with the click of the button.

    How FTCC Can Help. Fayetteville Technical Community College offers an associate degree in IT/Cloud Management as well as a certificate option. The curriculum presents plenty of hands-on opportunities to help learners gain practical exposure and realize a meaningful learning experience. Industry certifications helps students prepare for Python, CompTIA (Security+), VMware, Red Hat, AWS and Azure. The role of a cloud specialist involves:

    •Helping organizations migrate to the cloud.

    •Building out and configuring the cloud infrastructure (computing, networking and security).

    •Developing functions, applications or databases that run on the cloud.

    •Managing an organization’s on-premise hardware and software with a cloud emphasis.

    How Much can a Cloud Specialist Earn? According to Glassdor.com the average base pay for Cloud Engineers is $100,00 per year. And according to ZipRecruiter.com, “as of Jan 18, 2021, the average annual pay for an Entry Level Cloud Engineer in the United States is $85,161.” The high salary is an indication of the shortage of talent that exists in the cloud realm. Companies are willing to pay a premium and will handsomely reward individuals who take the time to learn the valuable skills required to successfully serve in the cloud management space.

    Shifting the thought process of computing from a physical perspective to a virtualized environment may take a little bit of time. However, with a little effort, focus and dedication, a significant degree of competency will be achieved, and it will be well worth the journey. Call or visit FTCC to learn more.

  • POW banner 01 4 14 V2 03The Airborne and Special Operations Museum opened a new exhibit May 7 to honor American prisoners of war. Victory From Within: The American Prisoner of War Experience explores the POW experience through sections titled Capture, Prison Life, Those Who Wait and Freedom.

    The exhibit includes artifacts from James “Nick” Rowe, a Special Forces Lieutenant and POW held by the Viet Cong; Raymond Schrump, also a POW in the Vietnam War; and 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael Durant. The ASOM supplements the exhibit with POW artifacts from its own collection from World War II, Vietnam and Operation GOTHIC SERPANT, along with related artifacts from the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Museum.

    Director of the museum Jim Bartlinski said, “I hope this exhibit brings a better understanding of the sacrifices our military men and women give for us to have our freedom.”

    Rowe was captured by Vietcong communist guerillas on October 29, 1963, and spent five years in captivity moving between POW camps in South Vietnam. In December of 1968, Rowe escaped when he overpowered his guard and flagged down an American helicopter.

    Schrump was a Special Forces Major assigned to Tay Ninh Province in southern Vietnam. He was taken prisoner by the Viet Cong on May 23, 1968, and held captive for close to five years.

    Durant was taken captive during operation GOTHIC SERPENT in October of 1993, when the Black Hawk helicopter he was flying in Mogadishu was shot down by Somali militants. He was held captive for 11 days.

    “It is an honor and a privilege to bring these stories to the public and those within the military community,” Bartlinski said. “I hope this exhibit will bring inspiration to those about to leave or returning from SERE training.”

    SERE stands for Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape. SERE training is required for military personnel whose assignment makes them vulnerable to capture by the enemy or terrorists. SERE training prepares troops to resist the enemy’s attempts at exploitation, to escape from captivity and to return home with honor. Rowe is credited with developing the course. After his retirement from service, Schrump was a speaker during the SERE course.

    This exhibit runs until September 26. It is offered in partnership with the Andersonville (Ga.) National Historic Site National Prisoner of War Museum. Admission to the museum is free. For more information on the ASOM and their upcoming events visit www.asomf.org/.

  • Comic Con 02The Fayetteville Comic Con will return to the Crown Expo Center for one weekend in June. On Saturday, June 19 and Sunday, June 20, Comic Con will present a family friendly atmosphere that celebrates all forms and fans of American and World Popular Culture for those who like comics, cosplay, gaming, collectible toys, or anime. The world of Comic-Con is not unlike that of a long-running comic series: it’s its own action-packed world filled with colorful characters and intricate story lines. Much like comics, getting into it can be a bit intimidating for the uninitiated. Comic-Con is a lot of fun with a non-judgmental atmosphere. Tickets can be purchased online at www.CapeFearTix.com. This year’s Fayetteville Comic Con will feature special guests from the world of comics and popular culture.

  • Library interior 01The Cumberland County Public Library announced BookMatch, a new service that will help adult readers find their next great read. Interested customers can fill out short online questionnaires on the library's website to identify books they have read and like, as well as the characteristics they’re looking for in a book. BookMatch’s features allow readers to choose a genre, time-period, location and character type. Based on the answers, library staffs can create and email readers custom-made lists. Customers can also have items on the list placed on hold for pickup at any of the library’s eight locations. “We have so many amazing books and we’d love to help our customers figure out what to read next,” said Adult Services Librarian Marissa Mace. To complete the questionnaire, visit cumberland.lib.nc.us/ccplsite/content/readers-corner. Readers can also call 910-483-7727 for more information or email readers@cumberland.lib.nc.us.

  • 12 AndyKarcherThe months leading up to the summer break are normally a time when coaches at North Carolina High School Athletic Association member schools are allowed to have off-season conditioning workouts with their teams if they coach a sport that’s not in season during winter or spring.

    But that hasn’t been the case for E.E. Smith football coach Andy Karcher, who took over the Golden Bull program in late February. Barely three weeks after being hired and joining the faculty at Smith, Karcher found himself cut off from his team as the COVID-19 pandemic forced a shutdown of high school sports in North Carolina.

    Now Karcher, along with other coaches in Cumberland County, is anxiously awaiting the arrival of July 6, when they will be permitted to begin conditioning workouts with their teams under stringent safety guidelines suggested by the National Federation of State High School Associations and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

    Karcher, who came to Smith after serving as an assistant coach under Bill Sochovka at Pine Forest, got a few weeks to see some of his football players in weightlifting class at Smith, but has since been limited to only virtual contact with them.

    “We’re putting in a new offense with new terminology,’’ Karcher said. “We’re trying to do as much as we can with the mental game.’’

    One of the real challenges of only being able to meet virtually, Karcher said, is getting his athletes used to accountability, showing up on time, or showing up at all.
    “For me it’s been extremely stressful trying to move forward,’’ he said.

