Hope Mills News

Easter Bunny headed for breakfast in Hope Mills

15EasterThe Easter Bunny will pay an early visit to Hope Mills this year. Local families will get the opportunity to enjoy breakfast with him, and it won’t be rabbit food on the menu.

The Hope Mills Parks & Recreation Department will offer Breakfast with the Easter Bunny on Saturday, April 6, at the recreation center’s main building on Rockfish Road.

The event is similar to the Breakfast with Santa held last December, but now that the recreation center has been repaired following hurricane damage last fall, the event will move back to the recreation center after being temporarily held at the main Hope Mills fire station.

Meghan Freeman, special events programs assistant director for the town, said Breakfast with the Easter Bunny in Hope Mills dates back 10 years or more.

Freeman said the event is another of the town’s efforts to give families with children a chance to enjoy fun quality time together. Last December’s Breakfast with Santa was a big success, and Freeman is hoping for similar results with Breakfast with the Easter Bunny.

There is one small difference between the two events. While Breakfast with Santa offered a meal and a chance to meet with Santa Claus, Breakfast with the Easter Bunny will be followed by an Easter egg hunt at the Hope Mills Municipal Park fields 1 and 2.

While tickets to the breakfast are $6, the egg hunt is free. Anyone can come to the hunt, but attendance at the breakfast will be capped at the first 200 tickets sold.

The breakfast runs from 8:30-11 a.m. and has a menu that includes pancakes, eggs, sausage, bacon and juice.

The Easter egg hunt, following the breakfast, has an age limit from 1 to 10, Freeman said. When the hunt begins, she said, the youngsters will be divided up in three different age groups.

Children ages 1-3 will begin hunting for the eggs at 11:15 a.m. The 4-6 age group will start at 11:30 a.m. Children ages 7-10 will hunt beginning at 11:45 a.m.

The children ages 1-3 will begin hunting on Field 1, with the children ages 4-6 going on Field 2. After the first group has finished, additional eggs will be hidden and the final group of children ages 7-10 will hunt on Field 1.

Freeman said plastic eggs will be used that will contain either candy or, in some cases, small prizes.

In the event of rain, the egg hunt will be moved indoors to the recreation center gymnasium.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how many people are going to come out,’’ Freeman said. “At a lot of events recently, our numbers have increased. Hopefully, we’ll continue the trend.

“I think it brings the whole community together. It’s a great plus for us. You can’t beat it.’’

Reservations and advanced payment for tickets are required for the breakfast. The deadline to sign up and pay is Monday, April 1. Children ages three and under will be admitted to the breakfast free of charge but must still be registered.

For further information about Breakfast with the Easter Bunny or the Easter egg hunt, contact the recreation department at 910-426-4109.

Cotton Fire Department adds needed new truck

15Cotton truck 2Work is in progress on a new multipurpose fire truck for Cotton Volunteer Fire Station on Calico Street in Hope Mills. It will be a welcome addition to the vehicles currently in use.

Hank Harris is deputy chief of the Cotton station, a position he’s held for nearly 35 years. He said the new truck, which is scheduled to be delivered by May, will replace an aging 2003 truck made by American LaFrance, which went out of business in 2014.

The old truck was capable of a variety of roles, including vehicle extrication and water rescue. It could also handle support roles at various emergency scenes, Harris said.

Since American LaFrance is out of business, it’s become harder to find replacement parts for the old truck, he added. But that’s only part of the problem. Times have changed, and the Cotton fire station finds itself called on to perform different kinds of jobs. Harris said the fire station has advanced from a medium to a heavy rescue unit. As a result, the station has had to add more equipment, some of which doesn’t fit on the old truck.

That means in some situations, the equipment has to be stored on two trucks instead of one. When two trucks need to be dispatched to a call to make sure all the needed equipment for the situation is available, that’s a problem.

The new truck is being made by a Wisconsin-based company called Pierce Manufacturing. A contract was signed to start work on the new truck in April of last year.

The new vehicle is not a firefighting truck per se; it’s more of a support vehicle, Harris said. “It has no hoses or anything like that, but it has all the hand tools and equipment required that gives us our ratings,’’ Harris said. The truck can be dispatched to certain rescue situations by itself without a firefighting truck being present.

