Here are the top ten stories from Hope Mills this past year as voted by a panel composed of Up & Coming Weekly staff and selected members of the Hope Mills community.
1. Hope Mills Board of Commissioners rejects bid by Lone Survivor Foundation to build facility for veterans on town property.
Lone Survivor Foundation, an organization with a national reputation for offering assistance to veterans recovering from issues like post-traumatic stress disorder, made repeated overtures to the board of commissioners to purchase town property and build a retreat for the many veterans in the Cumberland County area.
Board members became suspicious of the waythe offer was presented to the town because it involved a presentation in closed session from Teddy Warner of the Fayetteville Cumberland County Economic Development Corporation. Warner is the son of Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner. After multiple attempts to try and convince the town to sell the land, the bid by Lone Survivor was rejected.
2. Hope Mills Lake refills early in the year after the long-awaited restoration of the damaged Hope Mills dam.
Heavy rains early in the year quickly restored Hope Mills Lake to its former glory after years of sitting empty following the failure of the previously restored Hope Mills dam.
3. Attempt to change term limits for town officials is defeated at polls.
Hope Mills Mayor Pro Tem Mike Mitchell led an attempt to increase the term limits of members of the mayor and Hope Mills Board of Commissioners members from two years to four years. During the November election the effort was soundly defeated by a vote of 2,618 to 1,972. It was a resounding indication that Hope Mills will have higher expectations from its elected officials, a good thing for the future.
4. Restored Hope Mills dam survives encounters with two hurricanes.
It wasn’t long after the Hope Mills dam was restored that it faced a couple major tests to its strength. Hurricanes Florence and Michael struck the town, with Florence in particular leading to dangerously record-high water levels in the lake. To her credit, Mayor Jackie Warner made regular visits to the lake during Florence and posted video updates on her Facebook page to keep town citizens apprised of the dam’s status. When the storms were gone, the only major problem reported was damage to the dam’s eel ladder.
5. Hope Mills approves, then cancels, an agreement with Up & Coming Weekly.
Up & Coming Weekly newspaper publisher Bill Bowman, working in conjunction with town management and the 2017 Hope Mills Board of Commissioners, endorsed and won the board’s unanimous approval of a $28,000 partnership that created a local Hope Mills newspaper, community awareness and an initiative to showcase, market and promote Hope Mills throughout Cumberland County.
In spite of the weekly publication’s acceptance and success, the newly elected 2018 board later soured to the idea and voted unanimously to cancel the program in spite of its $225,000 advertising value to the town and its people and businesses.
6. The restored Hope Mills Lake hosts variety of events.
It did not take long for the town of Hope Mills to celebrate the return of the new lake. In addition to lake traditions like the Fourth of July celebration, events including Church at the Lake and a jazz festival were held.
7. Hope Mills dam wins national award.
A Seattle, Washington, organization that recognizes outstanding work in dam building and architecture presented a national award to the restored Hope Mills dam. Town manager Melissa Adams traveled to Seattle to receive the honor on behalf of the town.
8. Mayor Pro Tem Mike
Mitchell and Commissioner Meg Larson lead opposition to Mayor Jackie Warner.
Mayor Pro Tem Mike Mitchell and newly-elected Commissioner Meg Larson consistently team up to lead a negative coalition of votes against the leadership efforts of Mayor Jackie Warner, including attempts to limit Warner’s authority as the elected leader of the town. They are continually questioning her motives, which was demonstrated clearly when Lone Survivor Foundation attempted to purchase land for a veterans retreat in the town.
9. Hope Mills Golf Course opened to public despite safety concerns.
Commissioners vote to open the former Hope Mills Golf Course to town citizens as a walking trail despite multiple reports indicating town residents don’t really desire a new walking trail and evidence that the golf course property is both undeveloped and potentially dangerous if certain areas aren’tmade safer before the public begins using it.
10. Geese, bacteria create problems at newlyopened lake.
The newly-opened Hope Mills Lake isn’t without problems initially. Geese have quickly congregated near the lake, and their feces is a likely cause of high bacteria levels when the town has lake water tested. The town temporarily banned swimming in the lake, but allowed it to resume when additional testing indicated the bacteria levels dropped to safe limits. Plansto use border collies to help chase the geese from the lake were briefly considered but eventually rejected.