• 16FTCCVetsIf you are a service member exiting the military, you may find yourself asking where the next chapter in your life is going to take you and what it entails. Have you been contemplating what your next move is going to be and how you will utilize the experience gained in the military? Have you wondered what type of career you will choose and if it will be your lifetime career? Have you asked yourself if you can live a comfortable life and be financially sustained without obtaining a degree? Stop asking so many questions! The answer is simple: go back to school and get a degree. If you are a veteran or dependent of a veteran and determined to make the best of your future, the All American Veterans Center at FTCC is here to help you get started. 

    The FTCC All American Veterans Center is proud to serve military veterans and dependents as they pursue educational goals. The center was created to honor veterans and to provide a location where veterans can gather, find assistance, and receive the support necessary to ensure success at FTCC and beyond. The center is operated by a team of veterans and dependents from all branches of the military who have a passion to serve their fellow veterans. The team answers questions, guides and assists in taking the first step and helps make a smooth transition into college. Staff members are available to provide educational benefits information needed to make the right decision. Even the work study staff members are veterans and can help alleviate “new student” concerns and anxiety. They make the enrollment process easy, and some work-study staff members have worked in the Veterans Center since their first semester. All are important in the success of the Veterans Center and serving veteran students. 

    The All American Veterans Center offers a relaxed atmosphere where veterans have an opportunity to engage in conversation with other veterans. It offers currently enrolled veteran students a place to relax and have a cup of coffee before and in between classes. The Center also offers students the opportunity to use computers to complete homework or to study with fellow veterans. 

    While the primary focus of the Veterans Center is to provide students the tools they need to be successful in accomplishing their educational goals, the staff makes every effort in obtaining information on other resources the veteran is in need of. Volunteers from Patriot Outreach are faithfully at the center to offer veterans informational assistance and resources. 

    Bring your list of questions, and let us help you get moving. The All American Veterans Center is located inside the General Classroom Building at the Fayetteville campus of FTCC. Visit soon and put your educational benefits to work for you — at FTCC. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    6. Consult an attorney for help.  

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

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

  •     Click the Image for UCW's Online Edition!

         Did you hear the one about the tap dancing biochemist? No?
    Actually, it’s no joke … On March 21 at Methodist University’s Reeves Auditorium there will be a tap dancing biochemist hoofing across the stage, along with a molecular geneticist, a software engineer and a second-grade teacher. This seemingly disparate group of professionals make up the Footnotes Tap Ensemble, a nonprofit, Research Triangle-based professional tap company dedicated to bringing tap to the masses.
         {mosimage} Co-founder Mimi Benjamin — who works as a physician when she’s not treading the boards along with the other members of Footnotes — says everyone in the troupe holds down a “day” job, though their real passion is the dance.
    “All of our dancers work regular jobs,” said Benjamin, who founded Footnotes in 2005 with former dance school classmate Robin Vail, “but they find time to put their careers on the backburner to entertain and educate people about tap dancing.”
         Benjamin says dance fans that show up at Methodist on March 21 will be treated to a display of old-fashioned tap done in the style of some of the legends, including a tribute to Bill “Bojangles” Robinson.
         “We will perform three different types of tap,” said Benjamin. “We’ve worked hard to preserve the old historic dances. Among the ones we’ll be doing is ‘New Lowdown,’ made famous by Mr. Bojangles, himself.
         “We’ll also be doing ‘The Walkaround’ that was previously performed by the great Henry Robinson,” said Benjamin. “We also have dances we’ve commissioned from contemporary choreographers Dorothy Wasserman and Lane Alexander, as well as our own compositions. People are usually very surprised at the variety of what makes up tap dancing.”
         In addition to bringing some of their own dance creations with them, Footnotes will also bring its own band, consisting of a pianist, bassist, drummer, singer, banjoist and sax player/flautist.
         And while Footnotes will certainly bring the noise, Methodist brings a little something special itself that will contribute mightily to the performance: “The floor on that stage (Reeves Auditorium) is just legendary,” said Benjamin. “It’s got a great reputation as being an extraordinary wood stage.”
         In addition to a widespread reputation for its dancing abilities, Footnotes is also well known for its educational programs, bringing tap classes and workshops into communities across the region — workshops and classes that attract a broad spectrum of participants.
         “There are so many different styles of tap that can be performed in conjunction with so many different types of music,” said Benjamin. “I mean, when we hit the stage we have to appeal to all ages, from 4 to 80. And a lot of these folks get into dance after seeing us perform or attending one of our workshops.”
         The show is scheduled for March 21, 8 p.m., at Reeves Auditorium is entitled “Live Rhythms,” and if you want more information about how you can catch it “live,” call (919) 475-5444 to purchase tickets; tickets are $10 — $5 for students, seniors and NCDA members.
         You can also check out the Footnotes Web site, www.footnotestapensemble.org, for more information about the organization as well as a schedule.

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  • 3-19-14-methodist.gifJazz music is a national treasure. Along with musical theater, it is one of the rare true American art forms with roots dating back to the early 20th century. Its impact has shaped the modern world of music and has influenced a myriad of musicians to pick up instruments and learn to play the wonderful art that is music. With music legends like John Coltrane, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and the great Duke Ellington, it is easy to see the mark that jazz music has made not only on our country, but the world over.

    Join Methodist University as it hosts its annual Jazz Festival. This free event is scheduled for March 22, at the Huff Auditorium on the campus of Methodist University. To make it as convenient as possible for the general public, it will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with a break for lunch. The point of this festival is to share jazz with those who may have an interest, a curiosity or who may have never considered it before. It is also a time to focus and exhibit the talents of musicians who are already proficient in the discipline of jazz music.

    The day will begin with Methodist University instructor Skip Walker conducting a workshop entitled “Thinking Jazz” in which he will discuss what it takes to think and play improvised music. A number of classes including those involving performance-based discussion are scheduled, too. Following lunch, the Methodist University Jazz Orchestra, with guest performer Mike Wallace will perform.

    Methodist University’s Director of Band, Dr. Daniel McCloud says that this festival is important because the art of jazz music is dissipating in American culture. He discussed why he believes this to be so.

    “I think that the single biggest factor for jazz losing its appeal is that jazz musicians simply don’t make as much as they used to. Maybe it’s because people are afraid of improvising music or playing with someone who has more experience,” he said.

    McCloud went on to say that he feels North Carolina has a special relationship with jazz music given artists like North Carolina native John Coltrane. In addition, Branford Marsalis was an instructor at North Carolina Central University. McCloud also stated that fewer and fewer public high schools in the state offer classes in jazz.

    Having received his bachelor’s and doctorate degree from Ball State University as well as master’s from University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Dr. McCloud is a percussionist with 14 years of experience in higher education. He comes to Fayetteville to serve Methodist University with professional experience in music. Join Methodist University in this free event to promote awareness of jazz music. With a half day of amazing performers and classes, the Jazz Festival is a great opportunity to begin a new hobby and learn about a true American art form. For more information, call Dr. Daniel McCloud at 910.630.7673.

    Photo: Join Methodist University as it hosts the annual Jazz Festival.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 12 01 NakeyraMcAllisterNakeyra McAllister

    Seventy-First • Basketball • Junior

    McAllister has a 4.0 grade point average. She is active in the Student Government Association and the concert band.

     

     


    12 02 AyannaAyannna Williams

    Seventy-First • Basketball/volleyball • Sophomore

    Williams has a 4.1 grade point average. She averaged 10.9 points and 6.6 rebounds. She made 31 3-point field goals and helped the Falcons to a 19-9 record last season.

  • 09 01 The DinerIt’s said in comedy, timing is everything. It’s also important in the restaurant business, and Glenn Garner has run into a challenging timing problem in Hope Mills as he tries to relocate his popular downtown eatery, The Diner, to a more spacious location.

    For the last three months, Garner, who goes by the professional name of Chef Glenn, has been looking to move his South Main Street business in the old Becky’s Cafe to the recently-vacated Buckhead Steakhouse on Camden Road.

    Garner plans to keep the old location, closing it temporarily once he completes the move to the new location and later reopening it with a different theme.
    10 diner interior
    But the arrival of COVID-19 and all the headaches it has created has slowed his plans for getting things started at the new home of The Diner.

    “We are still pushing for that April 6 date,’’ he said, referring to when he had originally planned to roll out his new business location. As of the writing of this article, North Carolina restaurants were shuttered by order of the governor save for takeout business.

    Garner, who operates two food trucks through his other business, A Catered Affair, has both trucks currently in operation, one at the original location of The Diner and the other at the new location. The kitchen at the original location is also open for takeout orders only.

    Garner said it’s looking more and more like the planned April 6 opening won’t take place, so he’ll continue with the takeout options via the food trucks and the kitchen at the Main Street business. He won’t start takeout at the new location, preferring to roll out the new business with its 1950s decor, only when he can open to regular customers.
    The main reason he decided to relocate The Diner was to grow the business, he said. The old building had room for only 32 customers. At the new location, he’s got 200 seats and will have ABC permits that allow him to stay open as late as 10 or 11 p.m. and serve a full line of adult beverages.

    While the current location of The Diner emphasizes what Garner calls Southern comfort food, the menu at the new place will be expanded.

    “I can do steak,’’ he said. “I can do pasta dishes. I can do French-style cooking, a lot of sauces, upscale dining at a fair price.’’

    Like many small, local businesses, the current pandemic is hurting him and his small staff of employees in the pocketbook. “I’ve got employees that need to work and they’ve got families they need to feed,’’ Garner said.

    That’s why he’s cranked up the food trucks to daily business for now. He’s open from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. at both his locations, but he’ll stay as late as he’s got customers. At the Camden Road location they recently were still serving as late as 9 p.m. he said.

    “I love the community and I appreciate everything they’ve done to support me and help me get to this point,’’ he said. “I hope they continue to support me.’’

  • 26 rendering don kempBy age 90, most people are settling into their twilight years resting, relaxing and enjoying time free from work commitments. Donald Kemp is not most people. Kemp keeps busy with writing projects, a passion that began more than five decades ago.

    A Fayetteville resident for 40 years, Kemp is originally from Michigan. His serious writing began in 1968 with a series of articles in a Rochester City newspaper about his own heart bypass surgery. The articles lead to his first published book “I Live With A Mended Heart.” At the time of his surgery, Cleveland Clinic was the only place to get have the procedure. Kemp’s book was inspired by his own procedure and his life in recovery.

    Kemp has also produced other works such as articles for magazines and newspapers during his time living in Michigan. As well as writing, Kemp explored his story-telling ability by directing plays in California, which he describes as “an explosion of emotion to see what is in your mind come to life on a stage.”

    His first full-length novel, “Rendering,” is a mystery thriller published in 2016. The inspiration behind this novel was a newspaper article about three inches high. The book took Kemp seven years to write. The book developed over time while he was participating in a writing group that met every two weeks. The group would “toss chapters over the hot coals,” Kemp recalls as a way of challenging authors. Since that experience, Kemp said he chooses to stick to shorter books and writing projects.

    His next book “Senior Touring Society,” was published in 2018. It is a comedy about elders going to and from a stage play.
    Kemp has also written three children’s books, specifically for his grandchildren. He wrote them each year that his military son was stationed at Fort Bragg so that he could read them to his grandchildren at Christmas.

    With two books waiting to be published, Kemp doesn’t plan to slow down any time soon. He said he has a bunch of stories and ideas that he keeps organized on little slips of paper around his office.

    Kemp offers one steadfast rule for aspiring authors: make time to write every day. “Even if it is one hour, or just writing notes, writing every day will get your ideas down on paper.”

    Kemp also offers a tip he learned from reading one of his writing inspirations, Ernest Hemingway. Known for his economic prose, Hemmingway’s writing is minimalist with few adverbs or adjectives. Hemmingway made a special effort to write in simple and direct language. Kemp said he tries to follow that philosophy too.

    Kemp’s book are available online in e-book and soft cover formats. For more information visit https://donkempauthor.com/

    Editor April Olsen contributed to this article.

  • In the midst of the ongoing bad news 2020 has generated during the battle with the COVID-19 virus, basketball coaches Dee Hardy of the E.E. Smith girls and George Stackhouse of the Westover boys got a bit of good news recently when the North Carolina Basketball Coaches Association announced its All-State teams.

    Hardy and Smith got a double dose of recognition as she was named the NCBCA’s girls basketball coach of the year while freshman Miya Giles-Jones made the All-State third team chosen by the coaches.

    For Stackhouse, the news was that Westover junior D’Marco Dunn was picked to the All-State second team for the boys.

    Hardy led the Smith girls to a 31-1 record and a still pending state 3-A championship game matchup with Southeast Guilford.

    The Westover boys are a perfect 30-0 and are also on hold as the North Carolina High School Athletic Association has suspended all sports competition until mid-May because of COVID-19, with Westover awaiting a championship matchup against Morganton Freedom for the 3-A title.

    Neither Hardy nor Stackhouse were surprised that their players were chosen for All-State recognition by their fellow coaches.

    A 5-foot-10 guard, Giles-Jones was a versatile player for the Smith girls, averaging 13.4 points and 10.3 rebounds. Dunn, a 6-foot-4 junior guard, was the leading scorer among boys from the Cumberland County Schools with 20.8 points per game and 7.3 rebounds. He also led in 3-point baskets with 70.

    Hardy said Giles-Jones had several double-doubles during the season and was able to do anything on the court that Hardy asked her to do. “She rebounds well and is strong, puts it back up,’’ Hardy said. “She could also handle the ball well.

    “We could take her and move her to face the basket as well as post her up, depending on who was guarding her.’’

    Stackhouse said Dunn was an efficient player, adding that his scoring and rebounding totals didn’t tell the full story about his ability. “He put up a lot of those numbers in three quarters,’’ Stackhouse said, noting that Dunn frequently went to the bench in the fourth quarter of games the Wolverines had already wrapped up.

    “I think he had 38 points in one game this year and only put up 15 or 16 shots,’’ Stackhouse said. “He shot maybe 50% from three-point in conference games. He just did a lot of things to help us win. To be that good, he had to put in a lot of work.’’

    The last few weeks have been difficult ones for Hardy, Stackhouse and their players. It has been some weeks since the NCHSAA announced this year’s state basketball championship games would be placed on hold as the entire country is dealing with the fallout from COVID-19.

    Both Hardy and Stackhouse are hopeful that the championship games will eventually be played, but the prospects are looking grimmer as the days pass.

    Last week, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced that the state’s public schools would remain closed at least until May 15. Shortly after that announcement, NCHSAA commissioner Que Tucker said the association would extend its hold on all high school athletic competition and practice by its member schools until at least May 18. She added that it was becoming increasingly unlikely that the NCHSAA will be able to hold spring sports this year.

    In an earlier teleconference with statewide media, Tucker said that the NCHSAA would not extend the spring sports season into the summer months because of commitments many high school athletes had with summer sports camps and other obligations.

    The state championship basketball games that Westover and Smith are hoping to play are an entirely different matter. Tucker indicated that the state would be able to play those in a much shorter period of time, possibly allowing the competing teams five days or so to return to practice, then finding them a venue where they could play.
    But as much as they’d like to play a title game, both Hardy and Stackhouse had doubts what kind of title game it would be with only five days to prepare.

    “I don’t know how realistic it is to take such a long time off and then come back in five days,’’ Stackhouse said. “That kind of feels like disrespect for your game. That would be like having a championship game after the first week of practice. The level of play and the level of conditioning wouldn’t be the same.’’

    Hardy said her present focus has had little to do with thinking about playing a championship game and more about concern for the safety of her players, making sure they are avoiding becoming infected by COVID-19 and making sure they have enough to eat during the shutdown.

    “It makes everything else seem so small as far as facing adversity,’’ she said. “It’s hard to keep that focus and that intensity.’’

    Although she’s had contact with her players, Hardy said she doesn’t know if they are exercising or what they may be doing to stay in anything close to
    game shape.

    She said she had made phone calls to her players, but the subject was academics, not basketball. “I don’t want them to lose anything as far as the academic piece,’’ she said. “For me it’s a little bigger than athletics. My concern was are they going to complete their packets, their online work, for school.’’

    While the teams left to play in the finals of the basketball titles have won Eastern and Western titles this season, no decision has been made on what they’ll awarded if the title game isn’t played.

    There was a time when the NCHSAA ended state playoffs in football with Eastern and Western winners. If the title game can’t be played this year, Hardy knows what she would prefer.

    “I’d rather see it as co-champions,’’ she said.

  • 08 jackie warnerHope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner said the town remains open for business for the most part, but like everyone else, she is adjusting to the safety restrictions put in place statewide and nationwide in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    All official town commission and committee meetings have been canceled through April 6, including the next scheduled meeting of the Board of Commissioners. Essential personnel of the town remain on duty at Town Hall and the police, fire and pubic works departments, but with some limitations to prevent direct interaction with too many people.

    Except for the front door, Town Hall is closed, and when people enter the building, they will interact with town staff from behind a glass enclosure.

    The front office is open at the police department for people who have to go inside.

    One of Warner’s biggest concerns during the pandemic is the large number of local restaurants that are closed to everything but takeout service to prevent the spread of COVID-19. She’s particularly concerned for restaurants that traditionally don’t do takeout service, adding she’s noted a serious decline in their business even though they are advertising that they’re open for takeout only.

    “The lights are on but I see very few cars,’’ she said, referring to one such business. She noted some businesses are trying to stay viable by using social media to advertise they are open. The problem, she thinks, is many Hope Mills residents don’t have access to social media for whatever reason.

    One local concern is that, initially, too many people were congregating at Hope Mills Lake when the shutdown for COVID-19 first began. Warner said there are still a lot of people going to the lake, and she is hopeful most of them are observing social distancing. The one popular business located on lake property, Big T’s, has barred customers from using the picnic tables beneath its shelter and is now allowing customers to come and order but not stay on the grounds.

    Warner hopes the community will continue to support charitable causes locally that benefit the area’s disadvantaged, especially the elderly and school children, the latter having lost access to school lunches since all schools are closed for the foreseeable future.

    She is especially concerned about ongoing donations to the ALMS HOUSE in Hope Mills, which supports a program that provides regular lunches for children in need of food.

    “The people that make donations to them aren’t in church,’’ Warner said. “They are also missing the churches that collect at the church and take it to the ALMS HOUSE.’’
    Warner also expressed concern for senior citizens who are in local retirement and assisted living facilities who are currently denied visitors because of the lockdown.
    “You need to take stuff to the door and drop it off,’’ she said.

    Warner said the biggest item on the town agenda moving forward is preparation of the budget for the new fiscal year. It would normally be presented to the community in early June.

    Work is continuing on the budget, she said, with some members of town staff involved able to work from home. She said the town may need to figure a way it can present the budget to the community either by a live Facebook feed or by recording the meeting as usual and posting it online as soon as possible.

    Warner said citizens can keep up with the most current info at the town website, www.townofhopemills.com, the Facebook page at Town of Hope Mills Administration or by calling Town Hall at 910-424-4555.

  • 16 Even as we breathe book coverCherokee is in the news again this month. For North Carolinians, the Cherokee term brings up a whole special set of complex thoughts, especially ones regarding the Cherokee people living in far western North Carolina.

    The big news about this group of Cherokees is “Even As We Breathe,” the debut novel of Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle. It is the first novel ever published by an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

    Appropriately, the book deals with the special challenges Cherokee people face dealing with the non-Indian people who surround them. Set in 1942, during World War II, the lead character, 19-year-old Cowney Sequoyah, lives a hardscrabble life with his grandmother Lishie, whom he loves deeply. His Uncle Bud lives nearby. Bud works Cowney hard and treats him badly. Bud’s brother, Cowney’s father, died overseas at the end of World War I. Now it is 1942 and World War II is raging, but Cowney’s deformed leg means he will not fight.

    When a groundskeeping job at Asheville’s Grove Park Inn opens up, Cowney takes it. The Army is using the Grove Park to confine quarantined enemy officials and their families.

    Joining him in his family’s Model T for the two-hour drive from Cherokee to Asheville is Essie, a beautiful young Cherokee woman who is anxious to break away from the Cherokee community.

    Cowney and Essie become good friends. He wishes for more, but she develops interest in one of the foreign detainees. On this situation Clapsaddle builds a poignant part of the book’s plot.

    When Lishie dies, Cowney’s world collapses.

    Clapsaddle describes the scents he notices as the Cherokee family and friends gather to grieve:
    Grease
    Lilies
    Tobacco
    Vanilla
    Fresh dirt
    Pine sap
    She repeats this refrain over and over again to bring the reader into Cowney’s sadness.

    A white man drops by to pay respects. He had served with Bud and Cowney’s dad in World War I. Bud pushes him away, but not before the man gives Cowney his card and tells him to call if he ever needs help.

    Later, back at the Grove Park, when Cowney is accused in connection with the disappearance of the young daughter of one of the foreign internees, that card and its owner become keys to finding the truth.

    Other characters and places fill the novel and enrich Cowney’s story.

    An ancient Cherokee man, Tsa Tsi, owns a monkey that wanders freely through the forests. Preacherman appears at funerals to blend Cherokee culture with the religion of the white man. Lishie wakes Cowney by singing “Amazing Grace” in Cherokee: “U ne la nv i u we tsi.” Forest fires break out near Lishie’s cabin, and the smoke provides an eerie cover for the gloomy parts of the story. The region’s lovely waterfalls give Cowney places to find peace.

    Clapsaddle brings all these, and much more, together for a lovely story that engages its readers and gives them a vivid experience in Cherokee culture.

    Of course, there are reminders of the unfair and discriminatory treatment suffered by the Cherokee at the hands of the whites who populate historic Cherokee lands. Near the book’s end, Cowney’s grounds crew boss takes him to dinner and a movie. At the movie box office the clerk initially refused to sell a ticket. “Don’t serve Indians here,” she snarled.

    Cowney and his boss quietly go to the balcony and see Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator.”

    Cowney is moved by Chaplin’s final speech against intolerance and hatred, an underlying theme of Clapsaddle’s book.

    Citing the Bible’s book of Luke, Chaplin said, “The Kingdom of God is within man, not one man, nor a group of men, but in all men, in you.”

  • 20 01 Nyla CooperHere are the Patriot Athletic All-Conference basketball teams for boys and girls as chosen by the league’s head coaches:
    GIRLS
    Player of the year
    Faith Francis, Westover
    Coach of the year
    Michael Ferguson, Westover
    First team
    Montasia Jones, Pine Forest
    Dai’ja Robinson, Douglas Byrd
    Mia Ayres, South ViewMiya Giles-Jones, E.E. Smith
    Ni’jaa Wells, Gray’s Creek
    Second t20 02 Kaya Goldsbyeam
    Skylar White, Cape Fear
    Ke’Onna Bryant, E.E. Smith
    Harmony Martin, Westover
    Morgan Brady, Gray’s Creek
    Maaika Dones, Overhills
    Kendall Macauley, E.E. Smith
    Honorable mention
    E.E. Smith - Amiah Savage, Tamia Morris
    South View - Tashyria McNeill
    Westover - 20 03 Langston DavisMaria Wiley
    Cape Fear - Ania McLaughlin
    Douglas Byrd - Sierra Glover, Tamia Brantley

    BOYS
     Player of the year
     D’Marco Dunn, Westover
     Coach of the year
     George 20 04 Quiones ClaytonStackhouse, Westover
     First team
    Treymane Parker, Cape Fear
    Traymond Willis-Shaw, Westover
    Davis Molnar, Terry Sanford
    Marquail James, Cape Fear
    Isaiah Washington, Pine Forest
    Second team
    Marquis Eskew, Pine Forest
    Zachary Lowery, Overhills
    Darius Jewel, Westover
    Jase Ford, Overhills
    Tristan Harkins, Pine Forest
    Yates Johnson, Terry Sanford
    Hon20 06 traymond willis shaworable mention
    South View - Cedavion Wimbley, Aiden McLaurin
    Westover - Isaiah Bridges
    Cape Fear - R.J. McDonald
    Terry Sanford - Ky’Ron Kelly
    E.E. Smith - Jayden Siermons
    Douglas Byrd - Donnell Melvin, Shawn Jones.

    Here are the Sandhills Athletic All-Conference basketball teams for girls and boys as chosen by the league’s head coaches:

    GIRL20 07 Faith FrancisS
    Player of the year
    Kylie Chavis, Purnell Swett
    Coach of the year
    Nattlie McArthur, Jack Britt
    First team
    Nyla Cooper, Jack Britt
    Kaya Goldsby, Jack Britt
    Ashara Hayes, Jack Britt
    Amore Kirkland, Seventy-First
    Nyielah Nick, Seventy-First
    Natalie Evington, Purnell Swett
    Jada Coward, Purnell Swett
    Keayna McLaughlin, Pinecrest
    Keionnna Love, Richmond Senior
    August Smith, Lumberton
    Asjah Swindell, Scotland
    Wynashia Bratcher, Hoke County
    Jayla McDougald, Richmond Senior
    Ayonn20 08 Miya Giles Jonesa Williams, Seventy-First
    Amber Nealy, Jack Britt
    BOYS
    Player of the year
    Jordan McNeil, Lumberton
    Coach of the year
    Ben Snyder, Pinecrest
    First team
    Bradley Haskell, Pinecrest
    J.J. Goins, Pinecrest
    Jadrion Chatman, Lumberton
    Charlie Miller, Lumberton
    Nygie Stroman, Richmond Senior
    Patrick McLaughlin, Richmond Senior
    Mandrell Johnson, Scotland
    Quinones Clayton, Seventy-First
    Xavice Jones, Purnell Swett
    Ervin Everett, Hoke
    Langston Davis, Jack Britt
    Michael Todd, Lumberton
    Dillon Drennon, Pinecrest
    Garrett McRae, Scotland
    Bruce Wall, Scotland
     
    Pictured from top to bottom: Nyla Cooper, Kaya Goldsby, Langston Davis, Quiones Clayton, D'Marco Dunn, Traymond Willis-Shaw, Faith Francis, Miya Giles-Jones. Photo of Miya Giles-Jones by Matthew Plyler/MaxPreps
  • 17 yackalackyStephanie Bentley likes the direction Hope Mills is heading in and wants to be a part of the good things going on in the community. That’s a big part of the reason she and her husband Josh are kicking off a new business, Yakalacky Outfitters NC.

    “I have a great passion in making things happen,’’ Bentley said. “I’ve done it before in past businesses. I’m very resourceful and creative. This is going to be a fun thing for the community.’’

    The business she is putting together will roll out over a period of weeks, starting first with a kayak rental business that will be based in a mobile format to take the kayaks down to Hope Mills Lake.

    Her physical business address, which likely won’t be open until mid-April at the earliest, will be just around the corner from the lake, literally, at 5552 Trade Street in a former paint store.

    The building she plans to occupy has been vacant for nearly two years. She’s in the process of cleaning the building inside and out. Once that’s done, she’ll be able to devote full time to installing kayak racks on the trailer she plans to bring her rental kayaks down to Hope Mills Lake.

    She has set a tentative date of March 28th to have some travel writers and photographers visit the new business and take a tour of the lake. That event is on hold as the current COVID-19 situation may limit the ability of the writers to travel to Hope Mills until a later time.

    But she does plan to crank up the kayak rentals soon, advertising and taking reservations on her company’s Facebook page.

    She is working on pricing plans that will make the rental affordable for people who have no experience using kayaks and just want to try it out. She’s also going to have longer rental times for veteran kayakers at a higher price.

    “It’s definitely going to be affordable,’’ Bentley said. “I want everybody to be able to afford it.’’

