Hope Mills News

Grant to help develop biking and walking trails

14 Heritage Square 1 With parcels of land stretching from the proposed Heritage Park and the current Hope Mills Lake Park downtown, all the way out to the new Golfview Greenway, Hope Mills has potential to develop walking and biking trails for its citizens.
The town has been granted the money to conduct a study that will help develop those various resources to their fullest potential.

Hope Mills was recently given a Pedestrian Planning Grant through the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s division of bicycle and pedestrian transportation. Chancer McLaughlin, development and planning administrator for Hope Mills, said the grant provides from $40,000 to $60,000 with a 20% match.

“It’s basically geared toward encouraging municipalities to develop comprehensive bicycle and pedestrian plans,’’ he said.

The money will allow the town to explore the best ways to develop bicycle and pedestrian plans. So far, the town has successfully pursued grants to fund a number of sidewalk construction projects, including both the downtown area and along Rockfish Road near the town’s municipal complex.

But this will be the first time the town has gotten grant money to fund a study that will work toward connecting all of the potential bicycle and pedestrian projects together. The list includes the former golf course turned greenway, Hope Mills Municipal Park, Trade Street, the lake park and the proposed Heritage Park.

“Wherever we can find areas to accommodate bike lanes, sidewalks and trails that will ultimately connect all five areas, that will be the ultimate goal,’’ McLaughlin said.

With the help of DOT, Hope Mills will hire a consultant to develop the plan for the town. Town staff will assist in the project, and there will be a full round of public meetings to seek input from the citizens of Hope Mills.

McLaughlin said the town’s Parks and Recreation department, specifically director Lamarco Morrison, will be invovled. “You can see all those key projects are Parks and Recreation projects,’’ McLaughlin said.

In a perfect world, the plan will try to figure out a way to allow residents to walk or ride safely around the town via a series of paths, trails, sidewalks or bicycle lanes.

“All of these areas are at the core of the town of Hope Mills,’’ McLaughlin said.

The tricky part, obviously, will be designing trails/sidewalks that will accommodate both bicycle and pedestrian traffic. “A lot of times, when you have a combination of these, the width of that trail will be paramount as well,’’ McLaughlin said. “Some portions you may have bike trails connected. Some you have some sidewalks. Some my have multi-use trails that will allow for bikes and pedestrians.’’

McLaughlin stressed that the current grant from NCDOT only pays for the cost of the study that will develop the plan. The town will need to seek additional funding, possibly through the pursuit of future grants, to actually pay for construction of any bicycle or pedestrian sidewalks or trails that are constructed.

“Once we come up with the plan, we have to find the mechanism to fund the construction,’’ McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin said whatever plan is developed, it won’t come from a total vacuum, but will follow the general guidelines established in the existing Southwest Cumberland Detailed Land Use Plan that was first released in 2013. “This is another way to achieve those goals,’’ McLaughlin said.

If anyone has questions about the new grant or the future of bicycle and pedestrian traffic in Hope Mills, McLaughlin can be reached during regular office hours at 910-426-4103.

Highland Baptist Church's "Singing Christmas Tree" returns

For a second consecutive Christmas, Dawn Seegars is pulling double duty preparing for special Christmas music.

Seegars, a bi-vocational worship leader at Temple Baptist Church, is again helping to put together the annual Singing Christmas Tree performances at Highland Baptist Church where she sang in the choir with the late Nancy Brady.
This year’s performances are scheduled Dec. 13-15 at 7 p.m. each evening.

Brady was the choir director at Highland until she lost a battle with cancer last year. Seegars stepped in to take over Brady’s role, and has agreed to do it again this year while Highland is engaged in the search for a new pastor.

“They have awesome lay leadership but no music director permanently on staff and now no pastor,’’ Seegars said. Seegars said the congregation reached out to her over the summer to ask if she’d take on the job of directing this year’s Singing Christmas Tree and she agreed.

“In church music, if you’re not a season ahead, you’re behind,’’ Seegars said. “In summertime you’re picking out Christmas music.’’

Rehearsals began about the third week in September Seegars said.

“We always try to do something different every year,’’ she said. “We haven’t repeated music. We want everyone that comes to hear something new, see something new.’’
The sets may be the same, but the music and dramatic portions of the performance will be updated.

Seegars said this year’s music selections will represent a variety of styles. “We’ve got some music with a Southern gospel feel, music with a regular gospel feel,’’ she said. “We’ve got some Christmas classics and even a song that includes a children’s choir.’’

There will also be narrations along with actors portraying the traditional manger scene from the story of the birth of Christ. There will even by a lyrical dance team performing.

Seegars praised the lay leadership at the church for their commitment to keep the Singing Christmas Tree going even without a full-time minister and music leader presently on staff.

“When you don’t have a pastor, things are always a little tougher than when you do have somebody in that leadership role,’’ Seegars said. “They are going to continue to do what they are called to do and present the gospel message of Christmas to the community.’’

Woody Cox, chairman of the church’s Board of Deacons, said those planning to come to the Singing Christmas Tree are invited to bring a donation of canned goods or other nonperishable foods to the church’s food pantry.
Even without a pastor, Cox said the church’s ministry has been able to continue because of the great people there who are willing to share their time. The church has been doing the Singing Christmas Tree many years before Cox joined the congregation in 1995.

“We just think it’s a great way to get the community in to hear the presentation of the gospel,’’ he said. “A lot of lost people are more willing to come in and watch the program. Through songs and the message that goes into it they get the gospel presentation of Jesus Christ.“We can touch a lot of lives quicker that way.’’

