Hope Mills News

Town suspends collection of recycled waste material

10 IMG 0889Here are some items taken from the latest reports compiled by Hope Mills Town Manager Melissa Adams and other town officials.

The Town of Hope Mills announced that the collection of recycled materials was suspended effective Monday, April 13.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, town sanitation crews have to focus their efforts on an increase in household trash caused by people staying at home more due to the current shelter in place order.

Recycling trash containers, the ones with yellow lids, can be used for regular trash and placed curbside with the regular trash container.

The town will notify citizens as soon as possible when recycling will resume.

 A temporary hold is likely to be placed on new sculptures for the town that have been previously provided by the UNC-Pembroke art classes of Professor Adam Walls. Walls informed Parks and Recreation director Lamarco Morrison his classes will likely be held online for the rest of the current semester.

Even if face-to-face classes started immediately, Walls said he didn’t think students would have sufficient time to create new original pieces.

Walls is hopeful if the fall semester starts on time, his students will be able to produce new pieces by the middle of the term.

 The town is working on holding a video virtual meeting of the Board of Commissioners on its next scheduled meeting date, April 20. Plans are being developed to allow members of the Board of Commissioners, town staff and the citizens of Hope Mills to take part via Zoom.

 The process of putting together the town budget for 2020-21 is on schedule despite the quarantine. Finance Director Drew Holland has gotten all the requests from the town’s department heads. Holland and Melissa Adams began meetings with department heads last week. Adams plans to have her recommendations back to the department heads by April 27. Following input from the full Board of Commissioners at their April 20 meeting, a budget workshop will be scheduled in May.

 Two public hearing items are currently on hold. They include the Sign Ordinance Amendment and the initial zoning for Caliber Collision.

 The physical work on moving the Hope Mills Police Department to its temporary headquarters at South Main Street began the week of April 4-10. There will be some temporary disruption of administrative services during the move but no interruption in patrol operations. Call 911 for anything requiring a police response.

Holmes adjusts to holding cyberchurch

09 Wesley HolmesLike ministers across the country, Pastor Wesley Holmes of the Hope Mills Church of God has been making major adjustments in how he relates to his congregation as everyone copes with the challenges presented by the COVID-19 quarantine. But in  many ways, Holmes thinks the situation has pulled church members even closer and helped increase the sharing of the message of the faith.

Once it became clear that traditional church operations were going to have to be drastically curtailed, Holmes divided up the names in his church’s directory and shared them with a handful of families in the congregation. Each family was asked to stay in regular contact with the members on the list they were given.

The church also has a phone tree, typical with many congregations, that allows Holmes to spread messages with everyone. Holmes said the leaders of his denomination have stressed since the start of the pandemic, the more contact with the membership, the better.

Before the quarantine was put in place, Holmes had been using things like Facebook and YouTube to share video presentations with his church.

Initially, Holmes was doing his Sunday worship service live on Facebook, but he soon encountered a problem. The internet speed his church was using was not adequate enough for the task. Too many people were trying to log into the live feed and Holmes and his videocast kept getting bumped offline.

Since then, he’s decided to tape his services in advance. He does a weekly Bible study on Wednesdays that he uploads the same day as the study. The Sunday morning worship service is normally uploaded on Saturday night.

Facebook controls allow him to schedule the time on Sunday morning when the worship service will become available for public viewing.

He’s kept the services fairly simple, usually doing them from the sanctuary at the church. He takes care of the majority of the service, with his wife Heather contributing the children’s message. His teen-age son Isaiah is off camera handling the music and sound for the broadcasts each week.

“It is a challenge,’’ Holmes said. “Talking with other ministers, they are having to step out of their comfort zones.’’

Some churches don’t have the live streaming capability that Holmes does, so he’s heard of other congregations that are doing drive-in church in the parking lot, keeping their members sequestered in their cars with windows rolled up, which the minister broadcasts the sound of the outdoor service over their FM radios in the car.

Holmes said there have been positives to the live streaming church sessions. “They can share it with their families that don’t go to church,’’ Holmes said. “We’re getting a lot of people we don’t minister to regularly on a Sunday morning.’’

People are also able to watch the Sunday service over and over during the week when it’s posted on Facebook. The only major downside Holmes sees to the video services is people might have distractions in the home setting versus the typical peaceful scene Sunday morning in the sanctuary.

Like many pastors, Holmes said his sermons in the initial days of quarantine have focused on positive, uplifting themes trying to help people deal with the situation. But he plans to move forward from that in the coming days and share more about the major themes of the Gospel message.

“I truly believe we can still get the message across, even though we are not gathered in the sanctuary,’’ he said. “We have to continue getting the message out.’’

There have been isolated reports of ministers in some congregations refusing to honor the quarantine and holding large meetings of their members. Holmes doesn’t agree with that practice, especially because of the number of elderly members in his congregation. “We don’t want to do anything that may cause them to get sick,’’ he said. “I want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

“I’d rather scale back and not have services for several weeks than to try and have services, say we are going to do it no matter what, and some people get sick.’’

In some ways, Holmes feels what is happening now is a return to the church as depicted in the second chapter of the book of Acts. 

“A lot of people were having to do church at home,’’ he said of the stories from Acts. “I think it’s brought the church back to its roots.’’