    She is hoping to make the Trade Street building more than just a typical store. She wants it to become a place where people can visit, shop and enjoy some time relaxing and socializing.

    “We’ll sell bait, fishing tackle and sundries,’’ she said. “We’ll probably have apparel down the road.’’

    To save money, and prevent the need to keep the building constantly stocked with kayaks she’s purchased to sell, Bentley plans to work out contracts with different distributors of various water sports products and have them come in on a rotating basis to do demonstrations of their products.

    She’s currently negotiating with a company in Texas that makes a unique paddle board with pontoons.

    Bentley also plans to offer loaner rods and reels for fishermen and eventually hopes to be able to sell fishing licenses at the store.

    She hopes to do some landscaping in the store’s back yard and turn it into a place where people can come and relax in the shade during the summer months, possibly even constructing a small pond with koi or goldfish.

    Her primary goal is to offer items that people will want and need when they visit Hope Mills Lake, either as fishermen or kayakers.

    While she’s starting with kayaks, eventually she hopes to offer different types of water craft, including canoes, rowboats and possibly even pedal boats.
    “The pedal boats are very expensive,’’ she said. “When we get that ball rolling the town is going to let us keep them on the water.’’

    Eventually, Bentley hopes to have some kind of storage facility at the lake so she can keep the kayaks there as well and not have to move them back and forth.
    She also plans to offer kayak owners the chance to bring their kayaks to her and let her sell them at the store.

    She’d also like to sell items made by local artists and craftsmen. “I want to give them an outlet inside the store,’’ she said, “help them and help me.’’

  • 03-04-15-elton-john.gifIf royalty has ever visited our fair city, other than the Marquis de LaFayette, for whom the city is named after, we can’t find a record of it. So, it is with great excitement that Cumberland County residents are set to welcome not only a member of the British royalty, but also a member of rock-n-roll royalty: Sir Elton John.

    John is well known, if you don’t know his face, you at least know and probably love at least one of his songs. He is one of the most highly acclaimed artists of all time holding five Grammys, a Grammy Legend Award, a Tony, an Oscar, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriter Hall of Fame, a knighthood from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain and he holds the record for best-selling single of all time — just to name a few of his accomplishments. He has permanently and globally left his mark on music and he is coming to Fayetteville on March 11.

    Sir Elton (as the international press have deemed him) was born in 1947 in Middlesex, England under the name Reginald Kenneth Dwight. He changed his name to Eton Hercules John in 1967. He demonstrated skill on the piano at the incredibly early age of 3 by picking out a popular song by ear. By 11, he had a junior scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music. His childhood was often restrictive, but with the support of his mother and stepfather, he began his music career at 15, playing piano at a local pub on the weekends. This gave him an outlet to play not only popular songs, but also those that he composed himself. His music caught the ear of people in the recording industry, and became a staff writer for Liberty records, routinely composing music for the lyrics written by Bernie Taupin. The pairing of John and Taupin created a beautiful partnership that still produces incredible music.

    John’s first hit that rocketed him into success was “Your Song,” which was released in 1970 on the B-side of “Take Me to the Pilot.” It was extremely popular in the United States and in the United Kingdom, and in 1998, was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Since that very first hit, he has remained in the public’s eye — and ears. Just a few of his other popular works include “Can you Feel the Love Tonight” from The Lion King, Billy Elliot the Musical, ”Candle in the Wind” and “The Road to Eldorado.”

    The March 11 concert is part of the All the Hits Tour. John and his band will perform classic and well-loved album tracks from throughout his career. The band includes incredible musicians familiar to Elton John fans: Davey Johnstone on guitars, mandolin, banjo and vocals. Matt Bissonette on bass guitar and vocals. Kim Bullard is on keyboards. John Mahon is on percussion, drums and vocals. Nigel Olsson is on drums and vocals. This concert is the perfect opportunity for longtime fans to experience all of their favorites and for new fans to experience the height of his entire five-decade career in a single evening.

    Elton John will perform at the Crown Coliseum, located at 1960 Coliseum Dr., on March 11 at 8 p.m. Ticket prices vary, with tickets ranging from $50 to several hundred dollars. Tickets are available at ticketmaster.com or by phone at 800-745-3000 or at the Crown Box Office. The limit is 8 tickets per customer.

    For more information visit http://crowncomplexnc.com/events/elton-john/ or call 910-438-4100.

    Photo: Ever flamboyant, the talented singer/songwriter Sir Elton John is making a stop at the Crown Coliseum on March 11.

  • 05 Craig LeHoullierThe Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Association of Cumberland County will host its 2021 Master Gardner Spring Symposium virtually on March 20 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

    The purpose of the horticultural event is to help educate local residents in “state and research approved horticultural practices,” and raise money for education. With this event, two $1,500 dollar scholarships will be awarded to FTCC horticulture students, as well as a $500 grant for a horticulture professor teaching hands-on horticulture education.

    Participants will not only be helping those students and professors with an educational opportunity, they will also be helping Master Gardeners to go out to provide physical and financial assistance to surrounding area gardens. These area gardens include Cape Fear Botanical Garden, the Wounded Warrior Garden at Fort. Bragg, the Second Harvest Food Bank and Garden, and more.

    Guest speakers at this year’s symposium will be Kirk Brown, who is a nationally known horticulturist. His presentation, “A Gardeners Guide to 200 Years of Growing America,” will speak to the importance of “sowing, growing and owning green in our lives.” During the presentation, Brown will be talking about travels in America and how to recognize the design and art within gardening. In a second presentation, “If I had an Apple,” Brown which will discuss what the digital generation knows that older gardeners may have forgotten and how social media, crowdsourcing, etc., can actually work for people who work hard in the dirt for their gardens. This presentation will show different examples of gardens that he calls “American Edens.”

    Another guest speaker will be Craig LeHoullier, also known as the North Carolina “Tomato Man.” LeHoullier will discuss how those who garden in the 2020s are the most fortunate and will use history to explain why. He will also talk about how his 15-year-old dwarf tomato breeding project has now landed him with 135 new varieties. LeHoullier will also explain his techniques in producing such a great garden and compare how the different living zones contributed.

    Registering for the symposium will allow Master Gardeners to provide assistance to the community as well as educate locals and help them to get their gardens up and blooming this spring/summer season. This event will be include door-prizes, a virtual auction and a virtual tomato sale of LeHoullier’s variety of tomatoes. The registration link, action link and tomato sale link are provided below. This event is one you will not want to miss and provides a “once in a lifetime learning experience” from professional gardeners.

    Judy Dewar, chairperson for this event said, “We hope to improve all of our quality of lives by providing educational opportunities for residents to learn how to be good stewards of our environment while also being sustainable. And just because life is short, we hope our participants will have a ‘fun time’ while they are with us.”

    Registration for this “one in a gardening lifetime event” can be made on Eventbrite on the following link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/cumberland-county-master-gardener-virtual-symposium-2021-tickets-13508558

    To bid on items in the auction – with items ranging from artwork, handmade quilts to live plants – visit https://www.32auctions.com/CCEMGVA . The tomato sale link is https://www.32auctions.com/Tomatoes. The tomato plants offered for sale are dwarf tomatoes that are part of the “Dwarf Tomato Project.”

    Pictured above Craig LeHoullier

  • 19 PittmanMen who coached with him called the late Nathan Pittman one of the smartest people they ever knew, and an assistant football coach who was impossible to fool.
    Pittman, who was part of four championship football teams in Fayetteville, died recently and was recognized during a celebration of life
    service on March 15 at Rogers and Breece Funeral Home.

    A native of Florida, Pittman came to Fayetteville as a young man and held assistant coaching jobs at a variety of local high schools. But it was at Seventy-First and South View high schools where he saw his greatest success in his role as defensive coordinator. He helped lead the 1970 Seventy-First team to the Eastern 3-A title, which was as far as schools could go in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association playoffs at the time.

    He was a part of three state championship teams under head coach Bobby Poss, two at Seventy-First in the 1980s and a third at South View High School in the 1990s.
    After Poss left South View, Pittman ended his coaching career with stops at Terry Sanford and Gray’s Creek high schools.

    Greg Killingsworth played for Pittman his first year at Seventy-First and later hired him to coach at Terry Sanford when Killingsworth was athletic director there.
    “If you were playing Trivial Pursuit, you wanted him on your team,’’ Killingsworth said. “He was the smartest man I ever met.’’

    As for his skills as a football coach, Killingsworth said Pittman was way ahead of the game as a defensive coordinator. “He studied what people did and predicted exactly what they were going to do,’’ Killingsworth said. “You could move the football from the 20 to the 20, but when the field got smaller, his defense always rose to the occasion.’’
    Bernie Poole, who became head basketball coach at Seventy-First, came to the school in 1984 and worked with Pittman as an assistant football coach.

    “He made great adjustments when he watched films,’’ Poole said. “He never wanted to be a head coach. He liked who he worked for and that’s what kept him going.’’
    Poss, who has won more NCHSAA football championships at different schools than any coach in state history, called Pittman a big part of any success he had while coaching at Seventy-First and South View.

    “He was intelligent and he wasn’t one to get snookered,’’ Poss said. “You weren’t going to pull the wool over his eyes, whether you were the backup linebacker or the head coach.’’

    Former Terry Sanford and Gray’s Creek head coach Bill Yeager took Pittman with him when he started the football program at Gray’s Creek.

    “He was as knowledgeable as any football coach I’ve been around, I don’t care what level,’’ Yeager said. “I didn’t have to worry about the defense at all. He ran the defense, from top to bottom.’’

    But Yeager said there was more than Xs and Os with Pittman. “He cared about the young men as far as being good people,’’ Yeager said. “The kids knew he cared about them. That was why they played so hard for him.’’

  • 16 town hallIn response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the town of Hope Mills took swift action to limit the exposure of its citizens to possible infection with the virus.
    At the top of the list of actions was the declaration of a state of emergency by Mayor Jackie Warner that took effect on Monday, March 16.

    The action gave the Hope Mills Police Department authority to deny access to any areas in the town that may be necessary to keep the spread of the virus under control.
    Anyone attempting to gain access to any area that is blocked by the police would be considered guilty of a misdemeanor.

    The town also announced cancellation of all appointed boards, commissions, committees and upcoming special events through Monday, April 6.

    Specific events are listed below:

    All town facility rentals from March 16-April 6 are canceled. No additional reservations will be scheduled during that time period.

    Easter in Hope Mills and Breakfast with the Eastern Bunny on Saturday, April 4, and the free Easter Egg Hunt are canceled.

    Ag Day on Saturday, April 4 is canceled.

    Effective Monday, March 16, the Hope Mills Recreation Center closed for an indefinite period.

    All scheduled Parks and Recreation programs, athletics, activities, trips and open gym times are suspended through April 6. Registration and payment for future programs and activities can be done online at https://secure.rec1.com/NC/hope-mills-N.C.

    Hope Mills Municipal Park, Golfview Greenway and Hope Mills Park open spaces will remain accessible for public use.

    Town Hall and the police department lobby will not be closed. Residents are asked to limit visits to both facilities. Use online forms where possible and mail checks for permits. Those who must come to Town Hall or the police station are asked to call ahead and make an appointment to make sure someone is available to assist you.
    Call 910-424-4555 for Town Hall or 910-425-4103 for the police department.

    Visit http://www.townofhopemills.com/directory.aspx  to find alist of direct extensions.

  • 031815abg_11.gifWith hits like “You Should Be Dancing,” “Jive Talkin’,” “Stayin’ Alive,” “How to Mend a Broken Heart,” and “To Love Somebody,” the Bee Gees dominated the music charts in the 1970s. The group, inducted in to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in 1997, has sold more than 220 million records ranking them among top musical performers of all time, including the Beatles, Elvis and Michael Jackson.


    The Bee Gees, comprised of Australian-born brothers Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb reached a pinnacle with their contributions to Saturday Night Live’s musical score; however, they had a long string of hits prior to that break-out recording. With the death of Maurice, followed by his twin Robin, the group ceased as a performing entity, but their legacy lives on in their music and through the performances of the Bee Gees tribute show, The Australian Bee Gees Show, which comes to the Crown on March 25.

    The second to last performance in the Community Concerts 2014-2015 season, The Australian Bee Gees Show promises a multimedia theatrical experience that celebrates the legacy the Bee Gees left behind and showcases the four decades of the infectious music written by the Gibb brothers. The unsurpassed and state-of-the-art sound, live camera images and vivid graphics will have the audience dancin’ in the aisles.  

    From early favorites like “Massachusetts,” “New York Mining Disaster 1941” and  “To Love Somebody” to later classics like “Stayin’ Alive” and “You Should Be Dancin’,” this show offers a walk down memory lane for Bee Gees fans and a peek in to one of music’s most popular bands.
    Matt Baldoni plays Barry Gibb. He’s been with The Australian Bee Gees show for about three years.

    “When I auditioned for The Australian Bee Gees, I was touring as a sideman with other artists like Melissa Manchester and Taylor Dane. I was in the pit for a lot of shows, too, like Spamalot,” said Baldoni. “Playing Barry Gibb is different from that. It is very challenging. I have grown to be a huge fan of the Bee Gees. I respect them and their contributions to music. It is amazing to be a part of this group. We work hard to nail the authenticity.”

    A musician since the age of 8, Baldoni realized at a young age that to make a living as a musician he would need to be able to do more than play the guitar. So he learned to sing and read music, too.

    “When I was young I thought I would just join a band like Eddie Van Halen and tour the world and play music and write songs and be famous,” Baldoni said. “But for me, the magic is in performing.”

    Since 1935, Community Concerts has delivered the finest in entertainment to Fayetteville. Each year, the all-volunteer organization brings diverse and interesting shows to the community. The big name entertainment is great, but the organization contributes to the community in other ways, too.

    Community Concerts awards college scholarships to promising musicians each year. To date, 24 young students have benefited from this program. Community Concerts also showcases local musicians and performers by providing opportunities for them to open for many of the main acts. Since 2008, the Fayetteville Music Hall of Fame has been a part of the Community Concerts program, honoring people in the community who have brought musical distinction to the area. In 2014, the 82nd Airborne Division’s All American Chorus was inducted into the Fayetteville Music Hall of Fame.

    For tickets and information about The Australian Bee Gees Show, visit  www.community-concerts.com or http://crowncomplexnc.com/events/australian-gee-bees-show. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and takes place in the Crown Theatre.

  • 18 que tuckerFacing some of the most challenging decisions the North Carolina High School Athletic Association has ever had to cope with, Commissioner Que Tucker stressed a positive attitude moving forward as she spoke to statewide media recently about her organization’s reaction to the pandemic caused by COVID-19.

    Despite that upbeat mood, the initial announcements from the NCHSAA office in Chapel Hill were grim for coaches, athletes and high school sports fans.

    Tucker was forced to announce that the state high school basketball championships, which saw Fayetteville’s Westover boys and E.E. Smith girls advance to the state 3-A finals, were postponed indefinitely.

    The entire spring sports season was also put on hold, as were all practices and off-season skill development sessions until at least Monday,
    April 6.

    However, Tucker stressed the April 6 date was flexible and that her staff and members of the NCHSAA Board of Directors would continue to assess the situation in hopes it might be possible to play both the basketball championships and as much of the spring sports season as possible.

    Tucker said the NCHSAA will study the calendar in hopes the situation with COVID-19 improves and see how much of a spring season with championships can be played.
    She said that the spring season will not be extended into the summer months if play can resume in time because playing that late would conflict with graduation exercises and commitments some students may have with college camps.

    If the spring season can be played, Tucker said the NCHSAA would have to work with conferences on coming up with some kind of formula to determine conference champions since all of the games likely could not be played in the time available.

    She suggested they might use a percentage of conference games won, which is how conference standings are determined. She added the MaxPreps national and state rankings, which are used to seed NCHSAA playoff sports, may not be used in this situation.

    As for the basketball championship games, if they are played there are many variables to deal with.

    One would be allowing the teams that qualified for the finals sufficient time to practice and get into shape before playing the games if they can be scheduled. Another problem could be finding venues to play them. Reynolds Coliseum at N.C. State and the Smith Center at the University of North Carolina were supposed to host the championships.
    If those arenas aren’t available, Tucker said the NCHSAA would first turn to other college venues then look at civic arenas.

    It is possible if the games aren’t played that the NCHSAA could declare cochampions or do something it did in football years ago and have Eastern and Western champs with no outright state winner.

    “I always like to lean toward the positive,’’ Tucker said. “I’m going to be hopeful and prayerful that by the time we get to April 6, as we get closer and closer, this situation will be different and maybe we will have some opportunity to look at resuming spring sports.’’

  • 15 01 trade streetAs mayor of Hope Mills, Jackie Warner is always looking for opportunities to spark economic development and downtown revitalization. That’s why she and town finance director Drew Holland recently attended the 40th annual North Carolina Main Street Conference in New Bern.

    The conference was geared toward communities roughly the same size as Hope Mills and looked at creative ways various towns had used to promote interest on the part of visitors that didn’t involve huge expenditures of money.

    15 02 slideWarner and Holland split up during their time at the conference so each could come back with different ideas on revitalization.

    With the news that the historic Trade Street property in Hope Mills has been put up for sale, Warner was particularly interested in things that the town can do to preserve the history there and possibly renovate some of the buildings along the street.

    “We had already brought in somebody that explained you can get tax credits for historical preservation and renovating the building,’’ Warner said of a recent presentation that was put on by the town.

    One of the most interesting presentations Warner attended involved something Hope Mills has already started doing, the addition of art to the downtown
    landscape.

    Ironically, before the presentation started, Warner saw pictures displayed from a town art display in nearby Laurinburg that was the inspiration for Hope Mills’ initial foray into municipal art.

    Warner’s son, Teddy, worked with the town of Laurinburg when it started the idea of buying a lot, clearing it and setting up sculptures. “They were featured in one talk about how that helped economic development,’’ Warner said of the Laurinburg project.

    Hope Mills established an agreement with Adam Walls, who lives in Hope Mills and is an art instructor at UNC-Pembroke, to have his art students provide the town with sculptures.

    Warner noted that the presentation highlighted the success of art in other small North Carolina towns.

    She mentioned the whirligig park in downtown Wilson, which features a variety of tall, colorful wind-driven sculptures.

    Lexington, which is famous for its barbecue, features an assortment of pink pig statues.

    The nearby town of Sanford has become famous for local murals that tell the story of the town.

    “We could use those murals to show what Trade Street was like years ago,’’ Warner said.

    Warner would especially like to do something to bring back the memories of the days when there was a train depot in Hope Mills and trains made regular stops in the town, instead of whizzing through over the downtown bridge as they do today.

    Her desire is to get some kind of grant assistance to create a mural on Trade Street near where the old depot once stood. “We’ve got pictures tied to the railroad when it ran through town behind the old mill,’’ she said.

    There are many other things Warner saw that could bring back an old-time feel to Hope Mills while at the same time bringing the town into the 21st century.

    One thing she saw at the gathering were solar-powered street lights that have a retro look from the 1900s. “Solar lights are very cost effective, and you don’t know it’s a solar light,’’ Warner said.

    She also saw some things in a tour of two New Bern churches that could be used at the Thomas Campbell Oakman Memorial Chapel downtown.

    “They have times of the day when they are open for prayer,’’ Warner said. “I looked at a garden they had done beside one of them. “They also had a hidden restroom facility that we could easily do by our church. It was cost-effective and served a good purpose.’’

    She looked at pavers, bricks and different types of sidewalks. There were also park benches and playgrounds.

    Warner hopes to visit Sanford to take a look at the murals there. She would also like for the Hope Mills Creative Arts Council to visit Washington, N.C., a small North Carolina town that has raised significant money for the arts through various partnerships. “Because we’re a tier one county, there is money available if we go the right route to apply for it, to do some of the things we may want to do,’’ she said.

  • 031815uac031815001.gif From their first princess dress, to their prom dress to their wedding dress, most little girls take delight in dressing up and having a moment in the spotlight. For the past seven years, girls in Cumberland County have had the opportunity to do more than dress up, they have had the opportunity to take a walk down the runway during the American Girl Fashion Show.


    Of course, these girls are getting more than a moment in the spotlight, they are taking the opportunity to help children who have suffered abuse by supporting the work of the Child Advocacy Center. This annual fundraiser for the organization is unique in that each of the models chosen to participate in the fashion show has to help raise money for the organization, so the fashion show actually becomes a lesson in civic participation.

    One, which many of the girls continue throughout their lives.

    Julia Adkins has been working with the American Girl Fashion Show since its inception. Adkins, and her co-chairs, Cindy Williams and Carol Wheeler, were members of the Junior League. The Child Advocacy Center came to the Junior League looking for a grant to help put the show together. The idea intrigued them. The Junior League not only gave them the grant, but the three ladies volunteered to help with the first show. For the past seven years, they have organized the entire event.

    Adkins explained that all three had daughters who were of the age to have American Girl Dolls and to participate in the show. As their daughters aged out of the show, they continued to support it because of the need in the community that the Child Advocacy Center fills.

    Adkins, whose daughter is a freshman at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said that most girls who participate return as long as they can. She noted her daughter was in the show until she was too old to walk the runway, and then she became a commentator.

    “Even now, she is very involved,” said Adkins. “She will call home and ask me what the show schedule is and if we have fittings or anything, she will come home to participate. She will be commenting again this year. A lot of the girls who participate in the show take child abuse and prevention on as a personal platform throughout their lives.”

    But for the little girls who love American Girl Dolls, the fashion show isn’t a serious event. Instead it is a magical afternoon filled with everything they love: their dolls and their families. It’s an elegant afternoon of tea and party food. As in years past, girls are encouraged to bring their dolls with them to the show and shop at the American Girl store for more outfits or maybe let their dolls have a spa day at the beauty parlor.

    And while they marvel at the excitement that surrounds them, they will support children much less fortunate. Last year the show raised $64,000 to help fund the work of the Child Advocacy Center.

    Show times are at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on March 21 and 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. on March 22. Tickets may be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com or in person at the Crown Center Box Office. VIP tickets with seating close to the stage are available. For more information, please visit the CAC website at www.childadvocacycenter.com or call 910-486-9700.

  • 21 01 kevin brewingtonKevin Brewington

    South View • Football/wrestling/track • Senior

    Brewington has a 3.6 grade point average. He recently signed to play college football for Western Carolina University. He was the winner of the 138-pound weight class in this year’s Patriot Athletic Conference wrestling tournament.


     

    21 02 nyjara stephensNyjara Stephens

    South View• Track • Senior

    Stephens has a 3.9 grade point average. She is a member of Health Occupations Students of America, Key Club, Student Government Association and Tigers for Christ.

  • 17 DrDue to the spread of COVID-19, this event will be rescheduled for a future date.

    Dr. Tremaine Canteen thinks 2020 is a significant year to celebrate the importance of voting rights in this country and is seeking to do it through an oratorical contest for high school students.

    Canteen, in conjunction with the Hope Mills chapter of the Zeta Phi Beta sorority, originally planned to the contest on Feb. 29 at the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Center. Because of a lack of participants, the event was postponed.

    A new date has now been set for Saturday, April 25, still at the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Center. The contest will begin at 1 p.m.

    The contest was originally meant to coincide with Black History Month, but Canteen said the significance of the topic makes the date of the contest a bit more flexible, although she’s encouraging anyone interested to sign up as quickly as possible.

    The contest is open to all high school students from grades 9-12. They do not have to be residents of Cumberland County.

    The topic for the speeches is “Her Story: African-Americans and the vote.”

    Canteen feels 2020 is an excellent year to hold a contest like this for several reasons.

    “This is the centennial for the 19th amendment that deals with the right to vote regardless of sex,’’ she said.

    She added it’s the 150th anniversary of the 15th amendment, which deals with having the right to vote regardless of race.

    She feels it’s important to hear from teen-age voices on the subject.

    “I think this is a good year to celebrate change, but to bring awareness to where we are in society right now,’’ she said. “Who better to hear it from than children?”

    Canteen feels teenagers have powerful things to say on the subject and bring a different perspective to the topic.

    Each speech will be limited to three to five minutes, and the speakers will be timed during their presentations. The judges will be listening for creativity and content.

    One reason Canteen is encouraging young people to sign up for the competition as quickly as possible is so members of the Zeta Phi Beta sorority can work with them prior to the competition to help them with basic speaking skills.

    For details on how to sign up for the contest, contact Canteen at drtremainecanteen@gmail.com.

    Trophies and three cash prizes will be awarded, $150 for first place, $75 for second an $50 for third.“I see this as a way to prepare kids for life,’’ Canteen said. “In any career you’re successful in, there is going to be an element of public speaking. This is a topic that’s never going to die.’’

    Visit https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSd21fkHXJ5JDb7LhomyfpmybaVp4LojZOmw8Wd0jDH284z4wA/viewform to apply online.

  • 20 01 Jared KaiserFew first-year coaches have a tougher act to follow than Terry Sanford girls’ soccer coach Jared Kaiser.

    After serving as an assistant with former head coach Karl Molnar, Kaiser steps into the head coaching job this year with an high bar to clear.

    For each of the last four seasons, the Terry Sanford girls won at least 20 matches per year while never suffering more than a single loss, all of those defeats coming in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association state playoffs.

    No one appreciates that challenge more than Kaiser. But the good news is last year’s graduation didn’t leave the Terry Sanford cupboard short on experience for Kaiser’s first season in charge.

    “We’ve got a lot of returners, so that’s going to help out a lot,’’ he said.

    20 02 Maiya ParrousBut there will be some adjustments, for Kaiser and his players. Even though he worked with Molnar for multiple years and the two have similar coaching philosophies, some things will be different this season.

    “Little changes here and there,’’ he said. “The girls are getting used to it and we’re trying to keep the momentum going. Getting through this year with them and building for next year, too, is going to be a challenge.’’

    The key to success for Terry Sanford this year will be a solid base of about eight veteran players returning from last year’s team. The biggest returnees in terms of offensive productions are Maiya Parrous and Corrine Shovlain.

    Shovlain led all Cumberland County Schools soccer players with 111 points last season on a county-best 43 goals and 25 assists. Parrous 20 03 Corrine Shovlainwas third in the county in both categories with 34 goals and 19 assists for 87 points. 

    The top holes Kaiser has to fill are at goalkeeper, center midfielder and outside backs. He calls finding the replacements for those positions his top priority.

    The key to success, he feels, will be developing team chemistry as quickly as possible. In past years, he feels the Terry Sanford girls have been a cohesive unit. He hopes to keep that same personality for this season.

    Parrous agreed with Kaiser that team chemistry will be important for the Bulldogs. “Getting the freshmen used to all the new players, getting in our new positions,’’ she said. Parrous said the new players will be filling some key positions created by graduation losses.

    “The biggest part of the game is getting along with your teammates and being able to work well, which I think we will.’’

    Parrous thinks the Bulldogs have the potential to repeat their performance of recent years. “This is my last year playing high school soccer and I want us to do well,’’ she said. “I want it to be fun playing with these girls I’ve played with my whole life.’’

    Shovlain doesn’t feel Kaiser is making any changes of a major nature, and feels that’s helping with the transition.

    “I’m looking to score more goals and have more assists,’’ Shovlain said. “I think with the team behind me, we’ve got this as a team.’’

    There will be one big change for the team that everyone has to adjust to this season. Because work is still continuing on the Terry Sanford football stadium where the soccer team usually plays, it will be playing all of its home matches at John Daskal Stadium at Reid Ross Classical High School on Ramsey Street.

