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  • 08 N2005P70039CAs of the end of March, Cumberland County had 24 positive COVID-19 cases, according to Health Director Dr. Jennifer Green. That is the fewest of North Carolina’s largest metropolitan areas. Mecklenburg County had the most reported cases in the state, with 420. Wake County had 186, and Durham County reported 122. The Cumberland County Department of Public Health is conducting contact investigations and will notify contacts who fall under the guidelines for additional monitoring and testing.

    Meanwhile, Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin has imposed a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily curfew in the city. Police officials say they are prepared to enforce the curfew but urge voluntary compliance.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines a “close contact” as being within 6 feet for 10 minutes or more. Avoiding close contact with sick individuals requires frequently washing hands with soap and water; not touching the eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands; and practicing good respiratory hygiene. These are preventive measures but there is no vaccine. The health department has suspended a drive-thru testing pilot program.  The department is following CDCP and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services guidance that most people do not need a test.

    The Health Department is prioritizing testing for symptomatic patients in high-risk settings like nursing homes or long-term care facilities, health care workers and first responders such as EMS, law enforcement and firefighters on a case by case basis. Individuals in these categories should call 910-433-3655 for assessment and screening.
    “In general, patients in noncongregate settings who have mild symptoms that are not worsening do not need testing for COVID-19 and should stay home,” Green said. “When you leave your home to get tested, you could expose yourself to COVID-19 if you do not already have it.”

    There is no treatment for COVID-19. Health care providers recommend getting enough fluids. Water is fine. So are fruit juices and electrolyte beverages. You may want to stay way away from caffeinated drinks, because caffeine is a diuretic. Herbal tea with honey can soothe a sore throat. And yes, chicken soup has value. Mild symptoms are defined as fever and cough. If one suffers from shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest discomfort, confusion or blue lips, he or she should call the doctor or 911 right away and tell them about your symptoms and any potential exposure to COVID-19.

    North Carolina had at least 1,512 reported coronavirus cases as of March 31, and eight people have died. Researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation are predicting that 1,721 people could die of COVID-19 in North Carolina before the outbreak subsides and that the need for hospital beds statewide should be sufficient in the coming weeks.

    “This is a great example that if you implement social distancing, you will see the impact,” said Dr. Ali Mokdad, a professor at Washington’s Institute. The pandemic’s peak is still weeks away in North Carolina. University of Washington’s latest model predicts the North Carolina peak will be April 22.

  • 12Hope Mills Lake It only figured that since the town of Hope Mills has been fighting so long to get its beloved lake back, the celebration to welcome its return couldn’t be limited to a single day.

    Ralph Molina, chairman of the Lake Celebration Committee, said the upcoming lake celebration is important for many reasons. “I think it’s important that we celebrate this and include everyone in the community,’’ he said. “This cost a lot of money, twice. It’s been a long process. Now that it’s completed, everyone should come together.

    “They get to see what progress was made, and they’re looking to the future to put the Hope Mills area at a higher level.’’

    The final plans aren’t completely in place, and the lake committee is tentatively scheduled to meet through the latter part of May, but enough of the plans for the event have been announced to give folks an idea of what to expect.

    The dates have been tentatively set to run June 30 through July 4.

    It will open with a street dance and gala June 30 and a Heroes on the Water kayaks and canoe event July 1.

    That same day, church on the lake will be observed, followed by jazz on the lake on July 2. July 3 will feature beach music and kayak races.

    The July 4th events are still in the works but could include the annual parade, vendors, bands, fireworks and a Miss July 4th contest. There will also be patriotic decorating of the piers by lakefront homeowners, as well as pontoon rides.

    One event Molina is excited about is a plan to have people construct cardboard box boats and hold a regatta with them. “The lake becomes front and center in the cardboard regatta,’’ he said. “I’m sure a lot of families and businesses are going to have fun sponsoring boats.’’

    Another event that is still in the planning stage is the gala. “The intent is to have a formal event where the city’s members can come, participate and raise funds,’’ Molina said. He’s also excited about the involvement of Heroes on the Water in the celebration, an organization founded in 2007 that provides active-duty and retired members of the military and their families no-expense kayak fishing trips. “It’s important we do activities for those guys as well,’’ Molina said.

  • uac042413001.gif Each year, Fayetteville residents shake off their winter blues with a huge celebration that we all know as the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival. Held in historic downtown and Festival Park, the three-day festival welcomes more than 200,000 visitors to the city center, all with one thing in mind — having a good time.

    The festival, which kicks off on Friday, April 26, features live music, a street fair, food, friendly competitions and a midway. In years past, the festival has brought some of the top names in entertainment to the area and given local performers a chance to share their talent with visitors to the festival.

    On Friday, the festival opens with the Bloom and Boom Kick-off Party featuring country musician, Joe Diffie. Diffie, best known for his songs “Pickup Man” and “John Deere Green,” gained success in the ‘90s, including 12 number one songs, 20 Top 10 songs and four gold and platinum albums.

    Beyond his own successful recording career, Diffie is a successful songwriter, having written songs for Holly Dunn, Tim McGraw, Tracy Lawrence, Conway Twitty and Jo Dee Messina. At the conclusion of Diffie’s concert, the skies over Fayetteville will bloom with one of the best fireworks shows of the year.On Saturday night, Southern Rock will rule in Festival Park, as the Dogwood Festival welcomes not one, but two of America’s favorite Southern rock bands — Blackfoot and Molly Hatchet.

    Blackfoot, known for hits like “Train, Train” and “Highway Song,” is keeping the legacy of Southern Rock alive by touring and sharing its music with a whole new generation. Blackfoot will hit the stage at 7 p.m.

    Molly Hatchet is best known for its hit album Flirtin’ With Disaster. Still fronted by two of its original members, Dave Hlubek and Steve Holland, the band has toured all over the world and has held fast to its hard-rocking ways. The band will hit the stage at 9 p.m.

    On Sunday, the Festival Park stage will be fi lled from 1-4 p.m. and will feature four sets. The opening set will feature 45 RPM, a local all-female band. The band will be followed by B. Smyth, a 19-year-old native of Flordia, who gained national notoriety through YouTube posts of his work. He is an up and coming R&B singer who recently signed with Motown.

    Kayla Brianna, another R&B singer, will also grace the stage. An Interscope Records performer, Kayla Brianna is the daugher of former UNC and NBA star Kenny Smith.

    The final act of the day is Prince NeFew and Da Mill. The group is made up of 11-year-old rapper Prince NeFew, his 9-year-old brother T-man, and their sisters Moda and Libby and cousin, Lulu. Their debut EP, Bookbags to Briefcases features the song “Bully” which is gaining national attention.

    In addition to great entertainment and three days packed full of downtown fun, the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival sanctions events throughout the community throughout the month of April and throughout the Dogwood Festival weekend.04-24-13-doogwood-1.gif

    • The Mid-Carolina Senior Games run through April 27. The event is part of a network that promotes health and wellness for seniors statewide. There are 53 local games in which seniors compete involving more than 25 sporting events and visual and performing arts as well. Events include: basketball, track events, billiards, line dancing and more. Drawing, oil painting, essays, short stories, basket weaving, quilting, stained glass and woodcarving are just a few of the heritage arts included in the senior games. The performing arts segment of the event includes comedy, drama, vocal, dance and instrumental pieces. There are still a few days left. Visit www.ncseniorgames.org or call at (919) 851-5456 to find out more.

    • The Fayetteville-Cumberland Crimestoppers Barbeque is scheduled for Friday, April 26 at 2800 Raeford Rd. in the Highland Center near Harris Teeter. It runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and costs $6 per plate. Proceeds from this event benefit Crimestoppers Fayetteville/Cumberland County. The crimestoppers program was brought to Fayetteville in 1984. Since coming to the community the program reports that it has “provided information resulting in the arrest of more than 3,108 felons and recovered more than $6.7 million in property and narcotics and have paid out more than $312,000.00 in rewards.” Find out more about crimestoppers at www.fay-nccrimestoppers.org.

    • Guys, break out your seersucker suits and ladies, don those spring dresses. There is a Garden Party at Cross Creek Park on Friday, April 26. It’s the Boys and Girls Club of Cumberland County’s 4th Annual Garden Party — an event that is fast becoming a cherished part of the Dogwood celebration. Enjoy wine, beer, heavy appetizers and dancing. There is a best hat/sharp-dressed man contest, too. The event runs from 3-7 p.m. and costs $50 per person. It’s an adults-only party. Call 484-2639 for more information.

    • Fascinate-U Children’s Museum will celebrate the Dogwood Festival on Friday, April 26. The museum will be open from 7-9 p.m. Admission is free that night and visitors are invited to make a dogwood fl ower to take home with them. Admission will be half price at Fascinate-U on Saturday and Sunday as part of the Dogwood Festival celebration. Find out more at www.fascinate-u.com.

    • Watch as Fayetteville’s finest compete from 1-4 p.m. at Festival Park on Saturday, April 27. It is the Fayetteville Police Department vs. the Fayetteville Fire Department in a variety of events including a doughnut-eating contest, ladder-climbing contest, hot-wing eating contest and a tug-of-war contest. The winners will choose a high-ranking official from the losing team to take a “walk of shame” around Festival Park.

    • The City Market/Farmers Market is in full swing and will be open from 6-9 p.m. on Friday, April 26 and from 9 a.m. -1 p.m. on Saturday, April 27. The market is located in the Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum parking lot on Franklin Street. Vendors include not only farmers selling things like produce, eggs and honey but other merchants selling soaps, woodworking items and more. Call 433-1457 to find out more.

    • On Saturday, April 27, the Hogs & Rags Rally leaves the Airborne & Special Operations Museum and ends at Landry’s Seafood in Myrtle Beach. Funds from this event benefit Shriners Hospitals for Children, Kidsville News! and the American Cancer Society. Registration costs $50. Call 876-7272 for more information.

    • After a fun day downtown, enjoy an Evening of Jazz at the Cotton Club Saturday night. The event takes place at the Metropolitan Room on Green Street from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. and is hosted by the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. It costs $35 to attend. Call 797-1539 to find out more.

    • Saturday, April 27, don’t miss The Last Kings at the Crown Coliseum at 7 p.m. Hip-hop and R&B fans are in for a treat. The Last Kings showcases the work of four rappers that are sure to entertain. Tickets cost $37.50. Call 484-4123 for more information.

    • Learn to save a life at Hay Street United Methodist Church’s Hands Only CPR class on Saturday, April 27. The event is organized by Cape Fear Valley Health System, Chest Pain Center, Cape Fear Valley Health Foundation, Cumberland County EMS and Pine Forest Academy of Emergency Medical Services and is free. It starts at 6 p.m. Call 633-8301 for more information.

    • FTCC graphic design students 28th Annual Portfolio Showcase: A Free Display of Graphic Design opens at the Arts Council on Saturday, April 27 at 5 p.m. Visitors to the event will enjoy photographs, illustrations, design layouts, and more. This exhibit runs from 5-8 p.m. for one night only. Call 678-9841 for more information. While you are there, check out the Public Works exhibit, which will also be at the Arts Council and hangs through May 18. Public Works is the one time a year that the Arts Council invites the public to submit artwork and displays all of the entries. Call the Arts Council at 323-1776 for more information about Public Works.

    • Don’t miss the Cape Fear Harley Davidson Experience downtown on t04-24-13-dogwood-map.gifhe 400 block of Hay Street on Saturday, April 27. From 1-4 p.m. Cape Fear Harley Davidson will be on hand for a round robin, including a Jump Start Harley simulator, fit shop, merchandise and more. There will also be a display of antique, new and Cape Fear Hog Chapter favorite motorcycles.

    • From 1-6 p.m., also on the 400 block of Hay Street, Lafayette Ford presents the Lafayette Ford Classic Car Show. Check out Antique cars and trucks, restored classic vehicles and custom hot rods. Don’t forget to vote for your favorite while you are there.

    • Snyder Memorial Baptist Church hosts comedian Dennis Swanberg on Sunday, April 28 at 6:30 p.m. Sometimes called America’s Minister of Encouragement, Swanberg delivers every time. The event is free. Call 484-3191 for more information.

    Find out more about the Dogwood Festival at ww.faydogwoodfestival.com.

    Photo top right: Joe Diffie, country’s original “Pickup Man,” will open the Dogwood Festival during the Bloom and Boom Party in Festival Park.

    Bottom left: 2013 Festival Map. 

  •  Justin McClintock

    Gray’s Creek  • Swimming/football • Senior

    McClintock has a 3.95 grade point average. He was first team All-Patriot Conference in football and led Cumberland County Schools in tackles with 188. He also swam a leg on Gray’s Creek’s conference-winning 200 and 400-meter freestyle relay teams.

    Ryan Dukes

    Gray’s Creek • Swimming/soccer/track • Senior

    Dukes has a 4.35 grade point average. He is in the Academy of Information Technology, the National Honor Society and the Academy of Scholars. He does volunteer work for a number of community organizations.

  • 10 IMG 7411In his role as emergency management director and fire marshal for Hoke County, Bryan Marley spends his typical work days in front of a computer dealing with planning and coordinating emergency-related matters.

    But as a career firefighter who has worked in close proximity with fellow fireman and other first responders, the member of the Hope Mills Board of Commissioners appreciates the challenges his peers in the field are facing now as they cope with the COVID-19 pandemic while serving in frontline roles.

    “You don’t know what’s happening day to day,’’ he said. “Stuff changes. Numbers fluctuate. You get executive orders handed down.’’

    The biggest problem for rescue workers in the field is the nationwide shortage of what’s called PPE, personal protective equipment.

    “Nobody can get their hands on masks, gloves and gowns,’’ Marley said. “You call your suppliers and they don’t have it and don’t know when they will be able to get it. Everybody is sold out of everything. It’s a crazy time.’’

    With protective gear in short supply, Marley said first responders have been forced to reuse what used to be disposable items, learning how to disinfect masks and gloves so they can be worn in multiple situations. 

    In some cases, first responders may resort to unusual alternatives, like punching armholes in large garbage bags and using them as gowns, or wearing coffee filters as breathing masks.

    While this may not be perfect, Marley compared it to the difference between eating a steak sandwich versus a bologna sandwich.

    “When you’re hungry, a bologna sandwich is like a steak sandwich,’’ he said.

    Concerns over COVID-19 have changed the way fire departments are handling emergency calls these days. There was a time when a fire truck routinely accompanied paramedic rescue vehicles on calls. Because of the virus, calls are handled differently now and fire trucks often don’t respond.

    When someone calls 911, Marley said, the dispatcher asks a series of questions. If the caller replies yes to them, they meet the protocol for a COVID-19 response and the fire truck won’t be dispatched on the call. 

    Marley said this is to prevent the amount of people exposed to someone who may be infected with COVID-19. The dispatcher will also warn the paramedics going out on the call that they need to take all necessary precautions for working with someone who may be carrying COVID-19.

    But as big a challenge as dealing with the virus directly is, Marley said that’s only part of he problem for first responders. “You listen to this stuff all day long, then you go home and everything is closed down,’’ Marley said. “You can’t go anywhere or do anything. 

    “Everything you used to do to relieve your stress levels when you get off, you can’t do. You’re cooped up at the house.’’

    There’s also the anguish of loading a COVID-19 patient onto the ambulance and watching them say goodbye to their family, who can’t even go to the hospital to be with them and could be saying goodbye to that person for the last time.

    “Stuff like that weighs on you after awhile,’’ Marley said.

    Marley’s advice to everyone is to follow the orders of Gov. Roy Cooper and stay home as much as possible. “Limit where you go and what you do, and we’ll get through this thing a whole lot quicker,’’ he said.

    “Listen to what the experts say.’’

  • 13 01 IMG 3740While the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the entire athletic world to a halt, it’s done nothing to slow the recruiting of one of Cumberland County’s hottest football prospects, Gray’s Creek High School running back Jerry Garcia Jr. 

    Garcia made a huge splash for the Bears during his junior season, rushing for 2,085 yards, an average of 10.2 per carry, and 23 touchdowns.

    He also pulled in 10 pass receptions for another 279 yards and four scores as he earned first team All-Patriot Athletic Conference honors as running back.

    This is normally the time of year when college football coaches would be showing up at high school campuses, hitting the recruiting trail as 13 02 Jerrygarciajrspring football games across the country wrap up.

    But because of the pandemic and quarantine rules set in place across the country, the recruiting process has been reduced to a new normal of virtual recruiting, with coaches having to rely on video they’ve been sent, while they keep in contact with potential recruits via telephone and text message.

    Gray’s Creek head football coach David Lovette said Garcia ranks among the three most-recruited football players in the history of the Bear program. As far as number of direct contacts from coaches and actual scholarship offers, Lovette added Garcia is in a class by himself at the school.

    Late last year, Lovette sent film of Garcia to some 40 coaches. A few made stops at Gray’s Creek before the pandemic set in.

    There was some buzz out about Garcia because of his performance in camps. He was timed at 4.5 seconds electronically in the 40-yard dash at a Nike camp. Before the Bears had to shut down weightlifting, Garcia maxed out with a 275-pound bench press.

    There are some things about Garcia that can’t be measured in numbers. One of them is his desire to improve. When he scheduled a recruiting trip to Furman before the pandemic, Garcia had to leave at 6 a.m. for the trip to Greenville, S.C.

    Lovette said Garcia rose at 4 a.m. the morning of the Furman trip, so he’d have time to get in his weightlifting for the day at a private gym in Hope Mills.“He’s a hard worker, a great kid and a likeable kid,’’ Lovette said. “He’s fun to be around and fun to coach.’’

    There’s one other part of Garcia’s resume that has so many schools interested in recruiting him. Unlike some prospects, Garcia has solid numbers in the classroom, where he enjoys studying math and working with numbers. He carries a weighted grade point average of 3.75. He plans to continue working on his grades and hopes to have a 4.0 average when fall arrives.

    His high grades are reflected in the types of schools that have already offered him scholarships. All three of the service academies, along with the Citadel, have made him offers. So have Princeton and Penn, as well as Dartmouth. At last count, some 13 schools have made firm offers to Garcia.

    If there’s one thing about Garcia’s recruiting to date that has disappointed Lovette, it’s the lack of offers from North Carolina schools. He had none until just days after this interview was conducted when Gardner-Webb in Boiling Springs near Shelby finally stepped up and made him a scholarship offer.

    “There are some good schools in North Carolina he’d be good enough to play for,’’ Lovette said. 

    But even with only one offer from inside the state so far, Garcia feels he’s been getting plenty of attention in spite of the problems caused by the virus and coaches not being able to make in-person visits.

    “The coaches do build a bond with me,’’ he said. “They call me on the phone a couple of times a week and check on me.’’

    Garcia isn’t letting the free time he has because he's not going to school go to waste. He has weights in his garage, and he has regular workouts with a neighbor who is also on the Gray’s Creek football team. He’s hoping to gain some weight by the time football season starts in the fall.

    While there’s no guarantee that’s going to happen, Garcia said he’s remaining optimistic.“I’m hoping we’ll be able to play,’’ he said.

    He is in no hurry to make a decision where he’ll attend school. He had planned to decide on a school before football season started this fall. The virus is behind the reason for not rushing the process.

    He said the college coaches have talked to him in detail about what their schools have to offer, but Garcia wants to pay an in-person visit to the campuses he’s looking at so he can see for himself what each school is like.

    He wants to major in engineering and said that most of the schools he’s gotten offers from have an engineering program.

    He doesn’t seem committed to playing running back in college, noting that some schools have told him he’ll likely play a slot position for them while others have said they may put him in the offensive backfield and use him in motion where he can get the ball on pitches and run it.

    “They’ve tried to explain to me how they want to use my versatility,’’ Garcia said.

  • 09 IMG 1441The town of Hope Mills got a piece of good news recently when it was announced the pedestrian bridge at Hope Mills Dam passed a first-ever safety inspection with flying colors.

    Don Sisko, head of the Hope Mills Public Works department, said the pedestrian bridge, which is a little more than 10 years old, had never been inspected as far as he knows. Sisko added the bridge is actually not subject to any statutory requirement that it be inspected.

