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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Explaining Holy Week

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

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

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

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

    What is the “good news”?

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

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

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

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

    Easter celebrations in the era of social distancing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • 15 A Sinister Cabaret 01The Fayetteville Dinner Theatre is back after a pandemic hiatus and ready to kick off their season with the fun and entertaining musical Mystery Dinner Theatre production of "A Sinister Cabaret: Love Letters/ Sleight of Hand." Formally known as the Bordeaux Dinner Theater before its demise in the mid-1980s, Fayetteville Dinner Theatre has been reintroduced to the Fayetteville and Cumberland County community by local businessman, entrepreneur, and Up & Coming Weekly newspaper publisher Bill Bowman.

    The FDT's first production was in 2016, with "A Southern Girl's Got To Have It" written and directed by local Fayetteville playwright Elaine Alexander. It was the overwhelming success of this production that motivated Bowman to create a totally "new and unique dinner theatre experience for Fayetteville and Cumberland County audiences."

    With the FDT celebrating its fifth year with the production of "A Sinister Cabaret," Bowman follows through with his strategy of utilizing local creative writers and talented actors to create a unique and enjoyable evening of dinner theatre.

    "A Sinister Cabaret: Love Letters/ Sleight of Hand" is written and directed by Fayetteville resident Dr. Gail Morfesis. No stranger to the local arts and cultural community, Dr. Morfesis has a doctorate in music, voice, and theater.

    Dr. Morfesis is very active in the Fayetteville arts community as a singer, performer and ardent volunteer. She has directed many shows with the Gilbert Theater and at Fayetteville Technical Community College. Talented and with a penchant for mischievous humor, Morfesis has created her unique style and format for her original plays.

    One of the more exciting aspects of "A Sinister Cabaret" is that it is never the same show twice. The music, dancing and comedy stay the same; however, the "whodunit" is a mystery. And this is how Morfesis intended it to be. She enjoys writing what she describes "as fun, interactive comedy." There are other unique aspects of this dinner theatre production. In the show, Morfesis also plays one of the leading characters, Francis Maximillian.

    Fayetteville actress Tabitha Humphrey, who plays Percy Barker, actually created the character she is portraying. She described her audition with Morfesis as open and unique. She was instructed to come prepared to audition with a love song rather than reading lines from the script. Once she was cast, Humphrey was given the creative opportunity to express herself and assist in creating the character and how she impacts the murder mystery plot.

    "Dr. Gail gave us creative freedom of our characters while she maintained creative control," said Humphrey. She added that she enjoyed working with the cast and the acting and improvisation became much easier once she got to know everyone and became familiar with their characters.

    Leading actor Jim Smith, who plays Sylvester Sly Fox, said, "this play is a mystery with several different plots within the main characters, and is very intriguing. It's a mystery as to how they play ends and how all the ladies feel about my character." Smith did not want to give too much away about his character but is excited to be a part of the cast and production.

    Interactive shows like "A Sinister Cabaret" are becoming common in the dinner theatre scene. Bowman said, "People are looking for fun and entertaining things to do in these trying times. They need some relief from the tensions caused by their jobs, or lack of, racial unrest, riots, pandemics, lockdowns, vaccines, social distancing restrictions, and Zoom meetings.”

    “The timing for this comedy is perfect, and we are expecting a great response and turnout. Celebrating one year of COVID restrictions, you can bet people are ready to ditch the lockdowns and get out of their houses in search of some fun and wholesome entertainment. And that is what the Fayetteville Dinner Theatre is all about. What better to celebrate than with a show that's fun and showcases a local playwright and local actors? Besides, it's about time that people seeking good dinner theatre venues don't have to travel to Charlotte, Raleigh, Winston Salem, or Greensboro for quality entertainment."

    In addition to "A Southern Girl's Got To Have It," the Fayetteville Dinner Theatre has produced "M is for Mullet," "The Fantastiks," and "HamLIT." The May 2020 FDT show that was canceled due to COVID-19 was titled "Mark Twain Himself," starring Richard Garey from Hannibal, Missouri. Garey owns his own Playhouse in Hannibal and is a Samuel Clement scholar. His performances are known for their authenticity.

    Garey brings Mark Twain to life, and Bowman hopes the FDT will be able to reschedule his performance in the fall. It is a show the entire Fayetteville and Cumberland County community will appreciate and enjoy from an entertainment and historical point of view.

    The Fayetteville Dinner Theatre is all about having a unique theatre and dining experience. The FDT prides itself on focusing on the “wow” factor. Every evening starts with a Preshow Welcome Reception hosted by Gates Four Country Club. It includes a wine tasting followed by the show and a three-course meal prepared especially for the FDT audiences. There are gifts, door prizes and a dessert bar set up during the intermission. After the show, the FDT hosts a Meet and Greet with the actors and actresses.

    Gates Four Golf & Country Club is the home of the Fayetteville Dinner Theatre. It is a gated community located in western Cumberland County near Hope Mills. Gates Four is known for its beautiful residential neighborhoods, quaint country landscapes, and its challenging 18-hole golf course.

    The FDT performance of "A Sinister Cabaret: Love Letters/Sleight of Hand" will hit the center stage on Friday, April 9, and Saturday, April 10. Tickets and reservations may be made online at www.fayettevilledinnertheatre.com.

    The Preshow Welcome Reception begins at 6:00 p.m. Dinner and the performance begins at 7:00 p.m. Open seating with social distancing practices will be in place. Tickets are $75 per person with discounts available for active duty military, seniors 65+ and Gates Four members and residents. Parties of six or eight may purchase VIP tables.

    For more information about tickets or how your business or organization can exclusively sponsor a FDT production, contact the Box Office at 910-391-3859 or email bbowman@upandcomingweekly.com. Partial proceeds from the FDT show will benefit Cumberland County education through the Kidsville News! Literacy and Education Foundation, a (501c3), provides reading and educational resources for local children and teachers.

  • 14 dollar sign and graphGov. Roy Cooper introduced a $55.9 billion budget proposal on March 24 that includes many of the goals he’s had since taking office. But this time he claims they’re needed due to the COVID pandemic.

    These goals include expanding Medicaid, borrowing $4.7 billion for infrastructure projects, and pushing state agencies to look at issues through a “justice and equity lens.” All told, Cooper would hike spending by 11.6% over what was budgeted this year in the 2021-22 fiscal year.

    “We’ll put this pandemic behind us sooner rather than later. With the right investments, we can ensure our state roars back, creating opportunity for all of our people, not just those at the top,” Cooper said during a news conference outlining his budget proposal. “This is the time to find opportunity in crisis.”

    Republicans, however, criticized the governor’s budget for spending too wildly, especially with the state’s fiscal future still uncertain.

