• 17Alex Scruggs E.E. SmithIf anyone was worried about transition issues when Trinity Christian School basketball star Alex Scruggs transferred to the E.E. Smith’s girls basketball team this year, Scruggs has quickly put them to rest.

    Coming out of an unexpected break in the schedule caused by the recent snow and ice, Scruggs has quickly moved to the top of the heap in the individual statistics for Cumberland County Schools’ girls basketball.

    Through the most recent update of Jan. 19 at ncprepsports.net, Scruggs leads the county in both scoring and rebounding with 28.4 points and 11.3 rebounds per game.

    She’s also tops in 3-point baskets with 28 and second in free-throw percentage at 73.0, hitting 120 of 164 from the line.

    None of this is a surprise to veteran Smith head coach Dee Hardy.

    “We’ve been knowing her family from when she was young,’’ Hardy said. “I knew from when she was younger she had ability that was going to take off. I just didn’t know how far.’’

    Her numbers so far this season indicate she’s met and maybe exceeded Hardy’s expectations from days gone by.

    Hardy didn’t expect Scruggs to have any problems transitioning from Trinity to Smith, and she hasn’t.

    “My biggest concern was just her being in the school building, the specifics of that, our guidelines, rules and regulations versus what she was accustomed to coming from a private school,’’ Hardy said.

    She knew her team would quickly welcome Scruggs. “Our girls are pretty open,’’ Hardy said. “We’ve never had a difficult time with anyone transitioning into the team as well as the building. Our kids are normally the ones that meet the new kids and show them around to welcome them.’’

    Scruggs said her only concern coming to Smith was that’s she’s shy by nature and was a little worried about developing on-court chemistry with her new teammates.

    “I’ve been working hard to make sure I can do the best I can making the transition,’’ Scruggs said.

    Her biggest surprise in moving from private school to public school play is the aggressive play, especially on defense. “It’s faster paced,’’ she said.

    One thing that hasn’t changed for Scruggs is her on-court play. She thrives on driving to the basket, drawing fouls and rebounding.

    Hardy agrees. “She loves to attack the basket and she’s been pretty successful with that,’’ Hardy said. As for rebounding, Hardy said Scruggs just has a knack for finding a way to be in the lane at the right place to pull them down.

    At 5-foot-9 1/2-inches tall, Scruggs can be plugged in at multiple positions on the court, and Hardy has taken advantage of that.

    “She’s a guard, shooting guard and power forward,’’ Hardy said. She thinks Scruggs’ college future will be on the perimeter but that she could play either guard position or a forward.

    Which college she’ll be attending is something Scruggs has yet to decide. She won’t make that decision until the time comes closer, she said.

    “I’m looking for a school with a family-type environment, looking for coaches to bond with,’’ she said. She’s leaning toward a major in sports medicine but hasn’t made a final decision on that either.

    Whoever gets her will be getting a special talent, Hardy said.

    “She’s a really nice young lady,’’ Hardy said, “just her demeanor and personality. She’s a very smart student.”

    Now that the snow break appears to be over and Smith can finally get back on the basketball court, Hardy said the goal moving forward is the same for Scruggs and the rest of the team.

    “We want to keep our focus and make sure we haven’t had a brain dump on things we worked on before the days out,’’ she said. “Keeping our intensity and conditioning, that’s very key for us.’’

    Photo: Alex Scruggs

  • Many remember Styx as a band of the 1970s and ‘80s, but the reality is that Tommy Shaw, James “JY” Young, Lawrence Gowan, Todd Sucherman and Ricky Phillips (along with the occasional surprise appearance by original bassist Chuck Panozzo), have performed more live since ’99 than all of the previous years of its career combined, according to the band’s website www.styxworld.com.

    On Jan. 19, Community Concerts is bringing this legendary group to the Crown for a one-night event. Known for hits including “Come Sail Away,” “Renegade,” “Blue Collar Man” and “Fooling Yourself,” the band has a fan base that crosses generations.01-09-13-styx.gif

    Marshall Perry director of sales/booking at the Crown Coliseum Complex is excited about hosting the band.

    “This is going to be probably one of the greatest shows folks in this area will have ever seen in their lives. There is not a bad seat in the theater,” he said. “You are talking about a band that has been around for many years and their sounds just gets better and better as they go along. They’ve put together a sound that is fantastic. It is always fresh.”

    At the beginning of their career in the early 1970s, Styx was influenced by Emerson, Lake & Palmer and the Moody Blues, but it was their single “Lady” that first got the group national attention. In the mid-’70s, tour guitarist John Curulewski left and was replaced by Tommy Shaw. Things really clicked for the band after Shaw arrived and most of their releases went platinum after that.

    In 1981 Paradise Theater was released and turned out to be the group’s biggest hit yet and the fourth consecutive triple-platinum album for Styx — a historical first for any band at that point.

    After the release of Caught in the Actin 1984, the band took a break as members and tried their hands at various solo projects. By 1996, the band was back together — with new drummer Todd Sucherman — for a reunion tour. In 1997, they released Return to Paradise.

    With releases (including several recordings of live performances) every year from 1999-2006 and another in 2009, and a tight touring schedule that would make lesser bands flinch, Styx continues to deliver exactly what their fans are looking for — a rockin’ good time. The band has more than half a million fans on Facebook and You Tube is filled with their music. Clearly, this is a group with staying power.

    Known for bringing great entertainment to Fayetteville, Community Concerts is in its 77th season and still going strong. So far this season concerts have included Gladys Knight and Martina McBride. Still to come are shows featuring Kool & the Gang on Saturday, Feb. 23 and Ricky Skaggs on Friday, April 12.

    Find out more about community concerts and all they have to offer at www.community-concerts.com.

    Photo:  Community Concerts presents Styx at the Crown on Jan. 19.

  • ftccFayetteville Technical Community College has compiled data reflecting that in FY15, FTCC ‘s total impact on the Cumberland County economy was
    $697.4 million in added income, which is equal to 3.4 percent of the region’s Gross Regional Product. A regional economic impact analysis was conducted by Economic Modeling Specialist International based in Moscow, Idaho. It examined the impact of FTCC on the local business community through increased consumer spending and enhanced business productivity.
    The results were measured in terms of added income, and were organized according to three effects: 1) impact of college operations; 2) impact of the spending of students who relocated to the county, and; 3) impact of the increased productivity of alumni who were employed in the regional workforce during the analysis year.
    Impact of college operations: In Fiscal Year 2015, the college employed 1,501 full-time and part-time faculty and staff. Payroll at FTCC amounted to $57 million, much of which was spent in Cumberland County for groceries, eating out, clothing and other household goods and services. The college spent another $46.2 million in support of its day-to-day operations. The net impact of college payroll and expenses in Cumberland County during the analysis year was approximately $69.9 million in added income.
    Impact of student spending: Approximately 16 percent of students attending FTCC came from outside the county. Some of these students relocated to Cumberland County. In addition, some students would have left the county if not for FTCC. These relocated and retained students spent money on groceries, transportation, rent and more at local businesses. Their expenditures during the analysis year added approximately $28.5 million in income to the Cumberland County economy, the study concluded.
    Impact of alumni productivity: Over the years, students who studied at FTCC entered or re-entered the workforce with newly-acquired skills.
    Thousands of these former students are employed in Cumberland County.
    Their accumulated contributions amounted to $599.1 million in added income during the analysis year. That’s the equivalent of 7,517 jobs .
    “Approximately 88 percent of FTCC’s students remain in North Carolina upon completing their education goals,” said Dr. Larry Keen, FTCC President. “As our students earn more, they and their employers pay higher taxes through increased output and spending. Over the students’
    working lives, state and local government in North Carolina will collect
    $227.6 million in the form of higher tax receipts,” he added. Keen noted that “employers will earn more as their businesses become more productive.” It’s estimated that over their working lives, FTCC’s student population will generate a present value of $2.6 billion in added income in North Carolina.
    Fayetteville Area Industrial Education Center was established in 1961, two years before the statewide community college system was formally established. It became Fayetteville Technical Institute (FTI) in 1963 and was renamed Fayetteville Technical Community College in 1988 to broaden the public image of technical and vocational postsecondary education and job training opportunities. Today, FTCC is the fourth largest school in the system serving over 40,000 students annually by providing over 200 occupational, technical, general education, college transfer, and continuing education programs. For more information visit FTCC’s website at www.faytechcc.edu.

  • RonaldGrayNowCondemned Former Soldier Runs Out of Appeals A former Fort Bragg soldier who killed four women and raped others more than 25 years ago is again headed for execution. This time Ronald Gray has no further recourse. He lost his final appeal last month. Gray’s execution would be the first by the U.S. military in 55 years. Only the President, as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, can approve the execution of a death sentence. President George W. Bush condemned Gray on July 28, 2008. He was convicted in military court in 1988 for two murders and three rapes while stationed at Fort Bragg. He pleaded guilty in Cumberland County Superior Court to two other murders and five separate rapes that occurred off post and was sentenced to life in prison for crimes committed in the civilian domain. Gray is being held at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. The Army initially scheduled his execution for Dec. 10, 2008, at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana. The president upheld the death sentence following completion of a full appellate process. Two petitions to the U.S. Supreme Court were denied during the appellate processing of Pvt.
    Gray’s case.RonaldGrayThen

    Child Fatality Task Force
    Cumberland County Health Department Director Buck Wilson has been re-elected co-chair of the North Carolina Child Fatality Task Force.
    Wilson, who was first appointed to the task force by Gov. Pat McCrory in 2013, was elected to the leadership position by members of the task force. The Child Fatality Task Force is a legislative study commission that makes recommendations to the General Assembly and governor on how to reduce child deaths, prevent abuse and neglect and support the safe and healthy development of children. Recommendations are based on data, research and evidence-based practices and reflect hundreds of hours of volunteer input.

    Impaired DrivingImpairedDrivingImage
    Traffic Fatalities resulting from impaired drivers are down 19 percent in North Carolina. In its 22nd year, the Booze It & Lose It education and enforcement campaign has created increased awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving, as well as the penalties associated with driving while impaired. The governor’s Highway Safety Program has awarded grants to DWI Task Force teams that work nightly to catch impaired drivers. The teams are in Cumberland, Brunswick, Buncombe, Forsyth, Guilford, Mecklenburg, Robeson, Union, Wake and Wayne counties.

  • Wynonna Judd is one of country’s brightest lights, and on Friday, Jan. 23, she will bring her unique sound to Fayetteville. 01-21-15-wynonna.gif

    Judd was born Christina Claire Ciminella in Ashland, Ken. After living with her family in Los Angeles, she returned to Kentucky. She learned to play guitar and fell in love with the country music that her mother loved. The pair moved to Nashville in 1979 in hopes of pursuing a career in the music industry that they loved so dearly. Their skill, passion and talent was quickly noticed, and the mother/daughter duo The Judds was created.

    Wynonna then branched off into her solo career in 1992. She has dabbled in other ventures since, but her primary focus is once again on music with her show Wynonna and Friends: Stories & Song”.

    Wynonna has a unique and powerful voice. When she sings it is captivating. During her tour, she is joined on stage by a three-piece band. One member of her band is her husband, producer and drummer Cactus Moser, who is an award-winning artist himself. On this tour, Wynonna chose not to visit major arenas, but rather to play in smaller venues throughout the United States.The show is intended to be a small, intimate affair filled with passionate music and an exploration in the travels and journeys that Wynonna has experienced during her extraordinary life.

    This show is unlike anything that Wynonna has done before. She is not only focusing on her music, but on her life experiences.

    “I have shared the stage with some of the greatest singers and musicians in the world and I have recorded with artists from all genres of music,” she said via the Crown Complex. “It has been an amazing journey for me. I’m an ordinary woman that extraordinary things have happened to because I choose to continue to suit up and show up where I am called.

    “I am more passionate now than I have ever been about my life, my gift, my faith, hopes and dreams, and I want so much to share my story and my songs with my fans,” she continued. “I have experienced so many personal and professional highs and lows on this journey, and having been on the road for 34 years now, I am so grateful for the wisdom and experience I have gained throughout all that has happened on and off stage. I’m looking forward to sharing my message with others, to celebrate this time in my life with the fans that have supported me all these years, as well as connect with new fans.”

    This show is perfect for those who already love Wynonna and those who have yet to discover her. The music will be as exciting, powerful and enchanting as all her previous works. The stories bring an entire new level of understanding and beauty to her work. For those who already love her it is enlightening. For those who are new, it is enthralling.

    Wynonna and Friends: Stories & Song is at the Crown Theatre on Jan. 23, at 8 p.m. Ticket prices vary from $30 to $65. Tickets are available at ticketmasters.com, by phone at 800-745-3000, and in person at the Crown Complex Box Office. The Crown Coliseum is located at 1960 Coliseum Dr. For more information, visit http://crowncomplexnc.com/events/wynonna-friends-stories-songs or call 910-438-4100.

    Photo: Wynona Judd has been a bright light in country music for a number of years. On Friday, Jan. 23, she brings her unique sound to the Crown.

  •     Click to Download The 2015 Pocket Guide

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  • 06 3Cape Fear Regional Theatre began its studio classes Jan. 25 for children between the ages of 4 to 19.

    The theatre is currently offering classes lasting seven weeks in musical theatre, acting, mini studio meant for 4 through 6-year-olds, and two new additions being the musical theatre dance and improv classes, Marc de la Concha, director of education for CFRT, said.

    “The classes are half process based and half product based,” de la Concha said. “It’s not just getting together and rehearsing a couple of songs for the end show, we try to teach the kids a lot of skills for working in the theatre that will help them when they join us for a summer camp or when they audition for a show on a main stage.”

    We try to give kids those skills which I believe add into their everyday lives like speaking in front of people, working as a team, reading skills and such, it’s a skill building and some product-based stuff meaning singing and dancing so you can show what you learnt throughout the class, he said.

    The mini studios meant for younger kids focus on skills like standing in one place for more than a couple minutes, speak loud enough, be heard from the stage and are taught by me, Ashley Owen, marketing director and instructor for CFRT, said.

    “This semester I am using Dr. Seuss books to teach them those skills and prepping them to go on to higher level classes,” she said.

    During the spring break the kids will do their spring break bootcamp, where we will have them in small groups and do a version of the “Wizard of Oz,” it’s for the kids and won’t be open to the public, he said.

    Owens said classes are once a week for an hour and half and cost $150 with the exception of the mini studio classes which are an hour long and cost $100.

    The theatre offers military, sibling and multi-class discounts. Class size ranges from 10 to 15 kids in each class.

    The class sizes are pretty small, so the kids get one-on-one instruction, and we keep it safe during the pandemic, de la Concha said.

    “Lots of hand sanitizers and everyone’s got a mask on all the time,” Owen said.

    Owens said it's been a tough year but they are lucky to have had great leadership at the theatre who put in the time to figure out things so kids could attend the summer camp program and these classes.

    “Performing arts are important, you know, because we are learning in a different way than in school, learning empathy, learning about other people’s experiences, different cultures in a different way and I think it's important for kids to learn those skills,” de la Concha said. “And some learn these skills better this way than sitting in a school setting, it helps with team building and getting away from a screen and having actual interpersonal interactions.”

    It’s been such a saving grace for me personally, I love the kids, getting to work with them, Owens said.

    “It's just been so nice to see appreciate being together in a way that they or people didn't before the pandemic,” she said.

    We are very excited for this year and anxiously waiting to be fully back in the theatre for education and for our mainstage season as well and hopefully we will be at the other end of this very soon, de la Concha said.

    For more information on the classes and times, visit https://www.cfrt.org/education/#studio-classes

  • 01 01 Printed Woman 8The new exhibit at Gallery 208, “Monument to Strangers: Photographs of Johanna Warwick”, opens Feb. 2 5:30 p.m. Visitors to the exhibition will see a body of work by an artist who utilizes a minimalist approach to comment on cultural history and how obsolete processes can inform and continue to shape perceptions about Americana.

    British born but raised in Canada, Warwick works and lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “Monument to Strangers” is the result of Warwick researching and recontextualized daily printed newspapers photographs from the 1880s to the 1960s. Visitors to the gallery will see large scale portraits which have been “recontextualized” to reveal Warwick’s truth, “images affect our understanding of cultural history.”

    “Monuments to Strangers” also includes smaller works inspired by the process of image making during an early period in the history of commercial photography and printing. Warwick noted, “it was the first time in history, images of reality could be reproduced on presses reaching the public, rather than an image interpreted and altered by hand.”

    We are fortunate in the area to be able to see works by a contemporary photographer who does not live in our region and an artist whose approach is conceptual. As with many conceptual works of art, visitors do not need to know the artist’s intent, but knowing the intent most often enhances a different type of experience than not knowing the meaning or purpose of the work. (For that reason, Gallery 208 always posts artist’s statements throughout the exhibit.)

    A prelude to visiting the gallery is best said by Warwick: “In this work, I utilize news images and materially re-contextualize them to emphasize the limitations of photography as an emotionally and factually accurate record of the time. I combine analogue and digital processes to underscore the ways in which news photographs have been produced and how that production affects our understanding of cultural history. The photographs look at the selective representation of the individual within printed daily newspapers from the 1880s to the 1960s.”

    Seeing the overly large portraits, 24” x 36,” viewers should be aware Warwick has been inspired by anonymity and through this body of work wanted to “ highlight how women and minorities were vastly underrepresented.” In creating this body of work the artist is “re-presenting these images in hopes to reveal and question our flawed history. The figures in the blocks are unknown, but they were at one point important, or significant enough, to have their image produced in this way. The images reveal how versions of history were presented publicly… I don’t seek to make a document as they were used before, but to photograph them as visual monuments. During this period in history, Men are photographed abundantly; women are few and far between.”

    The exhibit also includes exquisite traditional still-lifes, created by using the outdated blocks of commercial printing as a subject. In these small works the artist is showing us an antiquated process while using new technology. Warwick noted:

    “I am photographing them to present this historic process and lost imagery in a new way, using the technologies that made them obsolete. In re-photographing these images, my photographs are several iterations of light sensitive materials being exposed: the original photograph, the rephotographed negative, the photomechanical produced block, and my exposure. Each image thus goes from a positive, to a negative, recorded once again as a negative, then inverted to a positive. It is in this long chain of events, which traverses over decades, that the glow of light and color occurs. Together I strive for the photographs to describe the history of representation in American daily newspapers, as well as the history of photography.”

    Warwick’s minimalist approach and the medium of photography itself often seems to lend itself to hurrying us hurries through an exhibit, we move too quickly, without contemplation. Due to the elusive nature of photography, the opposite needs to take place. The illusive nature of photography is combining the complexity of a contemporary art in the form of photography with its lingering history, everyone has a camera on their cell phone, and the ever-present hierarchical judgment of photography against other traditional disciplines.

    The unfounded hierarchy and the fact the everyone have a camera on their cell phone only strengthens my revered respect for artists, like Warwick, who create remarkable photographic images equal to works of carved marble. The argument against the hierarchy in the arts is based on two facts. The hierarchical position has been outdated for some and each discipline is innately different and brings a particular way of seeing, ideating, and set of skills.

    An earlier series by Warwick titled “Between the Ground & Sky” supports the above argument. In this body of Warwick wanted to capture the changing landscape of the Danby Marble Quarry in Dorset Mountain, Vermont. (The Danby Quarry, used since the 18th century, is the largest underground marble quarry in the world.)

    She began photographing the marble because she was “curious about its use but eventually became charmed by the physical history carved into the space.” She states: “The heavy unyielding material takes a geometric form inside a huge organic landscape. I am fascinated by the constant metamorphosis of the space . . . Each method of removal has left an indelible impression on the mountain by destroying its natural state and creating a geometric and ordered new landscape. These are the qualities that I find both interesting and intriguing. I am fascinated by its now formal beauty.”

    The conceptualization and dexterity by Warwick to create her photographs should not be compared to the idea and carving of figure in stone. Each medium brings is own innate qualities and challenges. If anything, the history of photography is far more interesting than representational figure carving that has been repeated and practiced in western art for centuries. Or, as John Berger, in “Ways of Seeing,” summarizes: “unlike any other visual image, a photograph is not a rendering, an imitation or an interpretation of its subject, but actually a trace of it. No painting or drawing, however naturalist, belongs to its subject in the way that a photograph does.”

    Johanna Warwick graduated from Massachusetts College of Art and Design with an MFA in Photography in 2010, and from Ryerson University with a BFA in Photography in 2006. She has been an Assistant Professor of Art & Photography at Louisiana State University since 2015 and exhibited in New York, Toronto and other major cities across North America. She was exhibited in Fresh at Klompching Gallery in Brooklyn, NY, and was a selected artist by Lesley A. Martin as part of her Guest Room curating for Der Greif magazine.

    In all types of disciplines art has the potential to bring a truth to the viewer and “Monument to Strangers: Photographs of Johanna Warwick,” meets this criterion. “Monuments to Strangers” opens Feb. 2 at 5:30 p.m. and will remain up until April. The gallery is located at 208 Rowan Street in Fayetteville and is open Monday – Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. For information call 910-484-6200.

  •     Aggressive police questioning of a weak-willed suspect can produce an occasional false confession, but experts now believe that six men in a single case, and four in another, confessed to group crimes they did not commit, even though some described their roles in vivid detail. Recent DNA evidence in a 1989 Beatrice, Neb., murder case implicated only a seventh man, and similar evidence in a 1997 Norfolk, Va., murder case implicated only a fifth man, who insists he acted alone. (Governors in both states are currently mulling pardons for the men.) It is still possible that the six, or the four, are guilty as charged and that the DNA was left in completely separate attacks on the victims, but the more likely explanation, say psychologists, is that people with low self-esteem or mental problems, or who are drug- or alcohol-addled, are more easily convinced of fantasy.

    The Continuing Crisis
        Australia’s Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission announced plans in December to create a third official gender for government identification: “intersex,” for transsexuals, whether or not they have had surgery. Immediately, activists from Sex and Gender Education Australia called the proposal inadequate, demanding a fourth gender, also, for people who feel that “gender” is either “undefinable” or subject to daily changes of attitude.
        Maryland lobbyist and former state assemblyman Gilbert Genn was attacked by a deer outside his home in November, butted to the ground and repeatedly stabbed by the buck’s antlers in the chest and groin. Genn told WTOP Radio that after finally realizing he was in a life-or-death struggle, he managed to subdue the animal by the antlers long enough to tire it and cause it to flee. Bleeding badly, Genn said he disregarded his wife’s admonitions to get to the hospital and instead dressed the wound himself and headed off for a scheduled meeting in Annapolis with Speaker of the House Michael Busch. He told the reporter, “There was no way I could miss this meeting.” Only afterward did he report to the emergency room.

        Officials in South Africa, where government only recently came to accept the connection between HIV and AIDS after years of denial that provoked the country’s epidemic of cases, revealed in December that supplies of retroviral drugs are being used recreationally as hallucinogens smoked by schoolchildren. Health officials told BBC News that the drugs are prescribed to those at risk for AIDS, but are not taken seriously by symptom-free, HIV-diagnosed South Africans who are just now starting to understand the decades-old disease.to get out.

  • 010610 ftccart.jpgFayetteville Technical Community College has received a $35,000 gift from The Wachovia Wells Fargo Foundation. Jerry Dean, senior vice president and market president of Wachovia Community Banking, presented the check at FTCC on Dec. 1 to FTCC President Dr. Larry Keen and Susan Ellis, department chair, FTCC Dental Hygiene Department.

    The money will be used in support of the Dental Hygiene Department’s Equipment Plan.

    “Fayetteville Technical Community College is honored to receive this generous gift from The Wachovia Wells Fargo Foundation. We are also gratifi ed by the trust and confi dence that The Wachovia Wells Fargo Foundation has placed in FTCC as evidenced by their contribution. With the fi nancial help of our corporate citizens, our community colleges can achieve goals at a higher level, with the end results being the ultimate benefi t of our students and the communities we serve,” said Keen.

    FTCC’s graduates from the past eight Dental Hygiene classes have achieved a 100 percent pass rate on the National Dental Hygiene Board Exam. FTCC graduates have also enjoyed exemplary pass rates on the state/national licensing exams as well as high job-placement rates following graduation.

    Spring 2010 Registration Ends Jan. 9

    The Spring 2010 Registration cycle at FTCC is quickly coming to a close for classes that begin the week of Jan. 11.

    Current students can register for classes from Jan. 6-9:

    • Use Web Advisor (www.faytechcc.edu)

    • Contact Faculty Advisor (Jan. 6-7

    • Open Registration (Jan. 6-9)

    Newly approved students can register for classes from Jan. 6-9:

    • Contact Faculty Advisor (Jan. 6-7)

    • Open Registration (Jan. 6-9) Open Registration is available from Jan, 6-9, at the Tony Rand Student Center on Main Campus, at the Spring Lake Campus and at the Fort Bragg Soldier Development Center, as follows:

    • Jan. 6, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

    • Jan.7, 9 a.m. -6 p.m.

    • Jan. 8, 12-4 p.m.

    • Jan. 9, 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. (Main Campus/ Spring Lake Campus)

    Fayetteville Technical Community College was established in 1961 and serves more than 34,000 students annually by providing150 affordable occupational, technical, general education, college transfer and continuing-education programs to meet students’ needs and desires as well as the needs of the community.

  • On Tuesday, February 9, Methodist University will hold its annual012710mc041006_0666.jpg
    Loyalty Day fund drive for student scholarships. Volunteers from
    throughout Fayetteville will be calling and knocking on doors to ask for your

    "Loyalty Day is a long-standing tradition in the Fayetteville/
    Cumberland County community that both represents the original
    vision and commitment of early Fayetteville leaders in establishing an
    independent four-year college here, and continues the involvement of a
    broad cross-section of our community in soliciting support for our
    educational mission," said Lauren Cook Wike, director of Annual
    Fund and Alumni Affairs for the University. "Over the next month,

    Loyalty Day Volunteers will be calling on more than 600 businesses
    and individuals to ask them to support student scholarships at

    Methodist, which is our most critical need."

    More than 90 percent of the 2,183 students at Methodist
    University receive some form of fi nancial aid or scholarship. With
    state cuts in the N.C. Legislative Tuition Grant and the elimination
    of the Earned Scholarship, contributions to the scholarship fund are
    needed now more than ever.

    "Methodist University has been a jewel in our midst for more than
    half a century," expressed Margaret Dickson, 2010 Loyalty Day Chair
    and N.C. State Senator. "What is so impressive about Methodist is
    that is accomplishes its mission with relatively little state investment as
    compared to our public universities. Though our state budget does not
    allow us to support private universities at the same level as public, our
    36 private universities are vital in educating North Carolina students."

    For more information about Loyalty Day or Methodist University,
    visit www.methodist.edu or contact the Development
    Offi ce at 910-630-7200.

  • 17 Parish House doorFew people are more qualified than Hope Mills commissioner Bryan Marley to speak on the situation involving the future of the town’s Parish House.

    In addition to being one of the newest members of the Board of Commissioners, Marley has dedicated his life to the job of firefighter, going back to 1991 when he joined the Pearce’s Mill fire department as a junior firefighter.
    From there, he moved on to jobs with the Hope Mills fire department and Cumberland County Emergency Services.

    Today, he works in Hoke County as emergency management director and fire marshall.

    Marley was one of three commissioners who recently voted to accept an offer from a demolition firm to raze the Parish House and free up the property for other pursuits he considers more viable for the town
    to pursue.

    His reasons for removing the Parish House, which although it is located in the Hope Mills historic district is not specifically listed in the National Registry of Historic Places as some claim, are rooted in fact, not politics.
    “In my opinion, the building is structurally unsafe,’’ Marley said. “It’s a life safety issue.’’

    Marley’s reasons to get rid of the Parish House go beyond the problems with the structure. He’s read all the reports that have been done by town staff and by people hired by the town to examine the structure.
    “There are reports of mold growing in the building,’’ he said. “That’s a respiratory hazard.’’

    The reports also indicate the structure is in danger of collapse.

    While he doesn’t think there’s an immediate threat to the town or its people, should the building fall or burn on its own, he called it an eyesore that does nothing to improve the aesthetics of the area where it’s located.
    To those who consider the building historic, Marley shares his personal experience as a resident of Hope Mills since his youth. “I’ve never heard of anybody talk about the historic Parish House,’’ he said. “I don’t see the great historical value there.’’

    But the price tag for making it usable is high, and Marley thinks the town has more critical projects that need town money than a building with questionable history.

    “We’ve got a new police and fire complex that we are trying to get off the ground,’’ he said. “We are looking at that being a $16.5 million project.’’

    There’s also a need to use the land where the Parish House is located to help with the parking situation downtown, especially for events at Hope Mills Lake and the long-planned Heritage Park.

    Something else Marley said people need to consider is the figures that have been quoted on the restoration of the Parish House are superficial, and will likely go higher should workers get inside the building and look for other problems.
    “If they find asbestos or lead paint, they’ve got to mitigate that,’’ he said. “Once you get into a project like that, the price goes up.’’

    Marley wouldn’t be surprised if the final number for bringing the Parish House back to life soared closer to $ 1million. “That’s a million dollars the town is taking out of the general fund,’’ he said. “They have to put that money back eventually.’’

    The only way to do that, Marley fears, is to increase taxes, and that’s something no elected official wants to discuss. “That conversation hasn’t come up,’’ he said, “but how are you going to recoup that money and be able to carry on the same level of service to the citizens that we are doing now?’’

    Marley stressed that he is not against preserving town history, adding that he’s fully committed to saving the Christ Episcopal Church building adjacent to the Parish House. He thinks the town can save the money it would spend on the Parish House renovation and use a smaller portion of it to complete repairs on the church, which is in far better condition.

    He thinks it’s a doable option to finish work on the proposed town museum and the church and have both ready for the town’s citizens to use by summer.

    “I’m not against town history or preservation,’’ he said. “We’ve just got to think common sense.’’

    Marley thinks the negativity about the history of the Parish House has gotten out of hand. He’d like to see people discuss the matter like adults. “I agree it’s an old building,’’ Marley said. “We just can’t sit here and continue to go like we’re going. It’s never going to get anything accomplished.’’

    He said that includes efforts some would like the town to pursue with Preservation North Carolina, which would reportedly restore the Parish House without costing the town valuable taxpayer money.

    But Marley doesn’t think the entire story is being told. “They take your building and property and market it for you,’’ he said. “They find private investors or companies to come in and they purchase your property.’’

    Once that’s done, Marley said the town no longer has direct control over the building or the property. Marley doesn’t want to surrender town use of a piece of premium property in the downtown area.
    “All the citizens I’ve talked to, the greater majority if they even know about the Parish House do not care and want to see it gone,’’ Marley said.

    “I’m trying to put the dollar figures out there and let people know. That’s my point. If you’re going to say one side of the story, say both sides of the story.’’

  • 16 town hall For the fifth consecutive year, the town of Hope Mills is preparing to conduct its annual Citizens  Academy program. Designed to teach town citizens the basics of local government and administration, it was created by current town manager Melissa Adams.

    This year’s sessions will begin on Tuesday, Feb. 11, and continue for eight consecutive weeks, with the final session scheduled for Thursday, March 17. That’s the only session that won’t be on a Tuesday and was necessary to mesh with the fire department’s schedule.

    After the opening session, which will introduce the participants to all the department heads from the town, each session will deal with a specific area of town administration or government. The initial session will include an explanation of the town’s council-manager form of government and the roles of the members of the Board of Commissioners.

    The departments involved include police, fire, parks and recreation, planning and zoning inspection, infrastructure and public works, finance and budgeting, stormwater and town hall administration.

    Most of the classes are held at the department being studied that week, with hands-on opportunities to work with some of the equipment like the police and fire departments use, among others.

    In the session on town finances, each participant will get a chance to craft a budget for the town.

    All those interested in taking part need to complete the online registration form at www.townofhopemills.com and email it to town clerk Jane Starling at jstarling@townofhopemills.com. It can also be faxed to 910-424-4902. The program is limited to a maximum of 15 people to allow more individual attention and to make touring the various locations where the class is held easier.

    The usual cutoff for applications is the Friday before the first class, which this year will fall on Feb. 7.

    A graduation ceremony for all participants is scheduled on Thursday, April 2, at a meeting of the Hope Mills Board of Commissioners. Each member of the class will receive a plaque from the town for completing the course.
    If you have questions about the program, call Starling during regular business hours at 910-426-4113.

  • 15 valentinesA Hope Mills tradition, the annual 55+ Valentine’s Day luncheon, will be held Friday, Feb. 14, in the community room at the Hope Mills Recreation Center.

    The time will be from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. and the cost is $8 per person.

    All those interested in attending need to come to the front desk at the Hope Mills Recreation Center during regular business hours to sign up. This year’s event will be limited to 100 participants.

    “It’s an opportunity to come celebrate the holiday with music and a fully catered meal,’’ said Kasey Ivey of the Recreation and Parks department. Ivey said there is not a designated cutoff date for signing up for the luncheon, but those planning to attend are encouraged to sign up as soon as possible to avoid not being able to attend.

    The registration fee covers the meal, which will include two main dishes, two sides, rolls, desserts and drinks.

    The music will be provided by a disc jockey.
    This year’s event will feature a new catering service, Ivey said. After years of using Fred Chason’s Grandsons Buffet, which Ivey said has been wonderful, the Valentine’s Day luncheon will be changing to A Catered Affair by Chef Glenn and Company. Chef Glenn also operates The Diner in the former Becky’s Cafe, as well as two popular food trucks.