    “We’ve played there in the past and we know what we’re getting into,’’ Shovlain said. “The first couple of games we’ll have to figure it out, if the ball moves faster or slower.’’

    The biggest physical different between the Terry Sanford field and the one at Ross, according to Shovlain, is the Reid Ross field is a little narrower. Shovlain thinks the only phase of the game that will directly impact is corner kicks, making them shorter.

    Looking at the rest of the Patriot Athletic Conference, Kaiser said he’s expecting to get a challenge from Gray’s Creek. Last season the Bears tied Pine Forest for second in the league, both with 13-3 conference records. Overall the Bears were 16-4-1, losing in overtime to Clayton in the second round of the NCHSAA 3-A playoffs.

    “I’m definitely expecting something from Gray’s Creek,’’ Kaiser said. “They only lost two seniors last year.’’

    Pine Forest, which shared second with the Bears, finished 13-6 overall. The Trojans qualified for the NCHSAA 4-A playoffs and got a first-round bye as the top-finishing 4-A team in split Patriot Conference. They were eliminated in the second round of the state playoffs by Fuquay-Varina.

    Kaiser said the Trojans always provide decent competition. “From camp we saw quite a few younger players practicing for their team,’’ he said. “I’m looking forward to running into them more than anything.’’

    One problem that Molnar was unable to address and that Kaiser was unable to fix either was making Terry Sanford’s regular-season soccer schedule a bit tougher.

    The Bulldogs play 16 of their regular-season games against Patriot Athletic Conference opponents. Their only games against teams either outside the conference or Cumberland County are with Northwood and Union Pines. Northwood was 16-7-1 last season while Union Pines was 17-3-1.

    Photos from top to bottom: Jared Kaiser, Maiya Parrous, Corrine Shovlain

  • Due to the spread of COVID-19, as a precaution, the delivery of the smoke alarms has been postponed. The new date is to be determined. 16 Smoke Alarm

    Free home smoke alarms are coming to Hope Mills, courtesy of the American Red Cross.

    Phil Harris, executive director of the Sandhills Chapter of the Red Cross, is looking for community volunteers to make up teams that will be headed for Hope Mills on Saturday, April 25, to areas in town that have been identified as being at higher risk for home fires or lacking smoke detectors.

    The Red Cross has been involved in installing smoke alarms since 2014, and the program has now gone national, Harris said.

    “We do it throughout the year, but we want to make a push in April,’’ he said.

    Harris said the Red Cross knows that working smoke alarms save lives. He said since the Red Cross began installing the free smoke alarms nationwide, 715 lives have been saved by alarms that were placed in homes.

    “We know people don’t think it will ever happen to them,’’ he said of a home fire. “If we get that extra alert, we remind them they only have two minutes to get out,’’ he said.

    In addition to installing the smoke detectors, the Red Cross provides the people they visit with basic fire safety information.“Do they know how to crawl below the smoke?” Harris said. “Do they know to get out and stay out?’’

    Harris said the Red Cross also stresses the importance for families to have a plan on how to get out of the house and where to go when they have left the home.

    In addition to having at least two routes planned to escape their home in a fire, Harris said it’s important for families to have a central meeting place where everyone should rendezvous when they’ve left the house.

    “You need to have a meeting spot so the firemen don’t go in and think somebody is still in there,’’ he said. “Everybody is accounted for. All of those things come into play with saving a life.’’

    Harris said the Red Cross is able to provide free smoke detectors thanks to some grants and the support of major sponsors like Lowe’s and Delta Airlines. He said the Sandhills chapter continues to seek more local businesses to sponsor the program in this area.

    The Red Cross also has a home fire campaign that can provide direct financial assistance to families who have been displaced by a fire.

    Previously they’ve helped 166 families deal with the aftermath of a fire.

    The alarms the Red Cross installs are what Harris referred to as 10-year alarms. “We found these are great for seniors who can’t change a battery periodically,’’ Harris said. 

    Harris said the Red Cross cooperated with the Hope Mills Fire Department to identify high-risk areas in the town most in need of smoke detectors.

    Now they need approximately 125 volunteers to fan out in teams on April 25 and install the smoke detectors.

    Each team will be composed of four people, Harris said. There’s the actual installer, one member who will record the number of people in each home, one to educate the family on basic fire safety and one to introduce the team to each household and explain its purpose.

    People can volunteer as late as the day of the event, but early signup is preferred. They can sign up at soundthealarm.org or call the local chapter at 910-867-8151.Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner applauds the Red Cross for bringing the free smoke detectors to Hope Mills. “It’s going to improve safety,’’ she said. “I was glad they targeted Hope Mills. This is the first time they’ve entertained coming here.’’

  • 19 NC STATEThe late United States Senator Bobby Kennedy made a speech in the 1960s that popularized what some claim is an ancient Chinese curse, although the real source of the phrase has been disputed over the years.

    The words Kennedy used were, “May you live in interesting times.’’

    Regardless of where the phrase came from, it certainly applies to the current situation in state and local high school athletics resulting from fears over the continuing spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19 as it’s officially known.

    Over what seemed like a matter of hours, concerns over the spread of the virus led to some sweeping decisions at the state level that left the high school sports world, locally and statewide, at a standstill.

    The first pronouncements came from the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.

    The organization initially decided to restrict access to its state basketball championship games at North Carolina State’s Reynolds Coliseum and North Carolina’s Dean Smith Center to official team personnel and a small group of parents from the competing schools.

    Then they followed that with word that the championships had been postponed, with no guarantee they would even be played.

    Of course, this leaves the boys from Westover and the girls from E.E. Smith, who had qualified for the state 3-A basketball championship games at Reynolds this year, in limbo waiting to find out if they would ever get to fulfill every high school athlete’s dream of chasing a state title.

    More bad news from the NCHSAA followed. The entire spring sports season was suspended effective at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, March 13. The ruling stated that not only competition would cease, but so would any workouts, practice or skill development sessions.

    The North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association followed suit shortly after that, announcing the suspension of all interscholastic games, scrimmages or contests on the same date as the NCHSAA. The NCISAA did leave the option of holding practices at the discretion of its member coaches.

    I am not a doctor. I don’t pretend to understand everything that’s been written and spoken about the coronavirus. But one thing I have heard loud and clear is that it’s critical to stop the spread of what I’ve seen described as a disease with a lot of unknowns that there is currently no vaccine for nor any medication that has been truly effective at knocking it out.

    I respect the frustration of coaches in Cumberland County, where as of this writing there are no reported cases of the virus, as they try to understand why their teams can’t play.

    All I can say is this decision to close schools is much like when there’s a forecast of snow. Sometimes, the forecast is wrong, but officials have to make a decision based on what’s best for everyone’s safety. That is what is happening here, only the stakes are far higher than having a car skid into a ditch and get stuck.

     I am confident we will get through this, as long as we all take common sense precautions and do everything we can to prevent the disease from spreading. At the same time, let’s not spread rumors. Listen to the professionals and stay safe.

    Photo credit: N.C. State

  • 15 01 Candace WilliamsonThe health of members in our community is important. Due to the spread of the coronavirus, as a precaution, several events have been cancelled throughout the community. Please call to confirm events.

    It’s been four years since Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner created the Hope Mills Mayor’s Youth Coalition. It is composed of students from Gray’s Creek, South View and Jack Britt high schools and seeks to better inform the community’s young people on the business of the town.Since it was started, Warner has been impressed with the talents of the young people who have served on the coalition and how involved they were with their schools.

    Initially, she recruited students who were active in the Student Government Association at each of the three schools. But as time passed, she learned there was a problem with that.

    The SGA students as a group were extremely busy at their respective schools and often involved in multiple projects. So this year, Warner 15 02 jackie warner copyincreased the pool of students involved in the coalition. She sent an email to the principals of each of the three schools. She asked them to nominate two members from their SGA as usual, but also extended an invitation to members of the Key Club and students involved in JROTC.

    “We’ve found that Key Club members volunteer a lot,’’ Warner said. “I’ve also been really impressed with the JROTC programs.’’

    The result this year is the largest group of coalition students the town has ever had, and they are tackling a project called Hope Mills Beautiful as they work together to coordinate a litter sweep of the town on April 18.

    “It’s neat the way all three high schools have worked together,’’ Warner said of the current group. “I think the benefit is building unity among the youth (and) how they relate to each other. Bringing them to the table, it’s interesting to watch them work well together.

    “We hope to get the majority of them involved in our Citizens Academy.’’

    The chairman of this year’s coalition is Candace Williamson from South View. She is a member of the JROTC at her school.

    Vice-chairs are Christopher Vanderpool of the South View Key Club and Melissa Medina of the Jack Britt Key Club. The secretaries are Hunter Stewart of Gray’s Creek SGA and Briana Jackson of the South View SGA.

    In addition to their work on the litter sweep, this year’s coalition has composed a letter endorsing the town’s work on Heritage Park. Down the road, they may be looking at finding ways to improve conditions in Hope Mills for people with disabilities.

    Williamson, who is a senior at South View, initially didn’t want to be involved in JROTC but decided to join in order to carry on a family tradition.

    “I realized we are all a big family and we all have different stories,’’ she said. “We all came together. It taught me leadership skills and stuff I can carry on after high school.’’

    Williamson’s JROTC advisor at South View, Sgt. Maj. Ruby Murray, said Williamson reminds her of a butterfly. “She didn’t let her light shine,’’ Murray said. “She’d sit in class and keep quiet, but she’s always gotten her work done.’’

    As years passed, Murray said Williamson displayed more and more leadership ability, eventually rising to the role of battalion commander at South View.

    “She started showing more leadership ability, taking charge,’’ Murray said. “She became the eyes and ears her second year. When the mayor sent out that email (requesting nominations for the Mayor’s Youth Coalition), I knew I had to put the right person in charge.’’

    Williamson said being a member of the coalition is helping her learn how to better herself and hopefully avoid repeating some of the mistakes her elders have made.

    She said being part of the coalition has helped her understand everyone has their own voice. She feels she and her fellow members of the coalition are trying to use their various voices in harmony so they can come to agreement on decisions. 

    She feels the mission of this year’s coalition, as shown by their involvement in the Hope Mills Beautiful project, is to make the town better.

    She said the students from the three different high schools bring a variety of perspectives to the table. “I think that’s a good idea,’’ Williamson said, “sitting at the table with different leaders.’’

    Pictured from top to bottom: Candace Williamson, Jackie Warner

  • 18 Shot ClockThe calendar has turned to March, which in the world of high school sports can only mean one thing — basketball. It is time for state tournaments, March Madness and, yes, the annual rhetoric about the merits of the shot clock. 

    For the almost one million boys and girls who participate in high school basketball, there is nothing quite like the state tournament. Although there are great memories from the one-class days, led by Carr Creek’s almost upset of powerhouse Ashland in Kentucky in 1928 and Milan’s Cinderella victory in Indiana in 1954, today, basketball provides more opportunities for girls and boys teams to be crowned state champion than any other sport.

    This month, about 450 girls and boys teams will earn state basketball titles in championships conducted by NFHS member state associations. Multiple team champions are crowned for both boys and girls in all states but two, with the majority of states sponsoring tournaments in 4-6 classifications for each and four states conducting state championships in seven classes.

    That is truly March Madness, which is appropriate since the term was first used in connection with high school basketball. Although the tag line became familiar to millions on a national scale in relation to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, the NCAA shares a dual-use trademark with the Illinois High School Association (IHSA), thanks to H. V. Porter, the first full-time executive director of the NFHS. 

    In his final year as IHSA executive director in 1939, Porter published his “March Madness” essay in reference to the mania surrounding the IHSA’s annual state basketball tournament. Eight years later, in a 1947 Associated Press article, Porter said, “Naturally, we think basketball has done a lot for high school kids, but it’s done something for the older people, too. It has made community life in general a lot more fun each winter.”

    While many things have changed in the past 73 years, the value of high school sports — and especially state basketball tournaments  — remains as strong as ever today. In some states, seemingly the entire community will travel to the site of the state tournament in support of the high school team. 

    As a footnote to the use of March Madness, Scott Johnson, recently retired assistant executive director of the IHSA in his book “Association Work,” discovered through research that the first recorded mention of March Madness in relation to basketball occurred in 1931 by Bob Stranahan, sports editor of the New Castle Courier-Times in Indiana. 

    While the sport remains strong and March Madness is set to begin in earnest across the nation, there is a belief by some that the addition of a shot clock would make the game even better.

    Although there are some arguments for implementing the shot clock, the NFHS Basketball Rules Committee, similar to the other 14 NFHS rules committees, must make decisions based on what is best for the masses — the small schools with less than 100 students as well as large urban schools with 3,000-plus students. Rule changes will always be made with considerations for minimizing risks, containing costs and developing rules that are best for high school athletes. 

    Nine of our member state associations have elected to use a shot clock in their states, which certainly adds to the clamor for its implementation nationally. And, we at the NFHS have read the headlines, seen the social media posts and received the phone calls advocating for the shot clock’s adoption. However, the Basketball Rules Committee will continue to assess the shot clock based on the aforementioned considerations, as well its members representing all areas of the country.

    We encourage everyone to support their local high school teams by attending this year’s exciting state basketball tournaments.

    Photo credit: NFHS.

  • 14 Theodore SchwammGray’s Creek High School senior Theodore Schwamm recently joined an elite group of high school students in the United States. He’s one of  15,000 national finalists for the elite National Merit scholarship.

    Shana Matthews, who counsels the academically and intellectually gifted students at the schools, said Schwamm is the first National Merit finalist from Gray’s Creek in her four years at the school.

    “The scholarship is a nice incentive, a nice bonus, for someone like Theodore who has put in a lot of effort and devoted a lot of time,’’ Matthews said.

    A Fayetteville native, Schwamm said his primary interests are vocal music and theater. He plays the piano and is also a handbell player in his church choir.

    Even if he’s not ultimately named a winner in the National Merit competition, just being a finalist makes him a potential candidate for other college scholarship offers.

    Schwamm said a number of colleges have already offered him full scholarships, but he’s currently not considering those because they are from schools he doesn’t consider a good fit for his interests.

    He’s officially applied to four colleges. They include his top two picks, Williams in Massachusetts and Kenyon in Ohio. Others he has applied to are Roanoke in Virginia and the University of Chicago.

    Of the four, he’s already been accepted at Roanoke and is expecting word back soon from the other three.

    Schwamm said the main draw for him at all four schools was their liberal arts atmosphere and the flexibility and interdisciplinary approach they take to education.

    As far as what he plans to study is concerned, Schwamm isn’t sure if he’ll continue with music and theater or turn his attention to physics and mathematics. “I may combine them in some way,’’ he said.

    He’s interested in the connection between the arts and sciences and why they have so much in common. “Einstein would often say he’d play the violin while working through physics problems,’’ Schwamm said. “A lot of scientists say if they were not professional scientists, they would be artists.’’

    Schwamm is currently involved with the Gray’s Creek High School production of the Broadway musical "Newsies." Performances are scheduled March 20-21 at 7 p.m., with a matinee on March 22 at 4 p.m. Admission is $10.

    In recent years, Schwamm has changed his philosophy about his education and realizes balance is an important part of the process.

    “Certainly I could spend time endlessly looking at calculus problems,’’ he said. “There comes a time you need to recognize moving away from it and doing something else will ultimately be more valuable.’’

    Toward that end, he plans to spend his final summer before college at home with family.

    “I plan to sleep without an alarm many days and do a lot of reading,’’ he said.

  • 17 01 MarshaunDemarshaun Worley

    Gray’s Creek • Basketball/track • Senior

    Worley has a 4.25 grade point average. He’s an analyst for the Bears Sports Network. He is active in the New Light Church youth group. He has been a competitor and winner in his church’s oratorical contest. He is also a crew member at a local fast food restaurant.

    17 02 ChassieChassie Jacops

    Gray’s Creek • Volleyball/swimming • Junior

    Jacops has a 3.91 grade point average. She is a member of the Student Government Association, National Honor Society, Future Business Leaders of America and works at a local sandwich shop.

  • 13 McCrayDr. Kenjuana McCray made history when she became the first African-American woman elected to the Hope Mills Board of Commissioners last November.

    But it was a page from national history that helped inspire her to run for office, and make a promise to herself to keep that history alive in her own memories.

    Recently McCray made her second consecutive trip to Selma, Alabama, to revisit some of the most prominent sites connected with the American Civil Rights movement and the passage of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act. The act, which was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson, prohibited racial discrimination in voting.

    The event McCray participated in is called the Bridge Crossing Jubilee. It marked the 55th anniversary of Civil Rights marchers crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge during a march in support of voting rights in 1965. During that crossing, now referred to as “Bloody Sunday," many of the marchers were brutally beaten by law enforcement officers.
    McCray not only visited the bridge, but also museums and other historic sites in the Selma, Tuskegee and Montgomery, Alabama, areas during her visit.

    She was most moved by the personal accounts of people who were invited back to speak who took part in the marches 55 years ago. “They bring in people that were foot soldiers in the movement,’’ McCray said. “You get to hear one-on-one stories about actual events that happened, things you don’t read in the history books.’’

    She also attended a special event at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Selma, the site of a famous meeting held by the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to conduct a planning session for the 1965 march.

    McCray said that after she attended the conference for the first time in 2019, she made up her mind to again run for public office in Hope Mills. “It was one of the things that helped me make my decision I was going to run again,’’ she said. She noted that people of different races were involved in that march 55 years ago, and that people of different races lost their lives in the struggle for civil rights in this country.

    “I have to continue to advocate for people to exercise their right to vote and how powerful that vote is,’’ McCray said. “It’s something I will continue to advocate while I’m in office and when I’m not in office. This trip helps remind me and puts everything into perspective.’’

    One important lesson she has learned from her visits to the Selma area is the power of people working together for a common cause. She noted names like King and Congressman John Lewis, along with many others who were at the forefront of the Civil Rights movement.

    “It was a collective group of people who helped do this,’’ she said. “It’s that whole idea of the power of what you can do if you work together and do things together.
    “There were a lot of people who worked together to make this thing happen.’’

  •     Click the Image for UCW's Online Edition!

         Fayetteville is looking for a few good men — and women — who are truly interested in making a difference in the community. And on Saturday, March 28, county leaders are hoping those folks will join them at the Crown Coliseum to participate in Greater Fayetteville Futures II, a community action plan.
         Greater Fayetteville Futures II is an offshoot of a 2001 project that bore the same name. Greater Fayetteville Futures was, according to Fayetteville Mayor Tony Chavonne, the “first honest assessment of our community.”
         “That’s when we acknowledged that we didn’t have the economy to create the jobs we needed to build our economy,” he said. “It was recognition that we were not where we needed to be.”
    {mosimage} At that time, the group tackled three major goals: image, a unified vision for economic opportunities, and leveraging the military’s presence in the community for greater economic opportunities. From that project came a unified economic development presence in the form of the Chamber, the development of the History, Heroes and a Hometown feeling slogan and a closer examination of economic opportunities tied to the military that are not service-related.
    Key to the success of the first Fayetteville Futures was the involvement in the process by a wide segment of the community. It is, in fact, an action plan for the future. When the group convenes this month, it will focus on 10 objectives that will help the community reach its 2020 Vision: Greater Fayetteville will be recognized as a top 10 place to live in the Southeastern United States for all with safe neighborhoods, cultural opportunities, a model education system, well-connected and a strong, vibrant local economy.
         The 10 objectives are:
         VO 1: Create a model education system that supports and networks workforce readiness and sustainable innovations.
         VO 2: Effectively implement the community’s economic development strategy.
         VO 3: Ensure safety and security for all.
         VO 4: Expand and develop services that lead to a better living environment.
         VO 5: Leverage the region’s defense technology assets.
         VO 6: Increase/improve traditional and non-traditional connectivity infrastructure (transportation and information technology.)
         VO 7: Improve and sustain health services and wellness
         VO 8: Grow and sustain a “green” community.
         VO 9: Communicate our community story.
         VO 10: Sustain and grow cultural and recreational opportunities.
         Over the past several years, several studies have been conducted throughout the community to help guide the direction and firm up the 2020 vision. Chavonne said the community has the information it needs to meet the vision, now it’s time for people to “roll up their sleeves” and do the work to get the community where it needs to go.
         To do that, community leaders pulled up the original Fayetteville Futures model and put it back on the table. According to Chavonne the reason the first project was so successful was that it was “inclusive.”
         “It’s an action place, not a white-paper exercise,” he noted. “We already have the benefit of the reports. We know what we need to do, and now we need to energize the community on these action items.
         Kirk deViere is helping facilitate the process. He explained that during the meeting at the Crown, citizens will get an overview of the objectives and the mission, and then they will have the opportunity to break down into smaller groups and explore objectives in a more depth. “Citizens will get a chance to plug into two objectives,” said deViere. “They will then discuss a series of initiatives and create project teams with definite, measurable goals. Each initiative has a one-year time for completion.”
         That’s when the ball is squarely in the hands of the community. Once the project teams are created, they become responsible for setting their meetings, creating their plans and working to meet their targets.
         “This is a completely action focused, action-based project,” said deViere. “The community has the direction, the resources have been spent and a blue print is in place. It now becomes a community playbook.”
         He noted that there is a wide spectrum of the community involved from large stakeholders in the education, healthcare, governmental and other agencies, to individual citizens. “People who make up the community are represented at the table to put the final shape on what we are going to do,” he said.
         Chavonne said that cross-segment of the community will help to look at the bigger picture and seeing how issues are not one dimensional. “Crime rates aren’t just an issue with the city,” said Chavonne. “They impact across the community in a number of ways. If we all work in a collaborative way we can find an answer.”
         He was adamant in that this is not a “study to study” our community. “Through this process we will have specific steps to move our community forward,” he said.
         deViere said at the end of the year, a community scorecard will be issued letting the citizens see what has been accomplished. “This is a very open process. We will use a variety of means to keep the community informed so that they can gauge how we are doing,” he said.
         But, both men pointed out that it begins with the community. The meeting is open to the public and the process is community driven. “We need people to be energized about the process, roll up their sleeves and make a difference in our community,” said Chavonne. “We want to find people who will engage and move forward.”
         The event begins sat 9:30 a.m. at the Crown and runs through noon. For more information, visit the organization Web site at www.GreaterFayettevilleFutures.org .

  •  

    The Greatest Show On Earth

     

    {mosimage}

    by STORMIE MCGEE

     

    Step right up! Its almost time… the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey will present their big top family production  that has been touring the nation for more than 100 years. And on Thursday, Feb. 28, the Crown Coliseum will come alive when the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus, “the Greatest Show on Earth,” comes to Fayetteville.Starting out as a small circus, in no way distinct from a throng of small shows that traveled regionally by wagon, the seven Ringling brothers quickly transformed their traveling act into one of the largest and best-run circuses in the country. With John and Charles at the helm, they gave their tour the official title: “Ringling Brothers United Monster Shows,Great Double Circus, Royal European Menagerie, Museum, Caravan, and Congress of Trained Animals.” The Ringling Brothers distinguished their circus from the others by being honest and fair in their attitude toward the public; never allowing ticket sellers to short change customers or gambling on their lots. Their success resulted from a reputation of clean dealing and good value. It wasn’t long before they were able to begin touring the country by railroad.In 1907 the brothers purchased the Barnum & Bailey circus and ran the two circuses separately until they merged them into one unit in 1919 when they also moved the winter quarters to Bridgeport, Conn. Today the circus travels around the world bringing joy to the faces of children of all ages. When the circus makes its stop in Fayetteville, it will bring its Gold Show to the stage. This intimate, interactive event brings you so up-close and personal to the live action that you’ll experience a day at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey you never imagined possible! Audiences are just a few feet away from six white Bengal tigers. The aerialists walk, fl y and jump through the air on a high wire, while the Wheel of Steel act leaves you questioning the forces of gravity. The circus also offers an all access pre-show to meet the animals and performers, teach circus tricks and give audience members a taste of the circus before the show even starts! Join the circus for a special opening night performance on Thursday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. Tickets for the pre-show are $12.50. This price is not valid on VIP fl oor seats and cannot be combined with any other offer. Tickets to the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus are on sale now and can be purchased at www. ticketmaster.com. The Crown Center box offi ce also offers tickets by phone at 223-2900. For fl oor seats, tickets are $33.50, lower bowl tickets are $19.50 and upper bowl seats are $15.50. On opening night, Feb. 28 all tickets (except VIP fl oor seats) to the 7 p.m. performance are $12.50 at the door. There will be a 7 p.m. show on Friday, Feb. 29; a 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. show on Saturday, Mar. 1; and a 2 p.m. show on Sunday as well.

  • 16 01 Jackson deaverTerry Sanford’s baseball team has won three consecutive conference titles and hasn’t lost a conference game for the last two seasons.

    But veteran head coach Sam Guy is looking at a much different landscape as he prepares his team for the 2020 season.

    Gone are most of the pitching stars from his 2019 team, including pitcher D.J. Herz, who was chosen by the Chicago Cubs in the Major League Baseball draft and is now pitching in the minor leagues.

    16 02 Sam GuyA core group of four seniors including Jackson Deaver, Dorian Clark, Tommy Cooney and Jack Cooney will form the nucleus of this year’s Bulldog team. After that, Guy said Terry Sanford will be counting on some inexperienced faces.

    “We will have a carousel of lineups depending on who is pitching,’’ Guy said. “We’re going to be really young on the mound.’’

    He said it’s likely instead of having a starter go five or six innings and a reliever taking the mound to wrap things up, many games will see the Bulldogs use as many as three pitchers.

    “There’s going to be a lot more trying to manufacture runs, trying to find the best nine that play the best together to carry us through,’’ he said.

    Guy’s biggest concern during the preseason has been the way the team is hitting the ball. “We’ve been missing too many fastballs and we can’t do that,’’ he said.
    That is why he’s counting heavily on Deaver to help lead an inexperienced lineup of hitters. Last season, Deaver was one of five .400 hitters for Terry Sanford, ending the season with a .418 batting average. He was second among players from Cumberland County Schools in RBI’s with 27. He had eight doubles and a triple.

    “He was a big run producer last year,’’ Guy said. Guy will use Deaver at three positions in the field, catcher, first base or third base, depending on who is pitching for Terry Sanford.

    Deaver, who was the defensive Player of the Year on last fall’s Patriot Athletic Conference All-Conference football team, said the weight training he does for football carries over to help him in baseball.

    “I definitely thinks that helps with my swing and my explosiveness,’’ he said. He also said the quickness football helps him develop are assets on defense, especially when he’s playing catcher or third base.

    While the Bulldog pitching staff will be young, Deaver thinks there is a lot of potential there.

    Cruise Herz is the younger brother of the departed D.J. Herz. Joining him will be Brady Gore, Cason Puczylowski and Tommy Cooney.

    “They are not going to throw 94 or 95 miles per hour like D.J.,  but they are going to get you the ground ball outs, the pop fly outs,’’ Deaver said. “They are more than capable of getting the strikeouts that we need.’’

    Deaver said the goals for both himself and the team are the same: win the regular season, the Bulldog Easter tournament and the state title.
    Terry Sanford’s annual Easter baseball tournament will be held April 11, 13-14.

    Competing teams in this year’s tournament in addition to the Bulldogs are Triton, Hobbton, Pittsboro Northwood, Apex Middle Creek, Western Harnett, East Bladen and Richmond Senior.

  • 12 Hope Mills Police DepartmentMoving consistently ranks as one of the most traumatizing experiences people have to negotiate. But if relocating to a new residence is a giant headache, imagine the challenges of going from one location to another while temporarily keeping both open for business.