    While Cooper would hike spending virtually across the board, his budget includes two major spending programs with eye-popping numbers.

    Cooper’s budget again includes expanding Medicaid, a top policy priority since taking office. Medicaid expansion would offer government-paid health insurance to some 600,000 working-age adults without children. The federal government and the state would share the costs, which would reach $500 million for North Carolina.

    Cooper said Medicaid expansion was more pressing this year because many North Carolinians lost their jobs during the pandemic, and thus their employer-sponsored health insurance.

    “We must get health care to more working people, and the best way to do that is expand Medicaid,” Cooper said.

    Another major spending program would be a $4.7 billion bond package for infrastructure projects, the bulk of which would be in K-12 public schools and the state’s colleges and universities.

    “Interest rates have never been lower, and our state needs the boost,” Cooper said.

    Voters would need to approve the bond proposal, and bonds would be issued over a period of years. Interest rates have already begun to rise as the federal government has pumped trillions into the economy.

    Other proposals in Cooper’s budget include reinstating the Earned Income Tax Credit, a refundable tax benefit for low-income workers; a 10% pay raise for teachers, plus a $2,000 bonus; a minimum wage of $15 per hour for school system employees; $100 million in clean energy spending; creating an Office of Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity Affairs in the Department of Public Instruction; and eliminating Opportunity Scholarships, a program that helps low-income families attend private schools.

    “Instead of giving parents and families that opportunity to find the best educational option for their children, Governor Cooper is doubling down on cutting funding for scholarships that provide families those needed resources," said Mike Long, president of Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina.

    Sen. Brent Jackson, R-Sampson, one of the Senate’s chief budget writers, said he was concerned with the high levels of spending and borrowing in the governor’s proposal.

    “We don’t want to return to an era of rollercoaster-style budgets with huge spikes in the boom years followed by huge cuts in the lean years,” he said in a statement.
    House leadership distanced themselves from the proposal, as well.

    “While there are a number of shared priorities funded in the governor’s budget proposal, North Carolina lawmakers will remain vigilant in our responsible financial management of the state and avoid irresponsible decisions that have harmed taxpayers in the past,” House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said in a statement.

    Jackson and Moore said they’re committed to working with the governor to find compromise and pass a budget. Cooper vetoed the last biennial budget, meaning North Carolina has spent the past two years largely operating on the 2017 spending plan.

  • 13 American Flag horizontal copyA bill introduced by House Majority Leader John Bell, R-Wayne, is meant to help improve crisis intervention and services for veterans suffering from mental health and substance abuse issues.

    House Bill 370, No Veteran Left Behind Act, creates a pilot program for several military and veteran heavy counties in North Carolina to improve and expand training for local law enforcement and first responders, a news release says. It focuses on dealing with veteran-specific crisis intervention, suicide prevention, and available resources at the Department of Veterans Affairs, including Brunswick, Craven, Cumberland, Onslow, Union and Wayne counties.

    “More than 100,000 active duty service members and over 600,000 veterans call North Carolina home,” Bell said. “Our veterans and their families face unique challenges, especially those on active duty. After talking with veteran advocates, law enforcement and local leaders, we believe the No Veteran Left Behind Act will help address an important need in our state by providing local law enforcement with additional training to assist veterans in need.”

    Other bill sponsors are House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, Rep. George Cleveland, R-Onslow, and Rep. Charlie Miller, R-Brunswick.
    “North Carolina is the proud home to hundreds of thousands of veterans and their families who served the United States in our Armed Forces and face unique challenges in this pandemic recovery,” said Moore in a statement.

    “The No Veteran Left Behind Act will benefit not just North Carolina veterans in pilot counties, but their communities and local leaders, as well. We are committed to identifying statewide needs through this initiative that will help more military families succeed in our state.”

    The training will be administered through The Independence Fund Inc., a North Carolina-based nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of veterans and their families. Under the bill, the release says, The Independence Fund will partner with state and local governments to assess each county’s initial response to veterans in crises and conclude with an updated data collection process map developed.

    Cleveland said the bill is important for military heavy areas such as Onslow County, which is home to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune.
    “As a retired Marine and the representative of a district with tens of thousands of active duty service members and veterans, I believe this legislation will help our local law enforcement and first responders better support veterans and military families,” Cleveland said.

    The No Veteran Left Behind Act also has the support of local sheriffs, who will be included in the pilot program, including Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes, who said he believes it will help them better meet the needs of the many veterans and active duty service members in their county.

  • 12 cooper podiumMore than a year after the COVID-19 pandemic brought North Carolina to a screeching halt, Gov. Roy Cooper shows no sign of relinquishing the sweeping and open-ended emergency powers he has claimed under state law.

    The General Assembly is now trying once again to clarify exactly what a governor should have the power to do on his own during a state of emergency — and how long “emergencies” should be able
    to last.

    A new bill that would rewrite the state’s Emergency Management Act advanced through a House Judiciary committee this week. It now sits in the House Rules Committee.

    North Carolina’s current law allows the governor to declare a state of emergency at any time, and it does not end until the governor declares it over. During such a period, the governor has broad powers to regulate gatherings, close schools, shutter businesses, or mandate evacuations.

    The law appears to require Council of State concurrence for some of these powers, but when Cooper was challenged last summer over several of his executive orders, a judge ruled that North Carolina’s governor can make these decisions unilaterally

    Under House Bill 264, a state of emergency would end within seven days unless the Council of State authorizes it to last longer. The Council of State would then need to vote to continue the state of emergency every 30 days.

    The governor would also need Council of State approval to exercise most of the powers to prohibit and restrict activity and business.

    “A year ago, when the shutdown order was entered, most people in our state didn’t believe that the governor had the ability to shut our entire state down. Most people assumed there were at least some form of checks and balances on that sort of measure,” said Destin Hall, R-Caldwell, when the bill was first introduced.

    “Our state is going to face other emergencies in the future. We’ve got to build public trust in an emergency situation. The way we do that, try to take the politics out of it, is through a deliberative process. This bill would give us that deliberative process.”

    The Council of State is made up of the independently elected statewide officials under the state constitution, including the lieutenant governor, state auditor, state treasurer, and secretary of state. Notably, the bill does not include new legislative oversight.

    Other states have taken up similar bills as the coronavirus has shone a light on the shortcomings of most state emergency laws, which historically have been used primarily during hurricanes or other natural disasters.

    New York’s state legislature, for example, passed a law this month requiring more oversight of its governor’s emergency powers.

    In North Carolina, Cooper would need to sign this new emergency powers bill for it to go into effect. This is unlikely. Over the past year, Cooper has vetoed any effort to rein in his control.

    Instead, he has preferred to go it alone — something General Assembly leaders have noted.