    “We did it as a prudent measure to help ensure resident safety and make sure it is a sound structure,’’ Sisko said.The town hired the engineering firm of Vaughn and Melton out of New Bern to handle the inspection, which was conducted on April 8.

    Sisko said Vaughn and Melton is a firm used by the Department of Transportation toconduct roadway bridge inspections around the state.

    The Hope Mills pedestrian bridge is what’s known as a truss bridge and spans 126 feet, 3.5 inches across the creek bed below the dam.

    Sisko said national bridge inspection criteria includes a variety of things like superstructure, substructure, the deck, the channel, waterway adequacy, approaches and alignments. 

    The bridge is largely used by people who are visiting the Hope Mills Lake Park, Sisko said, and there’s no measure available of the number of people who walk across it during the course of a year. The bridge is meant to be used only by pedestrians, not by anyone on a wheeled vehicle like a bicycle.

    The lifespan of the bridge is largely dictated by the weather and the maintenance that is performed on it, like fixing a broken weld on one of the trusses that help provide the bridge’s support.

    Sisko said the engineering firm put a ladder in the creek bed below the bridge to examine it from underneath. 

    All of the various aspects of the bridge Sisko listed earlier were examined by the inspectors and given a number grade from zero to nine. A nine is usually reserved for a new bridge in excellent condition. 

    Sisko said the Hope Mills bridge got grades of seven and eight across the board.

    Looking ahead, Sisko said the town will schedule inspections of the bridge biannually, meaning the next one will occur in 2022.

    “It will help us keep on top of things,’’ Sisko said.

  • 13 Mark KahlenbergThe local sports scene took another hit last week as state American Legion baseball officials announced there would be no season for the sport this summer in North Carolina due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    That followed an earlier announcement by the American Legion that regional and national playoffs were also canceled.

    Mark Kahlenberg, who coaches the lone Cumberland County entry, the Hope Mills Boosters, said discussions had been ongoing about the fate of the season in recent weeks, with state Legion officials announcing they would reach a decision on baseball this summer somewhere around April 13.

    While no official American Legion baseball season is planned, there has been talk among coaches of some of the teams coming up a non-Legion baseball alternative that would provide those programs around the state that wanted to participate a chance to have something.

    Kahlenberg said he’d seen a list of some 10 to 12 teams interested in the alternative season. He also said some teams from the northern part of South Carolina had expressed interest in joining the North Carolina teams if South Carolina should decide to cancel its American Legion baseball season.

    But Kahlenberg had multiple reservations about the possibility of a non-Legion baseball league. To begin with, he’s not certain the backer of the Hope Mills Boosters, the Massey Hill Lions Club, would be willing to fund something not affiliated with American Legion baseball.

    Further, there would be more expense involved than just paying for officials and travel. Any Legion teams that played in the alternative league would not be allowed to use their official American Legion baseball uniforms or even the official baseballs stamped with the American Legion logo.

    Another big concern would be providing for insurance for the players. Kahlenberg said he’s almost certain any policy the teams could purchase would be unlikely to include coverage for the COVID-19 virus. “If something did come up with the virus, I don’t think I would want that on my plate,’’ Kahlenberg said.

    Finally, he expects there will be a problem for many teams finding a place to play. The Boosters traditionally play their home games at South View High School. As part of the Cumberland County Schools, South View’s facilities are closed because of the virus, and Kahlenberg doesn’t think they will be opened just for a team that’s not affiliated with American Legion baseball.

    The Boosters were also scheduled to play two games at Campbell University, which is also currently shut down.

    Kahlenberg is about a month away from the time he would normally have been organizing this year’s team for its first game. According to longtime American Legion baseball coach Doug Watts, who retired in 2018 after 51 years with the program, this will be the first time since 1965 that Cumberland County hasn’t fielded an American Legion baseball team.

    Kahlenberg had planned an ambitious 25-game schedule, about five or six more regular season games than Hope Mills normally plays.

    A change in the enrollment numbers meant Hope Mills might have been able to add another school to its base this season.

    The thing he will miss most, Kahlenberg said, is the camaraderie with the players.

    “You have your late nights on the road,’’ he said. “That’s a lot of stories we still talk about. That’s the fun part of it.’’

  • 11 sonriseThe SonRise evangelistic outreach ministry based in Hope Mills has had a simple philosophy since it went into operation six years ago.

    Scotty Sweatt, one of the founders of SonRise, said the purpose of the organization is to meet people where they are and show them who Jesus Christ is.

    Since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, SonRise has added another role to its outreach purpose, one that’s more hands-on than just sharing the message of the Gospel.

    They recently instituted a program called Adopt-A-Granny. In a nutshell, it’s aimed primarily at senior citizens who are wary of getting out and shopping for themselves because of risk to exposure to infection by the COVID-19 virus.

    To help that group, SonRise will go and do the grocery shopping for at-risk people who would prefer to remain home bound then deliver the purchases to their door in a safe manner, observing proper social distancing restrictions.

    While the SonRise operation is based in Hope Mills, it has no physical location by design. The headquarters for SonRise is a converted school bus that includes a chapel and a kitchen inside. On the outside, the bus is decorated with the words “The Church has Left the Building” on front and back.

    Membership of SonRise includes people who represent a variety of denominations. Sweatt was a youth minister for nine years at a small country church.

    The concern for the elderly started weeks ago when Sweatt began to realize some of his elderly neighbors didn’t have family available to check on them. His wife also began checking on people in need. That led Sweatt to get the entire SonRise team involved.

    Currently, the SonRise team tries to reach out to anyone in the general Cumberland County area, but they are limited by whether or not someone involved in the ministry actually lives where people who reach out to them are located.

    Sweatt said he recently got a call from a woman in Spring Lake. They weren’t able to send someone directly to help with shopping, but Sweatt said the woman was actually just glad to talk to someone who would listen to her and offer words of comfort.

    While SonRise isn’t actively seeking donations, Sweatt said anyone who would like to contribute to the ministry to help with the Adopt-A-Granny outreach is welcome to do so.

    In order to arrange a delivery, the number to call is 910-960-7786.

    The process is fairly simple, Sweatt said. The caller provides SonRise with a list of the items that they would like to have purchased. SonRise then sends someone to buy the needed food and deliver it to the home. The food is wiped down with disinfectant and the person who delivers it wears a mask and drops it off outdoors, standing a safe distance away to confirm delivery was made and to speak briefly with the person who the food was delivered to.

    While the emphasis of Adopt-A-Granny is on senior citizens, Sweatt said the SonRise team is happy to talk with anyone regardless of age who is homebound or at risk and would rather not venture out during the pandemic.

    “We are not going to rule out anybody,’’ Sweatt said. “We’ll give them a smiling face if nothing else.’’

  • 14 01 Ashton FieldsAshton Fields
    Jack Britt  • Volleyball/softball/unified bowling • Junior
    Fields has a grade point average of 4.375. She is student body vice president. She is in the National Honor Society, Key Club, Britt Life and co-editor of the Jack Britt yearbook. In volleyball, she led Cumberland County Schools with 140 blocks last fall. She was on the 2019 North Carolina American Legion softball state championship team.


    14 02 Carlie MyrtleCarlie Myrtle
    Jack Britt • Softball • Junior
    Myrtle has a grade point average of 4.450. She was chosen as a Junior Marshal for graduation. She is editor of the Jack Britt yearbook. She is a member of the Student Government Association and Britt Life. When softball season ended she was 5-0 with 62 strikeouts and a.600 batting average

  • 12 IMG 2087Restaurants aren’t the only food-related enterprises who’ve had to change the way they operate because of COVID-19.

    The ALMS HOUSE ministry in Hope Mills has had to alter how it helps the underprivileged in the area and is in need of extra support during this difficult time.

    Delores Schiebe, executive director of the ALMS HOUSE, said people are still coming in to get food, but new restrictions have been put in place to safeguard both the staff and the clients.

    The only part of the ALMS HOUSE that is completely shut down is the organization’s clothes closet.

    Another major change involves access to the ALMS HOUSE’s popular food pantry.

    Clients can no longer just show up to browse the shelves. The food pantry is only open Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m., and all those planning to visit must call ahead for an appointment.

    They will need to bring their Social Security card and proof of residence, preferably a current utility bill that includes their physical address.

    The ALMS HOUSE can still only be accessed by people who live in the general area of Hope Mills. Schiebe said that basically covers what she described as a big circle around the town, except for a few odd twists and turns. Generally, it includes the area as far out as Raeford Road and almost all the way to the Robeson County line.

    People who aren’t sure if they live in Hope Mills area can call Schiebe at the same number to make appointments to visit the food pantry, 910-425-0902, to confirm if they meet the residency requirements.

    From noon until 12:30 p.m. and from 5 until 5:30 p.m., the ALMS HOUSE is still serving meals to anyone in need, but they are now strictly takeout.

    Schiebe said the ALMS HOUSE has been helped greatly by local businesses that have donated meals for them to distribute. Among them are Fayetteville Realtors, The Diner by Chef Glenn, Sammio’s on Raeford Road, Superior Bakery, Marci’s Cakes and Bakes, Robin’s on Main and Big T’s.

    Grandson’s Buffet also donated meals until the restaurant had to shut down because of the additional restrictions imposed by the governor’s executive order, but Schiebe said she hopes they will be able to resume in the near future.

    One critical part of the ALMS HOUSE outreach, the Kids Assistance Program, is in danger of having to shut down due to a lack of items. The KAP was designed to provide school-age children with a source of food they could prepare on their own in their homes to make sure they had something to eat over the weekend.

    Even though school is currently closed, Schiebe said school social workers are still coming to the ALMS HOUSE and picking up prepared bags of food to deliver to children in the areas where their schools are located.

    But Schiebe said supplies of the kind of food used in the bags have been wiped out at local grocery stores. She especially mentioned things like ramen noodle soup and Chef Boyardee products in microwaveable containers.

    ALMS HOUSE will accept those donations during regular hours, she said, with no need to make an appointment to drop them off. “We are eager to get it,’’ she said, “especially our need for items for the kids program.’’

  • 04-02-14-india-fest.gifFayetteville is a diverse community. People from all around the world and from all walks of life have come to this thriving community and embraced it. Often cultural organizations look for ways to share the cultures of their native lands. On April 12, the Southeastern North Carolina Asian Indian Association (SENCAIA) presents a showcase of the Indian community.

    Dancing is an art form that every culture has embraced. Indian dancing in particular has a strong cultural significance as a method to pass on religious and cultural traditions. It is a method of storytelling. “It gives a glimpse into the culture and into the cuisine. We will have entertainment all day. There will be someone on stage at all times. There will be dancing and singing. Some of the performers will be local and some will be from out of town,” said Dr. Sumedha Dalvi, who has been involved in the festivals organization from its inception.

    Entertainers of all ages will showcase their talents. The sheer effort that is put into the dances that are performed is astounding. “When you see the kids perform a five minute dance, that dance took weeks of practice, it is impressive. These kids are busy with school, sports, homework and things, but they still make the time to practice. Those five minutes take so much work because they want their performance to be perfect. The parents and the kids have a great time and they get to show off their talents. They’ll even invite their friends from school to come support them,” Dalvi said.

    Another important aspect of any culture is its food. People can experience Indian food in several different ways at the festival. “There will be two food vendors. People can purchase all different kinds of Indian food.

    There will be vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. You can get a snack or a whole platter. This is always very popular. We will also have Indian drinks like chai and fruity drinks like mango and lychee,” Dalvi said.” There will be cooking demonstrations every hour on the hour as well. “People from our community will demonstrate how to cook traditional Indian dishes. People always like this because they get to learn how it is made and sample it. We also have a spice garden that is a booth that will be selling Indian spices. If people try a dish at a vendor and ask what is in it and want to make it at home, the booth will have spices and recipes and things.”

    The traditional clothing of India is also a distinctive and beautiful aspect of the culture. “There will be three fashion shows. First, we have the kid’s fashion show, then a youth fashion show and finally, a ladies and couples fashion show. The theme for our adults fashion show is a wedding — so they will all be dressed as a bride or groom or as someone in the bridal party. We will have a bridal procession leading up to it and a fashion show on stage,” Dalvi said. Additionally, vendors will sell beautiful and traditional Indian clothing and jewelry. Two women will also help with the wrapping of the clothing. There will also be a bargain corner for donated and lightly worn traditional Indian clothing and jewelry available to purchase at a lower price.

    The India Festival is a lot more than just a festival. It is a celebration and benefit the entire community. “All of the proceeds, after the cost is covered, go to local charities. This is our way of giving back to the community. We’ve been here 15 years, but coming from India and getting settled here... the community has really embraced us. This is a way to show our culture and to give back,” Dalvi said.

    The event is on April 12 from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. at the Crown Arena. The Arena is located at 1960 Coliseum dr. Admission is $2 per person and kids under three get in free.

    Photo: The India Festival is a lot more than just a festival. It is a celebration and a beneጀt to the entire community. 

  • 13 01 IMG 0067Ravyn Rozier

    Gray’s Creek • Bowling • Junior

    Rozier has a grade point average of 4.25. She is a member of the National Honor Society, the Thespian Honor Society, Future Farmers of America, 4-H, Girl Scouts, musical theater, chamber choir and the journalism and yearbook staffs.


    13 02 IMG 0068Savannah Lindsey

    Gray’s Creek • Basketball • Junior

    Lindsey has a grade point average of 4.0. She is in the Thunder Hooves 4-H Club, the Volunteer Youth Leaders County Council, Future Farmers of American and National Honor Society.

  • 10 IMG 0889Here are some items taken from the latest reports compiled by Hope Mills Town Manager Melissa Adams and other town officials.

    The Town of Hope Mills announced that the collection of recycled materials was suspended effective Monday, April 13.

    Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, town sanitation crews have to focus their efforts on an increase in household trash caused by people staying at home more due to the current shelter in place order.

    Recycling trash containers, the ones with yellow lids, can be used for regular trash and placed curbside with the regular trash container.

    The town will notify citizens as soon as possible when recycling will resume.

     A temporary hold is likely to be placed on new sculptures for the town that have been previously provided by the UNC-Pembroke art classes of Professor Adam Walls. Walls informed Parks and Recreation director Lamarco Morrison his classes will likely be held online for the rest of the current semester.

    Even if face-to-face classes started immediately, Walls said he didn’t think students would have sufficient time to create new original pieces.

    Walls is hopeful if the fall semester starts on time, his students will be able to produce new pieces by the middle of the term.

     The town is working on holding a video virtual meeting of the Board of Commissioners on its next scheduled meeting date, April 20. Plans are being developed to allow members of the Board of Commissioners, town staff and the citizens of Hope Mills to take part via Zoom.

     The process of putting together the town budget for 2020-21 is on schedule despite the quarantine. Finance Director Drew Holland has gotten all the requests from the town’s department heads. Holland and Melissa Adams began meetings with department heads last week. Adams plans to have her recommendations back to the department heads by April 27. Following input from the full Board of Commissioners at their April 20 meeting, a budget workshop will be scheduled in May.

     Two public hearing items are currently on hold. They include the Sign Ordinance Amendment and the initial zoning for Caliber Collision.

     The physical work on moving the Hope Mills Police Department to its temporary headquarters at South Main Street began the week of April 4-10. There will be some temporary disruption of administrative services during the move but no interruption in patrol operations. Call 911 for anything requiring a police response.
  • uac042314001.gif As spring continues to tempt our region, Fayetteville is pulling out all of the stops to welcome the season with its annual celebration of spring that we all know as the Fayetteville Dogwood Festival. Held in the historic downtown and Festival Park, the three-day festival welcomes more than 200,000 visitors to the city center all with one thing in mind — having a good time.

    The festival, which kicks off on Friday, April 26, features live music, a street fair, food, friendly competitions and a midway. As in year’s past, the festival has brought some of the top names in entertainment to the area, as well as giving local performers a chance to share their talent with visitors to the festival. This year is no exception.

    On Friday, the festival opens with the Bloom and Boom Kick-off Party featuring southern rockers, The Marshall Tucker Band. The Marshall Tucker Band is a tried and true Southern rock band that meshes rock, blues, country and jazz.

    From their first album in 1973, to their powerful stage presence today, The Marshall Tucker Band has played countless concert venues around the world, performing classics like “I Heard It In a Love Song,” “Can’t You See,” and “Fire on the Mountain.” A recent edition of GRAMMY magazine named The Marshall Tucker Band as one of the top 10 bands that “need no introduction.” After The Marshall Tucker Band takes the crowd on a trip down memory lane, the skies over Fayetteville will bloom with one of the best fireworks shows of the year. The Bloom & Boom Kickoff Party begins at 6 and ends at 10 p.m.

    The festival remains true to its southern roots on Saturday night, when country icon John Michael Montgomery takes over the Festival Park stage.

    Montgomery’s career caught fire in the ‘90s, when his romantic ballads owned the air waves, country dance clubs and weddings. Montgomery’s debut album Life’s a Dance, set the stage for his climb to the start. Montgomery’s string of successful hits include: “I Love the Way You Love Me,” “I Swear,” “Be My Baby tonight” and “Grundy County Auction.” The concert begins at 9 p.m.

    On Sunday, the Festival Park stage will be filled from 1-4 p.m. and will feature a mini-beach music festival with music from Classic Soul, The Entertainers and Liquid Pleasure. Grab your partner and head down for an afternoon of dancing and fun.

    The weekend is filled with other entertainment and events on various stages and entertainment areas. Check out the Street Fair Stage in the parking lot between Hay Street Church and the Cumberland County Library.


    Noon - 1:30 p.m. - Cape Fear Music Center Student Showcase04-23-14-cover-story-pic.gif

    1:30-2:30 p.m. Seal the Deal

    2:30-4:30 p.m. Cape Fear Music Center Student Showcase

    4:30 - 6 p.m. Big Daddy DriveSunday

    12:30-3:30 p.m. Cape Fear Music Center Student Showcase

    3:30 - 6 p.m. Fayetteville Jazz Orchestra The CenturyLink Performance Area, located in the 100 block of Hay Street at the Market House, will also offer great entertainment.


    12:30-1 p.m. Shadows of the Fire Belly Dance

    1-1:30 p.m. Musha Dojo

    1:30-2 p.m. Shadows of the Fire Belly Dance

    2 -2:30 p.m. Musha Dojo

    2:30- 3 p.m. Kidsville Kids

    3-3:30 p.m. Shadows of the Fire Belly Dance

    3:30-4 p.m. Musha Dojo

    4-4:30 p.m. Kidsville Kids

    4:30-5 p.m. Yvette’s Dance


    12:30-1 p.m. Shadows of the Fire Belly Dance

    1-1:30 p.m. Musha Dojo

    1:30-2:30 p.m. Roland’s Dance

    2:30 -3 p.m. Shadows of the Fire Belly Dance

    2:30- 3 p.m. Musha Dojo

    3:30 - 4 p.m. All American Fencing

    4 - 4:30 p.m. Shadows of the Fire Belly Dance

    4:30 - 5 p.m. Musha Dojo

    5 - 5:30 p.m. Roland’s Dance

    Disabled parking is designated in the Hay Street United Methodist Church parking lot and the Bank of America on Ray Avenue. Dowtown parking is available. Suggested areas include: Franklin Street Parking Deck, which is free weeknights and weekends, Cumberland County Courthouse, city lots on Person and Olde streets, Paid parking in the Masonic Lodge, Systel Parking lot and at the Up & Coming Weekly office at 208 Rowan Street.

    No coolers, pets, weapons, bikes, roller blades or skateboards are allowed in Festival Park. The Dogwood Festival Committee has a zero tolerance for bad behavior.

    Find out more about the Dogwood Festival at ww.faydogwoodfestival.com.

    Photo: John Michael Montgomery headlines on Saturday night.

  • 12 IMG 7034The COVID-19 pandemic has created the worst possible situation for high school coaches and their athletes. They are prevented from even seeing each other for the most part, much less engaging in any kind of organized workouts.

    Athletes who want to try to stay in some semblance of competitive shape as they await the day they’ll be able to return to the practice and game fields have to do the best they can with working out at home.

    Sheri Squire, who has been an athletic trainer for nearly 20 years, almost a decade of that time at Terry Sanford High School, said it’s important to set limits and follow common sense guidelines when doing any kind of home workout for any sport.