One of the biggest differences between the two vehicles is the number of people the new one will hold. Where the old truck could only handle four passengers, the new one will allow seven.

Harris said the new truck will have a walk-in body that allows firemen access to a climate-controlled area where they can take a break and rehab during fire situations.

“They can get out of the heat, cold or whatever they’re in,’’ Harris said. “(They can) get in a better state of mind.’’

The new truck will also solve the problem of splitting equipment between two trucks. It has extra space available to carry an assortment of tools for vehicle extrication or road rescue.

Equipment the truck carries includes axes, pike poles and ladders.

With the recent increase in flooding situations in the Hope Mills area, the new truck will provide a needed benefit. “We can actually put an inflatable boat on top of the truck,’’ Harris said. “It will increase our water rescue capability.’’

Harris said firefighters won’t need additional training when the new truck arrives as all of the Cotton firefighters are already schooled in taking advantage of the truck’s various capabilities.

Since Cotton Fire Station serves not just Hope Mills but a good portion of the southern end of Cumberland County, the new truck will be a benefit to many, Harris said, in a variety of situations. “We can put more manpower on that truck,’’ he said.

DOT shares plan for solving Rockfish-Golfview traffic woes

13TrafficThere’s finally a light at the end of the tunnel for drivers in Hope Mills — or, to be more accurate, there are a couple of extra passing lanes.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation recently held an information session to get residents’ input and share details about its new plan. The North Carolina DOT plans to widen both Rockfish and Golfview Roads and install a couple of roundabouts to help ease traffic congestion.

“Our local leaders and local transportation agency (Fayetteville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization) requested that we make this a priority that we widen these roads and somehow improve them,’’ said Andrew Barksdale, a spokesman for North Carolina DOT.

The best news for Hope Mills is that the roughly $12 million needed to make the project happen is already funded. The only bad news is the project won’t get started until the summer of 2022. Barksdale said the estimate is it will take from two to three years until the widened road will be finished.

For now, DOT is still seeking input from both local government officials and people in the Hope Mills community on any changes or tweaks that need to be made to the plan that the state has already mapped out for the roads.

Barksdale said the state no longer builds fivelane roads with four lanes for normal driving and one center turn lane. “It has to be an extreme, unusual circumstance due to topography,’’ he said, for a five-lane road to be built.

The current practice is to construct four-lane roads with a raised median in the center.

The plan for Golfview and Rockfish roads is to do the same, adding two roundabouts at critical locations.

One roundabout would be at the intersection of the two roads. The second would be at a current traffic bottleneck at Rockfish and Park Boulevard at the entrance to Rockfish Elementary School, Brower Park and Hope Mills Municipal Park.

“You’ve got all these issues out there,’’ Barksdale said, referring to the busy intersection. “The school. Ballfield. Town Hall. We don’t need people flying through there speeding. People are crossing back and forth.’’

A sidewalk is already under construction on one side of the roadway.

Roundabouts provide a safer option for traffic, forcing drivers to slow down and also making it easier for pedestrians to cross the street because they can go halfway first and safely stop if needed.

“It’s a good fit for the right intersection,’’ Barksdale said of the roundabout. “The project overall is going to decrease congestion during peak travel times and improve safety.’’

Barksdale said widening a road, as is planned for both Rockfish and Golfview, and adding a median reduces the risk of serious T-bone type accidents.

Barksdale stressed the design that has been put forward by the state DOT is preliminary. Public input on any needed changes to the design will be accepted until mid-March.

“We can still tweak it based on feedback from everyone involved, including emergency services, town officials and property owners,’’ Barksdale said. “We feel this is the right plan for this use. We need people to be safe going through there because of all the uses.’’

One potential conflict to the plan is a project the town of Hope Mills has in the works to build a combined police and fire department complex near the current location of the existing buildings for both. They are also located in the area where the road project will take place.

An official target date for starting the police-fire complex hasn’t been set, according to Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner. But it could start as soon as 2020 if the town secures funding and likely would take only a year to build.