    He said he’s done the best he can talking to his players about the importance of maintaining their conditioning, taking part in regular workouts at their homes.
    “I think when we come together, we’ll be able to hit the ground running,’’ Karcher said.

    But there are still questions, he added, noting that between answering questions from his players and his new coaching staff, they are all finding themselves in totally uncharted waters.

    “It’s really challenging me to find creative ways to get things done,’’ he said. The challenge has been complicated by the fact that whatever ideas Karcher comes up with, he has to make sure they take into account the need for things like social distancing and the other restrictions still in place because of the pandemic.

    He praised members of his new coaching staff for adapting to the challenge as well. “They have taken it upon themselves to attend virtual coaching seminars,’’ he said. “They are trying to learn more about what we’re trying to do.’’

    Karcher has also reached out to coaching friends like Sochovka and Ben Penny at Triton High School for suggestions on what to do. “It’s about talking and sharing,’’ Karcher said.

    One of the biggest things he can’t control, and won’t be able to deal with until the first official day of fall practice when it comes, is learning how his team will deal with the physical aspect of football.

    “Football is a contact sport,’’ he said. “As soon as we can get back to some normalcy, the kids’ spirits and our spirits as coaches will lift.

    “The biggest thing now is trying to come up with a plan that is going to make sure the kids are mentally ready.’’

    The most important thing Karcher wants to teach is teamwork, finding out how much his players know and trust each other so they can get through the challenge together.
    “That’s what I love about football,” Karcher said. “It’s a sport that translates to everyday life after high school.’’

    He hopes his players will adjust to the restrictions of COVID-19 workouts quickly, but most important of all, that they stick to them. “Follow the procedure as you’re supposed to follow it,’’ he said. “Make sure everybody is staying safe.

    “This might be the new norm for awhile. We have to be flexible and do what we can do. We want to make sure everybody is doing what they are supposed to do so we can arrive at the season and it (the restrictions) won’t be prolonged any longer than it needs to be.’’

  • 09 bookoflongingsDid Jesus find a wife in North Carolina?

    The answer is yes.

    But the story is fictional, and the North Carolina connection is complicated.

    Sue Monk Kidd is the best-selling author of “The Secret Life of Bees” and other popular books. Her latest, “The Book of Longings,” came out on
    April 21. It tells the story of Ana and her marriage to a young carpenter and stonemason from Nazareth.

    The North Carolina connection?

    A short article in the May 17 issue of The New York Times headlined “Did Jesus Ever Tie the Knot? A New Novel Considers the Question” reported that Kidd, despite her deep connections to Georgia, wrote the new book in Chapel Hill, where she now lives.

    Although the book is set in the Middle East of 2,000 years ago, the coming together of Jesus and Ana was framed in North Carolina.

    The story begins in the year 16 A.D. Ana is the teen-aged daughter of the head scribe of Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great, and, subject to the Roman overlords, the ruler of Galilee. Ana and her mother, father, aunt and servants live near Antipas’s palace in Sepphoris, a thriving town. Ana’s cousin and adopted brother, Judas, has left home to join with zealots fighting against the Roman occupation. Nearby Sepphoris is the poor village of Nazareth, where Jesus lives in a less-than-modest hovel with his widowed mother, Mary, and his siblings.

    Unlike most other women of the times, Ana is well educated and writes stories of women heroes of the Bible. Although she cherishes her unmarried status, her parents arrange for her betrothal to an elderly wealthy man. When he dies before the wedding, they push her to become Antipas’s concubine.

    Meanwhile, she has encountered Jesus, who walks each day from Nazareth to Sepphoris to work on a massive construction project for Antipas. The spark is immediate. She appreciates his deep connection to God, or as Jesus calls him when he prays, Abba or father. He appreciates her education and aspirations to write and promote the place of women.

      Their marriage transforms her privileged life into hand-to-mouth poverty in the crowded house in Nazareth, where Ana does not get the warmest of
    welcomes.

    Kidd describes the smells and the constant chores of cooking, milking, feeding, sewing, petty jealousies and resentments that fill the lives of the struggling poor. Jesus is often gone for long periods to work on projects in other parts of Galilee, sometimes even going as far as the Sea of Galilee to work with fishermen.

    Jesus’s search for God leads him to the preaching of John the Baptist. He becomes a follower, and then when John is arrested by Antipas, Jesus becomes a leader, leaving Ana alone with his family in Nazareth.

    Ana herself offends Antipas and becomes another of his targets. For safety, Ana’s aunt takes her to Egypt, where she encounters another set of conflicts and challenges in a totally different environment in the great library city of Alexandria.

    Ana is finally called to return from Egypt. She arrives in Bethany near Jerusalem just in time for a Passover dinner with Mary, Martha, Lazarus and Jesus, but Jesus is not there. The next day in Jerusalem, Ana watches as Jesus is carrying the cross towards the execution site. He collapses. Ana rushes to comfort him and say goodbye.

    Then Kidd reconstructs the crucifixion experience in a way more horrible and poignant than any of the four gospels. She also offers a surprising explanation of why Judas betrayed Jesus.

    That Ana’s story continues after Jesus’s death emphasizes Kidd’s and Ana’s belief that the exclusion and minimization of the role of women in the days of Jesus and today has been a tragic mistake.

    Whether Kidd’s readers are true believers or skeptical inquirers, “The Book of Longings” will be an enriching and challenging read.

  • 08 cfrtlogoThe 2019-2020 play season at Cape Fear Regional Theatre experienced an unplanned intermission due to the coronavirus. When the governor presented social distancing guidelines in midMarch, CFRT cancelled the rest of its 2019-2020 season, which opened with a bang with “Mamma Mia!” and closed prematurely with “Murder for Two.”  Nevertheless, the staff of the theater has worked tirelessly to provide the arts to locals in a social-distancing-friendly way.

    The journey started with the theater hosting a free offering for a couple months that was open to the public. Staff at the theater and artists who worked with the theater in the past would emphasize something different every day, from song-writing to dance to writing monologues. On average there were 10-20 attendees per class. That’s when the staff at the theater saw how virtual meetings were taking off.

