Local News

Local museums reopen

The Army Airborne & Special Operations Museum in downtown Fayetteville and the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex in Haymount are doing business again. Both museums had been closed since March because of COVID-19 restrictions. The ASOM is now open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays. Weekend hours will be phased in gradually. Museum of the Cape Fear hours of operation have also changed temporarily. The new hours are Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Attendance is limited at both facilities. Visitors are expected to wear face masks and maintain physical distancing of at least 6 feet from one another. Hand sanitizer stations are located throughout the buildings. Anyone experiencing symptoms of illness or who have recently been in contact with people who tested positive for COVID-19 are asked to postpone their visits.

No tours of the 1897 Poe House are being provided for at least 30 days after reopening.

At the ASOM, water fountains are off, but visitors may bring clear containers of water. Food is not permitted. Reservations can be made online. Upon arrival, visitors should scan the QR code at the museum entrance to complete guest registration. The gift shop is limited to five visitors at a time. Only debit and credit cards will be accepted for payment. Donations to support museum operations can be made online or during checkout in the gift shop.
Some areas of the Museum of the Cape Fear remain closed to the public. They include the steamboat exhibit, the Civil War soldier teaching corner and the general store. Visitors will be able to view these areas but not enter them. Residents can keep up to date by visiting the museum’s website at www.museumofthecapefear.ncdcr.gov. The facility is located at the corner of Bradford and Arsenal Avenues and is operated by the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

In 2007, the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex Foundation received a planning grant from the North Carolina General Assembly to perform a benchmarking and assessment study to determine whether a new museum should focus on the Civil War and Reconstruction period in North Carolina. Because of the existing museum’s location on one of North Carolina’s most important Civil War sites, consultants recommended that a new facility replace the existing regional museum with a major statewide history center. Much of the planning has already been done.

According to the history center’s website, planners concluded that the entire state’s story is the most compelling one. A feasibility study validated this finding, demonstrating that the completed project will attract wider attention and stronger support by reaching beyond Fayetteville to tell the larger story. The result is an $80 million project involving a phased, multi-year approach to both fundraising and the history center’s overall development.

The site will include a 60,000-square-foot visitor center built just outside the Fayetteville Arsenal’s archaeological footprint, protecting the remnants of the asset seized by Confederate forces in 1861 and leveled by William T. Sherman army four years later. The existing 1896 E. A. Poe House and three Civil War-era structures will comprise “History Village” and are incorporated into the larger, interpretive plan.

13 01 ASOM

13 02 Ghost Arsenal Tower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picture left: ASOM is now open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays. Weekend hours will be phased in gradually.

Picture right: Museum of the Cape Fear is set to reopen. The new hours are Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

 

Split court ruling permits some felons to vote

12 N1506P39009CSome N.C. felons who have finished their active prison time will be able to cast ballots in the 2020 election, based on a 2-1 ruling from a state Superior Court panel.

The court’s order applies to any felon who is out of prison but still must pay fees or fines before his criminal sentence is considered complete.

The ruling in Community Success Initiative v. Moore represents a partial victory for the “Unlock Our Vote Campaign,” led by an advocacy group called Forward Justice. The group’s lawsuit filed in November 2019 aimed to restore voting rights for almost 60,000 convicted felons not serving active prison time. Supporters argued that state laws regarding restoration of voting rights for felons violate the N.C. Constitution.

The Sept. 4 ruling in the case offered plaintiffs mixed news. The judges refused to strike down voting restrictions for all felons who have completed active prison sentences. But two members of the panel — Judges Lisa Bell and Keith Gregory — agreed that money-related requirements for post-release felons create unconstitutional restrictions of voting rights.

“As Defendants correctly argue, the express words of [the challenged state statute] do not in and of themselves create different classifications of persons convicted of felonies — all such persons remain disenfranchised until they have been ‘unconditionally discharged,’” the judges wrote. “However, by requiring an unconditional discharge that includes payments of all monetary obligations imposed by the court, [the statute] creates a wealth classification that punishes felons who are genuinely unable to comply with the financial terms of their judgment more harshly than those who are able to comply.”

Bell and Gregory agreed to grant a preliminary injunction allowing those felons to cast ballots this year. The judges limited their injunction to felons now prevented from voting “solely as a result of them being subject to an assessment of fees, fines, or other debts arising from a felony conviction.”

Felons on probation or parole with no outstanding fees or fines would not be affected.

The third judge in the case — John Dunlow — agreed with his colleagues only in the parts of their ruling that rejected plaintiffs’ arguments. Dunlow would have thrown out the entire lawsuit and ruled in favor of the defendants.

“The Plaintiffs, throughout their complaint, briefs, filings, and arguments, complain of North Carolina’s ‘disenfranchisement scheme,’ ‘disenfranchisement statute,’ and ‘disenfranchisement of citizens,'” Dunlow wrote. “The disenfranchisement of which Plaintiffs complain is in no way attributable to [the challenged statute]. No reasonable reading of the plain language of [the statute] could be interpreted to disenfranchise any person. Rather, the sole purpose of [the statute] is to provide a mechanism whereby individuals who have been convicted of a felony offense may be re-enfranchised.”

The N.C. Republican Party responded to the ruling. “It is outrageous for these judges to change the rules for an election when absentee ballots have already started going out and voting has begun,” N.C. GOP Chairman Michael Whatley said in an emailed statement. “This is yet another example of why we need to elect Conservative Judges who will apply the law rather ran re-write the laws they don’t like.”

MADD releases new report on marijuana consumption and driving

10 N1310P59003CMothers Against Drunk Driving, celebrating the 40th Anniversary of its founding on Saturday, Sept. 5, has released a new survey that measures the American public’s attitudes and knowledge about the impact of marijuana on traffic safety.

