Hope Mills News

Hurricane preparedness a constant responsibility

17 Deputy Chief Hank HarrisMost people begin to worry about hurricanes when the weather reports grow ominous as a major storm advances on the place that they live.

But emergency personnel like Hank Harris, deputy chief of the Cotton Fire Department in Hope Mills, have to remain focused on storms throughout hurricane season — and not just ones that threaten our local communities.
Cotton is part of a larger group known as Urban Search and Rescue Teams. They work together with the Fayetteville Fire and Police Departments and Cumberland County Emergency Medical Services.
“There are seven teams like it across the state,’’ Harris said. “Most of them are in big municipalities. They’ve got equipment to shore up structurally collapsed buildings. We’ve got swift-water rescue stuff. They are self-sustainable for 72 hours.’’
In past storms, local rescue personnel have been involved with sending swift-water rescue teams to storm-stricken areas.
During Hurricane Dorian, the Fayetteville-area team sent a forklift to the Outer Banks to load supplies at hurricane-ravaged Ocracoke Island.
Harris said the Fayetteville area team also has tents available that can be used to house team members when they are sent elsewhere to serve, or they can be sent to disaster areas to provide an emergency hospital or shelter to feed people displaced from their homes.
In 2017, Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston and southeast Texas, causing $125 billion in damage, mostly from flooding.
Harris said the team from the Fayetteville area sent 90 people to Texas to help with relief during that storm.
“We go everywhere,’’ he said.
With the growing frequency of storms every fall in the United States, Harris said it’s a good idea for people to not wait to hear bad news on the weather and maintain a basic level of readiness whenever hurricane season arrives in the Southeast.
“It’s always good to have a hurricane kit,’’ Harris said. You can visit ReadyNC.org on the internet or download the ReadyNC app to your smartphone and get a lot of valuable information there, Harris added.
“It gives you a list of materials you need to keep on hand,’’ he said. “You know what happens to all the grocery stores. They start emptying the shelves. You can be a little bit ahead of the game by having some of that stuff already in place.’’
Some basics to have on hand include bandaging material, water both to drink and to clean wounds with and enough food to sustain life for everyone in the home for several days.


Harris said it’s also a good idea to be aware of what rescue personnel with the fire department can and can’t do when a storm hits.

Harris said his agency normally won’t respond to situations like a tree falling on a house and simply causing physical damage to the building. They will come out for emergencies like people trapped in a home or car, for rising water and, in some cases, for downed power lines. They try to refer power line situations to the appropriate power company.
“It keeps us from stretching our resources so thin,’’ he said, "in times when multiple calls might be coming in."
Harris said the safety of rescue personnel also has to be factored in. “When the wind gets up, it’s not safe for us to respond,’’ he said. “If the winds are too high for us to respond and something happens to us, we’re not helping anybody.’’
Pictured: Deputy Chief Hank Harris

Hope Mills mats program seeks more volunteers

16 MatsThe Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Department is in the third year of a program to make sleeping mats for the homeless from plastic bags.

Anne Evanco, a program specialist for the Parks and Recreation Department, said the program has stockpiled plenty of raw material for the work, but it needs more helping hands to create the mats.
The program started at the former senior center on Davis Street but has relocated to the Parks and Recreation building on Rockfish Road.
Evanco estimates that the volunteers in the program have churned out roughly 300 mats since they started.
They collect plastic bags from various local businesses and then bring them to the recreation center. There they are flattened, folded and cut into a material they call plarn, which means plastic yarn.
Once the plarn has been made, it can be used in a variety of ways to create the sleeping mats. Evanco said they can be knitted, crocheted or weaved, depending on the preference of the person making the mat.
She added it’s a simple process to learn and anyone can do it with minimal training.
When people come out to take part in the program for the first time, Evanco said they are usually assigned to the process of making the plarn.
“We want them to learn each step,’’ she said. “After you learn how to process the bags and make the plarn, it doesn’t take long to learn the weaving method.’’
The process of making a mat can take from 10 to 30 hours Evanco said. A lot of that depends on the individual worker and how nimble their hands are. Some of the crocheted mats can take as long as 60 hours.
The mat makers convene at the recreation center three times a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from noon until 4 p.m. each day.
While the program was originally intended for senior citizens, Evanco said people of all ages are now welcome to take part.
The mat-making room is somewhat crowded on Wednesday and Friday, Evanco said, but they could use some more volunteers who would like to work on mats on Mondays.
The mat makers aren’t responsible for getting the mats into the hands of the homeless. The recreation center staff works with other organizations, especially Fayetteville Urban Ministry, to drop off the mats and have them put directly into the hands of the homeless.
Evanco said she doesn’t have an idea on how long a mat will actually last, saying it varies from person to person and the type of surface they might be sleeping on, with mats used on grass surfaces standing up better than those used on concrete.
Anyone interested in learning how to make the mats should just show up at one of the Monday, Wednesday or Friday sessions. “The people in this program are very welcoming,’’ Evanco said. “We’ll bring that person in and put them to work, show them the process.