    “The current law that granted these emergency powers was simply not written for today’s challenges,” Rep. John Bell, R-Wayne, said when the bill was first introduced. “There needs to be more bipartisan input and checks and balances. There is no unilateral rule in a constitutional republic.”

  • 11 Socially distanced classroom 3Cumberland County Schools will transition to Plan A beginning Monday, April 12. The Cumberland County Board of Education approved the changeover during a recent special meeting. Under Plan A, all students will be eligible to attend class in person on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday of each week. Wellness Wednesday will be an independent remote learning day for all students so school buildings can be cleaned.

    School-based virtual learning options remain open to students. Plan A does not require schools to reduce the usual number of students in the classroom. Social distancing is not required on school buses. CCS will continue the process of temperature screening students and others who enter school buildings.

    Social distancing protocols will be in effect inside schools and visitor limitations remain in effect. Students, faculty members and staff must wear masks or face coverings in school and on school buses.

    All families had the opportunity of deciding if their children would transition to Plan A or switch to full-time virtual learning. Families of students who are currently participating in full-time virtual learning which did not complete preference forms prior to the deadline, will remain remote through May 2021. Students enrolled in virtual academies are not eligible to transfer to other schools in the district at this time and will remain at the virtual academies through May.

    School pupils began returning to class earlier this month. They were divided into two groups. Some attended school on Monday and Tuesday. Others returned to classrooms on Thursday and Friday. Schools Superintendent Marvin Connelly Jr., acknowledged the time and effort that has been spent making students' return a “safe and healthy one.” Dedicated employees “have worked around the clock to prepare for a hybrid teaching and learning model,” he said. “And we cannot forget the work of our staff members who are making sure we’re prepared to operate safely, effectively and efficiently."

    Students, for their part, likely have lost months of learning as they return to classrooms. Most kids yearn for social connection with their peers and teachers, and the pandemic has caused many of them to fall behind. Some lack internet access at home and have resorted to finding nearby school buses outfitted with high-speed Wi-Fi. Cumberland County schools have discontinued the process because buses are on the road again. Lacking access to in-person schooling can also put some children at risk of going without meals or spending increased time with abusive relatives.

    Remote learning has exacerbated the institutional harms that were already being inflicted on many families.

    Virtual schooling could have a silver lining though: some children may end up being more resilient on the other side of the pandemic. Navigating uncertainty, maintaining hope for the future, and relying on community resources to overcome challenges are skills some youngsters could be developing.

    For many students, learning from home can also be healthier than in-person schooling. Deepening their bond with parents, for instance, sets foundations for trust and empathy.

  • 10 Fayetteville Beautiful logoPublic registration for the Fayetteville Beautiful community cleanup event begins soon. Fayetteville residents and non-residents can participate. The event is scheduled for Saturday, April 17. This year there are some changes because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants and event organizers should wear masks and practice social distancing. On the day of the event participants are asked to drive into the marked entrance at Hay St. and Hurley Way to receive trash bags, fliers and water. Event organizers and participants should wear masks during the supply pick up and community cleanup event. Interested people can register online at www.fayettevillebeautiful.com. Scroll down to the active map, select a cleanup location, and click “Register.” Group representatives should include the number of volunteers that will
    participate.

  • 09 food giveawayAlliance Health, Hope4NC, Noonday Kitchen and Mercy Chefs will host a food giveaway to address food insecurity in Cumberland County on April 13 from 8 a.m. until noon at the John D. Fuller Recreation Center, 6627 Old Bunce Road in Fayetteville. This event is open to all Alliance members as well as the community. Community members who are picking up one or two boxes can just show up at the event. Community partners who are seeking bulk packaging are asked to pre-register at http://bit.ly/foodboxpickup.
    USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service is partnering with national, regional and local food distributors who have been impacted by COVID-19. This partnership purchases fresh produce, dairy and meat products from American producers. Distributors package these products into family-sized boxes, then transport them to food banks, community and faith-based organizations, and other non-profits serving Americans in need.

  • 08 veteran vaccineMilitary veterans, their spouses and caregivers will be able to receive coronavirus vaccines through the Department of Veterans Affairs once doses are made available, under legislation finalized by Congress. Veterans Affairs leaders supported the move, saying they did not want to turn away any veteran from receiving the shot if they were available. But under current rules, department medical centers were permitted to administer vaccines only to veterans already eligible for VA health care services, and for certain caregivers registered in VA support programs. That totals just under 7 million individuals. Under the new bill, that number is expected to jump to more than 20 million. It will make vaccines available “to all veterans, veteran spouses, caregivers... and Department of Veterans Affairs recipients to the extent that such vaccines are available.”

  • 04 Pinwheel KitApril is Child Abuse Prevention Month and for the past 11 years our community has honored children by planting blue pinwheels in honor of child abuse prevention. The pinwheel represents the bright future that every child deserves.

    The Child Advocacy Center received a total of 876 reports of child abuse during FY 19/20, a 20% increase over FY 18/19. Currently, we are continuing to see those numbers increase as well. For the period July 1 until December 31, 2020, the CAC received a total of 521 reports of suspected abuse, up 29% from the same period in 2019.

    This has been a difficult year on so many levels due to the pandemic. COVID-19 has brought about so many changes, as well as uncertainty. These challenges have brought about more time at home, more time on electronic devices and less time being able to safely socialize with friends in general. Until last week, children in our community had not been inside a classroom since March 13, 2020.
    Jeanne Allert, CEO and Founder of The Samaritan Women, in Baltimore, Maryland, presented a webinar about Victimology: Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking. She shared that professionals are already discussing the impact the pandemic may have on children and families once children begin to re-engage in a more traditional school schedule. Educators account for 50% of reports of child abuse.

    April is also a time to look forward – a time to be a part of ensuring that every child has a bright future. All children deserve to grow up in loving, stable and stimulating environments, in their home, church, school and in the community. Most of all, we want childhood to be a time when children no longer live in fear.

    This year, we want more than ever to have a significant presence with pinwheels heavily displayed throughout our community. We want to cohesively and prominently show that our community supports children. April is an ideal time for our community to reflect and to recognize the children who have been victimized through the pain of abuse — physical, emotional and/or sexual.

    At the CAC, our vision is a community where children feel safe, nurtured and loved. April is a time to remind us that no matter the challenges, to include a global pandemic, we face as individuals, caring for all our children must always be our priority.