    Squire suggests limiting yourself to about five days of working out a week with a maximum of 30 minutes of workout per day. It’s important to vary the type of workout so the body doesn’t get used to a routine of what to expect. “That’s why three-sport athletes are wanted by the pros,’’ Squire said. “They learn to adjust their muscles for different sports. Don’t do the same exercise each day.’’

    One critical part of working out at home, especially now, is to make sure all the muscles have been properly warmed up before beginning. This will help prevent the possibility of injury, which is the last thing an athlete needs with access to proper care limited by the quarantine and an already overly taxed professional healthcare system.

    When putting together a home workout, Squire said the safest thing to do is remember what coaches have taught in the past. Many coaches are sending their athletes home workouts that involve exercises the athletes have already done, or minor variations of those exercises.

    “They’ve been taught how to do them and do them safely,’’ Squire said. “They’re not going to say jump on the roof and let’s see what your vertical is.’’

    Workout clothes should fit properly and be suited to the weather you’ll be working out in if you’re outdoors. Check your workout shoes to make sure they are in good shape and ready to wear.

    It’s also vital that the athlete eat well before working out and make sure he or she is fully hydrated.

    One of the biggest problems with home workouts is coming up with equipment for weightlifting if the athlete doesn’t own a set of weights. Makeshift weights an athlete can try are soup cans, which weigh about a pound each. A milk jug filled with water or sand weighs about eight pounds. Filled paint cans are about 11 pounds.

    Squire said athletes need to be careful trying to lift heavy objects that are not uniform in shape and weight. She compared it to trying to lift barbells with 30 pounds on one end and 80 on the other.

    To make sure your weight is evenly-balanced and works well, she suggests getting in front of a mirror to see what it looks like in use.

    Working out at home with family can be a good experience, but Squire issued caution about asking family members to help with spotting heavier weights when doing weightlifting.
    Parents and siblings who don’t have experience spotting for someone lifting heavy weights shouldn’t be put in that position and risk getting someone injured.

    In some cases, it may be better for the athlete to look into something safer. As Squire said earlier, stick with basics and things you know rather than trying to push the limits.
    Another suggestion on heavy equipment is to decide if it mimics something actually used in normal workouts, like the blocking sleds used in football practice.

    Squire has seen athletes tie a rope to farm equipment and try to pull it. “It is similar to the sled they try to pull or push?’’ she said. “Be smart about it.”

    Some athletes use family pets, like dogs, to lift, but Squire said you shouldn’t assume the dog is going to like that. “Make sure the dog isn’t going to freak out and scratch you,’’ she said.

    When using things like resistance bands, if you attach them to something make sure the bands are in good shape and that the attachment is secure so it won’t break free mid-workout and cause injury.

    Some athletes may be able to work out with friends if they can get outdoors to a large open area and practice social distancing. Squire said she has seen residents of an assisted living facility gather in a cul-de-sac while moving to music to stay loose.

    The biggest worry about working out at home in the time of COVID-19 is doing something that will result in any kind of injury. Squire said it’s crucial that athletes listen to their bodies and be aware of the signals they’ve gone too far.

    “If you are pushing beyond the limit, your body will tell you,’’ she said. “You’ll have pain, swelling or fatigue.’’

    Once that happens, the athlete needs to stop working that area of the body and give it time to recover. The basic rules of dealing with injury are set down in the acronym PRICE: protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation.

    If an injured area like an ankle becomes sore or red, you can use ice and elevation to give it a rest. If it doesn’t subside, you can seek medical advice. In the current situation, some professionals are doing tele-medicine and offering advice via smartphone images.

    If there’s deformity in the injury, you can’t move it or you feel nerve damage, it’s time to try to schedule an office visit.

    Above all, Squire said listen to your body. “You can tell when you’re tired,’’ she said. “You know to back off.’’

  • 09 Wesley HolmesLike ministers across the country, Pastor Wesley Holmes of the Hope Mills Church of God has been making major adjustments in how he relates to his congregation as everyone copes with the challenges presented by the COVID-19 quarantine. But in  many ways, Holmes thinks the situation has pulled church members even closer and helped increase the sharing of the message of the faith.

    Once it became clear that traditional church operations were going to have to be drastically curtailed, Holmes divided up the names in his church’s directory and shared them with a handful of families in the congregation. Each family was asked to stay in regular contact with the members on the list they were given.

    The church also has a phone tree, typical with many congregations, that allows Holmes to spread messages with everyone. Holmes said the leaders of his denomination have stressed since the start of the pandemic, the more contact with the membership, the better.

    Before the quarantine was put in place, Holmes had been using things like Facebook and YouTube to share video presentations with his church.

    Initially, Holmes was doing his Sunday worship service live on Facebook, but he soon encountered a problem. The internet speed his church was using was not adequate enough for the task. Too many people were trying to log into the live feed and Holmes and his videocast kept getting bumped offline.

    Since then, he’s decided to tape his services in advance. He does a weekly Bible study on Wednesdays that he uploads the same day as the study. The Sunday morning worship service is normally uploaded on Saturday night.

    Facebook controls allow him to schedule the time on Sunday morning when the worship service will become available for public viewing.

    He’s kept the services fairly simple, usually doing them from the sanctuary at the church. He takes care of the majority of the service, with his wife Heather contributing the children’s message. His teen-age son Isaiah is off camera handling the music and sound for the broadcasts each week.

    “It is a challenge,’’ Holmes said. “Talking with other ministers, they are having to step out of their comfort zones.’’

    Some churches don’t have the live streaming capability that Holmes does, so he’s heard of other congregations that are doing drive-in church in the parking lot, keeping their members sequestered in their cars with windows rolled up, which the minister broadcasts the sound of the outdoor service over their FM radios in the car.

    Holmes said there have been positives to the live streaming church sessions. “They can share it with their families that don’t go to church,’’ Holmes said. “We’re getting a lot of people we don’t minister to regularly on a Sunday morning.’’

    People are also able to watch the Sunday service over and over during the week when it’s posted on Facebook. The only major downside Holmes sees to the video services is people might have distractions in the home setting versus the typical peaceful scene Sunday morning in the sanctuary.

    Like many pastors, Holmes said his sermons in the initial days of quarantine have focused on positive, uplifting themes trying to help people deal with the situation. But he plans to move forward from that in the coming days and share more about the major themes of the Gospel message.

    “I truly believe we can still get the message across, even though we are not gathered in the sanctuary,’’ he said. “We have to continue getting the message out.’’

    There have been isolated reports of ministers in some congregations refusing to honor the quarantine and holding large meetings of their members. Holmes doesn’t agree with that practice, especially because of the number of elderly members in his congregation. “We don’t want to do anything that may cause them to get sick,’’ he said. “I want to be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

    “I’d rather scale back and not have services for several weeks than to try and have services, say we are going to do it no matter what, and some people get sick.’’

    In some ways, Holmes feels what is happening now is a return to the church as depicted in the second chapter of the book of Acts. 

    “A lot of people were having to do church at home,’’ he said of the stories from Acts. “I think it’s brought the church back to its roots.’’

  • 10 Close up New Kelp Cityi by Skylor SwannThe process of duplicating images goes back several thousand years to the Sumerians (c. 3000 B.C.), carving designs on
    ceramic cylinders made of dried clay or stone, then rolling the cylinders over clay tablets to leave impressions. In lieu of clay tablets, the artists in Off the Wall: An Approach to the Print were asked to combine an illusionary printing process with, or as, a 3-dimensional form.

    Off the Wall: An Approach to the Print opens May 4 at Gallery 208 in Fayetteville. Artists from various disciplines (photography, ceramics, printmaking, painting and the graphic arts) were asked to take the medium they usually work in, but successfully integrate 2-dimensional, reproductive print imagery with a 3-dimensional form.

    One of the eight artists, Shane Booth, a professional photographer, has been exploring the cyanotype photograph for several years and decided to explore the cyanotype image as a sculptural form for the exhibit. Booth noted, “as a photographer I’m attracted to pattern, negative space and texture- visual texture, not the physical tactile. In thinking about how to integrate my latest cyanotypes of animals into a sculptural form, it was necessary to think about space in a very different way than I usually think about it.”

    After experimenting with ways to create a sculptural form, Booth’s prints are rolled into cylinders as reliefs on the wall. The projected blue and white surface has cut-out shapes, that relate to the animal in some way, attached to the surface. Booth noted, “the result of rolling the print as a relief actually enhanced the character of each animal. The 3-dimensional photograph tells a better story to emphasize the whimsical aspects I want the viewer to see – even more than if they were framed and hanging on the wall framed behind glass.”

    In comparison, ceramicist, and sculptor Skylor Swann, revisited an idea he had abandoned twenty years ago – how to integrate ceramic decals with his sculptural forms. As an undergraduate student studying ceramics at Southern Utah University, Swann briefly experimented with the process, but abandoned the idea to focus on and practice the sculptural form in clay.

    Visitors to the gallery will see how the artist, years later, has integrated ceramic decals with his mature style of working with clay. “New Kelp City” is a stoneware sculpture combined with laser printed decals. Swann refers to his 22”x 23” x 10” sculpture in the round as “a type of fractal form, organic in nature, also a symbolic city scape or neighborhood emerges.” Swann refers to his architectural form as a “colony of skyscrapers.” The ceramic decals are fired into the glazed surface, silhouettes can be seen within the miniature images of office windows placed upwards along the tubular skyscrapers.

    Artists Angela Stout and Beverly Henderson both practiced integrating their prints into folded forms using matboard and is exhibiting two early works, “Arbor Day” by Henderson, and “Torn” by Stout, to compare how both artists moved to permanent material for their final works. Henderson, a sculptor raised in Colorado, has always been fascinated by nature and the science of nature. Seeing “form first” Henderson stated, “my printed patterns from nature are natural combinations with the intricacy and repeating patterns of organic chemistry.” The original paper sculptures resulted in Henderson interfacing her printing her organic patterns on folded metal wall reliefs.

    After bending matboard to create forms with hard edges, painter and printmaker Stout envisioned combining her images with curvilinear forms. As an artist, Stout sees the possibilities of light and illusion to create meaning in her work and is always inspired by the portrait as a subject.

    After experimenting with malleable material, Stout stated: “the hard edges of the plane and the printed image did not evoke the emotion I wanted to convey, it became evident I needed to research material I could easily bend, and the material would hold its curvilinear shape. I purchased material rigid enough to go through the printing press but could become malleable with heat to support the expressive qualities of the portrait images. Material, image and form now have the potential to convey a feeling and evoke emotions.”

    Artists Shani Lewis and Alfie Frederick collaborated on a work titled “Insert 2020.” A shadow box is filled with a collection of COVID-19 masks individually stamped with the letters of a different state and the number of people infected with the virus during March 2021. Both artists have an art background, yet their “non-art” career path influenced the sculpture.

    Lewis, a graphics designer, left her art career and is enrolled in school to become a physical therapist. Frederick, with a background in printmaking and painting, is employed in the field of Geospatial Information. Lewis’ background in health services and Frederick’s career in statistical tracking influenced the direction of their work titled “Insert 2020.”

    Both artists were asked how combining imagery and a 3-dimentional form influenced the way they could express themselves. Frederick quickly responded by saying, “I realized mixed media was another way to view ideas about the multiple print.” Both agreed, “in the mixed media sculpture they created, meaning in the work is more readily interpreted instead of an image illustrating the narrative image.”

    Due to Jonathan Chestnut’s background in sculpture, digital arts, 3D printing and the laser printer, he effortlessly resolved the combination of image and form. In the sculpture titled “Fatherhood,” Chestnut combines stacked children’s building blocks with laser printed images. Depending on the viewpoint, the viewer will see a changing image on both sides of the form.

    For the print element, Chestnut cut the individual blocks on a table saw, then using the laser printer, cut a letter from the alphabet on each block to create stamps he could use repeatedly.

    Although juxtaposing image and the 3-dimensional form was not new to Chestnut, he said, “due to the challenge, I now have an inventory of lettered stamps to inspire
    future works.”

    Art educator Cornell Jones is a painter and mixed media artist. Inspired by Faith Ringgold and Pacita Abad, Jones’ resolved the challenge by silk-screening one graphic image of a female on pieces of fabric, each piece of fabric hangs from mounted wall hooks.

    Jones creates an alternating rhythm between three images screened on a flat black background of muslin and six images screened onto hanging red fabric. His title, “An A and B Selection from the Choir,” invites interpretation and the symbolism of using black, red and white.

    Jones stated he was “inspired by the works of assemblages of Faith Ringgold and Pacita Abad. My approach to making this work was to think of it as an assemblage and to present the print as an object. I thought about the content of the work as I decided on using fabric as my support.”

    The unifier between the eight very different artists is a contemporary trend since modernism: artists continually alter their materials, techniques and processes. Off the Wall: An Approach to the Print is an exhibition that combines traditional and new print techniques with innovative ideas, printing on nontraditional surfaces and using digital technology to convey meaning. In contemporary art, there is no one way to make a work of art or establish what a work of art should be made from.

    Visitors to Off the Wall: An Approach to the Print will not only see successful works of art, but they will also experience contemporary trends and theories in art since the early 20th century. There are no discernible features for what a work of art should look like or what it should be made from; instead, value is dependent upon a complex open-ended system of possibilities and a work of art, quite simply, is experienced.

    The public reception for Off the Wall: An Approach to the Print is May 4 from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. and the exhibit will remain up until mid-July.

    Gallery 208 is located at 208 Rowan St. in Fayetteville. Guests are asked to wear a mask at the reception. For information call 910-484-6200.

  • 14 kendallKendall Macauley

    E.E. Smith • Basketball/softball • Senior

    Macauley has a 3.98 grade point average. She is captain of the varsity girls basketball team and member of the National Honor Society and the Cumberland County Academy of Scholars. She volunteers with Backpack Buddies and works at a youth basketball camp sponsored by the parks and recreation department.


    14 holley johnsonHolley Johnson

    E.E. Smith • Track and field • Sophomore

    Johnson has a 4.04 grade point average. She is a member of the Math and Science Academy and the National Honor Society. She volunteers in the summer, working with younger members of the Fayetteville track team. She is a member of E.E. Smith’s traveling show choir, The Golden Singers.

  • Hope Mills town manager Melissa Adams has had to deal with two hurricanes as a member of town staff, one of them after she was serving as town manager.
    But that experience was only a small taste of the challenge she and the rest of town staff are facing now as they try to navigate the variety of challenges all of us face from COVID-19.

    “It’s unprecedented for many managers, I’m sure,’’ Adams said of the current situation. “It’s been very trying and very difficult throughout.’’

    As much a part of trying to deal with all of the problems COVID-19 causes, Adams said, is the official face the town puts on when deciding how to react. “You want to do it in a calm, reasonable manner and not panic people,’’ she said. “You have to maintain your composure.’’

    That’s why Adams is applying some advice she got from a friend when she first took over the town manager’s job in Hope Mills.

    “They told me flow like water and you’ll be fine,’’ Adams said. “That’s kind of what I’ve tried to do.’’

    Adams said her biggest concern in the current situation is making sure what she and the town are doing it best not only for the citizens, but for the various members of town staff who are on the job while still trying to keep themselves safe from being infected with COVID-19.

    She called the safety of staff and citizens paramount.

    “Virtually everyone’s job has been disrupted by this event,’’ she said. “People have lost their jobs and their livelihood. For self-employed people it’s been extremely difficult trying to manage.’’

    In the meantime, Adams has been trying to keep town services running uninterrupted while at the same time having the proper amount of concern for the safety of all those people who have to be out in the field or in the office.

    When news first started to develop about the safety precautions that might be put in place because of COVID-19, Adams began having regular staff meetings with her department heads to try and assure all contingencies were covered. This was long before the official order came down from North Carolina governor Roy Cooper that the state was declaring its citizens needed to stay at home as much as possible.

    “We already had things in place,’’ Adams said. Many steps have been taken to cut down on public interaction. The town took a major one last Monday when it decided to close the Hope Mills Lake park to the public but still allow boaters and kayakers to use the lake for recreation. Adams hopes the citizens will be cautious using the lake and not force the town to take more drastic measures.

    If people have specific needs or concerns, Adams said they can visit townofhopemills.com or any of the town Facebook pages for updates. There are also contact numbers there. The main town number is 910-424-4555. In the event of a life-threatening emergency, people should still call 911 to reach the police or fire departments.

    “We are a strong community,’’ Adams said. “We are small but pretty good at backing each other up and supporting each other. I would ask that people continue to do that.’’

  • 13 vernon copyWhile many high school coaches and athletes in North Carolina deal with the frustrating routine of not being able to play their chosen sports during the COVID-19 pandemic, Vernon Aldridge and other athletic leaders around the state are holding conversations and looking ahead to the time when everyone will be able to return to the fields and courts to resume competition.

    Aldridge is the Student Activities Director for the Cumberland County Schools, but he also wears important hats at the state level.

    He is one of the leaders of the North Carolina Athletic Directors Association, a role that also landed him a spot on the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Board of Directors.

    In recent days, Aldridge has been involved in video conferences with other athletic directors and also with high school principals, partly as a wellness check, but also to see how everyone is dealing with the current situation and looking ahead to a time when play will resume.

    “The biggest thing with the pandemic is things are fluid,’’ Aldridge said. “Things are changing hour by hour. It’s the hope of everyone that at some point we are able to come back and play in the spring.’’

    The NCHSAA has suspended all play and practice for its member schools until May 18. Cumberland County’s school year is currently scheduled to end on May 22 unless county or state officials decide to extend it.

    Aldridge said the fate of athletics hinges on whether or not Cumberland County and the rest of the state returns to school first. “It’s going to be hard to justify playing athletics if the kids aren’t in school,’’ he said.

    Even if they are, students won’t be thrown onto the athletic field or court immediately when school reopens. They’ll have to be given a few days, maybe more, to practice.
    Que Tucker, commissioner of the NCHSAA, has already said the NCHSAA will not extend the spring athletic season into the summer months. If athletics resumes on May 18, Aldridge isn’t sure how much of a spring season Cumberland County could play, especially schools in the nine-team Patriot Athletic Conference.

    The dates for state championships in boys golf, track and field, boys tennis and lacrosse will have already passed.

    The only championship dates left would be girls’ soccer on May 30 and baseball and softball June 5-6.

    “A conference season would be difficult,’’ Aldridge said. “I’d love to see us be able to to play a couple of games so we could have senior nights and acknowledge our seniors the way they should be acknowledged.’’

    A growing worry is the pandemic could continue and extend to football season. Football gate receipts pay the way for the total athletic program. Losing all or part of it would be a huge hit to local schools.

    Aldridge said when sports do resume, it’s critical that fans support the program. “Come out and support teams, get involved with booster clubs at the schools, get involved with what we are doing,’’ he said.

    For now he hopes coaches are checking in on their athletes and offering emotional support.

    “The bigger picture is the health and safety of people,’’ he said. “It’s more important than what we’ve got going on on the field.’’

  • 11 hope mills strongFamilies are a big deal in a small town like Hope Mills, and it was family ties that were behind the recent display of a sign at Hope Mills Lake aimed at boosting town morale.
    Valerie Reed who, with her husband Matthew, operates a sign business called Sign Gypsies, was behind the actual posting of the sign near the lake that featured the words "HOPE MILLS STRONG."

    Reed said the inspiration for the sign came from her in-laws, Cylinda and Jerry Hair, both longtime residents deeply involved in the town.

    Reed said the Hairs contacted her about putting up some kind of greeting that would offer an inspirational message to the town’s citizens.

    It was right in line with the kind of work Reed, who primarily works as an occupational therapist in the public schools, is geared to do. She and her husband bought the local franchise for Sign Gypsies last November. Since then, they’ve done a variety of signs for various occasions, including birthdays, anniversaries, retirements, welcome home, baby greetings and sports accomplishments.

    Reed and her husband, both South View High School graduates, moved back to the town six years ago feel and feel a strong attachment to it.

    “We have tons of friends who are small business owners,’’ she said. “We understand what a detriment  (COVID-19) can be, and we wanted to do something to brighten everyone’s spirits.’’