    Ivey said Chef Glenn has done several events for the town, including an event held after the swearing in of the new Board of Commissioners last December. Chef Glenn has also catered the Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

    Ivey said the new arrangement with Chef Glenn will include a carving station where people will be served as they go through the line instead of the self-service format from past Valentine’s Day luncheons.
    “I hope they will enjoy that,’’ Ivey said.

    If anyone has questions about this year’s 55+ Valentine’s Day Luncheon they can call the main number at the Hope Mills Recreation Center, 910-426-4109.

  • 17 01 Parish House doorIt’s times like these that I deeply miss my late friend, former Hope Mills Mayor Eddie Dees.

    As the debate continues to rage over the fate of the Parish House in Hope Mills, I so badly wish I could go for one of our regular rides in Eddie’s pickup and talk about local politics and the future of the town as we often used to do.
    I respect his memory, and would never drag him into this debate without permission. So I made a phone call last week to a young lady I’ve known almost as long as I’ve called Fayetteville home, Eddie’s widow, Susan Faircloth Dees.
    Susan gave her blessing to the words I’m about to write, before some of my harsher critics accuse me of desecrating Eddie’s name.

    One thing I can tell you for sure about Eddie Dees is he was a man of common sense and practicality. He also loved Hope Mills and had a deep appreciation for its history.
    That was what led him to write a book in 1991, Hope Mills Heritage, an illustrated history of his beloved hometown.

    I’m proud to say I helped with the editing of the book, something he gratefully thanked me for in the book’s acknowledgements.

    Of the 112 pages in the book, there are two devoted to the history of the Christ Episcopal Church. One paragraph on those pages deals with the Parish House, noting that in 1910, the bishop of the Diocese of Eastern Carolina instructed the Rev. Norvin C. Duncan to build a parish house to serve as rectory and community center.

    For those who don’t know, a rectory is the house an Episcopal minister lives in. In other faiths it’s called the manse or parsonage.

    Many of those who support saving the Parish House argue that it’s a historic building.

    17 02 Eddie DeesLet’s clarify that. Technically, every building in the downtown historic district that’s on the National Registry of Historic Places is a historic building. That’s because of the geography of the district, not the actual age of the buildings or their role in the history of the town.

    The original inventory of buildings in the Hope Mills historic district included a gas station and a vacant lot, which count as historic not because of real history tied to that location, but simply because of where they are on the map.
    Reminds me of a sign I saw at a gift shop one time that read something like, “In 1829 on this spot, absolutely nothing happened.” The same is true of many so-called historic buildings in downtown Hope Mills.

    But let’s get back to the Parish House. It’s been well documented that for whatever reason, the house has fallen into disrepair. How long that took to happen and who is to blame really aren’t issues. This is a building with a lot of age, and not a lot of real Hope Mills history, that’s in bad shape.

    If you haven’t taken a close look at the front door of the Parish House, there is a CONDEMNED sign on it. Right next to it is a red sign with a big white X. That means it’s unoccupied and has been for some time.

    I’ve seen official reports from town staff stating that it could cost in the vicinity of six figures of town money just to stabilize this building and make it safe for entry, not to mention what would be needed to make it serviceable.

    And if it is restored, what would it be used for? The town is already working toward a permanent museum near Trade Street, which is the true heart of the town’s mill village history with its collection of old storefront shops and its proximity to the textile mill.

    History is great, and where possible it should be preserved. But the elected leaders of this town have a finite budget to deal with, and they are called on to make tough choices.

    One of those involves the town’s future. Right now, there’s a pressing need for a new headquarters for the town’s police and fire departments. Work is scheduled to begin shortly on that facility, which is going to be an expensive but much needed building.

    It will benefit both the police and fire staff who will occupy it, and it will be an asset to the town for years to come.

    I posted something on Facebook recently regarding this whole situation. This is what I wrote. “How soon we forget. Old and historic are different words with different meanings.’’

    There’s another word I’d add to the mix. Sentimental. Just because a group of people have sentimental feelings for something doesn’t mean that it should be preserved at taxpayer expense.

    I feel sentimental about a lot of things, like cars I’ve owned or homes I’ve lived in, but time passes, and when my life circumstances changed, I didn’t continue to invest my income in their upkeep, I moved forward to something new.

    The elected leadership is doing that in the case of the Parish House. This was a tough decision I’m sure, but I respect the fact that they’ve researched it and in their honest opinion are doing the right thing for the town of Hope Mills and its citizens, who put them in office to make the wisest possible use of the tax dollars they are entrusted with spending for the benefit of the entire town.

    If you really support Hope Mills history, give the town’s elected your support in finally getting Heritage Park up and running. It will celebrate the town’s mill heritage while adding a source of revenue with the amphitheater that is proposed to be included in the park.

    So far, the goal of this new group of elected officials is moving forward from two years of negativity. Regardless of what the naysayers will tell you, the motto on the town sign is accurate. “A proud past, a bright future.’’

  • 01-15-14-communityconversations.gifSometimes a good idea or a solution to a problem never makes it to the right person. It’s not because anyone intends it to be this way, but because the person with the idea or solution doesn’t know who to contact or how to get in touch with them. This month, the community has a chance to be involved in a forum to change that. On Monday, Jan. 20, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Fayetteville-Cumberland County Ministerial Council and the City of Fayetteville, in partnership with local organizations and institutions, will host Community Conversations Kickoff.

    Volunteer and Chairperson for the Fayetteville Cumberland Human Relations Commission, Cathy Waddell believes this is an opportunity the community will not want to miss. The commission has put a lot of thought in to when and where to hold the event to make it easier for anyone who would like to attend. “Because Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a day on rather than a day off we thought it would be an ideal time to do some things that make a difference,” said Waddell. “We felt it was a great time to schedule this because people will be there (at the prayer breakfast) so people who want to participate can stay after.”

    The facilitators will ask attendees:

    • What is being done to improve ways that citizen and resident input are included in the City’s decisions and plans for bettering Fayetteville?

    • How can we make sure that the community’s needs are listened to and addressed appropriately?

    • In what ways can residents, city leadership and local organizations and institutions work together to help our city become a healthier, more vibrant, inclusive and sustainable major North Carolina city?

    • What is your vision of Fayetteville in 15 years?

    “This is the initial community conversation,” said Waddell. “The information we get will generate the other conversations. The information will be given to the mayor and other members of City Council and we hope they will take it to help make decisions about things in the community."

    The format and process used in the Community Conversations is a continuation of previous Study Circles and will continue throughout the year.

    Space is limited for the Jan. 20 kickoff, so pre-registration is required by contacting the Fayetteville-Cumberland Human Relations Department during normal business hours at (910) 433-1696. Citizens can also engage in the Community Conversations Online by visiting FayettevilleOutFront.com.

  • 16 Peggy Hall Friends and professional acquaintances of the late Peggy Hall mourned the death of the former Cumberland County Board of Education member and praised her as a person with deep concern for the students and teachers she worked to serve.

    Hall, 78, died on Jan. 8. A career vocational education teacher with  30 years of experience, she made her first bid to run for the school board when her late husband McKinley “Mackey” Hall, himself a career educator, decided not to seek re-election to the board for health reasons.

    Dr. Marvin Connelly, superintendent of the Cumberland County Schools, released a statement on the death of Mrs. Hall.

    “Mrs. Peggy Hall was an extraordinary educator and a dedicated school board member who always put students first,’’ he said. “Her many contributions to Cumberland County Schools will never be forgotten. The field of education has lost a great advocate for children and public education. My thoughts and prayers are with her loved ones during this difficult time.’’

    Hall was elected to the Board of Education in the November 2016 election to fill the District 6 seat on the board which covers schools in the Hope Mills area of Cumberland County where her late husband Mackey called home.
    Peggy Hall stepped down from the board last June because of health and personal reasons.

    Greg West, who currently serves as vice-chairman of the Cumberland County Board of Education, said Mrs. Hall brought 30 years of experience as a vocational education teacher to
    the board.

    While her late husband focused most of his energies as a board member in the areas of school facilities and athletics, West said Mrs. Hall placed an emphasis on the students in the classroom.

    “She was always polite and respectful,’’ West said. “She and Mackey wanted what was best for Cumberland County. She was a great lady. They are together again.’’

    Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner taught with Mrs. Hall on the faculty at Douglas Byrd High School years ago. The two continued their friendship through the years when Mrs. Hall married Mackey and they lived in a home on South Main Street in Hope Mills, across from the furniture business operated by Warner’s husband, Alex. Warner said her relationship with Mrs. Hall goes back 40 years, even before she met and married her husband Alex.

    “I always had a lot of respect for her,’’ Mayor Warner said of Mrs. Hall. “She was always an advocate for children. I don’t know a harsh word that was ever spoken about her. People that worked with her liked her. She was good with parents and good with kids.’’

    Hope Mills Board of Commissioners member Pat Edwards got to know Mrs. Hall through her friendship with Mackey Hall. “She was a very delightful person, very caring,’’ Edwards said. “She supported everything Mackey did. She was a beautiful person, inside and out.

    “She loved Hope Mills and she loved the school system. She was proud to live here.’’

    Edwards said both Mrs. Hall and her late husband Mackey were the kind of people who would do anything for you.

    Carolyn Thompkins, another longtime friend of Mrs. Hall, also got to know her initially through her friendship with Mackey Hall.
    “She was an amazing woman, an amazing teacher,’’ Thompkins said. “She was like a little bumblebee, all over doing everything, pleasing everybody. She was one of the people I put on a pedestal. She earned the right to be up there.’’
    Thompkins said Mrs. Hall was especially articulate, and had the ability to speak to people of any station in life on their own level. “She could escalate up or down,’’ Thompkins said. “She was so empathic, so caring.

    “She was just a shining star. She’s an asset to heaven and a loss to us.’’

    Susan Dees said she and her late husband, former Hope Mills mayor Eddie Dees, would drive to Horry County in South Carolina with Mrs. Hall and her late husband Mackey to enjoy the oyster roasts there.

    “She loved Mackey Hall and grew to love Hope Mills,’’ Dees said. “She enjoyed being on the school board. She had a passion for children and the schools.’’

    Margaret Ledford, wife of the late Randy Ledford, longtime football and baseball coach at South View High School, knew Mrs. Hall through her relationship with Mackey Hall when he was assistant principal and athletic director at South View High School.

    “She’d call me once in awhile and we’d talk on the phone,’’ Ledford said. “She was so easy to talk to, friendly and caring. She was a very sweet lady.’’
  • 17 01 Brower park sign One of the busiest times of the year is in progress for the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Department as parents are signing up youngsters from the town and beyond for the various youth sports teams offered during the spring.
    Registration began last week at the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Department headquarters on Rockfish Road and will continue for the most part through the month of February.

    Maxey Dove of the Parks and Recreation staff encouraged parents to sign up early and avoid the last-minute rush caused by folks who wait until the final days of February to get their children enrolled in the program.
    “We get 70% of our registration the last two or three days,’’ Dove said. “Until we close the doors on that last day it’s hard to project how many teams we will have.’’

    The sports offered in the spring include baseball, softball, indoor soccer and wrestling.

    All registration is required in person at the recreation headquarters. Dove said the town is continuing to work on offering online registration and hopes to be able to offer that by the fall.

    Any youngster who has never played in the Hope Mills recreation program before is required to provide a copy of a birth certificate and proof of residence, which can be done with a utility bill.
    People outside of Hope Mills can sign their children up to play, but there is a difference in the fee charged. It’s $30 for Hope Mills residents and $40 for non-residents.

    Times for registration are 8:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Saturday.

    Baseball and softball are the most popular of the two spring sports, Dove said.

    Categories for baseball include T-ball for age 5, junior pee wee age 6, coach-pitch ages 7-8, minor baseball ages 9-10, major ages 11-12 and Dixie boys ages 13-14.
    Softball is the Darlings at ages 7-8, Angels at ages 9-10, Ponytails ages 11-12 and Belles ages 13-15.

    Last season, four Hope Mills teams won state titles and advanced to regional competition in Dixie Youth play. A fifth team supported by the town won the state Lady Legion softball championship, with several of the players on that team former competitors in the Hope Mills youth sports program.

    Soccer has an instructional level for ages 5-7 and individual teams for ages 7-12. Wrestling is divided both by weight and age from 6-12.

    Dove said if there are specific questions about any sport or registration call during regular business hours at 910-426-4109.

  • 21 01 Jaden FordJaden Ford
    Westover • Basketball• Sophomore
    Ford has a grade point average of 3.51. She averages 8.8 points and 4.8 rebounds for the Westover girls basketball team. She has made 14 3-point baskets.

    21 02 Harmony MartinHarmony Martin
    Westover • Basketball/soccer• Freshman
    Martin has a grade point average of 3.75. She averages 12.1 points, 7.7 rebounds and 5.1 assists for the Wolverine girls basketball team. She has made 10 3-point baskets.

  • 16 studioEarlier this fall Sue Moody was looking at some pictures taken by children of her friends that were posted on Facebook when she came up with an idea.

    While the pictures were good, Moody wondered if the youngsters might be able to benefit from some expertise provided by people trained in the art of photography.

    She spoke with Elizabeth Blevins of the Hope Mills Creative Arts Council and worked with her to schedule a series of presentations for budding young photographers. The classes are scheduled to meet from February until May at The Studio on Trade Street at a cost of $10 per student.

    There is a limit on class size so anyone interested needs to sign up as soon as possible by calling 910-853-4536 or emailing HopeMillscac@gmail.com.

    Moody said response to the initial class sessions will dictate whether plans are made for other events in the future. She said there has been discussion of sessions for adults.

    “We know there is a need in our community,’’ Moody said. “Other artists are affiliated with the Creative Arts Council. We just want an inventory to find out what the community wants. We hope people will register soon so we have everything in place and are prepared for them.’’

    All classes for the sessions with students ages 12-18 will be from 6-8 p.m. Following are the instructors for the initial series of classes and the dates they will be teaching:

    Cherri Stoute, Tuesday, Feb. 11 — Stoute owns The Studio on Trade Street. Stoute is a film school graduate who has worked in a variety of roles. She’ll study cameras and smartphone cameras with the students and discuss editing.

    Elizabeth Blevins, Tuesday, March 10 — Blevins is a member of the N.C. Press Association and the U.S. Press Association. She’s been a staff member and contributing writer to four regional publications including Up & Coming Weekly. Her topics will be perspective and photography fads.

    Michelle DeHetre, Tuesday, April 21 — For the last five years, DeHetre has worked as the operations manager at The Studio on Trade Street. Based out of Greensboro, DeHetre has a background in portrait photography. Her workshop will cover the topics of composition and improvising backdrops.

    Bill McQueen, Tuesday, May 12 — McQueen has called Hope Mills home for 31 years. He is the owner of Response Marketing Group, which offers consulting services to large and small businesses around the country. His topic will be thinking outside the box and putting into practice the instruction students have received during the class.

  • Here are the results from the Patriot Athletic Conference Cheerleading competition held on Saturday, Jan. 18, at Douglas Byrd High School.

    Overall champion

    Gray’s Creek

    Nonbuilding champion


    Building champion

    Gray’s Creek

    Game Day champion

    Terry Sanford

    All-Patriot Athletic Conference
    The following cheerleaders were chosen All-Conference

    E.E. Smith - Jasmine Myrick, Mikayla Staten, Connieyah Polk
    Douglas Byrd - Navaeh Owens, Na’Lyssia Walls
    Westover - Jak’yah Bozier, Martina Simms, Serenity Spraill
    Cape Fear - Nakiyah Wright
    Pine Forest - Julia Sanders, Cynara Cooper
    South View - Asa Moore, Mya Bartell
    Gray’s Creek - Cailyn Fontaine, Mackenzie Neasbitt, Blakelyn Mote
    Terry Sanford - Avery Schenk, Ella Lewis, Isabel Chavis

    Coach of the year

    Jamila Parks, South View

    Cheerleader of the year

    Avery Schenk, Terry Sanford

    NCCCA All-Region
    The following cheerleaders were selected to the All-Region Cheer team chosen by the North Carolina Cheerleading Coaches Association:
    South View - Mya Bartell, Valencia Williams
    Terry Sanford - Avery Schenk
  • 15 master plan croppedThe citizens of Hope Mills have spoken on which direction they’d like the development of the Heritage Park master plan to take. Now, it’s just a matter of getting the final pieces in place and securing grant money to begin actual work on the project.

    Lamarco Morrison, head of the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Department, said there were no major surprises when citizens responded to a request for input on the master plan at a meeting held in mid-December.

    As expected, some people expressed strong opinions on the fate of the Parish House, which has fallen into disrepair since being donated to the town. The Board of Commissioners was expected to continue discussion on the Parish House at its regular meeting last week, which was held prior to the writing of this article. (Editor's note: Since the writing of the article, the board voted to demolish the Parish House.)

    All three of the proposed plans for Heritage Park depict the Parish House as still standing.

    Morrison said he told the design team to show the Parish House on all the plans but not to include it in anything yet to be developed as action is still needed by the board on what will happen to it.
    There were four areas of concern the citizen input focused on. They were park character, amenity needs, program needs and criteria for prioritization.

    Historic and cultural preservation were tops in two of the four categories, earning 26% under park character and 24% under criteria for prioritization. Also a high priority was adventure at 25% under the program needs category.
    Leading the way under amenity needs were nature trails at 24%.

    The only other item that hit the 20% mark was sustainable at 21%  under the park character category.

    Items that reached 15% or better were educational under park character at 16%, amphitheater at 15% under amenity needs and concerts at 17% under program needs.

    The version of Heritage Park most people preferred keeps the main parking area near the intersection of Lakeview Road and Lakeshore Drive. It also allows for about 15 more parking spaces than either of the other two plans.
    Called Concept C, Morrison said it has the least impact on the existing sewer line and takes advantage of the natural layout of the land.

    “It preserved the most open space and took into account a lot of the site features we need to be aware of,’’ Morrison said.

    Even though Concept C was preferred, Morrison said the town is still taking input from citizens. All three site plans are available on the Parks and Recreation Facebook page.
    Anyone who would still like to comment on which plan they prefer is welcome to contact Morrison directly via email at lmorrison@townofhopemills.com.

    Morrison said one of the big advantages of using Concept C is it keeps the parking area away from potentially flood-prone portions of the proposed park.

    While some of the walking trails in the park would be able to survive occasionally being flooded, Morrison said it’s not good planning to put the parking area in a space that could be subject to frequent flooding.
    Morrison said many of the favorable comments were in support of the trail system because it takes advantage of what is called pedestrian circulation.

    The preferred plan will also allow the town to use a piece of property it already owns on South Main Street and install an overlook, Morrison said.

    “That was a pleasing feature not only for the park, but for the people driving by,’’ he said.

    The next big step will be to apply for a Park and Recreation Trust Fund.

    "It’s a 50-50 match,’’ Morrison said. “You can get up to $500,000 but we’re probably going to go after $300,000 to do a phase one of Heritage Park.’’

    Morrison has worked in other municipalities that received PARTF grants. If there are no further delays in the project, Morrison said Hope Mills could be awarded the grant as soon as August of this year, and work on phase one of Heritage Park could begin as late as the end of this year or sometime early in 2021.

    “We are excited and ready to get phase one started, regardless of which way we go,’’ he said.

  • 19 Super Bowl logo Here are the Cumberland County Schools head football coaches’ forecasts for this weekend’s Super Bowl LIV game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers.

    Brian Randolph, Jack Britt — I like Kansas City, 37-34. Kansas City has a wealth of skill and speed on offense, and I love the Honey Badger (defensive back Tyrann Mathieu) on their defense.

    Mike Paroli, Douglas Byrd  — I think Kansas City will win 41-38. The 49ers had a great running game and pass rush against the (Green Bay) Packers, but Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid will find a way to win.

    Jacob Thomas, Cape Fear — Two evenly matched teams. Kansas City has the edge at quarterback, but I feel that San Francisco is a better team in all three phases of the game and this seems to be their year from start to finish. Forty-Niners in a close one.

    David Lovette, Gray’s Creek — Chiefs, 35-28. The Chiefs have so much speed on offense and (quarterback Patrick) Mahomes is a difference maker.

    Bill Sochovka, Pine Forest — Kansas City by two touchdowns. Their offense is so explosive and has a lot of weapons. Very tough to stop.

    Bruce McClelland, Terry Sanford — Great matchup. Speed vs. power. Old school vs. new school football. I like San Francisco being more physical — running game and pass rush getting home without having to blitz. San Francisco 34, Kansas City 28.

    Duran McLaurin, Seventy-First — Chiefs will win, 34-21. Slow starts haven’t seemed to hurt the Chiefs because their opponents have struggled to maintain offensive execution and special teams play. Just too many weapons and an underrated defense will be too much for the 49ers.

    Rodney Brewington, South View — San Francisco, 31-21. San Francisco has a very special defense. The defense has the ability to rush and hurry the quarterback with only four defensive linemen. They have a strong running game and a solid quarterback.

    Ernest King, Westover — I feel the teams are evenly matched, but I give the edge to San Francisco. They have a great running game and a whole lot of weapons, three running backs and a receiver corps that can score anytime. A defense that really gets after it and the team has enthusiastic pride about what they do.

  • 16 01 greenway signKasey Ivey of the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation had already been talking with Rebecca Skiba of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission about coming to Hope Mills to discuss nature programs the town might be able to offer.

    That was before Dec. 3, when a member of the town’s maintenance staff spotted a coyote on the newly-opened Golfview Greenway Walking Trail at the old municipal golf course.

    When Ivey posted the news on the Parks and Recreation Facebook page, she was surprised at the response.

    “It sparked 56 comments and 187 shares,’’ she said. When Skiba came to Hope Mills for a scheduled visit on Dec. 9 to tour local nature-related sites around the town, Ivey shared with her the news about the coyotes at the golf course. Skiba, who is the outreach education specialist for the southern coastal region of the state, said she would be available to make a presentation on co-existing with coyotes.

    So Skiba will return to Hope Mills on Wednesday, Jan. 29, at 6 p.m. at the community room at the Hope Mills Recreation Center to talk about coyotes.

    There is limited space, so people interested in coming to the presentation need to reach out to Ivey as soon as possible. Her email address is kivey@townofhopemills.com.

    Ivey wants to make sure enough people are interested in the meeting to make Skiba’s trip to Hope Mills worth her time, since she travels a great deal and covers such a large area of the state in her job.

    Both Ivey and Skiba stressed that the presence of coyotes at the new greenway is not a cause for panic, and people who plan to use it shouldn’t be fearful or jump to any conclusions about the animals.

    Skiba has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Georgia and has worked in North Carolina for the past four years.

    She said the biggest problem with coyotes is that people don’t know a lot about them and they tend to be afraid of what they don’t know.

    16 02 coyotesCoyotes are present in all 100 of North Carolina’s counties, Skiba said, adding it is difficult to regulate the population. One of the main aims of her presentation will be to educate the public on the difference between a perceived threat a real one.

    The primary rule of thumb with coytotes, she said, is live and let live. “We’ve never had a case in North Carolina where a coyote has attacked and harmed a human being,’’ she said.

    But that doesn’t mean that every living thing is safe around coyotes. They are omnivores, Skiba said, which means they eat everything from vegetables to bugs to fruit. And, unfortunately, some small animals.

    That’s why any greenway walkers with pets, especially small ones, need to either leave them at home or keep them on a leash, as they could be potential prey for the coyotes.

    If a human sees a coyote, it’s fairly easy to shoo them off and go about their business. “They don’t stalk you,’’ Skiba said.

    It is possible for a coyote to be rabid, but unlikely, Skiba said. Wild animals at the top of the list to develop rabies are raccoons, skunks and foxes, Skiba said. “Coyotes aren’t really high up on the list.’’

    In the event anyone encounters an animal exhibiting odd behavior, they should contact local animal control authorities immediately.

    Skiba said typical early onset rabies behavior in animals includes being disoriented or appearing in public places while making no attempt to hide or protect themselves. “Not all rabies is the foaming at the mouth phase,’’
    she said.

    For her presentation in Hope Mills, Skiba said she plans to discuss the history of coyotes in North Carolina, the ecology involved and how they affect other species in the state.

    She will also present different options of coyote management, but added that her presentation will not be dealing with any kind of program the town as a whole can put into place, just things to be done on an individual basis.

    “This is a general information session to dispel myths and fears that are out there,’’ Skiba said, “also to bring up certain things that people can keep in mind to make sure they are not attracting coyotes if they don’t desire to have them.

    “We go about our daily lives and we don’t consider the ways we impact or attract wildlife. I’m just trying to bring those up as well.’’

    If anyone has specific questions about coyotes or other wildlife in the Hope Mills area the best way to reach Skiba is via her email at rebecca.skiba@ncwildlife.org.

    There is also a Wildlife Helpline at the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission which allows callers to speak to a trained biologist and ask specific questions about wildlife behavior, wildlife-related damage or injury and co-existing with wildlife. The number is 866-318-2401.

  • jeff6.jpg

    The City of Durham’s police chief lost his job because of a growing violent crime rate. That’s a tough call for any city executive. Some would argue that you can’t blame law enforcement for crimes in a community. It’s difficult to prevent major crimes. Ask the mayors of Chicago, New Orleans and yes, Durham.

    Murder, in particular, is hard to prevent. 

    “Propensity to crime develops in stages associated with major psychological and sociological factors. The factors are not caused by race or poverty, and the stages are the normal tasks of growing up that every child confronts as he gets older,” says Patrick Fagan of the Heritage Foundation. “In the case of future violent criminals, the absence of the love, affection, and dedication of both his parents becomes perverse exercises, frustrating his needs and stunting his ability to belong,” Fagan adds.

    Statistically, some communities must be more fortunate than others for reasons that escape the experts. Fayetteville is thought of as a violent city. But last year, the murder rate was down from the year before, and the year before that. In 2015, only 17 homicides were recorded in Fayetteville, according to Police Lt. David McLaurin. Chief of Detective Katherine Bryant says one other case is pending…the violent death of a 3-year-old baby. Bryant says the state medical examiner has not yet determined the cause of death.

    Contrast that with 42 homicides in Durham last year. It’s a city of comparable size and demographic makeup. Fayetteville City Manager Ted Voorhees will tell you that’s where the similarities end, making the significant difference in murders remarkable. Voorhees was Durham’s Deputy City Manager before coming to Fayetteville three years ago. 


  • The Fayetteville Sports Club has announced its Hall of Fame class for 2020.

    The new list of inductees includes four voted into the traditional Hall of Fame and two added as members of the Legends category, which was introduced for the first time last year to honor candidates who had been considered for some time but had not been inducted.

    The four members of the regular class include veteran high school official Neil Buie, former Terry Sanford High School and Elon football standout Brent Sexton, three-sport high school star and UNC-Pembroke volleyball All-American Melanie Grooms-Garrett and former E.E. Smith boys basketball coach Roy McNeill.

    The two Legends selections were longtime minor league baseball player Bob Spicer Sr. and the late Jimmy Edwards Jr., standout dirt track racing driver.

    Here are brief biographies of each honoree.

    Neil Buie

    A 1965 graduate of Fayetteville High School, Buie has been involved in various levels of officiating since 1967. He was a baseball umpire for the North Carolina High School Athletic Association from 1967-98. He umpired five high school state championship series.

    He also called seven American Legion state title series plus a dozen area championships.

    Buie also worked at the NCAA Division I, II and III levels calling baseball.

    In addition to baseball, Buie called high school football. He was involved with six NCHSAA regional championship games, two state championships, the 1993 North Carolina Coaches Association East-West All-Star game and the 1996 Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas.

    Buie has served as regional supervisor of baseball officials from 1998-2019 and has done the same for football officials from 2013 to the present.

    He has won a number of awards from the NCHSAA including the Golden Whistle Award, the highest award given to officials, along with the Special Person Award and the Distinguished Service Award.

    Jimmy Edwards Jr.

    Better known by his nickname "Porky," Edwards was one of the most successful dirt-track racers in North and South Carolina.

    He began his career in the lower levels of both dirt and asphalt racing in 1975, then advanced to the popular Late Model division in 1976. Edwards claimed more than a dozen track titles and took his 400th career win in July of 2007 at the Fayetteville Motor Speedway.

    In 1979, he won 40 races. In 1983, he won 24 times in only 35 starts.

    He competed head-to-head with NASCAR stars like Bobby Allison, Dale Earnhardt and David Pearson in short track competition.

    Edwards died at the age of 57 in 2011.

    Melanie Grooms-Garrett

    Grooms-Garrett was one of the most versatile and outstanding athletes in the history of South View High School.

    Her senior year with the Tigers, she was the athlete of the year in three different sports, volleyball, basketball and softball.

    She enrolled at UNC-Pembroke and continued her athletic success there, becoming the only player in school history to be named an NAIA All-American in the sport of volleyball.

    Grooms-Garrett also played softball for the Braves and was All-Carolinas Conference from 1991-92 and All-District her senior year.

    She returned to UNC-Pembroke to serve as head coach of the volleyball and softball teams.

    She coached softball for two years, nearly tripling the school’s win total from the first season in her final year as softball coach.

    She was inducted into the UNC-Pembroke Hall of Fame in 2003.

    Roy McNeill

    During his stint as head basketball coach at E.E. Smith, McNeill compiled a record of 185-62. He coached from 1993-1999 and earned one Holiday Classic championship, two conference titles and three sectional championships.
    Those are impressive numbers considering he inherited a team his first year that went 4-22 in the previous season.

    He ended his career with six 20-win seasons, nine consecutive state playoff appearances and nine straight winning seasons. His prior head coaching stops included Northwest Halifax, Wilson Hunt, Lumberton and Littlefield.
    He was voted Mid-South Conference Coach of the Year in 1999.

    McNeill played college basketball at Fayetteville State and was inducted into the Fayetteville State Hall of Fame in 1993.

    Brent Sexton

    Sexton was a football standout at Terry Sanford High School before going on to star on the football team at Elon University.

    He earned All-American recognition at Elon in 1974 and was elected into the Elon Sports Hall of Fame in 1985.

    Sexton was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1975 and played three seasons with the organization, winning a Super Bowl ring in 1975 when the Steelers defeated the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl X by a score of 21-17.
    Sexton was the third-highest player drafted in Elon history, taken in the fifth round. The only players who went higher were Rich McGeorge, a first-round choice of the Green Bay Packers in 1970 and Jimmy Smith, who was taken in the fourth round by the Washington Redskins in 1984.

    Sexton set an Elon record in 1971 when he intercepted five passes in one game vs. Gardner-Webb.

    Bob Spicer Sr.

    Spicer, a native of Richmond, Va., and a longtime Fayetteville resident after his baseball career was over, was among a trio of players drafted by the old Philadelphia Athletics before they relocated to Kansas City.
    During his high school days he played on a two-time state championship basketball in Newport News, Va. He later played semi-pro football in the Dixie League.

    Spicer made appearances with teams in Lumberton, Fayetteville, Macon and Springfield before spending a number of seasons in the Pacific Coast League with Los Angeles. His best pitch was a screwball, complemented by a knuckleball and a slider.

    One of his teammates in Los Angeles was the actor Chuck Connors of "The Rifleman" fame.

    One of his best years was with Macon in the South Atlantic League in 1949 when he compiled a 20-6 record with an earned run average of 2.73. He struck out 119 batters.
    In his lone season in Fayetteville, 1948, he was 18-4.

    In 1958, he won the Rawlings Silver Glove Award for his fielding.

    Spicer was also a successful billiards player who competed against legends like Willie Mosconi and Rudolf Wanderone Jr., better known as Minnesota Fats. In golf he was a one handicapper.
  • 15 grays creek studentsA group of students from Gray’s Creek High School recently earned statewide recognition from the North Carolina High School Athletic Association for participating in a contest to help raise money to provide food for those in need.
    The NCHSAA in cooperation with United Health Care sponsored the annual Turkey Bowl, which invited NCHSAA member schools to compete in a statewide fundraising effort.

    The contest was held Nov. 4-8, and the participating schools were free to choose how they wanted to take part in collecting food or money for the project.

    They could either raise money to donate to an actual food bank or collect food for an on-campus food pantry.

    LeAndra Barriage is a biology teacher at Gray’s Creek and also serves as the school’s Student Government Association advisor. She learned about the Turkey Bowl from Gray’s Creek athletic director Troy Lindsey.

    The SGA at Gray’s Creek is composed of the class and student body officers at the school. Barriage enlisted the officer corps to take part in the competition.

    Annually, during the month of November, Gray’s Creek has long been involved in something called Bears Giving, where the school collects food to give away to the Gray’s Creek Christian Center.

    For the Turkey Bowl, Barriage said the students decided to raise money to give away to the center by doing something the school calls Minute to Win It.

    The plan was to hold a one-minute period of donations during the daily announcements at Gray’s Creek.

    To promote the event, members of the SGA, as well as some members of the Gray’s Creek faculty and staff, got free T-shirts from the NCHSAA and wore them around school prior to the morning of the fundraiser, as well as on the day of the event.

    They also made announcements to promote the upcoming event and posted signs around the school.

    The morning of the fundraiser, a song was played for one minute over the intercom, and every class in the school contributed money during that time period. The class that raised the most money was treated to a free breakfast.

    When it was over, Gray’s Creek had raised $800, which ultimately earned it second-place in the statewide NCHSAA competition.

    The school later presented a check for that amount to the Gray’s Creek Christian Center.

    Barriage said the school likes to support the Center because it serves anywhere from 75 to 100 families in the Gray’s Creek community on a weekly basis.

    “I think it’s good for the kids to think beyond themselves and realize they are just a part of the community,’’ she said. “It is important to kind of give back to those who might be having a difficult time.

    “At one point or another in our lifetime, we’re all probably going to be in that position where we need a little help. I think it’s truly important to recognize when we have the ability to help we should do those things.’’