Lake sign aims to boost morale in Hope Mills

11 hope mills strongFamilies are a big deal in a small town like Hope Mills, and it was family ties that were behind the recent display of a sign at Hope Mills Lake aimed at boosting town morale.
Valerie Reed who, with her husband Matthew, operates a sign business called Sign Gypsies, was behind the actual posting of the sign near the lake that featured the words "HOPE MILLS STRONG."

Reed said the inspiration for the sign came from her in-laws, Cylinda and Jerry Hair, both longtime residents deeply involved in the town.

Reed said the Hairs contacted her about putting up some kind of greeting that would offer an inspirational message to the town’s citizens.

It was right in line with the kind of work Reed, who primarily works as an occupational therapist in the public schools, is geared to do. She and her husband bought the local franchise for Sign Gypsies last November. Since then, they’ve done a variety of signs for various occasions, including birthdays, anniversaries, retirements, welcome home, baby greetings and sports accomplishments.

Reed and her husband, both South View High School graduates, moved back to the town six years ago feel and feel a strong attachment to it.

“We have tons of friends who are small business owners,’’ she said. “We understand what a detriment  (COVID-19) can be, and we wanted to do something to brighten everyone’s spirits.’’

Even though Hope Mills is much bigger than it was during Reed’s South View days, she said there is still a lot of camaraderie and hometown spirit in the community. “We know people here have faced hard times before,’’ she said. “We hope (the sign) will provide strength and make people think we are in this together.’’

Reed said she first reached out to Hope Mills mayor, Jackie Warner, with the idea of putting the sign at Hope Mills Lake, an idea Warner was readily supportive of doing.
“It’s just something to show support and let people know we can get through this,’’ Warner said.

When Warner first thought of where to put the sign, she was thinking of a long-term location. But Reed’s signs are designed to be 24-hour rentals under normal circumstances. Since it was going to be in a central location at the lake, it was decided to take it down after dark to avoid someone coming back after hours and removing some of the letters or other decorative parts of the display.

Reed said she would be willing to put the sign back up from time to time since Warner said the response to it first being displayed was so tremendously popular.

In addition to the sign, the town has decided to temporarily turn on the lighted star that’s on the far bank of the lake and is normally only used during the Christmas season.
Warner said the star is on a timer, and will come on at dusk each day and shut off at dawn.

Warner compared it to the lights being used to illuminate the interior of the Thomas Campbell Oakman Memorial Chapel on South Main Street.

Warner feels the lights at the church and the light of the star help illustrate the town is pulling together for the good of everyone. She feels both are signs of hope and love.
“There’s life there,’’ she said. “They are all ways of showing we’re committed, we care and we’re tied together.

“They work together for the good of all.’’

Adams faces unprecedented test guiding Hope Mills through COVID-19

Hope Mills town manager Melissa Adams has had to deal with two hurricanes as a member of town staff, one of them after she was serving as town manager.
But that experience was only a small taste of the challenge she and the rest of town staff are facing now as they try to navigate the variety of challenges all of us face from COVID-19.

“It’s unprecedented for many managers, I’m sure,’’ Adams said of the current situation. “It’s been very trying and very difficult throughout.’’

As much a part of trying to deal with all of the problems COVID-19 causes, Adams said, is the official face the town puts on when deciding how to react. “You want to do it in a calm, reasonable manner and not panic people,’’ she said. “You have to maintain your composure.’’

That’s why Adams is applying some advice she got from a friend when she first took over the town manager’s job in Hope Mills.

“They told me flow like water and you’ll be fine,’’ Adams said. “That’s kind of what I’ve tried to do.’’

Adams said her biggest concern in the current situation is making sure what she and the town are doing it best not only for the citizens, but for the various members of town staff who are on the job while still trying to keep themselves safe from being infected with COVID-19.

She called the safety of staff and citizens paramount.

“Virtually everyone’s job has been disrupted by this event,’’ she said. “People have lost their jobs and their livelihood. For self-employed people it’s been extremely difficult trying to manage.’’

In the meantime, Adams has been trying to keep town services running uninterrupted while at the same time having the proper amount of concern for the safety of all those people who have to be out in the field or in the office.

When news first started to develop about the safety precautions that might be put in place because of COVID-19, Adams began having regular staff meetings with her department heads to try and assure all contingencies were covered. This was long before the official order came down from North Carolina governor Roy Cooper that the state was declaring its citizens needed to stay at home as much as possible.

“We already had things in place,’’ Adams said. Many steps have been taken to cut down on public interaction. The town took a major one last Monday when it decided to close the Hope Mills Lake park to the public but still allow boaters and kayakers to use the lake for recreation. Adams hopes the citizens will be cautious using the lake and not force the town to take more drastic measures.

If people have specific needs or concerns, Adams said they can visit townofhopemills.com or any of the town Facebook pages for updates. There are also contact numbers there. The main town number is 910-424-4555. In the event of a life-threatening emergency, people should still call 911 to reach the police or fire departments.

“We are a strong community,’’ Adams said. “We are small but pretty good at backing each other up and supporting each other. I would ask that people continue to do that.’’

Relocation, pandemic cause headaches for Chef Glenn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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