    You can join us in promoting healthy childhoods for our children. You can purchase a pinwheel garden kit (24 pinwheels and a yard sign) for $40 or a Pinwheel Vase (eight pinwheels in a vase with ribbon) for $15. Visit our website CACFayNC.org to place your order. Once you plant your garden of pinwheels or display your pinwheel vase, tag us on your social media, include the following hashtags – #passthepinwheel, #cacfayncpinwheels2021, #pinwheelsforprevention

    During the month of April, the CAC will be hosting “Read-Along Story Times” on Tuesday of each week. We will be reading books that talk about body safety, boundaries and how to say no when the child feels uncomfortable. You can view these on the CAC’s Facebook & Instagram pages or on our website CACFayNC.org.

    These are great opportunities to talk with your child about appropriate touching and setting boundaries. Research has shown, it is better to start teaching children about body safety when they are young and to continue throughout their childhood. It is never too late to begin.

    This April and throughout the year, let’s all join together to provide help, hope and healing to children who have been victimized by abuse. Join us in creating a community (and beyond) where children feel safe to run and play, where all children feel love and accepted versus living in fear.

    We hope to see blue pinwheels spinning in the sun and throughout our community this April reminding us all that EACH child deserves a happy childhood.

    Community members can join CAC for a virtual Pinwheel Planting at noon on April 1 on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/CACFayNC. To learn more about how you can participate, please check out the Facebook page, the website or call 910-486-9700. For more information about April and Child Abuse Prevention, including how to become involved in prevention, follow CAC on social media or visit the website www.CACFayNC.org. Happy Pinwheel Planting!

  • 07 IMG 6382Hey you! Is the world too much with you? Reality got you down? Tired of putting up with stuff? Like Joe in “Showboat,” are you “tired of living but scared of dying”?

    Congratulations, you have come to the right place. As the emcee in “Cabaret” said, “Leave your troubles outside. In here life is beautiful. The girls are beautiful. Even the orchestra is beautiful.” Today’s lesson will be how to be happy. If this sounds a bit Polly Anna-ish, or even if you don’t know who Polly Anna was, take a chance any way, read the rest of this stain on world literature. Either you will be glad you did or you will waste three minutes of your life which you might have squandered on something equally trivial. The choice is yours, read on MacDuff or turn the page.

    Let us begin with our old friend Alice in Wonderland. She has the formula for happiness in the face of adversity. Jefferson Airplane suggested to “Go Ask Alice/ I think she’ll know.” Turns out the Airplane was correct. Alice reveals how to be a cockeyed optimist in her Chapter entitled “Pig & Pepper.” Learn how Alice turns limes into margaritas. Alice is lost in the woods when she comes upon a house. She sees a fish dressed as a footman go to the house to knock on the door. The door is answered by a footman who has the head of a frog. A lesser mortal might have quietly backed into the woods as mutated footmen seldom bode well for the casual observer. Alice is made of
    sturdier stuff.

    She marches up to the house but has a frustrating conversation with the Frog footman. Realizing the Frog is not going to help her, she opens the door herself and barges inside. Not to mix metaphors, but the house is not like that of the Three Bears. There is no porridge but it is occupied by three unpleasant beings: the Cook, the Duchess, and her Baby. The kitchen looks like a scene from the Three Stooges. Instead of throwing pies at each other, the Cook is dumping way too much pepper in the soup while throwing pots, pans and kitchen utensils at the Duchess and her Baby. The Duchess is sneezing. Her baby is alternating between sneezing and howling. It’s a pretty wild scene, lacking only hungry wolves, a mob of Oath Keepers, and a school of flying jellyfish to be double plus ungood.

    Alice, being a good-hearted sort, becomes quite concerned that the Baby will be seriously injured when a flying sauce pan nearly takes off the Baby’s nose. The Duchess, having been invited to play croquet with the Queen, exits stage right tossing the Baby to Alice. Alice catches the Baby which is bucking and writhing around in her arms while making a disturbing snorting noise. Alice takes on the role of Protective Services carrying the struggling Baby outside to avoid further kitchen flying objects. “If I don’t take this child away with me,” thought Alice, “they’re sure to kill it in a day or two, wouldn’t it be murder to leave it behind?”

    Once outside the Baby commenced to grunting instead of howling. This disturbed Alice. Looking at the Baby she noticed its nose had become turned up. It began to appear to be more of a snout than a nose. Its eyes had shrunk into pig like beady marbles. She told the Baby “If you’re going to turn into a pig, my dear, I’ll have nothing more to do with you.” After a bit more time, the Baby began seriously grunting. Alice looked again and sure enough, the Baby had turned into a pig. Alice put the Pig/Baby down and “felt quite relieved to see it trot away quietly into the woods.”

    Now here comes the lesson of today’s column wherein Alice makes the best of a bad situation. A lot of people would be freaked out by a Baby morphing into a pig. A lot of people might have considered such an event catastrophic for the Baby. A lot of people might have considered selling the Baby to a barbecue restaurant. But not Alice. She looks on the bright side. Alice relentlessly acts like two fried eggs by keeping her sunny side up. The reverse of the Pygmalion transformation of a statue into a lady does not dismay her in the least. Alice thinks: “It would have made a dreadfully ugly child but makes a rather a handsome pig, I think.” She then “began thinking over other children she knew; who might do very well as pigs if one only knew the right way to change them.”

    So, there is our lesson for the day. If circumstances go awry, find the positive buried deep within the muck. Look for the rather handsome pig in every situation. Reframe reality to see the good even if it means you are delusional. Be like the old song: “You’ve got to accentuate the positive/ Eliminate the negative/ Latch on the affirmative/ Don’t mess with Mr. In-Between.”

    Another plus is there is no proof that dinosaurs became extinct because their diet consisted solely of Blooming Onions from the Outback Steakhouse. Chow down!

  • 05 in line polling placeLast week brought complicated, and in some ways horrifying news. First there was the Boulder shooting that left 10 people dead and yet another American community in shocked mourning. The most concerning aspect of such shootings is that they have become our new and accepted normal. Unless they happen in our own community or to people we know, perhaps even love, they garner brief national attention. Most Americans then move on until the
    next one.

    Many people, this writer included, believed that the 2012 murders of 6 and 7-year-olds at Sandy Hook Elementary School would motivate us to look at why we allow so few restrictions on gun ownership, even allowing private ownership of military style automatic weapons.

    Instead, we seemingly decided even gunning down children was something we could live with in order to keep our firearms. It also remains true that while mass shootings get our attention for at least a brief period, far more of us die from shootings under other, less spectacular circumstances.

    Americans who yearn for less carnage and are willing to accept more restrictions, including this writer, are coming to understand that nothing is going to happen until there is a mass public outcry as has happened with the Black Lives Matter and Me Too movements. Perhaps this graphic from The New York Times can help us see how extreme an outlier our nation is when it comes to gun violence.

    Pay attention, and be very afraid.