    While $800 might not seem like a tremendous amount of money, Barriage said the students were told that every dollar donated in the fund drive represented four meals, which means the money raised by the Gray’s Creek SGA paid for 3,200 meals for those in need.

    “I think that was kind of awe-inspiring,’’ Barriage said. “A little goes a long way.’’

    Carlisle Eley and Mary Ledford, two of the Gray’s Creek students who took part in the fundraiser, agreed participating in the event was meaningful to them and their classmates.

    “The more we donate to them, the more it helps our community,’’ Eley, a junior, said of the Gray’s Creek Christian Center. “I was really surprised by how much money we got.’’

    Ledford, a freshman, thought the donation of money was a good combination with the existing Bears Giving program at the school. “We thought adding the money would be another way to give back,’’ she said. “It directly affects students who go to our school and directly affects everyone who lives in our immediate community.’’

    While Ledford appreciated the statewide recognition from the NCHSAA, she added that wasn’t the most important part of the project. “It went to our community center,’’ she said. “That is the best part.’’

    Pictured from left to right. Back row: Carlisle Eley, Hunter Stewart, Gray's Creek
    Principal Lisa Stewart, Kim Ellington of Gray’s Creek Christian Center, Helen Thomas, Kayla Mady
    Front row: Garrett Harbison, Kylie Aldridge

  • 012016jeff-tax-sharing.jpg

    The local distribution of sales tax revenue has driven a wedge between Cumberland County Commissioners and the Fayetteville City Council. In the next few days commissioners will begin discussion of changing the method by which sales tax proceeds are divided between the county and the nine municipalities. If that happens, Mayor Nat Robertson has said he will cut city services to offset up to $4 million in lost revenue. Town governments are accusing the City of Fayetteville of looking after its own interest to the detriment of the small towns. Fayetteville Mayor Nat Robertson concedes the point, saying he has the obligation “to protect the interests of city taxpayers.” 

    For the last 13 years, the city and county have used a distribution method that shares sales tax revenues by population with a caveat. The city agreed to divide proceeds in a large area that it annexed. As the city’s population grew, the unincorporated area of the county shrank. Negotiators agreed it was only fair for the city to rebate the county one half of the new money it collected in those annexed areas. The towns got smaller shares of sales tax proceeds depending on their populations. The agreement between Cumberland County and Fayetteville has been renewed a couple of times and expires at the end of the current fiscal year.

    Fayetteville Mayor Nat Robertson and City Manager Ted Voorhees have proposed phasing out the 50/50 sharing of revenue taken in from annexed areas. The county is opposed because it would lose millions over the five-year phase out period.  Robertson and Voorhees believe it’s the city’s money to keep because roughly 90 percent of sales tax revenue is generated inside the city.

    The county is considering changing the method by which tax money is distributed to the ad valorem system or tax districts. The money would be divided, not by population, but by territories that each government unit covers. Cumberland County’s tax district is the entire county, which means it would get the lion’s share of tax collections. The city and towns would get much less money than which  they’ve been accustomed to. 

    Commissioners have given the city until the end of this month to agree to a continuation of the current tax-sharing arrangement. City Manager Voorhees says Fayetteville “is prepared to extend the current agreement,” with a caveat: The city and the Town of Spring Lake want to claim all tax money available under the current formula in areas of Fort Bragg annexed by Fayetteville and Spring Lake. 

    Commissioners have refused to negotiate a compromise with City Council, and have threatened in no uncertain terms to change the tax distribution formula on July 1. “Commissioners are not willing to serve on a sales tax negotiating team because the compromise has been on the table since 2013,” says County Commission Chairman Marshall Faircloth. “Further negotiation opens the door to the city’s desired phase-out of the agreement, putting county services at risk,” he added. The towns of Hope Mills, Wade, Falcon, Godwin, Stedman, Vander and Eastover would also suffer pro rata revenue losses. Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner accused Fayetteville of bullying, saying “We can’t fight the big dog…we have no voice.”

  • 20 01 isaiah Bridges copyIsaiah Bridges

    Westover • Basketball• Senior

    Bridges has a grade point average of 3.5. He is the starting point guard on Westover’s boys’ basketball team. He is a member of the Brotherhood of Successful Students mentoring program. As of this writing, the Wolverine basketball team is 14-0. Bridges currently averages 5.5 points, 3.6 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game.


    20 02 Tyler StricklandTyler Strickland

    Gray's Creek• Basketball/baseball• Senior

    Strickland has a grade point average of 4.125. He is a member of the National Honor Society and the Future Farmers of America. He played travel baseball for the Canes American team last summer. He is committed to play
    for the University of North Carolina at Wilmington on a baseball scholarship.

  • 012716-jeff-5.jpg

    A second and more expensive construction problem has arisen at the North Carolina Veterans Park in Fayetteville. It could cost nearly $100 thousand to correct. Last summer, a crack was discovered in a glass monument, which authorities are attributing to wind that rocked the tall glass structure. Engineers are still trying to figure out the best way of stabilizing the monument. The state of North Carolina funded construction of the park at a cost of $12 million. It opened on July 4, 2011, and was dedicated by then-Governor Beverly Perdue as the nation’s only state park dedicated to veterans.

    More recently, another problem was discovered. Walls of a pair of large underground vaults that house huge water pumps began to collapse. Recycled water is pumped to five fountains on the park grounds. The fountains are checked regularly. The walls of the vaults, or fiberglass cabinets, face a steep hill across Bragg Boulevard where rain water runs off underground. 

    “Over the last two years, we’ve encountered high runoff…six inches of water so far this year alone,” says Parks & Recreation Director Michael Gibson. 

    Asked if engineers had forecast the potential stress on the large vaults Gibson said, “I don’t know if any amount of calculation could have predicted the inordinate amount of rain that caused underground pressure” to disturb the walls of the cabinets. Construction crews are in the process of shoring up the two affected walls. The cabinets measure 20 X 10 feet and 50 feet deep.

    Metal plates are being installed alongside the walls. Then parallel concrete walls will be constructed to hold back the earth. Metal rods will connect the two, allowing space between them for rocks to be installed to serve as a sort of French drain. Cost of the project thus far is $88 thousand. The city has to absorb that cost even though it’s a state park because it’s responsible for maintenance and repairs to the park as part of an agreement with the state. 

    “We’re always looking for issues in regular maintenance monitoring,” says Gibson. No other problems have developed that he’s aware of, he adds.

    The State Veterans Park, 300 Bragg Blvd., honors North Carolina veterans from all branches of the military with flags and symbolic monuments. Walking paths, water features and sculptures are located throughout the park. The Oath of Service Wall displays bronze castings of North Carolina veterans’ hands, positioned at shoulder height as though they are taking the oath of service. Military history videos are shown in the visitor center, where a chandelier made of 33,500 dog tags hangs from the ceiling and a Service Ribbon Wall made of fused glass displays every service medal awarded since the Civil War. 

  • 19 basketballThe Cumberland County Schools have scheduled 10 Play4Kay basketball games this season in memory of the late Kay Yow, the longtime womens basketball coach at North Carolina State University.

    The Play4Kay games are held annually to help raise money for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. The games are held by both high school and college teams and are the biggest single source of contributions annually to the fund.
    The Kay Yow Cancer Fund was established on Dec. 3, 2007, by Yow during her battle with breast cancer.

    She fought the disease for the final 22 years of her life, finally dying in 2009.

    Since the Kay Yow Cancer Fund was created, it has given $7.53 million to a variety of programs involved in cancer research. Although Yow suffered from breast cancer, the money donated to the fund is used to help support all forms of cancer research.

    According to an article from the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, Yow’s oncologist said her life was both extended and enhanced during her fight with cancer because of research on the disease that had been conducted as far back as 20 years or more prior to her death.

    Cumberland County Schools didn’t get seriously involved in the Play4Kay fundraisers until a couple of years ago when county student activities director Vernon Aldridge heard a presentation by Chasity Melvin at a state athletic directors conference.

    Melvin starred at Lakewood High School and went on to play for Yow at NC State, where she was a Kodak All-American and led the Wolfpack to the NCAA Women’s Final Four in 1998. She set an NCAA semifinal scoring record with 37 points in North Carolina State’s loss to perennial NCAA power Louisiana Tech.

    Melvin was the 11th player taken overall in the 1999 WNBA college draft. She spent 12 years as a standout player in the WNBA, playing for the Cleveland Rockers, Washington Mystics and Chicago Sky.
    She played in the WNBA All-Star game in 2001.

    In addition to her WNBA career, Melvin played professionally in Italy, Israel, Spain, Poland, Russia and China.

    At the time she made the presentation to the athletic directors, she was serving as the director of the Kay Yow Cancer Fund. She moved on to an assistant coaching position with the Greensboro Swarm basketball team, which competes in the NBA’s G League. Last September she was hired as an assistant coach for the women’s team at Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland.

    Aldridge said that Melvin told the athletic directors that even though the Kay Yow Cancer Fund is based in North Carolina, the state was not the national leader in annual donations to the fund.
    Aldridge came back to Cumberland County and addressed the situation to the senior high school athletic directors.

    “We felt that was a shame,’’ Aldridge said, that the state wasn’t tops in donations to the fund.

    He presented the idea to the athletic directors and suggested their schools take a more active part in the annual Play4Kay fundraising drive.

    This year, the Play4Kay fundraisers are scheduled to be held nationally from Feb. 14-24. However, each school is allowed to schedule a fundraising date that is most convenient for the school and doesn’t have to strictly adhere to the dates announced by the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.

    Cumberland County holds its games earlier than the scheduled Play4Kay dates because the local high school regular season ends on Friday, Feb. 14. The method used to raise the money for the fund is up to each school to decide.
    The fundraisers are generally held separate from ticket sales and involve a specific fundraising method that is the choice of each school.

    Aldridge said the fundraisers are usually held during both the boys and girls basketball games that are on the Play4Kay schedule.

    He said he’s seen county schools engage in a variety of activities to raise money for Play4Kay. Among the activities that have been used include selling T-shirts, baked goods or even passing the hat around the gym during the game designated as the Play4Kay event.

    Some schools involve the entire student body and hold fundraisers on campus during the days leading up to the Play4Kay contests. The Kay Yow Cancer Fund also encourages schools to honor cancer survivors at their fundraising events.

    “It’s up to each school how they raise funds,’’ Aldridge said. “They all do something different.

    “Cancer is a disease that I don’t think anyone in this country can say hasn’t affected someone they know.’ We felt this would be a great cause for us to take on.’’ Aldridge estimates that over the last two years, the county schools have donated $13,000 at its Play4Kay games.

    Following are this year’s Play4Kay games that will be hosted by the 10 Cumberland County senior high schools. If you have specific questions about the national Play4Kay effort or the Kay Yow Cancer Fund, call the fund’s office in Raleigh at 919-659-3301.

    Jan. 22 - St. Pauls at South View.
    Jan.  24 - Pine Forest at Douglas Byrd.
    Jan. 28 - Douglas Byrd at E.E. Smith.
    Jan. 31 - Douglas Byrd at Cape Fear, Terry Sanford at Gray’s Creek.
    Feb. 4 - Purnell Swett at Jack Britt, Scotland at Seventy-First.
    Feb. 7 - Terry Sanford at Westover, E.E. Smith at Pine Forest.
    Feb. 11 - South View at Terry Sanford.

  • This is 40   (Rated R) 4 Stars01-09-13-movie.gif

    Director Judd Apatow might be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder. Increasingly, his films make me want to have a meal of raw cookie dough sprinkled with Prozac, served with a side of cheap liquor. This is 40(134 minutes) might have likeable and even realistic characters, but he lost some nuance in his attempt to transition to a more mature story.

    As supporting characters in Knocked Up, Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) served as a cautionary tale for Ben (Seth Rogen) and Alison (Katherine Heigl). In a stand-alone film we learn far more about them then we ever wanted to. For example, apparently (big surprise) they both have issues with their parents. Pete’s Dad (Albert Brooks) is remarried and mooches off Pete to support his stay-at-home wife and trip-lets (conceived through modern medicine). Debbie’s Dad (Jon Lithgow) has reentered her life after a prolonged absence, bring-ing her abandonment and control issues screaming to the surface just as her marriage is at a crisis point.

    It seems that Pete, in a bit of character consistency, is secretly a jerk. As pleasant and easy going as he can be, he lies all the time. And they’re huge lies that are destined to be found out, like the impending ruin of his business. Meanwhile, Debbie (who is by far the more sympathetic of the two) is trying to make their marriage work even in the face of her husband’s downright disinterest and petulance. He’s not happy but he is determined to fake it until the problem goes away. She’s not happy, but she can’t get it through to her husband that she is running out of things to try, which means he is running out of chances to meet her halfway. Yes, it’s supposed to be a comedy. I think.

    It is the approximately 3 million subplots that drag the film down the most. First, Debbie has a business now. It is some kind of boutique, and she employs Jodi (Charlyne Yi from Knocked Up) and Desi (Megan Fox, Ugh.). She thinks one of them is stealing and can’t figure out whom. Second, their two kids Charlotte and Sadie (Iris and Maude Apatow) fight a lot. Both subplots were utterly boring and could have easily been trimmed. Don’t work with family Apatow. It’s too hard to cut their crap scenes.

    Knocked Up and The Forty Year Old Virgin are some of the funniest modern comedies I’ve seen. There is a certain goofy sweetness to the leads in those pics. They may be long, but they are never bloated. Here, however, the plot does not justify the length. This is mostly a series of vignettes that lack an over-arching narrative. Like any other couple, sometimes they are happy and sometimes they are not. Sometimes they like their kids and sometimes they don’t. They are children of divorce and their respective fathers each started a second family, full of younger half-siblings that make for awkward get-togethers. Honestly, this comes off like a failed sitcom that got turned into a movie.

    Overall the strengths of the film balance the weaknesses. This is not going down in history as his best work, but I think it will age well. The central theme of the mid-life couple crisis is relat-able; it’s the trimmings that take away. I mean, I find it hard to muster any real sympathy for the characters when I am reminded that they are two relatively wealthy and attractive people in danger of aging and becoming slightly less wealthy. Oh no! Their daughter dropped an F-Bomb! Family crisis! Really, they fight and make up so often during the course of the movie, when we get to the kiss-and-make-up finale it is just one more up destined to roll down. This results in a lack of catharsis and a sense that five minutes after the credits rolled they headed to divorce court. But yes, there are some outtakes after the movie. Enjoy.

    Now showing at Wynnsong 7, Carmike 12 and Carmike Market Fair 15.

  • 18 NC STATEEditor’s note: This story is a departure for High School Highlights. We normally write about local high school athletic stars, but this is about a project that involves a former local athlete who has distinguished himself in the field of invention. Will Marsh was a starter on the Cape Fear High School baseball team during his days there. He’s moved on to North Carolina State University, where he was one of the team members involved in the invention of a new device that will make the baling of pine straw a lot easier. Thanks to Rebecca Nagy, science writer for the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at North Carolina State, for this story.

    Baling pine straw for landscaping use is a $250 million industry across the southeast, relying almost entirely on hand labor. Five alumni from the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering designed and built the first production-ready machine to remove sticks and pine cones from pine straw and cut labor costs by up to 80%.

    Starting as a senior design project in BAE, alumni Matthew Parker, Ben Cauthen, Alex Greeson, Ben Cranfill and Will Marsh created the Pine Bine to address labor problems plaguing the underdeveloped pine straw industry during a capstone senior design project in 2017. By graduation in 2018, they had developed a patent-pending machine capable of reducing industry labor requirements. The Innovative Agricultural Technologies, LLC “Pine Bine,” or pine straw combine, streamlines the pine straw harvesting process to make the industry more efficient and profitable.

    In 2018, the five alumni won first place in the AGCO student design competition at the American Society of Biological and Agricultural Engineers Annual International Meeting in Detroit, Michigan.

    Now the founders of Innovative Agricultural Technologies, LLC they were recently finalists in The Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge, a national business competition for U.S. food and agriculture startups. In addition to the judging portion of the competition, there was also a People’s Choice Award. Voting for that award ended last weekend.

    “Without the fantastic education we received at NC State and the support given to us by the BAE department both before and after graduation, we could never have developed our ideas to this level,” Parker notes. “N.C. State has truly given us the opportunity to pursue our dreams.”

    The American Farm Bureau Federation, in partnership with Farm Credit, awards $145,000 in startup funds to entrepreneurs who compete throughout the year, culminating at a live pitch competition at the AFBF Annual Convention. Startup funds for The Challenge are provided by sponsors Bayer Crop Science, Country Financial, Farm Bureau Bank, Farm Bureau Financial Services, Farm Credit and John Deere.

    While deciding on a project for their senior design course, the team saw a need and an opportunity in the pine straw industry. Pine straw, a big part of the landscaping industry in the southeast, is hindered by an insufficient labor force.
    “One big problem in that industry is that labor is hard to come by,” explained Parker, who is currently a graduate student at Campbell University’s Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law in Raleigh. “It’s hard to find people that want to go into the woods and separate pine straw from sticks and pine cones to get the best quality pine straw.”

    “Landscaping pine straw shields soil surrounding plants and their root systems from the sun, and holds moisture to promote plant growth, explains Greeson. “It also lasts a long time, is more cost-effective than hardwood mulch alternatives and provides a natural appearance to any garden. Pine straw is really nature’s mulch, but nobody wants their gardens littered with sticks and pine cones.”

    Then came the Pine Bine.

    “Our machine is the first ever machine to actually be successful at removing sticks and pine cones from pine straw,” Parker continues.  “And we designed it and built it right here as senior engineering students at NC State.”
    Shortly after graduation, the team formed Innovative Agricultural Technologies, LLC, and partnered with a small-scale rural equipment manufacturer in North Carolina and plans to release the Pine Bine in the general market in the next several months. 

    Parker expressed Innovative Agricultural Technologies’ goal that the Pine Bine will “revolutionize the pine straw industry and make raising longleaf pine trees profitable again.”

    Because of their unique growth habit, longleaf pine trees create an ecosystem found nowhere else on earth.  However, loblolly pines, which do not produce the same ecological benefits as longleaf pines, have largely overtaken the lumber market throughout the southeast because loblolly pines grow at twice the rate of longleaf pines.

    “If successful, the Pine Bine is positioned to help reverse this centuries-old trend of declining longleaf pine acreage throughout the southeast simply by doing its part to harness market forces rather than resorting to cumbersome state regulation,” notes Parker. “People will naturally want to protect longleaf pine ecosystems once it becomes more profitable to do so through the mechanization of the pine straw industry.”

    Parker noted the longleaf pine’s intimate connection with the history of North Carolina.

    “The North Carolina State Toast proudly declares, ‘Here’s to the land of the longleaf pine; the summer land where the sun doth shine; where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great; here’s to down-home, the Old North State!’” he said. “For our part, Innovative Agricultural Technologies wants to keep the significance of the longleaf pine alive in North Carolina and throughout the Southeast.”

  • 01-23-13-monster-trucks.gifLoud noise, screaming fans, backstage passes. A rock concert? Absolutely not. Monster X Tours comes to the Crown Coliseum with a show guaranteed to please the most ardent supporters — or one new to the world of monster trucks. Shows are scheduled for Jan. 25 and 26, starting at 7:30 p.m.

    Monster trucks gained prominence when Bob Chandler’s “Bigfoot” was the first to drive over and crush cars. In 1981 he performed at the Silverdome in Detroit and introduced the bigger 66” tires. What had previously been a side-show at mud-bogging and truck pulling shows became a headlining event. Over the years modifi cations have been made to the trucks to ensure safety for the drivers as well as the audience.

    Noisy. Absolutely. The average decibel level produced by these 500+ horsepower behemoths is equivalent to a jackhammer or rock concert. Attendees will say their hearing wasn’t right for a couple of days following the event but a set of ear plugs will reduce the noise to a more comfortable level (highly recommended).

    Monster X Tours CEO Danny Torgerson stated, “Our show is at the pinnacle of this sport. We have an exemplary record for safety and quality and hold ourselves to the highest standards.” The Monster Truck Thunder will be provided by Project X, Scorpion, River Rat and Heavy Hitter. These 10,000 pound car crushing giants will compete in racing, wheelie contests and bring the house down with amazing freestyle competition.

    In addition, there will be a freestyle motorcross lead by X-Game medalist Justin Homan and others. Tricks will include roof-scraping cliffhangers, double grabs, superman seat grabs and the ever-challenging backfl ip. Not enough excitement yet? Purchase a Pit Party Pass and meet the drivers and get the ride of your life during the party or intermission.

    “We recently returned from an Eastern European tour. Monster X Tours was the first event of its kind to visit Moscow and we played to sold-out audiences. We also had events in Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. In an average season we will conduct 100 shows from coast to coast and will be appearing in Hawaii in May,” Torgerson said.

    The Pit Party starts at 6 p.m. and winds up at 7 p.m. with the show starting at 7:30 p.m. on both days. The show will be loud and exhaust fumes can be expected. No video recording or long lens cameras allowed. The show is not recommended for children under two years of age.

    Tickets and Pit Party Passes can be purchased online at www.Ticketmaster.com, or by phone at 1-800-745-3000. Tickets can also be purchased directly from the Crown Coliseum by calling 910-323-5088.

    Photo: Monster Trucks are coming to the Crown on Jan. 25 and 26. 

  • 18 fireworks debrisWhen Cape Fear football coach Jake Thomas brought his son to club wrestling practice after New Year’s Eve, he was met by a disappointing sight on the school’s football field.
    Someone had used a small area near the baseball-field end as a launching pad for fireworks.

    Photos taken by Thomas showed a burned out spot on the turf of the Cape Fear field with the litter from the various types of fireworks used by whoever trespassed illegally on school grounds still there.

    Thomas said it certainly could have been a lot worse, and has been when he’s seen people who’ve driven vehicles onto athletic fields and left damaging doughnuts cut into the turf with the wheels of their trucks or cars.
    But seeing the Cape Fear field marred by the fireworks was not a pleasing sign for Thomas, who estimates he and members of his coaching staff spend in the vicinity of 200 hours a year doing everything to the field from cutting the grass, tending to the health of the soil and painting it for Thursday and Friday football contests during the season.

    “When I was first coming into coaching, you don’t appreciate how much time you spend on field maintenance, painting the field, all those things,’’ Thomas said. “You really don’t get a full understanding until you do it yourself.’’

    Thomas said the fans who show up on Friday night only get to see the end result and don’t realize the total amount of work that the football staff puts into making the field not only safe to play on but appealing to the eye.

    Beyond the work on the field, there are rules in place about who can and can’t use school practice facilities like the football field. Thomas noted that not even Cape Fear varsity and junior varsity athletes are allowed to be on school property working out without a member of the coaching staff being present with them.

    “There are liability issues,’’ Thomas said. Even in the school weight room, athletes can’t lift without having a coach there to oversee what’s taking place.

    Vernon Aldridge, student activities director for the Cumberland County Schools, said those who used the Cape Fear football field for shooting fireworks were guilty of trespassing.
    “If definitely has to do with safety reasons, but it’s also a liability issue,’’ Aldridge said, “having folks on our grounds if they are injured. The liability falls on us.’’

    Aldridge said high schools are not allowed to use fireworks at their games on Friday nights because it’s a fire code issue. While it used to be alright when Aldridge was a coach at South View in the early part of 2000, the fire marshal later ruled that it was not allowed.

    During its run to the state football championship in 1991, South View had a fan who brought a musket-like gun to games that was fired following each Tiger touchdown.

    Aldridge said that practice is also no longer allowed due to firearms restrictions on campus.

    Thomas said he did not make an official police report of the incident at Cape Fear but he has asked members of the Cape Fear community to help identify who was involved, especially if they were students, so proper discipline can be administered as needed.

    Aldridge said the county will likely not get involved and will let Cape Fear handle the matter at the school level, including any decision regarding offering a reward for identifying those involved.

  • 21 01 Nyielah NickNyielah Nick

    Seventy-First • Basketball• Senior

    Nick has a grade point average of 3.6. She averages 7.6 points and 5.7 rebounds per game for the Falcons. She is also active in the school’s JROTC program.

    21 02 anijaAnija Borja

    Seventy-First• Basketball• Senior

    Borja has a grade point average of 3.7.

  • 20 Newtown 1Dates of some tragedies are etched in our memories forever. On Sept. 11, we pause to remember the thousands who perished in 2001 as a result of the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 that crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

    Many individuals remember where they were when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963 and/or when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down on April 4, 1968.

    Unfortunately, in the past 20 years, there are several dates stamped in our memories because of shootings in our nation’s schools, such as the ones at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, on April 20, 1999, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, 2018.

    And on December 14, 2012, the nation wept when 26 people, including 20 children, were killed during the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. While this tragedy tore the hearts of people nationwide, it was profoundly personal to me.

    I was executive director of the Connecticut Association of Schools-Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference and, on that day, was attending a meeting with the Commissioner of Education and the Board of Directors for the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents. The commissioner was interrupted to take a private call, left immediately, and shortly thereafter the news of a “school shooting” reached the nation.

    Suddenly, what previously was important became insignificant as we were all shocked at yet another senseless act of violence. As details of the shooting rampage were released, the incident became more and more horrific. The principal of Sandy Hook Elementary at the time, Dawn Hochsprung, was one of the six adults who perished that day. She was a personal friend of mine.

    So, like millions of Americans this past weekend, I was overcome with emotion when Newtown High School won the CIAC Class LL State Football Championship — seven years to the exact day of the Sandy Hook tragedy. Newtown won the state title on the last play of the game as Jack Street — a fourth grader at Sandy Hook in 2012 — threw a touchdown pass just as the fog lifted enough to be able to see downfield.

    Once again, high school sports and football in particular, was a unifying activity for a community. Amid the sorrow of the day, this incredible storybook finish by the Newtown High School football team gave everyone in the community — at least for a moment — the strength to continue the healing process.

    We have seen time after time when high school sports provided students, parents and those in our communities a means to come together, to band together and to rise above struggles arm in arm. This was but the latest example.
    The grieving process will continue for those people who lost loved ones in the Sandy Hook tragedy, but this amazing effort by these high school football players brought smiles and tears of joy to a community that has not had many of those emotions for the past seven years.

    Bobby Pattison, the Newtown High School football coach, had the following to say after the state title: “The great thing about football and sports in general, moments like this bring people together,” Pattison said.

    “These guys had an outstanding year. To win a state championship, to win on the last play, it’s been a tremendous accomplishment. And these boys deserve it. They’re a great bunch.”

    The value of high school football for communities across America? We would suggest what happened in Newtown, Connecticut, last month says it all.

  • 19 Karl MolnarKarl Molnar has seen the perspective of local high school basketball from the sides of a private school and public school coach, going back to his days at Fayetteville Academy and his current role as varsity boys coach at Terry Sanford.
    He’s keenly away there has been friction between the two groups in the past, but he also thinks  the coaches involved share a common bond that should help them pull together.

    “I hated there was distance between them,’’ Molnar said. “I like to think at the end of the day, your job as coach is to do the best you can.’’

    In an effort to bridge the gap and get everybody at the same table for a change, Molnar came up with the idea of the inaugural MLK Dream Jam, which will be held on this year’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Monday, Jan. 20, at the Terry Sanford gymnasium.

    The schedule will feature a mixture of Cumberland County Schools and local private schools playing head-to-head in both boys and girls basketball games, the action beginning at 11:30 a.m. and continuing through the final game of the day at 7 p.m. A total of six games are scheduled.

    Molnar said he tried to involve as many public schools as possible in the event.

    Some schools accepted quickly while some others weren’t able to commit to the tournament because they had prior obligations or their schedules for this season were already full.
    Molnar said a handful of coaches, who he didn’t identify, still didn’t want to take part in the event.

    In determining the matchups for the one-day event, Molnar said he tried to go by overall records and any head-to-head competition that had already taken place.
    He is hopeful that the level of talent in this inaugural competition will draw the interest of a number of college coaches.

    “We’ve heard from some coaches who are coming to see the talent in Fayetteville,’’ Molnar said. “The hope is as this event progresses over the years, we’ll have all the top public schools and all the top private schools playing in the same event.’’

    Admission to all games will be $10 Molnar said. Fans will be allowed to stay and watch as many games as they like on a single ticket.

    MLK Dream Jam schedule

    Here is the schedule for the inaugural MLK Dream Jam at Terry Sanford High School as of Tuesday, Jan. 7. The schedule is still subject to late changes:

    11:30 a.m. -  Terry Sanford vs. Freedom Christian Academy
    1 p.m. - Richmond Senior vs. Village Christian Academy
    2:30 p.m. - Cape Fear vs. Trinity Christian School

    Pictured: Karl Molnar
  •     Change.
        As the Jan. 20 inauguration of this nation’s 44th president, Barack Obama, grows nearer and nearer, you can feel change in the air. It’s as present, as palpable, as that first cool September breeze cutting through the oppressive summer heat, signaling the start of another autumn.
        {mosimage}It’s a change that’s being felt across this nation and across Fayetteville, a shifting of history’s tectonic plates as the first African American readies himself for the Oval Office.
        It is a change that Helen Hooks Farrior, a former member of the Cumberland County School Board who will be traveling to Washington D.C. to see the inauguration firsthand, says has surely been a long, long time coming.
    “I feel disbelief that this has happened in my lifetime,” said Farrior. “I was born back when we didn’t have access to what we have now. There were so many doors that were closed to us … opportunities that were closed. I can remember the school bus passing me and we were walking. I can remember getting school books that were not new. I remember having to go to the outside of a restaurant and having sandwiches passed to you. Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would have someone of African descent becoming president.”
        And the fact that the inauguration of a person of color is happening in conjunction with the celebrations of Dr. Martin Luther King’s life and legacy is not lost on Farrior. She sees the timing as something more than just coincidence … she sees it as something divinely ordained.
        “It’s sort of amazing that it would happen at this time,” said Farrior. “Someone said that it seems to have a religious aspect, not that religion is the cure all and the panacea for everything, but some are thinking that it’s an omen … something is most definitely happening.
        “I have a brother who says that God is in this thing,” said Farrior, “to which I have to say, ‘God is in everything.’”
        Just as Farrior thinks God is in everything, she — and many others at this crossroad in American history — believes that President-Elect Obama is walking in the footsteps of those who blazed the Civil Rights trail before him … a trail splattered with the blood, the sweat, the tears of those who believed that all men and women, indeed, are created equal.
        Another who believes Obama is following the path worn by Dr. King and Rosa Parks and Medgar Evans, is 77-year-old Illa Haire, who will be attending her first inauguration when Obama takes the oath.
        And like Farrior, she is also in a daze of disbelief at what has come to pass.
        And she too talks of the tide of “change.”
        “I never in my lifetime thought this would happen,” said Haire. “It didn’t look like it was ever going to happen. The country has come a long, long way. This is history right here. And all the things Dr. King and the rest went through … this makes it all so very worthwhile.”
        While Farrior and Haire share the historical perspective of this monumental change, having lived through the Civil Rights struggles, having seen the televised attacks by Bull Connor’s dogs and the loosening of  the fire hoses and heard the hateful vitriol of George Wallace, some see the change in a more immediate and contemporary way.
    Folks like Fayetteville City Councilmember Charles Evans, who has seen the change and the renewed belief in the political system Obama’s election has brought to a generation of young people. Evans will also be attending Obama’s inauguration.
        “Unlike Mrs. Farrior, I’m not amazed,” said Evans. “While I understand her amazement, I saw how energized the younger folks became over this man. So while I’m extremely excited, I’m not surprised.”
        {mosimage}“They (the young people) looked beyond the color,” said Evans. “They looked at the needs of the country. This man sang the praises of change, change, change and they embraced that. They’re seeing that they can make a very big difference on our future.”
        Someone else who sees and feels the change, the electricity of the moment sweeping across the country like a benevolent tidal wave, is Haire’s son, Fayetteville City Councilmember D.J. Hare, who will be alongside his mother for the inauguration.
        “I think it’s going to heal up a lot of wounds … not all of them,” said D.J. Haire. “We still have a long, long way to go and he’s got a lot on his shoulders. But I really think the country is pulling together.
        “This is an opportunity for black folks to stick their chests out … but now we need to go even further than that,’ said Haire. “ I tell people if their yard is not clean, clean up your yard; if you’ve got cars that aren’t running and broken down let’s fix them or take them to the junkyard. Those may sound like simple things but it’s sticking your chest out and having pride. I’m telling the young men ‘Pull your pants up. Take the earring out, do this, make this change in your life.’ Let’s make more of a significant change than just this. And I see it. I hear it in conversations. I think we’re going to see even more changes coming.”
        Even though Haire sees the inauguration as a chance for African Americans to stick out their chest, he says it’s also an opportunity for all people to feel pride and embrace change — after all, he points out, Obama is not only half black, but also half white.
        This sense of pride and excitement is most definitely shared by Haire’s fellow councilmember, Val Applewhite.
    Like all the others previously mentioned in this article, she is also attending her very first inauguration.
        “I am so excited,” said Applewhite. “It is very, very special. When he (Obama) came to Fayetteville to speak I looked around and there was such a mixture of people … a mixture that you don’t normally see in Fayetteville.
        “It’s all a reflection of Dr. King’s dream,” said Applewhite. “His dream that we could all come together … that we could change things for the better. I have no doubt that during the inauguration I will start crying … it’s just such an emotional thing.”
        When Applewhite cries they will be tears of joy that will undoubtedly mingle with the waterfall created by millions of like minded folks as they weep for what they see as a new age … an age of renewed equality … an age of change.

