Local News

Supreme Court supports Atlantic Coast Pipeline

07 acp copyIn a win for Eastern North Carolina jobs, economic development and clean energy, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a longstanding precedent allowing the Atlantic Coast Pipeline to cross beneath the Appalachian Trail — like more than 50 other pipelines already do without disturbing its public use.

While this is an exciting outcome, there is still some work to do in resolving several remaining project permits before construction can resume.

“The Court’s decision is an affirmation for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and communities across our region that are depending on it for jobs, economic growth and clean energy,” said Tammy Thurman, Piedmont spokesperson. “The project will provide a much-needed source of natural gas to North Carolina, bringing with it economic opportunities in an underserved part of our state. Eastern North Carolina’s energy needs and prospects for economic success continue to be very important to us.”
 When in service, here’s what the ACP means for your region and the state:

With access to a plentiful supply of affordable natural gas, the ACP will help to attract, compete for and win new manufacturers and industry in your counties.     
With current infrastructure constrained, the ACP provides a direct new supply of natural gas that will bring enhanced capacity and pressure to eastern North Carolina — something industry and businesses need to operate.

 Construction of the ACP would create more than 17,000 good-paying jobs and $2.7 billion in economic activity along the pipeline’s three-state route.

Job positions start at $20-$25 per hour and include free training, veteran’s programs and other benefits, such as health insurance and retirement plans.

The ACP will increase local spending, provide additional tax revenues and offer prospects for a better quality of life in your communities for many years to come.

The ACP will play an important role in the transition away from coal plants to cleaner natural gas and renewables, a critical part of our comprehensive climate and net-zero emissions strategy.

The ACP serves the strategic interests of our armed forces in North Carolina, strengthening resilient energy supplies for military readiness and national security and reducing the cost to maintain our military forces.

The ACP will reduce price volatility for all customers when natural gas demand is high during cold winter months.

The Supreme Court ruling is encouraging, and Piedmont Natural Gas appreciates everyone who has voiced support for the project. Eastern North Carolina’s energy needs continue to be very important to us, and the organization pledges to continue to help the region’s prospects for growth and economic success. To learn more about the project and supporters across the region, visit https://atlanticcoastpipeline.com and https://energysure.com

Fort Bragg official fired

06 01 Col Fort Bragg’s garrison commander has been relieved of his command. Col. Phillip Sounia was let go late last month because of what the Army said was a “loss of trust and confidence in his abilities to command.” Fort Bragg officials confirmed Sounia’s firing in an email in response to a media inquiry. Officials did not say why he was let go. They said no further information would be released because of “an ongoing investigation.” Sounia was appointed the garrison commander in May 2019. He previously served with the U.S. Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg. The decision to relieve Sounia was made jointly by Lt. Gen. Douglas Gabram, commander of Installation Management and Lt. Gen. Michael “Erik” Kurilla, Fort Bragg’s commanding general. Sounia, a highly decorated, combat-tested West Point graduate, was one of a select group chosen to participate in the Army’s doctoral program to study planning and public policy. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Justin Mitchell, Fort Bragg’s deputy garrison commander, will serve as acting commander until a replacement is named.

06 02 IMG 2397 3 copyDowntown circle of hope
The inside lane of the traffic circle around the Market House downtown has been painted bright yellow and black. It has been adorned with large lettering acknowledging the struggle of African Americans in the U.S. On June 22, Fayetteville City Council agreed to the design and wording, after several weeks of discussion. What some are calling “a circle of hope” is scripted with “Black Lives Do Matter” and “End Racism Now.” This is despite a renewed effort by some to remove the landmark from the city center.

City Council also decided to create a citizen review board to investigate police misbehavior in the wake of the killing by Minneapolis Police of George Floyd, which sparked protests across the country, including here in Fayetteville. “I can support an advisory board, but it is going to take months to figure out ... what their powers are going to be,” Councilman Johnny Dawkins said.

The creation of an agency with enforcement authority, including the right to issue subpoenas, would require legislative authorization. Council members were quick to applaud Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins, who said up to 40% of the department’s budget is dedicated to community policing. This strategy focuses on building ties and working closely with members of the community. Mayor Mitch Colvin observed that even with determination and training, a thorough review of police policies is in order. Councilmember Tisha Waddell agreed and said it is incumbent upon members of the council to learn the specifics of law enforcement procedures.                                             
06 03 Jody Risacher 2Library official retires
Cumberland County Public Library and Information Center Director Jody Risacher has retired after 22 years of service. Risacher joined the library system in April 1998 and was named director in January 2009.