    When schools closed, the staff launched Virtual Edutainment. “We thought, What can we do to keep the theater going and (to keep) the kids engaged who we would normally have doing studio classes or coming to the theater?” said Marc de la Concha, the director of education at the CFRT.

    The staff had all hands on deck to brainstorm, and landed on offering online, week-long classes that had a different focus each day. 

    “It would kind of take care of what students were doing in school in terms of art and music and physical education,” said de la Concha. Some weeks were generic and some weeks had themes like Harry Potter, Lego and Dr. Seuss, to name a few. The program ran for nine weeks.

    People outside Cumberland County and even outside of the state tuned into the lessons.

    The launch was a success. Offering classes for two K-2nd grade sessions a day and two 3rd-5th grade sessions per day, the teachers had about 15 kids in each class on average, and they were able to give individual attention to the children.

    Around the same time as the Virtual Edutainment launch, the Spring Break Bootcamp was supposed to take place. To help all the students who signed up for it to reap its benefits, they moved the boot camp online, where it had 50-60 participants.

    CFRT is no novice when it comes to community outreach. Over the past few years, the theater has also reached out to the military community through its Passport series.
    “(The series) is basically a playwriting workshop that takes place over eight weeks, and it’s for military children. They were offering it on post at the Throckmorton Library for two years, and it’s grown so much that this past year we worked with the library in Hope Mills and Rick’s Place and had our program out at those locations as well,” de la Concha explained.

    The program is free, and as time has gone on, it has gained momentum. In the first year, the program filled up in a day. In the second year, the program sold out in a couple hours. “This past year, it’s been minutes,” said de la Concha. “We’ll tell the parents, ‘It’ll open up on this day at this time,’ and within minutes, it’s full.”

    For the first time this year, CFRT attempted to offer a program called Act Fast for the military and military-adjacent adults with funding provided by The Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County. The production was going to be called “Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind,” a collection of 30 short plays, all performed in 60 minutes. With performance dates initially scheduled for mid-July, the performances had to be canceled due to the extension of Phase 2 social distancing, as well as the amount of participants who were PCSing.

    Even so, Mary Kate Burke, artistic director at the theater, sees the attempt as a success because it brought part of the military community together. Because of the newfound friendships that were built during rehearsals, the participants were grateful for the experience, and many of them had a virtual Easter dinner together. The theater hopes to have Act Fast again next year.

    “(The military) is always on the move, and it’s important for them to feel like there’s a place where they can gather together with people who are going through the same things that they are … The plays they write are really extraordinary, and it comes from a different place,” said de la Concha.

    “It’s been an opportunity for them to get involved, whether they’re new to the area, they’ve been here a while, or they’re homeschooled or they go to one of the Cumberland County schools, it’s a great opportunity to get together with peers that are like them.”

    Summer camps have always been popular at the Cape Fear Regional Theatre, and this year is no different. As summer goes on, the theater will host programs for several ages. So far, CFRT has hosted one of its camps for the production “Kids Rock The World” for ages 6-9. There are two more camps for the production coming up in July and August that are almost completely sold out. For ages 10-14, a camp with a production of “Frozen” is being offered. One of them has already happened. A sold out camp is happening in July, and an  in-person camp  is being offered from July 27-Aug. 8 with some availability. From July 27-Aug. 15, CFRT is offering a camp with a production of “Puffs” for ages 15-19.

    Kids do wear masks in the productions while the theater also emphasizes sanitization to ensure the safety of the children. The theater also has been careful to follow the CDC’s social distancing guidelines.

    One of the benefits of the CDC’s guidelines is that the children who participate in the camps are separated into three different groups. For example, one of the “Frozen” camps was split into three different groups, each of which did their own production. “We’ll have three Elsas, three Annas, three Olafs in each company. That’s great because … we’ve seen kids that have come here for years who feel like, ‘Yes, this is my summer,’” said de la Concha.

    In a tumultuous time, the arts’ provision of creativity and joy is a much-needed constant. “I think everybody needs the arts, especially at a time like now,” said de la Concha. “We’re working very hard to make sure we can continue to make that happen.

    Visit www.cfrt.org to find out more about what Cape Fear Regional Theatre.

  • 06 01 Col Fort Bragg’s garrison commander has been relieved of his command. Col. Phillip Sounia was let go late last month because of what the Army said was a “loss of trust and confidence in his abilities to command.” Fort Bragg officials confirmed Sounia’s firing in an email in response to a media inquiry. Officials did not say why he was let go. They said no further information would be released because of “an ongoing investigation.” Sounia was appointed the garrison commander in May 2019. He previously served with the U.S. Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg. The decision to relieve Sounia was made jointly by Lt. Gen. Douglas Gabram, commander of Installation Management and Lt. Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, Fort Bragg’s commanding general. Sounia, a highly decorated, combat-tested West Point graduate, was one of a select group chosen to participate in the Army’s doctoral program to study planning and public policy. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Justin Mitchell, Fort Bragg’s deputy garrison commander, will serve as acting commander until a replacement is named.

    06 02 IMG 2397 3 copyDowntown circle of hope
    The inside lane of the traffic circle around the Market House downtown has been painted bright yellow and black. It has been adorned with large lettering acknowledging the struggle of African Americans in the U.S. On June 22, Fayetteville City Council agreed to the design and wording, after several weeks of discussion. What some are calling “a circle of hope” is scripted with “Black Lives Do Matter” and “End Racism Now.” This is despite a renewed effort by some to remove the landmark from the city center.

    City Council also decided to create a citizen review board to investigate police misbehavior in the wake of the killing by Minneapolis Police of George Floyd, which sparked protests across the country, including here in Fayetteville. “I can support an advisory board, but it is going to take months to figure out... what their powers are going to be,” Councilman Johnny Dawkins said.

    The creation of an agency with enforcement authority, including the right to issue subpoenas, would require legislative authorization. Council members were quick to applaud Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins, who said up to 40% of the department’s budget is dedicated to community policing. This strategy focuses on building ties and working closely with members of the community. Mayor Mitch Colvin observed that even with determination and training, a thorough review of police policies is in order. Councilmember Tisha Waddell agreed and said it is incumbent upon members of the council to learn the specifics of law enforcement procedures.                                             
     
    06 03 Jody Risacher 2Library official retires
    Cumberland County Public Library and Information Center Director Jody Risacher has retired after 22 years of service. Risacher joined the library system in April 1998 and was named director in January 2009.