    Contact Tim Wilkins at tim@upandcomingweekly.com 

  • 19 01 colin baumgartnerColin Baumgartner

    Jack Britt • Swimming/cross country/track• Junior

    Baumgartner has a weighted grade point average of 4.35. He is one of the captains of the swim team and is on the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Student Athletic Committee for Region IV. He ranks 19th in a class of 495 students.

    19 02 Anna MillerAnna Miller

    Jack Britt• Swimming• Senior

    Miller has a weighted grade point average of 4.34. She is a captain of the Jack Britt swim team and practices year round with the Fayetteville Aquatic Swim Team. She also coaches younger swimmers.

  • 18 01 Vernon Aldridge copyBeginning with the fall semester this year, incoming sixth graders and ninth graders in the Cumberland County Schools will get a clean slate when it comes to allowing them to participate in extracurricular activities at the school they’re attending.

    Cumberland County is one of a number of school systems around the state that holds students to a higher standard when it comes to allowing them to take part in things like athletics, band, chorus and school clubs.

    They must maintain a grade point average of 2.0 or better to be eligible for extracurricular activities.

    At a recent meeting of the Cumberland County Board of Education, board members voted to lower that requirement for incoming sixth graders and ninth graders, giving them a clean slate and allowing them to take part in all extracurricular events during their first semester at their new schools.

    Once the initial nine-week semester is over, if they haven’t managed to maintain a 2.0 average, the rule kicks in and they will be ineligible until their grades improve.

    Vernon Aldridge, student activities director for the county schools, along with board members Greg West and Susan Williams support the change as a way to help the incoming sixth and ninth graders deal with what is traditionally a difficult transition period by allowing them to become as fully involved in activities at their new school as possible.

    Aldridge said he meets with county high school football coaches every February, and they brought up the idea of allowing the sixth and ninth graders to be able to waive the 2.0 requirement.
    18 02 susan williams copy
    “They don’t lose a lot of athletes once they get them into the program and monitor their grades,’’ Aldridge said. “We know when kids belong to something, whether it’s athletics or arts, they do better in school.’’

    Williams, who taught choral music for 32 years, said there is research available that shows social and emotional outcomes of students improve when they are involved with the arts.

    “One of my biggest concerns is if they are not allowed to start those programs in the sixth and ninth grades, they may never get back there,’’ she said. “I’ve had students come back to me through the years and say, ‘Ms. Williams, if it hadn’t been for your class, I would have been struggling everywhere else.’ ’’

    She noted that ninth-grade band students get to spend a summer at camp with fellow band members and begin school in fall with as many as 100 or more new friends.

    “They have already been able to fit into the mold of that new school,’’ she said.

    West agreed with Williams that studies show the more engaged students are in all activities a school offers, the better they perform academically.

    “It’s extremely important to get plugged in when you’re at a new school for the first time,’’ he said. “If they don’t plug in early, they’re far less likely to plug in later.

    18 03 Greg West copy“The bottom line is they need more caring adults in their lives, not less.’’

    West said extracurricular activities give students more access to those kinds of adults. Giving them greater access to those activities is what needs to happen, he said, adding, “First semester sixth grade and first semester ninth grade are probably the two most critical thresholds for these kids to shape their middle and high school careers.’’

    Pictures from top to bottom: Vernon Aldridge, Susan Williams, Greg West

  • 11 Biggers HazelGallery 208 is privileged to start the new year with a selection of original works by the late American artist John Biggers. Best known for his narrative murals, John Biggers dedicated his work to the depiction of the human condition and the interdependence of family — from ancestry to the multigenerational. The exhibition, “John Biggers: The Lasting Legacy,” opens Jan. 14 at Gallery 208 in Fayetteville.

    Born in Gastonia, North Carolina, John Biggers (1924-2001) was the youngest of seven children. Cora Biggers worked as a housekeeper and Paul Biggers was a teacher, principal and minister. Both parents encouraged all their children to pursue an education. In 1941, John Biggers enrolled in Virginia’s Hampton Institute, now known as Hampton University. Biggers’ education at Hampton Institute, growing up in North Carolina, and his later travels to Africa, would become the underpinning for his success as an artist and an educator.

    At Hampton Institute, Biggers studied art under Viktor Lowenfeld and became friends with two fellow students: Charles White and Elizabeth Catlett  — both White and Catlett would become historically important African-American artists. In 1943, while still a student, Biggers’ mural, “Dying Soldier,” was featured in the landmark exhibition “Young Negro Art,” organized by Lowenfeld for New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

    Biggers followed his mentor, Lowenfeld, to Pennsylvania State University to study the art of mural painting. It was at Pennsylvanian State University that Biggers’ academic career unfolded; he earned a master’s in art education in 1948 and a Ph.D. in 1954. While still working on his dissertation, Biggers moved to Houston, Texas, in 1949 to start an art department at Texas Southern University, known as Texas State College for Negroes. Biggers became chairman of the art department and remained at the university until his retirement in 1983.

    Early artistic recognition included the first prize at the annual exhibition of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston for his painting, “The Cradle,” in 1950. A pivotal event occurred in 1957 when Biggers was invited to participate in a six-month fellowship in Africa — the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization tour. Biggers became one of the first African-American artists t to travel to the newly independent Ghana.

    Because of the UNESCO fellowship, Biggers and his wife Hazel were able to visit several countries: Nigeria, Togo, Dahomey — now the Republic of Benin, and Ghana. In Ghana, they met and became friends with scholar Patrick Hulede, who enlightened them about Ghanaian culture and history. Biggers’ experiences in Africa and his friendship with Hulede became  significant influences on Biggers’ view of the world and his personal history and shaped a lifetime of artistic pursuits.

    After receiving a second award, the Danforth Foundation’s E. Harris Harbison Award for Distinguished Teaching, Biggers and his wife were able to travel for an additional six months to other countries in Africa. But it was his first trip to Ghana, Nigeria and other parts of Africa that inspired Biggers to create an award-winning illustrated book titled “Ananse: The Web of Life in Africa.”

    By the 1960s, when Abstract Expressionism and Pop art were the fad styles, Biggers forged his style based on ancestral heritage, African art, Southern black culture, nature and his everyday experiences. In his creative pursuit as an artist, an educator and an activist, Biggers became a major contributor to American art and culture for the next 50 years. In 1995, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and Hampton University Art Museum organized his first comprehensive retrospective exposing the depth of his legacy.

    Best stated by gallery owner Michael Rosenfield, “John Biggers died in 2001, leaving behind a body of work that, as Maya Angelou stated, leads us through his expressions into the discovery of ourselves at our most intimate level.”
    Rosenfield also stated: “Biggers drew inspiration from African art and culture, from the injustices of a segregated United States, from the stoic women of his own family and from the heroism of everyday survival.”
    During his long-celebrated career and achievements as an artist, Biggers agreed to do a retrospective of his work at the Fayetteville Museum of Art in the 1980s. The museum exhibition and his work being exhibited locally during the past 15 years are the direct results of Biggers’ ties to family.

    Biggers’ niece, Andretta Hales, lives in Fayetteville and was instrumental in having her uncle’s exhibit at the Fayetteville Museum of Art. Hales worked with Tom Grubb, president of the Fayetteville Museum of Art, to bring the one-person exhibit of Biggers’ work to the community. Since then, Hales has worked with Calvin Mims of the Ellington White Contemporary Gallery in Fayetteville to exhibit his original works in local exhibitions.

    Past group exhibitions in Fayetteville include the Fayetteville Arts Council, and most recently, Hales worked with Fayetteville State University Professor Dwight Smith for the January 2019 exhibition at Rosenthal Gallery titled “Celebrating Heritage: Selected Works from the John and Hazel Biggers Collection of African and African American Art.”

    Hales, Smith and Mims have all been an integral part of Gallery 208 being able to exhibit Biggers’ work. The exhibit at Gallery 208 is part of a larger collaboration with Ellington White Contemporary Gallery and Rosenthal Gallery at FSU. Ellington White Contemporary Gallery on Gillespie Street is exhibiting National Black American Art Exhibition, Jan.15-March 14. “Works of Paper by Ben Jones” will be on exhibit at Rosenthal Gallery at FSU between Jan. 22 and Feb. 28.
    The public is invited to the reception at Gallery 208 of “John Biggers: The Lasting Legacy” on Jan. 14 between 5:30 and 7 p.m. During the opening, Andretta Hales will be introduced at 6:15 p.m. to briefly address her personal history with Biggers, his life and his work.

    “John Biggers: The Lasting Legacy” will remain at Gallery 208 until March 20 for visitors to be able to see work by a celebrated American artist — an artist from North Carolina whose works evoke the value and strength of family and heritage. Gallery 208, is located at 208 Rowan St. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call Gallery 208 for information about the exhibit at 910-484-6200.

  • 17 01 Cumberland County had a good showing in the recently-completed Holiday Classic basketball tournament, with county schools taking championships in three of the four brackets.

    This was the second year of a major format change in the tournament that was instituted by Cumberland County Schools student activities director Vernon Aldridge.

    After years of the county schools facing each other as many as five times in one season, Aldridge instituted the change that divided the 10 county schools into four brackets and brought in outside schools to lower the chance county schools from the same conference would meet each other in the tournament.

    “We got a lot of compliments from the outside schools on how the tournament was run,’’ Aldridge said. One email from Eric Davis, coach at Wilmington Laney, called the tournament the best run event of its kind he had seen in his 19 years as a coach.

    Here’s a look at the three brackets of the tournament that were won by Cumberland County Schools.

    17 02 manasBoys
    Len Maness Bracket

    Westover’s boys downed Middle Creek, Laney and county rival Cape Fear en route to the championship.

    Wolverine head coach George Stackhouse felt his team’s depth allowed Westover to utilize different styles of play and maintain poise in a couple of games when they didn’t get off to a good start.
    Ma’Nas Drummond of Westover was named the Most Valuable Player of the Maness bracket, scoring 18 points in the title game to lead Westover to the win.

    “We felt confident he was going to be able to contribute a lot this year,’’ Stackhouse said of Drummond. “His teammates and everybody were very happy he was able to get MVP.’’

    Stackhouse said he feels his team is in a good place as it heads into conference play immediately after the holiday break. “We’ve still got a few things we need to work out,’’ he said. “I’d like halfcourt execution to be better.
    “We’ve got to get everyone playing up to their ability, playing together as a team, see if we can’t keep improving.’’

    Ike Walker Sr. Bracket

    Terry Sanford downed Corinth Holders, Pine Forest and Southern Lee en route to winning the Walker bracket. Coach Karl Molnar said he’s been impressed with his team’s ability to work hard and move the basketball all season, and that continued during the run through the tournament.

    17 03 David MolnarIf there was a shortcoming the team showed during the tournament, it was the inability to slow down individual opposing players who were on a shooting hot streak.

    “It’s hard to win much of anything without playing some good defense,’’ Molnar said. “We’ve not quite mastered how to shut down that one kid that gets going. But we’ve managed to keep our opponents quiet as a whole and put us in a position to move the ball around and be successful offensively.’’

    Molnar’s son, Davis, was chosen as the MVP of the Walker bracket, scoring 25 in the title game with Southern Lee.

    Molnar said he and his son have frequent basketball conversations on and off the court. “Davis knows as player-and-coach or father-and-son he can talk to me,’’ Molnar said. “He had a good run of three games, and they came at a good time.’’

    Molnar felt it was a good sign for county basketball that three of the four finalists in the boys’ brackets of the Holiday Classic were from Cumberland County.

    “It’s looking pretty strong for us,’’ he said of the county teams. T
    hings are looking good for the Bulldogs as well as they’ll enter into January’s conference schedule awaiting the return of football standout Ezemdi Udoh, who missed the Holiday Classic because of his participation in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas.

    We can’t wait until we get him on the same sheet of music,’’ Molnar said.

    Gene Arrington bracket
    E.E. Smith’s girls served notice on the rest of the Patriot Athletic Conference that even though they are young, they’ve apparently recovered from the graduation losses suffered last season.

    Smith downed Corinth Holders, Westover and Wilmington Hoggard en route to the Arrington bracket championship.

    Ke’Onna Bryant won MVP honors for Smith, playing a critical defensive role for her team en route to the championship.

    Smith coach Dee Hardy praised Bryant for her aggressive play in the tournament and said she stepped up in key situations where Smith needed a steal or a rebound.

    In the 41-32 win over Hoggard in the tournament final, Hardy said she learned some things about her young team and its perseverance and ability to maintain focus.

    "We were able to get a lot of five-second counts and out-of-bounds plays,’’ Hardy said. “That was great to see.’’

    If there was one troubling result from the tournament it was the fact Smith was the only Cumberland County girls team to make the championship round.

    The next highest finishes from the county were third by Jack Britt in the Tom Jackson bracket and third by Westover in the Arrington bracket.

    Hardy said she hasn’t seen all the county teams yet so she really can’t say how strong the conference is. For now, she’s focusing on her team.

    “Our main focus will be trying to be disciplined and play self-motivated,’’ Hardy said. “We really need to fine tune some things and go back to some basics.’’

    Picture 1: Ke’Onna Bryant won MVP honors for Smith, playing a critical defensive role for her team en route to the championship.Photo Credit: Matt Plyler

    Picture 2: Ma’Nas Drummond of Westover was named the Most Valuable Player of the Maness bracket. Photo Credit: Matt Plyler

    Picture 3: Davis Molnar was chosen as the MVP of the Walker bracket, scoring 25 in the title game with Southern Lee. Photo Credit: Matt Plyler



  • 2010 marks the beginning of a new decade that will be one of the most important periods of time since Fayetteville’s birth nearly 250 years ago. We have the opportunity to not only grow and prosper but to transform the culture and economy of our community and improve the lives of future generations.

    This is truly Fayetteville’s time. During this traditional time of making New Year’s resolutions let us resolve to enjoy these special times and to be thankful for the many blessings we have as well as ensuring we seize the opportunities in front of us.

    010610 cofay.jpgThe signs of positive change are clear and all around us. It only requires that we pay attention to the subtle but unmistakable signs of a community transforming itself into a culturally diverse and economically vibrant city that is poised to lead North Carolina.

    In the past several years, the growth in our local economy received national attention with Fayetteville now ranking 13th out of 366 urban areas in the entire country for growth. Our housing market led the entire nation and was even recognized in Parade magazine. Our school system had the highest percentage of schools meeting federal benchmarks among North Carolina’s largest school systems. Newsmax magazine ranked Fayetteville among the 25 cities in the country that best express American values. The number of passengers departing and arriving at our airport saw double-digit increases, in spite of a national business recession. A higher percentage of people had jobs in the greater Fayetteville area than most places in the entire state and nation.

    Local taxes and fees in Fayetteville ranked 27th among North Carolina’s largest cities according to state reports. We were ranked among the best mid-sized cities in which to locate a business. Fayetteville’s per-capita income grew by 7.7 percent, ranking us Number 1 in North Carolina and 12th in the entire United States. We’ve opened military contracting offices for new names like Boeing and Booze Allan Hamilton and grown our own with K3, RLM and the Logistics Company. Hundreds of our local citizens got involved in helping position this community for well-planned growth. We saw young professionals move here or return home in increasing numbers and begin to take their roles in leading us forward.

    And the new year looks just as exciting as we break ground on the $15 million North Carolina Veterans Park and the Hope VI project with its projected $113 million investment in our city. We will begin to see the arrival of the first wave of well-paying Department of Defense jobs with the relocation of the U.S. Army Forces Command and the U.S. Army Reserve Command. We will continue to address the visual blight and rebuild our city. And we will see our beloved military come home to their families and to the community watching over them.

    We, as a community, will have to find solutions to our challenges. We won’t have the funding in place to build all the schools and roads we need. Parking is a growing issue in our downtown. We still too often see the plight of poverty and the homeless. Crime continues to challenge even our best efforts. We still wrestle with the challenges of rapid growth and the impact of a tightening state budget. And there is never enough money to do all that needs to be done.

    But we have been so richly blessed, and we know the great things happening here are not happening in other cities around the country.

    Perhaps Fayetteville’s greatest blessing is that we have come to a true understanding of what we are and an even greater appreciation of what we can become.

    We are in the midst of a cultural and economic transformation unmatched in our proud history. It will require our best efforts, yours and mine, to make sure we take full advantage of the many opportunities coming our way. I encourage you to get involved in our journey to an even greater city. Volunteer for a board or commission, help a child, reach out to feed the homeless, thank a military family, tell friends about the great city we are becoming, and pray for God’s continued blessings on each of us.

    Ten years from now people won’t remember who the mayor or city council was, but they will know that this city changed and that those changes improved the quality of life for all of our citizens for generations to come.

    May God bless you during this New Year season and may God continue to bless our great city.

  • cover-01-15-14.gif Country music fans are in for a treat on Jan. 23 when Jason Aldean and guests Florida Georgia Line and Tyler Farr roll into the Crown for the Jason Aldean: 2014 Night Train Tour. The tour has rated 5-star reviews across the country and promises to be a night to remember.

    “We are more than excited to have both Jason Aldean and Florida Georgia Line coming to the complex,” said Jim Grafstrom, general manager of the Crown. “It is a show that essentially has two headliners. Both acts are highly acclaimed and are doing fantastic business. We are fortunate to have them on the same bill. It is going to be a great show.”

    A native of Macon, Ga., Aldean learned to play the guitar from his dad. He would visit his dad in the summertime and practiced all day while his father was at work. Inspired by George Strait, Hank William’s Jr. and Alabama, Aldean knew he wanted to be a performer when he was just 14 years old. After he graduated high school he continued to perform locally, and with bandmate Justin Weaver, began writing songs.

    When he was 21, Aldean moved to Nashville. In 2004 he signed with Broken Bow records and released the album Jason Aldean in 2005. “Hicktown,” “Why” and “Amarillo Sky” became big hits and in 2006, the Academy of Country Music Awards named him Top New Vocalist01_15_14-jasonaldean-2.gif of the Year. In 2007, he released his next album: Relentless, which raced to the top of the charts with “Laughed until We Cry” and “Johnny Cash.” The album Wide Open followed in 2009 and was also a chart topper with “She’s Country.” The singles “Big Green Tractor” and “The Truth” followed, netting Aldean three nominations at the CMT Music Awards that year. My Kinda Party was released and Aldean’s duet “Don’t You Wanna Stay” with Kelly Clarkson went double platinum. The album also won him two CMA awards including the Album of the Year. His latest album, Night Train debuted at the top of the US Billboard 200 chart.

    Indeed, it has been a good year for the entertainer as the Night Train tour has sold out stadiums across the U.S., and fans have posted rave reviews about the high-energy shows.Florida Georgia Line, known for hits like “Cruise” and “Get Your Shine On,” bring additional star power to the show. Composed of Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelly, Florida Georgia Line hit it big i01_15_14_jason-aldeano-3.gifn 2012 with “Cruise” and continue to pump out fan-friendly tracks.

    Hubbard and Kelly met at Belmont University in Nashville. The two attended the university and between classes they would write songs together. It wasn’t long before they were playing in local clubs and before they knew it, the duo signed on with Big Loud Mountain record label.

    Born and raised in Garden City, Mo., Tyler Farr is no stranger to the music stage. He’s a songwriter, authoring “Hey Ya’ll,” for Colt Ford. He’s been playing the guitar since he was 16 and is known for his hit single “Redneck Crazy.”

    The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are between $29.75 and $59.75 and are available at www.jasonaldean.com, www.ticketmaster.com or www.livenation.com.

    Photo top right: Jason Aldean, pictured above, is set to perform at the Crown on Jan. 23.  Photo bottom left: Florida Georgia Line, pictured above, is scheduled to perform with Jason Aldean as part of the Night Train Tour. 

  • uac012710001.jpg A lot has changed since Dr. M. Elton Hendricks took the helm of
    Methodist College (now Methodist University) as its president in 1983.
    Enrollment has gone from 771 students to more than 2,000. They've
    grown from 110 employees to 545, the operating budget used to be just over $3
    million, now it is more that $48.5 million. There were 19 academic programs
    27 years ago compared with more than 70 majors and concentrations today.
    That is quite a difference from when Hendricks came on board.

    "A lot of wonderful things have happened over the years," Hendricks
    recalled. "When I fi rst came to Methodist people would ask me ‘Is the college
    going to make it?' No one has asked me that in 20 years. We've positioned
    ourselves well."

    As Hendricks prepares to leave campus this summer, his heart is with the
    school and its leadership as they continue to position Methodist University and
    its students for further success.

    "I hope the school will continue to grow
    fi nancially and in their service to the community,"
    said Hendicks. "Given the tradition out of which
    we've come, our intention is not just the training
    of the the mind. We are concerned with the kind
    of human beings that our students become... it's
    been a pleasure to be at Methodist and I've come
    to cherish the friendships of the university and
    personal friendships as well. Nothing has been
    more meaningful to me than to be able to help
    shape the minds of the future."

    It is just that philosophy that has led to many of
    the successes that the college has experienced lately.

    Every decade the institution goes through
    a two to three year accreditation process. The
    school is scrutinized at every level from its
    fi nances to its curriculum. There is the off-site
    committee looking through all of the paperwork,
    then the on-site committee reviews the off-site
    committee's fi ndings and comes to the campus
    and looks in every nook and cranny to make sure
    that things are running well. Both committees
    offer up suggsetions for improvement and, of
    course, if there are any serious issues those are
    dealt with, too. Methodist University recently
    fi nished up this process.

    After peeking into every corner, and
    inspecting the minutae of how the university is
    run, neither committee had any recommendations
    for Methodist University. While that is not
    unheard of, according to Director of University Relations Pam McEvoy, it is
    not all that common either.

    "No reccommendation; that meant we didn't have to fi x anything," said
    McEvoy. "That was big. I think that speaks to the quality of what we are doing."

    In addition to being inspected inside and out, the reaffi rmation also requires
    a plan of action for the future called a Quality Enhancement Program (QEP).

    "That is really hard," said McEvoy of the QEP. "You have to do it and test
    it through the next 10 years (where it will be examined in the next accreditation
    process). Our QEP is to develop a culture of reading on campus."

    Granted, with things like the Internet, ipods and all the other distractions
    - electronic and otherwise - there is a portion of the population that is not
    drawn to reading books the way that past generations have been. People like
    things that are fast and interactive.

    Methodist University is out to change that. Its QEP slogan is "Get between
    the covers: Develop a culture of reading." It is campus wide and faculty, staff and
    students are all invited to participate. Thousands of books have been donated and
    the administration has gone out of their way to make reading appealing.

    "There are around 2,000 books that you can just take and read," said
    McEvoy. "And we've developed nooks inside and outside on campus - places
    that are cool to read. In addition, this year we have put in reading circles."

    The reading circles are technically classes, but the students can pick their
    genre. They end up reading about fi ve books through the course and the group
    meets to have discussions.

    "The plan is that when you come in as a freshman you get this test and
    as a senior you get one and hopefully comprehension is better," said McEvoy.
    "So we send you out into the world as a better reader and you hopefully will be
    more profi cient at what you do."

    While the outreach programs that Methodist University sponsors range
    from their women's basketball team raising money to fi ght breast cancer,
    to partnering with the March of Dimes to hold a fundraiser on campus to
    the Social Welfare department adopting Pauline Jones Elementary School,
    which is one of the poorest in the community, to high quality concerts and
    performances, they haven't lost sight of academic commitment either.

    With some help from the government, Methodist University has the only
    disaster simulator in the nation. It is a virtual reality simulator where students
    can get training in different disaster scenarios.

    "One scenerio is that you are out in the country and there is a dairy farm
    and these cows start falling over, there is another one
    where there is a chemical spill and there is a hole in
    the ground and what is cool is that you have to deal
    with this disaster but you don't get hurt so you can do
    it over and over until you get it right. We have another
    grant coming up for methamphetamines - that is not
    just for educators but is for law enforcement as well,"
    said McEvoy.

    A school that is strong on science, students at the
    university are not only on the leading edge in higherlevel
    education, their foundations are strong.

    "Some of the degrees that we offer are very cutting
    edge. Probably something that people don't know is
    that our largest degree program is in biology," said
    McEvoy. "That is really good because it is science
    and that can lead to a lot of different job possibilites.
    We have such a sound science department - that
    is probably why we have the best PA (Physician's
    Assistant)program in the state. We just got certifi ed to
    expand that. We are going from 34 people that we can
    get in a group to 50 people."

    There are two new buildings going up on campus
    to support the quick growth, an anatomy lab and a
    teaching center. McEvoy credits a partnership with the
    Veteran's Administration Medical Center as the reason
    the students can get such outstanding experience and
    support in their clinicals, which in turn leads to more
    well rounded and better PAs at the end of the program.

    In the next year or so there are hopes of adding
    another medical program to the curriculum.

    "We've always had pre-dental and pre-med
    programs," McEvoy noted. "We are going to meet with the nursing board and
    they are going to decide if we can have a nursing program. We think we can
    do a good job because of our PA program which is basically science and they
    (nursing students) will be in a science environment."

    If all goes well, the program will start in August.

    The Professional Golf Management program at Methodist University is
    known nationwide. Not a surprise since it is the largest in the nation and is
    PGA endorsed. With two teaching labs, (golf courses) the program teaches
    every aspect of golf management from turf, to pro shop management and golf
    lessons. Students of this program are routinely placed in internships at courses
    like Pebble Beach and other top-of-the-line golf communities.

    McEvoy expects that the new art building, which will open in February,
    includes an art gallery, will be a boon for the community. It will support the
    graphic design degree that was started two or three years ago.

    A small school that offers lots of opportunity and a chance for success,
    there is growth and momentum in most every area of the campus according,
    to McEvoy. SAT scores of new freshmen are up and enrollment is up in every
    category. The leadership at Methodist University has created
    a world-class institution that is ready to send the next
    generation of leaders into the world not only educated, but
    also engaged, enriched and

  • uac012914001.gif There are just two shows left in this year’s Community Concerts season. If you missed Earth, Wind and Fire, Manneheim Steamroller and Honor Flight, there is still time to enjoy two outstanding shows. Kenny Loggins comes to the Crown Feb. 4 and Joan Rivers closes out the season on March 22

    .Community Concerts is in its 78th season. Each year the all-volunteer organization strives to bring “the finest in top-notch entertainment to Fayetteville, N.C., and the Fort Bragg/Cumberland County Community.” While the organization does just that each year, its reach goes far beyond the stage.

    Michael Fleishman, attractions director for the Community Concerts, is excited about this season. “It has been a fantastic season. Everyone has had a good time and we’ve had great audiences.”

    With Earth, Wind and Fire, Community Concerts hosted its biggest show on record. Honor Flight, while unconventional, was truly a once-in-a-lifetime event for many in the audience.

    Since 2004, Community Concerts has awarded scholarships to local high school graduates. Twenty-two scholarships have been awarded since the inception of this program.

    “We are most proud of Honor Flight,” said Fleishman. “We ended up having a lot of people come to this, and more importantly, a lot of World War II vets attended. The star of the show was the Honor Flight movie about what it means to be an American. It tells the stories of Worl War II vets.”

    This is significant because a lot of veterans are very reluctant to talk about their war-time experiences.

    “This captured it in a real way,” said Fleishman. “We had an a capella group and the all county band perform that night as well. This show fired on all cylinders. The stars were the vets that were able to attend. We just lost Dr. Ed Garber. I met him for the first time at the show, and that was probably one of the last things he did with his family.”

    In addition to some amazing World War II vets that attended, N.C. Governor Pat McCrory was there to present a $125,000 check to the Friends of the Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery. This presentation was on behalf of the N.C. General Assembly, which pledged in July to match funds for the cemetery. Local business professionals, Ginny and Dean Russell, donated $125,000 to the cause as well.

    “It has been an unbelievable season so far. We have heard nothing but compliments on Honor Flight,” Fleishman said.01-29-14-kenny-loggins.gif

    Always looking for ways to promote the arts and connect local talent with opportunity, the organization showcases local artists as a way to involve the community in musical endeavors. During the 2012/2013 season, local music group Voices of the Heart opened for Gladys Knight, the Linda Kinlaw School of Dance performed with Martina McBride and Trae Edwards performed with country legend Ricky Skaggs.

    Fleishman is excited to have Kenny Loggins as a part of this season but this particular concert is special for another reason, too. There will be a new induction to the Fayetteville Music Hall of Fame just before the concert kicks off. “This is a very different year — our Hall of Fame inductee is very special. It is our first group to be inducted. It is the 82nd Airborne Chorus,” said Fleishman. “It is kind of different, this year. We wanted to pay special tribute to them because they bring a lot to this community.”

    You may not consider yourself a fan of Kenny Loggins, but chances are that you are probably familiar with his work. For well over three decades, Loggins has entertained on a variety of levels. He has written songs, and performed them, too, and covered several genres along the way. In the early 1970s, Loggins was a guitarist for the Electric Prunes. He wrote songs for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, one of which was “House at Pooh Corner.”

    In 1972 he released Kenny Loggins with Jim Messina Sittin’ In. The album was a big hit and Loggins and Messina spent the next several years recording and touring together. The pair split in 1976, but Loggins set out on his own, recording the albums Celebrate Me Home, and Nightwatch featuring “Whenever I Call you Friend” with Stevie Nix, Keep the Fire, which included the hit “This Is It” and High Adventure.

    Blending jazz, rock and pop, Loggins made a name for himself in the industry winning Best Male Pop Vocal Grammy for “This Is It.” He continued to write songs as well and won the Song of the Year at the 1979 Grammys for co-writing “What a Fool Believes” with Michael McDonald, of the Doobie Brothers.

    Loggins really hit his stride in the 1980s writing movie theme songs including “I’m Alright” (from Caddyshack), “Footloose” (from Footloose), “Danger Zone” (from Top Gun), and “Nobody’s Fool” (from Caddyshack II). In the 1990s he released Leap of Faith, which included “Conviction of the Heart,” a song that Al Gore claimed as the “unofficial song of the environmental movement.”

    He released two children’s CDs in 1994, The Unimaginable Life in 1997, a Christmas album in 1998 and It’s About Time in 2003.

    “Kenny Loggins is a great entertainer and he always puts on a good show,” said Fleishman. “You are going to know every single song this guy sings. This is a favorite — he plays all his hits and is very engaging.”

    Find out more about Community Concerts and purchase tickets at www.community-concerts.com.

    Photo: Community Concerts brings musician Kenny Loggins to the Crown on Feb. 4, as the fourth production in a five-show season.

  • 05 rope pic from websiteThe Gilbert Theater’s newest production “Rope” is set to open Jan. 29 and has already sold-out opening day.

    The thrilling drama centered around a murder, once used as the basis of the Alfred Hitchcock film “Rope,” will play every weekend until
    Feb. 14.”

    Tickets are $16 per person, and $14 with senior (55+) and military discount are available for purchase on the theater’s website, or by calling 910-678-7186.

    “’Rope’ is basically the opposite of ‘who done it?’ because you already know who’s done the murder and now it’s all about are they going to get away with it,” Matt Gore, director of the play, said. “It's darkly humorous where these two guys kill this 19-year-old young man, stuff him in a chest and decide to have a dinner party around his corpse.”

    It’s mostly just a study in tension, and the building of tension and suspense, said Lawrence Carlisle, artistic director at the Gilbert Theater.

    Beyond picking the play for the season, Carlisle will be acting in the play in the role of an acquaintance of the two murderers who invite him to the dinner party to flaunt the crime.

    My character slowly starts to have some suspicions, he said.

    Carlisle said he had not acted in a production for a while and thought it would be exciting to audition and act again.

    “I just like the experience of it and having fun with the other performers and learning things from the director to use when I direct things,”
    he said.

    Carlisle picked “Rope” written by Patrick Hamilton, to include in this year’s season because he liked the story, a thriller, and he didn’t think those are seen often enough in theaters.

    “It’s been a little bit of a challenge, you know, I still have to deal with the day-to-day and making sure that things are running smoothly on an administrative level while also learning a whole bunch of lines, worrying about costumes, stuff I usually don't have to worry about,” he said.

    “Rope” is loosely based on the “Leopold and Loeb” murder in the 1920s. Guests can look forward to a night of suspense and thrill.

    “The practices have been super smooth, I like working here and they have some very dedicated people working here behind the scenes, in the offices,” Gore said.

    Things are going fairly well, all things considered, Carlisle said.

    The production will be about two hours long with a ten-minute intermission.

    Theater staff will conduct temperature checks at the door and offer socially distant seating with only up to 25 people per show. Masks will be required, and the staff will be sanitizing everything between each show.

    “I hope people want to come see it, I know things are bad right now in the world, but what I have been trying to do since the start of this pandemic is hopefully have a place where people can come and forget about that even if they do have to wear their masks and socially distance, and not speak to the actors afterwards but some sacrifices have to be made,” Carlisle said.

    For more information about the theater, production and tickets, visit https://www.gilberttheater.com

  • On Jan. 11, the Friends of the Library will host their annual meeting in the Pate Room at the Headquarters Library in downtown Fayetteville. And while some business will be discussed, the highlight of the evening will be a reading and a discussion of her works by noted Southern author Sharyn McCrumb.

    McCrumb is an award-winning Southern writer, whose novel St. Dale, is the story of a group of ordinary people who go on a pilgrimage in honor of racing legend Dale Earnhardt, and fi nd a miracle. This Canterbury Tales in a NASCAR setting won a 2006 Library of Virginia Award as well as the AWA Book of the Year Award. Once Around the Track, again set in NASCAR, is a nominee for the 2007 Weatherford Award.

    McCrumb has been named a “Virginia Woman of History” for 2008, an annual designation honoring eight women — past and present — who have made important contributions to Virginia and to America in the arts, law, education, politics, etc.