“I’m very grateful for the opportunity I had. … It has fed my soul over the years to help people develop self-confidence, comfort and strength in fulfilling their dreams,” Risacher said.

Under her leadership, the Cumberland County Public Library and Information Center was awarded the National Medal for Museum and Library Services in 2012. Risacher was named library director of the Year by the North Carolina Public Library Directors Association in 2013, and in 2014, she was elected to serve as the association’s president. She also served on the North Carolina State Library Commission’s Public Library Standards Committee.

“Jody Risacher did a wonderful job as director of the Cumberland County Public Library,” said Cumberland County Board of Commissioners Vice Chairman Glenn Adams. Deputy library director Cotina Jones will serve as interim library director as a recruitment process for a new director begins.

06 04 Bragg Mutual FCUBragg Mutual Federal Credit Union moves into Harnett County
The National Credit Union Association has approved an underserved region of neighboring Harnett County as a service area for Bragg Mutual Federal Credit Union. Bragg Mutual FCU services will be available to anyone who lives, works or worships in parts of Harnett County, increasing its membership potential by 61,713.

“Many of these residents live in areas with few options when it comes to financial service providers,” said Steve Foley, president and CEO of Bragg Mutual FCU. “Our newest office located in Spout Springs on Highway 24/87 is already serving members, and we look forward to expanding into the central and eastern part of the County.”

Bragg Mutual Federal Credit Union has been serving people in Cumberland County since 1952. The credit union has assets of $83 million and is recognized as one of the fastest growing credit unions in terms of asset growth in North Carolina. The credit union is a member-owned financial cooperative.

06 05 FTCC CorporateIndustryTrainingFTCC receives job training grant
Fayetteville Technical Community College has received a $296,535 grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation to provide job training and job placement assistance for special needs individuals. Persons considered hard to employ, including those who have been previously incarcerated for nonviolent crimes, and young adults aging out of foster care, will receive counseling and will be enrolled in a 15-week FTCC course that will teach basic skills in electrical, HVAC, plumbing and carpentry trades.

“Fayetteville Tech is delighted to receive the Golden LEAF Foundation’s support on this important project,” said FTCC President Dr. Larry Keen. “Our college is dedicated to helping students from all walks of life achieve their educational goals and to serving our community by strengthening its workforce.”

FTCC will partner with local agencies, employers and nonprofits to identify prospective trainees, support individuals while in training and place them into employment. Participants will receive paid internships, and those who complete the course will receive job placement assistance from FTCC’s Job Center.

06 06 Yard Sale 2Yard sales are permissible again
The city of Fayetteville’s yard sale permitting process has been reactivated. Yard sales were suspended for several weeks because of COVID-19. The reactivation is in line with the governor’s executive order easing restrictions on travel, business operations and mass gatherings. The city code requires a permit for a yard sale. A residence is limited to three yard sales per year. This rule prevents homeowners from operating as commercial businesses. Permit applications are being accepted online at https://fayworx.com/fayworxportal. People with questions about code enforcement and inspections can call 910-433-1329.

Information technology jobs proven to be sustainable

11 ITThe year 2020 has shown us that information technology jobs will not only sustain during hard times such as these but will remain in high demand. Experiencing a pandemic is something I do not think any of us would have ever thought we would see in our lifetime. Some of us hold positions that are considered essential and are thankfully able to continue to work during the shutdown. Some of us hold positions that allow us to work from home without skipping a beat. Positions in information technology are both essential and flexible enough to allow people to work from home. According to National Public Radio in an article published on May 8, about a third of the American population is now working from home due to COVID-19. Information technology specialists are needed now more than ever before to help make these transitions possible for many industries.

There have been tons of data collected on COVID-19 and its affects across the world. This data can help scientists understand how the virus is spreading, symptoms associated with it and preventive measures to safeguard the population. Data has even helped to predict spikes and drops in the rate of infection. Because of this data, every day we can view up-to-date statistics on the virus. That data and those statistics are what decision-makers use when tough choices must be made. The world needs specialized technicians to manage this data. What we are experiencing has further illustrated the need for information technology specialists in the areas of PC support and services as well as database management.