    “I’m very grateful for the opportunity I had. … It has fed my soul over the years to help people develop self-confidence, comfort and strength in fulfilling their dreams,” Risacher said.

    Under her leadership, the Cumberland County Public Library and Information Center was awarded the National Medal for Museum and Library Services in 2012. Risacher was named library director of the Year by the North Carolina Public Library Directors Association in 2013, and in 2014, she was elected to serve as the association’s president. She also served on the North Carolina State Library Commission’s Public Library Standards Committee.

    “Jody Risacher did a wonderful job as director of the Cumberland County Public Library,” said Cumberland County Board of Commissioners Vice Chairman Glenn Adams. Deputy library director Cotina Jones will serve as interim library director as a recruitment process for a new director begins.

    06 04 Bragg Mutual FCUBragg Mutual Federal Credit Union moves into Harnett County
    The National Credit Union Association has approved an underserved region of neighboring Harnett County as a service area for Bragg Mutual Federal Credit Union. Bragg Mutual FCU services will be available to anyone who lives, works or worships in parts of Harnett County, increasing its membership potential by 61,713.

    “Many of these residents live in areas with few options when it comes to financial service providers,” said Steve Foley, president and CEO of Bragg Mutual FCU. “Our newest office located in Spout Springs on Highway 24/87 is already serving members, and we look forward to expanding into the central and eastern part of the County.”

    Bragg Mutual Federal Credit Union has been serving people in Cumberland County since 1952. The credit union has assets of $83 million and is recognized as one of the fastest growing credit unions in terms of asset growth in North Carolina. The credit union is a member-owned financial cooperative.

    06 05 FTCC CorporateIndustryTrainingFTCC receives job training grant
    Fayetteville Technical Community College has received a $296,535 grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation to provide job training and job placement assistance for special needs individuals. Persons considered hard to employ, including those who have been previously incarcerated for nonviolent crimes, and young adults aging out of foster care, will receive counseling and will be enrolled in a 15-week FTCC course that will teach basic skills in electrical, HVAC, plumbing and carpentry trades.

    “Fayetteville Tech is delighted to receive the Golden LEAF Foundation’s support on this important project,” said FTCC President Dr. Larry Keen. “Our college is dedicated to helping students from all walks of life achieve their educational goals and to serving our community by strengthening its workforce.”

    FTCC will partner with local agencies, employers and nonprofits to identify prospective trainees, support individuals while in training and place them into employment. Participants will receive paid internships, and those who complete the course will receive job placement assistance from FTCC’s Job Center.

    06 06 Yard Sale 2Yard sales are permissible again
    The city of Fayetteville’s yard sale permitting process has been reactivated. Yard sales were suspended for several weeks because of COVID-19. The reactivation is in line with the governor’s executive order easing restrictions on travel, business operations and mass gatherings. The city code requires a permit for a yard sale. A residence is limited to three yard sales per year. This rule prevents homeowners from operating as commercial businesses. Permit applications are being accepted online at https://fayworx.com/fayworxportal. People with questions about code enforcement and inspections can call 910-433-1329.
  • 04 N2008P18007C  It’s that most wonderful time of year — a time of sweetness, light and goodwill toward men. It’s the summer run-up to the presidential election of 2020. It’s a time for civil, reasoned political discourse. A time for love, a time for joy. A time for thoughtful conversations about the direction of government. A time when Americans of all political stripes link arms, sing “Kum Ba Yah,” and arrive at a mutually agreed consensus about where we want to go as a nation. Ha! Fooled you. None of the above. Let’s get ripping and roaring, tossing invectives, stink bombs and fake ads at the other side. As “Where the Wild Things Are” advised: “Let the wild rumpus begin.” Each side will accuse the other side of being in league with Satan. Both sides will screech, “This is the most important election in the history of America.” Every four years we have the most important election in the history of America. Someone needs to come up with a new slogan.

    We will have a choice between another four years of Dear Leader’s curious antics and Joe Biden’s calmness. Personally, I am riding with Biden. If you are a true believer in all things Trump, this column is not going to be beneficial to your blood pressure. Kindly stop reading it. Go to your safe space on Fox or OAN. At least take some Phenergan to prevent nausea if you persist in reading this drivel despite the trigger warning that it will be unkind to Dear Leader.

    Perhaps you have seen the picture of a dejected and disheveled looking Dear Leader walking from the helicopter after the Triumph in Tulsa rally. He appeared to be a Conquering Zero. Think of General Lee after Gettysburg or the Carolina Tar Heel basketball team walking off the floor after the loss in the Final Four to Indiana in 1981. He looked that bad, his red tie dangling forlornly, crumpled MAGA hat in hand. It was bigly sad. The blue wave turned out to be wall-to-wall rows of empty blue seats in the BOK arena. Apparently, some of the vacuum in BOK was created by teenagers with cell phones calling in fake reservations. The leader of the free world got punked by teenagers. If the White House can’t figure out how to deal with bored teenagers, what does that say about Dear Leader’s ability to deal with Vlad Putin and China’s Chairman Xi on matters more weighty than phony phone calls? Like the King of Siam said, “It is a puzzlement.”

    Would you buy a used Pandemic from this man? Maybe you would. Maybe America will too. Despite Biden’s apparent lead in the polls, we all remember what the polls said about President Hillary Clinton before the actual election. Ain’t no guarantee that Biden will win. Dear Leader might well be like Bullwinkle J. Moose and pull another rabbit out of his presidential hat.

    Trouble remains right here in River City with 40 million +  unemployed Americans. The COVID cooties have killed over 120,000 Americans as this column slouches toward the printing press. The Black Lives Matter remains front and center. The stock market is up despite the pain on Main Street. Someone wiser than I said that the Dow Jones average represents how rich people feel about money, not what is happening in the actual economy where people live. It’s a veritable constellation of crud. Something is happening here, and you don’t know what it is, do you Dear Leader?