    That is the chore Hope Mills police chief Joel Acciardo and his staff will be tackling in the weeks ahead as they vacate their home of some 30 years on Rockfish Road and relocate to temporary headquarters on South Main Street.

    This is part of the process to build the new public safety building on the current Rockfish Road property, which will eventually house both the police and fire departments when it’s done.

    The new building was going to be placed in front of the existing police and fire departments during the early planning  stages, but when Rockfish Road was expanded, that idea was ruled out as it had to be moved further back from the widened road.

    The fire department will lose some of its parking area but will still be able to function at its current location. The police department is headed for the former Ace Hardware building, where it expects to be located for as long as 24 months while the new building is under construction.

    Acciardo said the challenge for him and his staff is to complete the move in an orderly manner while still providing services to the town of Hope Mills without any gaps.
    Work on the interior of the temporary police headquarters is progressing, and the goal is for the entire department to be fully relocated by the end of March.

    “It’s going to be a phased move,’’ Acciardo said. “The first thing we are going to be shutting down is the front of the police department, where reception and records and all that stuff is.

    “That way, we can officially close this building and still have a location where the public can come, get reports and meet with officers.’’

    After that move is done, the most complicated part of the move will take place, transporting evidence to the new location. “You have to maintain complete control and a chain of custody,’’ Acciardo said.

    Because of security concerns, there will be no publicity as to when the actual evidence is being moved. Armed officers will accompany the evidence when it is moved. “It’s a little bit more complicated than having a moving company come in and load up some desks and filing cabinets,’’ Acciardo said. “It has to stay with the officers.’’

    Once the evidence is moved, the next stage will be to move the investigative division, followed by the administrative offices.

    Acciardo stressed the public will see no disruption in field services since those officers were hired to work outside the building in police cars.

    A moving company has been contracted to help with large items like desks and file cabinets, but all of the smaller things will be taken care of by Acciardo and his staff.
    The plan is to shut down the police headquarters as usual one Friday afternoon and conduct the initial move of the front office area over the course of the weekend, opening the portion of the temporary building where staff interacts with the public the following Monday.

    It’s during the process when the department is between buildings that problems are most likely to arise. Acciardo said it won’t be much different from moving to a new house and realizing when you arrive that something you need is still in a box at your former residence. “As with any move, there will be tweaking during the process to make it work right,’’ he said. Acciardo said measures are in place to address glitches.

    Just prior to the start of the move, Acciardo said a ceremony will be held to officially close the current police headquarters. “This facility served the public in Hope Mills for 30 years,’’ he said. “I think everyone got their money’s worth out of it.’’

    The current building is actually sitting in what will become the construction zone for the new building, so it will have to be demolished.

    “It’s a complicated move but it’s one we will get done,’’ Acciardo said. “The goal is not to disrupt any service the citizens are currently enjoying. That’s what we are all striving for.’’
     
  • The last time Cape Fear didn’t win its conference regular-season title in softball was 2013.

    But since joining the 3-A Patriot Athletic Conference in 2018, the Colts have had a new rival nipping at their heels, Gray’s Creek.

    In that first season together, the only losses Gray’s Creek suffered in conference play were to the Colts. Last season, the teams split their regular-season meetings and shared the regular-season conference championship.

    But with Cape Fear losing 16 seniors over the past two years and Gray’s Creek returning some key veteran players, the Bears appear ready to contest the Colts’ string of league titles this spring.Here’s a closer look at both teams:

    Cape Fear

    Colt coach Jeff McPhail said his team is in a rebuilding mode after so many graduation losses over the last two seasons. “It’s going to be a learning experience for us this year,’’ he said. “The graduating thing caught up with us. We’re all eager to see what we can do this year with these young kids.’’

    Toni Blackwell is the most experienced Cape Fear pitcher returning. She was 3-0 last season with a 2.33 earned run average, striking out 38 batters in 21 innings.
    McPhail expects the leader of the pitching staff to be freshman Alexza Glemaker. “She’s been doing a good job throughout the fall and winter,’’ McPhail said of Glemaker, who transferred to Cape Fear from the South View district.

    The infield will also be dominated by youth, with freshmen scheduled to start at nearly every position.

    One of the most experienced players on the team is outfielder Morgan Nunnery, who has been with the Colts four years. She was around as a freshman the last time Cape Fear made the finals of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association softball playoffs.

    “She keeps everything together,’’ McPhail said of Nunnery. “She’s done a really good job in the classroom and the softball program.’’

    Nunnery, a slap hitter, batted a whopping .671 last season for Cape Fear. She led Cumberland County Schools with 55 hits, including nine doubles and one home run. She scored a county-best 49 runs and drove in 31.

    Nunnery said the rich tradition of softball at Cape Fear helps push each year’s players to do their best. “We’ve always been pretty big competitors in our conference,’’ she said. “We are here to represent. You have to play to the standard of Cape Fear softball.

    “It means a lot to wear the jersey, having the community behind you.’’

    With all the youth on this year’s team, Nunnery said it will be important to develop chemistry early and get to know each other.

    McPhail agrees. “For us to be competitive, we’ve got to know each other,’’ he said.

    Gray’s Creek

    With a veteran lineup returning, Bears’ head coach Stuart Gilmer hopes his team will be able to compete head-to-head with Cape Fear again this season.
    Heading the returners for the Bears is one of the best players in the county, Patriot Athletic Conference Player of the Year Jaden Pone.

    Pone led all hitters from Cumberland County Schools last season with a .700 batting average. She had seven doubles, six triples and six home runs while driving in a county-best 45 runs.

    Also back are Kylie Aldridge who hit .583, Morgan Brady who hit .489, Courtney Cygan who hit .446 and Becca Collins who batted .385. Collins, who plays first base, is the younger sister of former South View star Whitney Sirois Maxwell.

    Returning to lead the pitching corps is Madi Bagley, who was 6-2 last season with a 1.03 earned run average. She threw 54 innings and recorded 57 strikeouts.

    “Madi has a good fastball and likes to mix in some movement and a changeup now and then,’’ Gilmer said. “She does a good job of hitting
    her spots.’’

    Gilmer thinks offense is going to be critical for Gray’s Creek to win this season. “Hopefully, our bats can get us in positions early in games where we can get up and help us relax on defense,’’ he said. “We’ve got to be defensively sound. I tell them at practice every day, little things make big things happen. If we take care of little things defensively, big things could happen for us.’’

    While the Bears have experience on the field, there are only three seniors on the roster. One of them is Collins at first base.

    She thinks the team comes into the 2020 season with a positive attitude and a strong bond as teammates.

    Her top goal personally is to improve her reaction to different game situations. “They don’t always go as planned,’’ she said. “How we react to them sets the tone for the next play.’’

    While Cape Fear may be the team to beat for conference honors, Collins plans to respect every opponent on the schedule. “We need to think everyone is going to give us a run for our money,’’ she said.

    Gilmer is expecting plenty of competition from the traditional powers in the conference. “Cape Fear, South View, Pine Forest and Overhills should all give us a run for our money,’’ he said.
  • 14 01 teen cert gradsIt’s taken Melode Dickerson nearly 14 months to get a Teen Community Emergency Response Team going in Cumberland County, but once things fell into place, the idea took off like a ballistic missile.

    Dickerson, who has been active for years in the Cumberland Emergency Response Teamm program locally in Hope Mills, first trotted out the idea of involving teenagers in their own CERT program around December of 2018. For whatever reason, response was slow to the idea and Dickerson was never able to get it launched successfully.
    Undaunted, she continued to promote the overall mission of CERT, which is devoted to training citizen volunteers in disaster preparedness and helping people in crisis situations. She continued her dream of introducing teenagers to the program. “We go everywhere,’’ she said of her mission to educate Cumberland County on what CERT is all about.

    14 02 Fire StationThe Teen CERT idea got a huge boost when Dickerson was contacted by Moisbiell Alvarez, deputy chief of community preparedness for the Fayetteville Fire Department. Like Dickerson, Alvarez was interested in getting a Teen CERT program  organized.

    “We had done a lot of stuff with them and they wanted to be involved,’’ Dickerson said of the Fayetteville Fire Department.

    Dickerson was glad to welcome the assistance. “Cumberland County Emergency Management is still our sponsor,’’ Dickerson said, “but we are supported by the Fayetteville Fire Department.’’

    This past weekend, the first class of teen volunteers for the CERT program underwent training during a weekendlong series of classes held at Fayetteville Fire Station 12 at 307 Hope Mills Road.

    Only 24 people can attend a class because of space limitations at the station. Originally, Dickerson had a full complement of 24 students, but only 21 were able to attend the initial weekend of classes. The class sessions were from 6-10 p.m. on Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

    Dickerson said the basic message of the classes is how to be prepared and how to help lend assistance to victims in a variety of disaster situations.

    “They learn basic medical and how to put out a small fire,’’ Dickerson said. They got hands-on training in the firefighting role by putting out small controlled fires set in the fire station parking lot.

    The training goes far behind first aid and firefighting, Dickerson said. There are sections on dealing with basic terrorism. A new session includes how to react to reports of an active shooter. There is also basic search and rescue training.

    In addition to getting valuable training that they can use as a life skill, Dickerson said taking part in Teen CERT training can help the students earn volunteer hours for any number of projects that may be required by various school-related clubs and other organizations.

    Once they complete the training, students receive a certificate recognizing what they’ve accomplished. The state of North Carolina keeps a record of the number of volunteers trained, Dickerson said.

    Marc Baker Jr., a freshman at Pine Forest High School, was one of the participants in the first Teen CERT graduating class.

    A member of the band at Pine Forest, Baker said he decided to get involved with Teen CERT because he wanted to do something to benefit the community.
    “First aid is something I want to get into,’’ Baker said. “I feel it’s important because we need future doctors, future first responders.

    “I feel like this class could really put us on the course for that.’’

    Currently, Dickerson said she’s recruiting students in grades 9-12 for work with Teen CERT. She already has a class scheduled for a group of Girl Scouts.

    The next open training session for Teen CERT is scheduled for June 12-14. There is already a waiting list for that class. Dickerson suggests any teens that are interested should apply as quickly as possible to capefearcert@gmail.com.

    Students themselves can submit the application but parents are also invited to make applications for their children if they are interested in
    the program.

    The email should include the applicant’s name, address and phone number, so they can be registered.

    For people who can’t commit to coming to training sessions on a Saturday and Sunday, Dickerson said she could work with interested groups of teen volunteers and work out an alternate date for the class if there is a large enough group interested in attending. Contact Dickerson at the same email address if interested.

    Dickerson said she welcomes contact from churches or adults as well as teens to hold special class sessions for CERT or Teen CERT if enough people are interested.
    She also does presentations on the basic mission of CERT, but since the Teen CERT program has taken off her time has been monopolized in coordinating the sessions associated with that program.

    “We do have a presentation we can show that we have put together,’’ she said. “Maybe after this class, things will be a little slower.’’

  • 17 01 Amari TaylorAmari Taylor

    Pine Forest • Indoor track • Junior

    Taylor has a 4.32 grade point average. History is her favorite subject. She loves R&B and jazz, enjoys movies and hanging out with friends. Her dream college is the University of Miami, where she would like to major in premed.

     

    17 02 Marquis eskewMarquis Eskew

    Pine Forest • Basketball • Senior

    Eskew has a grade point average of 3.8. English is his favorite subject. He plans to attend college and major in business entrepreneurship. He has been accepted at East Carolina and North Carolina A&T. He wants to own his own accounting business. He likes listening to rap music and R&B.

  • 13 01 Becca CollinsNo one can accuse the officers of the Gray’s Creek chapter of the National Honor Society of cutting corners when it comes to community service projects. Just ask Becca Collins, a Gray’s Creek senior.

    Each year, when they apply for membership in the National Honor Society, Gray’s Creek students are required by club sponsor and faculty member Melissa Bishop to submit a detailed plan for their senior project.

    Bishop said the plan must include a timeline, a budget and resources among other things. “When they are chosen, they get members of other National Honor Society Members together and pull off the project,’’ Bishop said.

    For her project, Collins is following in the footsteps of her former Gray’s Creek softball teammate and fellow National Honor Society member Drew Menscer.
    Last year, Menscer took on the project of organizing a fund-raising golf tournament for Rick’s Place.

    Rick’s Place is located on 50 acres of land in the western part of Cumberland County. It is named in memory of the late Sgt. Richard J. Herrema, a Fort Bragg soldier who was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Defense Meritorious Service Medal.

    He died in combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2006.

    Bishop said the mission of Rick’s Place is to host family events for soldiers and support them before, during and after deployments.
    “Becca wanted to carry on the golf tournament that Drew did last year,’’ Bishop said.

    Bishop said Gray’s Creek originally chose Rick’s Place as a beneficiary of their charity work after they spent a couple of days on the property. “We love their mission and what they stand for,’’ Bishop said.

    Collins, like Bishop, has a strong feeling for the mission of Rick’s Place. “It’s one of the only military places in Fayetteville that really does a lot of hands-on things with military people,’’ she said. “People can bond with their kids. I really feel the golf tournament can be a big thing to help them.’’

    Last year’s event raised $5,000 for Rick’s Place. Collins hopes to equal or increase the amount raised at this year’s event. It is scheduled for Saturday, March 21, at Cypress Lakes Golf Course.

    For those who don’t play golf, hole sponsorships are available at $100 per hole. If anyone wants to make a donation in support of the tournament, those can be dropped off for either Collins or Bishop at the front office of Gray’s Creek High School during regular business hours. “We need a lot of help from the community,’’ Collins said.

    Bishop said getting people to undertake sponsorship of a golf tournament is a huge undertaking for a high school student, but she’s confident that Collins can make it happen.

    “Becca has a wonderful supporting family,’’ Bishop said. “I know her mom (Dawn Collins) has helped her reach out to businesses and make fliers. Becca has been doing a lot on the creative side.’’

    Bishop said Becca and her family have been part of the Gray’s Creek community for many years. “I know the community is pitching in around them,’’ she said. “A lot of the community is small business owners. They love to donate to charities that benefit our soldiers right here in Fayetteville.’’

    The work of promoting the golf tournament will provide valuable experience to Becca and the members of the committee that will be working with her Bishop said.
    “They are often making cold calls to local businesses,’’ Bishop said of the students. “They have to have their pitch for why this is so important and why it would benefit companies to donate. They are learning a lot of real life business and marketing tactics and just how to talk to people in the community.’’

    Check-in time for the tournament is at 7:30 a.m., and the tournament will begin with a shotgun start at 8:30 a.m.

    There is no limit on how many teams can sign up for the event. The entry fee is $65 per person or $260 for a foursome. The format of the tournament is captain’s choice.

    The entry fee includes lunch and a golf cart.

    Early bird registration is underway by emailing either Collins or Bishop. Their addresses are rebcol3577@student.ccs.k12.nc.us or melissabishop@ccs.k12.nc.us.

  • 16 pine forestPine Forest High School baseball coach Tom Willoughby was looking for something different to jumpstart fundraising efforts for this year’s Trojan baseball team.He found it in a scene from a hit baseball film that is 31 years old. The film, "Major League," told the story of a struggling Cleveland Indians baseball team that used an odd combination of aging veterans and untested rookies to put together a successful season.

    An iconic scene from the film showed team members in their own American Express commercial. Willoughby made a few changes to the script from the movie and got his team together on the Pine Forest baseball field to do the Trojan version of the commercial.

    One of the biggest challenges was to get all the players in dress similar to the coats and ties the pretend Cleveland Indians in the movie wore.

    He told the players to watch the YouTube video of the original scene from the movie so they could see the whole thing and also watch how their respective characters said their lines in the commercial. Speaking parts went to Jared Collier, Isaac Gonzalez, Justin Clark, Greg Washington, Justin Honeycutt, Willoughby and Keyshawn Taylor.

    Taylor had the highlight scene in the commercial, reprising the role of actor Wesley Snipes who played the role of team speedster Willie Mays Hays in the movie.
    In the commercial scene, Hays slides in to home plate at the end of the commercial holding up an American Express card.

    The biggest distraction Willoughby had to deal with in making the video was creating the character of the manager of the Indians team in the movie, Lou Brown, played by the late character actor James Gammon.

    A feature of Gammon’s character in the film was a bushy mustache. Prior to the start of practice, Willoughby had grown a full beard, but the day of the filming of the video, he shaved it all off save the mustache.

    “When I showed up with the Lou Brown mustache the guys started laughing,’’ said Willoughby. As soon as the video had been shot, he went to his truck and shaved the mustache off, “just so I could focus with my guys,’’ he said.

    Seniors Justin Honeycutt and Jared Collier were among the handful of players on the Pine Forest team that had actually viewed the film. Honeycutt is a pitcher who plays outfield when he’s not on the mound. Collier has been a catcher throughout his career at Pine Forest.

    “I thought it was a great idea,’’ Honeycutt said, even though the filming took some time and presented a few challenges. One of the players with a speaking part had a difficult time getting his lines right, but Honeycutt said they came up with a simple solution. “We had to tape his lines on the back of the guy in front of him,’’ Honeycutt said.

    Collier said he enjoyed doing something different to kick off the season and try and convince people to support the program financially. “It was something to have a good time with,’’ he said. “We want to get Pine Forest baseball back on track after a tough season.’’

    Willoughby said the goal of recreating the scene was to reach out beyond the immediate Pine Forest baseball community of family and friends of the players and draw some interest from a wider audience to get financial support.

    “We were trying to have some fun with it,’’ Willoughby said. “We wanted to see if we could get something going on Twitter and Facebook.’’

    As of last Tuesday afternoon, the video was up to 694 views on YouTube. To see the video on SnapRaise and make a donation go to https://www.snap-raise.com/v2/fundraisers/111922?fundraiser_id=111922#/.

    As of last Tuesday afternoon, the video had raised $3,794 of the $5,000 goal Willoughby set for this year. Willoughby is hopeful the team will raise enough money to purchase a new net for the team’s batting cage and new tarps to protect the field from wet weather.

    “The batting cage is a safety thing,’’ Willoughby said. “It’s not safe to be around if it starts getting torn and there are holes in the net. The tarp is about keeping the field playable so we can get in more practice time
    and games.’’
    The video has been a critical success, at least on campus. “When I showed it to one of our teachers, she said ‘I’m definitely donating,’" Honeycutt said.

    For their part, Honeycutt thinks the Trojan team truly has a chance to contend for a  championship this season, not unlike the Cleveland Indians team did in "Major League."
    “We’ve got nine seniors on the team,’’ Honeycutt said. “We’ve got the talent and this is the year  to do something.’’

    Honeycutt thinks the key to success for the team will be attitudes, keeping them right and playing each game one at time.

    Collier thinks the approach to each game is important. “We need everybody to play like they’re never going to be here again,’’ he said.

  •   In April 2008, the Cape Fear Regional Theatre staged a Southern tour d’force, as Good ‘Ol Girls hit the stage. The play, written by Jill McCorkle and Lee Smith, brought rave reviews from local audiences and drew the attention of UNC-TV.
      On Friday, March 6, the CFRT will host a red carpet premier of the play, which UNC-TV filmed. The television broadcast of the play is scheduled for April 22.
    The premier party is open to the public, and will feature a wine tasting and hors d’oeuvres from 6:30-8 p.m., with a screening of the production at 8 p.m. The authors will be on hand to celebrate this important event in the life of the theatre.
      {mosimage}The musical’s title tells you what the play is all about. To quote the play, good ‘ol girls “know that big hair and a big heart do not mean a small mind.” They also love to go to Myrtle Beach with the girls and have been saved more than once.
      The show, which featured Pamela Bob, Kendra Goehring, Libby Seymour, Gina Stewart, Cassandra Vallery and Liza Vann, tells the story of a group of Southern women from birth to the grave. It’s told in vignettes, with music interspersed throughout.
      According to Bo Thorp, the artistic director of the theatre, “This is a play about women. It tackles women’s issues at various times in their lives — particulalry Good ‘Ol Girls who you can find anywhere in the South.”
      The stories were written by Smith and McCorkle, and most of them are rooted in reality. Many of these vignettes were written before the two first ladies of Southern literature collaborated on the play.
      Smith and McCorkle are both noted N.C. authors. Smith and McCorkle have a passion for storytelling. The kind of laugh-out-loud storytelling that is rooted in the uniqueness of the South.
      The songs were written by Marshall Chapman and Matraca Berg, both noted songwriters.
      Officials from UNC-TV were intrigued when they heard about the play and made a visit to the theatre to see the play on stage. They were won over, and brought a film crew in to film the play before it closed.
      What the rest of the state will see on television, many local residents saw first hand, and to celebrate the achievement, the theatre hopes they’ll return for the premier.
      Tickets for the premier party are $30, and can be purchased by calling the CFRT box office at  (910) 323-4233. 
  • 15 Wrestlers groupBack in the late 1960s, veteran character Walter Brennan starred in a short-lived television Western series called “The Sons of Will Sonnet.’’

    Though the show lasted only two seasons, Brennan uttered a line describing his talents with a gun that has lingered through the years. It was only four words:
    "No brag, just fact.’’

    In wrapping up the high school wrestling accomplishments of himself and his Cape Fear teammates the last four seasons, three-time state champion Heath Wilson uttered a statement that borrowed from Brennan’s line, and is hard to argue with.

    “We’ve been the most successful athletic program at Cape Fear, even in Cumberland County, since I got to Cape Fear,’’ Wilson said.

    He pointed to the last four years that saw the Colts bring home at least two individual state wrestling champions each of those years. Three of the eight state titles Cape Fear won were his, the last one coming just over a week ago when he dominated the 3-A 145-pound weight class in the state tournament in Greensboro to win his title.

    He was not alone and teammate Nick Minacapelli had a similarly dominating effort en route to taking the 220-pound championship, erasing the disappointment of finishing third the season before.

    For Wilson, one of the biggest obstacles he had to deal with all season was the pressure of chasing a third state title after winning as a sophomore and junior. But Wilson said the pressure to win the second straight championship last year was tougher than the pressure he faced this season.

    “Butterflies are normally a routine for me,’’ Dallas said. “Don’t get me wrong, they were there. I knew what I had to do, and I got the job done.’’

    Heath Wilson, Dallas’ father and head coach, said the seeds for his son’s string of titles were sown during Dallas’ freshman year, when he came up short in his first bid for a state championship.

    Heath scored a lopsided win earlier in the season over the wrestler who would win the state title in his weight class. But he eventually suffered from what his dad calls “sticker shock."
     
    “They get in there, look at the lights, look up in the stands,’’ Heath said. “There’s not a whole lot that don’t get wide-eyed.’’ He finished third in the 4-A East Regional tournament that year and lost in the quarterfinals of the state tournament, failing to place in the top six in his weight class that year.

    That experience was all Dallas needed to correct the problem. “He blames it on his mental toughness,’’ Heath said. “After that, he decided he was going to fix it.’’
    Dallas said he would lie in bed at night and convince himself that no matter who stepped on the mat to face him, he was going to win.

    His final record for this season was 48-2, but those two losses were not against any living opponent. After he felt a sharp pain in his knee during a late-season tournament, he elected not to compete, to save himself for the upcoming run to the state finals.

    It got him two losses via injury default. “I was being safe and I took the right path,’’ he said.

    It showed in his dominance in the state tournament. None of his four matches went the distance. He defeated two of his opponents by pin. The other two, including his state finals match, were by technical fall, both matches stopped because he had gotten so far ahead in total points.

    Now that his high school career is over, Dallas is pointing to college, where he has yet to make a final decision. He’s got an official visit to North Carolina State coming up. The University of North Carolina talked to him after the semifinals of the state tournament, and he also has Campbell University on his mind.

    “Everything is still up in the air,’’ he said. “I want to take my time.’’

    So does his teammate, Minacapelli, who has scholarship offers in both football and wrestling.

    Like Dallas, Minacapelli was motivated to do better this year after a disappointing finish last season.

    “It definitely inspired me to work way harder,’’ he said after a third-place finish in 2019. “I felt like I didn’t leave it all on the mat last year. I had to prove myself. I had a chip on my shoulder.’’

    He made up for it by wrestling more aggressively this season, taking more shots and no longer relying on defense to win matches. “Now I rely on offense,’’ he said. “I could definitely see improvement.’’

    It clearly showed in the state finals. Of his four wins, three were by pin, one in just 32 seconds and only one of his three wins by pin extending to the third period. The fourth win was a major decision, 16-8.

    He said he was “super nervous” going into his finals match and could hear his heart beating in his chest. He quickly overcame that problem by scoring five points in the first period and taking command of an opponent he would eventually pin for the title.

    “Everything went away and I knew I had the win,’’ he said.

    It was not only a win for Minacapelli, it was the final high school wrestling match as coach for Heath Wilson, who told his team before the season that he was going to step down after 15 years at Cape Fear as both an assistant and head coach. A wrestler himself at the school, Heath Wilson was also a Cape Fear state champion.

    “We had some great kids at Cape Fear,’’ Wilson said. “To read a kid and be able to figure out how he’s motivated is a passion of mine. You’ve got to really figure out what buttons to push and what buttons not to push because you’ll run them out of the room.’’

    But the biggest thrill, obviously, was getting to coach his son to three state titles.

    “It was the best of both worlds, as father and coach,’’ Heath said. “Both the good and the bad, that experience is indescribable.’’

  • Match Dot Con
      A woman wrote me on an online dating site. Her profile said she was 42. I’m 37, which isn’t a big age difference, so we went out. We had a blast and were planning to go out again when she e-mailed and confessed she’ll be 49 in August. She seemed really cool, had a great sense of humor, and looked older than 42, but was definitely still cute. Should I be worried she might have other surprises in store?  
    — Numbers Racket

      A seasoned shopper on an online dating site doesn’t just wonder if everybody’s lying, he expects it. People will tell you right in their profile that honesty is extremely important to them — then sandwich that claim between more fudge than you can buy in one of those candy stores you see in the mall. And, because men and women have different hard-wired preferences for what they seek in a partner, they lie about different things. Men tend to lie about their height and income. Women are likely to lie about their age and weight.
     {mosimage} Deception has always played a big part in romantic marketing. Mascara is a lie. Wearing a slimming color is a lie. Frankly, deodorant is a lie, but let’s hope the masses continue to embrace olfactory dishonesty. Online, people can get away with much more. When they create their dating profile, they aren’t lying to somebody’s face, they’re lying on a resume they’re sending off into the ether. And, they aren’t doing it as themselves, but as GolfBeast or ChocolateLuvr89. So, you see “Husky dude with most of his hair and a quirky sense of adventure...” — instead of “Male-pattern-balding, out-of-shape weirdo, teetering between thoughts of suicide and mass murder, seeks model.”
      Many of these hyperbolists seem to forget that there’s going to be some point of reckoning. Or, they keep telling themselves they’re planning on losing the weight or rolling off the couch and looking for a job.
      As for Miss 42-and-counting, try to have a little compassion. Guys tend to go for younger or much-younger women, and guys on dating sites do searches with an age cutoff, which means she never gets the chance to be judged for her looks instead of her age. Regarding your worry that she might have “other surprises” in store, consider it a good sign that she confessed her real age after the first date. If you don’t think she’s too old for you, keep dating her, and see whether she seems inclined toward convenient dishonesty. There’s a good chance you’ve heard the worst of it.
      (c)2008, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved.
  • 03-04-15-abs.gifWhen it comes to making a difference, solving community problems and being an agent of positive change, Dr. Doreen Hilton, a professor at Fayetteville State University’s Department of Psychology takes a committed but somewhat unconventional approach.