    Even though Hope Mills is much bigger than it was during Reed’s South View days, she said there is still a lot of camaraderie and hometown spirit in the community. “We know people here have faced hard times before,’’ she said. “We hope (the sign) will provide strength and make people think we are in this together.’’

    Reed said she first reached out to Hope Mills mayor, Jackie Warner, with the idea of putting the sign at Hope Mills Lake, an idea Warner was readily supportive of doing.
    “It’s just something to show support and let people know we can get through this,’’ Warner said.

    When Warner first thought of where to put the sign, she was thinking of a long-term location. But Reed’s signs are designed to be 24-hour rentals under normal circumstances. Since it was going to be in a central location at the lake, it was decided to take it down after dark to avoid someone coming back after hours and removing some of the letters or other decorative parts of the display.

    Reed said she would be willing to put the sign back up from time to time since Warner said the response to it first being displayed was so tremendously popular.

    In addition to the sign, the town has decided to temporarily turn on the lighted star that’s on the far bank of the lake and is normally only used during the Christmas season.
    Warner said the star is on a timer, and will come on at dusk each day and shut off at dawn.

    Warner compared it to the lights being used to illuminate the interior of the Thomas Campbell Oakman Memorial Chapel on South Main Street.

    Warner feels the lights at the church and the light of the star help illustrate the town is pulling together for the good of everyone. She feels both are signs of hope and love.
    “There’s life there,’’ she said. “They are all ways of showing we’re committed, we care and we’re tied together.

    “They work together for the good of all.’’

  •      Fayetteville’s connection to the military is a strong one — one that the city embraces and celebrates. On Saturday, May 9, as a part of Glory Days, the Downtown Alliance will present once more the Field of Honor to the community. A sea of hundreds upon hundreds of American flags will grace the grounds of the Airborne and Special Operations Museum and flow out into the future site of Veteran’s Park, honoring those who have served, are currently serving and those who have died protecting our nation and securing our freedom.{mosimage}
         Although this event is largely about the military, there is something everyone can take away from this exhibit. The impact is sure to be impressive...think Arlington or Normandy and the emotional awe that comes with being in the presence of heroes and honoring our nations service men and women.
         “It is just an amazing, amazing feeling going through the Field of Honor,” said Carin Savel, the event coordinator. “We are honoring not just our military heroes, we are honoring who we are as a community, which is the most important thing. This is who Fayetteville is... come to the Field of Honor and see what Fayetteville is all about.”
         The public is invited to join in and recognize a service member with a flag, which will be adorned with a yellow ribbon and the name of the honoree, and then placed proudly with the others in the field where it will fly through Memorial Day. Based on last years’ participation, Savel is anticipating a great response.
         “We did 1,500 flags last year...and we are going to have 2,000 flags up this year,” she said.
         The fact that the families are so supportive of their service members is quite touching to Savel.
         “The stories are unbelievable...families that have two and three children who were KIA (killed in action) and they take out flags for them...we had a woman call to order a flag for her ex-husband and say ‘We are divorced...we don’t do anything together, but I wanted to honor him anyway.’”
         Another family had flags representing four generations of service.
         “Last year we got flag orders from not just around the country but we had flag orders from as far away as Russia...it was unbelievable what was going on,” said Savel.
         The opening ceremony is at 11 a.m. and will be presided over by Joanne Chavonne and Dawn Mansfield at the 9/11 Memorial. The flags are an impressive size at 3’ x 5’ and will stand 8’ tall in a tight formation of rows and columns. Savel was sure to point out that all of flags were made in America. If you can’t make the ceremony and just happen to be downtown in the next month or so, take a few minutes, recharge your batteries and take a walk through the Field of Honor. Surely, whatever problems are on your mind will seem much smaller when you leave.
  •      Walking the grounds of Fox Hollow with owner Daniel Fitch, the sheer luxury and tranquility of the place is astounding. It is 22 acres of Eden like bliss. The lush greenery and finely sculpted shrubs perfectly complement the elegantly placed fountains and statues. Garden rooms of different styles and eras reside within yards of each other yet each one has its own ambiance and ability to transport whoever visits to another place and time. The historical period represented is 16th century: the serenity is timeless. {mosimage}
         The garden and two out buildings have been 10 years in the making, well researched, well thought out and painstakingly and lovingly brought to life by Fitch and his wife Kathy. They aren’t done yet-and may never be. You see, Fitch’s love of historical gardens, for all the joy it brings, has been as much about his soul as it has been about his passion for beauty. In his quest to create this sanctuary, he has had permit officials laugh at him, zoning officials and developers tell him it can’t be done, and according to Fitch, his own wife has called him crazy.
         Still, the desire to keep going would not leave. At one point, he asked God to either take this yearning from him or help him bring it to fruition, because money was tight and it there was no obvious answer as to how Fox Hollow could ever become a reality. The desire never left, so Fitch plodded along, sometimes purchasing the shrubs for the landscaping one at a time because that was all he had enough cash to pay for. “I was determined that if I stuck with it, it would eventually happen,” he said. And it did. “When I see young people I want to encourage them to reach inside and find what fires them up, what makes their blood run. When I finally did that, this is what happened.”
         Now, with countless hours of toil behind them, and beautiful gardens before them, the Fitches are ready to share their property with the community. “This was built to inspire and benefit people,” said Fitch. The setting is perfect for creating memories of that perfect wedding day, which several lucky couples have already done.
         Charity events are also welcome. There are a few on the calendar already. The Foreign Affair to benefit Children’s Charity International, is slated for the garden on April 30. There will be champagne and wine-flights with aperitifs. For more information, call 578-6154.
         The Fayetteville Wine Society is hosting its Spring Gala at Fox Hollow on May 2. Proceeds will benefit the Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund and Children’s Charity International. There will be wine tasting, fabulous food provided by some of Fayetteville’s top restaurants, and the Fayetteville Jazz Orchestra will be setting the mood with their 18 piece band. Tickets are $75, and can be purchased at Luigi’s and Grapes and Hops. For more info, check out www.fayettevillewinesociety.com.
         Check out the Fox Hollow Web site at www.foxhollowdesign.net, or give them a call 964-0104.
  • uac040412001.jpg Take the TV show Dancing with the Stars, add swords, a father/son rivalry and people being forced onto the stage by family members and you have the powerhouse fundraising event, Dancing with the Fayetteville Stars.

    Good-hearted volunteers have hurled themselves into the spotlight to raise money for the Center for Economic Empowerment and Development, which is hosting Dancing with the Fayetteville Stars on Saturday, April 14 at the Crown Expo Center.

    This fun, energetic event was voted best fundraiser in 2011 by Up & Coming Weekly readers and has been an instant hit for volunteers, guests and entertainers alike since its inception.

    This year, 21 couples have volunteered countless hours, choreographing a dance, rehearsing to perfection, creating costumes, planning the special surprises and guaranteeing a great time for the audience. If there is any doubt guests would enjoy themselves, these couples promise not to leave you wanting.

    Mother/son duo Tracy Huff, director of the Art of Self Defense Academy and her high school son, Stephen Huff, bring their fully charged energy to stage with the fun pop song “Sexy and I Know It” by LMFAO. The dance promises to be entertaining from the first beat to the last. “Be ready for the unexpected,” Tracy Huff said.

    Looking for something a little less pop but still high action, maybe a little Asian fusion? Richard Martin, chief catalyst at International Business Fuel/Shifu Taijiquan and Deb Belles, owner of Reliable Signs and member of Shadow of the Fire dance troupe, are adding a little excitement to their dance through the use of swords. According to Martin, the people who know him best think it’s hilarious he’s dancing; but he added that Belles told him he had to do it. Luckily, Martin shares Belles’ love for the community and agreed to participate. They would both like to take the same thing away from the experience … all of their appendages. But don’t let the promise of flashy music and exciting theatrics take away from the amazing dancing. John Hodges, retired Hope Mills police chief and Army veteran is dancing with his dance instructor, Lacy Kraft. Kraft has a special place in her heart for military men since both her husband and her dance partner are military. Hodges and Kraft share a love of dance, having danced and competed together for years winning numerous awards. Kraft explained that dance is an extension of the soul. In the music, a dancer is transformed. Although Hodges enjoys more saucy dances like the rumba or tango; however, they decided to go with something a little less expected. They are ready to dazzle the audience with a fun, playful routine.

    Max Mahlke, a retired pharmacist and Jimmy John’s franchise owner, was described as a “ freak of nature” by his partner Marcy. “I took that as a high compliment thinking it meant I had a lot of energy for and old man. But maybe she just meant I’m not very mature.” Mahlke said. Either way Mahlke is taking away new friends and the satisfaction of doing something that will help CEED.

    The participants agree, beyond the fellowship they are most excited to assist CEED in the lease to home mission.

    Nadine G. Miller-Bernard, physical education teacher in the Cumberland County Schools explained that as an immediate past president of the local alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, her organization is a “sisterhood called to serve, transforming lives, and impacting communities,” and it is her pleasure to participate and help fundraise for CEED. 04-04-12-dancing-with-stars.jpg

    Jo Ann Ruff, business manager for Dr. J. Michael Ruff, Periodontics & Implants said, “I believe CEED is giving families a helping hand in our community and doing a great job.” Ruff is excited to dance for a good cause. “My family thinks it’s wonderful when I’m dancing and I’m not shopping, and my friends think dancing is a great way to stay young,” Ruff said.

    Miles Norsworthy is attending school in Illinois this fall but not before he dances on stage with beautiful and talented women. Of course, he’s “happy to help out a good cause and to find the time to work on something more important than me.” Norsworthy doesn’t like the early mornings, but dancing is one of his favorite hobbies. “His mother has her own studio,” said Catherine “Cat” Bersh, his partner. She added that she is “thrilled to be using my talents to help the community and guarantees a professional routine that you would see on the show Dancing With the Stars.” While working hard to deliver that promise, she broke her finger in practice and had to be in a cast for the last three weeks. But that didn’t discourage her.

    “It’s for a great cause and Sharon made me” is the reason Scott Epperson, retired police detective and professional Barney Fife impersonator/ actor signed up to participate in Dancing with the Fayetteville Stars. Participating in this event has his family thinking. “He’s a great entertainer but him dance?” Still, he’s not nervous a bit. “You should see some of the things I have done on stage, then again maybe not…” said Epperson. Whether he can dance or not, this entertainer is sure to put on a show.

    When asked to participate, Jessica Elizabeth McCain, full-time student and model said, “Yes I’d love to. It’s more than helping a friend out, I’m dancing to give back to my community that I love and have grown up in.” McCain said the worst part of the experience has been finding a dress because they are all gorgeous.

    “The hard work by the dancers, not only on their fabulous routines but by their fundraising efforts is what makes the Dancing with the Fayetteville Stars so successful and thankfully continues to grow each year,” said Teresa M. Dagaz, of CEED.

    To date, the program has successfully helped 46 families become homeowners. With the money raised from the fundraiser, CEED hopes to rehabilitate and provide safe, affordable housing for families in need. The goal is to raise $160,000 at this year’s fundraiser.

    People can vote for their favorite dancers by going to the www.ncceed. org and clicking on the Dancing with the Stars link that says VOTE. It will take you to a Facebook Page where folks can like CEED and see all of the dancers. People can continue to vote through the night of the event. It’s only $10 each to support your favorite dancer. All donations are tax deductible and all proceeds after expenses go directly to the Lease to Home program.

    Photo, middle right: Local volunteers team up and dance to raise funds for the Center for Economic Empowerment and Development’s lease to home program. 


  • 12 blue marlinWhat is the big news in North Carolina?

    For some, it is not the bad news that the coronavirus has shut us up in our homes for weeks and weeks and undercut the economic lives of so many.

    It is, instead, the good news that, starting April 21 with the release of Lee Smith’s latest book, “Blue Marlin,” there will be something to ease the discomfort of our confinement.

    “Blue Marlin” is short, about 120 pages, each filled with Smith’s warm and sympathetic storytelling gifts and characters who reach out and remind us of people we knew growing up.

    Smith confesses in an afterword that for all the stories she has ever written, “this one is dearest to me, capturing the essence of my own childhood — the kind of unruly, spoiled only child I was; the sweetness of my troubled parents, and the magic essence of Key West, ever since January 1959, when these events actually occurred.”

    Smith then explains that not all the events in her book happened. The book, she says, is “autobiographical fiction, with the emphasis on fiction.” She explains, “I can tell the truth better in fiction than nonfiction.”

    In the book, the “Lee Smith-like” character, Jenny, age 13, discovers her small-town lawyer dad — think Atticus Finch — is having an affair. Soon everybody in town knows. Her dad moves out of their home. Her depressed mom seeks treatment at a hospital in Asheville. Jenny is sent to stay with her mom’s cousin Glenda in South Carolina. Jenny fights this placement. Glenda is tough and deeply and out-front religious. Soon Jenny feels at home, adjusting and then thriving under Glenda’s no-nonsense orderliness.

    Meanwhile, her parents decide to try to put their marriage back together on a trip to Key West. When they pick up Jenny at Glenda’s, Jenny brings a white New Testament that Glenda gave her, a necklace with a cross that Jenny stole from Glenda’s daughter and a growing interest in Jesus and boys.

    Riding to Key West in the back seat of her dad’s new Cadillac, Jenny begins a list of good deeds she will do on each day of their monthly trip “which ought to be enough,” she thought, “to bring even Mama and Daddy back together.”

    But the question is, will the time in Key West do the job?

    Things get off to a good start. Their hotel, the Blue Marlin, is a positive, not just because of its swimming pool and water slide. The motel is full of a movie crew, including actor Tony Curtis. 

    “Mama and I were crazy about Tony Curtis,” says Jenny. Both were big movie fans and read the fan magazines together. About Curtis, they “squealed together.” Then they learn Cary Grant is part of the movie’s cast, and things are off to a good start.

    Jenny settles into Key West. She walks the streets, visits the old Catholic church, reads the texts in the graveyard, gets to know a group of strippers, and does her good deeds every day. Still she asks whether they were working. “My parents were endlessly cordial to each other now, but so far they had never slept in the same bed. I knew this for a fact. I checked their room every morning.”

    To find out whether Tony Curtis’s help and Jenny’s good deeds can bring about real marital reconciliation, you will have to read the book.

    But, here is a clue from Smith’s afterword. After the real trip to Key West to help her real parents’ troubled marriage, Smith writes that the Key West cure worked. “Mama and Daddy would go home refreshed, and stay married for the rest oftheir lives.”

  • 14 MBB all region collage 768x432Three Fayetteville Tech men’s basketball players were named to the All-Region 10 Division II team for the 2021 season.

    Tyreik McCallum earned second-team honors, while Donte Johnson and JeKael Gay made third team.
    All sophomore forwards, the trio played a key part in the Trojans’ success this season, which ended April 3 with the program’s second straight appearance in the regional quarterfinals.

    “Tyreik has been an all-around producer for us,” head coach Brian Hurd said.

    “Donte turned into a consistent presence on offense and defense. And JeKael has really made the most of his experience at the two-year level, on the court and in the

    McCallum and Johnson each landed in the top five among all NJCAA Division II players in field-goal percentage, with McCallum’s 68.8 percent landing him third on the list and Johnson holding the No. 5 spot at 65.5 percent.

    McCallum led the Trojans in scoring and rebounding for the season, averaging 14.5 points and 7.5 boards per game.

    The 6-foot-4 Lumberton native’s totals came despite an abbreviated 11-game season, cut short due to injury with five games left to play.

    Johnson scored 10.8 points and pulled down 5.1 rebounds per game. Late in the season, the 6-foot-5 post player showed a penchant for accuracy from 3-point range, going 5-for-6 in the last four games and finishing the season shooting 63.6 percent from behind the arc.

    Gay, who like Johnson is a Greene Central High School product, made perhaps the biggest strides year-over-year of any player on the Trojans’ roster.

    He averaged 13.3 points on the year and 4.3 rebounds and added another dimension by developing his 3-point shot. He shot 45.5 percent on 3-pointers, second in Region 10 DII behind teammate Chance Minott.

    Pictured Above: FTCC men's basketball players (left to right) Tyreik McCallum, Donte Johnson, and JeKael Gey earned All-Region 10 Division II honors for the 2021 season. (imagery courtesy of Fayetteville Technical Community College). 

  • 08 nurses week virtual 5kSince first hearing the word "coronavirus," we have found ways to do just about everything we need to from a distance or virtually. This includes shopping, work, school, appointmentss and even fundraising.

    Cape Fear Valley Health nurses are hosting a virtual 5K from May 1-15 to raise money for the Nursing Education Scholarship to help those pursuing a career in nursing or nurses who are advancing their education.

    “This is the first year for us to hold a 5K,” said organizer Beth Langley, Ph.D., RN, who is a Nursing Quality Specialist with Cape Fear Valley.

    “This will be the biggest fund raiser we’ve ever done in the community. With the pandemic, doing this virtually seemed like a safe place to start. It’s been very affirming to see members of the public get involved.”

    Since its inception in 2017, the Nursing Education Scholarship has helped over 24 Cape Fear Valley Health nurses work towards advancing their education.

    The goal of fundraisers like the Nurses Week 5k is to not only assist current nurses enhance their skills but also to create a permanent source of scholarship funding to continue supporting nurses into the future.

    To sign up for the 5K, go to https://runsignup.com/Race/NC/Fayetteville/NursesWeek5K. The cost to participate is $25. Registration is open through May 15.

    Participants can register as individual runners or as part of a team. Those wishing to help, but not run, can donate to support an individual runner, team, or to the overall fundraising effort.

    Because the event is virtual, participants can walk or run their 5K at any location and can divide their 5K into several days. Particiapants are encouraged to get their family, friends and even co-workers involved in the cause.

    Langley said she is aware of several participants who have mapped out laps around their workplace, which they will use on their lunch breaks to complete their 5K over multiple days.

    Sponsorships opportunities are available for businesses and organizations interested in supporting the Nursing Education Scholarship and the Nurses Week 5K.

    “We’ve also been honored by the level of community support we’ve received from our sponsors,” Langley said. “They help make this event happen.”

    Among the event’s top sponsors are Castle Uniforms, Boone Trail Fit Body Boot Camp, Victoria Baskett Patient Safety Foundation, and Cumberland Anesthesia.

    For more information about the Nurses Week Virtual 5K, contact Langley at mlangley@capefearvalley.com or 910-615-5865.

  • 15 downtown April eventsDowntown Fayetteville will host multiple events this weekend to engage and entertain the whole family.

    Cool Spring Downtown District will host “Make your Mark” and “Find your Zen 4th Friday” events on April 23 and 24. The Downtown Alliance will have its “Spring Open House” on April 24.

    “Make your Mark” will focus on community and giving back. Volunteers can sign up for slots on the 23rd or 24th of April and help paint the Linear Park wall near the Art Park behind The Capitol Encore Academy near Maiden Lane.

    “The 4th Friday program has always encouraged visitors to experience the downtown vibe,” said Lauren Falls, director of marketing and events for Cool Springs. “Whether supporting local or experiencing the parks, museums and theaters, there is something for everyone to enjoy in downtown Fayetteville.”

    The event organizers will provide food and drinks for volunteers. Volunteers can register here www.signupgenius.com/go/805044fa9ac29a6f58-linear

    “Make your Mark” is a community focused beautification project organized by Cool Spring Downtown in partnership with Fayetteville-Cumberland Youth Council, City of Fayetteville, Fayetteville Parks and Recreation, Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County and the Fayetteville Millennial Advisory Commission.

    16 linear park wall

    On April 24, Cool Spring will host “Find your Zen” free yoga classes for the community from noon to 4 p.m at Cross Creek Linear Park Fountain on Green Street. Classes will be 45 minutes long, and require participants to be socially distant and bring their own yoga mats.

    Slots are limited and sign-up can be found here www.eventbrite.com/e/make-your-mark-and-find-your-zen-yoga-class-tickets-150625122797

    “This program focuses on mindfulness and meditation,” Falls said. “These are free classes, but participants are required to bring their own yoga mat.”