      Let us assume for the moment that Biden gets elected. As William Butler Yeats once wrote, “’What then?’ sang Plato’s ghost. ‘What then?’” He will have a bit of a mess to clean up, beginning in January 2021. Joblessness, pandemic in double full bloom and troubles on the streets all await the next president. Fixing the mess reminds me of one of the 12 labors of Hercules. Hercules had been made insane by the goddess Hera. While he was crazy, Hercules killed his wife and family like the Overlook’s caretaker Charles Grady in “The Shining.” Once his crazy passed, Hercules was grief-stricken and wanted to make amends. Like Alcoholics Anonymous, Hercules was assigned a 12-step program of seemingly impossible tasks to gain redemption.

    Hercules was given the job of cleaning out the Augean Stables in a single day. These stables housed thousands of cattle, sheep and horses. These critters produced a prodigious amount of poop. The stables had not been cleaned out for over 30 years. There was a lot of stable mucking to be done. A lesser man might have given up before even starting to shovel. Hercules believed in working smarter, not harder. He dug a giant ditch and diverted two rivers into and out of the stables. This successfully carried away three decades of poop. The Environmental Protection Agency did not exist then, so no federal regulations on the discharge of animal waste were violated.

     If Biden gets elected, he will have a fair amount of stable cleaning to enjoy. If Dear Leader gets reelected, even though he is a very stable genius, I suspect the stables will just collect more poop. Let the wild rumpus begin.
     
  • I doubt that those calling for the eradication of Fayetteville’s historic Market House know much about its history.  

    In 2020, Fayetteville’s biggest threat is perceived to be a 188-year-old structure steeped in North Carolina history and tradition, which remains mostly ignored — the Fayetteville Market House. Recently, there have been calls for it to be torn down because it offends the sensitivities of a particular faction of residents. I know what you may be thinking. Downtown establishments in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s offended the sensibilities of many local residents, and some were finally torn down. This is true. But in the years that followed, the people who were responsible for demolishing them had laser-focused plans for Fayetteville and Cumberland County’s future and the leadership skills to see it through. They knew exactly what they wanted Fayetteville’s future to be for all its citizens.
     
    Local city and county government leadership had vision, tenacity and plenty of practical business experience. They had a well-thought-out and workable plan to improve and enhance the quality of life for all citizens — without regard to race, color or religious affiliation. Former mayors J. L. Dawkins and Bill Hurley, County Commissioner Thomas Bacote, city manager John Smith, city attorney Bob Cogswell, Democrat Sen. Tony Rand, Danny Fore of the  Fayetteville Cumberland County Economic Development Corporation and David Jamieson of the Chamber of Commerce are just a few of the respected names that come to mind when I think of prominent Fayetteville and Cumberland County leaders who contributed to our valuable, however brief, renaissance.

    02 market houseThis was an exciting time for our community. When downtown was cleaned up, it marked a rebirth of our community. People were excited and willing to engage. Cumberland County and downtown Fayetteville became vibrant and alive. Commerce returned to downtown, a new city hall and police station were built on Hay Street, the Prince Charles Hotel was salvaged, the Airborne & Special Operations Museum and Veterans Park came to be, Fayetteville Little Theater became Cape Fear Regional Theatre, the Crown Coliseum Complex was built, and the third Thursday Chamber Coffee Club was standing room only in anticipation of hearing updates on new local projects and programs. Everyone benefited from the community’s success, and the Market House solidified itself as the city’s symbolic icon of pride, perseverance and progress. And, as history has proven, the Market House has never been depicted as “the slave market house” or a place of human degradation.

    I have lived here over 50 years and never once felt Fayetteville was a racially hostile community. And, saying it is does not make it so. Nor does destroying the Market House prove the point.

    My closing message relates to 2020 as an election year. The things we are now experiencing — from protests and riots to toppling statutes to the Black Lives Matter movement — are staged political distractions. Dissension means votes. Across this country, politicians need the black vote desperately. Without it, they have no political careers or future. These leaders stoke racially charged issues then stand down in the comfort of affluent neighborhoods while racial conflict and disharmony consume and destroy the communities in major towns and cities. Blacks and other minorities should never be used as pawns for anyone’s personal gain. Politicians use race as their weapon of choice. In politics, the color of one’s skin makes no difference. In politics, the rich get richer. In politics, power is both the objective and an intoxicating drug. All humanity needs to take a closer look at the people and the purpose of things to which we are asked to support and pay allegiance.

    The Market House is a historic symbol of pride that, as time passes, measures how far we have progressed in 188 plus years. We do not want to go backward.

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

     
  •  10 4th of july decorationsThere will be no Fourth of July parade and no public fireworks display in Hope Mills this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The town’s Board of Commissioners recently voted to delay the fireworks until Ole Mill Days in the fall, concerned about large crowds that might gather to watch as reports of spikes in the spread of the disease
    continue.

    Meghan Freeman of the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation staff began exploring alternative ways to celebrate the holiday and learned of a tradition in another town involving decorating homes and businesses. Freeman thought it was a cute way to observe the holiday while still keeping safe through social distancing.

    Townsfolk are urged to show off their patriotism in any manner they choose. It can include displays of red, white and blue, or they can put together a display that honors first responders or essential workers.

    “The purpose of decorating is to unleash their creativity and bring a smile to their neighbors,’’ Freeman said. If they don’t have a porch or lawn, Freeman said homeowners, apartment dwellers and businesses in Hope Mills can decorate anything about their location that can be seen from the street or the sidewalk.

    People who have piers on Hope Mills Lake are also welcome to decorate those, but Freeman said she doesn’t plan to include them in the decorating contest that the town will be conducting.

    There will be three categories in the decorating contest. They are most patriotic, most outstanding decoration and spirit of freedom. Prizes will be awarded in each category, but Freeman said a final decision on the nature of the prizes won’t be announced until June 30.

    Registration closed prior to the publication of this article. Contestants need to have their decorations in place by June 30 and leave them on display through July 5, which is when the winners will be announced.

    A committee of elected town officials will drive around to look at the various decorations and make the decision on the winner.

    Anyone who registered for the competition will have their home marked on an interactive map on the townofhopemills.com website, so people can have a virtual map to find the decorated homes.