    McCrumb is best known for her Appalachian “Ballad” novels, set in the North Carolina/Tennessee mountains. Her novels include New York Times Best Sellers She Walks These Hills and The Rosewood Casket, which deal with the issue of the vanishing wilderness, and The Ballad of Frankie Silver, the story of the fi rst woman hanged for murder in the state of North Carolina; The Songcatcher, a genealogy in music; and Ghost Riders, an account of the Civil War in the Appalachians. A fi lm of her novel The Rosewood Casket is currently in production, directed by British Academy Award nominee Roberto Schaefer.

    McCrumb’s honors include: the Wilma Dykeman Award for Literature given by the East Tennessee Historical Society; AWA Outstanding Contribution to Appalachian Literature Award; the Chaffi n Award for Achievement in Southern Literature; the Plattner Award for Short Story; and AWA’s Best Appalachian Novel. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and received her M.A. in English from Virginia Tech.

    McCrumb, whose books have been translated into more than 10 languages, was the first writer-in-residence at King College in Tennessee. In 2001 she served as fi ction writer-in-residence at the WICE Conference in Paris, and in 2005 she was honored as the writer of the year at the annual literary celebration at Emory and Henry College. McCrumb has lectured on her work at Oxford University, the Smithsonian Institution, the University of Bonn, Germany, and at universities and libraries throughout the country. 01-05-11-noted-author-speaks.gif

    McCrumb’s great-grandfathers were circuit preachers in North Carolina’s Smoky Mountains a hundred years ago, riding horseback over the ridges to preach in a different community each week. It is from them, she says, that she gets her regard for books, her gift of storytelling and publicspeaking, and her love of the Appalachian Mountains.

    “My books are like Appalachian quilts,” says McCrumb. “I take brightly colored scraps of legends, ballads, fragments of rural life, and local tragedy, and I piece them together into a complex whole that tells not only a story, but also a deeper truth about the culture of the mountain South.”

    Her latest novel, Devil Amongst the Lawyers, is the story of a pretty young schoolteacher charged with murder in 1930s Appalachia. The national press uses it as an excuse to sell newspapers — and to demonize the region, raising issues that go far beyond the fate of one defendant.

    McCrumb’s lecture follows a short Friends of the Library business meeting where the results of the executive board elections will be announced. The event begins at 7 p.m., and is open to the public.

    Photo: Sharyn McCrumb

  • uac011211001.gif Martin Luther King Day was signed into law in 1983 by Ronald Reagan. It was first observed in 1986. Because some states resisted observing the holiday or combined it with other holidays it was not officially observed in all 50 states until 2000. Since then, it has become more and more a day about individuals giving back to their communities rather than just having a day off work, and according to Dr. Larry Wright Sr., president of the Fayetteville/ Cumberland County Ministerial Council (FCCMC) and senior pastor at Heal the Land Outreach Ministries that is just the way Dr. King would have preferred it.

    “When they awarded this holiday, Dr. King’s wife, Coretta Scott King, came out and made a statement that she would rather this be a day on than a day off (because of all the work that was put in and all the suffering and things they went through during the civil rights movement) instead of just going to the breakfast and eating and then going home and going to sleep,” said Wright. “I feel that would be an injustice to the legacy of such a great man who worked so hard for equality for all mankind.”

    That is just what the FCCMC has in mind this year. They’ve registered with the National MLK Day of Service, which will be held on Jan. 17, and they aim to reach out and touch the community in a variety of ways.

    One of the easiest ways to help it to bring nonperishable food items to the breakfast.

    “Second Harvest, will be there with containers and a truck to collect the donations and use them to restock,” said Wright. “We are also doing a community clean up on Martin Luther King Jr. Freeway. We are doing a blood drive, there will be a group visiting the veterans home and possibly some other homes where we can spend time with retirees. We’ve also got a letter writing campaign going where people will be writing letters of thanks and encouragement to deployed military members.”

    Vikki Andrews is the Cumberland County Day of Service chair/coordinator. Not only is she taking registration for volunteers for events that are already planned, she is also ready to add any groups or volunteer organizations to the Day of Service event.

    “If there are any groups out there that maybe were planning to volunteer or have an event on a different day but would be willing to change it to Jan. 17, they can email me and I’d be glad to register them with us in the National Day of Service Registry,” said Andrews. “Or if they want to plan something right now they can contact us and we’d love to have them join us.”

    Get involved at cumberlandcountydayofservice@gmail.com.

    While Martin Luther King Jr. is a great inspiration and volunteering a few hours of time in his honor is commendable, Wright and the FCCMC are aiming to keep the momentum going throughout the year.

    In fact, they are already working on the homeless problem in the area and are also reaching out to the local schools.

    “This year we did a thing called Hunger and Homeless Stand Down. We, and sever01-12-11-leadership-shake.gifal other organizations that we partner with, helped about 800 people in November — which is national homeless month — and we did a great event at the VFW on Ramsey Street,” said Wright. “We also hope to partner with the schools for churches to adopt schools to help in any way we can as far as mentoring and being there for support for children. We have a lot of kids in our schools who are homeless and don’t get the proper food and nourishment they need, you have kids with no father figure in their lives, no role models. We want to meet them at their point of stress or concern and help motivate them and see if we can do anything to get that child inspired to do better in school.”

    There are so many good causes, so many in need and so much work to be done that Wright is putting out a call to ourcommunity’s Christian churches to step up, pull together and overcome their differences in the interest of bettering this particular corner of the world.

    “It is time for us to get out of our comfort zones, to get up off our seats and to get out into our community. I believe that God is a God of action and I know he is a God of results and a God of passion,” said Wright. “I make an appeal to all of our community leaders, politicians, business people and clergy to begin to look to see what areas in our community that you can be involved in and have a positive impact in. Partner with them. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel and we don’t have to stop doing what we are doing but I think we can have a greater impact if we are doing it together. Let’s put aside our differences in our doctrinal beliefs and come together for the greater cause of humanity. Now is the time. Now is the season. If we don’t’ do it now, then when? If you don’t do it, who is going to do it?”

    The 18th Annual Prayer Breakfast in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is on Monday, Jan. 17 from 7:30 -10 a.m. at the Crown Expo Center and will be followed immediately by the National Day of Service activities. A $20 donation is requested at he door. Billy Taylor, executive manager of Goodyear Corporation, Fayetteville will be the keynote speaker. Visit www.ministriescouncil.net to find out more.

     Photo: People working together to better their community is what the National Day of Service is all

  • Most everyone knows who William Shakespeare is — not only because of his works, but also because he inspired so many other artists. The Sweet Tea Shakespeare organization is one such group of artists. The group makes live performances fun, inviting and educational to the community of Fayetteville. With help from Fayetteville State University and many other local organizations, Sweet Tea Shakespeare is able to host a diverse body of productions. 01-07-15-sweet-tea.gif

    The Winter’s Tale is a well-known story complete with romance and drama. It’s not surprising as Shakespeare is known for works that include a forbidden love that ends in the tragedy of heartbreak. This play was one of Shakespeare’s last works, published in 1611.

    The Winters Tale is Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s 10th main stage production. Its cast has a diverse group of actors. Jeremy Fiebig, the artistic director, said, “We started winter productions last year and had great success with Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. We think The Winter’s Tale is a great fit, both for the time of year and as a great story after the rush of the holiday season.”

    Shakespeare’s writing, like all 16th century writing, is written in old English. The English language builds with time and learning his works can help youth learn to express themselves, not only though writing but also in speech.

    The three goals of Sweet Tea Shakespeare are:

    1. To vitalize the performance of Shakespeare and other dramas.

    2. To foster community and fellowship around the enterprise of theatre in outdoor and other beautiful spaces.

    3. To provide exceptional avenues for artists and audiences of all backgrounds.

    Sweet Tea Shakespeare encourages participation from all ages, recognizing that the involvement of children in theater is a great way to encourage creativity, while building the kind of confidence and self-esteem that come from being on stage.

    The majority of the performers are from Fayetteville, with many of the actors being students at FSU.

    “Last year’s winter show was one of our highest attended. We have a total of 11 showings over three weekends and look forward to a healthy crowd to join us at the Capitol Encore Academy building downtown,” said Fiebig.

    “We have a small budget that’s generated from ticket sales and the generosity of the Arts Council and other donors,” Fiebig explained. “We put together our productions with these resources and with help from FSU and other local arts groups, volunteers and friends.”

    Sweet Tea Shakespeare‘s house band, The Suspenders, will perform live music and refreshments will be served prior to the show’s beginning and during the brief intermission.

    Tickets are $12 for general admission. To purchase tickets in advance, visit http://sweetteashakespeare.com or call (910) 672-1724.

    Performances are Jan. 9-11, 16-18, 23-25 at 7 p.m. Matinees are on Jan. 17 and 25 at 2 p.m. All performances are at the Capitol Encore Academy, 126 Hay St.

  • 01-21-15-eargazm.gifThere’s nothing like music to warm the soul and set the mood for an evening of love and romance, which is why Headliners Live is taking Eargazm Volume 1, featuring Brian McKnight, Eric Benet and Tevin Campbell across the country.

    The concept of the tour is to provide pure unadulterated musical ecstasy from beginning to end. The tour is hosted by comedian Kevin Simpson who will keep the show moving and keep the audience in stitches with his shoot-from-the-hip style of humor.

    The entertainers will perform their greatest hits and other hits that inspired them to embark on their musical careers. The lineup includes solo as well as group performances and duets.

    Brian McKnight is an accomplished singer, songwriter and instrumentalist. He has had 16 Grammy nominations and sold 20 million albums worldwide. The Buffalo, N.Y., native grew up in a family where music came naturally and he had a gospel upbringing in the church. Over time, McKnight explored other genres of music and began writing and learned how to play several musical instruments.

    Eric Benet has released six studio albums and is known for his melodic love songs. Eric grew up in Milwaukee, Wis., and is the youngest of five musically talented siblings. Eric has also ventured into the role of actor and starred in his first lead role in the feature film Trinity Goodheart.

    Tevin Campbell was a popular teen singer in the ‘90s who had great hits on his platinum albums T.E.V.I.N and I’m Ready. The Texas native’s roots began in the church at a very early age. Throughout his career, he earned five Grammy nominations and sold an estimated 3 million albums worldwide. Campbell has experienced the world of acting as well performing in the Broadway musical Hairspray.

    Eargazm Vol. 1 was originally scheduled make a stop in Fayetteville on Saturday, Jan. 31, at 8:30 p.m. at the Crown Coliseum. The concert has been moved to Saturday, March 14, 2015 at 8:00 PM.

    Tickets for the January 31, 2015 Eargazm Tour Volume 1 Tour will be honored for the rescheduled date of March 14, 2015. Tickets are $55, $65, $75 and $80. Groups of ten or more can save $7. For more information, call 438-4123.

  • The gifts have been opened, the parties hosted and the New Year toasted. Now it’s time to take down the trees, pack up the decorations and get about the business of making 2013 a prosperous and happy year.

    Being a good steward of resources is not a bad way to start. It’s easy, practical and useful — and in these parts, it’s just as much a part of the holiday season as Christmas lights and eggnog. Every year the City of Fayetteville, PWC, Progress Energy and Cape Fear Botanical Garden partner in recycling live Christmas trees. It’s called the Grinding of the Greens, and this year it takes place on Jan. 12 at Cape Fear Botanical Garden. The best part is that you don’t have to be present to make this program a success or to participate — although volunteers are always welcome.

    Instead of sending trees to the landfill, donate them to the Cape Fear Botanical Garden. Each year, thousands of trees are ground into mulch and spread throughout the garden. It not only saves space in the landfi ll, it benefits the plants at CFBG and all the people who visit it each year. Trees are accepted at the garden up until the day of the event.01-02-13-pwc-grinding.gif

    Once the trees are ground up, the mulch is spread throughout the garden along the paths and in the flowerbeds. It takes dozens of volunteers to make the Grinding of the Greens happen, but thousands benefit all year long. For weeks afterwards, the grounds at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden smell of evergreens. It is a treat for employees, volunteers and garden visitors alike.

    Starting Monday Jan. 7, Fayetteville residents can put trees by the curb for collection. From Jan. 7-11, the City of Fayetteville will make special pick-ups to get the trees. These pick-ups are for trees only, not yard waste, trash or recycle items. Please make sure all decorations and lights have been removed. You don’t have to live within the city limits to make a difference. If you miss a pick-up or live outside the city limits, the garden accepts drop-offs — just make sure to get it there before Jan. 12. To drop-off trees, bring them to the garden entrance. The garden is accessible even though the Cape Fear River Bridge project is underway.

    Mayor Tony Chavonne will be on hand to start the event, which begins at 8:30 a.m. To volunteer at the Grinding of the Greens, call Cape Fear Botanical Garden at 486.0221.

    Photo: The grounds of the Cape Fear Botanical Garden get their lush look in part from the rejuvenation from the Grinding of the Greens.

  • uac010814001.gif It was summer 1988. Nat Robertson was in Gainsville, Fla., on a visit. While on a blind date, he met the perfect girl. Unfortunately, she wasn’t his date.

    She was his best friend’s date. “At the end of the evening, he told his friend that if he didn’t marry me and take me back to North Carolina, he was a fool,” recalled Kim Robertson, during an interview in the Robertsons’ Haymount home.

    Fortunately for Robertson, his friend didn’t take him up on the suggestion, and, with his friend’s blessing, he began calling and later visiting Kim. Following a courtship that saw Robertson driving up and down I-95 every other weekend, the couple married and Kim made the move to Fayetteville.

    That was 25 years ago, and over the ensuing years, the couple has worked hard to fulfill their dreams and goals. For Robertson, that meant a partnership with his father in the family jewelry store and ownership of his own businesses, as well as a life of public service, which led him to run for Fayetteville’s top office — mayor.

    The campaign, which resulted in his election, was grueling. But it wasn’t anything new. The first year the couple was married, and while Kim was pursuing her teaching degree at Fayetteville State University, Robertson ran for, and was elected to, the Fayetteville City Council. At the age of 26, he was the youngest person ever elected to the council.

    “We’ve been on this journey for quite some time,” said Robertson. “I don’t know at the time that I had any goal to be mayor. I was just happy to be on the team.”

    For three terms, he served on the council under the leadership of J.L. Dawkins. Twice he was elected to the at-large seat, and served one term on the district seat now held by Bobby Hurst.

    “My interest has always been local,” he explained. “I want to make sure that my home folks are taken care of.”

    When he left the council in 2001, he remained active in the community serving on a number of boards and commissions. His most recent service prior to his election was on the Civic Center Commission, a post that he was appointed to by the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners. He said his time on the commission has been great, noting that the commission was not willing to accept the “same-old, same-old.”

    “There were a lot of fresh ideas, which can go a long way,” he noted.

    Those ideas led to the privatization of the Crown under the management of Global Spectrum last year, which over time, should result in significant cost savings for the county and allow monies used to fund the Crown through hospitality taxes to be moved to other areas.

    Having watched her husband serve over the years, Kim was not surprised by his desire to run for mayor.

    “When we began talking about it, I said, ‘Let’s go.’ Service to the community is in his heart and it always has been,” she said. “He has always supported my endeavors without hesitation — always. We make a good team and complement each other. We both see our roles as servant leaders.”

    Those who know Kim see that every day as she serves in the county school system. Her passion for the children of the community is evident in everything she does and says. It is a palpable thing. That being the case, her service as Fayetteville’s first lady may revolve around the city’s children.

    “I have a very good measure of what I can do,” she explained. “I am the principal of a very large elementary school with 720 students.”

    As the principal of Elizabeth Cashwell Elementary, Kim is confronted with many of the problems that Roberts will confront as mayor. About 70 percent of her students are on free or reduced lunch. Their families are impacted by the poor economy. Their community has a high crime rate. Finding ways of meeting the needs of her students is more than a full a time job, but it is one she relishes.

    “It is important that my students feel welcomed and that they are at a place where they are going to be taken care of. It’s important that we meet their needs so that they can be successful,” she explained. “These kids who don’t have a lot, have such hope. They are smart and as long as they know we have their best interests at heart, they will work hard and come to school with a positive attitude.”

    At the end of hectic days, Robertson has been a sounding board for Kim.

    “He is a listener. He doesn’t try to give me advice or fix the problems. He just listens. That, in and of itself, is extremely helpful,” she noted.

    She sees that skill serving him well in his role as mayor.

    “If folks are active and concerned with the city, then Nat is going to listen to them and their concerns,” she said. “He will truly hear them.”

    “That’s really my job,” said Robertson. “I need to understand where they are coming from, because their problems are very real. And if someone comes to the city engaged and looking to solve a problem, then we are going to work on it.”

    That being said, the new mayor is going into his new role with a few key things at the top of his list.

    “Do you want to hear my Top 10 priorities for this year?” he asked. “Here it is: Crime and Economic Development. Until we take care of those issues, everything else is going to have to wait. The 2014 and 2015 budget is going to revolve around those two issues. If we resolve some of the issues associated with those two priorities, we will solve other problems in the city.”

    In the area of economic development, he noted that the community has done a great job of sending business away.

    “We have done a real good job of running businesses to Hoke County or Spring Lake. Fayetteville has made it very hard for people to do business here, and that has to stop,” he said.

    During his campaign, he made making the city operate like a business with its citizens being its customers a priority.

    “When someone walks into city hall, they should know their issue is important. We have to empower our city employees to take ownership of citizen issues and walk them through the system,” he said. “No one should get lost in the process.”

    Once the city makes doing business easier, Robertson believes the community can go after and successfully get more business.

    “Traditionally we have gone after the low hanging fruit, which is commercial/shopping businesses,” he said. “Those businesses will come to the community whether we recruit them or not because of the disposable income available in the community, which can be seen by the number of great businesses that are already here, but we have to become more focused on industry and manufacturing. We have to bring jobs here.”

    Economic developers will quickly point out key things that industries look at before considering a community. One key factor is the availability of a trained work force. Robertson believes we have that with the number of soldiers who leave the Army each year, but choose to remain in the city. Industries also look at education facilities and the ability of the populace to access it. With a public education system that is improving exponentially, and the presence of higher education facilities like Fayetteville Technical Community College, Methodist and Fayetteville State University, the city should be regarded positively. Add in quality of life, which includes great parks and community organizations, and Fayetteville should be a shoe-in for business relocation.

    But a major detractor is the city’s crime rate, which is why Robertson has put it at the top of his list.

    To combat crime and to actively seek economic development, Robertson has already begun building consensus throughout the county.

    “There are a lot of walls in place that impede the community from working together,” he said. “I want to tear those walls down. I want to bring everyone to the table to tackle these important issues from the state to PWC to the schools to the county commissioners.”

    He explained that crime cannot be looked at in a vacuum. It must be addressed from every angle and by every agency/body that can help address it. To that end, he is working to put together a Crime Summit to tackle the issue. That will be followed in June by an Economic Summit.

    By opening lines of communication, he believes the community can begin to move in the same direction.

    “I am a communicator. I want to bring people in and let’s talk it out,” said Robertson. “Together, let’s come up with the best way forward. When people who have a heart for this community come together, then there is plenty that we can do to make the community better.”

    Photo: Fayetteville’s new mayor, Nat Robertson, and his wife Kim. Photo Credit: KCC Photography

  •     The guy I’ve been dating for three months has only had one relationship, lasting a year. On the continuum of Friends With Benefits and serious dating, I told him I was generally more toward the serious side, and he said he’s in the middle. He does sweet things for me and treats me really well, but he’s (SET ITAL) never (END ITAL) verbal about his feelings or where he sees things going. I complained, and he said I “deserve better,” but said he didn’t want to say anything right then because it would be forced. Still, nothing’s changed. His friends assure me he’s “head over heels,” but I’d like to hear it from him. He’s the most solid guy I’ve met in years, but I’m a 38-year-old woman who wants kids, and I don’t want to waste time in a dead-end situation.
    — Edgy

        There’s a reason they don’t put women in your position on interrogation duty at Guantanamo: “Why won’t you tell me your feelings? Where do you see us next year at this time? Don’t you love me? I’m 38, and I want a baby!” Sure, this is torture to a guy, but not the kind that’s gonna make him talk.
        {mosimage}I’m guessing your guy actually was “verbal” about how he’s feeling. When you asked -- and asked and asked -- he probably told you “I dunno.” And that’s probably the truth. You know how girl parts are kinda different from boy parts? Well, girl brains and boy brains and hormones aren’t exactly alike, either. Brain imaging studies show that men tend to have less brain matter for processing and verbalizing emotion, like a smaller orbital frontal area, says neuropsychologist Ruben C. Gur, “related to the ability to regulate and contextualize emotional experience.” Research by Gur suggests that men’s knee-jerk emotional response tends to be physical -- like socking somebody -- where women’s is likely to be verbal. All in all, as Gur said to tell you, “some of the blunting of emotional expression in (your) boyfriend is part of being a biological male.”
        By the way, what’s “the serious side of dating”? You sit around together in Amish shoes looking grim? A guy keeps seeing you because the fun outweighs the unfun. Any guy, even one who’s looking to get serious. Of course, you should mention early on how much you want kids -- winnowing out men who can’t picture themselves saying “Come to daddy” to anyone who isn’t wearing a sequined g-string.
        This guy has been telling you a lot, just not in girlspeak. He told you he’s had a single one-year relationship -- which suggests his determination to marry and make babies may pale in comparison to yours. Still, he shows you in lots of ways that he’s into you, he has some integrity, and he doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. If you’d like that to continue, work harder to figure out what he’s saying his way instead of stamping your feet and demanding he talk like a girl. Maybe consider vitrification, a new process for freezing your eggs, which might help you stop accessorizing for dates with a stopwatch. Dinner and a movie are more likely to lead to future dinners and movies (and then some) if you aren’t spending the entire time silently screaming at your date, “My eggs are aging by the minute! After this movie, they’ll be a whole 92 minutes older, and that’s not counting the previews!”

  • The life insurance industry has the best IRS-approved retirement savings plan today — and most investors know nothing about it. This retirement savings vehicle is not a pre-tax qualified, 401(k)-type plan, a Roth IRA, an annuity or whole life insurance. It is the financial industry’s No. 1 secret — Indexed Universal Life (IUL). 01-28-15-cutting-out-tax-man.gif

    The ugly truth is that the 401(k) is a lousy idea, a financial flop, a rotten repository for our retirement reserves. The solution: a new type of insurance. Retirement savings, it turns out, are exactly the type of asset for which we need insurance. Insurance protects against risks that can’t be predicted, for instance, when the market collapses and investors can’t afford to recover from it on their own.

    People insure nearly every other aspect of their life: their health, their home, their vehicles. Why not protect a safe, comfortable retirement against the risks that can’t be predicted and that investors can’t afford to recover from on their own; and why not cut out the tax man in the process? These are all legal, and totally above board, established life insurance principles. It may sound too good to be true, but it’s just what life insurance is and does. Yet the general public — and even many financial advisors — have absolutely no idea that a tax-free, market-risk-free, gains-locked-in, congressionally-approved solution has been sitting right under their noses for 14 years. Let’s lay out the basic principles of Indexed Universal Life (IUL).

    Indexed Universal Life’s basic principles:

    1. The money grows tax deferred, access to it is tax free and it does not affect taxation of Social Security. This alone can save thousands of dollars in taxes.

    2. It is guaranteed by contract never to lose money due to a market loss. IULs are not tied to the market but are linked to the market by a selected index and all gains (subject to a cap) are locked in.

    3. Historical returns, based on actual illustrations from the top carriers going back to the late 1980s, are usually somewhere between 7-9 percent, mean actual interest rates of return.

    4. The death benefit is paid out to the beneficiary — tax-free.

    5. Many parents use the cash value in the IUL to fund college.

    There are many more benefits to the IUL than those listed above.

    It looks like odds are good that Indexed Universal Life may offer roughly two to three times the amount of benefits over conventional investments, depending on the actual index returns and the investor’s tax bracket. This is a result of protection of principal against market losses, the indexing and legally cutting out the tax man. This is what Einstein called one of the most powerful forces in the universe: compounding interest.

    Sources: Read more: http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2012/02/22/legally-cutting-out-tax-man-in-retirement/#ixzz2eOvEEssz Gandel, Stephen (2009, October 9). Why It’s Time to Retire the 401(k). TIME. Retrieved from http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1929233,00.html.

    Photo: It can be challenging to find effective ways to save for retirement.

  • jeff5.jpg

    Fayetteville City Council members met for seven hours to tackle half a dozen agenda items during its monthly work session last week. No votes or decisions are made during the monthly work session. 

    The monthly planning meetings are usually attended by staff and council; however, this month the meeting was moved to the Council Chambers because more than 20 people attended the meeting because of the agenda items. Those in attendance were exposed to an exhibition rarely seen by the public. It was a night of frustration for council members who had to deal with issues ranging from policy matters to appointing citizens to advisory boards, all of which were hotly contested by the members of the council. 

    One of the hot button issues members dicussed was garbage collection in a far reaching area of West Fayetteville, an area served by Councilman Bill Crisp. Environmental Services Director Jerry Deitzen briefed the council on a pilot project in which a private contractor would be paid to pick up the trash to see if it could do a better job than Deitzen’s crew. Recent studies concluded the city performs at lower cost than private firms. 

    Councilmen Jim Arp and Chalmers McDougald joined with Crisp to deride the plan that was approved by Deitzen and City Manager Ted Voorhees. The City Council decided the experimental trash collection project should be limited to Crisp’s district. The confrontation came because the council’s original directions were vague, according to Voorhees. Deitzen faced heavy criticism from the member of the council, with some challenging the validity of his report. McDougald went so far as to suggest he be fired. Voorhees came to Deitzen’s defense, pushing back in what continued to be a testy exchange between elected officials and their top administrators. 

    Later came a clash among council members themselves over how best to appoint interested residents to the city’s numerous advisory boards and commissions. Bobby Hurst has chaired the committee with that responsibility for eight years. But some new members including Mayor Pro-Tem Mitch Colvin want to change the process. Under the current process, the city lists board openings on its website. City residents who wish to volunteer their time to serve on the board fill out an online application for the positions, some of which require licensure. The applications are then reviewed by the committee and recommendations for appointment are taken before the council for a vote. 

    Hurst felt Colvin was questioning his integrity. Colvin questioned the process used by the committee to nominate citizens to the boards. Hurst and appointments committee member Bill Crisp got so angry they resigned from the committee. 

    At 11 p.m., council closed their work session and went into special session to discuss the upcoming parks and recreation bond vote. Although Councilman Kirk deViere, a former Army officer, now downtown business owner, is the newest member of the board, he guided his colleagues through the process. This was his first work session having just been elected in November. Prior to his election, deViere attended council meetings regularly and took notes, which allowed him to hit the ground running. 

    He sketched out the projects that council had chosen in an October planning session and reviewed those favored by residents who had responded to a survey. He led council to its final decision, which eliminated a proposed $3.2 million aquarium from the projects list and put to an end any further discussion of a $28 million multipurpose aquatic and senior center in order to avoid public confusion.

    The marathon meeting ended at midnight.

  • 012016parks-and-rec-012016.jpg

    Progress, Prosperity, Places to Play! That’s the theme of the City of Fayetteville’s outreach effort to educate the public about the upcoming Parks and Recreation Bond Referendum. Voters are being asked to approve a $35 million package for several projects during the March 15 North Carolina Primary Election. 

    A post on the city’s website (www.FayettevilleNC.gov/ParksBond) about the referendum reads: “A citywide bond proposal would enable us to build outstanding new facilities to provide city residents throughout the area with affordable, close-to-home options for recreation, sports and entertainment.”

    The website provides an outline of the proposed projects as well as voter and ballot information. A page of frequently asked questions is included. Missing, however, is an explanation of financial details such as an amortization timeline, projected interest and total tax cost. The tax increase necessary to fund all the projects is $0.0135 per $100 of assessed property valuation. That translates to $16.98 a year for a home valued at $126,000, or as the city tells it, the cost of a two-liter soft drink bottle per month. At the request of Up & Coming Weekly, city officials said the bond debt would be retired over 20 years at an anticipated 5 percent interest rate. That is not included in the information online. 

    The Fayetteville City Council came up with the list of projects after several weeks of discussions and utilizing the findings of a citizen survey. The bond package includes two senior centers, a tennis center, sports field complex, two skateboard parks, a Cape Fear River Park, seven splash pads and improvements to seven existing parks. All facilities are within the city limits. Here’s is a detailed explanation of the projects:

    Senior Centers. Two full-service facilities, one of which tentatively would be built on Lamon Street downtown. The other is to be located along Raeford Road in West Fayetteville. The city says exact locations have not been identified. Key features would include libraries, video rooms, classrooms, art studios, dance studios, a fitness space and a meeting room. The combined costs are estimated as $10 million.

    Tennis Center. It would be built at Mazerick Park for players of all ages and ability levels. It would include four clay courts and 13 hard courts, plus a tournament championship court with seats for 1,000 spectators and a 10,000 sq. ft. pro shop. The estimated cost is $6 million.

    Sport Field Complex. A multi-purpose complex to be located on city-owned property on Fields Road off Cedar Creek Road that would include two lighted youth softball/baseball fields, two lighted youth softball/baseball fields with synthetic turf, two lighted adult softball/baseball fields, two lighted adult softball/baseball fields with synthetic turf, five soccer/football fields, two soccer/football fields with synthetic turf, three picnic shelters with BBQ grills, two children’s playgrounds and an 800-meter walking trail. Also included is a proposed 10,000 sq. ft. clubhouse. The cost: $9 million.

    Skateboard Parks. One large in-ground concrete facility to serve the entire Fayetteville-Cumberland County region, and two mini parks. The larger park would provide a challenge for more advanced skate boarders. The mini-locations would be designed for novice skaters. The larger facility would include two parks at Robeson and Commerce streets for novice and advanced skaters. A novice park would be built at Westover Recreation Center. The total estimated cost is $1 million.

    Cape Fear River Park.An urban riverfront park near downtown to provide passive river specific recreational activities. The exact location is to be determined. The city says it would be on the Cape Fear River bordered by Person, Broad and Grove streets. The park would include a boardwalk, access to the riverfront, boat docks, picnic shelters, trails and public open space with an estimated cost not to exceed $5.2 million.

    Splash Pads. Six of them would be located at existing recreation centers, including Cliffdale Recreation Center, E.E. Miller, Gilmore Therapeutic Center, Kiwanis, Massey Hill and Myers Park Recreation Centers plus an additional location to be determined. One possible site could be Festival Park in downtown Fayetteville. 

    Each location would include 2,000 sq. ft. zero depth splash pads and several water features which use recycled water. The total estimated cost for all seven locations would be $3 million.

    Existing Park Improvements. Seven parks would be upgraded to include the renovation of some existing buildings and various park grounds. Among the projects are improvements to J. Bayard Clark Park & Nature Center, the Dorothy Gilmore Therapeutic Park building, Brentwood School Park, Massey Hill Recreation Center, Martin Luther King Jr. Park, Mazarick Park and Seabrook Park. The estimated total cost is $800,000.

    The referendum form will not allow voters to pick and choose selected projects. It’s a yes or no, all or nothing proposition. The city says some of the facilities included in the bond proposal would be able to operate with little or no additional operating funds. But, says the city, it’s important to note that membership costs and entrance fees may be required. Memberships would be offered at different levels (family, couple, senior, etc.),  and daily passes would be available for those who go less often or could not afford yearly memberships. In addition, officials believe the new facilities would be available for school athletic programs as well as recreation activities. Also, the facilities would have the added economic advantage of job creation, and would provide other opportunities for generating revenue through tournaments, swim and track meets, and other rentals for a wide range of public or private events. Attracting competitions and other events would lead to additional revenue through hotels stays, restaurants, retail locations and local attractions.

  • 012716-jeff-4.jpg

    Not many companies could stay in business long if they collected only 55 percent of their billings. That’s what American Traffic Solutions of Phoenix, Arizona, is taking in from Fayetteville violators who run video-monitored red lights. An updated report prepared for Up & Coming Weekly indicates that 7,657 citations were issued since the program began last summer. 

    City of Fayetteville Spokesman Kevin Arata says the new data is for the calendar year ending Dec. 31. A total of 4,257 citations of $100 each were paid for a gross total of $425,000. Sixty-five percent of the proceeds or $276,000 goes to Cumberland County Schools, as provided by law. American Traffic Solutions keeps the rest. 

    “There is no cost to the city,” says Traffic Engineer Lee Jernigan. Jernigan estimates the school system can likely depend on about $800,000 a year in red light citation revenue.

    What about the 3,400 violators who haven’t paid the fines? They “are assessed late fees of $100 if they aren’t paid within a 30-day timeframe,” according to Arata. After that, the company would have to take the violaters to small-claims court. Because the citations are civil violations, no records of them are shown on drivers’ licenses or insurance reports. 

    Records provided by the city indicate three of the intersections monitored by the cameras have accounted for nearly 50 percent of the tickets. They are Skibo at Morganton Road, Ramsey Street at Law Road and South Reilly at Kimridge Road. Jernigan says it will take several months to determine whether the red light cameras are having the desired effect of reducing auto accidents.

    Fundraiser Set for Homeless Shelter

    Fayetteville’s Operation Inasmuch plans to begin construction of its new shelter for homeless men this winter with occupancy in the fall. The agency is promoting what it calls a “Drive-thru Fundraiser” for the shelter at Hillsboro and Chance Streets across from its ministry center on Jan. 31. Executive Director Sue Byrd says $200,000 has already been raised or pledged; the estimated cost of the shelter is $500, 000.

    The facility will be built “in keeping with the construction and finishes of the seven Frink Street homes” owned by the charity says Byrd. The fenced-on, 6,500 sq. ft. single-story building will front Chance Street as a limited-access facility with the main entry enabled with a security buzzer and security glass. The police department will install a surveillance camera that can be monitored 24/7. The shelter will also nclude an office or the police department’s homeless project police officer. The shelter will be staffed day and night with paid staff or volunteers.

