Local News

Fort Bragg prepares for upcoming holiday season

18The official installation holiday tree for Fort Bragg has arrived and has been decorated for the holiday season.
The 24-foot North Carolina Fraser Fir is planned to be the center piece for the 20th Annual Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony planned on Dec. 3. This ceremony will officially kick off the holiday season for Fort Bragg service members, civilians, and their families.

“The holiday season is a time when we come together as a community to celebrate,” said Col. John Wilcox, Fort Bragg Garrison Commander.

“From the moment the tree arrives, to the final decorations with ornaments showing all the major commands on the installation, the tree is symbolic of our connection with each other and the strength of our people. We are grateful for the opportunity to share our tree lighting ceremony with all of our neighbors, and officially celebrate the start of the holiday season here on Fort Bragg.”

The ceremony will kick off at 4 p.m. Highlights will include performances from the 82nd Airborne Division All-American Chorus, the Golden Knights, Santa and Mrs. Claus, a Winter Wonderland light display, face painting, cookie decorating, food and drink vendors -- all culminating with the lighting of the holiday tree.

One difference this year is that the Family of the Year will be announced before the Christmas Tree Lighting, not during. Fort Bragg’s annual Family of the Year ceremony will take place 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 1 at the Main Post Chapel.

Families are nominated for Family of the Year by their units based on the level of involvement of the Family, their contributions to the unit, as well as the community.

“It is important to note that military Families demonstrate resiliency in their everyday live through supporting each other during unexpected challenges and while celebrating each other’s victories,” said Liz Dailey, Supervisory Army Community Service Specialist.

“This is the time to honor and recognize those who embody the spirit of selfless service and take that extra step to help others within their community and the Army as a whole.”

The Annual Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony will take place at the Main Post Parade Field. Military families who want a tree of their own at Fort Bragg can receive a free Christmas tree as well.

The Trees for Troops program is back this year to partner with Fort Bragg's Family and Morale Welfare and Recreation, FedEx, the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation and tree farmers across the country to give out 600 trees. During the busy weeks leading up to Christmas, FedEx will deliver more than 15,000 real trees to 84 military bases.

The donated Christmas trees are free for active-duty service members E-6 and below. Tree vouchers will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis at Leisure Travel Services.

Trees will be given out starting at 8 a.m. at the Smith Lake Recreation Area on Friday, Dec. 2. Those with a voucher and a valid Department of Defense identification card can pick up their tree. They will stop distributing trees at noon.

Questions and answers about HIV/AIDS

10b The progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS has been remarkable. According to amfAR (formerly known as the American Foundation for AIDS Research), annual deaths from AIDS-related causes declined by 43 percent between 2010 and 2020. Much of that decline can be credited to increased access to antiretroviral therapies. In 2010, just 7.7 million people across the globe had access to such treatments. By 2020, 27.5 million people had access to such treatments, which reflects the tireless efforts of various advocacy groups determined to help people overcome HIV/AIDS.

Ongoing efforts to educate individuals across the globe also has helped in the fight against HIV/AIDS. COVID-19 has dominated headlines since the World Health Organization first declared a pandemic in March 2020, and that may give the false impression that HIV/AIDS is no longer a significant threat, particularly in the developed world. However, amfAR reports that 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV, and roughly 14 percent of them are unaware that they’re infected. Learning more about HIV/AIDS may compel individuals to be tested, which in turn can lead them to seek potentially lifesaving therapies.

What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. HIV resides and multiplies in the white blood cells, which are immune cells that typically protect the body from disease. As HIV grows in an infected person, specific immune cells are damaged or even killed. That weakens the immune system and leaves infected individuals vulnerable to a range of additional infections or illnesses, including pneumonia and cancer. amfAR notes that AIDS is diagnosed when an individual experiences these additional conditions or loses a significant amount of immune cells.

Is AIDS inevitable after an HIV diagnosis?

Though HIV can be a precursor to AIDS, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services notes that most individuals in the United States who have been diagnosed with HIV do not develop AIDS. That’s thanks to HIV medicine that stops the progression of the disease when it’s taken every day as prescribed.