    In addition to death by firearms, our democracy continues to be under threat. In the wake of the 2020 elections, state legislatures all across the country are debating and passing laws restricting Americans’ right to vote. Georgia’s governor signed into law last week perhaps the most regressive voting provisions since the Jim Crow era, already being dubbed “Jim Crow 2.0.” The jaw-dropping measure severely limits absentee voting and actually criminalizes giving people in line to vote either water or food.

    If it were only Georgia, that would be one thing, but 40-some-odd states either restrict voting or are overwhelmingly gerrymandered or both. Several highly restrictive voting measures in North Carolina have been struck down in court, but ours remains one of if not the most gerrymandered state in the nation.

    The U.S. House has just passed the For the People Act making registering and voting more accessible, but the bill faces fierce Senate opposition.

    The question facing all Americans of both parties is “do we want a democratic country enough to fight for the rights of all Americans, not just those traditionally in power?” Germany and Italy lost their democracies in the first part of the 20th century as did several South American nations in the latter part of the century. There is no reason whatsoever to believe “American exceptionalism” immunizes us from the grasp of an authoritarian government.

    Finally, and on a more positive note, it feels like the beginning of the end of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. Vaccinations are ahead of schedule in North Carolina, and Governor Cooper continues to loosen COVID restrictions. Already, there have been some excesses. A nightclub area in Raleigh was overrun by unmasked revelers, with one quoted in the News and Observer saying, “We’re like puppies out of the pound.”

    Others are reacting more slowly, as if they cannot quite remember how to be out and about with other people. Either way, we should understand how easily a resurgence could occur and that masks and distancing are still in force, vaccinations notwithstanding.

    That said, it does feel good to be even a little less confined.

  • 06 Fox News on Gun Control copyOn Inauguration Day, I was encouraged to hear President Biden focus much of his speech on unity, going so far as saying, “We can join forces, stop the shouting, and lower the temperature. For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury.”

    However, more than halfway through President Biden’s first 100 days in office, I have yet to see that olive branch be extended. I came to Washington to fight for you, no matter who is president, and to work across the aisle to deliver real results. Unfortunately, President Biden’s promises of unity have so far been empty words on issues like COVID relief, infrastructure, immigration and the latest — gun control.

    Amidst a global pandemic, we are experiencing a heartbreaking humanitarian crisis on our southern border and it is being ignored by the administration for political reasons. The media continues to cover for President Biden, but nearly twice as many unaccompanied minors are being apprehended daily than during the peak of 2019.

    During this Biden border surge, according to a report last week, criminal organizations trafficking women, children and families have earned as much as $14 million a day.

    Migrants are packed together in facilities and not being tested for COVID-19, then being released to travel to states including North Carolina. Also, in the last week, only 13% of 13,000 migrants were returned to Mexico. These facts all point to a worsening border crisis that must be addressed.

    However, instead of focusing on the border, last week President Biden unveiled a new $3 trillion spending package disguised as an infrastructure bill. The only problem — this bill will be full of Green New Deal climate initiatives that will make it harder to build any new infrastructure that our country needs. This package follows up on their $2 trillion non-COVID relief bill that was passed without a single Republican vote.

    Once again, it is clear the Democrats will try and go at it alone. To pay for this package, they plan to raise your taxes, wiping out the historic tax cuts from President Trump and during one of the hardest financial years our country has seen. Cutting taxes and regulations the last four years unleashed the greatest economy we have seen — record low unemployment, record low poverty among all races and record high median income.

    As Washington Democrats aim to reverse these policies and push their massive Green New Deal spending, hold on to your wallets, folks.

    Last week, I was also devastated to see the recent shootings in Georgia and Colorado. As I have said, as a father, I am committed to ending this scourge of gun violence. That’s why as recently as this month, I have championed legislation that increases school safety, supports mental health, expands information sharing and tackles the root causes of gun violence.

    Unfortunately, many on the left have rushed to politicize the recent tragedies in order to push for gun control legislation that harms law-abiding citizens and would have done nothing to prevent previous mass shootings. Earlier this month, House Democrats passed H.R. 8 and H.R. 1446 that would turn law-abiding citizens into criminals for helping a friend or neighbor and allow a government bureaucrat to delay a firearm sale indefinitely. These bills would only threaten our Second Amendment rights and are not the solutions we need. As President Biden and Washington Democrats renew their push for these bills, I am calling on my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to work together and pass targeted measures that would fix the problem.

    If President Biden meant what he said, I remain ready to work together to end the crisis on the border, invest in our infrastructure, and end the tragic scourge of gun violence. So far, it looks like the Biden administration is working to appease the radical left, but I will not be discouraged from working to solve problems and
    represent you.

  • 04 Dr Frank StoutThe Fayetteville community was shocked to learn recently that long-time civic leader and orthodontist Dr. Frank Stout died earlier this month. He was 77. He practiced orthodontics from 1970–1998, when he retired. Dr. Stout and his father developed the Bordeaux Motor Inn and Convention Center, the Bordeaux Recreation Center, and the high-rise Apartel off Bragg Blvd. In 1998, he and his wife, Carolyn, made a major gift to Methodist University where he was Trustee/Emeritus. The donation led to the construction of Joe W. Stout Hall in memoriam to his father. The building houses the university’s admissions office. Stout died on March 6. He is survived by wife Carolyn, son, Cam, and daughter-in-law Kelly Craver Stout. He was preceded in death by his older son, Frank Stout Jr.

  • 01 01 12004710 10156267691740107 1215836511497132668 nAndrew and Gail Morfesis are very active in the community. The prominent power couple’s contributions continue to provide services and entertainment to the citizens of Fayetteville.

    Andrew is a medical doctor and his wife, Gail, holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in Voice. He has a clinic, Owen Drive Surgical Clinic, where he performs surgery under local anesthesia.

    “He still sees people for medical issues and surgery which is a great benefit to the community because things that can be safely done in the office is much cheaper for people,” said Gail Morfesis. “Even if you have insurance you still have to pay a co-pay and sometimes it is cost prohibitive to have things done, so people just try not to have them done even if it is painful or unpleasant.”

    She added that two days a week her husband works for North Carolina Hyperbarics where they treat individuals with ulcers on their arms and legs.

    Gail took an early retirement from UNC Pembroke in 2007, and since then she has been doing what she loves doing the most — directing and producing shows.

    “I was contacted by the Crown Theatre last year to write an interactive murder mystery for them,” said Morfesis. “It was the first show I ever wrote and the play is based around songs because that is my background.”

