Hope Mills News

Veterinarian says chance of getting ill swimming in Hope Mills Lake is real

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope Mills Calendar of Events


For details about all meetings and activities, including location where not listed, call Acting Deputy Town Clerk Tiffany Gillstedt at 910-426-4112. Most meetings take place at Town Hall.


• Hope Mills Area Kiwanis Club at Sammio’s, second Tuesdays at noon and fourth Tuesdays at 6 p.m. For details, call 910-237-1240.

• Fall sports registration through July 28. $30 per child; $15 late fee after registration deadline. Season begins Sept. 8. Call 910-426-4109 for details.

• First Annual 4th of July Pageant Friday-Saturday, June 22-23. For more information, call 910-426-4107.

• Wine-Tasting, Cheese and Appetizers Saturday, July 28, 5-8 p.m. Held at the Boarding House Tea Room, 3903 Ellison St., at the corner of W. Patterson Street across from Hope Mills YMCA. Open to the public once there is a 10-person commitment. Mix and mingle in cozy and quaint surroundings. Tasty hors d’oeuvres and vintage treasures available. Call Carla at 910-527-7455 to make reservations.

Promote yourself: Email hopemills@upandcomingweekly.com.

Main Street staple restaurant may relocate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watts honored for 51 years coaching American Legion baseball

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


PHOTO: Doug Watts

Lake celebration in need of sponsors and funding

14LakecelebrationThe plans are in place for five days of celebrating the restoration of Hope Mills Lake. Now, Mayor Jackie Warner said, the town is working hard to find sponsors to help pay for the party.

Warner said town officials have calculated it’s going to take about $5,000 to cover all of the events the lake celebration will include.

There are six events planned, starting with a Friday night street dance on Trade Street on June 29. The cardboard boat race will be Saturday, June 30. Two events are set for Sunday, July 1. Heroes on the Water will feature canoeing and kayaking in the afternoon, followed by Church on the Lake in the evening. Art and Jazz on the Lake is scheduled Monday, July 2, and Beach Night is Tuesday, July 3.

Initially, Warner said, town officials sought to get one major sponsor for each event at a cost of about $1,000 apiece.

The problem, Warner said, is there have been a lot of charity-related events going on locally that have increased requests on local businesses to make contributions. So, Warner said, they’ve scaled back and are trying to ask for smaller donations, including reaching out to individuals in the community to donate anything they can to help with the lake celebration.

Some of the celebration events will bring in money to help defray costs. There is a $25 registration fee to take part in the cardboard boat race.

Money is also coming in from the entrants in the Fourth of July beauty pageant, which will be held prior to the lake celebration.

One thing the town won’t be doing as part of this lake celebration is an official program. The last time the lake was restored, a program with ads was sold, but Warner said the response to the program wasn’t great and it didn’t sell well.

That plus the fact this year’s lake celebration will stretch over five days led town officials to scrap the plan for the program.

While money is needed to pay for the lake celebration, the big Fourth of July celebration isn’t a problem.

“The Fourth of July is in the town budget,’’ Warner said. “It’s covered, the big expense for the parade and the fireworks. We don’t have to pay for that.’’

Areas where the town does need to raise money include the rental fee for sound equipment that will be needed at some of the music-related events. They are buying art supplies that will be used by children at the art event in the park. There will also be a cost to pay for some of the music acts that will be performing at some of the events, along with a disc jockey at the beach music event.

Warner has posted a letter about the need for sponsorship on her mayor’s Facebook page. The same letter has been sent to businesses in Hope Mills.

If anyone wants to make a private donation, they can send it or drop it off to the Town of Hope Mills, denoting on the check that it’s for the lake celebration. Warner said as sponsorship money arrives for specific events, it will be denoted on the town’s website, www.townofhopemills.com.

For questions about donations, contact Warner at jwarner@townofhopemills.com, Sandi Hardee at smhardee78@gmail.com or Patricia Jenkins at pjenkins@townofhopemills.com.

Anyone planning on making a donation needs to make it as soon as possible, Warner said. “We’ve got to get things in and done the weekend before June 30,’’ she said. That’s less than two weeks away.

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  • Hope Mills Calendar of Events
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