    Byrd says the building will have beds for 40 men, with standard rest room facilities including two handicapped accessible rest rooms. A day room will have TVs and will provide space for group meetings. A laundry will include three clothes washers and three dryers. On life threatening, cold ‘white flag’ nights, the facility will serve an additional 15 to 25 men. 

    Typically the shelter will open at 6 p.m. to receive men who were pre-registered earlier in the day at the Operation Inasmuch Ministry Center, according to Byrd. “There will be no long lines of people waiting to get in,” she said. The nextday, residents must be up and out by 7:15 a.m. They will be served breakfast at Inasmuch across the street.

    Scholarships for Children of Veterans

    College scholarships are available for eligible high school seniors who are the children of North Carolina veterans. The scholarships are provided by the North Carolina Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and the North Carolina Association of Veterans Services Officers. 

    The Military and Veterans Affairs Department manages scholarships for children of certain categories of deceased, disabled, combat or POW/MIA vets. They provide four years of tuition and fees at approved North Carolina state universities. Students who choose to attend private schools are given vouchers of $4,500 a year for eight semesters over eight years. Qualifications and applications are available online at www.milvets.nc.gov. 

    The scholarships from the Association of Veterans Services Officers were established to honor members. They’re open to graduating seniors whose parents are honorably discharged state residents. The scholarships pay $1,000. Applications are available at the Cumberland County Veterans Services Office at 301 E. Russell St. 

    Voter ID Required This Year

    For the first time in more than 100 years, North Carolina voters are required to show photo ID at the polls. Five years ago, the Republican-controlled North Carolina General Assembly changed voting laws that had been in effect since 1896. The Cumberland County Board of Elections says acceptable photo IDs include North Carolina driver’s licenses or ID cards, passports, military ID cards, Veterans Administration cards and certain tribal ID cards. Options for citizens who don’t have or are not able to obtain ID cards can be found online at voterID.nc.gov.

    The Board of Elections’ early voting schedule was created after receiving input from the public. Early voting times and dates are: 

    Board of Elections Office (227 Fountainhead Lane)- March 3, 4, 7-11 from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.; March 5 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; March 12 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

    Cliffdale Recreation Center, East Regional Branch Library, Hope Mills Recreation Center and North Regional Branch Library- March 3, 4, 7-11 from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.; March 5 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; March 12 from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

    Health Dept. Receives Grant

    The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has awarded the Cumberland County Health Department a $300,000 grant for the Adolescent Parenting Program . This program serves pregnant teens and mothers who are 19 or younger at the time of enrollment. The APP is a teen pregnancy prevention program developed to help prevent second pregnancies. It’s administered by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public Health and the Family Planning and Reproductive Health Unit.

     The goals are to increase self-sufficiency, increase high school graduation rates or completion of GEDs and improve the welfare of children of teen parents. APP also hopes to increase incidence of positive parenting and increase children’s physical well-being by creating safe home environments. 

    The Health Department will receive $75,000 annually for four years beginning June 1, 2016. Pregnant teens must be enrolled at any stage of their pregnancy and may remain in the program until they graduate from high school or complete a GED. The program is coordinated by a full-time public health staff member with an average caseload of between 15 and 25 participants annually. It includes home visitation and peer group education sessions. 

    Cumberland County was targeted for funding based on its five-year average teen pregnancy rate of 63.6 percent from 2009-2013, which ranked 12th highest in the state.

  • 01-12-11-true-grit.gifTRUE GRIT (Rated PG-13)      Five Stars

    Interestingly, this might serve as the first Coen brothers’ movie that works as a straight piece (as opposed to an exploration of bizarre characters). So many of their other films seem to focus on the massive flaws of the leads that True Grit (110 minutes) stands out for a kinder, gentler depiction of the characters. 

    Unlike the original, which started much slower, the remake collapses the intro to a short voiceover by Mattie Ross (Elizabeth Marvel) recounting the story of how Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) killed her father. The voiceover switches to a younger Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld, much less irritating than the 1969 version), who arrives to collect her father’s body. She spends the night in the morgue, and then sets out the next day to assert her Protestant ethic all over everybody. In the midst of dealing with the loose ends left by the death of her father, Mattie inquires about U.S. Marshals. When she hears that Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) is the meanest, she attempts to hire him.

    Apparently, even in the old west it is considered rude to approach someone about a job when they are in the outhouse, and Rooster rebuffs her first attempt. Meanwhile, Texas Ranger La Boeuf (Matt Damon, also less irritating than the 1969 version) arrives looking for Chaney. He proposes that the three work together, since the Marshal knows the territory and he knows Chaney.

    Mattie, Rooster, and la Boeuf have a difference of opinion over how best to pursue Chaney, and they set off in two separate parties. Mattie and Rooster set out. They find a hanged man being pecked by crows and a man dressed as a bear. This is not a dream sequence, and therefore it is highly amusing. They get information that sends them after Lucky Ned Pepper (Barry Pepper … and I know that Robert Duvall is old, but I bet he could have done a better job reprising his 1969 role than Barry Pepper. Because I don’t like Berry Pepper.) and his gang. They find a dugout cabin and plan an ambush to scoop up the gang, but their plans go afoul.

    Now reunited with La Boeuf, the three ride on into the plains towards the mountains, and their best chance for catching Lucky Ned. Of course, it is past time to address the “Rooster drinks too much” subplot, and so the Marshal starts drinking heavily. After drinking heavily, he randomly fires his weapon at some corn biscuits, while a straight faced La Boeuf occasionally takes a shot himself at the corn biscuits in order to…? Well, I’m sure he was trying to make some kind of point.

    Rooster continues to drink long in to the night, and finally calls off the whole expedition. Naturally, Mattie finds what she seeks the very next morning, meeting Chaney when she goes to get morning water. Some nifty horse riding and gun fighting follow some great confrontation scenes. The finale differs slightly from the 1969 version, with a return to adult Mattie Ross considering the history she shared with Rooster.

    Hailee Steinfeld manages to capture the single-minded composure of Mattie Ross without alienating viewers by presenting herself as too precocious. Jeff Bridges does an acceptable job with his character arc, encapsulating the gruff peacemaker who manages to meet Mattie on her admittedly uncompromising terms perfectly.

    It is a strength of the film that the action moves quickly without sacrificing the sincerity of the character development. Overall an excellent western that is also family friendly, if you can get past the random amputations and constant shooting.

  • 09doubt Gilbert Theater continues its season with “Doubt,” which will run Feb. 1-17. The play is by John Patrick Shanley. Gilbert Theater Artistic Director Matthew Overturf will direct it.

    “This play is set in 1964, and the playwright, John Patrick Shanley, writes in the prologue that when he wrote it, he thought about this time and it was as if the world was going through a giant puberty,” said Overturf. “There was so much change occurring during this time, such as The Civil Rights Act being passed. And John F. Kennedy had just been assassinated the year before.”

    Overturf noted that the Catholic Church had just gone through a significant change. The Vatican II Council was trying to become more open and welcoming and look a bit more like the communities it served, he explained. Everything was shifting and changing during this time.

    The drama involves Sister Aloysius, a Bronx Catholic school principal, who takes matters into her own hands when she suspects the parish priest, Father Flynn, of improper relations with one of the male students.

    As Aloysius and the Father face off, it brings out the worst in both of them and reveals weaknesses, humanity and doubt in so many things. The production deals with the struggle of faith and doubt, right and wrong, and the gray area in between.

    “The male student happens to be the first African-American student in the school because the school had just become desegregated,” said Overturf. “Basically, the play becomes about Sister Aloysius’ crusade against Father Flynn. She brings on Sister James, a fairly young nun, to kind of help in this because (Sister James) is the teacher of the student.”

    The play is called “Doubt” for a reason. “There are a lot of circumstantial things and a lot of ideas that Sister Aloysius has that may not necessarily be founded in facts or truths, but she has her suspicions,” said Overturf. “And those, to her, are just as important as any facts.”

    Overturf continued, “We have a phenomenal cast. It is an important play for me because I fell in love with it in college and always wanted to direct it. It is a hard-hitting play.

    “What I love about it is that it is guaranteed to cause you to leave and talk about it. People will be discussing it and what they believe the outcome is because it is a wonderful show.”

    For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit www.gilberttheater.com or call 910-678-7186.

  • 01coverUAC013019001 For Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra Music Director Stefan Sanders, programming concerts for holidays can be especially fun. The Feb. 9 “Love is in the Air” concert is no exception. It includes classic pieces sure to stir the soul as well as a performance by guest pianist Anton Nel, who will perform Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto No. 2.”

    “Concerts close to holidays offer an opportunity to program thematically, and love and romance and longing for someone are a major part of the human condition,” said Sanders. “Putting together a concert is like creating a menu. You want to put together things that pair well and accent each other and are palatable. Think about the songs we listen to on the radio. As people, we have strong feelings, and there is a lot of great music that is love-inspired.”

    And there will be plenty of them in this performance. Whether it’s romance or great music you are after, FSO has a well-programmed performance set for the weekend before Valentine’s Day. The playlist includes selections from Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet,” plus iconic music from “Casablanca” and “West Side Story.”

    “The symphony is going to play some incredible, beloved romantic music — some of the songs will be very recognizable,” Sanders said. “There is also a lot of music that has been used in TV and film so that the audience will hear it, and even if they don’t know it by name, they will recognize it.”

    Special guest Anton Nel has been an international performance pianist for nearly four decades. He is also an acclaimed harpsichordist and fortepianist. But it is not just his talent that makes him a great fit for this FSO concert. Sanders credits Nel with inspiring not just audiences but the performers with whom he shares the stage — a pleasure Sanders has had more than once.

    “Any time you work with someone, there are some unknowns,” Sanders said. “But just the rapport with someone you have worked with and can trust makes for a positive experience. And Anton is an incredible artist. He is renowned for his interpretation of certain composers. I think the other performers will enjoy working with someone of this caliber.

    “I have seen several performances with Anton and other greats where their artistry inspires everyone else on the stage to be their absolute best. Anton is one of those artists who brings out the best in other artists.”

    The piece Nel is playing is significant for more than one reason. It’s great music, but the back story is also something many people will be able to relate to and find hope in. It’s about mental health. Early in Rachmaninoff’s career, he wrote a symphony. When it premiered, the performance was abysmal. The audience hated it.

    “This threw him into a very deep depression,” said Sanders. “He was at the bottom. Thankfully, he was able to get help.”

    A therapist helped Rachmaninoff to get out of his deep depression. And Rachmaninoff did more than just survive. He started thriving. “He felt inspired to write a second concert,” said Sanders. “And he dedicated it to his therapist, Nikolai Dahl. It goes to show that the things people deal with today are similar to what people dealt with years ago.”

    With a mission to educate, entertain and inspire the citizens of the Fayetteville region as the leading musical resource, FSO is creative in its programming and outreach initiatives. The organization is built on the premise that great symphonic music should affordable and fun.

    One of the initiatives that aims to make the symphony fun and approachable to everyone is the “Music Nerd” preconcert talks. About 45 minutes before the concert begins, Sanders and FSO Musicologist Joshua Busman will take the stage. Sanders described the Music Nerd portion as a casual chat. “It is a way for curious minds to learn about the music and other interesting facts related to the programming,” Sanders said. “Often, people like to have more context than what a program note provides. It is a way for people to learn more about the music we are going to play.”

    FSO also provides program notes on its website so attendees will have a good idea about what the performance will contain. The program notes are available at www.fayettevillesymphony.org.

    Methodist University will host the concert at Huff Concert Hall, 5400 Ramsey St. The Music Nerd talk starts at 6:45 p.m. The concert starts at 7 p.m. Visit www.fayettevillesymphony.org or call 910-433- 4690 for tickets and information.

  • 08 Sweeney Todd  As of this writing, seats for the remaining performances of Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” are selling fast. So, allow me to get right to the point: Call the box office at 910-420-4383 or visit www.sweetteashakespeare.com for tickets. The show runs through Feb. 3, and you don’t want to miss it.

    Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s production of Stephen Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd” probably wouldn’t be your first choice for a post-Christmas/pre-Valentine’s outing, but it should be. The talented cast running around the Fayetteville Pie Company is the right mix of fun and madness to balance out the macabre tale.

    The story is about London barber Benjamin Barker, who is wrongly imprisoned by Judge Turpin, who wants Barker’s wife, Lucy. After 15 years, Barker returns, calling himself Sweeney Todd, and begins working as a barber over Mrs. Lovett’s meatpie shop on Fleet Street. Seeking revenge, Todd takes his razor to unsuspecting customers, biding his time until he can get the evil judge in his barber chair.

    You’ll find no sympathy for Judge Turpin in this story. After driving poor Lucy to suicide, the judge takes the barber’s young daughter, Johanna, as his ward. He locks her away, intending to marry her, and thinks she should be grateful for his kindness.

    Todd is a lunatic, for sure, but he has had 15 years in prison to plot his revenge, all the while growing ever more psychotic. Jeremy Fiebig, STS founder and artistic director, plays the title character with an eerie calmness — the kind that makes you a bit uncomfortable in your seat.

    Aiding Todd in his revenge plot is the widow Lovett, played by Marie Lowe. Lovett has fancied the barber since before his imprisonment and sees not only a monetary benefit but also a romantic one to helping Todd dispose of the bodies. It is her idea to bake the victims into her meat pies. The secret ingredient boosts her business and has her dreaming of a retirement by the sea — with Todd.

    Lowe steals the show with her upbeat and energetic delivery in a Cockney accent. She is so delightfully sinister, I found myself rooting for her character. But, in a tale about death, revenge and insanity can there really be a happily ever after? Not in this tale, which also  has a few twists. No spoilers here, but the ending makes plain that one cannot profit from revenge.

    Director Medina Demeter pulls together a fantastic ensemble cast and crew to bring to life the tale with horror, excitement and entertaining music. The cast includes Aaron Alderman, Jennifer Czechowski and Joyce Borum. Heather Eddy plays Johanna and Tyler Graeper is her love-struck beau, Anthony. Allison Podlogar is Tobias Ragg. Gabriel Terry, Jackie Rednour-Hallman and Tohry Petty complete the ensemble.

    The Fayetteville Pie Company in Westwood Shopping Center lends its multilevel restaurant as the stage. It is an intimate experience that allows the creative efforts of STS to shine. The restaurant also provides phenomenal pies to audience members for this production as part of the admission price.

    For more information on the show or tickets, contact the STS box office at 910-420-4383 or visit www.sweetteashakespeare.com.

  • 01 cover “Annie,” the family-friendly musical based on the “Little Orphan Annie” comic strip, debuted on Broadway in 1977 and has endeared itself to audiences the world over ever since with such crowdpleasing tunes as “Tomorrow!” and “It’s a Hard Knock Life.” In the play, Orphan Annie sets out to find her parents and meets many interesting characters, including millionaire Daddy Warbucks, along the way. Starting Jan. 31, Cape Fear Regional Theater brings “Annie” to town with a stellar cast, including Robert Newman in the role of Daddy Warbucks.

    Although he also starred in “General Hospital” and “Santa Barbara,” Newman is best known for portraying Joshua Lewis for 28 years on the soap opera “Guiding Light,” a role for which he earned two Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.

    “Everyone is excited that Josh, Reva’s husband, is coming to town,” said CFRT Artistic Director Mary Kate Burke, referencing Newman’s “Guiding Light” character.

    She added, “Our Ms. Hannigan will be Erin Fish, who just performed the same role on the national tour of ‘Annie.’”

    CFRT’s “Annie” will be directed and choreographed by Robin Levine.

    Backstage, the cast is no less professional. Be it the stark simplicity of “Miss Saigon” or the rollicking onstage bar of “Music City” or a romp through the medieval landscape of “Monty Python,” sets at CFRT productions have always been impressive. Designing the set for “Annie” is Charles Glenn Johnson, who also designed last season’s hit “Crowns,” according to Burke.

    Bringing Johnson’s design to life is the job of Master Carpenter Willie Burgess and Assistant Carpenter Terry Remer, under the direction of Production Coordinator Ken Blinn and Technical Director Adam Lindsay.

    Sarah Harris, who was associate costume designer for last season’s “Sense and Sensibility,” is designing “Annie’s” costumes. Once her drawings are finalized and approved by the director, Harris will consult with Andi Nicks, costume shop manager, to determine what can be pulled from CFRT’s costume inventory to bring Harris’ artistic renderings to life.

    After meeting with the director to discuss the desired mood and ambience of any given show, a professional lighting designer creates a lighting “plot” for each CFRT production and submits a detailed drawing of how the instruments should be hung and focused. “There are usually over 100 instruments that get hung in the air in different configurations for each show,” said Burke. Staff technicians at CFRT then run the lights according to the plot.

    Jillian Zach, a Julliard graduate, is the musical director for “Annie.” Local professionals comprise the band for the show. A piano accompanies the actors during rehearsals, but the entire band — along with all the designers and technicians — assemble for what is known as a sitzprobe, where the actors hear the actual instruments for the first time, and then a wandelprobe, which is a walk-through for blocking with the band.

    Once the sitz and wandel are completed to everyone’s satisfaction, there is a tech rehearsal followed by a final dress rehearsal before opening night takes place.

    “The whole show is mounted in only three weeks,” said Burke. “So, between the first rehearsal and the first preview, there are only 20 rehearsals and a total of 100 hours rehearsed.”

    “Annie” opens Jan. 31 and will run through Feb. 24 with show times at 7:30 p.m. and matinees on most weekends. Tickets cost from $17-$32. Visit www.cfrt.org for information about tickets and performance dates. “Annie” is so family-friendly that CFRT offers a special cast meet-and-greet and a sing-along and dance especially for community children. See the website for details.

    Meet Daddy Warbucks

    Newman is no stranger to North Carolina nor to the character he’ll portray in “Annie.” Some would say he has a heart just as big and just as soft as Daddy Warbucks’.

    In the summer of 2010, Newman played Daddy Warbucks for the North Carolina Theatre’s production of “Annie.” For that production, he partnered with St. Baldrick’s Foundation in its quest to raise money for childhood cancer research and let St. Baldrick’s publicly shave his head. The theater joined in the effort and gave 20 percent of ticket sales to the foundation, too. “We were able to raise a good bit of money for the charity,” Newman said. “After the fact, I was talking to my wife about maybe keeping my head shaved. She was not having it and quickly said, ‘Robert. Grow your hair back.’”

    When Burke reached out to the North Carolina Theatre about Newman, the staff there remembered him fondly. “They were so effusive about him. They said he’s an incredible actor and an even more amazing human,” she said.

    While Newman enjoyed playing Daddy Warbucks before, he said he is looking to bring something fresh to the experience at CFRT. “There is nothing worse than an actor who says, ‘I’ve played this role before. This is how it is supposed to be done,’” he said.

    “The last time I played Daddy Warbucks was nine years ago. I was a different person, it was a different time and place. I am looking forward to exploring this experience and the father-daughter relationship between Annie and Daddy Warbucks. As a character, Daddy Warbucks has everything as far as money goes, but he meets Annie and his world begins to change — and he begins to change,” Newman added.

    One of the things that makes acting so rewarding for Newman, he said, is the human aspect of it. When Newman was in college, he had plans to become a psychology major. In his third year, though, he found acting. “And I discovered the two are very similar,” he said. “They are both a study of the human dynamic.”

    Newman is impressed with the way the play as a whole is coming together. “Robin Levine is directing it, and I am excited about where she is taking this production,” he said.

    While “Annie,” which ran for almost six years on Broadway starting in 1977, is not a new story, it’s one that audiences love. It’s heartwarming. It will make you laugh, and it will make you cry.

    “It is the right time for a play like this,” said Newman. “There is so much divisiveness in the world today, and this is a place where the audience can leave that behind for two hours and come and enjoy a heartwarming story.”

    As for his other North Carolina connection, Newman has participated in several charity golf tournaments around the state. He calls golf his Zen time, when he can leave his worries behind and focus on something he is, in his words, “sometimes good at and other times not.”

    So far, his experience locally has been positive. “Everyone here is so nice. The people here are great. I have only been in town a few days, and I already love it here.”

  • 13Mo Town Supremes The Givens Performing Arts Center presents “So Good for the Soul: A Tribute to Motown Music” Saturday, Jan. 12, at 8 p.m. in Pembroke.

    “We are excited to start the new year with this nostalgic concert,” said Chad Locklear, marketing director of GPAC. “It will feature a cast of about eight veteran entertainers and their bands.”

    Locklear said some of the entertainers are former members of The Marvelettes, and some are past Broadway performers who have had leading roles in shows like “Dreamgirls,” “Porgy & Bess” and “Show Boat.”

    The show’s director, musical director, choreographer and costume designer have jointly won more than 25 of America’s most prestigious theater awards. Cumulatively, the cast members have performed on recordings with more than 30 million record sales and have more than 40 years of experience.

    “It is a very talented cast of performers, and it is a tribute to Motown music (with) a lot of the songs everyone will be familiar with because folks have grown up with them,” said Locklear. “They are iconic songs by performers that everyone will be familiar with like Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight & The Pips, The Temptations, Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie and many more.”

    Locklear added that the show pays tribute to a lot of Motown performers and their songs throughout the 1960s and ’70s.

    “We try to do concerts that are nostalgic and will appeal to our older generation, alumni and a wider audience,” said Locklear. “This is one of those familyfriendly shows that any age group can appreciate.”

    Adding an extra bit of flavor to this show, there will be a themed meal before the performance. Tickets for the dinner will be sold separately.

    “There is going to be a soul food meal prepared by our chef on campus and it will be held in the Chancellor’s dining room,” said Locklear. “The dinner will begin around 6 p.m. We’ve got a grant from the Robeson County Arts Council, The North Carolina Arts Council and McDonald’s Rust Enterprises, and we are grateful that they are sponsoring us. We look forward to everyone coming out to enjoy the show.”

    Ticket cost is $21-$36. For more information, visit www.uncp.edu or call 910-521-6361.

  • 12Mozart Come join the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra for a magical evening of “Magical Mozart” at St. John’s Episcopal Church in downtown Fayetteville. The concert, set for Thursday, Jan. 17, is the first concert for FSO in the new year. St. John’s Episcopal Church provides an intimate venue for listening to a sampling of works by the famed composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

    Mozart, a child prodigy who began composing music at the tender age of 5, authored more than 600 symphonies, concertos, operas and chamber music pieces designed for smaller venues, such as a palace chamber, before his death at age 35. Each selection at St. John’s will be discussed prior to the musicians playing it, so guests will know what makes each piece special.

    Many people are not aware of the reach of Mozart’s influence but have most likely observed his effects on modern culture. At some point, almost everyone has watched the Looney Tunes cartoon-opera “The Barber of Seville” where “The Marriage of Figaro” is the hilarious ending to the cat-and-mouse game frequently played by Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd. Even the band Queen gave an open nod to Mozart in their classic mock opera “Bohemian Rhapsody.” And, of course, the 1984 movie “Amadeus” featured a fictional portrayal of Mozart’s life.

    The song “Rock Me Amadeus” by Falco is a historical pop song dedicated to the composer. Mozart’s works are also used in commercials, movies and TV shows today.

    According to FSO President Chris Kastner, the beauty of “Magical Mozart” is that it is set in a historical church with excellent sound quality in the heart of Fayetteville. “There is nothing better on a cold winter’s night than being enveloped with the sound of the music,” she said.

    St. John’s seats about 300 people, and the acoustics are perfect for chamber music concerts.

    FSO prepared a program to highlight Mozart’s three most popular operas, “The Magic Flute,” “The Marriage of Figaro” and “Don Giovanni,” as well as “Serenade No. 12 in C Minor,” to be played by eight wind instruments in this instrumental-only performance.

    “This program is great for high school students or others that may want to perform,” stated Kastner, “and small chamber concerts allow for novices to hear individual instruments where they typically cannot in a large orchestra setting.”

    Kastner also noted, “The intimacy of the setting allows attendees to appreciate how hard the musicians work during a performance.” Whether you are a seasoned classical music aficionado or a novice looking to expand your horizons, the FSO concert at St. John’s is a fantastic setting for listening to music by one of the world’s greatest composers.

    Tickets can be purchased online or at the door the evening of the performance on Jan. 17. Find out more at https://squareup.com/store/fayettevillesymphony-orchestra/item/magical-mozart-tickets.

    St. John’s is located at 302 Green St. The show starts at 7:30 p.m.

  • 01coverUAC010919001Works of art most often reflect what is important to the artist: beliefs, sentiments or ideas.

    For local artist Saundra “Sandy” Smith Rubiera, memory became the core of her inspiration. A personal story, a Southern cultural memory, Rubiera’s childhood in Fayetteville, North Carolina, frames the narrative in her mature body of work. Tuesday, Jan. 15, Gallery 208 will host an opening reception for her latest exhibit, “What Touches Us: Works by Sandy Rubiera” from 5:30-7 p.m. at 208 Rowan St.

    The beginning of Rubiera’s accomplished artistic career began when she attended East Carolina University as an art student. By the time she left the university, she had completed a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting with a minor in printmaking.

    She married a professional photographer (her son is a professional photographer as well) and they lived in Miami, Florida, for 25 years before she and her family returned to Fayetteville. A former educator, Rubiera has illustrated three published picture books and exhibits nationally, regionally and locally.

    Most recently, Rubiera was one of the artists awarded the 2016-2017 Regional Artist Grant. This grant is administered and funded by the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County with support from the North Carolina Arts Council and the counties of Lee, Moore, Richmond, Robertson and Scotland, the city of Fayetteville and Cumberland County.

    Although the majority of works in “What Touches Us” are Rubiera’s most recent works in Prismacolor pencils, professional markers and acrylic paints, Gallery 208 will present a range of Rubiera’s work so visitors can see the span of her career, including several multi-colored relief prints she made while studying at ECU.

    After seeing the early work, visitors to the exhibit will readily recognize that Rubiera’s identity as an artist and what she values was present even when she was a young art student. Her early work evoked a sense of joy and celebrated simple pleasures. The early relief images are figurative and revel in the love between women and children.

    Experiences of joy, beauty and simple pleasures are central to Rubiera’s content. Her approach to composition and pictorial perspective was forever altered when, as a student, she climbed a ladder to change a light bulb and viewed her surroundings from above. All of her mature body of work combines a birds-eye viewpoint with bright colors, patterns and a flattened space.

    Rubiera is clear about her approach to imagemaking: “I have spent my life studying, teaching and making art. What inspired me to pick up a pencil, brush or pen and make marks on paper or canvas is the same now as when I first started out as an artist: color, pattern and flattened space.

    “Although I draw from life, I make a conscious effort to flatten the space in the picture plane by tilting it toward the viewer and altering the perspective. The objects looked stacked, one on top of the other, vertically, rather than one behind the other, horizontally.

    “For me, color needs to be intense and as bright as I can make it to be exciting, like opening a new box of crayons on the first day of school. My work is flat and decorative. I love patterns, texture and making marks on a surface. I like the movement they create in a drawing or painting and the way they activate the surface by breaking large shapes into smaller colored areas.”

    Memories, the core of Rubiera’s mature work, take the form of sensations, objects and emotions. Unlike in her early work, the figure is replaced with the still life as a subject. Embedded in the still life are memories — like being a small child at her grandmother’s house.

    “There is an element of storytelling in my work,” Rubiera said. “The objects I draw and paint are objects I touch or use every day — objects perhaps unimportant to others, but which have meaning for me beyond my finding them interesting or beautiful. These objects evoke stories from my own memories or sometimes stories I make up about them.

    “I find these stories funny or whimsical, sometimes sad, sometimes silly. We all struggle, I think, daily, with horrors in the news and difficulties in our own lives. In my drawings, there is no cruelty or violence, no war or hunger or pain. I am aware that this is not the real world, but I want the viewer to forget all that if only for a moment.”

    When reflecting on Rubiera’s body of work, I think about the greater meaning successful works of art can have for all of us who view it. While memory sensations have had a direct influence on the work, has Rubiera given voice to a varied and changing cultural landscape of identities and values? Rubiera is presenting her personal reflections and experiences. As an artist, has she left out enough information for us to construct our own meaning?

    Positive answers to the above questions relate to the success of Rubiera’s work. Although the image is crowded with objects, Rubiera’s formal choices leave us, the viewers, with enough room to complete the work with our own curiosity. If we let go of preconceived ideas about what a work of art should be, we can rethink the familiar.

    Works of art can express feelings and emotions in ways that speech does not. Rubiera successfully stimulates a type of joy that anyone, of any age, can appreciate.

    Overall, art reflects what it is to be human, and the cultural dialogue in art is many things. Rubiera brings to the table an important perspective: beauty and joy are still important to our wellbeing. Having knowledge of Rubiera’s career path as an artist, it is easy to see she is a creative role model who can inspire many people of all ages to enjoy art or become artists.

    Locally, Rubiera’s work is carried by Lisa’s Picture Framing in the Haymount area of Fayetteville. She also has a website: www.saundrasmithrubiera.com.

    The public is invited to attend the Jan. 15 reception of “What Touches Us: Works by Sandy Rubiera,” from 5:30-7 p.m. at Gallery 208, located at 208 Rowen St. The exhibit will remain in the gallery until mid-March. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday. For more information, call 910-484-6200.

  • 07Marquis Crowd 3  Our P.L.A.C.E., which stands for Passion, Lives and Creative Experiences, is an arts-based Fayetteville nonprofit. Its mission is to provide opportunity, education, funding and resources to artists to impact society. Under the Our P.L.A.C.E umbrella is a multitude of projects, workshops, events, community drives and more. The Marquis Slam, a poetry competition created and hosted by Eean Tyson, is the longest running program the nonprofit presents. It takes place the first Saturday of every month at the Arts Center.

    A poetry slam is a three-round competition where up to 12 poets perform their original work within a three-minute time frame and are then scored by five random judges in the audience. The highest and lowest of the five scores are dropped each round to get the poet’s score for that round. The three scores are then added after the final round to see who wins.

    Slam season is from September to August. Poets compete in the local Marquis Slam events September through March in hopes of making the official Marquis Slam Team in April. From there, the Slam Team competes regionally and nationally in June and August.

    Since its creation in September 2012, The Marquis Slam has been a monthly staple in the poetry community of Fayetteville. Month after month, people come from all across Cumberland County and surrounding areas to enjoy an evening of food, fun, music and, most importantly, poetry.

    At each event, The Marquis Slam features a poet before the slam to prime the audience. Poets from around the country have graced the stage and made The Marquis Slam an experience like no other in town.

    This month’s event takes place Jan. 5 and features Harlem’s own, Joan “Lyric” Leslie. Now residing in Atlanta, Georgia, Lyric is known for her works of self discovery and self-love, all while using humor and wit to captivate her audience. Her book “My Blackness Rhymes with Joy” showcases her journey through love, healing, justice and the reclamation of black joy.

    Ashlee Connors, a local poet, author and threetime Marquis Slam Team member, said each year on the team was different. Of her first year, Connors said, “Making the team — a team — for the first time ever was the reward. It’s a meeting of the minds that everyone speaks on. Every single year there has been a new member on the team, and that is rewarding by itself.”

    Of her second and third year, she said, “Once you make the team, that’s when the real work begins. Now you are challenged to write from different perspectives and be open to the critiques. The team overall wants to push you to be better”.

    The event’s creator, Tyson, not only hosts the show, he also coaches the Slam Team once it is formed. He leads them in competitions both regionally and nationally. For seven seasons, The Marquis Slam team, under Tyson’s leadership, has traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana; Greenville, South Carolina; Little Rock, Arkansas; Greensboro, North Carolina; Louisville, Kentucky; and San Antonio, Texas, to compete regionally at the Southern Fried Poetry Slam. The team has also traveled to Oakland, California; Decatur, Georgia; and Denver, Colorado; to compete at the National Poetry Slam.

    Every first Saturday, make your way to the Arts Center at 301 Hay St. in downtown Fayetteville for an evening of poetry like no other in the city. The doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. Admission in $10. Food is available for purchase.

    To learn more about Our P.L.A.C.E and The Marquis Slam, visit www.welcome2ourplace.org. Send inquiries to ourplacenpo@gmail.com or on Facebook and Instagram at Our P.L.A.C.E NPO and The Marquis Slam.

  • 01coverUAC010219001  Sweet Tea Shakespeare, Fayetteville’s traveling theater company, starts the new year off with a twist. The location for its latest production is not a museum or a church, it’s Fayetteville Pie Company — and for good reason. Jan. 17-Feb. 3, the troupe will present the delectably gruesome “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.”

    Production Manager Medina Demeter said that while the troupe is known for its Shakespearean productions, this is not the first time it has strayed from the bard’s work. STS’ previous non-Shakespearean productions include “Jane Eyre,” “Songs for a New World” and “Sense and Sensibility.”

    The character Sweeney Todd first appeared in literature in the 1840s. He was the villain in a Victorian weekly serial “The String of Pearls.” Stephen Sondheim’s 1979 rendition of Todd’s story, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street,” opened on Broadway in 1979 and won several awards, including Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Book and Best Score. Many other stories have been created with the basic premise and character of Sweeney Todd, but it is Sondheim’s tale that STS will portray.

    Shaking up the season with “Sweeney Todd” was an easy decision, Demeter said. “Sondheim is good any time of the year. The lyrics and melodies in ‘Sweeney Todd’ are particularly appropriate for those wishing to escape the commercialism of Valentine’s Day.”