At Fayetteville Technical Community College, faculty and staff worked hard throughout the pandemic to continue to deliver high-quality educational experiences for our students. This was made possible by the use of technology, which allowed our faculty members to deliver online instruction and our staff to work remotely from home. Staff also worked in computer labs, the Student Learning Center and the Paul H. Thompson Library to maintain support of our students’ needs. We are proud that we have been able to continue working to serve you throughout the pandemic.

FTCC offers programs in information technology that can lead to careers as technology and data specialists. Both careers are proven to have continuous high demand and longevity even in times of turmoil and recession. Please contact me at sobersto@faytechcc.edu or 910-678-7365 for information on earning a degree in PC support and services or database management. For information on all the programs of study available at FTCC,  visit www.faytechcc.edu. Fall classes begin Aug. 17, and registration for fall classes is going on now.  You can begin your journey to a rewarding, in-demand career in information technology at Fayetteville Technical Community College — the smart choice for education.  

Fayetteville’s mayor says city must reform law enforcement

09 01 mitch colvin 2 copyThere are a variety of ways that police officers sometimes engage in misconduct. One way is using excessive force when interacting with the public. Whether or not force used by the police is “excessive” depends on the facts of each case. For example, if a suspect resists arrest and threatens the life of an officer that officer may be justified in using force. Sacrifices that law enforcement officers make are often overlooked and underappreciated. Police brutality should not exist, but it does because a small minority of officers abuse their privileges. In North Carolina and 22 other states, and the District of Columbia, a cop’s disciplinary history is mostly unavailable to the public. Disciplinary records are confidential under North Carolina law.

09 02 Fort Bragg CAFayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin said it’s time for reform. “The people are demanding real change,” he said. “There are a number of statutory protections, which must be changed in order for the citizens to have true oversight.”

A police officer’s fundamental mission is to promote public safety. Sometimes officers must go “hands-on” while conducting searches or making arrests. Except in cases involving serious violent crimes, maybe officers need to go hands-off. “I believe in order for true reform to occur, we have to look at the entire system,” the mayor told Up & Coming Weekly.

Fort Bragg may indeed change its name

09 03 Fayetteville Florence floodingA West Coast city is considering changing its name in the wake of calls to remove Confederate monuments and statues across the United States, according to a post on the city’s Facebook page. Officials are responding to requests that the town of Fort Bragg, California, change its name to avoid connotations associated with Confederate Army general Braxton Bragg. Mayor Will Lee said City Council will discuss whether to place the question of changing the name on the ballot in November for residents to decide. Calls to rename the town came after George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis, Minnesota, police. The protests that have followed Floyd’s death have spurred efforts to question statues, monuments or historical sites and names that have links to racial injustice. Fort Bragg is a coastal city along California’s Shoreline Highway in Mendocino County. The community was founded before the American Civil War as a military garrison nearly a century before the Army established Camp Bragg, North Carolina, as a training garrison.

Hurricane season is upon us

09 04 Festival Park Bldg2With the onset of hurricane season, we are reminded of the local impact of Hurricanes Matthew in 2016 and Florence in 2018. Being prepared can help families stay safe and avoid or reduce damage in the event of severe weather. Fayetteville’s Public Works Commission is ready to implement aggressive emergency plans when faced with a hurricane or other disaster. “Crews are always prepared to swing into action, just as soon as it’s safe, and work around the clock to restore your service,” a spokesman said.

Citizen preparation recommendations include having an emergency plan, having a disaster supply kit on hand and designating a friend or family member outside the area as a contact person in the event your family gets separated in an emergency. If the power goes out, many services like ATMs may be down, so have an adequate amount of cash on hand. Always have a battery-operated radio, flashlight and batteries on hand. A car battery can be a backup charger for cellphones. Be sure to have a minimum of 1 gallon of water per person per day for three days. PWC’s Storm Central at www.faypwc.com has resources and information available.

Chamber of Commerce offices moving

09 05 FAST MinivanThe Greater Fayetteville Chamber is moving its offices to Festival Park Plaza. The Chamber is moving this month to a new suite of offices on Ray Avenue, according to a news release from Chamber President and CEO Christine Michaels. The change will be effective June 30. The building the Chamber has occupied for the past five years on Maxwell Street down town, is for sale.