    It will indicate both the address and whether or not the decorations include lights that can be seen at night. The first 50 who sign up will also get
    yard signs.

    “We could have easily just thrown up our hands,’’ Freeman said. “I think we are providing an outlet for some sort of patriotism. It brings the community together and it’s a time to have fun.’’

    Deputy Chief Bradley Dean of the Hope Mills Police Department reminded everyone planning their own fireworks that anything that shoots into the air or explodes is illegal without a pyrotechnic license.

    Dean added the police would rather educate than enforce, but if someone is injured or property damage results from illegal fireworks, they have no choice. “We want people to be safe,’’ he said.
     
  • 03 margaretLike millions of other Americans, I wake up every morning wondering what is going to happen today. How horrifying will the COVID-19 resurgence be? How and why has a protective health measure like covering one’s nose and mouth become a political statement? Will protesters be on our streets and will there be violence, damages and injuries?

    It is a time unlike any other, at least in my lifetime.

    The negatives of our collective situation are apparent to all Americans, and many of us are suffering financially and psychologically, individually and collectively. Each of us and our families approach this difficult time in our own ways, and none of us is certain we are doing it well. Every decision and every action seem — and are — a calculated risk.

    It helps to think of silver linings, and there are some.

    Since March, millions of us have been forced to slow down. Working remotely or not working at all has given us more time with our families, not all of it fairy tale perfect, of course, but opportunities to get to know each other in new ways. We are not side-by-side with our friends and coworkers, but we do “see” them through 21st century technology.

    We are spending more time outdoors, because we have more time and fewer places, like gyms, to go. Walkers and bikers, both serious athletes and casual strollers and pedal pushers, populate our neighborhoods. We are listening to and watching for birds, with apps to identify birds by both sight and sound downloaded by the millions. Live-cam feeds of nesting birds have soared in popularity.

    Cats and dogs are flying out shelter doors as Americans adopt them in record numbers.

    Experts say we foster and adopt pets to help them, especially those who have been abandoned, but we wind up helping ourselves cope with stress and become more active as we care for our new charges.

    We are learning that maybe, just maybe, we really do not need all the possessions and services we thought we did. This American did not have a haircut for more than three months, and while I was not thrilled by my shaggy tresses, I muddled through just like everyone else and was delighted when I finally did get a trim. Ditto for other personal services and impulse purchases not made because we are not out shopping as often as we were preCOVID-19.

    And, glory be — Americans are cooking again. With restaurants closed or operating at reduced capacity, we have had to provide for ourselves, and many of us are getting creative. Sourdough starter is having a big moment, producing bread, pancakes, waffles and anything else bakers want to try. Many of us are cooking together, a first in some American households. The Dicksons’ summer obsession turns out to be finding the perfect tomato pie recipe, and we think we have it now.

    More cooking means more groceries, some of them selected online and then picked up or delivered. No surprise then that grocery profits have spiked during the pandemic, as have those of other industries that make us more comfortable at home. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports that also thriving are meal prep companies and prepared food outlets, cleaning and delivery services, liquor and wine stores, game makers and sellers, fitness equipment companies, landscaping and yard services, garden centers, and — guess who — mask producers.

    Americans are also doing each other small kindnesses, and each of us has a story to tell about those. One that resonates with me comes from the Gallery X Art Collective in Murray, Kentucky. In the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, the tattoo parlor is offering to cover up inked symbols of hate or gangs — free of charge. Says tattoo artist Ryun King, “Having anything hate related is completely unacceptable. A lot of people when they were younger just didn’t know any better and were left with mistakes on their bodies. We just want to make sure everybody has a chance to change.” Their phone is ringing regularly.

    Such is the phenomenon that is 2020, which still has six months to go.

  • 07 acp copyIn a win for Eastern North Carolina jobs, economic development and clean energy, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a longstanding precedent allowing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to cross beneath the Appalachian Trail — like more than 50 other pipelines already do without disturbing its public use.

    While this is an exciting outcome, there is still some work to do in resolving several remaining project permits before construction can resume.

    “The Court’s decision is an affirmation for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and communities across our region that are depending on it for jobs, economic growth and clean energy,” said Tammy Thurman, Piedmont spokesperson. “The project will provide a much-needed source of natural gas to North Carolina, bringing with it economic opportunities in an underserved part of our state. Eastern North Carolina’s energy needs and prospects for economic success continue to be very important to us.”
     When in service, here’s what the ACP means for your region and the state:

    With access to a plentiful supply of affordable natural gas, the ACP will help to attract, compete for and win new manufacturers and industry in your counties.     
    With current infrastructure constrained, the ACP provides a direct new supply of natural gas that will bring enhanced capacity and pressure to eastern North Carolina — something industry and businesses need to operate.

     Construction of the ACP would create more than 17,000 good-paying jobs and $2.7 billion in economic activity along the pipeline’s three-state route.

    Job positions start at $20-$25 per hour and include free training, veteran’s programs and other benefits, such as health insurance and retirement plans.

    The ACP will increase local spending, provide additional tax revenues and offer prospects for a better quality of life in your communities for many years to come.

    The ACP will play an important role in the transition away from coal plants to cleaner natural gas and renewables, a critical part of our comprehensive climate and net-zero emissions strategy.

    The ACP serves the strategic interests of our armed forces in North Carolina, strengthening resilient energy supplies for military readiness and national security and reducing the cost to maintain our military forces.

    The ACP will reduce price volatility for all customers when natural gas demand is high during cold winter months.

    The Supreme Court ruling is encouraging, and Piedmont Natural Gas appreciates everyone who has voiced support for the project. Eastern North Carolina’s energy needs continue to be very important to us, and the organization pledges to continue to help the region’s prospects for growth and economic success. To learn more about the project and supporters across the region, visit https://atlanticcoastpipeline.com and https://energysure.com

  • 05 markethouse For years — decades — both the Fayetteville City Council and the Cumberland County Commissioners have poured a lot of money into various organizations and plans to bring new business with well-paid employment to our area. These efforts have now been turned overnight into irremediable failure.

    No properly managed enterprise, after conducting due diligence, will ever set up in Fayetteville. If the local police force will not protect their property and employees, having set this precedent, these businesses will go elsewhere. This is not hollow conjecture.