    Since the 1980s Hilton has been a member of the Association of Social and Behavioral Scientists. The organization is hosting its 80th Annual Conference at the Embassy Suites at 4760 Lake Valley Dr. on March 19-21. The conference is open to the public and will cover a broad range of topics.

    “The Association of Social and Behavioral Scientists was founded at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte,” said Hilton. “The conference has a long history — the association, too — of addressing issues that impact the lives of blacks. The association is an embracing organization committed to making a difference. That has always been a highlight for me.”

    What makes the conference significant is that scholars in a wide array of disciplines come together and exchange ideas. They generate and discuss theories and practical applied solutions. The scholars come together at the meeting every year and it is at this conference that they share those ideas and research. Many go back to their home institutions and home agencies and continue the work that was shared and inspired at the conference.

    “Every year that I have gone, I have come back with new information and ideas and new energy to infuse into the teaching and work I do with students here,” said Hilton. “It is also an excellent opportunity for networking with scholars from across the country.”

    As President Elect and Program Chair, Hilton knew Fayetteville would be a great fit for the conference.

    “We have many universities in North Carolina, we also have a large military presence here. This is a good place to bring scholars together to highlight the work that goes on in this area of our country that fits with the mission of our organization,” she said.

    Concurrent breakout sessions are planned throughout the course of the conference. The topics of discussion deal with everything from mental health of veterans to HIV AIDS prevention to educational challenges, which Hilton noted is important with budget cuts at public schools and higher education. Some of the education sessions will deal with retention and the high school dropout rates across the country. Health issues like diabetes and cancer are on the agenda as well.

    “All of these health issues are far too prevalent in the African-American community,” said Hilton. “This conference gives us the opportunity to address some of the issues and go back to our communities and implement programs and research that will improve our communities. There are many in our area affiliated with military: active duty, veterans and family members. They have experiences that are very different from the general population and it is important for us to address those and take a look at what we can do to make a difference there, too.”

    The Association of Social and Behavioral Scientists 80th Annual Conference is open to the public but registration is required. The cost is $260 and includes the W.E.B. DuBois Luncheon. Tickets for the W.E.B. DuBois Luncheon on Friday, March 20 are $35. To register for the conference and/or purchase tickets to the W.E.B. DuBois Luncheon, call 910-551-6761 or email ASBSConference2015@gmail.com.

    Photo: Dr. Doreen Hilton is the President-Elect and Program Chair for the 80th Annual Conference of the Association of Social and Behav-ioral Scientists, which will be in Fayetteville March 19-21.

  • 030216jeff5.jpg

    The business people of Fayetteville’s Haymont, or is it Haymount, community are making another effort to organize themselves much like downtown merchants have.  “We all call it Haymont,” says Elle Williams, general manager of the Runner’s Spot at 1221 Hay Street. The epicenter of the business section is at the top of Haymont Hill where Hay Street, Highland Avenue, Oakridge Avenue, Fort Bragg Road and Morganton Road converge. 

    Bobby Wiggs and his parents are natives of the community. The elder Mr. Wiggs is 87 now, and Bobby Jr. is pretty much the unofficial mayor of Haymont. He owns Haymont Auto Repair at the corner of Morganton Road and Broadfoot Avenue. The community is a cluster of “unique little family owned businesses,” Wiggs said. He and about 30 other business owners are trying to put together a small business alliance similar to the merchants group downtown. “They’ve got some traction,” he noted.

    Williams described the area as “a hidden gem.” She says a main objective of an organization is to cross promote and raise public awareness. Parking is an issue everyone has to deal with, she added. Williams told Up & Coming Weekly that her business agreeably shares a small parking lot with Latitude 35 Bar & Grill. 

    Haymont is loosely defined as the region of the city bounded by Bragg Boulevard, Woodrow Street, Glenville Avenue, Pinecrest Drive, McGilvary Street and Turnpike Road. It’s one of the oldest areas of Fayetteville marked by nearly four dozen antebellum houses, upper-middle class homes, an historic civil war arsenal site and state-owned museum and the Cape Fear Regional Theatre. The Haymont Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. (Portions of the content of this article were adapted from a copy of the original nomination documents. Adaptation copyright © 2011, The Gombach Group.)

    A recent brouhaha over the future of the Fair Oaks mansion at the Fort Bragg Road crossover brought out Haymont’s wealthy home owners who persuaded the Fayetteville Zoning Commission not to allow a prospective owner to turn the mansion into a private school. They prevailed in a 4-0 vote of the commission.

    When it was developing in the early nineteenth century, Haymont bordered but was situated outside of the city limits. It was not until approximately 1910 that lower Haymont residences on Hale Street, Brandt’s Lane, Hillside Avenue, Athens Avenue and Hay Street up to Fountainhead Lane were incorporated into the city. Haymont is one of Fayetteville’s oldest and most cohesive neighborhoods. 

     

    But there is another side of Haymont. From Broadfoot Avenue, on the other side of Arsenal Avenue, over to Turnpike Road, are small, low income houses. It’s a very poor area separated from well kempt homes along Valley Road by a large privacy fence. It was once drug-infested, especially along Branson Street. But twenty years ago, Highland Presbyterian Church built a community center at the end of Davis Street. Local residents got involved and police cracked down. Today, while that area of Haymont remains impoverished, it’s safer than before. 


  • The difference between entertainment and art is that art strives to teach us something about human nature.03-27-13-gilbert.gifThis statement holds true across all mediums of self-expression, though art and entertainment are not mutually exclusive.

    Art may still be entertaining and entertainment may still be emotionally touching or jarring; but a work is only truly art when it illuminates a truth about humanity. The play The Effect of Gamma Rays on The Man-In-the-Moon Marigolds is art. It is on stage at the Gilbert Theater from April 4-21.

    The play was written in 1964 by Paul Zindel. Zindel, a science teacher, received the Pulitzer prize in 1971 for the play. The story, set in the ‘60s, centers around the dysfunctional Hunsdorfer family.

    Matilda “Tillie” is the protagonist of the story and the youngest of the family. Throughout the story she struggles against the darkness in her life and serves as a symbol of an individual who can rise above their circumstances.

    Ruth is the oldest sister, and unlike Tillie she cannot defy her controlling and abusive mother. Beatrice is the main antagonist of the story, and the mother of the family. She is a single mother who is overwhelmed with the abuse and destruction she rains upon both herself and those around her.

    It is obvious that the story is a dark one, but it is often by exploring the darkness in ourselves that the beauty and strength we hold internally is revealed.

    Amanda Brooks Learner, who plays Beatrice in the show, says that the play “is a compelling story. It is suspenseful, and the audience should expect to be taken on a trip. It is full of painful, beautiful and painfully beautiful moments. There are horrible moments and the story will force the audience to ask questions such as ‘what is the meaning of life and how can we take this circumstance and find hope?’

    “Throughout the play, the audience sees true cruelty and the affects of alcoholism. Most people have been affected by alcoholism in some way, be it a family member or relative, and in this story we see the affects of truly hopeless alcoholism, abuse and cruelty on children. We see that some can rise above it and some can’t,” she said.

    The antagonist is often an under-rated character. Without the evils in the world there could be no good, the same principle holds true within this play. Without Beatrice, Tillies amazing story of perseverance would not be as powerful as it is. Learner expresses this sentiment in her excitement to portray the character.

    Learner says, “I (Beatrice) can help to tell her story and bring humanity to Beatrice so that the audience can relate to a poor, struggling woman in a time period where divorce is unheard of. I can speak to the audience and help them to identify with the pain of being lonely. I live through them and this is an opportunity to journey into myself and explore the darkness within myself. The darkness scares me, but through it I am able to support the light.”

    The Gilbert Theater is located at 116 Green St. For more information or to order tickets, contact the theatre at 678-7186 or at www.gilberttheatre.com

  •   As the Crape Myrtles begin to bloom, thoughts turn toward spring and the great outdoors. Every spring, I try to learn a new sport, from canoeing to rock wall climbing, I have tried everything and this year will be no different. This year, I have decided to tackle the somewhat illusive sport of golf. I will do this with the help of the PGA Golf Professionals at Stryker and Ryder Golf Courses.
      {mosimage}Golf has been a favorite past-time in America for years and its not surprising that it is a multibillion dollar a year business. Golf is a fun way to network, socialize and simply enjoy a great day outside. My husband has been golfing for a good portion of his life. He enjoys it immensely but for me it just seems so impossible to learn. This year I have two great mentors and their staff willing to help me overcome my fear of looking stupid — hopefully without tearing up the greens in the process. The PGA Golf Professionals at Stryker and Ryder Golf courses are working hard this year at the Spring Golf Clinics to train everyone from amateurs, like myself, to more advanced skill levels, the wonderful game of golf.
      With the help of the Spring Golf Clinics I will finally be able to grasp the game of golf. The clinics are available to all military and government identification cardholders 18 and older, both men and women, The clinics include unlimited range balls and instruction by a PGA golf professional and a knowledgeable staff. Classes are small and fill up fast, so early registration is encouraged.
      Robert Taylor is the golf pro at Ryder which is a beautiful golf course set among tall Carolina pines and rolling hills. Ryder has several water holes, which come into play. The greens are small and undulating. The fairways are tree-lined and hilly. The bunkers are well positioned and, at times, deep. While not long in length, Ryder is very challenging for all skill levels. Jeff Johnson is the PGA professional for Stryker, which was designed by Donald Ross and features a large clubhouse, a well-stocked golf shop and new locker rooms. This state of the art facility is sure to please even the biggest critics of golf.   Both facilities offer a pro shop and a very knowledgeable staff answer all of your questions.
      The main reason I go to Stryker and Ryder is the staff. The staff does everything they can to make me feel comfortable when I visit. They take time to break things down into terms I will understand. That’s why Stryker and Ryder Golf Courses are my (and my husband’s) “First Choice.”

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

     

  • 01 01Located on the west side of Fayetteville, Gates Four has been a part of the Cumberland County community for about 54 years. The 18-hole championship golf course and club was built in 1967, and the residential community followed in 1974. The community has grown over the decades.

    Gates Four Golf & Country Club and its residential community Fayetteville will be adding more developments and various amenities for residents and club members this year. In addition to hosting the Cumberland County Golf Championship again this year, new entertainment amenities will include the Fayetteville Dinner Theatre in April and the Summer Concert Series beginning in May.

    “Gates Four is really unique to this market at the price point that we offer, there’s really nothing like it around,” Kevin Lavertu, general manager of the Gates Four Country Club said.

    The club and residential development are located in proximity to each other, but they operate separately and membership to the club is open to everyone and one doesn’t have to reside in their community, he said.

    The full-service country club includes the golf course, junior Olympic-sized swimming pool, four USDA tennis courts, JP’s Bar & Grill dining room facility, a banquet facility, and an outdoor pavilion among other things.

    “There are about 400 members and some are social members and some sports,” Lavertu said. “We have different categories of memberships to meet different lifestyles.”

    The golf-course for the club is a semi-private facility, open to outside play after 10 a.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. on weekends.

    “Having a golf course here is nice, it’s top-rated, I go up there every day,” said Mike Molin, a club member and resident of the community. “I am retired and I can play almost every day.”

    Lavertu does a great job with the course and club, and it's a great place to be, eat and hang out with friends, he said.

    Gates Four Country Club is family centric with single or family dues packages available.

    “It provides a getaway for people, whether you play golf, tennis or just to dine or swim. There’s something for everybody and it’s really a getaway for a lot of people,” Lavertu said.

    The Dinner Theatre will include events planned inside the ballroom for members to watch shows in an intimate setting and enjoy dinner and entertainment, while the Summer Concert Series hosted at the club’s pavilion will showcase local bands for members and guests to enjoy outdoors. The concert series will kick off Friday, May 14.

    The Cumberland County Championship will be played this year Oct. 15 through Oct. 17 and is one of the biggest tournaments around for amateur golfers, and a staple for golfers and the Cumberland County area, Lavertu said.

    “Just like anything it's a getaway and way for people to enjoy. We are open to anybody who wants to join and we have some great promotions on memberships,” Lavertu added.

    Surrounding the club house is the residential community of Gates Four, a combination of 760 houses and townhomes.
    “I think it’s the best community in Cumberland County and the area with a top-rated golf course, country club and a gated community,” Molin said. “There’s nothing around like it.”

    Molin, a resident of the community of 41 years, also serves as the Home Owners Association Treasurer.

    We have grown from 200 homes to 760 since I have lived here, and it is almost like a small company that the HOA runs. There's a property manager and we expect people to live by certain standards when they move home to help keep the community looking nice, he said.

    “Having a 24-hour gated community, it provides all these amenities in a safe environment for people to live in, which does help people gravitate towards Gates Four and what I noticed with the school system, we are getting younger and younger within the community moving in,” Lavertu said.

    Some may have the impression that the community is far out of town, but Lavertu says the Gates Four community is only about 10 minutes from Raeford Road, adding that the area offers a great school system.

    “I call it the best kept secret of Fayetteville, honestly,” said Jay Dowdy, Broker/Owner at All American Homes with Berkshire Homes. “Gates Four has one of the best school districts and a lot of people call me from out of town looking for homes there, the whole area is nice, and has a unique environment.”

    Molin said the biggest things he liked about living in Gates Four is the gated community and also having a Fayetteville address but not having to pay the city taxes because the community extends out to Hope Mills.

    Dowdy mentioned the demand for the community is very high and about 20 percent of his buyers live in Gates Four.

    “The price point out there starts around the 250’s and goes up to about a million, so it’s not going to your beginner buyers, more upper end buyers” he said “But there’s a lot of very affordable townhomes out there too priced in the 100’s.”

    The growth in the area due to Gates Four has been high, Lavertu said.

    “If it wasn’t for the community of Gates Four you wouldn't see businesses making financial investments in the community here in close proximity so obviously this has a huge financial impact on the area due to the community,” he said.

    Due to the high demand, all of the new construction has been sold and pre-sales are happening on the next construction, Dowdy said.

    Lavertu emphasized the convenience of the Gates Four community having dining, sports and other amenities right there for members.

    “It’s a gated community with a country feel, it’s got ponds,” Dowdy said. “It’s your hometown country club, with lots of amenities, affordability, location.”

    For more information about Gates Four, visit https://www.gatesfour.com or contact the club at 910-425-6667.

  • 17 Friends of the NRAThe Cape Fear Friends of NRA will be hosting their 24th Annual Banquet and Auction on March 18, at 6:00 p.m. at Paradise Acres Event Center. There will be raffles, games, an auction, and of course, great food.

    “We are family-friendly,” said Tony Forte, committee chairmen. “We are apolitical. Our issue is putting funds into programs that keep shooting sports safe and renewable.”

    Friends of NRA is the fundraising program under the NRA Foundation. Cumberland and Harnett counties provide a grass-roots effort to ensure the future of safe, responsible firearms ownership and participation in shooting sports. The event also helps raise money, in particular, for funding youth safety programs in eastern North Carolina. The organization hosts youth competitions, training and safety courses and provides scholarships to help ensure the future of shooting sports for America’s young people.

    “Some of the things that excite me is we have more and more success locally with programs,” said Forte. “Cross Creek Rifle and Pistol club received a grant for competitive youth shooting program. The Eddy Eagle gun safety program teaches that guns are not toys and that kids should “Stop. Don’t touch. Run away and tell an adult.” I am excited to see what the Fayetteville Police Department is doing with Eddie Eagle and Operation Ceasefire. We support those programs. We support 4-H, sharpshooter clubs, the Scouts. You name the group, and if they are eligible to receive a nonprofit grant, we do everything we can to ensure – if they meet the requirements – that we get them something. Last year, we had $750,000 in grant requests. We were able to support $250,000. The demand for education and safety programs is insatiable.”

    The Friends of the NRA provides a united front to secure the Second Amendment and raise money for the shooting sports. Across the country, more than 13,000 volunteers work tirelessly to make these events happen with the generous of attendees and donors who support their efforts.

    “We are a zero-sum charity,” said Forte. “Everything we bring in goes back as grants. We are all volunteers. The committee tries to limit our overhead to less than 1%.”

    There is something for everyone at a Friends of NRA event. From the moment you walk in, the atmosphere is brimming with excitement, and they will make sure you have a good time while meeting great people.
    Forte added that the auction items include several firearms, ammunition and other items like luggage, outdoor equipment and artwork.

    “If you are serious about youth safety and firearms,” said Forte,“Outside the political arena, there’s one known resource to get that done, and it is the NRA Foundation.”

    For tickets or information about their programs, contact Tony Forte at 910-824-4681, Jerry Parsek at 910-309-9755 or Don Talbot at 910-977-7776. There are group discounts available, plus a sponsorship and underwriting program. Donations are always welcomed and are tax deductible.

    The 24th Annual Banquet and Auction will be held March 18 at Paradise Acres Event Center located at 1965 John McMillan Road, in Hope Mills

  • 03-12-14-fireantz-pic.gifYour Fayetteville FireAntz Hockey Team begins the last month of the regular season in the hunt for a playoff spot. It has been an exciting season on the ice and off, thanks to the different promotions that the FireAntz have had at each of their games. It looks to get even better in March.

    Friday, March 14, it is the FireAntz vs. the Louisiana Ice Gators. The FireAntz meet the Ice Gators for the fourth time this season and continue their late-season push toward the playoffs. It’s Faith and Family night with the FireAntz. There are group rates available at the FireAntz office, if you have a large group that you would like to bring to the game.

    On Saturday, March 15, the FireAntz take on the Louisiana Ice Gators. The FireAntz host Louisiana for the second game of a weekend doubleheader. It’s Ray Price of Fayetteville Bike Night. Everyone who rides a motorcycle to the game will get one free ticket, per bike, courtesy of Ray Price of Fayetteville. Also, the FireAntz will wear specialty jerseys that will be auctioned to fans after the game. Be sure to get there early.

    Tuesday, March 18 the team plays the Knoxville Ice Bears: This game is to make up for the one originally scheduled on Feb. 11. Fans may use tickets for the Feb. 11 game at the Box Office and they will be accepted. The game is brought to you by ERA Strother Real Estate. There will also be a live performance by Nashville recording artist, Trae Edwards, brought to you by Cape Fear Heroes. Go to any local Kangaroo gas station and get a voucher for a $2 ticket at the Crown Box Office, courtesy of Coca Cola.

    Friday, March 21 the FireAntz face the Peoria RiverMen: This is the second to last home game of the season and you won’t want to miss it. The FireAntz will battle hard for a playoff spot and the action will be intense. Check the FireAntz website for more information on special pricing and details.

    Saturday, March 22 the team plays the Peoria RiverMen: Don’t miss the last game of the regular season. There is a lot going on at this FireAntz game. It’s Race Night featuring the local dirt track and drag racers and their vehicles. There will be a display of local race cars in the parking lot for fans to see, up close and personal. It’s also Scout Night. Scouts who come in their Class “A” uniforms will get a scout patch and free admission to the game! Group rates for the game are available, in advance.

    It’s an exciting final month of the regular season for the FireAntz. Find out more about the FireAntz and purchased tickets at 321-0123 or www.fireantzhockey.com.

    Photo: Forward #7 John Clewlow

    Photo Courtesy Carter/ Groves Photography

  • 01 UAC031120001

  • 03-04-15-fireantz-1.gifFireAntz right winger Kyle McNeil, is in his fourth professional season in Fayetteville where he has recorded 17 points on 10 goals and 7 assists through 42 games. The Cambridge, Ontario native has spent his entire professional career in Fayetteville and says that he “really appreciates the fans, the city, and the FireAntz organization.” During his time here in Fayetteville, McNeil has enjoyed the opportunity to give back to the community through the Heart of Carolina Food Drive every year.

    Growing up, McNeil looked up to legends like Wayne Gretzky and Wendell Clark, who inspired him to pursue a career in professional hockey. On game day, McNeil enjoys lunch from Fazoli’s after a morning skate followed by 2-3 hours of sleep. On the way to the rink, McNeil makes his routine pit stop at Starbucks. Just like most, McNeil dresses one foot at a time, but he is a bit superstitious when gearing up pregame, dressing from left to right for every game. Once he is finished playing, McNeil hopes to pursue a career in coaching while also becoming certified in03-04-15-firenatz-2.gif Crossfit.

    This season, McNeil’s roommate is rookie Austin Daae who is also a race car legend. McNeil says something that the public may not know about Daae is “he enjoys cartoon movies.” In the off season, McNeil spends time in Canada with family, but also makes it back down to Fayetteville and Myrtle Beach, where he enjoys the golf courses as well as a good steak from none other than Texas Roadhouse.

    Favorite Song: Talladega by Eric Church

    Favorite Movie: Goodfellas/Breakfast Club

    Favorite Alcoholic Beverage:  Bud Light

    Favorite Sports Team: Toronto Maple Leafs

    What would you do for a Klondike bar? “I would go 0-100 real quick.”

    Photo:  Kyle McNeil, FireAntz right winger

  • 031815misbehavin.gifSunday afternoon matinees at the Cape Fear Regional Theatre are usually fairly sedate. The audience, usually filled with those over the age 60, claps politely, laughs politely and exits politely. That was not the case for the performance of Ain’t Misbehavin’ that I took in on Sunday.


    The crowd, and yes, there was a crowd, filled the theatre. Prior to the show’s beginning, they chatted and laughed. It was an animated bunch that came out to enjoy great music and have a good time. People were discussing the music, the play, the theatre. The energy in the lobby was high and the performance on stage only took it higher.


    Ain’t Misbehavin’ is a collection of music by Fats Waller. Waller was the trend setter in jazz music during the Harlem Renaissance. He was a talented jazz musician who tickled the ivories on the piano, as well as the organ. He composed his own music, sang it and presented it in a comedic way. He was also an innovator, developing the Harlem stride style of playing, which laid the foundation for modern jazz. To do justice to a musical revue of Waller’s music, it was imperative that the Cape Fear Regional Theatre pull together a talented cast, and they succeeded in doing just that.

    The backbone to the cast was, in my opinion, the music, which was directed by Fayetteville native Brian Whitted. Whitted is a nationally recognized entertainer who got his start on the CFRT stage as a child, and returns from time to time to do shows that appeal to him. This show was perfect for Whitted. Without him on the piano, it would not have had the impact nor the appeal. Kudos for bringing such an amazing talent to the CFRT show.

    While the entire cast played well off of each other, the heavy lifters were David LaMarr, Tony Perry and
    Gigi Ritchey.

    Ritchey, also from Fayetteville has a deep, rich voice that reaches all the way down to her toes and comes back out of her mouth as pure gold. Ritchie also has a sense of fun and joy that comes from within her when she sings.

    LaMarr and Perry, both national performers, brought comedy, as well as rich voices to the stage. The duo got the audience into the act with their performance of  “Fat and Greasy” and LaMarr stole the show with “The
    Viper’s Drag.”

    When LaMarr and Perry launched into “Fat and Greasy,” the audience was clapping, and hold on to your hats, singing along.
    If you see one show this year at the CFRT, make it Ain’t Misbehavin’, you’ll never have as much fun being bad, as you will at this performance. You have one weekend left, so visit www.cfrt.org to purchase your tickets.

  • STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART:

    FOURTH FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS HEALTH

     

    Plan to spend plenty of time this Fourth Friday at The Arts Council of {mosimage}Fayetteville/CumberlandCounty, 301 Hay St., as it partners with Cape Fear Valley’s Heart & Vascular Center on February 22 from 6:30-9 p.m. Health experts from Cape Fear Valley’s Cardiac Diagnostics, Cardiac Cath Lab and Cardiac Rehab will be on hand to talk about maintaining a healthy heart through brief seminars, educational booths and interactive displays. Just outside the building will be tours of an emergency medical services vehicle. Along with free refreshments at the Arts Council, enjoy the sounds of the faculty jazz ensemble from Fayetteville State University and the continuation of Perspectives. An art exhibition featuring the works of four local artists,Perspectiveswill be on display through March 15. Just across the street in the Rainbow Room at 223 Hay St., the Heart and Vascular Center will also be offering free blood pressure, blood sugar and sleep apnea screenings. They will also make available baseline EKG readings by LifeLink and coupons for cholesterol testing. This month’s Fourth Friday is an excellent opportunity to enjoy great art, music, and food while at the same time learning more about the importance of taking care of your heart. As always, the rest of downtown Fayetteville welcomes art lovers of all kinds with their own special presentations.

    February Fourth Friday Venues

    1. Art & Soul – View the latest works of artist Becky Lee. Lee, a painter and teacher, has been at the forefront of the Fayetteville art scene for a number of years. Her recent works will be on display at Art & Soul, including landscapes she has completed. Refreshments will be served

    2. Cape Fear Studios – The collective works of talented local artist Leslie Pearson will be on disply. Pearson, a former soldier and art teacher, has had a number of shows in Fayetteville in recent months. Her work focuses on women’s issues and their search for freedom.

    3. The Cotton Exchange – Live jazz music on the indoor stage. Refreshments.

    4. Cumberland County Headquarters Library – Celebrate Black History Month with the music of the Heritage Restoration Chorale, an ecumenical group of singers from the Fayetteville-Cumberland County area. They have received critical acclaim for their love of music and dedication to the preservation of the Negro Spiritual and other music of the Black experience. Refreshments.

    5. Fayetteville Area Transportation Museum. Exhibits and artifacts of transportation from days gone by. 7-9 p.m.

    6. Fascinate-U – Make Crazy Birds using construction paper, feathers, and wiggly eyes. All materials are provided Refreshments will be served.

    7. Loafi ng Artist Studio – View the display of new “Musselflies,” hand painted and crafted by Harold Grace

    8. Market House Exhibit – View an exhibit honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    9. Olde Town Gallery – See the works of John Furches, a watercolorist from Elkin, NC. Join us for a demonstration of an etching. 6:00-9:00 pm

    10. Rude Awakening – View the metalwork of David McCune.

    11. sfL+a Architects – Art by Carla Rokes - Color & Design. Music by Jeremy Gilchrist. Refreshments.

    12. White Trash – Pretty Little Things by Sally Jean Alexander. The Arts Council’s grants, programs and services are funded in part by contributions from businesses and individuals, and through grants from the City of Fayetteville, Cumberland County and the North Carolina Arts Council, with funding from the State of North Carolina.

     

  •   Over the past year, controversy has swirled over the Myrtle Beach Spring Rally. The City of Myrtle Beach has enacted new laws and regulations that seek to limit the activities of the bikers including a new helmet law. The city has made it plain that they do not welcome the idea of the Spring Rally, but its voice seems to be falling on deaf ears.
      Last week the Carolina’s Harley Davidson Dealers Association announced that it will hold its spring rally May 15-16 in New Bern.
      “This new venue will allow us to get back to basics and offer our existing and new customers a rally experience they will appreciate without restrictions and with the ability to enjoy the freedom of riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle,” said Mark Cox, the association president.
      {mosimage}With all eyes focused on New Bern, the city’s officials have thrown a warning flag.
      Tom Bayliss III, the mayor of New Bern, said that he was told the dealer rally will draw less than 4,000 “older people” and their families to the historic port city. The current plan calls for the rally to be set up outside the city limits at the fairgrounds. Bayliss said that an influx of thousands of bikers, the number that usually hit the Grand Strand during Bike Week, would not be welcome or easily accommodated in the smaller locale.
      “We couldn’t handle it. There’s no way in the world,” said Bayliss, who is also a rider.
      He pointed out that the city lacks the sheer number of hotels needed to accomodate the influx and the entertainment venues needed to enterain the attendees. Unlike Myrtle Beach, which is a resort town geared toward providing entertainment to its guest, New Bern is more of a sleepy coastal town. It’s historic streets are not known for the wildness that usually ensues at bike week.
      It is that rowdiness that has led to the restrictions by the Myrtle Beach government. Last year a Coastal Carolina University student was killed during one of the many rallies that occurred at the beach in a dispute over a parking space.
      While many of the Carolina’s bike enthusiasts are still planning on making the trek to Myrtle Beach, city officials breathed a sigh of relief following the announcement by the association.
      “The issue for the city has been that we’ve had two or three … back to back motorcycle events that occupied 20 straight days and that’s too much. So, we’re not going to be in the rally business in May,” Mark Kruea, a city spokesman said.
      Earlier this year, the city and its chamber of commerce lauched a Web site stating that bike rallies were over in the city. It remains to be seen whether bikers will honor the city’s wishes or not. The question to be answered locally is: When May rolls around, where will you be?
      Please send your comments and feedback on the issue to editor@upandcomingweekly.com
  • 09Tia FullerFayetteville State University’s Department of Performing and Fine Arts presents its FSU Jazz Day Festival for middle school and high school jazz bands and jazz combos Saturday, April 6, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. 