According to the survey, one in eight U.S. adults admits to having driven under the influence of marijuana. And as more states legalize marijuana use, it’s no surprise that 76% of the American public believe that incidents of driving after consuming marijuana will increase.

The alarming new findings came just ahead of Labor Day weekend, one of the most dangerous times for travel on America’s roads. Nearly 40% of all traffic deaths on Labor Day weekend in 2018 were caused by drunk driving. While traffic deaths caused by marijuana and other drugs are not yet tracked with the same consistency as alcohol, law enforcement officers have reported a steady rise in marijuana-impaired drivers, which increases the risk of more preventable tragedies.

“MADD has spent 40 years changing the culture so that drunk driving is now unacceptable in America. Over that time, we have seen drunk driving fatality rates cut in half due to our efforts, and yet we still see major spikes in traffic deaths during busy travel weekends like Labor Day,” said MADD National President Helen Witty, whose 16-year-old daughter Helen Marie was killed by a drunk and marijuana-impaired driver. “We are deeply concerned about the combination of alcohol consumption and other drugs such as marijuana increasing the risk of tragedies on our roads.”

To keep our nation’s highways safe, MADD is embarking on a broad initiative to educate all U.S. drivers of the dangers of driving under the influence of marijuana. Through program enhancements, public outreach and corporate alliances, MADD will continue its fight to eliminate drunk and drugged driving.

In February 2020*, MADD commissioned IPSOS, a global leader in market research, to conduct a nationwide study of adults 18 and older. The research was aimed at understanding the attitudes and awareness related to driving under the influence of marijuana, along with knowledge of the laws that surround it.

“With two-thirds of the states now allowing some form of legal use of marijuana, MADD is concerned that a clear lack of understanding about the risks of marijuana-impaired driving threatens the safety of our nation’s highways,” Witty said. “The survey highlights the confusion that exists and the shocking number of people who are consuming marijuana and driving.”

Additional findings include:
• 27% recall a friend or family member driving within two hours of consuming alcohol sometime during the past three months.
• 26% think that driving after recent consumption of marijuana is “not too concerning” or “not at all concerning”.
• 31% of parents and grandparents report discussing the consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol “often”. While 43% of parents and grandparents surveyed reported “never” broaching the subject of driving high with the next generation.
• There is uncertainty whether it is legal to drive impaired by marijuana: 40% view this as a serious crime, 27% say it is only a minor traffic offense, 4% think it is legal, and 27% are unsure.
• 41% are unsure or incorrectly believe that people who regularly use marijuana are generally not impaired, making it safe to drive.

“This survey is critical to directing our outreach and education programs as we look to the next 40 years of our mission and our strategies to stop these 100% preventable and violent crashes, deaths and injuries caused by driving while impaired by marijuana and other drugs,” Witty said. “MADD is grateful to State Farm© and General Motors for their support in funding this important project. We thank them for their dedication to our shared mission to stop these tragedies that destroy families and devastate our communities.”

To review the survey results, visit https://www.madd.org/the-solution/drugged-driving-prevention/

*This survey was conducted February 14–18, 2020, before widespread impacts of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. It is viewed as a baseline of perceptions and attitudes.

About Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking. MADD has helped save more than 390,000 lives, reduce drunk driving deaths by more than 50% and promote designating a nondrinking driver. MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® calls for law enforcement support, ignition interlocks for all offenders and advanced vehicle technology. MADD has provided supportive services to nearly one million drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge through local victim advocates and the 24-Hour Victim Help Line 1-877-MADD-HELP (877-623-3435). Visit www.madd.org or call 1-877-ASK-MADD (877-275-6233).

Special North Carolina reunion

09 Military Working Dog 2After more than a year’s separation, a Fort Bragg soldier has been reunited with a former partner. Army Sgt. Nicholas Milano got a big surprise when he arrived at his Nash County home the other day for a birthday party. A surprise gift was hidden among the well-wishers. But it didn’t take long for “Lion” to bolt from the crowd into Milano’s arms. Lion is a retired military working dog. He and Milano traveled the world in the Army for almost seven years. The pair even went to war together, serving two deployments in Afghanistan. The 10-year-old German Shepherd is in retirement now and gets to live on the couch.

“And he’ll be sleeping in bed with me and you,” Milano laughed while looking at his wife.

“I had zero idea, this is crazy,” Milano said of the surprise. “His [Lion’s] job was either to bite people, which he never had to do, or find bombs and weapons.”

When Milano got orders for Fort Bragg, they parted ways. He had to leave Lion at the base in Germany. “This dog has saved my husband’s life, more than once, along with others,” said Kristy, Milano’s wife.

Kristy secretly adopted Lion upon his retirement. She worked with Mission K-9 Rescue to make the dog’s adoption happen. The nonprofit paid to fly Lion from Germany to Houston, Texas. Once he arrived in Texas, a staff member drove 20 hours to reunite him with Milano in North Carolina.

Local military fighters are coming home

08 Paratroopers in the middle eastThe U.S. will send about 2,200 troops home from Iraq by the end of this month, CENTCOM Commander and Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie announced from Baghdad.

President Trump made the formal announcement. "That announcement will be followed by another one in the coming days on a further reduction in U.S. forces in Afghanistan," Reuters reported.

This would be the first big reduction of U.S. troops deployed to the Middle East since the ISIS war started more than six years ago.

The 82nd Airborne Division was among the first military units mobilized in response to the escalation of tensions in the middle easy earlier this year. Four thousand 82nd troops deployed to Kuwait and Syria as the result of Iranian threats.

Actions by the Iranians and the U.S. increased tensions in the region not seen since before the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

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