    The play’s main character and namesake, Sweeney Todd, played by STS founder Jeremy Fiebig, is a barber. He is also a killer with a tragic backstory. He disposes of his victims with the help of Mrs. Lovett, played by Marie Lowe, who bakes the victims’ flesh into meat pies and sells them in her pie shop. In true STS fashion, the group has made the story its own.

    In addition to performing, Lowe is an associate art director and master of audience and LIT — the group’s drunken Shakespeare series. “We are a small troupe of company members who travel to different towns and venues, which is different than other theaters, but no matter what kind of show you see at Sweet Tea, some things are always the same: a focus on making great stories accessible to diverse audiences through great performances, music, fellowship and food,” she said. “One of my favorite things about Sweet Tea Shakespeare is that almost all of the people who have joined the company since I’ve been here came straight from the audience — including me.”

    STS performs at a variety of venues, both indoor and outdoor, and is dedicated to bringing shows to as many audiences as possible. Setting this production at the Fayetteville Pie Company was the obvious choice.

    “We are so fortunate to be working with the Fayetteville Pie Company — one of Fayetteville’s iconic eateries — for this production,” Demeter said. “With their help and the awesome staging possibilities in their restaurant, audiences can expect to feel like they are a part of the action.

    “I am really enjoying the way the space at the Fayetteville Pie Company is at once challenging and infinitely fun to create in. I am excited to see the audience’s reaction to the use of space.”

    Ticket price includes a savory pie, a sweet pie and a soft drink or tea. Beer and wine will be available for purchase.

    “Try to carve out time to see this show,” said Demeter. “Getting tickets is easy as pie, and it’s guaranteed to not be crummy.”

    Lowe noted that audiences often leave STS performances feeling pleasantly surprised at the uniqueness of the experience. “Almost everyone who comes to see one of our shows, whether it’s a musical or a new adaptation of ‘Jane Eyre’ or a drunk ‘Shakes in a bar’ or a traditional Shakespeare play, says the same thing — ‘I didn’t think I would have such a good time!’ There’s music, food, beverages adult and non, fellowship, T-shirts and a lot of laughter. I’d encourage people to … just come have a good time.”

    STS’ mission is to celebrate the wonder of language, story and stagecraft by engaging a diverse community with accessible, imaginative, magical theater. STS work, inspired by Shakespeare and the early modern spirit, is heightened by music, presence, familiarity and fellowship.

    STS employs universal lighting, which was common in Shakespeare’s day. Universal lighting illuminates the actor, the stage and the audience so the actors can engage more fully with the audience.

    The company also uses large, movable set pieces instead of fixed sets. This not only keeps things simple, it emphasizes the actors and the performance. Many actors in STS productions assume the roles of more than one character in each production. In Shakespearean custom, cross-gender casting is also a part of STS productions.

    There are two shows remaining in the STS 2018- 2019 season — “Maid Marion,” which runs April 25- May 12, and “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” which runs June 4-23.

    Call the box office at 910-420-4383 or visit www.sweetteashakespeare.com for tickets and information. Tickets to “Sweeney Todd” cost $45. Performances are Thursday through Sunday, Jan. 17-Feb. 3. The show starts at 7 p.m.

  • Among the many good things in our community, Fayetteville-Cumberland Parks and Recreation can be counted on to deliver fun, interesting and educational opportunities on a regular basis. Aside from the sports programs (and there are many), there are also boating trips, educational hikes and classes for things like canoeing, fishing, cooking and archery.

    On Jan. 7, Lake Rim Park is offering Stars and Constellations— a class on just that — the beauty and mysteries of the nighttime winter sky.

    It’s the perfect opportunity for star gazers of all stripes and colors from novices to hobbyists to professionals to come out and view the night sky, explore its wonders and learn about constellations and other celestial objects and the folklore behind them.

    Mike Morales is a park ranger at Lake Rim and helps out with this class on a regular basis. He noted that even though it is pretty chilly out there on winter evenings, the experience is absolutely worth braving the winter weather.

    “We do these classes mainly in the winter because that is when the sky is clearer,” said Morales. “So even though it01-05-11-stars-and-constellations.gif is really cold, this is the best season of the year to do astronomy. There is not as much pollution and ozone and smog clouding up your view either.”

    While attendees are invited to bring their own telescopes and binoculars, quite often members of the Fayetteville Astronomy Club come out and bring their high powered telescopes, and are kind enough to share their view (and equipment) for the benefi t of the group.

    “The astronomers have telescopes that you can punch in the coordinates and it will show you what you are looking for,” said Morales.

    And what exactly will they be looking for?

    “The constellations shift throughout the year,” Morales explained. “This time of year Orion, the Hunter, is pretty prominent. You can still see the Big Dipper, too. Of course, you can see the Little Dipper all year round, that is the constellation with the North Star in it. We’ve got Cassiopeia the Queen in the sky this time of year, too.”

    If the conditions are right, plan to see more than just the constellations. Morales said that other space entities are often visible as well, things like nebula, the Andromeda and the Milky Way as well as other galaxies.

    In the past they’ve seen not just Saturn, but the rings of Saturn, Jupiter, as well as three of its four big moons and the bands of Jupiter, too.

    Between the park ranger on duty that night and the local astronomy club, no one is left out in the cold, trying to fi gure what they are seeing or where to point their telescope to fi nd the secrets hidden in the night sky.

    “This class is just to get people interested in astronomy and get them looking up and maybe to teach them the basic stars and planets that you can see,” said Morales. “It isn’t just for astronomy buffs — although it is really nice to have the astronomy club out here because they have the technical know how to use their telescopes can show beginners who bring their own equipment how to properly use it, and they are always very nice and give people an opportunity to see things that they might not get to see otherwise. We also have some basic telescopes that we set up and let people use as well.”

    The class is free and runs from 6-8 p.m. Reservations are required and can be made by calling the park at 424-6134. It is an outside event so remember to bundle up.

    Photo: The winter sky offers a variety of constellations. Check out the Stars and Constellations class at Lake Rim Park.

  • 01-26-11-dr.-hancock-with-king-and-cheerleaders.gifDr. Ben Hancock, the new president of Methodist University, took some time recently to talk with Up & Coming Weekly about his new role and his vision for the university.

    UCW: Tell us a little bit about yourself, where are you coming from and why you consider Methodist University a good fit for you?

    Hancock: In terms of my personal background, I consider myself a dedicated husband and father, and I have been blessed with a wonderful family. We are very close and do many things together, even though our children are all adults and live in five different states. We have had some wonderful experiences that make for great stories around the dinner table during our many family gatherings. I am also a first generation college student, so I can identify with students and families who are also entering the higher education community for the first time. Methodist has a great opportunity to deliver on an educational promise to these individuals and help them realize their personal and professional goals. There are several primary reasons for my excitement about joining Methodist University and the Fayetteville community. First and foremost, since my very first visit this past fall, I have been overwhelmed by the people — both on campus and in the community. There is not only a tremendous sense of pride in what has been accomplished and the many assets available, but also a drive to continue to improve and provide the very best education possible to students within a caring environment. Our university theme of “Engage, Enrich and Empower” says it best. Finally, I firmly believe in Methodist’s mission and believe this is an exceptional time in the university’s history to join the community and move Methodist forward. There has been a successful track record in recent years, including a record enrollment this past fall, but everyone believes there is so much more we can do for current and future students to help them shape lives of meaning and purpose.

    UCW: What are your goals for the university?

    Hancock: My short-terms goals are to learn as much about the university and greater Fayetteville community as I can, and the best way to do that is to meet people and engage them in the life of Methodist University. I look forward to visiting with alumni, volunteers and community leaders to secure their input as we plan for the future of the university. We have recently approved a five-year strategic plan, so my other immediate goal will be to make sure that we are on track with reaching the annual targets that were set forth in that plan by the university leadership and approved by the trustees. In the long-term, we need to make sure we are continuing to meet the needs of our current and future students, and that can only be done by looking at additional initiatives in partnership with our on-campus community as well as the external community. “Collaboration, imagination, innovation and operation” will be the four keys to our success in these endeavors.

    UCW: What do you see as your biggest challenges at Methodist?

    Hancock: The greatest opportunity is to do a better job of telling Methodist’s story. We have so many positive things to share about our growth in facilities, programs and enrollment. There is a commitment to excellence at the university that is a part of everything we do, and we have such quality people from the exceptional board of trustees and other volunteer leaders to every faculty and staff member on the campus. All of this sets the stage at Methodist for us to believe enthusiastically that “the best is yet to be.” As we tell the Methodist story and as we develop more partners in the community, we will set a course to enlarge the University’s footprint and imprint. We need to serve a wider geographic area as well as develop innovative programs to meet the needs here in Cumberland County, whether they be first generation students, adult students or members of the military community and their families who would benefit immensely by making Methodist their university home. In terms of impact, we have the nationally recognized programs and faculty to enable these individuals to meet their educational goals and achieve success in employment and graduate and professional school.

    UCW: What do you want Fayetteville to know about you/your plans while you are here?

    Hancock: My plans for Methodist will grow out of a collaborative process with the internal and external community. There has never been a great university without a great community, and I also believe that the greatest communities have exceptional universities. National surveys ranking the “best places to live” consistently place university communities at the top of the list, and this is not by accident. It is based on the collective assets that both parties provide to enhance the quality of life for all members of the community. I also want Fayetteville to know that Methodist extends an invitation to visit our campus. If you have not visited us lately, you are in for a treat. In just the last few years there has been the addition of a new visual arts building, two new buildings for the P.A. program, and a new residence hall along with other improvements. And plans call for a new building for the nursing program and four new residence halls that will open this coming fall. But what you will most notice during your visit is not the facilities, but the warm hospitality each visitor receives. Methodist is a community resource and we will provide many more opportunities for community members to visit the campus and become engaged in the life of the University.

  • 13 LIVE CONCERT 1aThe Fayetteville Community Concert series put in a tall order for the midwinter 2020 show. The response? A show as big as Texas. Community Concerts brings singing sensation The Texas Tenors to the Crown Theater, Friday, Feb. 14,  at 7:30 p.m.

    The Emmy Award-winning vocalists rose to fame on “America’s Got Talent” in 2009. World renowned, The Texas Tenors are the most successful music group and third highest-selling artist in the history of the TV show. Now the tenor trio of John Hagen, Marcus Collins and JC Fisher are bringing their 10th Anniversary Tour to Fayetteville for a one-night performance.

    Community Concerts attractions director Michael Fleishman is excited to host The Texas Tenors in this 84th show season themed “It’s Showtime.” The Texas Tenors is the third hit attraction in the all-star concert line-up, coming after Chicago and Mannheim Steamroller’s stellar productions and ushering in The Four Tops and The Temptations combo March 6 and The Oakridge Boys May 21. Adding to the anticipation for The Texas Tenor performance is the concert date, a day as synonymous with love as the tenor voice is with romance.

    “This is the perfect Valentine’s Day show. Skip the restaurant lines and do this instead. From Bruno Mars, the Righteous Brothers and John Denver to country music and Broadway hits, The Texas Tenors are a nonstop wow,” said Fleishman.

    The versatile vocals of the trio make for a night of exciting entertainment. The 10th Anniversary Tour includes a collection of music from the past decade, including selections from the 2019 album “A Collection of Broadway & American Classics,” which debuted at #1 on the Billboard Classical Charts. The hit parade pinnacle is a second for the band, as their 2017 studio album “Rise” met the same acclaim. The Texas Tenors look forward to sharing their songs with Fayetteville fans.

    “We are excited about our upcoming Valentine’s Day concert at the Crown,” said Tenor Marcus Collins. “We’ve put together a special repertoire of some of our favorites but also what we feel are the most romantic love songs ever written. Of course, there will be a mix of our signature patriotic, country and classical songs as well.”

    Over the past decade, the classically trained tenors have performed more than 1,300 concerts around the U.S. and world, including headline shows in Las Vegas, Nevada; Branson, Missouri; China; and a 24-city tour in the United Kingdom. The Texas Tenors perform three different live concerts, “Rise: Live on Tour,” “Let Freedom Sing” and holiday favorite “Deep in the Heart of Christmas.” The 2019-20 10th Anniversary Tour celebrates the group’s success with hits fan love and brand-new music.

    With four studio albums, four DVD releases, two Public Broadcasting Service specials and multiple singles to date, their music appeals to all ages and blends many music genres, so much that they were named Billboard’s Magazine’s 2017 #10 Classical Crossover Artist in the World. The Texas Tenor music has roots in country, classical, opera and Broadway show tunes, and meets success in all venues from performing arts centers and casinos to symphony halls and outdoor festivals. The group even performs on cruise vacations, with private performances for members of their official and ever-growing fan club.

    In addition to collaborations with some of the more prestigious symphonies in the world, including the Houston Symphony, Pittsburg Symphony and The City of Prague Orchestra, the group has performed at the White House National Tree Lighting, Medal of Honor ceremonies, charity events, NBA games and the Professional Bull Riding World Finals in Las Vegas. Of special distinction is the fact that The Texas Tenors are among the top 50 artists from the AGT series invited to compete on the show’s NBC prime-time championship spin-off, “America’s Got Talent: The Champions” and the only U.S. vocal group invited to participate.

    Beyond music, Hagen, Collins and Fisher are also published authors. Winner of the 2015 Gelett Burgess Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature, “Ruckus on the Ranch” is the inaugural picture book from The Texas Tenors, a western-themed read about playful ranch critters. A six-song CD of accompanying music for “Ruckus on the Ranch” accompanies the book. The Texas Tenor’s second and newest book, “Moon’s on Fire,” is soon to be released and is a sequel to “Ruckus.” It also comes with a CD and features “The Cowboy Lullaby” for the youngest fans.

    The men that make up The Texas Tenors are as varied as the music they sing. John Hagen, referred to simply as “The Tenor,” has an extensive classical background, while Marcus Collins, “The Contemporary Tenor,” has a past that includes TV and film work. JC Fisher, aka “The Romantic Tenor,” is the group’s founder who grew up singing in church. Collectively, their influences include artists from the modern, classical, spiritual and operatic traditions.

    A member of The Texas Tenor fan club, Francene Taylor lives in Havelock, North Carolina, but plans to travel to Fayetteville for the Feb. 14 special. She has seen the group over 70 times and in states ranging from North Carolina and New Jersey to Missouri and Arizona, including two cruise concerts. For her, and other devoted fan club members, traveling to see their favorite band is not a problem.

    “Wherever they go,” said Taylor, “people just gravitate to them. I know we do.”

    Hooked on The Texas Tenors since the first AGT broadcast, Taylor described their personalities, not only musicality, as “magnetic.”

    “Each of the Tenors brings something special to the trio, and each has unique character. But when they combine, watch out! They are also very audience-oriented; the guys draw the crowd into every performance. Even though I have seen them many times, each performance is unique, and they never do exactly the same show twice.”

    To buy single-show tickets to The Texas Tenor performance, visit the Crown box office in person, the Cape Fear Tix website online or call 1-888-267-6208. For season memberships, see http://www.community-concerts.com/tickets/.

  • 12 nikolas noonan fQM8cbGY6iQ unsplashIf you want to see a play that tells a story that is both entertaining and relatable then “Ruins” is a must-see. This play is both humorous and in touch with what it feels like to experience a natural disaster. Written and directed by Montgomery Sutton, “Ruins” will be performed at the Gilbert Theater Jan. 24-Feb. 9.

    What starts as a simple story of a man who visits his former friend and lover, who has been affected by a horrific natural disaster, evolves into a reflection on their relationship, their memories and what led to their eventual breakup. This is production is an in-depth examination of what we feel like as people in romantic relationships and how these relationships affect our everyday lives.

    Unlike other plays performed in the Gilbert Theater, the set for “Ruins” has a look to it that is far from the glitz and glam of many typical sets. The set is so unique and life-like, it looks like a tornado blew through the theater, decimating the stage. Broken furniture is scattered everywhere. Remnants of a house have been spread all around the stage and the cast even describes where each room of the house formerly was throughout the course of the play.

    The performance starts off with a scene where we meet the two main characters, Grace Garson and Adam Smith. Grace is played by Megan L. Martinez, and the character that is Adam is played by Justin Matthew Toyer.

    During the opening scene, Garson and Smith meet for the first time in over a decade. They are in the literal ruins of Garson’s childhood home, reminiscing about all the memories they made in the home. Garson was not expecting to see Smith, and Smith is very nervous to see Garson after all of these years.

    The tension between these two could have been felt from miles away. Martinez and Toyer do an incredible job displaying the complexity of the many feelings their characters are feeling at that moment.

    The talent of Martinez and Toyer shines throughout the course of the play. Regardless of what emotion they are supposed to evoke, they show it with care and with intense passion. There was intense passion the audience could feel from the actors. It was almost as if the lines between actor and character were blurred.

    As the show goes on audience learns more and more about their relationship. The two started out as high school sweethearts. They were crazy about each other. They were so crazy about each other that in college they even contemplated the idea of going to New York City together.

    Later down the road, their relationship faced much adversity. They wanted different things from life, which led them down two separate paths. The actors portray their story through reflections told by the characters and flashback scenes.
    The symbolism in the story was touching as well. One thing that really broke my heart  was the tree coming down. This tree was Grace and Adam’s favorite tree when they were teenagers. The tree coming down essentially symbolized the end of that time that they had together.

    To experience the artistic creation that is “Ruins,” visit www.gilberttheater.com for tickets and information.

  • 11 fbphotoPiedmont Natural Gas, Fayetteville State University and The Fayetteville/Cumberland County Arts Council present “True to Yourself 2020: A Black History Month Talk Series” Saturday, Feb. 1 at J. W. Seabrook Auditorium on the campus of Fayetteville State University from 7-9 p.m.

     “We are in the third year of our ‘True to Yourself’ Black History Month Talk Series that celebrates and highlights Hollywood movie stars who have been true to themselves and the things they have believed in throughout their lives. That is part of what makes them successful,” said Greg Weber, president and CEO of the Arts Council. “That particular event focuses on successful Hollywood black artists. They come in and share their story and do a question and answer session. … We hope it inspires people.”

     Weber added that no matter what challenges one may have or what’s around you, as long as you stick to the things you believe in that make you who you are, you are going to be a success.

     The event features actress Meagan Good and her producer husband DeVon Franklin. “We chose these two individuals because we have not done a husband and wife team and Meagan has been so successful as an actress,” said Weber. “DeVon brings to the table the producing side, and he was voted one of the top 100 most influential black people in Hollywood. … We thought that would be a nice combination.

     “How do these two people that are in high profile positions and on this ‘A’ league level still make certain they are not just true to themselves as individuals but true to themselves as a couple?” asked Weber. “Hopefully it will inspire married guys like me that we can really still be supportive of everything our wife is doing.”

     Meagan Good is an actress who has appeared in numerous television shows, films and music videos. Some of her movies and TV shows include “The Intruder,” “Think Like A Man,” “Stomp the Yard,” “Waist Deep,” “My Wife and Kids” and more. DeVon Franklin is an award-winning Hollywood TV and film producer, New York Times best-selling author, preacher and international motivational speaker.

     “The Arts Council is an organization that supports every single artist and every single cultural arts organization in town,” said Weber. “We actually have a very broad footprint here in the city for what we do, which is support anything that has to do with lifelong learning through the arts, economic development, cultural preservation and individual artists.

     “We would like to thank our sponsors, Piedmont Natural Gas and Fayetteville State University because we would not be able to do this event without their support,” said Weber.

     Tickets cost $20, student cost is $10 and VIP Meet and Greet is $100.

    For more information, contact UniQue Webster at 910-323-1776 or uniquew@theartscouncil.com.

  • 10 dayne topkin cB10K2ugb 4 unsplashWomen have made many contributions to western music. The Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra is taking the initiative to recognize and celebrate women composers in its production of “Music She Wrote” Saturday, Feb. 8. This concert, held in the Seabrook Auditorium at Fayetteville State University, will feature pieces exclusively written by women.

    One of the women featured in this concert is Florence Price. Born in the late 1880s in Little Rock, Arkansas, Price is credited for being the first African-American woman composer. Her musical endeavors began at an early age under the guidance of her mother, who was a music teacher. At the age of 11, Price had her first composition published. She also had success in her academics and graduated at 14 with the title of valedictorian and later studied at the New England Conservatory of Music. During her lifetime, she worked as a music educator, organist and composer. Her Symphony No.1 in E minor can be heard at the FSO concert. The composition won first prize in the Rodman Wanamaker Competition in 1932.

    Another woman featured in the“Music She Wrote” program is Amy Beach. An American composer, Beach is considered to be the first American female composer of large scale art music. Also known as serious music, art music refers to any music derived from Western classical music. The FSO will honor her by performing her “Gaelic” symphony. The symphony premiered in 1896, performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Beah was also a successful pianist who performed her works in the United States and Germany.

    The FSO also offers a unique opportunity to experience the music of a living composer. Anna Clyne currently resides in the United States. She is a Grammy-nominated contemporary English composer. Her compositions are known for their acoustic and electro-acoustic elements. She has had many accomplishments and has had pieces premiere at various music festivals, such as the 2019 Carrillo Festival of Contemporary Music. She has also served as an in-residence composer for various symphony orchestras, including the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Berkeley Symphony, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the L’ Orchestre national d’île-de-France. Her works “Masquerade” and “Seascape,” which is the second movement from her orchestral suite titled, “Abstractions,” are to be performed for this concert.

    Other women composers that will be featured in the concert are Ellen Taafe Zwillich, Joan Tower and Cecile Chaminade. The Fayetteville symphony promises an evening of empowerment, and listeners will be exposed to music created by intelligent and groundbreaking women.

    Visit http://www.fayettevillesymphony.org/ or call 910-433-4690 for tickets and information.
  • 09 Picture1Once upon a time, not so far, far away, in the Land of Cape Fear Regional Theatre, fairytale creatures wove a mesmerizing story with song, dance, comedy, love, self-acceptance and, of course, a princess, a hero and a villain. In this magical place, also known as CFRT, the townspeople watched ever so closely as the landscape magically transformed from a kingdom into an ogre’s swampy home and then to an open field, a dragon’s keep with a tall-tower and so much more — right before their very eyes. In fact, the enchanted land was innovative and brilliant as  “Shrek: The Musical” unfolded upon the stage. There is still time to see it —  the play runs through Feb. 16 at CFRT.

    The characters within the performance have stupendous vocals — whether speaking, shouting at each other (did I mention the ogres or the dragon yet?) or singing. The show is choreographed by Sebastiani Romagnolo and music is directed by David Maglione. From their storybook homeland, to the spellbinding music, it’s clear the performers are engrossed in the story, and it reflects in the the performance.

    The audience travels along on a  journey with Shrek, played by Nicholas J. Pearson , Donkey, played by Marc De La Concha, Princess Fiona, played by Becca Vourvoulas and Lord Farquaad, played by Gabe Belyeu. The youth ensemble includes Zoi Pegues as Teen Fiona. Both Vourvoulas and Pegues appeared in CFRT’s production of “Annie” last season. It truly is an adventure for all involved. The townspeople’s involvement is not only welcomed, but expected.

    CFRT does not hold back when it comes to imaginary depiction of detailed characterizations for each and every part of their productions — especially with this particular story — “Shrek: The Musical.” The talented team members at CFRT are inventive visionaries.

    The first moment  audience members are received into the spellbinding world of Shrek and the others, they are whisked away on an eye-catching journey.

    The costuming was impressive. Each fairytale character or person had the accurate whimsical attire to perform their representation of their character and  bring this magical production to life.

    The harmonious movement in the choreography and dazzling execution of lighting and sound made an already incredible show that much more entertaining and engaging.

    In a nutshell, everything about this show is amazing. The outstanding vocals of the performers, the interaction with the audience and the characters, the moments when you will literally laugh out loud, the dynamic costumes, the dancing and movement on stage during the scenes, the props and music, all of it will not only grab your attention, but hold it throughout the show.

    Don’t miss this opportunity to take a trip to CFRT for this theatrical performance of “Shrek: The Musical.”

    There is still time to purchase tickets to see how the story plays out on stage. Visit www.cfrt.org for your entrance into a fairytale like no other!

  • 12 web1 5Our community offers a unique structure of residents and it’s fair to say that many know firsthand the struggles of war. It is because of this very reason that Givens Performing Arts Center at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke chose the play “Bandstand” as one of its performances for this year. It’s a one-night-only performance Wednesday, Jan. 29.

    Directed by three-time Tony winner and “Hamilton” choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, the musical “Bandstand” is a top notch-production with upbeat music. It’s a compelling story that portrays the undeniable impact of war and the lifelong consequences on those who serve. The play takes place in 1945. There’s a homecoming and a joyous celebration of such. “Bandstand” will have you tapping your feet and snapping your fingers to the lively music of jazz and swing. But it’s not just about the celebrations of those who have returned. It also how addresses the tough question of to deal with getting back to so-called “normal” life once one has been to war.

    “Bandstand” is a play that will captivate your emotions by weaving the struggle of war with the main character Pfc. Donny Noviski, who is thrilled to be home but also laboring to find his way to fulfill his lifelong dream of being a singer and songwriter.

    “This story is one that moves the heart and honors our women and men who serve our country,” Givens Performing Arts Center Marketing Director Chat Locklear said. “And although the music is inspired by the 1940s, it is all brand-new.”
    If you want to feel nostalgic, you like swing and jazz music, you want to honor our military or you just want to understand what service members and their families go through, this play is something to put on your calendar. There will be only one performance of Bandstand and it is Wednesday, Jan. 29, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $21 - $46. The show is recommended for those 13 and older because of some adult language and some subject matter that may not be understood by younger children. Audiences can expect the show to last two hours and to include an intermission.

    Call 910-521-6361 or visit https://www.uncp.edu/resources/givens-performing-arts-center for tickets and information.

  • 11 RuinsWhen natural disasters strike Fayetteville, our community often becomes poignant, reflecting on prior disasters and our relationships with each other.  Montgomery Sutton’s “Ruins,” opening on Jan. 24 at Gilbert Theater, asks the questions, What is the past? And when we look on the past, what are we really looking back on?

    The production is a romantic tragic comedy set in the wake of a horrific natural disaster in Tornado Alley, where two lovers who haven’t seen each other in a decade are reunited in the wake of that tragedy. “Over the course of 90 minutes, they relive moments from their pasts that shed light on the past 10 years. Each of them realizes that actions and events from the past they remember may not exist in the same way they think for the other person,” Sutton explained.

    A short play was the origin of the production almost a decade ago. For Sutton, the play was inspired by personal events in his life, which spurred the evolution of the work.  He is oiginally from Dallas, Texas, and since he began the writing of the play, there have been two major natural disasters in the area — tornadoes. “And then of course, in my personal life, there have been all kinds of personal and romantic relationships that have come and gone that have elevated me and also erupted and dissolved. The play has very much become an exploration of what heightened moments of tragedy in life can inspire in our own personal spheres,” he said.

    He wanted to explore the nostalgia of events that we recall and question whether or not the memories we are recalling might, in fact, be fiction.

    Larry Carlisle III, the artistic director at Gilbert Theater is excited to see the show on stage. “This is the first time that it’s been produced anywhere, so no one has ever seen it on a stage before. We, at the Gilbert — that’s kind of part of our mission to present lesser-known and sometimes previously unpublished or unproduced works.”

    Since the show takes place in the wake of a tornado, the set reflects that. “The technical director and main builder of the set really outdid herself on this one,” Carlisle said.

    The cast is small, featuring new and familiar faces. Adam Smith is played by Justin Toyer. Grace Carson is played by Megan Martinez. The last character is a tree removal expert named Mr. Green, played by Michael Carney. Carney and Toyer are Gilbert veterans, but the show will be Martinez’s first time performing on the Gilbert stage.

    Sutton was an actor in Cape Fear Regional Theater’s “Henry V” in 2016. At Gilbert Theater, he wrote a new adaptation and directed “Antigone” two years ago.

    Sutton’s favorite part of the production is the inventive way that the cast performs the transitions in time throughout the production. Being in one space and with one audience, the production “changes the trope of this flashback into something that is very unique … and creates an experience that becomes slightly experimental in the way it looks at how our memories affect our actions in the present,” said Sutton.

    “Ruins” opens on Jan. 24 and runs through Feb. 9. Tickets can be purchased online at https://www.gilberttheater.com/ or by calling 910-678-7186. Tickets are $16 and specially priced tickets for seniors 55 and up, military, students and first responders are available for $14.

  • 10 sled graEditor's note:  Due to inclement weather, Sled-gra has been moved to Saturday, Jan. 25 from 3-9 p.m. The Arts Council exhibit will be opening tonight. 

    If you are looking for something fun to do on a Friday night at the end of the month, look no further than the Fourth Friday celebration that takes place right here in Fayetteville.

    Every fourth Friday of the month, downtown Fayetteville puts on a variety of events and forms of entertainment available to everyone. And it’s free to attend. Many of these events are sponsored by the Cool Spring Downtown District. The Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County and local businesses and galleries participate go all-out for Fourth Friday festivities as well.

    This event is filled with music, the arts and so much more. It is essentially a celebration of downtown Fayetteville and the arts. People of all ages and all walks of life are able to enjoy the local talents of Fayetteville through the display of their exhibits and often performances throughout the downtown area. Small businesses are spread all throughout the four-and-a-half-block radius of downtown Fayetteville.

    Bianca Shoneman is the president of the Cool Spring Downtown District. Since its inception, the Cool Spring Downtown District participated in Fourth Friday.

    When asked about what goes into the behind the scenes of the events, Shoneman said, “It depends month to month on what the activity level is. Each month is unique and varies. Sometimes it involves street programming like bussers and vendors and artist performance, and other times it requires more of a large-scale event. It takes months of planning and collaboration in communication across various channels, including the media, the arts community, municipal services, et cetera.”

    The Cool Spring Downtown District is always looking for ways to improve upon participance in Fourth Friday. Shoneman said, “We are looking to do some larger events in Fourth Friday in the coming year. In February, we have something really special to celebrate black history month.”

    Metoya Scott is the public relations manager for the Arts Council of Fayetteville. Regarding the Arts Council’s role in Fourth Friday, Scott said, “Recently we have been doing a parking lot party. We are not doing it outside because of the weather, but we have exhibits that open on Fourth Friday. So, it just kind of varies.”

    Scott added that she hopes to engage even more people than the Arts Council already reaches with its many programs and educational initiatives. “Letting people know that we are open to new people moving here that we are an open gallery that is open seven days a week (is important),” said Scott. “(As is) increasing the amount of people who know what the Arts Council is, and of course, the amount of people attending our events.”

    This Fourth Friday, don’t miss sledding at Segra Stadium, complete with four snow hills. Search Sled-Gra on Eventbrite for tickets and information.

    To learn more about Fourth Friday, visit theartscouncil.com or visitdowntownfayettevile.com.

  • uac010913001.gif Now in it’s 10th year, the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Raleigh’s Chocolate Affairis truly an affair to remember. A buffet of decadent deliciousness, the event is scheduled for Jan. 26 in the Expo Room at the Holiday Inn Bordeaux.

    “This event has come a long way,” said Lisa Perkins, regional director of Catholic Charities. “For years this event was held in different social halls in local churches. It has grown both in size and participation.”

    The event includes both live and silent auctions as well as entertainment and, of course, scrumptious food and beverages. Wendy Riddle returns as the emcee and Ben Ammons is the auctioneer.

    While there is still time to donate to the auctions and to sponsor the event, there are already some fun items lined up.

    “For the silent-auction products we try to feature local businesses. There could be anything from art to pottery to a spa package,” said Perkins. “The silent auction usually has more things like a weekend at a beach condo. We always try to do some kind of a thrill package, too, — like a zip-line excursion or something of that nature. We also have locally made furniture this year.”

    The luscious desserts are provided by long-time favorites B&B Catering and The Chocolate Lady. New Deli is joining the cause as well this year. Not only will there be a buffet of chocolate goodness, there will also be feature tables where businesses can set up and showcase their best desserts.

    Adding ambience to the evening is local musician Reggie Codrington. Codrington has a long history in Fayetteville and has played at high-end venues including The Hilltop House and Highland Country Club. With several CDs on the market and a history of entertaining locals, Codrington’s smooth jazz will add just the right touch of sophistication to the event, according to Perkins.

    Perkins has been attending the Chocolate Affair for several years and looks forward to indulging, if only a little.

    “I love the chocolate. I have learned to pace myself over the years,” she said. “A great way to enjoy this event is to go out with friends or a significant other and have dinner and then come to us for01-09-13-chocolate.gif dessert and a good time,” she said. “With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, it is a great opportunity to fi nd that special gift for your sweetheart. We auction off things like bouquets of roses that make great Valentine’s Day gifts. It’s an opportunity to get out and have a good evening with people you care about.

    ”While the evening is definitely intended to be fun, Perkins noted that it is a party with a purpose. All proceeds benefit the Catholic Charities. Specifically, the funds earned will support the local family-support program. This is a goal-oriented, case-management program that helps families to become self-suffi cient.

    The program offers assistance by:

    • Listening to families

    • Providing information and referrals for a variety of needs

    • Giving family assessments, with awareness of:

        o Family safety and health, including access to healthcare

        o Risks of family/domestic violence

    • Providing family casework/case management

    • Programs focused on enhancing economic stability:

        o Employment assistance o Budget counseling

        o Financial literacy• Educational programming

    • Pregnancy Services

    “We do anything from helping families and children cope with bullying to domestic violence. Our programs are offered bilingually, too,” said Perkins. “We do a lot of things like helping families who wouldn’t be served at other places. We have a tax program where volunteers are trained to do taxes and we do them for free in our community. We also have a food pantry and a clothing closet as well as counseling services.”

    The best part is that all the money stays in the local community. “All proceeds stay with the Fayetteville Catholic Charities,” said Perkins. “This is our only fundraiser, which makes it very important to us.”