    “The Spring Open House” downtown will happen from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. with several shops having promotions, sidewalk sales and free zinnia flower seed packets. For more information on the “Spring Open House,” visit www.facebook.com/events/745050506195591

    Also on April 24, the Farmer's Market at the Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum will be outside from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 325 Franklin St.


  • 09 Greg 01When Greg Weber and his wife Marge Betley decided to move to the East Coast from their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma, they knew precisely the kind of community they were looking for. They sought an energetic, dynamic and hospitable community brimming with opportunity. With more than three decades of nonprofit management and development experience, Weber was eager to use his know-how and talents to make a meaningful impact on the community by advancing local cultural and artistic initiatives.

    After countless weeks of researching major towns and cities, most were not poised for growth. But when Weber saw the position for the president and CEO at the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County, he was intrigued. And, he liked what he saw — a vibrant community bursting with potential and a perfect opportunity to use his training, education, experience and passion for supporting and developing the arts and the artists. His resume matched his enthusiasm with his qualifications for this newly chosen endeavor. Weber earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Theater Technology from the University of Missouri in Kansas City and a bachelor’s degree in theatre design and technology from Ball State University in his native Indiana. He also completed a residency in technical theater from the Moscow Art Theater in Russia. Weber has served as managing director to general director and CEO of the Tulsa Opera, Inc. Before that, he worked as the director of production for the San Francisco Opera Association and as technical director for the Houston Grand Opera Association. And, he is already putting these talents to good use.

     Artistic Director of Cape Fear Regional Theatre Mary Kate Burke commented: “Greg Weber has been a welcome addition to the arts scene here in Fayetteville. Greg is passionate about marketing the arts and has increased Fayetteville’s visibility as a tourist destination through his strategic efforts. We look forward to seeing how the economic engine of the arts in Cumberland County thrives under
    his tenure!”
    Weber hit the ground running. After a short transition period with outgoing president, Deborah Mintz, who spent 25 years at the Arts Council, the last 17 years at the helm leading the organization, Weber and his wife received a warm reception from the Fayetteville community. “We loved Fayetteville from the very start.... When we came to visit, what impressed us most was the love and care shown by the front-line folks — the artists I met, the creative talent that manages the theaters and galleries — these folks are dedicated and working hard to make the community better. They put their self-interests on the shelf and push forward for the benefit of the greater good.”

    Fayetteville’s creative community is one that radiates a genuine and refined appreciation for the arts and encourages and supports economic growth endeavors, impresses visitors and guests and enhances the quality of life of the residents of Fayetteville, Fort Bragg and Cumberland County.

    From festivals to gallery openings and craft shows to theater performances, you will likely find Weber in attendance in support of the local artists. Arts development is his passion, and he generously shares his education and experience developing raw artistic talent while leveraging support and goodwill to the benefit of the arts community. Considering the amount of cultural activity in the community, the number of local artists and galleries and the enthusiasm for visual art, Weber was surprised that a city the size of Fayetteville was without a museum of art. The success of the public art program demonstrates Fayetteville and Cumberland County residents’ value and desire visual art in their lives. Weber hopes with the help and guidance from community leaders that there will be a museum of art in Fayetteville’s future.

    It’s been a little over a year since Weber took the helm of the Arts Council, implementing creative initiatives, nurturing existing relationships and creating new ones that can grow and strengthen the awareness of cultural arts. He is a constant cheerleader for the community and puts forth a convincing argument that a healthy arts community is a worthwhile investment that pays big dividends. He is also not shy about telling people that in addition to art, Fayetteville is a community that has something to offer everyone: culture, history, sports, family-friendly entertainment and an overabundance of great restaurants serving international cuisine from all over the globe. 

    “My colleagues from around the world, when they found out I moved here, said ‘Fayette what? Where is this place and why are you going there?’ It piqued their interest in wanting to know more about Fayetteville,” Weber said. He found Fayetteville very easy to talk about, admitting that there is so much more here than people realize. He boasts about the many working studios, galleries, talented artists and the local commitment to arts education at all levels — public/private schools, Fayetteville Technical Community College, Fayetteville State University and Methodist University. Weber is not shy about his enthusiasm for Fayetteville and continually invites people to come and experience it firsthand.

    Weber’s brand of optimism, enthusiasm and passion for the arts is hard to come by, even on the best of days. Now, throw in a global pandemic, and maintaining that level of spirit and commitment can be a real challenge. But he sees it as just another opportunity to be creative. Weber was forthcoming in his opinion that this worldwide COVID-19 pandemic makes people rethink their position on a lot of things. “My favorite movie is ‘Miracle on 34th Street.’ said Weber. “At the end, the little girl thinks everything is going to collapse around her — and she is mumbling to herself as the world is collapsing – ‘I believe … I believe … it’s silly, but I believe.’” Well, that is exactly where he and his commitment to the arts stand in Cumberland County. He believes in innovative ideas, hard work and, most of all, he believes in humanity. And, he believes we will all bounce back from this crisis.

    It is this kind of positive and progressive thinking that inspires an artist’s creativity. One example of this is the Arts Council’s newly launched initiative, Hay Street Live, which is a virtual jam session created by Weber and his staff. According to Weber, they select local artists and art venues to share with the general public. Visit https://www.wearethearts.com/hay-street-live to learn more. They also invite other local special guests to add more fun and variety and to support other local businesses through the crisis. One popular idea was to reach out and connect with local restaurants and bars to bring on their top mixologists to showcase their signature drink and share their recipe with the audience while and promoting the mixologist’s restaurant.

    The Arts Council is not the only arts organization using innovative ways to connect with and serve their audiences. Online art and music classes, online watch parties and digital gallery tours are a few other vehicles closing the gap between creators and consumers. Singers, songwriters and bands use apps to come together (separately) and make music and then share it for free. Nationally, celebrities from all art disciplines welcome their fans into their private homes via social media and online streaming. It’s an intimate and entertaining experience, much more so than a recorded studio performance. The Arts Council hopes more local artists will do the same.

    Weber will be the first to admit that during the COVID-19 crisis, it was the outpouring of support, encouragement, attitude and the neighbor-helping-neighbor  community  that attracted him and his wife to Fayetteville in the first place.  It’s times like these, though uncomfortable and frightening, that bring out the best in people. Art enhances our lives. “This crisis will not last forever,” said Weber. “I want people to remember that during this time, many of the things that kept us sane, happy and moving forward were not political, mathematical or cynical. What kept us going was talking to our neighbors, our kids and interacting with our families.”

     Art is one of the soothing amenities that will help humanity through this crisis. And in the end, it is people like Weber who will ensure that the arts continue to grow and prosper in the Fayetteville and Cumberland County community.

  • 09 Pic 44You don't want to miss out on the 21st Annual Toast of the Town Wine, Beer, & Spirits Tasting and Silent Auction. A signature fundraiser for The CARE Clinic of Fayetteville, the event arrives May 6 at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden at 536 N Eastern Blvd. from 6-10 p.m. Food, fun and a good cause await.

    Come out for a night out in the beautiful gardens enjoying an assortment of finger foods and desserts served by Elite Catering. Wine Café will have various wines to explore, while specialty spirits will be provided by Durham Distillery and Lizard Lick Brewery and Distillery. Local brewing companies Bright Light and Mash House will be in attendance delivering hometown hops, too. The popular silent auction includes trips to destinations not offered in the past Key West, Canadian Rockies, Sedona Iceland and more.

    A wide range of fun-themed baskets will also be available for bidding during the silent auction, including Escapology Party for 8, The Goddess Basket, The Best Mom Ever Basket, Flowers for a Year, Paint for a Cause Board and Brush, Stud Muffin Basket, Rugged Outdoor Basket, Happy Humidor Basket, Family Fun Basket, Kids' Basket and more.

    Event proceeds benefit The CARE Clinic, a private nonprofit organization that provides free basic medical care and dental extraction services for eligible uninsured, low-income adults living in Cumberland County and surrounding areas. Located at 239 Robeson Street, the clinic opened its doors to the community Nov. 16, 1993.

    The clinic receives no government funding and relies solely on donations, grants and annual fundraising events like The Toast of the Town to provide health care services to the community. Additionally, CARE Clinic patients have assisted in their care by donating more than $306,863 since its founding.

    The clinic serves approximately 1500 patients a year and handles 734,000 prescriptions. Since its inception, The CARE clinic has helped some 37,500 patients with service demands rising sharply during the pandemic.

    The 501c3 entity could not operate without the gift of time provided by volunteer staff: doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, dentists, dental assistants, nurses, pharmacy assistants, chiropractors, social workers, nutritionists, physical therapists and orthopedists. These health care professionals treat patients with the compassion and care they deserve. The clinic also relies on our numerous nonclinical staff who assist The CARE clinic's small staff in performing the tasks needed while also serving on the clinic board and various committees.

    Volunteers are vital at The CARE Clinic, and both medical and nonmedical opportunities abound. When it comes time for fundraising events like Toast of the Town, community volunteers take center stage through sponsorship, prize donations and event planning. Other fundraising events include the winter Evening of CARE dinners, now in its 24th year, and a fall Golf Charity tournament.

    The Toast of the Town has gone through many transformations in its 21 years. The first Toast of the Town was held in Saint Patrick's Catholic Church in 2000. With a smaller variety of wines, food, water and entertainment, the clinic fundraiser netted $4,000 that first year. Within the past two decades, The CARE Clinic has found overwhelming support from sponsors and community members to provide a night ensuring enjoyment. With this support, the event has raised eight times the original event each year since. The CARE Clinic couldn't achieve these goals without those in attendance. Starting with only 86 participants, the signature event now boasts 350-400 people annually.

    Precautions concerning COVID-19 have become a priority over the last year. Due to the extent of the pandemic, the clinic did not host a live Toast of the Town in 2020. CARE clinic staff and supporters are excited to see event-goers in person this year.

    The health and safety of attendees to this year's Toast of the Town are of high consideration. Event vendors will set up on the CFBG lawn to allow space for social distancing. This distancing extends indoors with seating options and at silent auction tables ― touch-free this year via item QR codes. For those not comfortable attending the live event, online participation for auction bidding is an option. For those who do choose to attend, masks will be provided at the door.

    Support is needed each year to make the Taste of the Town a success. To become a corporate sponsor, silent auction item donor, or your name added to the invitation list for next year's event, please contact Monica at The CARE Clinic at 910-485-0555 development@thecareclinic.org.

    Tickets can be ordered at https://www.toastofthetownfay.com/ and are $75 per person in advance and $100 at the door. Find event details and virtual participation options by visiting https://www.thecareclinic.org/.

    Mark your calendars for May 6 for the Toast of the Town event. Enjoy good food and a variety of tasty beverages while contributing to the community.

    CARE Clinic patient information:

    To be eligible for The CARE Clinic's services, you must be 18 years or older; have no insurance, including Medicaid; meet an income requirement; and display proof of household income and a valid, North Carolina DMV-issued picture ID card or driver's license showing your current address.

    Call 910-485-0555 to make an appointment. Appointments are made only by phone; no walk-ins. Medical appointments can be made Monday- Thursday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dental appointments can be made Friday from 9 a.m. to noon for the following week.

    The clinic serves patients each Tuesday and Thursday and the second and fourth Wednesday of each month from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Dental clinics are every Tuesday and the second and fourth Wednesday of each month. Appointments are made on a space-available basis.

  • love letter ladiesThe Fayetteville Dinner Theatre will kick off its 2021 season this weekend at Gates Four Golf & Community Club with one showing each day at 7 p.m. on April 9 and 10. “A Sinister Cabaret: Love Letters/Sleight of Hand” is a musical mystery written and directed by Dr. Gail Morfesis, a local performer who has collaborated with Fayetteville State University, Methodist University, Fayetteville Technical University, Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra, among others.

    In “A Sinister Cabaret,” Morfesis takes on the role of Francine Maximillian, a seasoned actress who starts an agency to promote young artists. Francine’s philandering husband, who works at the agency, meets his end under mysterious circumstances early in the show, and through performances by the artists, we learn details of their lives and dealings with the deceased.

    “During the course of the story all of his interactions with different women come out,” Morfesis said. “It’s just a really fun show.”

    The play is interactive, Morfesis said, so before the finale, the audience will be able to ask questions of characters to try to determine who is guilty of the murder.

    Jim Smith plays Sylvester “Sly” Fox in the production and said he has enjoyed working with Morfesis and the other talented performers. Smith said that with multiple plots running between the characters, the audience will be intrigued and entertained by “how all the ladies feel about my character.”

    Smith is a recent transplant to the Sandford and Fayetteville areas. Originally from New Jersey, he performed in regional productions in the New York metro area when his full-time job with the New Jersey Department of Human Services would allow. Smith appeared in “Pippin,” “Godspell,” “West Side Story,” and “Hair” among others. Locally, he has appeared in the Cape Fear Regional Theatre’s “Best Christmas Pageant Ever.”

    Smith hopes to do multiple shows each year now that he is retired and able to devote more time to his craft. Smith said that with each of his past shows, he was able to gain experience in dancing, singing and acting as well as build friendships with other performers. He found the same camaraderie in rehearsals for “A Sinister Cabaret.”

    “It has been a pleasure to work with Dr. Gail, who has a lot of background knowledge in vocal training,” said Smith.

    Tabitha Humphrey, who goes by the stage name Selva Black, plays Percy Barker in “A Sinister Cabaret.” Like Smith, Humphrey is a transplant to the Fayetteville area. She is a military spouse with several moves under her belt which allowed her opportunities to perform in a variety of areas to include Hawaii, Canada and South Korea.

    “I loved to sing and I taught myself how through Disney songs,” said Humphrey. She then decided to try singing on stage and landed a spot in “Little Shop of Horrors” at Camp Humphreys Community Theatre in South Korea. A role as Kate in “Kiss Me, Kate!” followed before a family move to Hawaii. Several performances at the Diamond Head Theatre, a community theatre in Honolulu, followed including “Catch Me if You Can,” “ South Pacific,” “Spamalot,” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

    “Hawaii was a wake-up call for me,” Humphrey said. “I learned I had to fight for the role I wanted.” Humphrey soon found an agent and landed a small speaking role in the 2016 movie “Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates” starring Zac Effron, Adam DeVine and Anna Kendrick.

    Another move took the family to Canada where she performed as Mrs. Lovett in “Sweeney Todd” at the Oshawa Little Theatre.

    Now in North Carolina, Humphrey is hitting the local stage with Fayetteville Dinner Theatre, but is looking forward to opportunities for other performances. Like Smith, Humphrey said her experience with FDT has been fun.

    “Dr. Gail gave us creative freedom with our characters,” Humphrey said. Morfesis allowed the performers to improvise many aspects of their characters.

    “A Sinister Cabaret: Love Letters/Sleight of Hand” also features Courtney Parker, Reba Fox, Valerie Humphrey, Kaitlyn Woodrow, Stanley Seay, Gabriel McKern and Vajra Spring. For ticket information visit www.fayettevilledinnertheatre.com or call 910-391-3859.


    Pictured above: Fayetteville Dinner Theatre's “A Sinister Cabaret: Love Letters/Sleight of Hand” has scheduled performances April 9 and 10.

    Pictured below: (Left) Jim Smith is Sylvester "Sly" Fox and Gail Morfesis (Right) is Francine Maximillian in Fayetteville Dinner Theatre's “A Sinister Cabaret: Love Letters/Sleight of Hand.”

     Jim Smith as Sly FoxGail M as Francine










       Pictured below: Selva Black is Percy Barker in Fayetteville Dinner Theatre's “A Sinister Cabaret: Love Letters/Sleight of Hand.”

     Selva Black as Percy Barker


  • 04-03-13-cos.gifAs any great musician knows, it takes time to master an instrument, and the oldest musical instrument in the entire world is the human voice. For centuries people have used their unique vocal cords to sing for many different reasons. This natural instrument could be used for religious praise, passing on history or for entertainment purposes. On April 13, at Methodist University the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra and the Cumberland Oratorio Singers will come together with college and community choirs for a spring performance that is sure to energize the soul. In recent years the FSO and the Cumberland Oratorio Singers have combined forces to bring first-class performances to the community.

    The Cumberland Oratorio Singers consists of 75 adults, all of whom are unique in their backgrounds and experiences; and each has mastered their God-given instrument, their voice. There is more to oratorio than just singing. By definition oratorio is “a musical composition for voices and orchestra, telling a sacred story without costumes, scenery or dramatic action.”

    This style of performing is of Italian origin, and can be traced back directly to an Italian concert hall from the 16th century. The Cumberland Oratorio Singers embrace their centuries-old musical roots, but are not limited in performance style. The group has an extensive repertoire that includes classical secular styling’s, contemporary classical works, masses and traditional oratorios and show or pop music.

    The Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1956 and is the oldest continuously-funded orchestra in North Carolina. Under the direction of Dr. Fouad Fakhouri, the orchestra performs throughout the community several times a year, including several free performances.

    On April 13, the members of the orchestra will perform The Symphony of Psalms, which was created by the composer Stravinsky. This piece was composed in the 1930s and is named after the verses of the book of Psalms that are used in the choral pieces of the performance.

    The program will culminate with Gustav Mahler’s powerful Symphony No. 1 in D Major.The joint performance the Cumberland Oratorio and the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra will be held at Reeves Auditorium on the campus of Methodist University, which is located at 5400 Ramsey St., on April 13 from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $20 at the door.

    For more information about the event or about ticket availability, contact Margarette Kelly at 482-0006. She can also be reached by email at mkelly5733@nc.rr.com. Further event information can also be found at the website www.singwithcos.org. Find out more about the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra at www.fayettevillesymphony.org.

    Photo: Gustav Mahler

  • 07 Rex program“Oedipus Rex” opened with a dramatic flair at the Gilbert Theater on March 26 and will continue until April 11.

    Based on the infamous Greek myth written by Sophocles in 429 B.C. about the cursed king Oedipus and his tragic misfortune.

    The story entices the audience with compelling drama, songs and acting. Director and adapter Montgomery Sutton successfully simplifies the language for everyone to understand without taking away its charm.

    The drama takes viewers on a journey through the plague-stricken city of Thebes, where the citizens beg their king Oedipus to find a solution.

    After promising to end their misfortunes, Oedipus receives a prophecy that changes his life. Told to solve the murder of the last king of Thebes which went unsolved, Oedipus sets himself on a path to seek the truth for his people that leads to his own doom.

    Returning actress Deannah Robinson plays Oedipus and perfectly captures his character - slightly arrogant, paranoid, honest, righteous, a loving husband, father and king. Seen before at the Gilbert in productions like “Laramie Project” and “Barefoot in the Park,” she brings to stage a new character.

    Playing Oedipus brought new enlightenment in the rehearsals, and there was more sympathy for him, Robinson said.

    The production showcases an almost trial in search of the truth, and Oedipus becoming more and more paranoid. Tiresias, the blind prophet, played by Ella Mock, tells Oedipus that he himself is the murderer of the last king. Oedipus then blames Tiresias for treason, then his brother-in-law Creon.

    The drama unfolds to when an ambassador of Corinth comes forth and a shepherd to confirm that Oedipus was the abandoned prince of
    Thebes, adopted by the royalty of Corinth and did in fact kill his birth father, Laius, and marry his own mother, Jocasta.

    Mock, who plays multiple characters in the show including Tiresias and Antigone, said they were excited about how the show flows.

    The show sees many of the actors playing various roles with much ease and talent. Mock’s performance of the blind prophet Tirisius was outstanding and leaves the audience at the edge of their seat. Tim Zimmerman did well in his various roles, but stood out as Creon.

    The music is made better with the live instruments being played and the stunning voices of Zimmerman, Mock and Helen Steffan.

    Those familiar with the original Greek myth know that the story ends with heartbreak for Oedipus and his kin, as he gouges out his own eyes, symbolizing his blindness of the obvious truth and his gruesome fate.

    Audiences can expect a night of much drama, and perhaps some sympathy for Oedipus
    the King.

    For tickets and more information about the Gilbert visit, https://www.gilberttheater.com/index.php

  • Since 1915 Kiwanis Clubs have worked to bring communities together through service. Kiwanis Clubs04-24-13-kiwanis-talent-night.gifare dedicated to improving their cities and working together to make a positive difference in the lives of as many people as possible. One of the biggest ways that Kiwanis is known for making an impact is through its support of children. The Fayetteville Kiwanis Club supports this community’s kids through its annual talent night, which takes place on May 10 at Cape Fear Regional Theatre. Admission is $5, and the tickets are available at the door.