“It’s great to see someone who has never done anything like this before. There’s something for everyone in this program.’’

Pictured: Paula Ray, center, a Hope Mills volunteer, delivers mats to staff at the Veterans Administration Stand Down Center last August

Hope Mills offering specialized CPR classes

14 emergency 1For the first time, the town of Hope Mills is offering CPR training to two groups of people who can really benefit from it, babysitters and new parents of small children and infants.

Kasey Ivey of the Parks and Recreation Department said the idea was presented to her by Jamie Krusinski, a registered nurse and certified CPR instructor.

In addition to basic CPR training, topics including clearing obstructed airways and working with AEDs will be covered.

 “There are a lot of similar things, but some are just geared toward the two different groups of people,’’ Ivey said. 

Ivey said Krusinski will bring an AED to the training sessions to show both the babysitters and the parents how it works and how to operate it.

An important part of the AED training is to teach everyone, especially the younger people, not to be afraid of the AED and to understand it can save a person’s life.

 Ivey said the entire program was designed by Krusinski. Each class will be limited to a maximum of nine participants. Each class is self-contained, not a series, so you only have to go to one to get the full effect of the training.

 “It’s the first time we are trying this so we will see how it goes,’’ Ivey said.

 She added it’s important for the town to offer this kind of training. “It’s a life skill,’’ she said. “It can be used in so many different settings. It’s an important thing to help strengthen the community with lifelong learning.’’

Ivey said she’s been certified in CPR since 2006. “To have that basic knowledge and skill set between the time an incident occurs and before emergency personnel get there is critical time when you could save someone’s life, if you have the knowledge and skill,’’ she said.

All those completing one of the programs will get a two-year certificate in CPR through the American Heart Association. They will have to repeat the training once the certificate expires to be certified again.

A minimum of two people must sign up for a class to be held.

For the new parent class the cost is $65 per person or $60 each if both parents or guardians attend. The cost for the babysitter class is $75 per person. There is an age limit of 11 and up for the baby sitter class.

The babysitter classes will all be on Saturdays, Oct. 12, Oct. 19, Nov. 2 and Nov. 9 from 1-4 p.m. each day.

New parent classes are the same days with hours from 9:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.

For questions contact Ivey at Hope Mills Parks and Recreation, 910-426-4109.