    The play is entitled “Love Letters/Sleight of Hand” and the plot of the play is quite intriguing. Gail shares, “It starts out with a karaoke theme and I am the main actress in the show. I am the older actress who starts an agency called “It’s All About You Agency” to promote young artists. During the years that I am doing this, I meet my husband who was performing at a club. I hired him to become part of the agency and then we get married. The plot of this is that he tries to take over the agency from me which is really a stable of young women singers. Of course due to his philandering, we never know which of the ladies that are in the cast of characters has actually killed him. At the end of the first act he is actually electrocuted by the karaoke machine, but anyone in the cast could have manipulated that. During the course of the story all of his interactions with different women comes out. It’s just a really fun show.”

    The cast includes Gail, five female singers/actresses, and two police officer characters. At the end of the show it is revealed who committed the murder.

    “The play is interactive so the audience gets to asks questions of the cast,” said Morfesis.

    “We usually have a foreman at each table that gets to ask the question and during their dessert time they get to talk about why they think different characters may have done it as well as ask one question of one character.”

    She added, “Each table will get to vote on who they think committed the murder and the tables that guess the correct character will win some kind of prize.”

    Up & Coming Weekly is sponsoring the play. The performances are Friday, April 9 and Saturday, April 10 at 7 p.m. at Gates Four Golf & Country Club.

    When not putting on shows, Gail works with many organizations in the community.

    “I was asked by Hank Parfitt, president of the Lafayette Society of Fayetteville, to start doing a concert for them every year of French music to supplement Lafayette’s birthday weekend,” said Morfesis. “I have been doing a concert for them for the last 12 years and I do involve local artists in town and people that work for the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra.”

    “Because of the Lafayette Society, I worked a good bit at Methodist University because Methodist houses the Lafayette Collection of artifacts and initially for the first ten years we did our concert and our artifacts display on the same night,” said Morfesis.

    “It is kind of funny because I never really worked for Methodist but most people thought I did because I did those concerts there
    every year.”

    Gail has also worked with Dr. Marvin Curtis at Fayetteville State University performing lead roles for three years in the summer opera as well as directing shows for UNC Pembroke and the Gilbert Theater.

    “I have sung with the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra in the past and at the Gilbert I directed and produced about five to six different shows there,” said Morfesis.

    “I also worked with Fayetteville Technical Community College as their music director for some of their shows and also directed their choir two years ago when they were between instructors.”

    She added, “I do a lot of work with civic organizations and I feel like you need to give back to your community so I have done work with Heritage Square. They were unable to do their annual Christmas Tour of Homes in December 2020, so I was the emcee for their one-hour video of the homes here in Fayetteville. I was called by The Care Clinic to help them with their upcoming wine and silent auction that will take place in May of this year. The Crown has contacted me to write another play for the fall of this year.”

    So, what’s next on the horizon for Gail?

    “I would like to start a company for up and coming theater people that I would like to call 'Femme Fatale' which means the deadly woman,” said Morfesis. “There’s a lot of talented women who have written shows and are really great actresses and I would like to continue seeing the work that I have done.”

    “I try to work with as many organizations as I can to better the life of the people in the community,” said Morfesis. “If you really reach out and do something for people you will become a part of the community and you can do great things.”

    Tickets for the Fayetteville Diner Theatre can be purchased at www.fayettevilledinnertheatre.com.

  • 08 P1060728The Gilbert Theater brings the scandalous, fascinating and infamous story and play
    “Oedipus Rex” to the stage from March 26 until April 11.

    The play was originally written by Sophocles as a part of the trilogy “The Theban Plays” that included Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone. It was first performed in 429 B.C. and the story has notoriously stuck around till present day. The story has also influenced the works of Sigmund Freud and psychologists who study the ‘Oedipus complex.’

    “The plot is very simple, there’s a massive plague going on where everyone’s dying in the streets and the people are begging the king, Oedipus, to find some kind of solution,” said Montgomery Sutton, the director for
    “Oedipus Rex.”

    The play dives into the prophecy and investigation of an unsolved murder of the former king of Thebes to end the plague. That unleashes a lot of events and people called in for questions and stories in a “thrilleresque” way, he said.

    “Playing Oedipus is definitely a role I haven’t had to tackle before, it's definitely brought some enlightenment during the rehearsal process in that, it's something broader than what we know about Oedipus and the Oedipus complex,” said actor Deannah Robinson. “There is more sympathy for him than what we are used to.”

    Sutton, a returning director at the theater, directed “Antigone” about three years ago at the Gilbert. His expertise in theatre is acting, directing and playwriting.

    The audience will watch the performance in a non-traditional setting, sitting in a tennis court arrangement, sitting on each side facing one another while the action takes place in the middle.

    “I am a big fan of that style, one of the things that makes it unique is the performance will never be the same twice and there will never be two audiences who are the same,” Sutton said.

    Robinson said she’s excited about the fluidity of the show from beginning to end.

    This adaptation looks at the origins of Greek theatre as both an artistic, civic and religious event, so the music becomes more of a rock-folk-hymn style that should be very relevant to the audience, Sutton said.

    “It's so good, so good,” Robinson said.

    “Last night after we wrapped up, I sat in my car and cried because it's been a year since I felt so connected to the character in a play in a way that was real and had a heart-to-heart with them,” said actor Ella Mock, who plays four different characters in the play.

    I love it, it's such a challenge, it’s really like the original Greek theatre style, where the chorus would have different masks, costume signifiers being really obvious that they are the same actors playing different roles, they said.

    Sutton added that the play may raise a lot of questions concerning current cultural and political issues, many of which the audience will recognize in the play.

    “They can look forward to 90 minutes of edge of your seat, lightning-fire thriller, it’s incredibly intense,” Sutton said.

     

  • 06 HarmoneyMother, finance professional, and now an author — Crystal McLean is changing the scene by introducing a children’s book that talks about finances. Inspired by her daughter, she is here to change the “generational cycle” of children growing up not understanding finances.

    City Center Gallery & Books will host a virtual meet and greet on their Facebook page with McLean March 25 at 6:15 p.m. to discuss her book
    “Harmoney & the Empty Piggy Bank.” On March 27 at 1 p.m., there will be an in-person, socially-distanced book signing at the store on Hay Street in Fayetteville.

    McLean is a graduate of Fayetteville State University. Starting off as a University of North Carolina at Pembroke student, she took some time off and worked in the finance industry. When she went back to school at FSU they had launched a new program in banking and finance, which was something McLean was passionate about. Now, having published a children’s books on finances, she is here to normalize the topic in a child-friendly way.

    Growing up, McLean said she had very little knowledge about the subject of finances. “Growing up, finance was a very taboo topic. If you have it, you talk about it, but if you didn’t have it, you didn’t talk about it,” McLean said.

    The frustrating part to her was in school the subject was not taught.

    “It’s inevitable to have to pay bills, taxes, etc. If it’s not taught it sets them up for financial failure,” she said.