    For 62 years, the Fayetteville Kiwanis club has invited the young talent of the area to come out and perform for a chance to compete for cash prizes, trophies and scholarships. The competition and prizes are broken up into divisions by age. The first place winner in each division will receive a trophy and $100. The second place winner in each division will receive a trophy and $50. The third place winner in each division will receive a trophy and $25. Additionally, there will be four music scholarships awarded for the categories of voice, strings, piano and band instrument. These scholarships are $150. The overall winner of the competition will receive a trophy and $200.

    Talent night supports the community in many different ways. It brings the community together to celebrate the young competitors and their abilities. It gives the children a chance to step out and try performing. Events such as these often spark a lifelong love of performing and often inspire the youth to further pursue their passions. One of the prizes that Kiwanis offers is a scholarship, so it goes directly to furthering the education of the Talent Night winners. Education is the key to the future, and the Kiwanis Club has always been dedicated to creating a brighter future for the entire community. Perhaps most important, from the contestants’ perspective at least, is that the Talent Night Showcase is fun.

    Jason Poole is a Talent Night Committee member and has been a part of this event since 2003. “I like that this gives kids a chance to showcase what they can do — to get on stage and perform,” he said. “This is a great place for young people to get the experience of being on stage in a friendly environment. We all want to see these young performers do well. In fact, there are a few people who have done this and are now performers on Broadway.”

    All performers are welcome to try out. Dancers, singers, entertainers and musicians of any kind have a chance at winning funds for school. It’s not too late to take part in this year’s event. Kiwanis Talent Night auditions will be held on May 4 at the Honeycutt Recreation Center, which is located at 4665 Lakewood Dr. The deadline for submitting an application is May 1. The application can be found online at upandcomingweekly. com or fayetvillekiwanis.org. The categories are preschool - 2nd grade; 3rd - 5th grade; 6th - 8th grade and 9th through 12th grade.

    To all those potential contestants deciding whether or not to take the stage, Poole says, “Go out and do it — take the chance don’t be shy.”

    The competition takes place on May 10, and starts at 7 p.m. Contestants must arrive 30 minutes early in order to prepare. For more information, visit fayettevillekiwanis.org.

    Photo: Kids preschool through high school are invited to participate in the Fayetteville Kiwanis 62nd Annual Talent Night Showcase. 

  • 06 LAF TRAIL MARKER 1A historical marker was placed March 5 on the edge of Cross Creek Linear Park designating Fayetteville as a stop on the Marquis de Lafayette’s tour of the United States nearly 200 years ago. The placement is part of the Lafayette Trail Project founded by Julien Icher and leads up to the bicentennial celebration of Lafayette’s Grand Tour of 1824-25.

    Lafayette was a French nobleman who fought alongside the American people in the Revolutionary War. His loyalty to General George Washington, his resources, and his alliance with the French king all played an important role in the American people earning their independence from the English crown.

    This Trail marker is one of five in North Carolina that helps map out Lafayette’s tour 196 years ago. Icher, from France, has collected extensive details and artifacts about Lafayette. His multi-year project aims to place a marker at each of Lafayette’s stops during his tour.

    The placement of the historical marker is a notable designation of our city’s connection to Lafayette and the Revolutionary War, said Bud Lafferty, a member of the Lafayette Society.

    When Lafayette arrived in Fayetteville in March of 1825, he visited multiple places during his stop. He arrived in a carriage with a whole entourage that was so big that, instead of staying in the hotel named after him, he actually stayed in the National Banking House (which is the old courthouse today). The carriage that Lafayette came in is still in Fayetteville and is located at the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry Museum.

    Lafferty said that Lafayette was for the rights of man, as well as an abolitionist. He said that Lafayette received a warm welcome when he arrived in Fayetteville, which had been renamed in his honor in 1783.

    There will eventually be markers in 25 states that Lafayette visited during his tour. Members of the Lafayette Society say the markers will help increase awareness of the story of the Marquis de Lafayette and Fayetteville’s own connection to history.

    For more information on The Lafayette Society and events visit their website at https://www.lafayettesociety.org/.

    For more information about the Lafayette Trail visit https://thelafayettetrail.org/#map.

  •      As the country’s First Sanctuary Community For Soldiers, Fayetteville/Cumberland County is dedicating the entire month of May to honor soldiers, vets and their families who have put it all on the line to defend our country.
         {mosimage}During a reception to open the United We Stand Art Exhibition on April 24, Mayor Tony Chavonne officially unveiled 31 Days of Glory, a new series of events for anyone who wants to experience the area’s military heritage and honor our brethren in the services — past and present.
         The event officially kicked-off at the announcement during the opening of the United We Stand exhibit, and it will encompass a lot of annual events, as well as events planned specifically for this month-long celebration of our military.
         On May 1, the opening of the Fort Bragg fair will ignite the frenzy of activities planned, with the culminating events occurring during Glory Days, the annual Memorial Celebration hosted by the Fayetteville Downtown Alliance. In between, you’ll find a lot of other really cool events that you are not going to want to miss out on.
         Through the efforts of more than 10 community organizations, activities are planned for every single day of the month. Venues around the county will host events, ranging from Chester Biggs discussing his years in China as a POW to family-friendly hands-on activities like creating Blue Star Banners for wartime military families to re-enactments of different time periods and demonstrations using Civil War ammunition. A number of concerts, author readings, parades and art exhibits will also be staged throughout the area.
         “While everyone else celebrates Memorial Day, we devote an entire month to thank the military, vets and their families,” said Chavonne. “We invite the world to do what we do every day — show our enthusiastic appreciation, respect and support for those who have and are putting it all on the line for us.”
         Intended to be an annual event, 31 Days of Glory is the result of the collective vision of the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, USO North Carolina, Fascinate-U Children’s Museum, Museum of the Cape Fear, Fayetteville Downtown Alliance, Fayetteville Symphony, Cumberland County Public Library and Information Center, Fayetteville Museum of Art, Airborne & Special Operations Museum, Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry, 82nd Airborne Division War Memorial, The Arts Council, Fort Bragg MWR, Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum, Cape Fear Botanical Gardens and J.E.B. Stuart Chapter 483.

  • The Fayetteville Police and Fire Departments have taken up the mission to keep the residents of the City of04-23-14-battle-of-the-badges.gifFayetteville as safe and secure as possible. They are always no farther away than a call to 9-1-1 and can be counted on to come to our aid at any time, day or night. The men and women that make up these departments put their lives on the line every day in an effort to protect us.

    In the line of duty, situations often arise where the two, usually separate, departments have to work together to properly serve the public. As a result of this, the two departments have developed a camaraderie and bond between them; almost like siblings. As with any other pair of siblings, a rivalry can also form out of that closeness.

    On April 26 from 12 to 4 p.m., Festival Park and The Dogwood Festival will play host to a competition between the two departments that has been dubbed The Battle of the Badges. Teams from each department compete in a series of challenges that test both squads physically, mentally and emotionally. Plates of chicken wings will be devoured, an obstacle course be conquered and the teams will go toe-to-toe in a match-up of strength and endurance that is the tug-of-war.

    The event last year saw the Police Department escape with victory by the narrowest of margins. This year, the Fire Department will try to even the score with the Police Department. In the end, the team that is left standing will be named champion and have bragging rights for 2014.

    Assistant Chief Richard Bradshaw of the Fayetteville Fire Department said that he expects the Battle of the Badges to, “showcase a lot of what we have to offer our community. We hope that the community recognizes what fine public safety organizations they have.”

    When asked about a prediction for the event, Bradshaw was clear about his expectations, “The Fire Department is going to win. I have a group of very dedicated individuals that take pride in, and feel the pressure of, this competition… We want to walk away from the park that afternoon being the victor. I want their chief to have to cater to my chief. There is a lot of pride on the line. I want our guys to be able to say we won. We lost by one point last year due to a piece of equipment breaking; we feel like we owe them one.”

    In addition to the competition, each department will have some of their best equipment on display for the community to see and interact with; Ladder trucks, SWAT gear and much more will all be onsite. Bradshaw said that the city will have on display, “some of the finest equipment in the state of North Carolina.”

    The Fayetteville Police Department band, The Rollerz, will also perform for those in attendance.

    Bradshaw summed up the event by saying, “We are both two very professional organizations. We hope the community sees that in us by our actions in this charity event. We all get along very well, it is all for fun and a good cause.”

  • 08MarianThe arrival of spring brings a fresh array of opportunities to enjoy the warmth and beauty of the outdoors before the summer heat sets in. A taste of this worth savoring, April 25- 28 and May 2-12, is “Maid Marian,” the latest production in the Honey Series at Sweet Tea Shakespeare. The Honey Series celebrates the work of women in theater and this year, tells a classic story from a new perspective.

    “Maid Marian” focuses on the title character and her family, left behind during the Crusades, as they search for resourceful solutions to difficult situations. Those familiar with the Robin Hood stories will find some of their favorite characters as well as new ones to love.

    Fans of the Honey Series will recognize actress Jen Pommerenke from previous productions, including “Saint Joan” and “Jane Eyre.” Pommerenke, who plays the title role, describes Maid Marian as “a story about learning to stretch yourself and facing your fears — not just life and death fears, but fears of not being enough and the consequences of doing too much or too little.

    “It also deals with knowing when your time is done and how to humbly pass on the gift of service to another. The more we rehearsed this story, the more we saw in it the message of doing what you can, where you are and with what you have.

    “The women in this story saw a problem and didn’t stop when it looked like they could only do a small amount. They saw the people and the needs in their own backyard and said, ‘I can do something.’”

    For audiences familiar with STS, there are several other returning actors, including Linda Flynn and Laura Voytko, seen earlier this year in “The Comedy of Errors.”

    Voytko, who plays Marian’s sister, Emma, said working on “Maid Marian” has been liberating because of the ways she’s been able to push herself out of her comfort zone and share that experience with friends.

    Flynn, who has always loved the Robin Hood tales, knew early in the season that she wanted to take part in telling Marian’s side of the story. Her character, Joan, is a new addition to the narrative. “The thing I love about (this character) is that we are very similar,” Flynn said. “Joan has a big family, she does everything she can to take care of them, and she doesn’t hesitate to help her friends in doing what she thinks is right.”

    For other actors, this is their first STS production. Nelson Soliva, who plays Adam, Marian’s brother, is making his theatrical debut. Soliva, originally from Guam, never had the opportunity to be involved in theater as he grew up, but after seeing his first Broadway show, he put being in a play on his bucket list. “I thought it was amazing,” says Soliva. “I wanted to be a part of something like that.”

    Audiences have three weekends to be a part of this world premiere production. “Maid Marian” runs April 25-28 at Fayetteville State University (tickets available through FSU) and May 2-12 at the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex. Preshow begins at 6:45 p.m. and the play starts at 7:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.sweetteashakespeare.com/ tickets or call 910-420-4383.

    Photo:  Jen Pommerenke (left) as Maid Marian and Laura Voytko (right) as Emma Fitzwalter, Maid Marian’s sister.

  • 09LionWho doesn’t enjoy a story where children are heroes, good triumphs over evil and animals talk? The Gilbert Theater delivers all that and more with its production of “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” playing through April 21.

    The show is based on C.S. Lewis’ classic tale from “The Chronicles of Narnia.” This story is the second in the series but the first that was published. It introduces us to the four Pevensie children: Peter (Adam White), Susan (Helen Steffan), Lucy (Mia Buracchio) and Edmund (Joshua Brunson).

    When young Lucy explores an old wardrobe, she finds a magical entrance, marked by a lamp post, to the land of Narnia. In Narnia, the White Witch (Nicki Hart) rules with fear and makes it “always winter and never Christmas.” Declaring herself Queen of the Realm, the White Witch turns anyone who betrays her to stone.

    The good inhabitants of Narnia, including talking beavers and a faun, unicorn and centaur, live in fear and wait for the return of the lion Aslan, the true king of Narnia, who can make things right.

    When “daughters of Eve and sons of Adam” (humans) arrive in Narnia, the White Witch tries to capture the children to prevent them from fulfilling a prophecy that they will sit in the four thrones in the castle of Cair Paravel and end her reign. In the process, the White Witch tricks young Edmund into helping her.

    When Aslan (Ja’Maul Johnson) arrives, he leads the children and Narnia animals in a fight against the White Queen. There are chases, sword fights and battles — all carried out on the Gilbert stage by a cast of all ages. 

    Director Brian Adam Kline brings together this exciting story with an exceptional cast, demonstrating that for Fayetteville talent, there is no age limit. The collective cast is to be commended for bringing the fantasy to life.

    Hart, as the White Witch, steals every scene she is in. She is wicked and marvelous at the same time. Hart brings to her portrayal a steady fierceness — whether acting opposite Johnson’s Aslan or Brunson’s Edmund. Nine-year-old Brunson gets kudos, for sure.

    Also impressive are Buracchio, Steffan and White as Lucy, Susan and Peter. The trio collectively have quite a bit of stage experience, and it shows, despite their ages that barely reach double digits.

    Also noteworthy is Cheleen Sugar’s performance as Fenris Ulf, a talking wolf and chief of the White Witch’s secret police. Sugar brings a slick and stylish quality to her portrayal — what I imagine it would be like if Lewis had written a rock star into Narnia.

    Other highlights of the show include Quentin King and Jane Moran as Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, and Brandon Bryan as Mr. Tumnus, the faun.

    The story hardly slows down from beginning to end. Battles are fought, sacrifices are made, and kings and queens are crowned. Forgiveness and courage are highlighted in this family-friendly show. Audiences of all ages will enjoy the production.

    “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” runs through April 21 at Gilbert Theater. Call 910-678- 7186 or visit www.gilberttheater.com for tickets and information.

    Photo: Nicki Hart, as the White Witch, steals every scene she is in.

  • 08cumberlandOratorialSingersFriday, April 26, the Cumberland Oratorio Singers close their 2018-19 concert series. At the Matthews Ministry Center in Huff Auditorium on the Methodist University campus, COS, under the direction of Jason Britt, presents “A Night of Screen and Stage.” COS wraps up its 27th performing season by highlighting musical numbers from Broadway and Hollywood productions.

    “This concert marks the end of my second season (as director) and a season where the COS have done works that aren’t their usual fare,” said Britt. “We’ve included jazz, Broadway works and movie themes to try and connect with our audience, offering them options of a lighter fare.”

    According to the COS website, musicals originated in France in the 1800s where they were called “Opera Comique,” distinguishing them from the traditional opera of Wagner et al. George Bizet and Jacques Offenbach were notable among those composers who contributed to the genre that would become the modern-day musical.

    Wikipedia gives credit to the 19th century works of Gilbert and Sullivan in Britain and Harrigan, and Hart in America, for contributing many structural elements to the genre, as did the later works of George M. Cohan. In the 20th century, musicals moved beyond comedies and revues. Modern-day musicals such as “West Side Story,” “Les Miserables,” “Rent” and “Hamilton” call for considerable character development in addition to memorable musical scores.

    Featured in Friday night’s performance will be well-known songs from “Man of La Mancha,” “Singing in the Rain,” “Chicago,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “White Christmas,” among many others. Soloists are yet to be determined and will be selected from the choir before the evening’s concert.

    The 2018-19 COS concert season has been sponsored in part by The Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County; Cumberland Community Foundation; Cumulus Radio; Rebecca F. Person, attorney at law; Florence Rogers Charitable Trust; Rimtyme Custom Rims and Tires; and Lafayette Lincoln. Lafayette Ford is the presenting sponsor for “A Night of Screen and Stage.”

    “Next season,” said Britt, already looking ahead to rehearsals, “we will be going on a musical excursion, making musical stops at the opera (in) London and eventually returning home to America.”

    In the interest of continuing professional caliber choral music in Cumberland County into the next generation and beyond, under the COS umbrella, the Campbellton Youth Chorus is open to all Cumberland County and Sandhills region youth ages 9-14.

    “The CYC provides vocal development, music literacy and unique performance opportunities,” according to the COS website, where further information about rehearsals and other opportunities can be found.

    “A Night of Screen and Stage” begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets may be purchased at the door for $15 for adults and $5 for students with ID. Season tickets will also go on sale for the 2019-20 concert series at $45 per ticket.

    Visit www.singwithcos.org for more information.

  • 01coverUAC041719001Instead of receiving unwanted catalogs and junk mail, imagine going to the mailbox and finding an original artwork the size of a postcard, addressed to you, from someone who lives in Bulgaria. Now imagine receiving five to six postcards each day, until you have more than 80, from strangers who live in our region, nationally and internationally. That’s the process that took place for “STOP IT! An International Mail Art Exhibition,” opening Tuesday, April 23, at Gallery 208, 208 Rowan St.

    The exhibit is traveling from Fayetteville State University’s Rosenthal Gallery, where 85 works were exhibited this March after a call for art went out in December 2018.

    The call for art invited women from around the world to participate by creating an image on a postcard that illustrates any local, national or international issue of their concern. They were then directed to send it through the mail to its destination: Fayetteville, North Carolina.

    The work was not sent to the gallery in an envelope. Instead, artwork had to go through the postal system in the postcard format and have an authentic postal stamp on its front or back upon arrival. As it went through the postal system, coming from another country or locally, every postal employee whose hand touched the card could see the work before it arrived at the gallery. In this way, all those postal employees were part of the mail art process.

    Creating works of art on postcards and sending them in the mail to someone, a practice that started in the 1950s, became known as mail art and had grown into a movement by the ’60s. Although social media can appear similar in some ways to mail art, what makes mail art different is the tactile experience of opening your mailbox and the surprise of receiving something created for you. It is not considered mail art until it is delivered to the post office.

    The purpose of mail art, then and now, is the creation of an inclusive scope that allows any artist to participate. Mail art artists appreciate the challenge of working on the limited postcard size along with the interconnection with other artists within a medium that promotes an egalitarian way of creating. The mail art process sidesteps entry fees, the art market and galleries.

    “STOP IT!” is a different type of gallery experience. The exhibit represents the voice of a collective coming together to have their voices heard in an art form.

    All the participants in the exhibit became part of a nonhierarchical, uncensored call for art and social activism by addressing any concern they have for a local, regional, national or international issue that needs to be stopped.

    Visitors should plan on spending time in the gallery. The works are small, and many artists have written text on the stamp side (which is also displayed).

    As the postcards arrived at the gallery, it became evident there were repeated issues of concern. At the discretion of the curator, liberty was taken to group the work into themes to create a sense of order in the gallery space. Eightyfour works are grouped by themes and also by geographic location — regional (Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina), national and international.

    As a collective, the concerns of the women in “STOP IT!” fall into the following categories: stopping violence against women and children; environmental issues; the empowerment of women and individuals; cultural awareness; politics; mental and physical health; and the influence of technology on identity.

    Whether it is Suzanne Coles from Michigan, who addresses homelessness through the medium of photography, or Shennaire Williams from Jamaica, who addresses human trafficking with a computer-generated image, each artist is part of the collective voices of women.

    Many artists, like Radosveta Zhelyazkova from Bulgaria, focused on stopping violence against women and children. Zhelyazkova sent in two acrylic paintings, each a portrait of a woman. The figure on the card reflects on stopping violence against women. Six local artists created original works in a variety of mediums to address this same issue: Angela Stout, Ria Westphal, Tracy O’Conner, Missy Jenkins, Leslie Pearson and Jacqueline Caldwell.

    Many artists in the exhibit addressed the issue of saving the environment. Alexandra Uccusic from Vienna sent an original drawing to illustrate stopping the exploitation of the seas. Katsura Okada from New York created a mixed-media collage addressing the problem of the way plastic kills sea life. Several local artists sent in beautifully crafted works about saving the environment: Susanna Davis, Rose-Ann San Martino, Nordea Hess, Manuela Smith and Martha Sisk.

    Many national and regional artists addressed themes of empowerment and identity. Two high school students, Bryanna Rivera and Alyssa Mincey, addressed discrimination toward identity and how technology influences a sense of identity. Kyle Harding, a high school art teacher, also addressed the issue of technology’s influence on a student’s identity.

