- Monday, 01 July 2019
- Written by EARL VAUGHAN JR.
Up & Coming Weekly asked the mayor of Hope Mills and the members of the board of commissioners to share what they thought the Fourth of July means to their community. We received responses from Mayor Jackie Warner and Commissioners Jessie Bellflowers and Pat Edwards. Here are their replies.
Mayor Jackie Warner
Parade, traditions, family, friends, fireworks and homemade ice cream — July Fourth, Hope Mills.
Like many military families, we moved a lot. But unlike most, we stayed in the Fayetteville area, just different houses — new schools every year while our dad served in other countries.
When I married and Hope Mills was Alex (Warner’s) home, it became my permanent home finally. So, like many of our retired veterans and active-duty military who find Hope Mills a perfect location to raise a family, I also share that same sentiment.
What makes Hope Mills special? First and foremost are our people. Our small town offers so much for families — youth programs for all ages, Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, Adventurers, churches of all religious preferences and the best schools in Cumberland County.
Family activities, especially around special holidays, we have so many special memories. Christmas parades — some watching with family on the front porch of Countryside Furniture — or participating in the parades, walking among floats and vehicles with scouts, bands or special groups.
The Festival of Lights at the lake with Christmas carols, hot chocolate and the Christmas story shared by a local minister are times we look forward to every year.
But a favorite time in Hope Mills has to be the July Fourth special events, which for my family have changed so much over the years.
The July Fourth parade starts the day off with families lining the parade route wearing patriotic clothes and waving flags.
Our Countryside Furniture porch has been the place for many to come and watch the parade since 1979. I can still see pictures in my mind of Mac and Pete Warner, Colleen and Milton Smith, Fronnie and Jimmy Jackson, along with friends and neighbors sitting on the porch or in the parking lot.
Over the years, the faces have changed as our family has grown — Colleen, Milton, Micah and Caleb Smith; Teddy, Tiffany, Parker and Peyton Warner; Molly, Nick, Kate, Cooper and Jackson Capps — share the porch with new neighbors and friends.
The classic car rides or town float have made the parade trip special, but also sometimes because I wave as we pass the porch that has so many memories.
The events at the park or lake are also etched in my mind, but not as much as the fireworks display. (Alex's and my) first July Fourth, in 1979, we watched the fireworks from our Hillcrest Street front yard eating homemade ice cream. As our family grew, we moved to Frierson Street, where we watched from our backyard. Then it was on to our current Legion Road home, where we watched from our driveway from 1994-2003. After the dam failed and the fireworks were moved, we watched from various locations. The best display we watched from our back porch, as it was staged at South View High School.
Traditions such as family cookouts, Christmas in July events and many churns of homemade ice cream are captured in my heart and mind.
This year, like the past 10 years, we will watch the fireworks display from the Moulder home side yard — never sure how many or who will share the best view ever because we are across Rockfish Road from the park.
Also, the ice cream churn has to start by 8:30 p.m. to be ready for the show.
Patriotism, traditions, family, community, church and schools are why Hope Mills is our home.
Hope Mills gives our children firmly planted roots in family values, traditions and love of their home. Memories are made every day, but the favorite memories come to mind on July Fourth.
Commissioner Jessie Bellflowers
Each year on the Fourth of July, most folks in Hope Mills ask two questions: When is the town parade, and where is the fireworks ceremony.
In our community, more and more families each year celebrate our nation’s birthday by attending and participating in the parade; and the
Fourth of July just wouldn’t be the same without a stunning fireworks show in the park.
On this day, let us recommit ourselves to the principles upon which our great nation was first founded. We must continue to reflect upon the price of freedom and honor America’s brave patriots who gave their last full measure and (those who) defend the freedoms we enjoy today.
Stand and salute our national colors. Let us renew our sacred pledge that will forever remain: “One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.’’
I am honored to stand with thousands of American patriots who have a genuine love of country and willingness to sacrifice everything in their life for it, without regret. Over the past 243 years, it has taken generations of sacrifice to make sure our nation’s independence endures. Those of us who have fought for freedom know all too well the high cost of maintaining the freedoms we enjoy today.
It has often been said, “A nation’s strength is not measured through military might; it’s measured in the patriotism of its people.’’
So, on this Fourth of July, please share a love of country and patriotism with your family and friends, but also pause to remember and honor all of America’s patriots who unselfishly sacrificed themselves for us to celebrate our past, our present, our future — our nation’s Independence Day.
And don’t forget to thank our active-duty members and their families for their bravery, boldness and the courage to protect the core values of America ... the very values upon which our great nation was founded 243 years ago. Enjoy a hot dog, hamburger, and raise a glass of celebration to let freedom ring across our great nation.
Happy Birthday, America.
Commissioner Pat Edwards
The Fourth of July means so much to me. It glorifies the freedom and liberty for every man and woman on earth. We commemorated the Declaration of Independence of the United States on July 4, 1776. Patriotic displays and family events are celebrated throughout the United States.
I am proud to be an American. I deeply believe that every day is Veterans Day. Our town will celebrate with a parade, vendors, food trucks (and) activities for children, followed by fireworks. Everyone is welcome. Fun time for all.
Photo: Mayor Jackie Warner
- Monday, 01 July 2019
- Written by EARL VAUGHAN JR.
It has been 10 years since John Hodges served as the police chief for the town of Hope Mills. But he remained a familiar figure to the people of the small town after his retirement, and they still held him in high regard because of the respect he showed for its citizens.
Hodges, 84, passed away just over a week ago.
Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner was a member of the town’s board of commissioners during Hodges’ final years as police chief.
“If I’m not mistaken, he was at our last board meeting,’’ Warner said. “He would come to board meetings, and you’d always see him at local restaurants.’’
He had a fun side beyond his role as police chief. “The most unusual thing was when I found out he loved to dance,’’ Warner said. “He traveled all over North Carolina and competed in Fayetteville’s Dancing With the Stars.’’
While she described Hodges as softspoken, Warner said his interest in the town was genuine. “You always knew he was concerned,’’ she said.
He was also supportive of his son Chuck Hodges, who currently serves as the town’s fire chief.
“He grew up in a town kind of like Hope Mills,’’ Chuck said of his father. “He loved Hope Mills. He loved the people. He loved that hometown feeling.’’ Chuck said it was rare for his father to go anywhere in Cumberland County without running into someone who knew him.
The elder Hodges was an avid sports fan, having played sports in high school and some semipro baseball. He officiated local high school sports as well.
Neil Buie, regional supervisor of football officials for the Southeastern Athletic Officials Association, said John had a calm, unexcitable demeanor as a football official and that he worked well with coaches.
“He just brought respect to the football field from his private vocation," Buie said. “John was a good guy. He really enjoyed it.
Above all, Chuck said his father instilled in his family a sense of the importance of public service. John's son Tim Hodges is a sergeant with the Cumberland County sheriff’s department. His daughter-in-law, Kara Hodges, is a senior assistant district attorney for Cumberland County.
“Our whole family has been in some form of public service, giving back to the community, helping to protect the community,’’ Chuck said.
Although John's role as police chief required him to enforce the law, Chuck said, his father won the respect of many people he interacted with who were on the wrong side of the law.
“I’ve had people come up to me and say, ‘Your dad busted me, but he treated me like an individual,’" Chuck said. “I think he was honorable.
“You might not get the answer you wanted from him, but he would listen to your side. I just think he treated people fairly.’’
Photo: John Hodges