    A concert featuring the Tia Fuller Jazz Quartet will take place at 7:30 p.m. at Seabrook Auditorium, which is located on the campus of the university. 

    “The jazz festival started last year to basically help students in our region in the jazz field — to help develop jazz programs and to help develop more appreciation for jazz itself,” said Ronald Carter, coordinator of the jazz festival and distinguished professor in the Department of Performing and Fine Arts at FSU. “This year, I am bringing in Grammy-nominated Tia Fuller, who is a performing saxophonist for Beyoncé. She still plays and records around the world with different people.” 

    The festival will include workshops, clinics and performances. “At 1:15 p.m., we will have jazz clinics presented by FSU’s jazz faculty and by Tia Fuller’s jazz group,” said Carter. “The workshops will be about how to use instruments to play jazz, how to develop the concepts, tone and language of jazz, how to play within the jazz ensemble and more.” 

    Carter added the clinics will feature drums, saxophone, piano, clarinet, flute, trumpet, trombone and other jazz instruments. 

    The first band will play at 8:30 a.m. “We will have high schools from South Carolina and North Carolina and two college groups playing,” said Carter. “We have Shaw University’s jazz band. Benedict College’s jazz band from Columbia, South Carolina, will play too.” 

    Carter added that next year the jazz festival will be bigger and that he aims to eventually start having a historically black college jazz festival. 

    “This event is educational and motivational — (it’s) a great mentorship opportunity and allows participants to meet the students (and) the jazz professors and music professors at Fayetteville State as well,” said Carter. “It is community outreach for the colleges that are coming in and also for the students that are coming in from other states as well as Raleigh and the surrounding areas.” 

    All events before 5 p.m. will be free. The clinics are open to the public. The registration fee is $200 for each participating school. General admission for the Tia Fuller Jazz Quartet concert is $5 for students and $10 for adults. For more information, to register or obtain ticket information, email Carter at rcarter11@uncfsu.edu. Tickets can be purchased at www.etix.com. 

    Photo: Tia Fuller

  • 09 4 fridayEvery 4th Friday, downtown Fayetteville hosts a plethora of experiences and activities. Friday, March 22, folks can expect the charm of Fayetteville’s historic downtown mixed with the celebration of local businesses and entertainment. At 4th Friday, attendees can celebrate the community and learn about groups in the area and what they do. One such organization, the Arts Council of Fayetteville/ Cumberland County, says on its website, “Businesses in the four and a half block of historic downtown Fayetteville join the action and become artistic venues on 4th Friday, featuring the arts in all forms, for all ages.”

    Walk Awhile in Her Shoes is an annual event occurring on March’s 4th Friday this year that encourages local men to support sexual assault victims, advocate for justice and call for an end to sexual violence. For $30 plus shoe rental, men don red shoes of all kinds — pumps, flats and sandals, satin, sequined and leather — and walk from Hay Street to Bright Light Brewing Company. Proceeds go to the Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County. Registration includes a Tshirt, water and desserts. Search the event on Facebook or Eventbrite or email walkawhilefay@gmail.com for more information.

    The Arts Council supports individual creativity, cultural preservation, economic development and lifelong learning for all ages. The nonprofit treats 4th Friday as an opportunity to share and display art exhibitions and more. Opening 4th Friday at the council’s Arts Center, 301 Hay St., is “Picturing America’s Pastime Exhibition with Presenting Partner Fayetteville Woodpeckers: A Snapshot of the Photography Collection at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.” The exhibition will be on display through May 11. To learn more, visit the Arts Council website at www.theartscouncil.com.

    The Ellington-White Gallery, at 113 Gillespie St., will also be open to the public for 4th Friday. According to its website, the Ellington-White Gallery works to “generate and support high quality diverse cultural experiences in all of the arts and art-related disciplines.”

    4th Friday offers other experiences from local organizations ranging from museums nonprofits. The Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum hosts a variety of exhibitions for a variety of interests. Its newest exhibit, “Baseball in Fayetteville,” showcases Fayetteville’s love of baseball. The exhibit will be open throughout the year. Call 910- 433-1457 for more information.

    Fascinate-U Children’s Museum keeps children and families entertained for hours. The museum is open from 7-9 p.m. on 4th Friday, offering free admission and a craft. The craft for March is a Minion magnet. Call 910-829-9171 for details.

    City Center Gallery & Books keeps its doors open until 9 p.m. for 4th Friday, and Cape Fear Studios invites attendees to “stop in to see our newest exhibit, meet our artists and check out the new works during each 4th Friday opening.”

    To top off the festivities, the Cool Spring Downtown District will sponsor the “Clue’ville Downtown Mystery.” The event starts Friday, March 22, from 6-9 p.m., and continues Saturday, March 23, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. CSDD’s website says, “Your favorite board game comes to life in Downtown again this year. Move from business to business, gather clues, solve the crime. Watch the culprit’s arrest at a Press Conference. Right or wrong you have a chance to win prizes. This event is FREE, and fun for the whole family!”

    The maps for these games are available at local downtown businesses as well as for download. Check the Cool Spring Downtown District Facebook Event Page for updates or call 910-223-1089.

  • 13CarolinasWhy would anybody want to spend months walking from the South Carolina coast up through the Piedmont to present-day Charlotte and then back east to the North Carolina tidewater?

    There are two good reasons, one from more than 300 years ago and the other from modern times.

    First, in 1700, a newcomer to North America named John Lawson made this long trip to explore and learn about unfamiliar lands. He made the trip on foot because there was no better way to travel through the endless forests of backcountry Carolinas. Setting off from Charleston, he was accompanied by several Englishmen and Indian guides. The notes he took became the basis of a book, “A New Voyage to Carolina,” first published in 1709 and still a classic for its rich descriptions of flora and fauna and the conditions of the native peoples who populated the areas he visited.

    The more recent traveler, writer Scott Huler, made the long walk because he wanted to follow in Lawson’s footsteps. He said he looked for a modern book that explained where Lawson went and compared it to what is there today. When he found that it had not been done and that no one had even retraced Lawson’s journey, he thought, “That’s for me!”

    Of course, Huler could have made the trip of several hundred miles in a day or two in a car on modern roads. But he wanted to go slow, seeing today’s landscapes and peoples at the pace Lawson traveled.

    He shares his travels in a new book, “A Delicious Country: Rediscovering the Carolinas along the Route of John Lawson’s 1700 Expedition.” It was released by UNC Press March 4.

    Like most other readers of Lawson, Huler is impressed with Lawson’s descriptions of and attitude about the native populations. Lawson visited Sewee, Santee, Sugeree, Wateree, Catawba, Waxhaw, Occaneechi and Tuscarora Indians. Huler writes, “He (Lawson) stayed in their wigwams, ate their food, trusted their guides. And he emerged with their stories, for some of which he is the only source in the world.”

    Lawson, Huler continues, “documented native communities, buildings, agriculture, hunting, dance, trade, and culture through eyes clear, thorough, and respectful. Lawson depicts the natives as fully human—not some subspecies perceived only in comparison to European settlers.”

    Lawson’s words were, “They are really better to us than we are to them.”

    But Lawson found the native populations to be in a precarious situation. “The Small-Pox and Rum have made such a Destruction amongst them, that, on good grounds, I do believe, there is not the sixth Savage living within two hundred Miles of all our Settlements, as there were fifty Years ago. These poor Creatures have so many Enemies to destroy them, that it’s a wonder one of them is left alive near us.”

    Traveling Lawson’s route through the rural Carolinas, Huler found a surprising and discouraging similarity. The rural and small-town landscapes are littered with empty manufacturing plants, corporate farms and forests, empty main streets and deserted houses. Three centuries after Lawson, Huler found that “our world would teeter: a way of life dying in the countryside, implacable new forces once again balancing an entire civilization on a knife edge.”

    Setting aside this discouraging report, Huler’s adventures and misadventures on the road entertain and inform. He is the best type of tour guide, one who is well-informed but not at all pompous. His wry, self-deprecating sense of humor helps his serious medicine go down smoothly.

    For Lawson, his explorations and the reports about them opened the door to prominence and high positions in the young colony. That success came to a sudden end in 1711 when he was captured and executed by the Indians he had so greatly admired and praised.

  • Anyone who has been to downtown Fayetteville recently already knows that it is the place to go for great food, fun shopping, unique art and local entertainment. There are no chain stores to be found. Instead, unique shops, galleries and eateries offer experiences that you just can’t find anywhere else in town.

    If you haven’t been recently, this is a great reason to check out downtown: March 11-13, the Downtown Alliance and The Downtown Restaurant Association invite you to come taste all of the delicious downtown restaurants in the Spring Edition of the Small Plate Crawl. Local restaurants are eager to offer up their tastiest dishes and show the community that downtown really is a destination with a lot to offer. So get your passport for the Small Plate Crawl and check out the many flavors of downtown.

    “We did the first small plate crawl last fall and had a great turn out,” said Anthony Jackson, owner of Circa and event spokesperson. “We had close to 2,000 people come and it was the perfect way for the local restaurants to showcase our specialties to the public and to let them see what all we have to offer.”

    The answer to that is plenty. Participating restaurants include Blue Moon Cafe, Circa 1800, First Date Coffee Shop, Happiness Is Bakery & Sweets, Huske Hardware House, Marquis Market, Off the Hook Taco Emporium, Pierro’s Italian Bistro, Sherefe, Sweet Palette, Taste of West Africa, The Coffee Cup, The Wine Cafe and The Tap House. Truly, the offerings are vast and varied with something for everyone.

    How to participate:03-04-15-cover-story.gif

    1. Pick up your FREE Passport at any participating location downtown or from a participating restaurant during the event.

    2. Crawlers travel from restaurant to restaurant, purchasing plates over the three day event. Price of plates are from $5 to $10.

    3. If anyone in a group purchases a plate, everyone in the group gets the Food Passport validated. Validation is simply the initials of your server with the date of your visit.

    4. Those wishing to enter prize drawings will present a Food Passport for validation when paying at each restaurant. Food Passports must be validated at three or more restaurants to be eligible for the prize drawing. Anything over three validations will give participants an extra entry into drawing.

    5. Qualifying restaurants are indicated on the Food Passport.

    6. Crawlers leave their Food Passport at the last restaurant they visit during the crawl. Participant passports are collected from restaurants throughout the weekend.

    7. Each qualifying Food Passport is entered into a drawing on March 16. Winners are notified by email.

    Prizes include a one night stay for two at the Doubletree including a couple’s massage, facial and pedicure and $50 gift certificate towards dinner (a $500 value). Lu Mil Vineyard is donating a one night stay in a deluxe cabin and a wine tasting for two. Other great prizes include a movie date night from The Cameo with tickets for two, cooking class for two at Sherefe’s and wine class for two at The Wine Café.

    “One of the great things about being a restaurant owner downtown is that we are each original.” said Jackson. “It is easy to work as a team to put together something fun like this when we each have different flavors and dishes to offer. We have the restaurants that participated last year, and some new ones, too. So every plate won’t be appetizers, there are dessert plates and coffee, too. That will add a new aspect to the plate crawl that I think participants will enjoy.”

    Jackson credits the hard work of the downtown community with making it such a fun place and this is one more event to engage the community and share all that downtown has to offer.

    “With things like the Dogwood Festival, the International Folk Festival and 4th Fridays, it seems like there are more people coming to see what downtown is all about,” he said. “We are seeing a much more diverse crowd these days, and that is very exciting. We love seeing more military families and young people coming downtown.

    “Incredible, things are coming together. Our hope is that downtown is a destination for going out to eat, going shopping — for pretty much everything. Anything you can do at a chain you can do here and it will support local business owners, their families and the community,” he concluded.

    Find out more about the Small Plate Crawl at www.visitdowntownfayetteville.com/event/small-plate-crawl-4.

  • 09TrumboCape Fear Regional Theatre’s production of “Trumbo,” running through March 17, is not an easy play to review. The show’s program contains two pages of historical context and another two-page glossary to help orient theatergoers. There is no stage, no script and no action. To understand what plot there is, it helps to be a student of American political history. That said, “Trumbo” is a compelling drama.

    Spanning the period from 1947-1960, during which time capitalism and communism were locked in a pitched battle for global ideological dominance, the play tells the story of Dalton Trumbo, a highly successful, award-winning Hollywood screenwriter who ran afoul of the U.S. House Un-American Activities Committee.

    Written by Christopher Trumbo, Dalton’s son, and ably directed by CFRT Artistic Director Mary Kate Burke, much of the show’s dialogue is taken straight from Dalton’s prolific correspondence between friend and foe alike. The juxtaposition in those letters between the noble and the mundane is both brilliant and spellbinding.

    We meet Dalton for the first time as he defiantly takes on his HUAC interrogator only to watch his defiance dissolve into irritability as he pens a longwinded complaint to the phone company.

    The audience is held rapt during the reading of a high-minded moral defense — with implications for our current political climate — only to dissolve in laughter minutes later as Dalton writes his college-bound son a hilariously ribald piece of fatherly advice.

    The role of Dalton is played by Larry Pine, whose screen credits include “Bull,” “House of Cards,” “Madame Secretary” and “The Good Wife,” among many others. Pine plays Trumbo as an unfailingly erudite curmudgeon who manages to hold onto his sense of humor as the world shifts beneath his feet and he plunges from fame and fortune to impecunious infamy, dragging his family along with him.

    That Dalton’s family unfailingly supported him is made evident by the role of his son Christopher in the play, who acts as the glue that holds the entire performance together. Played with endearing diffidence by Michael Tisdale, whose credits include “Law & Order” and “Third Watch,” Christopher provides the context for his father’s story and helps the audience see beyond the bluster to the man he loved.

    The play ends with an unflinching, yet humorous, summing up of the cost of hewing to one’s convictions.

    Whether Dalton was a martyr or a menace depends upon one’s political persuasion. But politics is a pendulum that swings both ways — which should make respect for First Amendment rights a matter of universal concern. That this has not always been so is what makes “Trumbo” an important piece of theater. Burke and CFRT are to be commended for bringing it to town.

    Showtimes and ticket information are available from the CFRT box office at 910-323-4233. The box office is open Tuesday-Friday from 1-6 p.m. and one hour before showtimes. Learn more at www.cfrt.org.

    Photo:  “Trumbo,” starring Larry Pine (right) and Michael Tisdale (left), is at CFRT through March 17.

  • 05A Hometown FeelingAs your congressman, I have the honor of hosting the Congressional Art Competition in our district to recognize the artistic talents of students in our community. I’m excited to announce my office is now accepting entries from local high school students. Since this nationwide competition began in 1982, more than 650,000 high school students have been involved — including hundreds from our district alone.

    Every year, I am amazed by the incredible talent and creativity of young artists in our district. And one of the best parts about hosting the competition is getting to meet and speak with students one-onone about their artwork at the reception I host to recognize participants and announce the winner.

    Admittedly, this year’s competition is bittersweet. I am holding the competition in honor and remembrance of my good friend and legendary NASCAR artist Sam Bass, who passed away last week. 

    Sam, a Concord, North Carolina, resident, was a pillar in our community and a big part of NASCAR’s history. He was the first officially licensed NASCAR artist and created notable works ranging from car designs to program covers. He designed the iconic “Rainbow Warrior” scheme on Jeff Gordon’s car, and countless others, out of his studio in Concord. In addition, he was awarded the Smith Family Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018 by the Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau for his incredible contributions and impact on our community.

    He was beloved not just by our community but by NASCAR fans across the world. I got to know Sam through NASCAR. He even hosted the art competition one year at his gallery. I admired him not just for his talent but also for his incredible kindness. We continue to pray for his wife, Denise, and the entire Bass family as they go through this difficult time.

    This year, I hope all local high school students will join me in paying tribute to Sam by participating in the art competition.

    All entries must be an original in concept, design and execution and may not be larger than 26” x 26” x 4” — including the frame. Interested students should submit entries to my Concord or Fayetteville District offices by 5 p.m., Friday, April 26, with a completed 2019 Congressional Art Competition Student Information and Release Form. A full list of rules and the release form can be found on my website at https://hudson.house.gov/art-competition.

    The winner will be selected by an Arts Advisory Committee made up of artists from the district and will be announced at a reception hosted in Concord. The winner and one guest will have the opportunity to visit Washington, D.C., to participate in the national ceremony with other winners from congressional districts across the country, and winning artwork will be displayed for one year in the U.S. Capitol. Second place artwork will be displayed in my Washington, D.C., office, and third place artwork will be displayed in my Concord office.

    For more information, visit my website at hudson.house.gov or call my Concord office at 704-786-1612. Our district is home to incredibly gifted students, and I look forward to seeing this year’s entries.

  • 12EtafRumDo you remember the important North Carolina connection to “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” one of America’s most loved novels?

    The book was written in North Carolina. Although its author, Betty Smith, based the novel on her experience growing up in Brooklyn, New York, she wrote the book in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. As a struggling divorced woman with two children, she found work at the university until Harper & Brothers published her bestselling book in 1943.

    It usually happens the other way, with the Southern writer moving to New York to write. So you would have to think that this Brooklyn to North Carolina story is something special, one not likely to happen again.

    Surprise! It happened again Tuesday, March 5, when Smith’s publisher, now HarperCollins, released “A Woman Is No Man,” Etaf Rum’s debut novel. 

    Like Smith, Rum based her novel on her life growing up in Brooklyn. Like Smith, the divorced Rum moved to North Carolina. Like Smith, she had two children. Like Smith, she found work in higher education — in Rum’s case, community colleges near where she lives in Rocky Mount.

    Rum’s Palestinian immigrant family and neighbors in Brooklyn in the 1990s and 2000s are not the same as Smith’s families, whose roots were in western Europe.

    Still, both books deal with women’s struggles to make their ways in families and communities dominated by men.

    The central character in the first pages of Rum’s book is Isra, a 17-yearold Palestinian girl whose family forces her into marriage with an older man, Adam. He owns a deli and lives with his parents and siblings in Brooklyn. Adam and Isra move into the family’s basement. Isra becomes a virtual servant to Adam’s mother, Fareeda, who pushes the couple to have children. She wants males who can make money and build the family’s reputation and influence. When Isra produces only four children, all girls, she is dishonored by Fareeda. Adam beats her regularly. The central character of the second part of the book is Deya, Isra and Adam’s oldest daughter. Because Adam and Isra have died, Fareeda raises the children. Following the community’s customs, when Deya is a high school senior, Fareeda looks for a Palestinian man for her to marry. Deya wants to go to college, but she is afraid to bolt her family and the community’s customs. She knows of women who have stood up against male domination and then faced beatings and even death.

    “A Woman Is No Man” is fiction, but it is clearly autobiographical. As such, Rum explains, the book “meant challenging many long-held beliefs in my community and violating our code of silence.”

    “Growing up,” she writes, “there were limits to what women could do in society. Whenever I expressed a desire to step outside the prescribed path of marriage and motherhood, I was reminded over and over again: a woman is no man.”

    She writes that “what I hope people from both inside and outside my community see when they read this novel are the strength and resiliency of our women.”

    “A Woman Is No Man” will stir readers for other reasons, too.

    Its themes of conflict between a drive for individual fulfillment and the demands of community and family loyalty are universal. Readers who have given up some life ambition because it conflicted with a family or community expectation will identify with Isra and Deya. So will those who have lost family ties when they breached community norms.

    The author’s well-turned and beautiful writing makes reading a pleasure.

    Finally, her careful, fair-minded, sympathetic descriptions of complicated and interesting characters give the story a classic richness.

    Whether or not “A Woman Is No Man” becomes a best-seller and attains the beloved status of “A Tree Grows In Brooklyn,” it will, in the view of this reader, surely be a widely appreciated treasure.

    Photo: Etaf Rum

  • 11GPACGivens Performing Arts Center delivers high-quality entertainment, bringing diverse offerings season after season. The month of March promises to be especially exciting, with shows that range from ballet to bagpipes to an “On Stage for Youth” production of the story of Emmet Till.

    Monday, March 11, the Russian National Ballet performs “Sleeping Beauty” at 7:30 p.m. “Dar He: The Story of Emmet Till” is set for Monday, March 18, at 10 a.m. Rock ’n’ roll bagpipe band the Red Hot Chili Pipers take the stage Wednesday, March 20, at 7:30 p.m.

    The Russian National Ballet’s “Sleeping Beauty”

    Based on the Brothers Grimm tale, more than 50 dancers come together to tell this classic story.

    At the celebration of her birth, a princess is cursed to a 100-year sleep when she pierces her finger on a needle. In this version, the princess’ parents survive the sleep and get to see their daughter marry the prince.

    The enchanting score is by Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. It debuted in 1890 at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia. Marius Petipa choreographed the original production.

    “The Russian Ballet performed ‘Swan Lake’ at GPAC two years ago,” said James Bass, executive director of GPAC. “They are well liked, and they put on an amazing performance.

    “The Russian Ballet is widely respected around the world. We’re gracious to be able to present such a quality piece of art for our patrons.” The Russian National Ballet’s “Sleeping Beauty” is one of several performances held in conjunction with the Act I Diner’s Club. These themed meals are available for an extra charge and will be served in the University Dining Room before performances in GPAC. Call the GPAC box office at 910-521-6361 for information.

    “Dar He: The Story of Emmet Till”

    GPAC’s “On Stage for Youth” series provides educational programs that bring the classroom to the stage.

    “Dar He: The Story of Emmet Till” tells the story of young Emmet. In 1955, the 14-year-old black teen from Chicago, Illinois, visited Mississippi. Instead of making memories with his extended family, he was murdered for flirting with a white woman.

    The play covers Till’s murder, the trial of the men accused of killing him and their unbelievable confession.

    This performance is suggested for middle- to high-school-aged students. Tickets cost $10 for adults and $5 for children. Visit www.uncp.edu/resources/ gpac/stage-youth-series to download the study guide. Showtime is 10 a.m.

    “The Red Hot Chili Pipers” 

    The Red Hot Chili Pipers are a bagpipe band with attitude. The group’s setlist mixes traditional Scottish songs with standards like “Amazing Grace” as well as with covers of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” and dance hits of the ’90s.

    With a social media following of more than 360,000, this Scottish bagpipe band plays more than 200 shows each year.

    “They are a fun band,” said James Bass, executive director of GPAC. “They do some really great covers of songs everyone knows, songs from multiple generations. It’s going to be high energy.

    “Go out on YouTube and find one of their videos … see what they do … but trust me when I say seeing them live is a hundred times more fun.”

    The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost between $10 and $31. Visit www. uncp.edu/gpac or call 910-521-6361 for tickets and information.

  • The Fayetteville Public Works Commission has decided to treat Town of Hope Mills utility customers the same way it does City of Fayetteville customers. Hope Mills residents will enjoy so-called ‘in city’ water and sewer rates thanks to a decision last week by the PWC Board. 

    PWC purchased the Hope Mills water and sewer system 18 years ago. Officials recently determined that language in the purchase agreement was ambiguous. PWC spokesperson Carolyn Justice-Hinson said the discrepancy had just recently come to the utility’s attention. 

    “A couple of neighbors were comparing their bills and wondered why they were different,” said PWC Chairman Darsweil Rogers. 

    Public Works Commissioners decided language regarding rates had been interpreted in different ways resulting in rates for Hope Mills residents that were not being applied consistently. 

    “The PWC Board wanted to resolve the confusion related to this agreement and ensure rates are applied in a fair and consistent manner,” said Rogers. “We value our customers and are happy that we have been able to work with Mayor (Jackie) Warner and other Hope Mills officials to work out a resolution for our customers,” he concluded.

    From now on, customers located inside the town limits who have been billed outside-the-city rates will be changed over to the lower in-city rates. Not only that, they’ll be refunded the difference they have paid for water and sewer services, presumably retroactively to 1998. 

    “PWC is very responsive to Hope Mills, and I appreciate the cooperation and concern they have shown by looking into this matter and making this decision that benefits our citizens,” said Mayor Warner. 

    PWC officials say they will work with Hope Mills town officials to identify customers affected by the change who are eligible for refunds. 

     A joint committee will identify current and past Hope Mills residents who will receive in-city utility rates. Those customers will be individually notified about pending changes and the refunds to which they’re entitled. Because the Hope Mills town limits have changed over time the review is expected to take several months to identify the customers who will receive refunds. 


  • 10TrumboCape Fear Regional Theatre brings “Trumbo” to Fayetteville March 5-17. In today’s politically charged climate, the story of Dalton Trumbo, a prolific and talented Hollywood screenwriter whose work spans seven decades of the 20th century, serves as quite a cautionary tale about the lack of due process run wild.

    Before Trumbo was named as a member of the Communist Party — which was not illegal — and subsequently blacklisted and prohibited from working in films or any other entertainment medium, he was one of the highest-paid screenwriters in Hollywood. His films were routinely nominated for Academy Awards.

    In 1947, Trumbo, citing freedom of speech, refused to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee or to give the committee the names of others in Hollywood with Communist sympathies. He was convicted of contempt of Congress and served 11 months in jail. Thus began the Hollywood blacklist, which extended to Broadway, radio and television.

    Before the blacklist came to an end in the 1960s, an appallingly long list of entertainment personalities were deprived of their livelihoods.

    Hard evidence of Communist infiltration or subversion of the entertainment industry was never uncovered, yet hundreds of people’s lives were ruined without due process and by finger pointing alone.

    Larry Pine plays Trumbo in CFRT’s production of the same name. He’s acted in “All My Children,” “As the World Turns,” “Grand Budapest Hotel” and “House of Cards” among many other television and film credits. 

    “Trumbo” was written by Trumbo’s son, Christopher, and is directed by CFRT Artistic Director Mary Kate Burke.

     Despite the serious backdrop of Trumbo’s professional life, the play is warm and witty, told through personal letters. “Trumbo was such a magnificent writer,” said Burke. “His use of language and his wit make ‘Trumbo’ a very funny... and irreverent play, and Larry is an actor who is able to put the language across.

    “Trumbo is a role that actors who have a substantial body of work behind them are excited to take on.”

    One example of Trumbo’s legendary wit was his response to his contempt of Congress conviction.

    “As far as I was concerned,” Trumbo is famously quoted as saying, “it was a completely just verdict. I had contempt for that Congress and have had contempt for several since.

    “And on the basis of guilt or innocence, I could never really complain very much. That this was a crime or misdemeanor was the complaint, my complaint.”