    There are too many wonderful works within many themes and too many artists to mention them all in this short article. There will be plenty of time for visitors interested in seeing “STOP IT!” at Gallery 208, since the exhibit will remain up until mid-June 2019.

    The public is invited to the opening reception of “STOP IT!” Tuesday, April 23, at Gallery 208, located at 208 Rowan St. The opening reception will be 5:30-7 p.m., and many of the local artists who participated in the exhibit will be there. The gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 910-484-6200.

  • 07LibbyNo matter which side of the pro- or anti-gay marriage fence you fall on, “The Cake” is an entertaining and touching look at how people can disagree and still treat each other with respect and love. “The Cake,” showing at the Cape Fear Regional Theatre through April 21, introduces us to Della (played by Libby McNeill Seymour), a sweet, Southern woman who owns a bake shop in Winston- Salem. When Jen (played by Jessica Giannone), the daughter of Della’s deceased best friend, returns home to North Carolina to get married, she asks Della to bake a wedding cake. Della is thrilled — until she finds out that Jen is marrying another woman, Macy (played by Olivia London).

    First, let me say — it’s not about the cake. Second, it is refreshing to see a production like “The Cake” that shows the struggle on both sides of the topic of gay rights. The public discourse on disagreeable topics has turned so ugly and disrespectful, it often results in outright dismissal of another’s beliefs simply because we don’t believe the same.

    We see a little piece of that in “The Cake,” when one character uses coarse language to unsettle another character’s almost biblical sense of propriety. Onstage, it’s a good thing, because it gets us thinking. It gets us talking about how rude or how spot-on it can be to unsettle someone or disparage their belief system.

    Since I’m a big believer in theater as a venue for opening public discourse on tough topics, I applaud CFRT’s willingness to continue to do just that. Unlike last season’s “Disgraced,” which took a serious look at Islamophobia, “The Cake” offers a dash of laughter and a pinch of self-reflection.

    Seymour does an outstanding job of portraying Della, who is forced to question her religious beliefs as she struggles with deciding whether or not she should make a cake for a gay wedding. Her decision could jeopardize her relationship with Jen, who is like a daughter to Della. Also spotlighted is Della’s marriage to Tim (played by Greg King), who is opposed to his wife participating in a gay wedding.

    Seeing Seymour and King onstage together again is a treat. Both are CFRT veterans and last appeared together in “Sense and Sensibility.” I give readers fair warning, no matter how much you’ve enjoyed King’s performances in the past, after “The Cake” you will not be able to look at him (or mashed potatoes) the same again.

    Giannone and London bring vulnerability couple who want to love and be loved being judged.

    Playwright Bekah Brunstetter doesn’t try to present an answer to the hot-button topic of gay marriage in 90 minutes. What she does is deftlypresent the dilemma on both sides of the topic. Brunstetter, who is from Winston-Salem, has publicly discussed how the play reflects her own dilemma of reconciling her Southern Baptist upbringing with her adult life in New York and Los Angeles, where her political beliefs are often pitted against a vilified version of the kind and caring people she grew up with in North Carolina.

    Don’t expect any big, dramatic character shifts that fix all the problems and settle all the disagreements. That is not how real life usually works. Sometimes, the biggest, most difficult step is just finding enough common ground to begin the conversation.

    “The Cake” is directed by David Hemsley Caldwell and runs through April 21. For tickets or information, contact the box office at 910-323-4233 or visit www.cfrt.org.

    Photo: Libby McNeill Seymour as Della in “The Cake” 

    Photo credit: Ashley Owen

  • 09TheCakeCape Fear Regional Theatre introduces “The Cake” to the stage April 4-21. “The Cake” tells the story of a Southern belle named Della (Libby McNeill Seymour) who owns a bake shop in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Della’s worldview is brought into question when Jen (Jessica Giannone), the daughter of Della’s deceased best friend, travels from New York to request a cake for her wedding. When Della learns Jen is marrying another woman (Olivia London as Macy), she must choose between her traditional values and the love of an old friend. “The Cake” was written by NBC’s “This Is Us” supervising producer and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill alumna Bekah Brunstetter. It is directed by David Hemsley Caldwell. 

    CFRT is one of the first regional theaters to present “The Cake,” which will wrap up its acclaimed off-Broadway run at the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York City just a few days prior to its debut in Fayetteville. 

    “The story is so relevant and so timely and also so funny,” said Ashley Owen, marketing director for CFRT. “Today, it’s so easy to (attack) people’s beliefs. This play is the opposite of that — it’s really kind to everyone.” 

    According to the actors, this is a show for all people, but don’t expect to leave without first considering your neighbor’s point of view. “The themes of the show are acceptance, trying to find a middle ground, coming to terms with people who might think differently than you,” said Caldwell. Like Della, who, according to Seymour, must “(think) about alternative points of view in the world,” audience members may experience a shift of perspective. 

    Greg King, who plays Della’s husband, Tim, emphasized this middle ground alongside Caldwell and Seymour. “Everyone that comes to see the show is going to feel that they can identify with an opinion that they see onstage,” he said. 

    Regardless of beliefs, most play-goers will enjoy that “The Cake” is being catered by The Sweet Palette, who will provide cake for the show itself and then for audience members following each performance. London looks forward to the conversations the post-show desserts will accommodate. “(It’s) an opportunity to talk about what they just saw, (which) opens up the opportunity for them to talk about different opinions or a different takeaway,” she said. 

    This “common ground,” according to Giannone, brings people together. “A lot of people like cake no matter what you believe in.” 

    CFRT welcomes service members and their families, along with the public, to its Military Appreciation Night performance Wednesday, April 10, at 7:30 p.m. Playwright Brunstetter will attend the show and stay afterward for a talk-back with the audience, in which she’ll answer questions about the show and her career. Though military discounts are available for every performance at CFRT, the Military Appreciation Night discount will be 25 percent, the lowest of the year. 

    CFRT is located at 1209 Hay St. For tickets or for more information, contact the box office at 910-323-4233 or visit www.cfrt.org. The performance runs Wednesdays through Fridays at 7:30 p.m., Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m., with tickets at $25. Preview nights are April 4-6, with tickets at $15. 

  • 08FSOFayetteville Symphony Orchestra will perform “Ode to Joy,” the last concert of its 2018-19 season, Saturday, April 13, at Methodist University. The inspiration for the concert title is Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy,” which is embedded in the final movement of his last symphony, Symphony No. 9. This symphony, which FSO will perform in its entirety, is considered by many to be one of the greatest works in Western music. Beethoven was the first major composer to include human voice within a symphony. For that reason, this work is sometimes referred to as the “Choral Symphony.” 

    Beethoven composed “Ode to Joy” in 1824. The premiere for this work took place in Vienna May 7, 1824. In an article titled “Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ Lyrics, Translation, and History” at www.thoughtco. com, Aaron M. Green, an expert on classical music and music history, said, “despite its unpracticed and under-rehearsed presentation, the audience was ecstatic. It was the first time Beethoven had appeared onstage in 12 years.” 

    Green continued, “At the end of the performance (though some sources say it could have been after the second movement), it was said that Beethoven continued conducting even though the music had ended. One of the soloists stopped him and turned him around to accept his applause. 

    “The audience was well aware of Beethoven’s health and hearing loss, so in addition to clapping, they threw their hats and scarves in the air so that he could see their overwhelming approval.” 

    Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” lyrics are a slightly modified version of a poem by the same name written by Christoph Freidrich von Schiller in 1785. It is a poem celebrating the unity of mankind. 

    According to Christine Kastner, president and CEO of FSO, “‘Ode to Joy’ is a magnificent choral work, and it’s a great way to end a season. It’s one of those very special experiences.” It was previously performed by FSO in March 2012. 

    Kastner said the vocal parts will be performed by a choir that will include members from several local singing groups. Michael Martin, the choral music director at Methodist University, coordinated the participation of the choirs, including the Cumberland Oratorio Singers and choirs from Campbell University, Fayetteville State University and Fayetteville Technical Community College. 

    There are vocal soloists who will perform along with the choir. Soloists include Erin Murdock, Angela Burns, Melvin Ezzell and Jeffrey Jones. 

    The concert will last approximately two hours, with Symphony No. 9 lasting a little more than 45 minutes. The first half of the concert will introduce other pieces that led Beethoven to develop the Ninth Symphony. 

    According to FSO Music Nerd Joshua Busman, for composers who came after Beethoven, it was not a question of whether or not they would follow in his footsteps but simply how they would do so. He went on to say that the “legacy of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is so long that it extends well into the 20th century.” 

    As one example, he explained that the reason CDs needed to be 120 millimeters across was to allow them to hold approximately 80 minutes of music — which satisfied a mandate to Sony engineers that new audio technology be able to contain the entirety of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony on a single disc. 

    FSO will perform “Ode to Joy” Saturday, April 13, at 7:30 p.m., at Methodist University’s Huff Concert Hall. A Pre-Concert Talk with Busman will begin at 6:45 p.m. To purchase tickets, which range from $10-$26, visit www.fayettevillesymphony.org. 

  •      {mosimage}Okay, so either from the movie or from the television show of the same now, you know the backstory behind The Odd Couple. Two friends, polar opposites, are both divorced. They move in with each other and mayhem ensues.
         One guy, Oscar, is a total slob. The other guy, Felix, is a neat freak. Oscar cares about what makes him happy. Felix worries about being worried. How the two got to be friends is beyond me, but watching the two work out their differences is sheer comedic genius. That, of course, is something Neil Simon is known for.
         In this rendition of The Odd Couple, Cape Fear Regional Theatre Artistic Director Bo Thorp brought two New York actors down to carry the leading roles. She was then savvy enough to surround them with some of the CFRT’s local talent, and what she wound up with was a show that left the audience laughing out loud.
         Dan Teachout, a long time member of New York City’s Drilling Company, brought the role of Oscar Madison to life. Teachout managed to do what many other actors probably couldn’t have. He didn’t try to mimic or repeat the role as reprised by Walter Matthau or Jack Klugman, instead he took it and made it his own. Yeah, there were some places where your mind flashed back to the original, but that has more to do with the integrity of script than Teachout’s performance. He made Oscar both sympathetic and lovable, not an easy task, and he did it flawlessly.
         Evan Palazzo, also of New York, is an actor/musicians who has quite a few credits to his name. Palazzo put a perfect spin on Felix Ungar. He was just neurotic enough, without going over the top, which would have been fairly easy to do. Felix’s role is written for just that kind of performance. Think Tony Randall and you’ll know what I’m talking about.
         Even though the two actors have never played opposite each other before, there was a great chemistry between them. They played off of each other’s comedic timing in a very smooth manner. The tongue-in-cheek writing allowed the play to be funny in a sophisticated manner, but not so sophisticated that it went over your head. The two were a force to be reckoned with... until you met the storm of the Sisters Costazuela.
         Originally written as the Pigeon sisters, a set of English sisters who reside in the building, the Sisters Costazuela were an add on to a rewrite Simon did. Most people tend to stick to the original script, but in a flash of insight, Thorp made the switch to the rewritten script. It took some effort on the part of the actors, and it forced Nicki Hart and Rebekah Wilson, the two actors who brought the roles to life, to polish up their Spanish accents, but I think all of the effort was well worth it.
         The Sisters Costazuela brought a different kind of comedy to the show, some of it a little sexual, but most of it from the misinterpretation of English customs and words. The girls, the hot upstairs chicks, that Oscar hopes to spend some time with, add a great deal of color to the smoke-filled poker game that set the stage for the majority of the play.
         Having seen Hart in numerous productions, and most recently having worked with her on a very special project for the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School’s symposium, I have got to say, that without a doubt, her performance was.... priceless.
         The rest of the cast, comprised of James Dean, Jonathan Flom, Scott Shelton and Paul Wolverton, all veterans of the CFRT, put in a stellar performance as always, but for a play about guys, the girls certainly managed to steal the show.
         The play runs through May 10. You don’t want to miss it. For more information, visit the CFRT’s Web site at www.cfrt.org.
  • 03 Pitt dinosaurToday we are going to visit the wonderful world of Tyrannosaurs courtesy of Mr. Peabody’s Way Back Machine and Mr. Science. Let us begin with a song: “Pack up all your cares and woe/ Here you go/ Singing low/ Bye-bye Tyrannosaurs.”

    Sometimes life is stressful. Sometimes life is disappointing. Sometimes life is dangerous. Today’s lesson is intended to lift both of my readers from their Slough of Despond into a happier place. A place without a pack of hungry Tyrannosaurs on the look-out for human sushi. That’s right boys and girls, things could be worse. Right now you are probably asking yourself: “Self, how could things possibly be worse?” Well, they could.

    Suppose you had been born in the late Cretaceous period, which was 95 million to 75 million years ago? The Grim Reaper says you would be dead by now. Mr. Science says you might have achieved your demise by being eaten by a pack of Tyrannosaurs.

    Some may say, “Wait a minute. People weren’t around in the Cretaceous period, so dinosaurs could not have eaten them.” Au contraire, as the French say. No less an authority on ancient times that the enormously talented Raquel Welch proved people and dinosaurs occupied the same time zone. In her excellent documentary “One Million Years B.C.,” Ms. Welch played Loana the Fair One while co-starring with multiple

    The film opened with “This is a story of long, long ago, when the world was just beginning. A young world, a world early in the morning of time. A hard unfriendly world. Creatures who sit and wait. Creatures who must kill to live. And man, superior to the creatures only in his cunning.” Raquel existed due to her beauty as well as her cunning.

    A recent article in The Washington Post by Juliet Elpirin blew the lid off the long-held rumor that Tyrannosaurs not only bowled alone but also hunted alone. Paleontologists had believed that T-Rex was so cranky he wouldn’t associate with other T-Rexes except during the Cretaceous form of the Dating Game. While one T-Rex could ruin your day, imagine what a pack of Tyrannosaurs hunting together would do to your usual sunny disposition not to mention your bone structure.

    Paleontologists are never happier than when they are digging in rocks or dirt. It’s a paleontologist thing that mere mortals can never understand. Just accept that premise. Super star paleontologist Alan Titus and his buddies were out digging in the “Rainbows and Unicorns Quarry” in the Utah desert when they discovered the Tyrannosaurs equivalent of the Brady Bunch dinosaur burial grounds. The Quarry got its name because lots of groovy dinosaur bones discovered there. It doesn’t take much to excite a paleontologist. The recent Quarry find got a whole lot of shaking going on among dinosaur diggers.

    They found the bones of four or five T-Rexes who had been caught in a flood. Their bones ended up in a lake where Alan found them millions of years later. Using Mr. Science’s tool, they determined that the pack of T-Rexes ranged in age from 4 to 22 years old at their demise. Just like the Brady Bunch, these T-Rexes were all in the same place at exactly the wrong time. It is unclear which T-Rex was Marcia Brady but the implications were clear to Alan. They had all been out hunting together in a pack.

    Alan said: “A lot of researchers feel like these animals simply didn’t have the brain power to engage in such complex behavior.” To quote Al: “There it is, a very sad day in Southern Utah 76.4 million years ago.” A paleontologist with the soul of a poet, reflecting on the unhappy ending of a pack of dinosaurs millions of years ago. After 76.4 million years, it may still be too soon to make jokes about the death of these particular dinosaurs. So, I won’t.

    On top of the unnerving knowledge that T-Rex hunted in packs, Science magazine just reported that North America was the happy hunting ground for many T-Rex families. The report estimated that “20,000 T-Rex lived at any one time and about 127,000 generations of T-Rex lived and died. Those averages imply that a total of 2.5 billion T-Rex lived in North America.”

    That is a lot of Tyrannosaurus whoopee making. Any way you look at it, 2.5 billion T-Rex are a major passel of hungry meat eaters. The T-Rexes didn’t have Uber Eats. They hunted other dinosaurs and cave men just like in Raquel’s movie.

    So why should any of this paleontology lore make you feel any better about your life in these times of The Rona? Allow me to retort. Cheer up, Binky. Look on the sunny side of dead T-Rexes. When you leave your house are you going to face up to 2.5 billion T-Rex? Not very likely. Or even if you only had to face 20,000 T-Rex on your way to work, would you like those odds?

    All you have to deal with is the traffic on Ramsey Street or Raeford Road. As bad as the traffic is, it cannot compare with a pack of five hungry Tyrannosaurs deciding you looked like lunch. That alone is something in which to take heart. You are not going to be eaten by a dinosaur today no matter how bad things may be going.

    Put on a happy face. Let a dead T-Rex be your umbrella.

  • 02 royals pic from instagramEditor's note: The original version of this article ran 10 years ago this month. Columnist Margaret Dickson updated it for those of us who have recently been thinking of the royal family.

    The Windsors were a part of our household when I was growing up. I saw them frequently and viewed the Windsor children who were close to my age as my chums. Our mothers dressed us in much the same ways, and it seemed to me that we had common interests and experiences as “baby boomer” children growing up in the decades following World War II. It did not register with me that the Windsor children’s mother was Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain and all its dominions, and mine was, well, my mother.

    My father had been an Army medic in England, and he and another soldier boarded in the home of an English widow. My father, a personable and courtly southerner, struck up an acquaintance with the widow, Mrs. Fox, which endured until she died many years later. I suppose because the two young families, the Windsors and mine, were in the same stage of life, she sent us many books about the British Royal Family.

    I did not recognize this then, of course, but the books were well-crafted public relations efforts to portray the Royal Family as — almost — regular folks. Like similar books about the Kennedy family during the Camelot years, these books were filled with wonderful and charming family photographs. Some were formal portraits involving crowns, scepters, and robes trimmed with ermine. Most, though, were family scenes, concocted I am now sure to garner and keep the affection of the Queen‘s subjects. The Queen’s son Charles, who much later would be humiliated when a recording of him expressing a wish to be in his mistress’ “trousers,” was actually a cute little boy and her daughter Anne had Shirley Temple-like yellow curls. They and their younger brothers were pictured swinging, playing with their dogs, and, occasionally, getting into some slight mischief.

    I loved these books and once asked my father to ask Mrs. Fox to invite the Windsor children to visit us in Fayetteville. I imagined they would enjoy running around with the children and dogs in our Haymount neighborhood as much as my sister and I did, and they probably would have. Maybe they would even have gotten dirty. Needless to say, they never showed.

    There has been much water over the dam since then for both the Windsors and my little family, but I still have a soft spot for the Windsors, and a special and enduring fondness for the Queen who reminds me of the mother I continue to miss 46 years later.

    The Queen has remained unruffled and serene for well over half a century as she presided over everything from the final dismantling of the once-global British Empire to the toe-sucking antics and infidelities of my long-ago imaginary playmates and their ever-wacky spouses. Think of watching your empire shrink as the European Union took hold. Imagine what it felt like to see the monetary system adorned by your own face and those of your ancestors be eclipsed by the drab but convenient Euro.

    Now, she is marking both the death of her husband of more than 7 decades and her own 95th birthday the same month.
    Queen Elizabeth has done all this and more with dignity and a constant and unwavering hairdo that could have been styled at a downtown Fayetteville beauty parlor in 1965.

    I have a favorite Queen Elizabeth story that pretty much sums her up, at least my vision of her. It seems the Queen was out walking her beloved Corgis one day, her security detail at a discrete English distance. One of her subjects approached and cluelessly observed, “My, you certainly look like the Queen.” To which Her Majesty, Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom and Defender of the Faith, replied serenely, “That’s reassuring.”

    As she stays calm and carries on, I wish I could send my own birthday greeting, coined long ago by a toddler who could not quite get it all out.

    “Hap to you, your Majesty.”

  • 01 NextGenHere we go again. Fayetteville, hold on to your wallets. Fayetteville's Public Works Commission, our Hometown Utility that provides water, electricity and sewer services to about one-third of the Cumberland County population, is again the proverbial Holy Grail of efficient revenue-producing utilities.

    Our city leadership is intrigued at the thought and prospect of looting and pillaging its coffers with the assistance of Bernhard Capital Partners of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a private equity management company with NO track record in successful utility management.