Can virally suppressed people being treated for HIV transmit the virus?

One of the most noteworthy developments in recent years in regard to antiretroviral therapies was the discovery that such treatments can eliminate the risk of transmission to uninfected partners. According to amfAR, which sponsored one of the key studies in this area, when individuals with HIV take their antiretroviral therapies as prescribed to achieve lasting viral suppression, they completely remove the risk of transmitting HIV to uninfected partners. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made that declaration in 2019.

Are treatments for HIV curative?

Though HIV medications help individuals diagnosed with the virus live normal, healthier lives, such treatments are not cures. Individuals must continue to adhere to their antiretroviral treatments to keep the virus suppressed and avoid transmitting it to their partners. Researchers continue to make remarkable progress in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Individuals can do their part by learning about HIV/AIDS and taking measures to protect themselves and their loved ones. More information is available at www.amfar.org.

Honoring World AIDS Day in Fayetteville

10a​​On Dec. 1, we wear red ribbons to support the people living with HIV and honor those who have died from AIDS-related illnesses. This day serves as the worldwide united fight against HIV.

As one of the most destructive pandemics in modern history, 38 million people have died of the virus, and an estimated 105,000 are living with HIV. HIV was identified in 1984.

Last summer, our area made headlines for ranking sixth in the nation for newly diagnosed AIDS cases and fifth in the country for newly diagnosed HIV cases. For 2022, inner body research shows Fayetteville, North Carolina, as tenth in the nation for new Sexually Transmitted Disease cases. The NC Communicable Disease Branch reports that there have been 56 newly diagnosed HIV infections for Cumberland County residences between January and September of this year. Cumberland County trails Mecklenburg County, Wake County, and Guilford County in the number of new cases.

The nonprofit Cumberland County HIV Task Force (CCHIVTF) is in action to combat this local problem. The organization has been around for over 35 years to provide information and education to the community and is funded by the Southern AIDS Coalition. Jovon McLean serves as Chairman, and Barbara Carraway serves as the organization's Secretary. Together they recently started a podcast on Youtube, "Let’s Be Real."

In conversations about HIV, McLean says, “We want to invite unusual partners to the table."

CCHIVTF meets virtually the first Tuesday of the month from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. A zoom link can be requested from their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/cchivtf/
Fayetteville PRIDE will host an awareness campaign and a virtual fundraiser on World AIDS Day to support Community Health Intervention Specialty Clinic, located at 2409 Murchinson Road. Community Health

Interventions conducts finger prick testing and distributes PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis) through the Fayetteville community.

“The fight for humanity is everyone’s fight for equality,” Kathy Greggs, Fayetteville PRIDE Board Member, says.

The digital fundraiser can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/fayncpride/.

In partnership with Southern Regional AHEC White Part B Program and Cumberland County HIV Task Force, The Arts Council will host the exhibit “Tear It Down,” which will center around HIV, Faith, and Breaking Stigma. The art exhibit will feature local artists Khalil Coleman, Dominique Wright, Tony Taylor Jr., and Dontre Perry. The display is open to the public and will run from Dec. 1 to Dec. 16.

The World AIDS Day Celebration and Art Gallery Opening will be at the Arts Council in downtown Fayetteville on Dec. 1. The doors will open at 6 p.m., and the celebration will start promptly at 6:30 p.m. This fun-filled evening will include Hors d'oeuvres, drinks, and outstanding local artwork. The dress code for the event is business casual/semi-formal. To RSVP, send an email to cumberlandhivgala@gmail.com to ensure guest accommodations. If you have any questions, please call 910-678-7270.

World AIDS Day is an important reminder to the public and the government that HIV has not disappeared. The need is still there to increase awareness, raise money, fight prejudice, and improve education.

Decline in enrollment at UNC System schools for first time in nearly a decade

9For the first time in nine years, enrollment in UNC System schools is down this year, particularly in graduate programs. For fall 2022, there was a total headcount of 239,663 students across the system, down about 2% over the previous year. Of the 16 institutions in the system, 12 saw decreases in enrollment. Four saw increases.