    McLean decided to do something about it by publishing the book, “Harmoney & the Empty Piggy Bank.” The children’s book explains the principles of money, saving versus investing, budgeting, and more on a level that children can grasp. She wrote this because when she took her daughter, who was about seven at the time, to pick out finance books, there were none.

    This book will provide parents an opportunity to bring up the topic of finances with their children. It explains money in a child-friendly story with pictures and with a language that kids will understand. McLean said she was inspired by two books: “Amber’s Magical Savings Box” by Rachel Hanible and “Wesley Learns to Invest” by
    Prince Dykes.

    McLean hopes that reading “Harmoney & the Empty Piggy Bank” will invite parents to bring up the topic with their kids. She wants readers to know that the next generation is watching what we are doing now, with everything, including the way we handle our finances. McLean wants parents to know that she would love for them to reach out about any questions they may have when exploring the world of finance with their children.

    McLean wants people to know she is a woman on a mission to make a difference. Her book is available on Amazon and her website. For more information about the author and her book please visit her website, https://www.authorcrystalmclean.com/ or email, hello@authorcrystalmclean.com.

  • 11 Rba503ad130ea82f55e77f0c3bc0875c2 Hunger GamesWilmington’s Republican senator has teamed up with a Winston-Salem Democrat to push a bill that would expand North Carolina’s film grant program — a program critics say is actually a money loser for the state.

    Sen. Michael Lee, R-New Hanover, and Sen. Paul Lowe, D-Forsyth, are the primary sponsors of Senate Bill 268, which would add $34 million to the Film and Entertainment Grant Fund over the next
    _two years.

    That’s on top of the $31 million per year the grant program already receives. The film grants were established by the General Assembly in 2014, and reimburse filmmakers up to a quarter of their production costs for a movie or TV show filmed in North Carolina. The idea is to incentivize major productions — movies with a budget above $3 million and TV episodes costing $1 million or more — in the state, bringing with them jobs and spending.

    “Securing the multi-year grant funding would show that the legislature is supportive and responsive to the state’s film industry and the needs of the studios,” Lee wrote on his Facebook page.

    “That includes their desire to have fiscal certainty when looking to base a potential multi-year production, like a TV series that often becomes synonymous with where it is shot.”

    Wilmington, home to EUE/Screen Gems Studios, has a long history with the film industry. It’s been the setting for movies such as “Iron Man 3” and “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” as well as as TV shows like “Dawson’s Creek” and “One Tree Hill.”

    The Film and Entertainment Grant Fund replaced a film income tax credit program that offered up to $20 million per production. The new grant program has already tripled in size since being introduced fewer than seven years ago.

    But studies have shown that film grants and incentive fail to deliver the economic impact they promise.

    North Carolina’s programs paid out more than $400 million between 2005 and 2018, but brought back somewhere between 19 cents and 61 cents on the dollar, independent analysts show.

    States are increasingly exiting the film incentive business. Twelve states have repealed their programs in the past decade.

    “As with other incentives programs, taking money from other people caring for their families and working in other productive endeavors to give to, in this case, film production has consistently shown to be on net bad for the state economy,” said Jon Sanders, senior fellow, regulatory studies and research editor at the John Locke Foundation.

  • 12 unc board cj photo by Maya ReaganThe General Assembly is set to add new members to the University of North Carolina System Board of Governors. The board governs the consolidated system, encompassing 16 public universities across the state and the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics. The board has 24 voting members, elected by the state Senate and House to staggered, four-
    year terms.

    Former N.C. Rep. John Fraley, R-Iredell, is the sole new House pick to join the BOG. The House plans to re-appoint current board members Kellie Blue, former Rep. Leo Daughtry, Carolyn Coward, Reginald Holley, and Wendy Murphy. While in the General Assembly, Fraley chaired the higher education committee overseeing the UNC System.

    “Fraley has been a longtime supporter of the UNC System. It’s not a surprise to see him added to the UNC Board of Governors,” said Jenna Robinson, president of the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

    Fraley would replace Doyle Parrish, owner of hotel development company Summit Hospitality Group. Parrish did not seek reappointment due to a recent surgery.

    Rep. Kelly Hastings, R-Gaston, who leads the BOG appointment process in the House, told CJ the appointments of both new and returning board members represent a broad selection of talented North Carolinians. They’ll help the UNC System stay affordable, deliver an educated work force, and meet the evolving needs and challenges of higher education in North Carolina, Hastings said.

    “We have a strong group of diverse people from varying backgrounds. They are put in place to have a calming hand during difficult and fast-changing times.”

    New members chosen by the Senate are Lee Roberts, Sonja Nichols, and Kirk Bradley.

    Art Pope, Randy Ramsey, and Jimmy Clark were reelected. The new members would replace current board members Marty Kotis, Steven Long, and Dwight Stone.

    “The addition of Lee Roberts to the UNC Board of Governors may signal the General Assembly’s interest in scrutinizing the university system’s finances,” said Robinson. Roberts and Pope served as state budget directors under former Gov. Pat McCrory.

    Republican Sonja Nichols, 55, is an African American businesswoman and philanthropist with strong connections to the Charlotte business community. While she ran for N.C. Senate and was defeated as a Republican, Nichols’ politics are unusual. She voted for President Obama but supported much of President Trump’s education reform agenda, including Trump’s support for historically black colleges and universities.

    “Sonja is a bridge builder; she brings people of all backgrounds together to help those in need,” said Chris Sinclair, a close Nichols friend and her 2020 Senate campaign consultant.

    “Sonja will bring a breath of fresh air and a unique perspective to help HBCUs grow and thrive in North Carolina. She will be an excellent addition to the UNC BOG and will greatly help with UNC’s diversity, equality, and inclusion programs.”

    Former Democratic state Sen. Joel Ford was elected to fill a seat on the board left vacant when Darrell Allison resigned. Allison later won appointment as chancellor at Fayetteville State University.

  • 10 POTATO HEADI cannot believe that I am writing this article. It seems like America is trying its best to neuter nature on sexually inanimate objects. Dr. Seuss gets schooled on what is hurtful and wrong. Coke tries to change skin color through instruction while the government is doing its part to reduce the world’s population, all in the last few weeks.

    Hasbro decided they will make the beloved Mr. Potato Head gender-neutral when it announced that it would be dropping “Mr.” and “Mrs.” from the brand as part of a gender-inclusive push.

    Mr. Potato Head was invented and developed by George Lerner in 1949 and first manufactured and distributed by Hasbro in 1952. By 1953, it became clear that Mr. Potato Head needed a family. Mrs. Potato Head hit the market, and they had two children, Yam and Spud. Even their kids who had friends called Kate the Carrot, Pete the Pepper, Oscar the Orange, and Cookie Cucumber, soon joined the family. The Head’s worked hard, and their makers blessed them with such luxury as a car, boat and a kitchen.