For questions about the Singing Christmas Tree, call the church office at 910-425-5305, Monday through Thursday.

The Studio on Trade Street to host Arts Council fundraiser

15 arts council paintingDue to unforeseen problems, the silent auction portion of the Hope Mills Creative Arts Council’s fundraiser Tuesday has been moved to Marci’s Cakes and Bakes at 5474 Trade Street. The remainder of the event will still be held at The Studio on Trade Street at 5458 Trade Street. 

What started as a traditional Christmas party at The Studio on Trade Street in Hope Mills has evolved into a fundraiser for the new Hope Mills Creative Arts Council.

Cherri Stoute has agreed to open the doors of her Trade Street business in Hope Mills to the community as a way of promoting the work of the new arts council and helping to jumpstart its effort to raise money to fund its various projects.
The event is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 17, from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. at Stoute’s photography studio at 5458 Trade St.

“I wanted to do this event to help them raise money so they can continue on their own to have events,’’ Stoute said.

Normally, Stoute rents out her photography studio space to local photographers. For the party, the studio will be cleared out to create an open space and allow the party-goers plenty of room to mingle and celebrate and to allow visiting artists to share their works.

Stoute’s studio offers memberships to local photographers and is available for rent by photographers for photo sessions and other events. Stoute herself is both a photographer and a filmmaker.
Regular hours for her studio are 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

A big part of the fundraiser will be a silent auction where guests can submit bids on art donated for the event.

Local artist Justin Spears has already donated a painting to be auctioned off, and other artists are invited to submit items for the guests to bid on. An alternative way to support the cause is the photo booth, which will be accepting donations.

Pictures of some of the items available for auction will be posted in days to come on the Hope Mills Creative Arts Council’s Facebook page, as well as its website, hopemillsarts.com. There will also be carolers and Christmas music.

Stoute said guests don’t have to stay for the full three hours, and they also don’t have to be present to learn if they’ve submitted a winning bid for any of the items to be auctioned.

In addition to Stoute’s photography studio, other businesses on Trade Street will be open during the time of the fundraiser for people to visit. “The idea is to come in and see what is going on, then go to the other shops,’’ Stoute said. “It’s an important event for the community.’’

Snacks and munchies will be available for visitors to the studio that evening. Marci’s Cakes and Bakes nearby will also be open with a variety of treats for sale.

Elizabeth Blevins, one of the originators of the Hope Mills Creative Arts Council, said all money raised from the silent auction will be used to bring more art into the community and to help local businesses offset the cost of putting art and sculptures into their businesses.

A likely initial use of the money would be to help local artists pay for supplies to create works of art for public display around the town.

One of the initial goals is to create a mural in a public space somewhere in town.

Spears has been approached about being compensated for his materials should he decide to produce a mural somewhere in the town once a location has been determined. “He is a veteran and he’s just started doing charcoal drawings,’’ Blevins said. “He also does oil paintings.’’

Artists who work in all mediums are welcome to donate works to the fundraiser to include in the silent auction Blevins said.

Artists are also welcome to come and set up a display of their work at no charge at the party on Dec. 17. “They are welcome to sell or show,’’ Blevins said.

Blevins said interested artists should contact her as soon as possible at 910-853-4539 or email hopemillscac@gmail.com.

“This is an opportunity for the arts council to meet the businesses on Trade Street,’’ Blevins said.

“We just want everyone to come out and have a lovely night on Trade Street in Hope Mills,’’ Stoute said.

Newly-opened Pet Supplies Plus offers neighborly pet care

16 pets supplies plusTony Mello is the manager of the newly opened Pet Supplies Plus in Hope Mills at the intersection of Main Street and Camden Road in the former Eckerd drugstore building.

But Mello doesn’t really care that people refer to him as the store’s manager. He’d be happier if you just called him neighbor.

“I’m from Hope Mills and have been here for 17 years,’’ said Mello. “The whole idea behind Pet Supplies Plus is we don’t have customers, we have neighbors. We are that big-box store to go shopping in minus all the hassles.’’
Mello said the store is a win-win for pet owners of all types in the Hope Mills area.

“This is somewhere you are going to want to come,’’ he said. “We want to get on a first-name basis with our neighbors — not just our neighbors, but their pets.’’

Customers will get a feel for the special interest the staff at Pet Supplies Plus has for them whenever they visit the store. “I hire for personality, but I also need pet people,’’ Mello said of his staff. He said one of the first questions he asks any potential employee is do they own pets.“I love to see their faces light up when you ask their pet’s name,’’ he said. “The first thing they show you is the pictures (of their pet) in their cellphone.’’

Pet Supplies Plus is independently owned but part of a chain of some 400 stores, based in Cleveland, Ohio.

On the premises, you can purchase live birds, various small animals, reptiles and live fish. Among the more exotic animals the store sells are chameleons, crested geckos and leopard geckos.
The store doesn’t sell dogs and cats, but arrangements are being made with several local pet adoption agencies to come in on weekends and help people pick out a pet.

One of the store’s major features is a full, self-service grooming facility.

Shampoo, towels and a blow dryer are available, and the store staff takes care of cleaning up and sanitizing the area when customers finish using it.

If need pet food, the store carries everything for dogs, cats, reptiles, guinea pigs and ferrets to name few animals. If a customer has a special need for something not in stock, they’ll work with you to make a special order.
The store also plans to offer clinics with a traveling veterinary service.Two are already scheduled for next year, one on Jan. 28 and one on Feb. 25. The hours for both are from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m.

“You can come in, see a vet and get vaccinations in house,’’ Mello said.

Regular store hours are from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

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