    Last year the event raised more than $20,000. Perkins hopes this year’s event will meet that number.

    “We are a charity like any other. We do a lot to support ourselves,” said Perkins. “It is for a good cause and the money really does go right back into the community to help the poor and working poor among us. At the end of the day it is what is needed to have these services available. We never want to be in a position where we have to tell people no.”

    Tickets are on sale for $35 in advance and $40 at the door. They can be purchased through the Catholic Charities office, at and at the Poet Selection in Westwood Shopping Center and at the Chocolate Lady in downtown Fayetteville. The event runs from 7-10 p.m. For more information or to sponsor the event or make a donation, call (910) 424-2020 x 22.

    Photo: Chocolate Affair... to Remember is a fun way to raise funds to help local families in need.

  • 09 Shrek picJanuary in Fayetteville can be a fun and busy time with community activities. This week locals can play in the snow at Segra Stadium, catch a Marksmen game at the Crown, or watch Oscar contenders at the Cameo. For adventure seekers who want to step into a fairy tale and tag along with a hero and his trusty steed to rescue a princess, well, the Cape Fear Regional Theatre has just the thing. “Shrek: The Musical” opens at CFRT Jan. 23 and brings with it lavish set pieces and costumes, local and national talent and enough song and dance to make the Times Square New Year’s Eve Party look weak.

    Based on the Oscar-winning animated film, the musical is a Tony Award winning feat of its own. Creating fairy tale misfits and fire-breathing dragons in animation is fun to watch, but CFRT is presenting them right on stage in the ‘Ville. The technical team has been working behind the scenes to make sure local audiences are thrilled with the results, said CFRT Artistic Director Mary Kate Burke.

    Truckloads of set pieces and costumes were rented and brought in for the show, Burke said, but CFRT technical crew regulars finished up set and costume work to make “Shrek” a “visual feast” for local audiences.

    With the truckloads brought in behind the scenes, 19 songs, 31 cast members and one flying dragon, “It’s an ogre-size show in every sense of the word,” Director Tiffany Green said.

    The characters you love (or don’t) from the movie will be onstage: Shrek, Donkey, Princess Fiona and Lord Farquaad. Not to worry if you haven’t seen (or don’t remember) details from the movie. Burke said audiences will have no trouble following the story.

    Ogre Shrek and his sidekick, Donkey set off on a quest to rescue the beautiful Princess Fiona, who is guarded by a love-sick dragon. The vertically challenged Lord Farquaad wants to marry Fiona and become king. There will be some trouble, some romance, a secret revealed, big laughs and a lot of singing and dancing.

    The show is appropriate for all ages and presents themes that resonate with humans and fairy tale creatures alike, Green said.

    “It is about love, acceptance, tolerance and joy,” Green said. “It is about putting light out into the world. It’s really a show for everyone.”

    The large cast includes Nicholas J. Pearson as Shrek, Marc De La Concha as Donkey, Becca Vourvoulas as Princess Fiona, and Gabe Belyeu as Lord Farquaad. The youth ensemble includes Zoi Pegues as Teen Fiona. Both Vourvoulas and Pegues appeared in CFRT’s production of “Annie” last season.

    “Shrek: The Musical” has music by Jeanine Tesori. The book and lyrics are by David Lindsay-Abaire. The show is choreographed by Sebastiani Romagnolo and music is directed by David Maglione.

    “Shrek: The Musica”l runs Jan. 23 until Feb.16. CFRT has scheduled several special events during the show’s run. You can also treat your little ogre to a VIP Experience after matinee showings in February. For more information on special events or to purchase tickets, visit cfrt.org or call 910-323-4233.

    Special Events

    PJ Party, Jan. 23 and Feb.7 The perfect excuse to wear your pajamas in public and enjoy a pre-show popcorn bar and friendship bracelet making.
    Opening Night Dance Party, Jan. 25 following the performance. Join the cast, creative team and CFRT staff for an opening night dance party and reception.
    Military Appreciation Night Jan. 29 All military personnel receive a 25% discount on tickets with valid ID.
    Swamp Soiree, Jan. 30 Preshow games and activities that are perfect for all the fairy tale creatures in the audience.
    Teacher Appreciation Night, Jan. 31 All educators receive a 25% discount on tickets with valid ID.
    Ogre and Princess Party, Feb. 1 Dress as your favorite ogre, princess or fairytale creature. Decorate your own crown and color pictures before the show.
    Sensory Friendly Performance, Feb. 2 Lighting and sound effects are decreased and there is a “safe zone” with sensory experiences and tactile objects for anyone to use.
    Galentines’s Day, Feb. 13 Enjoy a mimosa bar with your best girlfriends.
  • A big event makes its return to the Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville on, Thursday, Feb. 7. For those who01-23-13winter-jam.gifdon’t know or haven’t been to one, this year’s Winter Jam is not one to miss.

    According to Turning Point Newstoday, this is regarded as the top contemporary Christian tour and visits 44 cities along the way. There are a number of well-known bands on this bill. Nick Hall is the inspirational speaker for this major show.

    According to Marshall Perry, director of marketing and sales at the Crown, even though the show begins at 7 p.m., the pre-Jam party begins at 6 p.m. and that is also when the doors open. Expect to see Jason Castro, OBB and Capital Kings as part of the preshow. Marshall recommended “… you get in line early, because there is going to be a packed house. Also, there will be music playing from the start.”

    Audiences can look forward to amazing performances by Royal Tailor, Sidewalk Prophets, Newsong, Jamie Grace, Matthew West, Red and this year’s headliner Toby Mac. Mac is a Grammy winning multi-platinum recording artist who includes well-known hits as part of his set. A popular Christian music performer, Mac was part of DC Talk, which performed as a three-man group in the 1980s and 1990s. Newsong is the host & anchor band, which means they “welcome the groups,” according to Perry.

    Newsong is a founding member of the Winter Jam concerts. In fact, the group premiered the first Winter Jam Tour Spectacular in 1995. Last year, the concert tour “outpaced attendance for all other tours in the first quarter, including Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson: The Immortal, Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, The Black Keys, Jason Aldean and Brad Paisley, according to Pollstar’s 2012 Worldwide First Quarter Ticket Sales “Top 100 Tours” chart,” claims the event website.

    If you want to get a sneak peak of the show, and get a taste of what the performance will be like, Perry explained that additional background information is provided on the official YouTube channel of Winter Jam. Fans can also visit JamTour.com as well, for more information about this event.

    Although it costs $10 to attend, special privileges are given to people who become a member of Jam Nation. There are three different levels of Jam Nation membership: Individual Platinum, Group Premium and Group Basic. These group packages are available to groups of 10 or more people. Benefits of these VIP passes/platinum editions include early entry into the venue with an access pass and lanyard, select seating, early-bird onsite merchandise shopping, an official limited edition t-shirt from this event and an exclusive question and answer session with an artist. Jam Nation door time is 4:30 p.m.

    Visit www.jamtour.com or www.atthecrown.com for more information.

    Photo: Toby Mac headlines this year’s Winter Jam.

  •   13 512px USMC 09611The Fayetteville Cumberland County Ministerial Council presents the 27th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast Monday, Jan. 20, from 8-10 a.m., at the Crown Exposition Center. The theme this year is “Seize the Moment: A New Season.”

     “This is the 27th year of the Ministerial Council sponsoring this event, and it has become somewhat iconic in the city,” said Dr. Maxie Dobson, president of the Fayetteville Cumberland County Ministerial Council. “We have the level of sustained support community-wise that we do, and I think that speaks to our community, (which) appreciates the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King and what he stood for, which are the principles we espouse.”

     Dobson added that’s why the celebration is so well supported and probably one of the most popular events in terms of attendance in our city on an annual basis, and the event organizers are grateful for the support.

     “We will have a great speaker, Bishop Kenneth Monroe … of Eastern North Carolina District A. M. E. Zion Church body, for the event this year. … And we are looking forward to him speaking under the theme, as there is a lot of excitement of him being a part of the program,” said Dobson.

    “It is a time to not only celebrate but to reflect as we look at the theme that the organization has selected. … It somewhat speaks to if, in past times, opportunities have not been given attention, what you would have liked to (do).

     “We can look at where we are now and examine ourselves and ask, ‘what is it can I do to contribute to my community?’ So, it’s in that context that we chose the specific theme for the 2020 breakfast.”

    One of the things that is being done this year that is different is the expansion on the theme and engagement of the community beyond the holiday.

     Dobson added that in the council’s communication to its sponsors for the 2020 breakfast included a form that would allow the sponsors to select a project that can be engaged year-round and not make the day of service effort just on the MLK holiday.

     “Some organizations do different things on that day as a show of community support,” said Dobson. “We want to provoke expanding that to select something that can be done beyond that day and not necessarily every week, but something that can encompass the entire year.

     “We are anticipating how that will be received by the community, and we have a board meeting to see what kinds of submissions that we have had so far,” said Dobson.

    He continued, “That is an expansion of an element — engaging the community in service throughout the year to be a help and (supporting) what the organizations and individuals choose to do. We are looking forward to seeing how that evolves.”

     The event will feature breakfast, entertainment, a speaker and an 8-year-old youngster who will recite speeches by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “There’s a young man who comes well recommended, and he will recite different speeches by Dr. King,” said Dobson. “This will be a way of allowing the youth to be represented in the program, and we look forward to this highlight.

     “We will have singers, but one of the things we want to do is expedite things so that we can be completed by 10 a.m.,” said Dobson. “We are very committed about doing that, so we may not have as much entertainment as we have had in some of the previous years.”

     Dobson added that, like previous years, there will be music playing while individuals are eating breakfast.

     The Fayetteville Cumberland County Ministerial Council began in 1957, and the organization is in its 62nd year. “It was birthed during the civil rights era, and it was to give attention to … (the fact) that we had to be a better community,” said Dobson. “They were faced with things like education, housing and the typical things that many communities were challenged with during the 50s and 60s.”

     One of the primary things the Council  highlights is the hard-earned right to vote and to encourage the community and the leaders of the faith community to engage their congregation to exercise their right. As a 501c3 organization, the Council is not allowed and does not become an advocate of any particular candidate, but it is an advocate of encouraging everyone who is eligible to vote to go to the polls and vote.

     “One of the other things we do is to highlight opportunities for nonprofits to seek funds to pursue the community endeavors that they have become organized to do, and there is funding from different sources,” said Dobson. “So we have these kinds of discussions at our monthly breakfast meetings, which are the third Saturday of each month — except for the months of January, June and July.”

     One of the primary outcomes of the Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast is to fund 10 scholarships of $1,000 each to high school students who are going to college. “We take great satisfaction in the legacy that we have there and the number of students that we have been able to help over the years,” said Dobson. “I think that’s one component that the community appreciates very much and that they are contributing to that kind of objective and we look forward to doing that again in 2020.”

     The Martin Luther King Jr. Worship Service is Sunday, Jan. 19, at 5 p.m., at Covenant Love Church. The guest speaker is Apostle Anthony Buie, pastor of St. Joseph Miracle Revival Center in Red Springs, North Carolina.
     Ticket cost for breakfast is $20. The day of the event ticket cost will be $25. Sponsorship levels are available for purchase.
     For more information or to purchase tickets, call Pastor Yvonne Hodges at 910-797-5879 or email Beverly Gibson at secretaryfccmcfaync@gmail.com. Visit the website at www.fayettevillemincouncil.org for more details.

  • 12 MarshallLooking for an event to go to that will be both inspiring and motivating? Look no further than the Givens Performing Arts Center, where  Newy Scruggs, a seven-time Emmy winner, sports personality and UNCP alumnus will host Cynthia Marshall on Jan 22.

     The Dallas Mavericks’ CEO is the first African-American CEO in the NBA. She took over the role in February 2018.

    Marshall has been making her mark since day one. She grew up in low-income housing in Richmond, California. She went to college at the University of California, Berkeley, on a full academic scholarship. She also became the university’s first African-American cheerleader.

    Marshall came out of retirement to be the CEO of the Mavericks. Before her retirement, she enjoyed a 36-year career at AT&T. She began her career there after graduating from college with a degree in business administration and human resources management. Throughout the years, she worked her way up, and in 2012, Marshall was promoted to the role of senior vice president of human resources/chief diversity officer for the national office.

    Abdul Ghaffar is the director of campus engagement and leadership at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

    Ghaffar said that the main focus of the event would be, “Mr. Scruggs and Ms. Marshall sharing their many experiences in business and television with the audience.”

    When it came to having Marshall, specifically, at the Givens Performing Arts Center, Ghaffar said, “The host of the event, Newy Scruggs, a UNCP graduate and sports personality in Dallas. He recommended her. Once I began my research, I discovered that she has several North Carolina ties, including living in the state for several years.

    “Our speaker series has a long tradition at UNCP. We have hosted such names as Spike Lee, Maya Angelou, Caitlyn Jenner, Oliver North, James Earl Jones, Henry Winkler, Cornel West, Bill Nye, Olympians Gabby Douglas and Billy Mills and so many more. Many times, we have our speakers visit parts of our community like the Pembroke Boys and Girls Club and the Lumbee Tribe. Most speakers are interviewed on WNCP TV on campus and participate in a reception for the students, faculty, staff and donors.”

    When asked about what he and the rest of the students and staff hope to get of the event, Ghaffar said, “We are co-sponsoring this event with the School of Business. Since Ms. Marshall was an executive at AT&T for many years and is the only female CEO in the NBA, meaning she runs a billion-dollar sports franchise, we are hoping our students gain some knowledge about the business world. Also Mr. Scruggs is a seven-time Emmy Award winner and hosts his own radio show and is a TV sports personality, so we hope our students will be motivated by his success as a UNCP Alumni.”

    Visit uncp.edu/resources/givens-performing-arts-center for more information or to buy tickets to this event.

  • 11 N1111P72003CFor history buffs, avid learners or anyone up for a challenge, the Civil War & Reconstruction Quiz Bowl, which will take place on Jan. 23 at the Headquarters Library, presents an exciting opportunity for informal and friendly competition as well as an opportunity for an intellectual test.

    The quiz bowl was originally part of a larger series of programs called the Arsenal Roundtable. Now, after 19 years, the annual competition still welcomes young and old to enter and test their historical knowledge, with a cap of 15 contestants. “All ages (can compete), which is why we give a prize to the adult and youth winner,” said Leisa Greathouse, the associate curator of education for the Museum of the Cape Fear. The youth category is considered to be 16 and under.

    The winners will receive a $50 gift card to Barnes & Noble.

    Since learning is fun, the categories are, too. “The name of the categories this year are taken from famous and popular movie quotes,” Greathouse said. “The categories are: ‘I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse,’ ‘…life is like a box of chocolates,’ ‘Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer,’ ‘Here’s Johnny,’ ‘You ain’t heard nothing yet,’ ‘Shaken, not stirred,’ ‘Carpe Diem. Seize the day boys,’ ‘I feel the need — the need for speed,’ ‘Houston, we have a problem ’ (and) ‘Bond, James Bond.’”

    Some questions are easy; some questions are hard. They cover a broad range of topics, including people, battles and places, weapons and the military, slavery and freedom. Some questions are about events that took place after the war. In total, 200 questions, including some that are reserved for certain circumstances, will be prepared for the competition.

    With the recent and constant conversations around the pending transition of the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex into The North Carolina Civil War & Reconstruction History Center, one may be tempted to think the quiz bowl is especially relevant right now. However, an understanding of history is always something important for any community.

    “Even though it can be a divisive topic, we view it as an opportunity to bring understanding through education. Year after year, generation after generation, we seek to build a community of critical thinkers and history-minded individuals. Knowing at least a certain amount of history is imperative to understanding our society,” Greathouse pointed out.

    “History and history museums are always relevant, and we would like to see more people spend more time visiting our facility and attending events like this,” she said.

    Participating in the event is a great opportunity learn facts in an interactive way. Greathouse encourages teachers and college faculty to give extra credit to students in attendance.

    The Civil War & Reconstruction Quiz Bowl will take place on  Jan. 23, at 7 p.m., in the Pate Room of the Headquarters Library, located at 300 Maiden Lane. Up to 15 participants can compete and are encouraged to sign up ahead of time by emailing leisa.greathouse@ncdcr.gov or by calling 910-500-4243. If space is available, which has been the case in the past, then registrations will be taken at the door.

  • 14 OrchestraFrom 1600 to 1750, the Baroque period challenged artistic expectations in Europe. Meaning “oddly shaped pearl,” barroco is characterized by contrasting melodies, harmony and multiple instrument sounds. This style didn’t become popular overnight. In fact, critics of the period described Baroque compositions as overly complicated and elaborate. However, fans of Bach, Vivaldi, Purcell and other masterminds of the era would disagree. The Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra will play tribute to these artists with a Baroque performance, Jan. 16, at St. John’s Episcopal Church.

    The concert will provide an educational glimpse into 17th- and 18th-century Europe. In fact, Executive Director Jesse Hughes chose to showcase works from this era “to give the community and audience exposure to famous (composers) of the Baroque period,” particularly Johann Sebastian Bach. “He was like the musical example — the model — the one that’s paid a lot of homage to by the previous composers,” Hughes said about the German composer. “He is looked at as being the forerunner of the Baroque style.”

    Baroque music also offers quite a variety to the listener, Hughes said. Although the Baroque movement took place in Europe, styles varied between countries, particularly France, Germany, England and Italy. Such variety will be represented at FSO’s concert.

    “Expect to be entertained through the musical versatility and flexibility of the musicians,” Hughes said. “For example, Adagio in G Minor for Strings and Organ, where you normally see it on piano, you’ll see on a church organ.”

    Hughes explained that FSO will perform as a chamber orchestra, a more intimate format, since Baroque compositions were traditionally performed this way. “The chamber orchestra can be 50 players or less, and normally instead of having multiple instruments on a part it can be one to two instruments on a part,” said Hughes.

    St. John’s intimate setting combined with the smaller orchestra will allow for more interaction between performers and audience, according to Hughes. Instead of performing onstage, the orchestra will be on ground level; the performers will also enter the same doors that the patrons enter, so the audience will likely be able to meet orchestra members after the concert.

    During the remainder of the season, FSO will perform “Music She Wrote,” a concert that celebrates female composers with works written exclusively by women on Feb. 8. On March 7, FSO will highlight pieces by Brahms, Wagner, Bizet and Berlioz during “In Their Footsteps.” April 4, FSO will perform Bohemian masterpieces, including Dvorak’s Cello Concerto, in “Musical Folktales.” The Music Nerd will appear at 6:45 p.m. before each concert to hold a question and answer session with the audience.

    Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra’s “If It Ain’t Baroque” will take place at 302 Green St., Thursday, Jan. 16, at 7:30 p.m.

    To learn more or to purchase tickets, visit https://squareup.com/store/fayetteville-symphony-orchestra/item/if-it-ain-t-baroque.

  • 01-11-12-king.jpgMartin Luther King Day is more than an opportunity to honor a great man. It is a chance to give back to the community and to build on the aspirations of Dr. King. It’s a chance to consider where the world and community are headed and move to influence the future.

    This year, there are several celebrations around Fayetteville that educate, motivate and celebrate in the name of Martin Luther King Jr.

    On Thursday, Jan. 12, at Bronco Square at Fayetteville State University, the Martin Luther King Jr. March and Vigil begins at 5:30 p.m. The march proceeds to MLK Park where a vigil is scheduled to start at 5:45 p.m.

    Hope Mills Branch Library celebrates with “I Have a Dream: Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” at the Hope Mills Meeting Room at the Hope Mills Branch Library on Friday, Jan. 13. The celebration begins at 10:30 a.m. and includes stories and crafts for children ages 3-5. Groups of 7 or more are encouraged to register by calling 425-8455.

    On Saturday, Jan. 14, head downtown and enjoy the Martin Luther King Jr. Parade. It starts at the courthouse and goes to the train station. While you are downtown, take a few moments to check out the galleries, shops and restaurants. The parade starts at 11:30 a.m.

    The Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast and Day of Service kicks off at 7 a.m. at the Crown Exposition Center. Now in its 19th year, the prayer breakfast welcomes keynote speaker Bobby Henry, Sr., Publisher and CEO of Westside Gazette Newspaper. After the breakfast, participants are invited to A Day of Service. Churches, organizations, agencies and individuals commit to four hours of community service. For more information, contact Bishop Larry O. Wright, FCCMC President at 494-8274. Find out more about the Ministers Council and purchase tickets to the prayer breakfast at http://ministerscouncil.net.

    If breakfast is out of the question, join the Fayetteville Martin Luther King Jr. Challenge Day of Service. Meet at 8:20 a.m. at the Center for Community Justice and Service Learning at 1047 Murchison Rd. and pitch in to make a difference. The event is free. Find out more by calling 672-2460.

    At 7 p.m. at Seabrook Auditorium on the Fayetteville State University Campus, the FSU Concert Choir and community ensembles perform at 7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 16.

    This weekend is the perfect time to refl ect a little and learn a few things about local African American Heritage. The African American Heritage Trail chronicles the history, lives and experiences of African Americans who lived in the region. The Fayetteville CVB website www.visitfayettevillenc.com/culturalheritagetrails offers many several historical trails for visitors who would like to explore a little deeper into Fayetteville’s history.

  • uac020112001.jpgKatie Crenshaw and Aurora Alexander are passionate about ducks, — rubber ducks — not because they are cute and yellow and they bob around so playfully in the water, but because ducks change lives. Crenshaw and Alexander are the organizers of the Fayetteville Duck Derby, an event that sold more than 15,000 ducks and raised more than $120,000 for local nonprofi ts in 2011.

    Last year, the inaugural Duck Derby took the town by storm. Local restaurants created drinks and appetizers for the event and competed for the honor of being the official Duck Derby refreshment. Ducky was spotted at locations around town and pictures poured in showing his adventures. Nonprofi ts teamed up and supported one another in the community fundraiser, and local businesses and sponsors generously offered up some great prizes. The event culminated at Campbellton Landing where thousands of ducks were poured into the Cape Fear River and spectators were treated to a family friendly day of food, fun, music and Fayetteville’s fi st official duck race.

    “This event really brought awareness to a lot of local nonprofits,” said Alexander. “In fact, last year Fayetteville Urban Ministry’s Find-a-Friend program was on the chopping block due to budget cuts.”

    “It was money raised by the Duck Derby that saved the Find-a-Friend program,” added Crenshaw.

    The event was great fun indeed, and full of many high points for the two volunteers, but in the end it was watching nonprofi s get some much-needed exposure and funding that really touched them.

    “There were so many moments during the Duck Derby campaign that just left us in tears,” said Alexander. “The support from the community was amazing. This brought awareness to a lot of local non-profi ts. People didn’t just come to this event, they were excited to be there — and that meant so much.”

    This year looks to be just as exciting, maybe even more so.

    The campaign kicks-off with an invitation only Very-Important-Duck Party. Blue Moon, Chris’s Open Hearth Steak House, Hellas Restaurant & Sports Bar, Hilltop House, Huske Hardware Restaurant & Brewery, IT’Z Entertainment City, Mash House Brewery & Chophouse Restaurant, Pierro’s Italian Bistro and The Wing Company have all stepped up to compete for the honor of creating the offi cial appetizer and the offi cial Duck Derby Drink.

    Their menu items will be revealed at the VID party and then during the months of March and April, the community is invited to visit any one — or every one — of these eateries, try their specially created menu items and cocktails and then go to the Duck Derby website to vote for their favorite. The winner is announced at the event, which is May 5.

    Part of the 31 Day Salute, the Duck Derby is military friendly.

    “We are really happy about the connection we have with the military. They are such a huge part of the community,” said Alexander. “Our first unofficial ducks that floated down the river last year had a military escort. We also observed a moment of silence at the event. This year we are pleased to add another element; a military unit is going to bring a display to the Duck Derby, too.”

    Alexander and Crenshaw are looking to make this event fun, but just like last year, the real goal is to benefi t the community.

    “Learning about the local nonprofi ts and knowing that you are making a difference, is really a big part of this,” said Crenshaw.

    Last year, the two spoke with countless people and met with local captains of industry to get the campaign off the ground.

    “Even if we never raised a dime, everyone that we spoke with about supporting the event sat through our presentation, which talked about the organizations that would benefit from the Duck Derby.”

    Local organizations and businesses stepped up last year and are returning again to take part in the fun and make a difference too.

    “Really the biggest thing people can do now to help, is to go out and adopt a duck. The ducks are available online at the Duck Derbywebsite and can also be purchased at the corporate sponsors listed on the website. Keep an eye out for chances to adopt ducks at community events like 4th Friday and FireAntz games.

    When it comes time to adopt a duck, choose a t02-01-12-duck-derby-car.jpgeam (nonprofit) and they will receive some of theproceeds from this event. If you are feeling noncommittal, adopt a duck without choosing a team and the money will go to support Fayetteville Urban Ministry. There are 15,000 ducks waiting to be adopted, so the competition is stiff, but the prizes are pretty enticing.

    The grand prize, donated by Rick Hendrick Toyota, is a 2012 Toyota Scion TC; second prize is a Las Vegas getaway; third prize is a catered Cape Fear River Cruise; fourth prize is a set of tires from Good Year and fifth prize is a year membership to The Spa Fitness & Wellness Center and Renaissance European Day Spa Gift Certificates.

    Visit www.Fayetttevilleduckderby.com to adopt a duck or to find out more about the fun-filled event.

    Photo: The Duck Derby Committee — Back row:  Katie Glover, Ruthie Dent, Christy Short, Katie Crenshaw Front row:  SarahMarie Daughtry, Jenny Beaver, MaryJane Jones, Mandy McMillan, Aurora Alexander Not photographed:  Leonna Byrd, Melissa Reed, Juelle McDonald, Holly Vollor, April Pridgen. 

  • 03 pexels andrea piacquadio 3768723The reality is that big tech has now jumped right into the arena of the war on censorship. After last week's rally in D.C., Facebook cut user's live feeds. Later, Twitter and Facebook deleted President Trump's account and many others.

    Let's be honest: for years, Google, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook have all been picking and choosing what's seen and not seen on social media platforms. This summer, we watched day and night riots, cities burning, stores looted, police assaulted and thugs were indiscriminately beating the crap out of people. We watched uncensored social media accounts of these coordinated riots and attacks from all across the county.

    I understand that these "big tech" companies have the right to do as they wish. I get it. But, now, it's their way or the highway. In a world of competition, a new company immerged called Parler. If you are not familiar with Parler, it has pitched itself as "Twitter without restrictions." Twitter and Facebook are both free apps, and the president nor anyone else owns them. In exchange for this free service, they use our information and our keystrokes then sell that data to other companies. So last week, the president jumped on Parler. But no-no, without warning, Google pulled Parler from the Google Play Store, and Apple's App Store followed suit. Amazon hosts Parler on their Amazon Web Services and has also threatened to pull Parler. If AWS pulls Parler, they will more than likely be finished. All of this under the pretense that Trump supporters used Parler to call for violence at the Capitol. Really?

    I protest a lot, not in force and not at a demonstration. I quietly resist. I usually protest by not purchasing or using a company's products or services. If you have an Apple phone, Apple requires you to go through their App Store to load apps.

    Google does the same. Amazon owns one of the most extensive web hosting services in the world. When we hear the word cloud, that is part of it. Your information and the company's platforms are stored on their servers.

    Who made these "high-tech" companies responsible for national security? Isn't that law enforcement's job? If there were plots to overthrow the country beforehand, why didn't they report them to the FBI or Homeland Security? When these companies unilaterally or collectively decide to target private citizens, businesses and organizations, that is a conspiracy known as racketeering. Now is the time for Attorney Generals and the FBI to do their jobs and start opening and investigating some cases.

    Why is this happening? Imagine, what if the 78 million people who voted for Donald Trump decided to close their Facebook account and move to Parler? Their revenue would drop, and their stock would nosedive. And, what if 78 million people decided to no longer use Amazon for their shopping and decide to go back to shopping at their local stores?

    Although these actions are not state-run communist propaganda machines, the effects are the same. These high-tech companies are essentially suppressing American's freedom of speech and restricting our First Amendment rights.

    Today, everything revolves around the internet. For years, we were told to stop killing trees, protect the environment and save the planet. This made it easy to move toward the internet and social media. Even if you are frustrated and fed up with all of this, we find ourselves with very few alternatives because we cannot disconnect. Almost everything in our daily lives is connected to the internet. Payroll is electronic with no option to pay in cash. We do taxes via the internet. Our televisions, watches and Amazon Alexas all are collecting data 24/7. Our modern vehicles track every place we go and continually sends out data with no option to turn off the transmitters.

    Can we go back to old school dial-up telephones, manual typewriters and Post Office mail? Can we demand we get paid via a paper check or real cash? How about we quit debating about election fraud and decide to dump electronic voting machines and return to in-person voting on paper ballots. While we are at it, let's get back on the gold standard. Here, in less than 800 words, I laid out how we can fix some issues in America pretty quickly. By the way, does anyone know how to train carrier pigeons?

  • 07 random kindnessIf you're reading this, congratulations – you made it! You're almost a month into a brand new year. A year that came pre-loaded with its challenges and thoughts of what victories lie ahead,and the memories of time gone by. Over the past year many of us celebrated the joy and excitement of new life, some experienced the sadness of loss, and, if we're at all alike, we've done our best to be a friend offering encouragement in the wake of both the best and worst of times.

    If nothing else, 2020 gave me opportunity once again to acknowledge the fact we're all just passing through. We get, we give, we have and we hold, but in the end we arrive at the same humbling conclusion – everything on this earth is temporary. While we build mighty castles to wall us in or monuments to all we consider great, the only true legacy we leave will be found in how we loved. Over time I've learned to loosen my grip on the things I think I control, lest they begin to control me in return. And I am reminded there is a time and season for everything, and a marvelous Creator who steadies and stills us though it all.

    I don't want to beat a depressingly melancholy drum too long, so let's peer down the road from these first days of 2021 with the knowledge we have choices. We can each choose to see a winding road strewn with rocks, slopes, and unknown peril around each bend, or look a little further to the beauty of the horizon, with the realization the road itself is a journey worth taking. Each step brings us closer to something new, and often leads us away from things familiar.

    In either case we take those steps both challenged and comforted by an immensely wise Creator who seems to say, "Be prepared to let go of anything I take from you, but never let go of My hand!"

    You may have entered 2021 without making a resolution or a promise, but there is plenty of positive change you can work on this year. Start by simply being grateful. Take stock in all you've already been given. More than food, a decent car, a home or stuff to fill it, count the blessings of family, friends, and life itself. At WCLN, our daily charge is to bring relationships alive and deliver music filled with the good news that God loves you. The two greatest things we he hope to inspire in you is to love Him back, and love others more than yourself. That's what makes Christian 105.7 different, and it will work for you, too.

    Enjoy your family and friends today. Give extra hugs and words of love just because you can. Make the world a happier place by doing some extra act of kindness. Smile a little bit longer. Most importantly, be grateful for the life you've been given.

  • 03 social meadia screenInauguration Day has come and gone, and democracy has prevailed, though not without national pain. A week after a violent, bloody and deadly insurrection at our United States Capitol, our new President and Vice President were sworn in on the steps of that same sacred building before a sprinkling of spectators in a city on near-total lockdown.

    It is both reassuring and horrifying that at least some on the podium, including President Biden and Vice President Harris and their spouses, were reportedly wearing body armor and other protective clothing.

    This unprecedented American inauguration begs the question, “how on God’s green earth did the people of the United States find ourselves in an uncivil war with each other?”
    Social scientists and historians will debate this long after we are gone, and there are surely many factors. Our immediate past President, an active combatant in the uncivil war certainly stoked its fires by both his policies and incendiary language. He did not, however, invent our differences, many of which go back to the earliest days of our nation. He did make it acceptable to voice opinions not acceptable in the past, and that has shoved many Americans into hard and fast positions we find difficult to change.

    Another, harder to pin down, factor is a gift from expanding technologies, social media. This general category includes Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Tik Tok and others used by millions around the world but which digital immigrants like this writer may not know even exist, much less use. As best I understand the technologies, they are powered by algorithms, which allow social media platforms to tell us what they think we want to hear, based on choices we make online.

    A simple example of this phenomenon is if I search for “blue sweater, size M,” it will not be long before ads for blue sweaters, size M pop up on my computer screen. No harm done, and I just might order one.

    More ominous, though, is information fed to us that a is less fact-based and more opinion-based. "The Social Dilemma," a Netflix documentary, explores how the choices we make online, such as “likes,” create our “digital tattoo.” This tattoo identifies us in certain ways and affects how we are perceived both by people who read our posts and also by the technologies that power them. For example, if one person searches for and/or “likes” mainly conservative information or posts, and another person searches for and/or “likes” mainly liberal information or posts, both will find themselves in echo chambers, getting more and more of the same and less and less of the other. This means that if a skeptic and a believer both search for “climate change,” they will get different answers based on their past search behavior. Both answers will be tailored to the user, and neither may be factually accurate.

    Think of it this way. Unless you search for a hard fact such as “how many quarts in a galloon,” the answer you get is going to be based more on how you are perceived generated by algorithms created just for you.

    It is like we have siloed ourselves in two separate Towers of Babel. Those in one shout at those of us in the other, but we do not understand what those in the other tower are saying. In 2021 reality, MSNBC viewers cannot understand Fox News and vice versa.

    Calls for social media regulation are increasing, and rightly so given their worldwide influence and inability to regulate themselves. Congress is expected to take up the issue this session. At the end of the day, though, it is we the American people who must reach out to each other from our separate Towers of Babel and seek common ground.

    Let the healing begin.