    Michael Tisdale plays Trumbo’s son, Chris. He also voices the narrator and all other characters as they appear in the script.

    Andy Nicks is designing the costumes. There will be no set for “Trumbo.”

    “This show is going to be staged as ‘Disgraced’ was last year,” said Burke. “We use risers so that the audience surrounds the actors on three sides in what is known as thrust theater. There was such positive audience reaction to the staging of ‘Disgraced’ that we decided to use this more intimate staging again for ‘Trumbo.’”

    “Trumbo” promises to be a relevant and entertaining evening. For performance dates and ticket information, contact the CFRT box office at 910-323-4233 or visit www.cfrt.org. Box office hours are 1-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and one hour before the show on Saturdays and Sundays.

    Photo: Larry Pine

  • 01coverUAC030619001Jerome Najee Rasheed, known in the music business simply as Najee, is set to perform at Fayetteville State University’s J.W. Seabrook Auditorium the evening of Saturday, March 16. Najee is a musical pioneer; he released many of his jazz and R&B hits before smooth jazz was solidified as its own genre. “Smooth jazz didn’t exist until the (19)90s,” he said. “When I came out in ’86, they created a separate billboard chart. There was a billboard jazz chart and a contemporary jazz chart, and I charted on both.”

    Najee has been immersed in music his entire life. “My first exposure was through my mother,” he said. “She was an avid jazz listener. It was just part of the household musical experience — she listened to everything from R&B to jazz to Latin music to classical music.”

    Najee’s childhood interest in music transitioned into a career shortly after he graduated high school. He went on tour with his brother Fareed in the band Area Code at the age of 18. “We toured all over the world with the USO for about a year,” he said. “Then my mother told me that I had to go to school and get a job.”

    Najee’s early experience prepared him for success later on. After attending the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, Najee began performing with more big names in the industry. “When I couldn’t afford to go to the conservatory, my daughter and I went to New York (City) and got hired by Chaka Khan,” he said. “We toured for a year playing with her, and I signed in 1986 to Capitol Records.

    “Since that time, I’ve worked with people like Prince and Quincy Jones.”

    Najee released his first album, “Najee’s Theme,” in 1986. An immediate success, it received a Grammy Award nomination for best jazz album.

    That trend of success continues. “Of my first four albums, the first two went platinum, the two after that were certified gold,” he said. “After that, it was actually Prince who convinced me not to sign to a label.”

    Najee has collaborated with a handful of major artists, including Stevie Wonder, Freddie Jackson, Al Jarreau and George Duke. “The beautiful thing about all of that is I was fortunate enough to see the human side of it,” he commented.

    “When you’re around it, they’re just like everyone else — they like to laugh, they like to have fun,” Najee said, specifically speaking about performing for President Jerry Rawlings of the Republic of Ghana at the White House during the Bill Clinton administration.

    Najee hesitates to pick favorites when it comes to his performances, but he does admit to a few shows being particularly memorable. “I have many of those,” he said. “When Nelson Mandela was president of South Africa, he remarried and sponsored three concerts in South Africa. I was a guest along with Stevie Wonder and Chaka Khan; we did this major, beautiful concert on his (Mandela’s) behalf.”

    Though that event was nearly 21 years ago, Najee still remembers Mandela fondly. “What he did was a gift to the nation,” he said. “The highlight of it all was to have lunch with him in the presidential residence. He was such a nice and gracious man; you felt like you were sitting there with your father or grandfather.”

    After 23 years in the music industry, Najee still tours the world and releases new content. “We’ve been on the road since last year: Europe, Africa, the United States,” he said of himself and his band. “We are touring now — I’m on a smooth jazz cruise with all the major artists.

    “Fortunately, at this stage in my career, I choosem what I do. I’m having fun now.”

    Najee’s 17th album, “Poetry in Motion,” is a tribute to his collaboration with two outstanding artists: Al Jarreau and Prince. Najee recalls his time with these and other artists as positive learning experiences.

    “Les Brown once said that people grow through people and projects, and for me that’s been certainlytrue,” Najee said of his evolution as an artist. “Every situation I’ve been blessed to go into, I’ve been fortunate to take something from that experience.”

    Despite his success in the industry, Najee is humble and thankful for what he does. “No two daysare alike,” he said. “My life is just not that bad, trust me — I have nothing to complain about, and I’m very grateful to be doing what I do.”

    Aaron Singleton, personal relations representative for the Seabrook Performance Series at FSU, talked about the excitement Najee is bringing to the community. “We are so pleased to bring an artist at the caliber of Najee to Fayetteville,” he said. “(His) appearance is creating a lot of buzz around town.”

    Najee said the audience can look forward to a wonderful and diverse experience. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Fayetteville,” he said. “I’m looking forward to meeting some new people, some students on campus that are musicians. We do that (bring people on stage). I don’t know who’s available as of yet, but I have friends around town who might surprise you.”

    For the setlist, Najee plans on incorporating a variety of songs. “We perform things that I’ve recorded over the years... and we toss in the newer stuff as well,” he said.

    Steve Mack, budget director at FSU, is thrilled to welcome Najee back to North Carolina. “I’m certainly looking forward to it. I’ve seen the great Najee many times — I take advantage of every opportunity I get,” he said.

    Najee performs March 16 from 7:30-9:30 p.m. at FSU’s J.W. Seabrook Auditorium, located at 1200 Murchison Rd. For tickets, and to learn more, visit www.uncfsu.edu/najee.

  • 127 HOURS (Rated R) 4 Stars03-02-11-127-hours.gif

    So, allow me a moment to make a Public Service Announcement. Yes, The King’s Speech is all kinds of classy, and way more sophisticated than watching a dude cut off pieces of his body. But just because you are retired and walk with a cane and want to see the classy movie, you still have the wait your turn in line behind those of us there to watch James Franco cut pieces off of himself. In other words: the person behind the counter opened up that extra line for those of us who had been waiting … they did not see you walk in the door and think, wow, older people need a special line. Please apply this rule to the line for getting into Aspen Creek, depositing money into the bank, and checking out at the grocery store as well.

    The Internet Movie Database manages to sum up 127 Hours (94 minutes) pretty quickly: “A mountain climber becomes trapped under a boulder while canyoneering alone near Moab, Utah and resorts to desperate measures in order to survive.” Now I ask you — how can I possibly write 500 words when that is literally all that happens? Luckily for the readers, I know a bit of background, and when I run out of interesting historical details I can always make fun of James Franco for his guest role on General Hospital.

    Danny Boyle knows what he is doing as a screenwriter and behind a camera. I mean, if he can turn five minutes of a little boy swimming in crap into two hours of Oscar Gold (his 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire), he’s doing something right. It took him four years to translate the true story of climber Aron Ralston into the big screen, and he made very few alterations to do so. In fact, the only major change occurs in the beginning of the narrative.

    Ralston (Franco) prepares for his midnight drive into the canyons of Utah by listening to some pretty killer high energy techno-pop … carefully chosen/crafted/arranged by previous Boyle collaborator A.R. Rahman. The high energy introduction allows for periodic breaks that give the audience a sense of Ralston’s ability to pause and appreciate life, only to jump immediately back into action. The frenetic early action is especially intense when compared to the later moments of forced inaction … although even when pinned under boulders Boyle and Franco manage to inject the scenes with purposeful motion.

    After the techno drive, followed by starlit camping, it is time for techno bike-riding and then techno running. Which is interrupted by lost, hot, girls (Amber Tamblyn and Kate Mara). Who are hot both appearance-wise and because it is the middle of the day and they are hiking in the desert. Here is where the dramatic narrative veers off a bit … in real life Ralston showed them some climbing moves. In the movie, he manages to convince them that following a scruffy dude into the middle of nowhere is a great life choice. And that there is nothing wrong with following him into a situation he is deliberately vague about. And when he jumps off a cliff, you should totally jump off the cliff after him.

    So after his love of life utterly charms them, they invite him to a Scooby Doo party and he runs off. Because he is full of life! And, why walk when you can run? Once he is on his own he does some nifty canyoneering moves. Unfortunately, about 30 minutes into the film, just as he is well into the outdoorsy spirit, his nifty moves turn a rock into a projectile, projected at him. So, prepare to spend the next hour or so watching Ralston get progressively nuttier, wishing you had lots of water to drink, and, if you’re me, laughing at the other people in the theater who are closing their eyes for all the best scenes. Or, possibly laughing at all the best scenes. Because I find humor in people drinking their own pee to survive. Is that wrong? No. No it is not.

  • Unknown (Rated PG-13)      3 STARS 

    Unknown (113 minutes) is an entertaining drive through the spy genre even if the plot holes are big enough to drive a finely made German taxicab through. This particular version of a well-tread story is based on a French novel, but Director Jaume Collet-Serra doesn’t do a whole lot to distinguish his material from any other mysterious man films.

    Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) and his daughter Elizabeth (January Jones) arrive in Berlin for a biotechnology summit. He gets a little handsy with her during the taxi ride over, which might explain her overall shirtiness when dealing with the hotel staff. That’s no way to love your daughter, Dr. Harris!

    While his daughter checks them into a fancy suite, he realizes he left his briefcase with all his secret spy papers and espionage stuff at the airport so he runs to get it. He ends up in Gina’s (Diane Kruger) cab, and then Gina’s cab ends up in the river. In the first of many, “Gosh, should I save him? Yes, Yes I will save him” moments, Gina pulls an unconscious Harris from the river, and he is taken to a hospital.

    During his coma he has many inappropriate flashbacks about his daughter — whoops, my bad, apparently that’s his trophy wife — and then wakes up to find that he has been in a coma. Since patients recently woken from a coma with no identification or any way of proving who they are get to do whatever they want in German hospitals, he checks himself out.

    He manages to get back to the hotel he left from only to find another man macking on his wife and claiming to be Dr. Martin Harris (Aiden Quinn). Since secret agents have absolutely no survival instincts to draw on when they find themselves in bizarre situations, the man with no proof of his identity proceeds to raise a ruckus and draw lots of attention to himself. When that doesn’t work in his favor, he gathers his wits and tricks hotel security into getting him a cab back to the hospital, then tricks the cabdriver into letting him out immediately. Very tricky, this guy.

    He draws on the apparently limitless funds he was carrying (while leaving all his important paperwork in a briefcase that he totally left at the airport) to blunder around Berlin for most of a day, never thinking to check in at the embassy. Because of the conspiracy? Or something? Eventually he decides that he is, in fact, as crazy as all the conspirators keep telling him he is, so he heads back to the hospital and stays safely out of the way until the end of the movie. Just kidding! A dude totally kills like, a million important people, and tries to assassinate him thus revealing that all is not as it seems. Duh. All in all, it’s not an awful movie.

    Why the three stars? Well, when 58-year-old January Jones (or Kruger, for that matter) gets to run around with a 33-yearold James Franco, then we’ll start talking about an extra star. I would LOVE to provide a simpler example … but the male actors who are 25 years younger than January Jones are all currently starring on the Suite Life of Zack and Cody. So the only film where they work as romantic leads is the Lifetime Movie Network’s The Mary Kay Letourneau Story. And I don’t think January Jones has the chops for that. Because she can’t act. And while we’re on the subject, Maggie Grace, who played Neeson’s daughter in Taken is only five years younger than January Jones. Yeah. Think about that.

    Wow. What a shame that busting on Unknown is so easy … it’s really not such a bad little movie. True, Liam Neeson has pretty much played out his “man with certain skills” range, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable to watch him drive around crashing into things.

  • 10 scrapbookingThis article originally ran in the March 2020 edition of Women's View Magazine.

    I remember certain events from my children’s childhoods vividly, and yet some things I question, especially as the years pass by. So, I enjoy having as many memories preserved in photos  as possible to review and confirm details. I am also the historian in my family; when other family members can’t find a photo of a loved one, I am the one they come to see. I have scrapbooks meticulously organized, going back to my childhood.

    My first experience with scrapbooking was through my stepmother, Nina, who faithfully preserved all our adventures in books for us to bring home at the end of  each summer. Of course, these were the old-fashioned scrapbooks with a film over the pictures to hold them in place. Her detailed preservation of family memories helped me to develop an interest in and create my own way of scrapbooking. Consider these tips before starting your first book.

    First, get old pictures out of nonphoto-safe memory books as soon as possible. Those old books can damage pictures and are not the best way to preserve memories.
    Secondly, convert your old photos to digital copies to prevent further damage. Mark them as close to the date taken as possible, to make it easier to find these photos in the future.

    Lastly, save those digital copies in at least three different locations. One can be on a computer, another perhaps an external hard drive kept in a different location and lastly, maybe an online service or in the cloud.

    Update these pictures with your new ones regularly in all locations at the same time, so as never to be caught by surprise if a smartphone or computer dies. Some popular sites for saving photos are Google Photos, DropBox, One Drive and the Amazon Prime app.

    Many traditional scrapbookers are still out there,  those who still put the photo to paper with glue and decorations, but more people are scrapbooking digitally. If you still use traditional scrapbooking methods, be sure you are using photo-safe paper, tape and scrapbooks, so all pictures will remain vibrant for years to come.

    Digital scrapbooking occurs in several ways. I like to make an annual book for my family to recap events from the past year, but I also create special books from time to time, particularly of vacations, such as from a 2008 trip to St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

    I’ve also made special books for my sons from the major events in their childhood. Both children have baby books and albums of their sports and extracurriculars.

    I print my photo books through Creative Memories, a service that also sells the supplies for both traditional and digital scrapbooking, but other services are available to consider. Do keep in mind that some of the low-cost options do not always have the best quality outcomes; the books should hold up for years to come. Some of these other options, though, do make it easy to drag and drop your pictures into precreated albums, a nice convenience.

    My last suggestion is that you don’t just lay out pictures. If you are doing traditional or digital scrapbooking, be sure to record notes or captions about the picture or the day to enhance your remembrances. These details may be important to you or a descendent in the future. Either way, it is another memory preserved – that is what scrapbooking is all about.

  • 14 ConcertThe health of members in our community is important. Due to the spread of the coronavirus, as a precaution, several events have been cancelled throughout the community. Please call to confirm events. 

    Shows like "American Idol" and "The Voice" have captivated the eyes and ears of people all across America for over a decade. These shows seemingly find some of the best vocal talent right off the street and plop them into living rooms in front of the whole country as they compete to see who has what it takes to be America's next hit performer. So, many people whose lives and voices tug at your heart strings filter through season to season but seem to disappear after it is all said and done. You're left saying, “Hey, what happened to that guy?” or “I really liked that one girl!” but have no clue what they've been doing since the show's finale. 

    In 2009, on Season 8 of "American Idol," we met Wisconsin native and former church music director, Danny Gokey, who quickly won the hearts of the nation with his larger-than-life voice. However, there was more to Gokey than just his voice. Just four weeks before his audition, his wife of 12 years died due to heart disease but not before encouraging him to audition for one of her favorite shows — "American Idol."

    America watched Gokey nail every performance in the middle of his overwhelming grief as he rose to third place that season. But, after the season ended, he seemed to disappear into the background of the music industry. 

    After a couple of less-than-successful mainstream pop records, Gokey made the move musically to go back to where his heart could truly sing — he was signed to Christian music label BMG in 2013 and released his first Christian album in 2014.

    Since 2014, Gokey has been nominated for eight GMA Dove awards and a Grammy, and he won a GMA Dove award in 2016 for Christmas Album of the Year. He most recently won K-LOVE Fan awards for Male Artist of the Year and Breakout Single for his song “Tell Your Heart to Beat Again” in 2018. Gokey has seen many milestone career moments, with all four of his albums debuting at No. 1 on Billboard Christian, RIAA Certified Gold Single, over 750,000 albums sold and over 175 million online streams. 

    Even better news? His current tour, Unplugged: Stories and Songs featuring Coby James, is coming to our area. Mark your calendars for Thursday, April 2 at 7 p.m. at Central Baptist Church in Dunn. Get your tickets at www.christian1057.com, and click the Danny Gokey banner on the homepage.

  • 13 N1907P16005CThe health of members in our community is important. Due to the spread of the coronavirus, as a precaution, several events have been cancelled throughout the community. Please call to confirm events. 

    The sixth annual Master Gardeners Spring Garden Symposium promises growth on many fronts. Fresh ideas from gardening experts, a bounty of information and a bushel of fun await attendees. The day is packed with inspiring and insightful presentations, vendors, raffles, auction items and friendly faces. March 21, head to Ramada Plaza at the Bordeaux Convention Center and dig in to one of the area’s most refreshing springtime events. 

    Sponsored by the Cumberland County Master Gardener Volunteer Association, the event brings guest speakers Joe Lamp’l, creator, executive producer and host of the Emmy-award-winning national PBS series “Growing a Greener World”; Kerry Ann Mendez, an award-winning garden educator, author and design consultant whose international gardening webinars are enjoyed by thousands; and Jason Weathington NC State/Cumberland County Extension urban horticulture agent and landscape architect.

    The doors open at 8 a.m. with a welcome set for 8:45 a.m. Come early and browse the many vendor booths and silent auction and raffle items.

    Mendez opens the program at 9 a.m. with a presentation titled “The Budget-Wise Gardener: Plant the Best for Less! Money-Saving Tips for Purchasing Plants Plus Cost-Saving Garden Designs,” which is based on her newest book, The Budget-Wise Gardener. In it, she will talk about how to become a savvy garden shopper.  “I also talk about interesting venues and resources and ways to purchase plants beyond the standard garden center,” said Mendez. “I encourage people to support family-owned garden centers. There are many other venues, though, that are wonderful. Many flower and garden shows have adopted the policy that at the end of the show, many plants that were used in the display beds in the show will go on sale. You can also get good deals on hardscaping décor. 

    “Another thing becoming popular is seed banks at libraries where the library has a seed bank and most are edible plants. You check out the seeds, and your responsibility is — at the end of the season —  to return some seeds from your harvest. Many organizations also host classes to teach people how to grow their own foods. This is becoming big in inner cities and other food deserts.”

    Mendez noted that she will talk about  10-15 different ways gardeners can get the most out of the gardening budget without giving up quality.

    From 10-10:30 a.m. there will be a break followed by Weathington’s presentation “The Outdoor Room.” Weathington is a North Carolina Cooperative Extension Agent, Agriculture - Urban Horticulture, at the Cumberland County Center. It’s not unusual to get inspired by an outdoor space seen on a home improvement or gardening show, Weathington noted. It’s also not unusual for the end result to be less-than-stellar. Sometimes even embarrassing. He aims to help change that.

    “The focus of my talk will give people the confidence to go out and create an amazing space, which I think everyone desires to have but very few know how to create,” said Weathington. “It’s important to go back to basic landscape elements and how you can use them to our advantage. Most of us need to learn some of the basics.

    “To me the greatest advantage of an outdoor room is the amount of time you spend outdoors. You are trying to increase the level of comfort because if it is really cold or hot, you won’t be out there long. What you are trying to do is reduce those harsh conditions and make it more pleasant, which is better.”

    And part of that, Weathington said, means getting it right the first time. “Be careful who you take advice from. Making mistakes can get really expensive and frustrating. I had a professor in grad school who talked about experiential quality – that is what a lot of outdoor spaces lack.”

    A seated lunch is set for 11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m. Lunch is included in the $70 admission price. This is also the time to get in any last-minute bids for the auction, as it closes at 12:45 p.m. Local plant guru and horticultural expert Roger Mercer will speak briefly from 12:45-1 p.m.

    Mendez returns to present “Gardening Simplified: Plants and Design Solutions for Time-Pressed and Maturing Gardeners” from 1-2 p.m. This inspiring lecture provides easy- to-follow right-sizing strategies, recommended no-fuss plant material and design tips for stunning year-round gardens that will be as close to ‘autopilot’ as you can get. The lecture is based on Mendez’s book “The Right-Size Flower Garden.”

    “Gardening brings such pleasure to our heart and soul, and it is healthy for our heart and mind,” Mendez said. “The emotional, physical and spatial benefits of gardening at any size is so rewarding. I wish more people would not be intimidated by gardening. I wish they would get a pot and plant a seed and just try it. … It is so healing and beneficial.”

    There will be another break from 2-2:30 p.m. This is also when auction winners will be posted.

    The final presentation of the day runs from 2:30-3:30 p.m. and comes from  Lamp’l. Through video and award-winning photography, attendees will  meet fascinating people, see interesting places and learn about innovative ideas of people positively impacting their urban communities and beyond – all with a common thread of urban gardening.“We look to tell the stories of inspiring people doing great things for the planet through gardening,” said Lamp’l.

    “We look for those stories that are new to people — innovators, trendsetters or newsmakers. We set out for stories across the country and bring back footage and memories and turn it into a TV show. I am gonna take about 15 of those stories and share them with the audience with a focus on urban garden stories about people who don’t have a place to garden or know how to garden.” 

     This event is a fundraiser for to support local horticulture efforts and for scholarships for Fayetteville Technical Community College horticulture students.

     “We give two scholarships at $1,500,” said Cumberland County Master Gardener Spring Gardening Symposium Chairperson  Judy Dewar. “We also offer grants to teachers who offer horticulture classes. And we strive to find ways to educate our county residents.”

    Dewar added that this event is for every level of gardener – “There is something from the most adept gardener to the one who has never planted a seed.”  Search the symposium on Eventbrite to purchase tickets or for more details.

  • 11 the complete worksThe health of members in our community is important. Due to the spread of the coronavirus, as a precaution, several events have been cancelled throughout the community. Please call to confirm events. 

    Whether you are intrigued by slapstick comedies or you appreciate Shakespeare’s works, a merger of the Bard’s plays and hilarity will have you in stitches and on the edge of your seat. “The  Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged” will open at Gilbert Theater on March 27. 

    The play was one of the longest running plays in the West End, London’s theater district, ranking No. 20. It showed for nine years with more than 3,000 performances of the production. 

    Performing the show is a large feat. “It’s basically three guys who run through all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays in about an hour and forty-five minutes. As you can imagine, it tends to get a little silly,” Artistic Director Lawrence Carlisle III explains. 

    Wesley Wilburn, Chris Walker and Matt Gore make up the cast. Walker, aside from his acting resume in other cities, has performed in several plays at the Gilbert, including “The Laramie Project,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “A Secret Garden.” Wilburn was in the Gilbert’s Glee program. This is his first lead role in a main stage show. He was in “It’s a Wonderful Life” two years ago. The show is Gore’s Gilbert debut, although he has performed in Goldsboro at the Neuse Little Theater and Theater in the Park in Raleigh. He’s been in shows with Center Stage Theater as well. 

    Due to the amount of Shakesperian ground to be covered in conjunction with a small cast, the production is zany and off-the-wall. 

    “The show is kind of meta in that they talk to the audience quite a bit,” Carlisle explains. “Each of the actors is playing a fictionalized version of themselves. When it was written, it was written by three guys and the characters are just their names. But then they go through each of Shakespeare’s plays with each of them playing multiple roles even if it’s only for a moment. Think Monty Python doing Shakespeare. It’s hysterical.”

    There is no real set to speak of. Most of the story is told through acting and quick costume changes.

    Carlisle looks forward to the community seeing the play because he feels that it fills an important need. “With everything going on in the world right now, I think maybe people need to take a break and just enjoy some silliness,” he said. 

    “We’ve been rehearsing close to three weeks, and I laugh every night at rehearsal and I’ve seen them doing it every day. They still manage to make me laugh.” 

    The show runs at the Gilbert Theater from March 27 to April 12. Tickets can be purchased online at https://www.gilberttheater.com/ or by calling 910-678-7186.

  • 07 Murder for TWo Everybody loves a good mystery!

    Let me clue you in on a great way to spend a remarkable evening, or perhaps a Saturday or Sunday matinee, March 5-22. A sold-out house had a great time this past Thursday night at the Cape Fear Regional Theatre, from 7:30- 9 p.m., trying to solve a musical murder mystery. Inside, we were all warm, comfortable, giggly, awestruck and, at times, laughingly flabbergasted.

    “Murder for Two,” directed by Laura Josepher and starring Trace Pool and Ben Miller, suited everyone’s sense of humor, from the youngest to the oldest person. Josepher and the CFRT creative team made sure the actors, script, props, set design, costumes and lighting set the perfect artistic tone.

    Who would have thought that weather, murder, mystery, music and a cast of two could have pulled off this “whodunit” with such ease, comedy, endurance, enthusiasm, energy, grace and style?

    The plot of this knee-slapping play takes place in a remote New England mansion and centers on a murder that happens during a birthday party. Trace Pool plays investigator Marcus Moscowitz, who is in charge of the case, and Ben Miller plays several different characters who are persons-of-interest for the murder. The suspects include the murder victim’s wife Dahlia, ballerina Barrette Lewis (my personal favorite), psychiatrist Dr. Griff, neighbors Murray and Barb Flandon, three young choir boys, and the mysterious “Perfect Partner” for investigator Moscowitz, who always abides by perfect protocol. Since there are both male and female suspects, Miller and Pool tested their entire physical, vocal and visual prowess to pull off very skillful and challenging performances.

     Watching Miller and Pool play off each other in such an easygoing, no-nonsense style was delightful. They seemed to be able to read each other’s minds, movements and mannerisms, which were essential to pulling the audience into their every line, every animation and every laugh. The audience was included in the set of the play and even participated in one scene.

    When questioned about what they liked best and least, the audience said much the same “the ease, the professionalism, the antics, the singing, the piano playing were the best.” Least enjoyed, mentioned only by men, was “the mental concentration it took to stay in each moment,” but they admitted it was worth it in the end.

    Writing this review was a first for me. Then it came to me that I do not usually agree with movie, song or play critics. For me, it is all about pure entertainment, what it makes me think or feel, what gives me joy and pleasure, what makes me sad or cry. So, for my first play review, I just went with what felt good to me and made me smile, and what I saw made others smile as well — and that, folks is entertainment.

  • 09 lip syncDue to the spread of COVID-19, as a precaution, the Ultimate Lip Sync Showdown has been postponed. The new date is June 20. The location and time remain the same (Crown Ballroom, 6 p.m. Social Hour & 7 p.m. Show Time). For patrons who purchased tickets for the March 21 show, you may use the same tickets for the June 20 show. There is no need to exchange them for new tickets. For patrons who purchased tickets but are unable to use their tickets for the June 20 show and who wish to receive a refund, please follow these instructions:

    • If tickets were purchased online, you may call the Crown Center box office at 910438-4100 to be refunded electronically. Tickets will be refunded in the manner in which they were paid.
    • If tickets were purchased in person at the Crown Center box office, you must go to the box office for a refund and present a valid ID. Tickets will be refunded in the manner in which they were paid.
    • Requests for refunds must be made by May 1, 2020.

    Sponsors who received tickets as part of their sponsor benefits will be contacted directly by the CAC.

    It’s a safe to wager that most people have spent some time lip syncing to their favorite jams. Whether it’s when a catchy song plays on the radio or a tune worth foot-tapping for plays in a movie, some bops are hard not to mouth the words to. In Fayetteville’s Ultimate Lip Sync Showdown, which will take place March 21 at 6 p.m. in the Crown Ballroom,  local organizations and individuals take their best lip sync routines to the stage and go head-to-head for a great cause.

    The event’s proceeds make up about 20% of the annual budget for the Child Advocacy Center, the nonprofit charitable organization that puts on the event. The CAC serves the community in a variety of ways, with outreach programs, child abuse awareness campaigns, teaching programs, and of sex-trafficking awareness initiatives, to name a few. In the fiscal year of 2019, the CAC served 730 children.