    The last time we really saw the Potato Heads was in the “Toy Story” movies. Throughout the history of the toy, no one told Mr. or Mrs. Potato Head that they did not have genitalia. For most kids, it was hard enough to keep up with their ears, eyes and assorted hats, never mind their private parts. However, the big brains at Hasbro are not leaving the idea of kids being able to mix parts up; they put the Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head right on the front pages by announcing the name changes to “Potato Heads.”

    “Culture has evolved. Kids want to be able to represent their own experiences,” Kimberly Boyd, Hasbro’s senior vice president of global brands, told Fast Company. “The way the brand currently exists — with the ‘Mr.’ and ‘Mrs.’ — is limiting when it comes to both gender identity and family structure.”

    Hours later, after an uproar on social media, Hasbro tweeted, “Hold that Tot – your main spud, MR. POTATO HEAD isn’t going anywhere!” Hasbro said that it was the toy brand that was being changed and would release a “family kit” that will allow children to create all types of families.

    Dr. Seuss Enterprises decided to stop publishing six books, including “And to Think That I saw it Mulberry Street,” “If I Ran the Zoo,” McElligot’s Pool,” On Beyond Zebra!,” Scrambled Eggs Super!,” and “The Cat’s Quizzer.”

    The Enterprise told the Associated Press that it stopped the books’ publication because they “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.”

    In Coca-Cola’s diversity training, a slide presentation told employees “to be less white is to: be less oppressive, be less arrogant, be less certain, be less defensive, be less ignorant, be more humble, listen, believe, break with apathy, break with white solidarity.” I do not have the answer to corporate racial issues, but this sounds very racist.

    Some stories are better seen than reading. It is worth the time to watch the full six-minute exchange on YouTube. During the confirmation hearings of President Biden’s choice for Assistant Secretary for Health, Senator and Doctor, Rand Paul (R-Ky.), asked Dr. Rachel Levine if she supported youth transgender reassignment and was criticized because he asked, “genital mutilation is considered particularly egregious because... it is nearly always carried out on minors and is a violation of the rights of children.” He went on to ask if she supports permitting the government to override a parent’s consent to give a child puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones, and “amputation surgery of breasts and genitalia.” Dr. Levin responded with this is “a very complex and nuanced field with robust research and standards of care that have been developed.” She promised that if confirmed, she would come to his office for a discussion on standards of care for transgender minors.

    Paul went on to say that Dr. Levin supported the acceleration of minors and to allow decisions on such life-changing procedures. For the record, many parents will not allow a child to buy a cell phone more or less change their sex.

    President Biden signed an executive order reversing the Mexico City policy, permitting U.S. aid money to fund groups that provide or promote abortion around the globe. This policy was first put in place by President Reagan in order to ensure that taxpayers were not required to indirectly fund abortions in other countries. This policy was expanded under the Trump administration to deny assistance to foreign nongovernmental organizations that fund other groups that support abortion services. President Biden signed executive actions aimed at expanding access to Obamacare during the coronavirus pandemic and rolling back anti-abortion policies that had been expanded by former President
    Donald Trump.

    “I’m not initiating any new law, any new aspect of the law,” Biden said before signing the orders. “This is going back to what the situation was prior to the president’s executive orders.”

  • 07 money clotheslineThe $1.9 trillion “COVID relief” bill just enacted by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden gives out $1,400 checks to most Americans. It boosts the child-tax credit, keeps weekly unemployment-insurance checks $300 higher than normal, and throws lots of other (borrowed) money around.

    I realize that, given the effects of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, most voters seem to like Biden’s bill. But I think they are mistaken. It is a reckless and irresponsible bill — one that, I’m pleased to report, most of North Carolina’s congressional delegation voted against.

    Over the past year, the federal government has authorized $4.1 trillion in response to the COVID crisis. I supported some of that initial spending. We had a public-health emergency and a sudden, sharp economic decline. It was reasonable to expand UI eligibility and payments for a time. It was reasonable to supply liquidity to businesses clobbered by public-health regulations. It was reasonable to put billions of dollars on the table for vaccine development, assisting and incentivizing the pharmaceutical industry to achieve one of the greatest medical advances in the history of our planet.

    Given that the federal government entered the crisis with its budget already severely out-of-whack — running trillion-dollar deficits — it was even reasonable to pay for last year’s COVID response with borrowed money. We weren’t going to raise federal taxes in the midst of all this.

    Of course, all federal debts are paid with federal taxes in one form or another. To spend $4.1 trillion today on reasonable priorities is, inevitably, to spend $4.1 trillion less in the future on other things, or to pay $4.1 trillion (plus interest) in higher taxes in the future. That’s just math.

    Actually, though, we didn’t spend all that $4.1 trillion authorized in 2020. According to the latest estimates, some $1 trillion of it remains unspent at this writing. So here’s strike one against Biden’s new $1.9 spending spree — last year’s spending spree isn’t even over yet!

    Clearly some of last year’s “emergency” need wasn’t a true emergency. Biden has doubled-down, and then some, on that mistake. His 2021 package includes a $350 billion bailout of states and localities whose true COVID-related fiscal shortfalls are only a fraction of that amount.

    Comparatively well-governed North Carolina will get $9 billion of it, yes, but poorly governed jurisdictions will get more. The implicit message to politicians is: spend recklessly, create fiscal messes, and Congress will eventually come along to bail you out with federal debt. As a result, we’ll get worse state and local governance in the future.

    In addition to that, the Biden bill directs $126 billion to public schools, supposedly for COVID mitigation, though the Congressional Budget Office estimates only five percent of it will be spent by this fall. In fact, more of these funds will be spent in 2026 than in 2021.
    COVID mitigation this is not.

    There are too many other problematic provisions to list in a single column. Instead, I’ll answer the obvious questions. Doesn’t our economy need another dose of stimulus? Isn’t that worth adding an average of $14,000 per household to the federal debt?

    No and no. Although the COVID recession was disastrous for many families, it is already in the process of receding. North Carolina’s headline unemployment rate shot up to nearly 13% in April and May. It is now 6.2% — higher than it should be, of course, but hardly the emergency we faced a year ago.

    Many firms and households have accumulated significant balances that they’ll be spending over the coming months and years on both consumption and investment. To borrow another $1.9 trillion for “stimulus” in this scenario is indefensible.

    In 2009, newly elected President Barack Obama pushed through a $787 billion stimulus. Many were outraged by such fiscal irresponsibility, as they should have been, though the unemployment rate was much higher then (North Carolina’s averaged 11% during 2009). Adjusted for inflation, Obama’s stimulus would be about $1 trillion today.

    Biden’s $1.9 trillion mess should earn him scorn, not approval.

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