Enrollment in graduate programs was down 7%, and transfer student enrollment was down again for a fourth year, now at the lowest since 2013. The report also showed that the percentage of minority students enrolling has increased for the 10th consecutive year. In 2022, one out of every three students in the UNC System are classified as an underrepresented minority student.

The 2022 UNC Fall Enrollment Report was presented to the University of North Carolina System Board of Governors’ Committee on Educational Planning, Policies, and Programs for discussion.

“External projections anticipated a significant dip in North Carolina high school graduates in 2022 and significant national declines over the next decade,” report author David English, acting senior vice president for academic affairs, wrote.

The report also showed that demand from out of state has led to four schools exceeding their capped enrollment of out-of-state freshmen. In 1986, the UNC BOG set that the 16 UNC System schools must limit the number of out-of-state students as a percentage of the first-time freshmen coming on campus. Over the years, system schools have opposed the caps, asking that they be increased. The policy was adjusted in 2022 to be a percentage of the previous year’s enrollment.

For 2022, the caps were 50% for Elizabeth State University, 35% for Fayetteville State University and Winston-Salem State University, 25% for North Carolina Central University and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, and 18% percent for the rest of the institutions, like UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. State.

“The UNC System saw significant enrollment demand from first-time freshmen outside North Carolina for the fall of 2022, demand that far exceeded capacity for out-of-state freshmen,” the report read.

The report followed a vote by the UNC Board of Governors earlier this month in favor of fining N.C. A&T $2 million for enrolling more out-of-state students than permitted, hitting 41% of the freshman class being out-of-state. The vote came after the school exceeded the cap for two consecutive years. N.C. State, UNCW, and WCU also exceeded their caps, but by lower percentages. The three schools were notified that they would be fined if they exceed the cap again next year.

The report also predicted that nationwide college enrollment declines are expected through the coming decade and beyond, particularly in the Midwest and northern states. Substantial shifts in population indicate that by 2037, only states in the South and West will have more high school graduates than they did in 2019.

“In the coming decade, the substantial enrollment declines in the Northeast, Midwest, and West will cause colleges and universities in those regions to become more aggressive in recruiting students from the South, including North Carolina,” the report read.

Board split on ordinances to remove homeless from county property

Cumberlan Co logo The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners voted 5-2 last week in favor of two new ordinances designed to remove homeless individuals from parking or camping on county-owned property. Because the vote did not pass unanimously, County Attorney Rick Moorefield said the proposed ordinances require a second reading. The second reading, which could happen at the Dec. 5 meeting, also must pass on a majority vote.

Commissioners Larry Lancaster, Jeannette Council, Glenn Adams, Michael Boose and Jimmy Keefe voted to amend the current county parking ordinance and enact a new ordinance to prohibit camping or establishing campsites on county property. Commissioners Toni Stewart and Charles Evans voted against the change.

The city of Fayetteville adopted an ordinance Aug. 8 making camping unlawful on city-owned property, which according to Moorefield, will likely shift homeless people previously camping in the city parking lot across from the downtown library to the library property.

During his presentation to county commissioners, Moorefield said that as the city continues to enforce its ordinance, it is likely more campsites will be shifted to county property. The library is already experiencing human waste being dumped in the dumpsters and people urinating and defecating in the storm drain grate and urinating on the public walkways on the property. The ordinance prohibiting camping and parking unlicensed vehicles on county property is intended to avoid the public nuisance created by people staying on the property overnight.

Moorefield recommended the amendment to the ordinance regulating parking on county property, and the ordinance prohibiting camping on county property be adopted. Under state law, the commissioners could create those ordinances without a public hearing, Moorefield said.
Moorefield said both the parking amendment and the new camping ordinance are short and direct and will not result in penalties or criminal charges.

Unlawful Parking

The amendment to the ordinance would make it “unlawful to willfully park any vehicle in any county-owned parking lot which does not display a current license plate.”
This ordinance applies to any county-owned property within Cumberland County, including all county-owned property in municipalities within the county. The county does not have the jurisdiction to apply those ordinances within municipalities unless it is county-owned property within the municipalities, Moorefield said.