If the town delays its start of the police-fire complex, Barksdale said, the North Carolina DOT would coordinate with the town to avoid adding to traffic problems or interfering with driveway access for police and fire vehicles. “It’s all part of the planning process,’’ he said.

People who were unable to attend the information meeting held earlier can still offer their input about the project. The two contacts are Sean Matuszewski and Steve Scott.

Contact Matuszewski by emailing him at spmatuszewski@ncdot.gov or by mailing him at P.O. Box 1150, Fayetteville, 28302. He can be reached by phone at 919-364-0603.

Email Scott at sscott@sepiengineering.com or call him at 919-573-9929.

Marci’s Cakes and Bakes wins small business award

14MarciMarci’s Cakes and Bakes has done a lot to support the town of Hope Mills. Now the town is returning the favor.

Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner said the Trade Street business, operated by Marci Mang for the last three years, is the latest winner of the Hope Mills Small Business of the Month Award.

Mang will be officially recognized at a meeting of the Hope Mills Board of Commissioners in a few weeks. Of Mang, Warner said, “She has brought new life to an old building, redecorating and repurposing (it) for her own bakery.’’

Warner especially praised Mang for helping to revitalize Trade Street, which is off the beaten path in Hope Mills.

“I’m so proud of the beautiful cakes she designs and the wonderful baked goods,’’ Warner said, “but more importantly, I’m proud of all she contributes to all of our community.’’

Warner thanked Mang for her imagination and creativity and “for making Hope Mills sweet.’’ Mang said she tries to give back to the community in different ways. She is currently offering cake pop and cupcake classes for anyone interested, with the latest class starting Saturday, March 9.

Mang said she puts out a schedule on Facebook and Instagram (@marciscakesandbakes) when a new class is offered. She asks everyone interested to register by calling 910-425-6377. Each class is limited to a maximum of 20 people.

“They learn how to make the cake pops and what kind of chocolate to use to dip the cake pops,’’ Mang said. “They’ll leave the bakery with cake pops in hand.’’

Mang also opens the doors of her business to local pastors. “We held a Bible study meeting in the bakery,’’ she said. “A group of pastors will be meeting there to talk about Easter services in the area.’’

One of Mang’s most unique initiatives is a mentoring program for young women who may be struggling at school or dealing with personal issues in their home lives. Those who have an interest in baking can come to the store and get training in making and decorating cakes and cake pops.

“I think any kind of specialized skill like that is something you can always use in the future,’’ Mang said. “It gives you confidence to find something you are passionate about and that puts your hands to work.’’

Mang said she’s seen good results from most of the women who have taken part in the program.

It’s all part of a passion Mang developed for baking that started when she was a girl, growing up two doors down from a bakery. She used to love going to the bakery and seeing the things that were in the window and in the shop.

That love continues today in her own business. “I love seeing kids’ faces when they come in,’’ she said. “I try to keep items affordable. Families come in and enjoy something together. (My products are) not processed. Not mass produced.’’

She brings the same passion to the job of designing special-order buttercream cakes for any occasion, and she takes the role she plays in designing and making those cakes seriously.

She’s open to any ideas customers have for a cake and doesn’t shy away when the client begins by saying, “You’re going to think I’m crazy,’’ she said.

“You want a teddy bear dressed in leather, we can work it out,’’ she said. “This week I did a spider with a Minecraft character on its back.’’

She had a child who was a big fan of zombies; she turned out a zombie-themed birthday cake.

“I love when people pick up cakes, and I know I’m part of their special day,’’ she said.

Mang’s outreach to Hope Mills extends beyond people who leave her shop with purchases. She regularly donates leftover baked goods to various local charities like churches, the Boy Scouts, fire stations, the ALMSHOUSE and the senior citizens center.

“I try to rotate them,’’ she said. “We always try to get them someplace in Hope Mills that can utilize what we have.’’

Marci’s Cakes and Bakes is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. at 5474 Trade St. in Hope Mills.

For more information, visit the Facebook page, Marci’s Cakes and Bakes, or call 910-425-6377.

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