     Julia Adkins, who is the chair of Fayetteville’s Ultimate Lip Sync Showdown, projects that the upcoming event will, as it always is, be a huge success. “This is our 4th year,” Adkins said, “In the past 3 years, we’ve raised $30,000 each year. The Showdown is on track to be another sellout show, and we are excited — truly blessed.”

    This year, there are 14 acts. The organizers of the event invited competitors from years past to compete again, but new contenders will be ready to face off as well. Among the competitors, law enforcement, schools, healthcare professionals and local businesses are represented.

    Last year, the winning group performed a song from “The Greatest Showman.” This year, Adkins said a variety of popular hits include songs by Cher, Lizzo, Ike and Tina Turner and the Backstreet Boys.

    While the primary purpose of participating in the Ultimate Lip Sync Showdown is supporting the CAC, contenders are also competing for the Top Fundraiser, People’s Choice Award, Best Choreography, Best Costume and the highest of the honors, Fayetteville’s Ultimate Lip Sync Stars. Trophies and plaques are awarded to the winners.
     The judges are Toni King, Tim Edwards, Victoria Hardin and Bill Bowman. The emcees are Michael Brash and Taylor Morgan.

    “My favorite part is being able to watch the crowd’s reaction, who are giving up their time, coming together for such a great cause, and that’s for the children,” Adkins said.
    Another feature of the event is the raffle. The prizes are a 55-inch TV, an iPad and a “weekend getaway in the ‘ville,” which covers a hotel stay and gift certificates to local businesses for a perfect “staycation.” Tickets are $5 or five for $20.

     Hors d’oeuvres, desserts and cocktails are provided by Blue Pineapple, Burney’s, Caruso Confections, Dairy Queen, Freddy’s and Rosalia’s. The green room is provided by Chick-fil-a.

    Adkins admires the generosity of the competitors. “They give up their time and their money,” Adkins said. “They don’t care if they don’t win. They just want to support a great cause.”

    The Ultimate Lip Sync Showdown is March 21 at 6 p.m. Tickets are still available at the  Cape Fear Tix website. While tickets will be sold at the door if they are available, they have been sold out in years past, and Adkins recommends that tickets are purchased in advance.

  •   Mark your calendar for Friday, March 20, if you’re in the market for love.
      Or rather, Love, Sweet Love.
      The play Love, Sweet Love — produced and directed by Cassandra Vallery — will be at Highland Country Club and marks the 12th Annual Evening at the Theater … the chief fundraiser for Cumberland County-based nonprofit healthcare provider Better Health.
      “We’ve been receiving a good number of donations despite the poor economy,” said Judy Klinck, executive director for Better Health. “But there is still an urgent need for funds to help us provide our services for the community.”
      Better Health was founded in 1958 by a group of citizens who were concerned that the indigent could not afford their medications. From that simple starting point Better Health has bridged the gap in healthcare for 50 years.
      Better Health became a United Way agency in 1959 and was incorporated in 1991 as a nonprofit organization under federal law 501(c)3. The agency expanded to become a full time, full service agency governed by a volunteer board of directors.
      Among the many service sit provides:
    •Prescription medications;
    •Vision exams/eyeglasses;
    •Emergency dental extractions;
    •Orthotics & prosthetics;
    •Medical supplies;
    •Medical equipment;
    •Gas assistance to out-of-town medical appointments;
    •Diabetes monitoring clinics with education session;
    •Glucometer training;
    •Exercise classes for diabetics;
    •Diabetes and blood pressure screening;
    •Diabetes supplies;
    •Foot care clinics;
    •Vision screening for eye disease.
      “We were founded in 1958 to help the poor who left the hospitals and couldn’t afford follow-up care or medical supplies,” said Klinck. “Unfortunately, there’s still a great need for our services here in Cumberland County.”
      Klinck says the production of Love, Sweet Love was a resounding success last year, drawing about 250 theater-goers. This year’s show, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m., will include hors d’oeuvres, spirits and “festive sweets,” as well as some familiar faces.
      “The same local cast has performed Love, Sweet Love the past several years,” said Klinck. “They’re very talented and very enthusiastic and do a great job.”
      For more information about the 12th Annual Evening at the Theater, call 483-7534, or check out the Web site, www.betterhealthcc.org.

  • 12 concertIn a recent conversation with songwriter Mark Hall of Casting Crowns, we laughed over the irate response to their first single to Christian radio back in 2003. The song was, “If We Are The Body,” which asks us — the church — if we are collectively here as the hands, the feet, the heart of Jesus, why are we not reaching, touching and going to everyone, everywhere?

    Within weeks of the time the song played in Fayetteville at WCLN, we received a call from a missionary home on sabbatical who asked, “Who is this band, and what gives them the right to level this sort of judgment?”

    No more an affront to Christians than saying “We need to clean up this city” to a town council, the song was as much a surprise to the band as a first radio single as anyone else. During our phone call, the man who penned the song commented that the record label made the decision, and that they realized the band would be coming out swinging.

    Casting Crowns, after nearly 20 years of Gospel Music Association Dove Awards, Grammy nominations and No. 1 songs stacked as high as one could hope, are bringing their unique sound — now a staple of Christian radio and playlists far and wide — to the Crown Theatre on Saturday, March 14.
    Lead man Mark Hall and his wife, Melanie, still serve as youth workers at their home church in south Atlanta, and they only do so many dates per year — always ending up back home for their weekly gatherings on Sunday.

    Casting Crowns began as the student worship band that Hall formed while he was serving at First Baptist Daytona Beach in 1999. Since then, they have moved their home base to Georgia, amassed a string of chart-topping songs and albums and developed a musical following others merely dream of.

    The “Only Jesus” Tour features another songwriter who also brings his share of radio hits and accolades to the table. Matthew West, who came on the scene about the same time as Casting Crowns has scored numerous top 10 singles and was the 2018 Gospel Music Association Songwriter of the Year.

    The performance at the Crown is March 14 at 7 p.m. Visit www.crowncomplexnc.com/events/ to buy tickets.
     
  •      The Fisher House is a home-away-from-home for the families of injured soldiers in military hospitals all over the world.
         At Fort Bragg, the Fisher House is located at the corner of Normandy Drive and Reilly Street. The house, which is overseen by Paula Gallero, provides a comfortable, welcoming environment for families who travel to Fort Bragg to help take care of or visit their loved ones who are in the hospital.
         {mosimage}On Saturday, April 4, The Vietnam Vets Motorcycle Club will host Patriot Run VII to benefit The Fisher House. With a theme of “Never Forget,” the run will begin promptly at 10 a.m. at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #9103 located at 14258 Hwy. 210 S.
         The route will take riders through the countryside to the N.C. Capitol building in Raleigh for the POW/MIA ceremony at noon. On the first Saturday of each month a ceremony is held on the state capital grounds in Raleigh to memorialize those missing from the Tar Heel State.
         Following the ceremony, riders will head out again and wind their way back to the American Legion Post 382 in Sanford, where they will fellowship and enjoy entertainment.
         There is a $15 donation per person to participate in the ride. The fee includes the meal, door prizes, a T-shirt and entertainment. All checks should be made payable to The Fisher House.
         The Vietnam Vets Motorcycle Club USA is an international organization with members in Europe, Canada, Australia and the United States. The club has members in all 50 states including Alaska and Hawaii. It is made up of two highly compatible groups of former U.S. military men: Those who served in the country of Vietnam and earned the Vietnam service ribbon and those who served honorably in the military during the Vietnam war and earned the National Defense ribbon.
         The club devotes its time, energy and resources to help build a better future for all vets and their families. Their main focus is on bringing home POW/MIAs and getting a full accounting of each and every one of the missing men.
         For more information, visit the Web site at www.vnvmc.nc.org. For information about the Fort Bragg Fisher House, visit www.fisherhouse.org/theHouses/northCarolina.shtml.
  • 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.

  • 11 01 Organizers of shoppingDue to the spread of COVID-19, as a precaution, The Carolina Spring Show has been cancelled.

     

    Spring arrives early in Fayetteville with the advent of The Carolina Spring Show and Miss Carolina Spring pageant March 14 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at the Crown Ballroom. The budding event brings shopping, entertainment, food, fun, prizes and pageantry to chase the doldrums of winter away.

    Women’s View Magazine, The Fayetteville Observer and Dream Girl Events proudly present the inaugural expo created by event co-owners and Fayetteville businesswomen Marie Rudolph and Donna Meixsell. Friends for over 20 years, the pair founded Dream Girl Events LLC in August 2019 to express their shared vision for the celebration, empowerment, personal growth and development of and for women.

    The third in a series of events from the company this year, The Carolina Spring Show and Miss Carolina Spring pageant, is their hallmark happening and promises, according to Meixsell, “good, clean family fun and an event to make Fayetteville proud.”

    Meixsell shared her goals for what she and Rudolph hope will become an annual occurrence.

    “We’re inviting the best of Fayetteville and bringing the best to Fayetteville, all in one convenient location for a fabulous day of shopping with a variety of vendors for both men and women. The pageant will be going on throughout the day with onstage entertainment in between competitions for everyone’s viewing enjoyment. We encourage all to come out to support the community, local businesses and our young pageant contestants in what is shaping up as a phenomenal spring experience.”

    11 02 spring show shoppersThe Carolina Spring Show has a great line-up of retail vendors, with the list growing daily.

    Attendees can visit booths for wine tasting, clothing, jewelry, makeup, skincare, home decor, custom gifts, photography, designer jewelry, crafts and more.

    Pageant purveyors will be on-site, featuring dresses, shoes and custom pageant apparel as well as bridal and formal attire. To bring on the bling, visit the custom costume jewelry booth of MHR Designs of Fayetteville, owned by Rudolph for the last 28 years. Uniquely hand designed with crystals from Swarovski® Crystal America, MHR pieces have been worn by TV personalities, local, state and national pageant contestants, as well as lovers of exquisite jewelry from all over.

    Food choices include selections from Village Coffee House, Firehouse Subs, Rock of Ages Winery and food trucks. A man cave area will give male attendees a hangout space if they shop ‘til they drop. No fair, say you, females? No worries, anyone can crash in the cave.

    The Carolina Spring Pageant takes center stage in the Crown Ballroom from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Categories include seven age groups: Baby Miss, birth-23 months; Wee Miss, 2-3 years; Tiny Miss, 4-6 years; Little Miss, 7-9 years; Young Miss, 10-12 years; Teen Miss, 13-15 years; and Miss, 16-19 years. Their age determines a contestant’s age group on the day of the pageant.

    Picture 1:Donna Meixsell (left) and Marie Rudolph (right) founded Dream Girl Events, LLC in Aug. 2019 to express their shared vision for the celebration, empowerment, personal growth and development of and for women.

    Contestants will be judged in a party or pageant dress of choice, in the categories of physical appearance, poise, stage presence and behavior. One winner from each age category will be crowned at the event, receiving a title, crown, trophy and swag bag of goodies.

    Rudolph — MHR owner, designer and sponsor for the Miss North Carolina and Miss America Outstanding Teen pageants, and business partner Meixsell — a former Miss Fayetteville Dogwood, previous pageant system owner and teacher turned present-day senior sales director with MaryKay Cosmetics — are no strangers to the stage. Rather than buy a franchise, the pair decided to combine their talents and create a new pageant brand.

    “Some people have the wrong perception of pageants due to TV and reality shows like “Toddlers and Tiaras,” explained Rudolph. “Such shows are not realistic and to the extreme. Meanwhile, other real pageants have had controversies. We want to show the positive side of the pageant world. We desire to help our contestants feel good about themselves and learn to compete in a good, healthy way, and having had a good experience and fun.”

    “Pageants can be a great way to pay for college,” Meixsell continued. “The titles I earned helped me to pay my college costs, and I was not a girl who grew up doing pageants. It is important to us to help young women and girls become the best version of themselves possible.”

    Between pageants, the fun continues with door prizes and local musicians and dance troupes providing onstage entertainment. Another highlight is the 50/50 raffle opportunity benefiting the nonprofit Fisher House Foundation, with tickets available for purchase at the event door.

    Building homes where military and veterans families can stay free of charge while a loved one is in the hospital, FHF provides a hotel alternative and place of respite very close to the hospital or treatment facility. Located at military and Veterans Affairs medical centers around the world, the program saves military and veterans’ families time, money and stress during what is often the most stressful of situations: a health crisis. The Fisher House Foundation has saved military families an estimated $451 million in out of pocket costs for lodging and transportation to date.

    “We are both military wives with husbands retired from service,” said Rudolph. “We feel a strong commitment to the military community and are happy to have this opportunity to support The Fisher House Foundation at Ft. Bragg.”

    Previous projects for Dream Girl Events in the past year were the Friday Night Live Fantasy Fashion Show event and Shop ‘til You Drop Christmas Expo. The successful events return this year on Sept. 18 and Nov. 21, respectively.

    For more information on The Carolina Spring Show and the Miss Carolina Spring Pageant, visit  https://www.dreamgirlevents.com/. Tickets are $6, available on the website or at the Crown box office. Event admission is free for patrons with military identification.

    So, put the cold, wet winter days behind you and a spring in your step this March 14. Grab some friends and head to The Carolina Spring Show for a fun Saturday of shopping and supporting youth, local businesses and a great cause.

  • 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!

  • 09 Murder for two There is nothing I like better than a good mystery. A “whodunit” novel, a thrilling Lifetime TV movie, a Hallmark movie mystery, or an Angela Lansbury “Murder She Wrote” storyline will tantalize most anyone’s taste buds. And who doesn’t love to laugh and have fun along my life’s way? “Murder for Two,” an off-Broadway hit, has come to Cape Fear Regional Theatre, March 5-22. This play offers everything to everyone. Music, mystery, laughter and fun are just a few of the things awaiting audiences. There will also be a surprise or two, promising to enhance your theater experience. Previewed in New York in 2013 and later in Houston, Texas, this music and mystery collaboration was authored by Joe Kinosian who wrote the book and music and Kellen Blair who wrote the book and lyrics.

    Usually, the characteristics of any good mystery include “who,” “what,” “when” and “where” to create the storyline. The New York and Houston productions are important to note because they brought together two incredible musicians and actors by the name of Trace Pool and Ben Miller — the who of our production. Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting these polished and experienced actors who are handsome, delightful, yet unassuming as they describe the challenging roles they will soon recreate onstage at CFRT. Pool and Miller take their roles seriously and see them as an empowering way to stretch their creativity.

    However, Pool balances his role well when he describes it as “zany acting while playing other crazy antics at the same time.”

    Miler balances his thoughts about his role in much the same way while looking at it as “an Agatha Christie meets the Marx Brothers spoof.”

    One of these guys will play the investigator and one plays the other 13 roles. Both will play the piano while acting as well.

    New Yorker Laura Josepher, the director, is the “what” of this rib-tickling musical mystery and has the experience, fun and flexible personality that will blend together the actors’ talents, the storyline, the music, the staging and the set costuming that it will take to orchestrate and present this new and innovative style of theater to Fayetteville.
    This 90 minutes of fast-paced comedy is designed to put a smile on the face of all those who attend. The When of “Murder for Two” runs March 5-22, with special events March 5, Wine & Beer Tasting; March 6, Clue Night; March 7, Opening Night Reception; and March 12, Dueling Pianos, with all times from 6:45 – 7:15 p.m.
    The “where” of this madcap adventure will be the Cape Fear Regional Theatre, 1209 Hay Street, Fayetteville. 

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 09 people in masksThis time last year, we were just beginning to grasp what had already hit us. A man who visited a nursing facility in Washington state apparently brought COVID to North Carolina, but most of us did not know anyone infected with COVID even though other carriers were likely circulating. Wearing a mask had yet to occur to us, although we were beginning to think about what we now call “social distancing.” Those who could began isolating and schools shut their doors. An 80-year-old immunologist in Atlanta became a national guru.

    What a difference a year makes! Amid illness and deaths that hit different parts of our nation at different times, we fast tracked the development and distribution of highly effective vaccines, and we figured out what to do to protect ourselves and our loved ones to some degree. We decided to protect our elderly first, even though COVID was spread by younger people more often. We made mistakes, but we have learned.

    Among our lessons is that COVID is not the last pandemic we will face. Given that reality, what knowledge should we apply to prepare ourselves for the next one? With more than half a million Americans dead of COVID, public health experts have their individual takes on this, of course, but there is agreement on big issues.

    Science trumps politics every time. People died while we mocked masks and partied. We can never allow this again.

    Viruses do not know about or respect state lines, so it makes no sense to have individual states do their own thing during a pandemic. Communication, collaboration and common goals and practices will go a long way in stemming a national pandemic as will a significantly beefed up national public health system. COVID is a worldwide issue, and the United States will be more successful now and in the future if we act as a whole.

    Racial and ethnic minorities and people in poverty have been disproportionately affected by COVID, both by contracting the virus and by its effects on families and economics. Inequities exist in our country in jobs, education, housing, food access, and health care, and the pandemic shone a glaring spotlight on them. Think the difference between having your groceries delivered to your door and the person making those deliveries. Think those able to work from home and those required to go to a workplace. During what is being dubbed an “inter-pandemic period,” it is time to address these disparities. We really are all in this together.

    We human beings are social creatures, and forced isolation has been hard on us, including on children locked out of schools and trying to learn virtually. It has been hard, too, on parents trying to work remotely from home or struggling for child care. As we come out of isolation, we should cut ourselves and others some slack. We have missed human company, and it will take a while to ease back into what we think of as “normal.”

    And, finally, as painful as it is to write this, we Americans have some soul searching to do. Millions of us apparently care more about our own individual rights than about the wellbeing of others, loved ones included. When we believe our own “right” not to mask is more important than the health of others with whom we have contact — many of whom are essential workers helping us, something is seriously wrong with our thinking. The pandemic has exposed such selfishness as never before, and it is not a pretty picture or a reflection of portrait we have historically shown the world. And, make no mistake — the world is watching us

  • 15 Easter lily and crown of thornsAre you ready? Spring is officially here, and good news is everywhere! For those of the Christian faith, Easter is a time for renewal and refreshing, and that is exactly what's happening all around us.

    The news recently reported Fayetteville's signature Dogwood Festival is back in action after an unfortunate hiatus brought on by the pandemic. The organizers promise it to be smaller and safer, but just as fun as we've come to expect of the hometown festival rooted right here in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

    After a year of virtual everything, I've pretty much reached 'Zoom Fatigue' and have recently met with local church and civic leaders excited about everything from fun family activities like egg hunts and days in the park to what one local pastor called the “... super bowl of Easters.”

    One thing is certain, over the past year we've learned we need each other. A recent survey cited a surprising 52% of Americans who volunteered to do things for others for the first time in their lives. Donating blood, caring for elderly neighbors, working with and donating to food pantries – the first time! That's a trend we can all hope will catch on.

    This is a great time to be alive, and while we blame the virus for so many of the bad things that came our way, we can even find plenty to be thankful for on its heels.

    While masks and other precautions may be the norm for now, it's still exciting to see the country – and our local communities – spring to life once again. I can honestly say I was never before happy to get stuck behind a school bus on the two-lane cut-through to get to work, but I almost clapped my hands when it happened a couple of weeks ago. NOTE: I didn't actually clap my hands; I was on a motorcycle, and that would have been a little irresponsible.

    If there is a central point to any of this, it's that we can find reasons to rejoice regardless of the circumstances surrounding us. There is much more to this life than what we may see as the interruptions. The blessings we long for – family, friends and celebrations of both – are the very things we learned to chase and find when they were dangled six feet away, or held captive behind the walls of a senior care facility over the past 12 months.

    If you haven't yet, thank God for allowing you to see and experience what you have. We are living in a historical moment as we create memories no one can take away. And while I wouldn't wish the bad parts of the pandemic on anyone, I will certainly rejoice in the good that has come through the experience. I hope you will too.

  • 18 CancelledFor 25 years, the Up & Coming Weekly community newspaper has enjoyed echoing the achievements of a community that has for too long suffered from a bruised, tattered and unwarranted reputation.

    During this past year, our community has struggled along with a frustrated and polarized nation in dealing with COVID viruses, mask mandates, vaccine choices, lock down's, shutdowns and destructive racial ambiguity that selfishly serves the self-serving.

    A defenseless, vulnerable and abused Fayetteville has always been reluctant to tell its own story. This is why we have enjoyed a successful quarter-century run of doing just that: telling the Fayetteville and Cumberland County story.

    Until this past year, we had plenty to write about: business events, arts and culture venues, and local concerts and festivals. After more than twelve months of Zoom meetings, even our most enthusiastic community cheerleaders are turning into anti-social zombies. Or perhaps I should say, Zoombies! OMG! I'm beginning to sound like Pitt Dickey.
    I'll get to the point: this past year has been tough on all of us; however, your support and loyalty to our community newspaper have been steadfast and appreciated.

    Thank you for your calls, emails and text messages. We hear your message loud and clear. Up & Coming Weekly has no intention of deserting this community or our mission and mandates of showcasing the people, programs, organizations, businesses and institutions that make Fayetteville and Cumberland County a great place to live, work and raise a family.

    Up & Coming Weekly showcase features about the Two Docs, Gates Four, Kaleo Supports, Fayetteville Technical Community College and PWC are just a few of the contributors to our community's quality of life. Our features provide insights and vision you won't find on any social media platform. Enjoy!

    One final note and message to those who would like to 'cancel' us: Up & Coming Weekly has battled the 'cancel culture' since 1996. Our foes are people who did something wrong, are doing something wrong, have something to hide, or all three. Otherwise, I ask you: What's not to like? Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • 05 BurrOfficialPortraitI emailed the office of Senator Richard Burr after he voted in favor of impeaching former President Trump. This came after the NC GOP Central Committee unanimously voted to censure Senator Burr (https://www.nc.gop/central_02_15).

    Not surprisingly, our local newspaper did not find this to be newsworthy. His belated reply follows:

    Dear Mr. Goldstein:

    Thank you for contacting me regarding my vote to convict former President Trump on the article of impeachment presented against him. I appreciate hearing from you.
    January 6, 2021 was a grim day in our nation’s history. The attack on the U.S. Capitol was an attempt to undermine our democratic institutions and overrule the will of the American people through violence, intimidation, and force.

    Seven lives were tragically lost as a result of that day. Law enforcement officers, outnumbered and overwhelmed, sustained debilitating injuries as they bravely defended Congress against an angry mob. We now know that lawmakers and congressional staff came dangerously close to crossing paths with the rioters searching for them and wishing them harm.

    When this process started, I believed that it was unconstitutional to impeach a president who was no longer in office. I still believe that to be the case. However, the Senate is an institution based on precedent, and given that the majority in the Senate voted to proceed with the trial, the question of constitutionality for a former president is now established precedent. As an impartial juror, my role was to determine whether House managers had sufficiently made the case for the article of impeachment against President Trump.

    I listened to the arguments presented by both sides and considered the facts. The facts are clear.

    The President promoted unfounded conspiracy theories to cast doubt on the integrity of a free and fair election because he did not like the results. As Congress met to certify the election results, the President directed his supporters to go to the Capitol to disrupt the lawful proceedings required by the Constitution. When the crowd became violent, the President used his office to first inflame the situation instead of immediately calling for an end to the assault.

    As I said on January 6, the President bears responsibility for these tragic events. The evidence is compelling that President Trump is guilty of inciting an insurrection against a coequal branch of government and that the charge rises to the level of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Therefore, I voted to convict.

    I did not make this decision lightly, but I believe it was necessary. By what he did and by what he did not do, President Trump violated his oath of office to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

    My hope is that with impeachment behind us America can begin to move forward and focus on the critical issues facing our country today.
    Again, thank you for contacting me. Should you have additional questions or comments, please do not hesitate to let me know or visit my website at http://burr.senate.gov.

    Sincerely,
    Richard Burr
    United States Senator

    Pay particular attention to what Senator Burr (or one of his staffers) wrote:

    “However, the Senate is an institution based on precedent, and given that the majority in the Senate voted to proceed with the trial, the question of constitutionality for a former president is now established precedent.”

    In other words, Senator Burr, you hold that a "precedent' set by the Senate is an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which you were obliged to support per Article VI. The U.S. Constitution provides for the impeachment of the president, but not a former president no longer in office. That is sophistry as well as impeachable conduct.

    This “impeachment” was also a bill of attainder. That is an impeachable offense under Article I, Section 9. For that matter, every representative and senator that voted to impeach the former president is also a participant in this unconstitutional act.

    Now, I'm not a constitutional lawyer, but it does not take legal genius to read what is in the U.S. Constitution. The language is plain. But just to be sure, I asked an old friend of mine from college, who is a lawyer, for his opinion on Senator Burr's reply.

    “His response could have come directly from CNN. I’m not aware of this precedent notion to create law by non judicial procedural fiat. The blather justifying his vote seems no more valid than sports banter. Precedent is established by a court which is subject to evaluation by other courts up the jurisdiction train. This senate choice seems misuse of process or contrived authority to increase its power, just what the President was accused of.”

    It is now obvious that Senator Burr does not represent all of the North Carolina voters, both Democrat and Republican, that voted to reelect President Trump.

    The vote of censure was a vote of no confidence. Senator Burr has demonstrated that he will place his own agendas, whatever they may be, over the will of his constituents. For this reason he should resign immediately.

    — Leon A Goldstein, Fayetteville

  • 11 Pitt IMG 6130Things are not always what they seem. The surface may be bright and sparkling but beneath may lie a pool of unremitting darkness. “Leave It To Beaver” is one such example. Being a person of the retired persuasion, on most mornings I have settled into a Rona induced rut. The alarm goes off at 5:45 a.m. Taking a tip from the Baha Boys’ greatest hit, I let the dogs out. I can catch the last 15 minutes of “Dragnet” on ME TV which means I get to watch Friday and Gannon exchange meaningful glances and walk without moving their arms. This is just in time to watch them bust the Bad Guy. The announcer intones in a voice that predates Morgan Freeman by saying “Trial was held on such and such a date. In a moment the results of that trial.” I always hope that just once the Bad Guy is found not guilty. It does not seem too much to ask. But alas, the Bad Guy never hires Perry Mason or even Matlock. He is always found guilty. He is still serving time in San Quentin. Then comes the sweaty arm that pounds Mark VII into a metal plate. The show is over. The coffee begins to kick in about the time the dogs begin scratching at the door.

    Next up is “Morning Joe” who was much more entertaining when the Former Guy was President. Recently it was Boring Joe. I changed channels to watch “Leave It To Beaver.” That particular episode involved Beaver switching a birthday present. Naturally, he got caught lying about the old switcheroo. Ward called Beaver into his study for a good talking to. Beaver learned his lesson like he did in all 234 episodes. All of this was standard “Leave to Beaver” stuff. But the episode suddenly took a hard turn into the “Twilight Zone” when Ward and June sat down to discuss Beaver’s faults. Ward was reading the Mayfield newspaper which had a giant headline that had the word MURDER in all caps.

    Murder in Mayfield? This went against everything known about Beaver’s hometown. Previously the most exciting thing that ever happened was when Beaver got stuck in a giant coffee cup on a billboard. I was so startled I backed up the TV to see if I had been mistaken. Sure enough, the last word in the headline was MURDER. Realizing that no one would believe this without proof, I took a picture of the Cleavers and the headline which appears with this column. Who was murdered? Was there a serial killer loose in Mayfield? Had Eddie Haskell finally slipped the thin veneer of civilization that coated him in a thin candy shell like an M&M candy left in a hot car in July and gone into a homicidal rage? Had Lumpy Rutherford flipp