    While the news of the rioting and looting in Fayetteville got lots of media attention, it is significant that there was no similar violence in surrounding communities. Rioting, looting and vandalism in Pinehurst, Southern Pines, Clinton? Reportedly, the Aberdeen police department got intelligence of a planned event at their Walmart, but they deployed in force, and stopped the riot before it could begin.

    Although our police chief has praised herself for the “restraint” shown by her police in the face of the looting, vandalism and assaults during the recent riot, there is going to be a consequence of this failure to protect property that will doom any future hopes for economic growth in Fayetteville. This must be considered at the police chief’s performance evaluation.

    Another dire situation our police chief’s actions, or rather, inaction, has generated is “vigilante policing.” If the Fayetteville police will not commit to protecting this city’s citizens and their property, then these citizens will take up arms and protect themselves. The consequences will lie at the feet of the police chief. An unintended consequence of our police chief’s laissez-faire approach to protecting Fayetteville’s citizens and their property is the end of the anti 2nd Amendment movement. How can you keep a straight face arguing against “gun violence” when you are promoting wanton looting and vandalism? Since when was a Molotov cocktail not a weapon?

    The examples set by our city’s leadership and police chief have branded Fayetteville as a poor choice to move to and set up a business. Business, and the investment money to set it up, will go elsewhere. That is the real debris that will have to be cleaned up. But can we expect our city leaders and police chief to accomplish this now?

      — Leon A. Goldstein

    Fayetteville City Council and Mayor: No paint needed

    I was raised in this city and grew to love it with all my heart. My working career took me to many places, Greensboro, Raleigh, Rochester, New York, Atlanta Georgia, and then back to Raleigh. I always said, when I retire, I’m going to move back to Fayetteville, North Carolina, a great city and state. I planned well and was fortunate to retire at the age of 59 and immediately moved back. I have enjoyed every minute of it. I hardly ever go to the grocery store that I don’t run into someone I know, and I enjoy that very much. I could almost make a list of those that I might run into at the Teeter. Several of their employees are always greeting me when I come in. “Hello, Mr. Wilson.”

     My childhood was spent at places like Honeycutt Rec. Center (as much as all day, either playing baseball, football or basketball, pool or ping pong). Who could ever forget George Crumbley (with his pipe) or Howard Chesire with all his athletic talent, or Roger Hobson sometimes being the umpire for some of the Little League games. Rowan Street Park, teen night dancing — I am not a good dancer, but really enjoyed watching those that were. Lamond Street Park and the pool we got to swim in once a week. Hay Street, and riding the escalators in Sears and The Capitol. Mr. Stein, owner of the Capitol, probably accused Gary and myself for maybe wearing the escalators out at the Capitol. Alexander Graham Jr. High School (7th, 8th and 9th grade) with Johnson and Underwood sports teams.

    I used to thumb downtown to junior high every day for school. Funny thing, a police lieutenant would pick us up almost every day after he had dropped his son off at Fayetteville Senior High. I wish I could remember his name to give him credit here. The Carolina Soda Shoppe, a “real” orange aide, with a hot dog all the way. Breece’s landing, and going on Mr. Oscars big boat. Playing in the alleys of Holmes Electric, where my mother (grandmother) worked for $25 a week. You should have seen some of the big rats we would chase there. Fort Bragg, a place I have, and still do, always hold with the utmost respect for the men and women that serve this great country, especially those men and women who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. Going to Emmanuel Baptist church on Hull road every time the doors were open. I grew up with some great friends there.

    The Market House ….what a nice symbol recognizing this great city. It’s our logo, if you will. In fact, there are paintings hanging all over this city, in homes, as well as many offices, painted by such great artists as Mary Nan Thompson and other talented artists. One of Mary Nan’s is hanging in my home. I personally have never thought of it as a place where slaves were sold.... I personally have never seen anything, written or other wise, that might suggest that. All my life I have thought of the Market House as a place where farmers went to sell their produce and livestock — nothing more! I could be proven wrong, but I believe his group, Black Lives Matter, is simply an organization that is radical and it’s sole purpose is to loot and steal and create criminal and racial disturbance. Two of the three people that started it were both confirmed Marxists. Why not protest in peace, as Dr. Martin Luther King suggested. All Lives Matter. Christ proved that when he gave his life for everyone, regardless of color!

    Now, according to our local newspaper, our city council is thinking about having racial slogans painted on Hay street, or even have the building demolished. Our looters and criminals have already tried to burn the building down. Thankfully, one criminal suspect got what he deserved by having put himself on fire... justice served, I believe. My question here is, Where were the police or fire department? Very bad choice Mr. Mayor and Ms. Police Chief, very bad.

    The other sad thing is that the merchants have worked very hard to make downtown Hay Street a place we could all be proud of. The only thing thing they got in return was their widows broken out and stolen merchandise.

    I will personally have no desire to go back downtown to shop or visit one of the many nice restaurants located there unless there is a dramatic change. There must be a Market House standing, with no paint on the streets! Oops. I forgot. I will continue to support our Woodpeckers, I do love baseball. Hey Fayetteville residents, we do have
    an election coming up very soon, please get out and vote.

    If I am not mistaken, the Market House is protected by the fact that it is on the 1832 list of the National Historic Registry places, making it deemed worthy of preservation for its historical significance. Why were the police not present to help deter some of the damage done to the Market House? Voters, an election is coming up soon... please remember that.

    As this piece is being written, we have a fence around the Market House — for its protection, I guess? Tonight the City Council is meeting to determine if the building should be demolished and done away with.

    This should be about police brutally, not race or racism. I am so very sorry that Mr. George Floyd lost his life; I hurt for his family and friends. However, race did not kill him... a police officer that had no business being on the force ended his life. Hopefully, justice will prevail, and all the officers get the punishment they all deserve. I respect the fact that anyone could use their constitutional right to protest, unfortunately, there are many of these protesters that have used this as an opportunity to loot, steal and destroy — even to the point of burning down buildings and destroying people’s livelihoods. The virus is doing that quite well, it doesn’t need any help.