Camping

The ordinance defines a camp or camping as sleeping, preparing to sleep (including lying down or the laying down of bedding for the purpose of sleeping); storing personal belongings; the placement of tents, huts, or tarps; or parking a motor vehicle, motor home, trailer, or any other type of structure for living accommodation purposes. The proposed ordinance declares camping on county property a public nuisance.

In a memo to commissioners, Moorefield stated that the use of county property for camping interferes with the rights of others to use the property for its intended use and the accumulation of trash, garbage, or waste, and the lack of sanitary disposal facilities at camping sites create conditions which constitute a public nuisance.

To avoid a public health nuisance being created by the accumulation of trash, garbage, or waste, and the lack of sanitary disposal facilities, camping or establishing a camp on county property is prohibited. According to the ordinance, anyone camping or establishing a camp on county property shall be deemed trespassing on county property.

The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office has the authority to enforce this ordinance by giving notice of trespass to anyone camping or establishing a camp on county property. The sheriff also has the authority to direct violators to remove, within an appropriate amount of time, all of their personal property at the campsite.

The sheriff also can ask the county manager to dispatch appropriate county staff to remove any personal property not removed from the site within the time directed. While that happens, the Sheriff’s Office shall keep a sworn law enforcement officer on site while county employees are there to remove personal property.

Anyone notified that they are trespassing for camping or establishing a camp on county property shall be subject to being charged with trespass if they come onto the same county property again. The ordinance would have been effective immediately upon its unanimous adoption by the Board of Commissioners.
Commissioner Charles Evans suggested that one segment of the community brought this proposed action forward against another segment of the community.

“We are going out of our way to target homeless individuals,” Commissioner Evans said.

Moorefield countered, saying it was brought forward by people sleeping at the library.

Commissioner Toni Stewart also voted against the proposed ordinances. She kept asking, “What are the options? We don’t have any options, they (homeless) don’t have any options.”
Commissioner Jimmy Keefe was of another opinion. He said his children, as well as other children he is aware of, no longer use the Maiden Lane library because of the vagrancy surrounding the library. Keefe said he empathized with the homeless situation, but asked fellow commissioners to think about the purpose of a library.

“Maybe we should close the library and turn it into a homeless shelter,” he said.

Stewart countered, saying the county has an obligation to all children, including those who are homeless.
Adams, the board chairman, noted that both sides of the argument made good points. He called the homeless situation a multi-faceted problem with no easy solutions.

Other business

In other business, the board unanimously voted to hire architectural firm Ewing Cole for the proposed Crown Event Center. The firm is headquartered in San Diego with offices in Charlotte and Raleigh. County Manager Amy Cannon also asked the board for permission to start contract negotiations for a refined scope of services and final price, which will come before the board for approval.

Sales tax distribution

Adams previously asked Cannon to review for information purposes only the county’s current tax distribution method with municipalities.
Cannon said the board’s Audit and Finance Committee met on Aug. 1 to review information on the sales tax distribution inter-local agreement that expires on June 30, 2023.

At that meeting, the county manager shared the history of the agreement, sales tax distribution amounts per the agreement and the impact of a distribution change to ad valorem.
Cannon told commissioners that the county received the final sales tax distribution in October for FY2022. The sales tax impact under both per capita and ad valorem have been updated to reflect the most current and updated data.

She said commissioners will have to decide soon how they want to conduct sales tax distribution with municipalities. She noted that Cumberland County is only one of three large counties still distributing sales tax on a per capita formula, which is based on past population. She told commissioners they need to consider options that will safeguard county tax revenues. Cannon suggested the commissioners consider using the ad valorem formula, which is based on property values.

“Time is of the essence,” Cannon said. “The board needs to continue this discussion so that there is some certainty as local governments prepare their budgets,” she told commissioners.

The board also honored Cannon, who is retiring in December, for her service to the county. Cannon started with the county as a budget analyst in 1990 and worked her way through the ranks to become the county’s first female county manager.

The board unanimously adopted a resolution, proclaiming Nov. 30 Amy H. Cannon Day in Cumberland County. Council, Evans and Keefe made the presentation because they were on the board when Cannon was hired as manager.

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