“The Chamber’s new location enables us to be more efficient with our space requirements under the social-distancing restrictions in place,” Michaels said. Chamber services and programs will operate as normally as possible through the move. Virtual programs will remain in place until in-person meetings are deemed safe, according to the release. The Chamber has been providing virtual committee meetings, virtual networking and “Back in Business” kits for businesses reopening since the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

FAST now has small minivans in use

09 06 Cheyenne Headshot highres 222x268The Fayetteville Area System of Transit is operating three new minivans, which it says will better serve paratransit service customers. The minivans are equipped with wheelchair ramps, two-way radios and mobile tablets with GPS. The FASTTRAC minivans can go where bigger vans cannot and improve access in parking lots and neighborhoods for customers who are going to medical facilities and stores. In May of this year, FASTTRAC services averaged about 760 trips per week, compared to 1,500 trips per week in May 2019, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. FAST patrons interested in paratransit services must meet criteria defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act. To apply or make a reservation, call 910-433-1232. The minivans are dispatched based on current schedules and availability. All FASTTRAC services and FAST bus rides are free during the pandemic.

FCEDC Welcomes Director of Public Relations

The Fayetteville Cumberland Economic Development Corporation has appointed Cheyenne Padgett as Director of Public Relations. With more than five years of experience in the communications industry, Padgett has worked extensively in the real estate, hospitality and lifestyle sectors. In her most recent role as senior account executive at QUINN, a Miami-based public relations firm, Padgett worked with clients including Lionheart Capital, JMH Development, Aloft Miami Aventura, Zuma Miami and Amrit Ocean Resort and Residences. Following the completion of her bachelor’s degree in public relations from Hofstra University, Padgett garnered extensive experience as a media specialist in both New York and Miami, before moving to Fayetteville in Spring 2020.

“As a newcomer to Cumberland County, I look forward to being an instrumental part of a team that continues to build prosperity in the region,” said Cheyenne Padgett. “Having lived in rural, suburban and urban cities across the U.S., I can attest that Fayetteville provides the best of both worlds and I am happy to call this city my new home.”

ABOUT FCEDC: The Fayetteville Cumberland County Economic Development Corporation (FCEDC) is a public-private partnership dedicated to facilitating business projects, increasing employment, supporting existing industry, and preparing sites for expedited development in Fayetteville and Cumberland County, NC. Visit www.fayedc.com to learn more.

Completing the census is our greatest gift to our children

08 N2004P64022CThe demographic that has proven to be most undercounted in the United States is children under age 6. We simply forget to count our kids when we complete the census survey. This is problematic as the census is only conducted every 10 years, yet we have babies and need services for those babies (and prenatal services) every year. While we may not be able to predict where children will be born and serviced in advance, we can do a better job by the children already living in our community.

Have you ever planned a party for 10 but have 30 people show up? This is what an undercount in the census looks like. The census, a federally mandated, population count, strives to determine how many people live in the .U.S — regardless of citizenship, race or age. This is an important part of our democratic process because it involves all persons. The census then determines how much funding will be applied to federal programs. These programs include Child and Adult Care Food Program; Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program, or SNAP; and Head Start — just to name a few. Then the programs disperse the monies they are given to and within states based on population.

In a presentation I attended conducted by N.C. Child, it was said that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of 2018, the child population of North Carolina was 2,442,881. For a demographic or community to be considered “hard to count,” the mail-in response for 2010 had to be less than 73%. That means in North Carolina as a whole, we missed out, for the last 10 years, on a lot of money for the programs for our children. In Cumberland County, we have missed out on valuable resources such as funding to pay teachers for our Head Start programs, funding for meals for our school lunch program, as well as resources for our WIC programs. In a recent presentation I attended given by Cumberland County Schools Assistant Superintendent of Communication Lindsay Whitley, he stated that approximately 78% of Cumberland County students are receiving free/reduced lunch. That program is a part of the census funded Child Food Program.

Please consider doing your part in Cumberland County obtaining a complete count this decennial. To do so, complete your 2020 census. You can complete the survey by completing and returning the mailer that was sent to your home. If you did not receive a mailer, or if you prefer, you can complete the survey online via https://my2020census.gov/ . Or call 1-844-330-2020. If English is not your primary language, the internet and phone options are available in 12 other languages. This process is quick, anonymous and protected by U.S. Constitution. We do not want to make the mistake of another undercount here in Cumberland County. We want our children in Cumberland County to receive the tax monies that should be appropriated to them.


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