    Demolishing the Market House, or painting the street with Black Lives Matter, would critically ruin this fine city I was privileged go grow up in. If we are going to do that, why not put the nasty, slutty bars back in the first block of Hay Street and finish the city off?

    I say not!

    Respectfully Submitted,
    Jerry Wilson
    Fayetteville Resident
  • 11 missionfieldministriesTwenty-one years ago, Pastor Michael Mathis felt a calling to branch out on his own and establish a ministry that was both aimed at worship and serving his fellow man.
    With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for a ministry like the one Mathis operates has become more important, and he’s trying to let people in need from Hope Mills and beyond know what he has available for them.

    Mathis is the founder of Mission Field Ministries, which has its physical location at 3429 Black and Decker Rd. on the outskirts of Hope Mills.

    He had previously served at Williams Chapel from 1988-99 when he felt a calling to establish his own church.

    He started his ministry with regular worship services at the Comfort Inn on Skibo Road in 2000, meeting there for about six years before setting up his own place of worship.
    Outreach has always been a part of what Mathis has done as a minister. He’s held regular programs at Haymount Rehabilitation Center on Bragg Boulevard and the prison in Scotland County, until the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions forced him to limit his interaction at both those facilities.

    He’s also done outreach to the homeless in the area, making visits to them beneath bridges to provide assistance.

    Over the past two years, Mathis has expanded another aspect of his ministry that provides food to those in need. Originally, he was serving about five families on a regular basis. A partnership with the Second Harvest Food Bank has increased the reach of the food ministry.

    Currently, he’s serving about 25 families regularly, and he’s looking to expand more as the pandemic continues.

    “About four months ago, we saw the need to do this monthly,’’ he said of the food distribution. As a result, Mathis has designated the third Saturday of every month as the day he holds food giveaways at his Black and Decker Road location.

    After getting the food from Second Harvest or other sources, Mathis has a team that puts it in boxes. The food is provided in an unprepared state and includes both perishable and non-perishable items.

    The goal with each food box is to provide the basics for a good meal for the family that is receiving it. Each third Saturday during the hours of noon to 2 p.m., any family in need is invited to drive up to the church, open their trunk and the box of food is placed inside.

    No eating of food on the church grounds is permitted.

    Mathis said there is no paperwork for people to fill out, no interview process. It is given to anyone who is in need and wants to stop by.

    So far, Mathis said they’ve never run out of food during one of these giveaways, but Mathis said it is first come, first served so people are encouraged to arrive as soon as possible on the giveaway day.

    “I’m sure the numbers are fixing to increase as more people embrace what we do,’’ he said. For that reason, he welcomes donations from anyone who would like to contribute food to the ministry. “I’m proud of the kind of food items we are issuing,’’ he said. “I want people to know about this.’’

    If interested, contact Mathis directly at 910-988-0795.

  • 07 scott graham 5fNmWej4tAA unsplashThere’s certainly been plenty of volatility and uncertainty the past few months, but one aspect of your financial picture has probably remained stable: your need for insurance. And since National Insurance Awareness Day is observed on June 28, now is a good time to review your overall insurance coverage to determine if you and your loved ones are well-protected.

    You might be surprised at the lack of protection among your fellow citizens. Less than 60% of Americans have life insurance, and just about half of those with insurance are underinsured, according to LIMRA, a research organization.

    Of course, you might think the reason so many people don’t have insurance is because they don’t need it. But just about every age group can benefit from life insurance.

    If you have a house and a family … Your insurance needs are obvious: If something happened to you, could your mortgage payments still be met? How about your car payments? Doctor’s bills? College for your children? Even if you have a spouse or partner who earns a decent income, your family could still have big trouble paying its bills if you weren’t around.

    If you’re young and single with no family responsibilities … If you’re in this group, why would you need life insurance? For one thing, perhaps you owe money together with someone else — you might, for example, be a joint debtor on a mortgage. If you passed away, your codebtor would be responsible for the entire debt. And just because you don’t have family responsibilities now, it doesn’t mean you never will. If you have a family history of serious health issues, which may eventually affect you, you could have trouble getting life insurance later, or at least getting it without paying a lot. Now, when you’re young and healthy, the coverage is available and may be more affordable.

    Your children are grown and you’re retired … If you retire with debt or have a spouse dependent on you, keeping your life insurance is a good idea, especially if you haven’t paid off your mortgage. Plus, life insurance can be used in various ways in your estate plans.

    Even if you recognize the need for life insurance, though, you may be uncertain about how much you require. Your employer may offer insurance, but it might not be sufficient for your needs. And, perhaps just as important, if you leave your job, voluntarily or not, you’ll likely lose this coverage. If you purchase a private policy, what’s the right amount? You might have heard you need a death benefit that’s worth seven or eight times your annual salary, but that’s just a rough estimate. To determine the appropriate level of coverage, you’ll need to consider a variety of factors: your age, income, marital status, number of children and so on.

    Still, even after you’ve got the right amount in place, it doesn’t mean it’s set in stone. You should review your coverage regularly, and especially when you change jobs, get married or remarried, have children or experience any other major life event.

    Life insurance should be a key part of your overall financial strategy, along with your retirement accounts and other investments. Make sure you’re properly covered – for today and tomorrow.

  • 06 C0830100 1Should Gov. Roy Cooper continue his current approach to reopening North Carolina’s shattered economy, speeding up the pace to save more jobs and businesses, or slow it down in response to increases in hospitalized patients with COVID-19?

    I bet you have a strong opinion about this question. Most North Carolinians do. I certainly do, and have expressed it repeatedly: I think Cooper’s initial shutdown orders were too sweeping and Draconian and ought to be lifted more quickly.

     There are two assumptions embedded in my answer that deserve further explanation. One is that Cooper’s reaction to the coronavirus crisis has been relatively stringent. The other is that state regulations have a significant effect on economic activity separate from the direct effect of the virus itself. After all, many North Carolinians would have stayed away from workplaces and businesses even if the state hadn’t ordered them to.

    Let’s start with stringency. Comparing state COVID-19 responses is no easy task. You can’t just tally up how many states issued stay-at-home orders or closed “nonessential” businesses. Details matter. Some orders lasted only a couple of weeks. Others lasted