Hope Mills police gain free tactical vehicle

15 01 Police Chief Joel AcciardoThe town of Hope Mills scored the ultimate win-win for its police department last week as the Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to add a specialized armored vehicle to the rolling stock of police chief Joel Acciardo’s department.
The best news about the acquisition is the vehicle won’t cost the town a cent.
The commissioners voted 5-0 to accept an Oshkosh M-ATV from the U.S. Military Law Enforcement Support Program. Estimated value of the vehicle is $767,360.
“We are eligible to receive equipment from the federal government as long as it’s used for law enforcement purposes,’’ Acciardo said.
In addition to being lightly armored, Acciardo said the M-ATV has what’s called deepwater fording capabilities. “We’ll be able to use it for deep water rescue operations,’’ he said.
Acciardo said the town already experienced a situation where a vehicle like the M-ATV would have been helpful — during Hurricane Matthew in 2016. Residents of the retirement center on Cameron Road had to be evacuated because of rising water there. “That pretty much cemented the usefulness of vehicles like that for us,’’ Acciardo said.
But deepwater rescue isn’t the only thing the vehicle could help with, and Acciardo is hopeful it never has to be used for this purpose.
15 02 MATV“One of the things we identified early on that we needed was a vehicle that would allow us to get closer to victims and place officers closer to where an active shooter is,’’ he said. “The M-ATV matches all those requirements. You have high ground clearance, deepwater fording capabilities and it’s lightly armored.
“That kind of checks a whole bunch of blocks.’’
Acciardo said there are other companies that make vehicles similar to the M-ATV, but they are extremely expensive and out of the price range for a smaller agency like the Hope Mills Police Department.
With the donation of the M-ATV from the military, Acciardo said the only cost to Hope Mills will be to get it here, license it and paint it.
While Hope Mills has mutual aid agreements with other local police departments and would get their cooperation in an active shooter situation, Acciardo said time is of the utmost importance, and having its own specialized vehicle here improves the Hope Mills police’s chances of responding quicker.
Acciardo said the M-ATV the town is getting is about nine years old and has less than 60,000 miles on it.
The vehicle’s cab has room for a driver and four passengers. The rear area of the vehicle can be used to carry either cargo or more people.
A training program will be required for those who will operate the vehicle. He estimates anywhere from five to six senior police officers will be trained as drivers so the department can assign one driver per shift to be available if the vehicle is called into service.
He estimated it’ll take about 90 days to be able to put the vehicle in service, hopefully by mid-November or mid-December.
With proper care and maintenance, he estimates the town could get up to 20 years of service from the vehicle.
“You won’t see it in a parade, you won’t see it at a demonstration, you won’t see it on patrol,’’ he said. “You’ll see it when there is a weather event, a natural disaster or, God forbid, an active shooter situation.
“That’s the whole purpose of it, to have the resource and hope you never have to use it. You have to be prepared in today’s world.’’

Picture 1: Chief Joel Acciardo 

Picture 2: M-ATV similar to the one Hope Mills is getting 


Public input needed on Heritage Park’s future

15 01 Old dam gatesCitizen input is crucial as the town of Hope Mills rolls out initial plans for the proposed Heritage Park. The meeting to get public input will be held Thursday, Sept. 26, at
6 p.m. at the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Building

The park is to be constructed on land near the current dam and stretch down to property where the former Episcopal Church is located. 

The preliminary goal is to create a natural green space with hiking trails while also adding kiosks that will tell the story of the area near the dam. Ancient dam gates from years past, which are standing near the proposed entry to the park, will also be put on permanent display.

Hope Mills town manager Melissa Adams said the town is using the same process it did to get input from citizens on what to do with the golf course property the town owns.

“This is a kickoff meeting,’’ she said. “We are involving the Appearance Committee, the Parks and Recreation Committee, the Lake Advisory Committee and the Historic Preservation Commission, 15 02 ENTRY WAY along with the public.’’

Adams said the purpose of the meeting is to gather information on what the public and the various committees would like to see in Heritage Park.

There is a tentative plan for the park that was drawn up by people from North Carolina State.

It calls for a green space with trails, kiosks with educational signage and the old dam gates. The goal is to connect the property entrance area on Lakeview Road with the Episcopal Church property on Main Street.

The only difference between this meeting and the one involving plans for the golf course is there won’t be as many options to discuss with Heritage Park because it’s a much smaller space.

Adams said the golf course has many more amenities over its some 90 acres while Heritage Park only takes up six or seven acres. “We can’t cram but so much in there,’’ Adams said.

One thing that has been discussed is some kind of picnic area at Heritage Park, Adams said.

She added that the trails designed for Heritage Park would not be a flat walking surface like the walk near town hall but are hilly and natural.

“It’s extremely important for the public to come and give their input and take a look at everything,’’ Adams said. “This is just the beginning stages of it.

“We’d like very much for as many people to come as possible.’’

For questions prior to the meeting, Adams said people should contact Lamarco Morrison at

Picture 1: Closeup of the old dam gates

Picture 2: An entry way to the proposed Heritage Park

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