    Yet, they scour North Carolina for municipalities that are incredibly desperate for money or overly staffed with fiscally ignorant and incompetent leadership. This being the case, no wonder Bernhard has planted themselves firmly in Fayetteville with their rapacious sights set on our Hometown Utility.

    I'm just an average Fayetteville resident. I don't fully understand the complicated and complex negotiations that go into making up multi-million dollar transactions like this; however, I can recognize the elements of a potential ruse.

    The Bernhard Capital group has all the signs that shout out, "DANGER, WILL ROBINSON, DANGER!!!" Let's hope our city officials hear that precautionary warning because selling PWC could have them dancing with the devil and living with a poor and costly decision for the next three decades.

    Yes, all the signs are there: Unpublicized meetings with Fayetteville city officials, the restrictive non-disclosure agreements Bernhard makes everyone sign, promises of utility rate reductions and ratepayer rebates, financial contributions to local and state politicians, the hiring of a local law firm and out of town PR firm, appearances on local radio shows expounding on the benefits of such a deal, and the promise of relocating the Bernhard headquarters in Fayetteville with additional pledges of many more Bernhard companies to follow suit. Wow! Those are the kind of enticements a city and economic development office can really get their arms around. Right?

    One central question remains, and it's the hardest one to answer and always seems to come back and haunt the negotiations. That is: Why would the city of Fayetteville sell a utility asset organization that leads the state and nation in low equable utility rates, profitability, customer service, community responsiveness, and is an award-winning model of effective and efficient corporate management, proficiency and fiscal responsibility?

    Good question, huh? Well, I'm sure many of you can answer that question in one word: Greed. In two words: Immense greed! Unfortunately, the attributes PWC seems to enjoy the city of Fayetteville has found to be elusive to them. Significantly, over the past decade. If you need evidence, look no further than services provided by City Hall.

    Look at our elevated crime rate, the filth, and litter that carpets our streets, the hordes of homeless panhandlers menacing our businesses, destroying our property, defecating in our storefronts, and running off our customers. And, when it comes to fiscal responsibility, Fayetteville taxpayers need only to look across the street from City Hall at our new parking deck we paid PCH $18 million to build. Of course, it came in years past due and millions of dollars over budget. Recently, our Mayor and City Council then paid PCH another $500K of taxpayer money for a practically useless concrete corner in the same building. Incredible.

    Again, I'm a taxpaying citizen, not a rocket scientist, but is this the responsible leadership you would entrust to negotiate the sale of one of our most valuable assets? I think not. With Bernhard's track record of having No Track Record in utility management, placing hundreds of millions of dollars in their hands would be the height of irresponsibility and recklessness.

    I hope that the Fayetteville community speaks up loud and clear on this issue before we get stuck with another PCH parking deck fiasco. Only this costly mistake is guaranteed to be around, haunting us for thirty years. Everyone must demand answers from Mitch Colvin and their ONE Fayetteville City Council member.

    Ask why they would consider selling such a valuable asset like PWC when it is recognized as one of the most well-managed, profitable and responsive utilities in the nation. Not to mention having the lowest consumer utility rates in the state.Fayetteville needs to ask that question before it is too late.
    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • 11 HandsPlaningWoodHC1403 sourceI added a new table to the WCLN studios. Nothing fancy. It was crafted from rough and flawed pieces of walnut boards I picked up somewhere.

    I decided to leave many flaws untouched and even finish it with raw steel hairpin legs as a nod to my oldest son – an artist whose chosen media was metal before passing not long ago. Seeing the table each day has caused to me think about what craftsmanship means to me in the first place.

    Like many people I know, my life is busy. My calendar would be full of gatherings of all shape and form if I dared to keep one. In fact, not acting surprised when I'm reminded of a birthday, anniversary, dance recital or social gathering I should have remembered is something I've developed into almost an art form. And as much as my wife and I are able to participate, we do. But I love to retreat, too.

    More often than not, a retreat for me doesn't mean a getaway to the beach or the beautiful North Carolina mountains. Instead, it's more likely to involve an invitation for the family dog to join me on the short walk to the workshop behind our house.

    In that calm respite from the busyness of daily life, I create things. Sometimes I work in the quiet with just my thoughts, and other times I'll turn the music up to drown them out. I work with a number of materials, but wood is easily my favorite medium.

    The wood in my shop is comprised largely of castoffs. From exotic hardwoods to common lumber, I gather small or otherwise insignificant pieces from industries which see no need for them. To others they are scraps, but to me, each piece is nothing less than a treasure.

    More than a hobby, woodworking has become a reflection of the life I've been given to live.

    Occasionally I'll make something on commission, but rarely sell what I create. The whole idea changes the game.

    Woodworking is about seeing the individual beauty and usefulness of each piece of wood — large or small — and starting a process of preserving, preparing and giving that piece a new purpose. In short, it's about redemption.

    Without the grace and redemption I found in Jesus Christ, my life would be nothing. I was probably considered a castoff by many when Jesus found me, but He saw something useful and has been preparing and preserving me since 1981, and even in the times when I feel I have nothing to offer, He assures me there is a greater purpose for my life. For every life.

    It's difficult to convey all of that when I offer someone a simple gift made from those redeemed pieces of wood. But each item I place in someone's hands is more than an object to me.

    It's the fruit of many labors. No item is perfect, and each one is absolutely unique. Just like
    you are.

  • 05 FCC City TAG 4CFollowing a protest downtown Friday, April 16, Up & Coming Weekly asked Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin to respond to claims that little has been done in the last year to address discrimination and local policing practices. Mayor Colvin's response is printed below.

    As millions of people across our nation grapple with the loss of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless others at the hands of injustice, the call to stand together as a community grows louder. The tragedies we have all witnessed across this nation are heartbreaking, and we must find a way to bring meaningful change. Meaningful change calls for unity, and unity takes work.

    Whether you serve as a teacher in our community, elected official, health care professional, small business owner or union worker, I encourage you to consider how you can help our community unify in your everyday work. As we listen to the call for equal justice, both in our community and in our nation, I encourage you to think of your neighbors as yourself. We must love our neighbors, and we must treat each other as we ourselves want to be treated.

    I am encouraged by the new generation of leaders who have joined together to exercise their first amendment right to peacefully protest, and I am extremely proud of the changes we have seen in the City of Fayetteville’s policing and operations. I challenge those who are protesting, help us build the community we all desire, one that works for all of us, not just a few.

    While our city has certainly had its problems with racial and social bias, to include aggressive policing in predominately Black communities, we have come a long way over the last 8 years. The city began revamping its policing policies after the rebuke of the DOJ, in 2012/2013. Because of this, many of the changes made were proactive and allowed us to get a head start on the necessary changes long before many of these national tragedies we see today.

    Over the last year, our city council has taken an internal and external review to ensure diversity inclusion in our hiring practices, economic policies and the systemic policies used to serve our community.

    •We have established the Fayetteville Citizens Advisory Board to assist in building better relationships with law enforcement and the communities they serve. We passed the 4th resolution requesting of the North Carolina General Assembly to allow for the establishment of a Police Review/Oversight Board.

    •In addition to increased training we have implemented body cameras, and impressed upon the city manager to enforce a zero tolerance policy for racial discrimination or racial motivated policing throughout our city.

    •We have also established a local and minority participation policy for the entire city’s contracting and spending. We have invested and/or committed to investing over $15 Million dollars into underserved communities, such as Murchison Road, B Street, Campbell Avenue and others.

    •We have invested $100,000 in restoring and the revitalization of Orange Street School (Original location of the city’s Historically Black High School) and requesting $1M from the state of NC.

    •We have invested nearly $400,000 in restoration of the E. E. Smith House, home of the first President of Fayetteville State, our local HBCU.

    •We have increased our support for community development programs such as increased home ownership and working to strategically address the city’s Tier 1 status.

    •We have engaged the Department of Justice to implement the City Spirit Program to improve race relations.

    While we have come a long way as a nation, 2020 and 2021 have reminded us all that we must continue to work together to bridge the racial divide in America. I am grateful to God that we are a community willing to accept and address our shortcomings, and we are a community willing to unify.

    Because of this, I stand confident that Fayetteville, North Carolina, will continue to advance as an All American City, by name and by deed.

  • 02 Nyrell and Joy Melvin"I have a dream," Martin Luther King Jr. said one August day in 1963, with Abraham Lincoln looking over his shoulder. "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal.

    "I have a dream that one day out in the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”

    "I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.”

    "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

    The dream that Martin Luther King laid out enthralled a generation of Americans who were in the most significant fight for civil liberties since the Civil War itself. No, they weren't fighting slavery, but they were fighting the same thought process that allowed racism to happen - that one race is superior to another race.

    Today, I am here to enthrall you once again. I have a dream that race will not play a part in whether or not someone is accepted into college! I have a dream that critical race theory and the lies it propagates would cease to exist in our public discourse! I have a dream that America will wake up to the fact that we are all one race!

    MLK and men like him fought for these ideals, but the modern-day Left and the Elite Democratic Party are trying to drag us backward by promoting critical race theory and the idea that the United States was founded in racism, is racist, and will always be racist.

    The buzz term used by leftist activists and the mainstream media is "systemic racism." The belief that all of America's systems are inherently racist, and anyone or anything that is a part of the system is racist out of complicity. According to this radical ideology, all white people are a part of the system and therefore racist; and the founding of America was not 1776, but 1619 when the first African slaves made their way to the continent.

    This lie —perpetrated by the Elite Democrat Party, the mainstream media, academia and Hollywood — brought about the anarchy and destruction we witnessed throughout the summer across America and right here in Fayetteville.

    This lie is destructive and corrosive, and if left unchecked, will lead to the fall of the United States of America as we know it.

    This lie is why the Fayetteville Police Department was told to stand down while people destroyed our beautiful city. "The police are a vestige of racism," they say. That is false! If I am elected, we will not be defunding the police! I will make sure that the Fayetteville Police Department is wholly equipped and funded to protect our community, to protect you and me.

    The police are not perfect, but to think the solution is the abolishment of our police departments is sheer lunacy. We want to build and improve; the Left wants to destroy and abolish.

    This was very clearly seen last year when South Carolina Senator Tim Scott introduced the JUSTICE Act to address police reform. Senator Scott is a Black man who has given multiple anecdotes of being racially profiled and stopped by police officers in the nation's capital. Despite this, the Democrats would not even consider his bill. Why? Because Senator Scott is a Republican, and the Democrats don’t really care about police reform.

    Another example of the Left's wanton desire to destroy comes from May 30th of last year when violent anarchists and rioters broke windows and set fire to the Market House right here in downtown Fayetteville.

    Now, I know that the history of the Market House is not pure. There once was a time when slaves owners’ properties were liquidated and as a result slaves were auctioned primarily under estate liquidation or to pay a debt. The actual number of slaves auctioned is ambiguous, but it happened, on the steps surrounding the structure. Does that make the Market House a slave market? No, certainly not. Does that warrant destruction? No, certainly not.

    Author George Santayana once said, "those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it." This is the attitude of the Left. The history they speak of is the revisionist, anti-American narrative — that will not be taught in our schools, by the way — of Howard Zinn and the 1619 Project.

    But the Left wants to either destroy or rewrite our history. We see this in the "canceling" of historical figures like Thomas Jefferson and even George Washington. Because these great figures don't hold up to today's woke standards, they must be done away with. Their names must be taken off schools, their stories scrubbed from the history books, and their statues toppled. Not here in Fayetteville! We will not allow the stories of our forefathers to be scrubbed away by the leftist mob.

    I am running to be your mayor because I believe in this city. I believe in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and I believe in its citizens.

    You may wonder why I am discussing these larger cultural issues as a mayoral candidate. You may wonder why I am not talking about fixing bridges or roads, or other infrastructure. All that stuff is extremely important, and we will be working on those issues as well. But if the metaphorical and ideological foundation of our city is rotted to the core, the physical foundation of our city will crumble as well.

    It is time we take back the culture, starting right here in Fayetteville, North Carolina. I have a dream!

    May God bless Fayetteville, and May God bless America. Thank you.

    Photographed above: Nyrell and Joy Melvin with their daughters. 

  • 01 ElephantDonkeyHC1211 sourcePublisher Bill Bowman yields his space this week to contributor Karl Merritt.

    To our country’s detriment, power-hungry politicians and a cooperative media are manipulating Americans. Democrats have mastered manipulation as a political strategy. Republicans have allowed, and continue to allow, this Democratic strategy to be successful. They enable this destructive strategy by failing to instruct the public regarding governmental processes, sensible reasons for their policy and legislative positions, the basics of economics, and a multitude of similar considerations.

    As bothered as one might be by this Republican failing, the fact of life is that Democrats have, very likely intentionally, created a societal atmosphere where it is nearly impossible for Republicans, or anybody else, to do the educating and informing of the general public called for in that first paragraph. That near impossibility is rooted in Democrats: robbing millions of Americans of the capacity for critical thought; promoting focus on self and on group identity; from government, giving just enough to certain groups to gain and retain their support; pitting enough supportive groups against others so that there is a winning Democratic coalition (Identity Politics).

    The end result of all of this is that citizens are manipulated into strongly supporting policies, legislation, and societal standards that, in my estimation, make no sense and even contribute to the looming destruction of this nation as a place of tremendous opportunity and simply an amazing place to live.

    What has been presented to this point plays out in real life through the recent passage of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. Consider the high level of public support for that legislation, the reasons for that support, and the public’s understanding of what is included.

    There was overwhelming support for the legislation. An article at democrats.senate.gov titled “Americans Overwhelmingly Support The American Rescue Plan Because Families Still Need Relief From The COVID Pandemic — But Republicans Say They Just Don’t Know What’s Good For Them” included the following

    “In the poll, which was conducted Feb. 19-22 among 2,013 registered voters and has a margin of error of 2 percentage points, 76 percent said they back the stimulus package, including 52 percent who said they ‘strongly’ support the bill. Only 17 percent of voters said they oppose it.” [Morning Consult, 2/24/21]
    “Small Business for America’s Future: “69% of small business owners — including 46% of Republican business owners and 61% of independent small business owners — support the American Rescue Plan.” [Small Business for America’s Future, 2/23/21]

    The following is from an article by Samantha Chang, titled “Biden Voter: The Bombs in Syria Are Kinda Expensive for a Dude Who Owes Me $2,000”. Ben Calvert, age 27, who is referred to in the article, is a Democrat and lives in Minnesota:

    “A lot of my friends are really frustrated because they were like, ‘We’ve got to elect these two senators in Georgia! We’ve got to get Joe Biden in office and then everything’s going to be better!'” Calvert told CNN last week. “It’s not a $1,400 check, it’s $2,000 checks.'”

    Many Americans interpreted Biden’s promise to mean they would receive a separate $2,000 check — not $1,400
    plus $600.

    The focus on self that is reflected in Calvert’s statement is rampant across America. One only has to look at comments from some individuals as to why they vote as they do to see the success of the focus-on-self political strategy. Concern for one’s personal circumstance is reasonable, but it now seems at dangerous levels in our society.

    Then there was this revealing post on Next-door, a neighborhood social media site: “How many Republicans are giving the stimulus check back?” It is reasonable to conclude that this statement was driven by the fact that no Republicans in the House or Senate voted for the legislation and public support for it was far less among Republicans than among Democrats. I contend that statements, such as referenced here, point to a lack of thoughtful examination of facts and to the harmful partisan divide that is so present in America.

    These three accounts, although limited, reflect the condition of our country. That condition is one of: individuals making decisions based on tremendously insufficient and faulty thought; allowing short-term personal impacts to blind their ability to see and consider the bigger picture; simply following the dictates of a group with which they identify. This condition leads many Americans to wholeheartedly support policies, legislation, and even societal standards, that are unfair, often defy reason, are sometimes unconstitutional, and jeopardize the very continued existence of America.

    Passage of the American Rescue Plan is proof-positive of the argument made to this point. In an article titled “American Rescue Plan (Biden’s $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Package)”, Erik Haagensen writes: “The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 is a $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue package designed to facilitate the United States’ recovery from the devastating economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

    Given the reason for this legislation, the thoughtful approach would be to ask if it is needed and, if so, how will the need be best addressed? A starting point for addressing this question might be unemployment. The February 2020 unemployment rate was 3.5%, March 2020 14.7%, and February 2021 6.2%. Even though unemployment is down dramatically from the March 2020 devastating high, there are clearly Americans who still need assistance.

    It does not appear that Democrats in Congress gave sufficient attention to who really needed assistance. The U.S. Treasury Department’s website states this regarding disbursements under the legislation: “In total, this first batch included approximately 90 million payments, which are valued at more than $242 billion.” This was just the first batch of payments. Simply considering the unemployment rates, even in March 2020, there is no way 90 million payments would be required. Payments were definitely authorized for many people who had not missed a paycheck and faced no financial hardship.

    Depending on whose reporting is considered, there is a half-trillion to a full trillion dollars remaining unspent from previous COVID relief bills. There are various explanations as to why this is the case. However, one would think this situation would have been made known to, and explained to, the American people before committing to another $1.9 trillion.

    The listing of questionable funding items in this legislation seems almost endless. Among these are payments in an amount up to 120 percent of the outstanding indebtedness of each farmer or rancher to the Department of Agriculture, or guaranteed by the department, and is a member of a socially disadvantaged group as of January 1, 2021. From 7 U.S.C. 2279(a)(6): “The term ‘socially disadvantaged group’ means a group whose members have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice because of their identity as members of a group without regard to their individual qualities.” How is this related
    to COVID?

    Then there is millions in funding to Gallaudet University, Howard University, National Technical Institute for the Deaf, and Institute of Education Sciences. Why these specific institutions? There is $50 million for family planning. Addressing what comes under this heading, 42 U.S.C 300 says in part, “… effective family planning methods and services (including natural family planning methods, infertility services, and services for adolescents).” Consider one billion available until September 30, 2025, to carry out the purposes of the Technology Modernization Fund (TMF). Regarding TMF, the General Services Administration (GSA) website says, “… gives agencies additional ways to deliver services to the American public more quickly, better secure sensitive systems and data, and use taxpayer dollars more efficiently.” COVID related?

    Finally, $350 billion is allocated to states, the District of Columbia, local governments, territories, and tribal governments to mitigate the fiscal effects stemming from the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus disease. Most of this total will be distributed to states and the District of Columbia based on each state’s proportion of seasonally-adjusted unemployed individuals for the three-month period ending in December 2020. In assessing this provision, one has to consider that, as stated above, unemployment rates were much improved from the height of the pandemic. Further, state revenues did not experience the expected decline. This from an article by Mary Williams Walsh, titled “Virus Did Not Bring Financial Rout That Many States Feared”:
    A researcher at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan think tank, found that total state revenues from April through December were down just 1.8 percent from the same period in 2019. Moody’s Analytics used a different method and found that 31 states now had enough cash to fully absorb the economic stress of the pandemic recession on their own.

    This allocation of funds to states certainly appears extremely questionable at best. Congressional Republicans raised thoughtful opposition, but were lambasted and dismissed by Congressional Democrats and a majority of American citizens.

    The fact of life is that, to the detriment of this country, far too many Americans are being manipulated into supporting policies, legislation, and societal standards that are moving America along a dangerous path. Public support for, and passage of, the American Rescue Plan is just one of many glaring indications of this truth.

  • 03 galatic lumpSomething is really big out there. And it is hungry. It may be coming for us. Today we are going to visit the Astronomy Desk to see what Ms. Science has to say to scare us.

    Having spent a fair amount of time in the back yard pondering the stars over a fire pit in the winter of The Rona when there was nothing much else to do, I learned to look up at the night sky. Johnny Horne’s excellent columns about astronomy in the local paper made me realize how little I know about the Great Beyond. My basic understanding about the sky is slim. The sky is pretty big. It gets dark at night and light during the day. Stars are far away. The ancient people who named the constellations were inhaling something pretty strong when they looked up and saw Orion and his buddies in the sky.

    Your phone can tell you everything including what stars you are seeing. There is an app called Sky View which when you point it up shows the stars’ name and draws the constellations.

    Your phone also can find colorful articles about anything including astronomy. A recent article in Vice got my attention. The title was “Something Huge and Invisible is Making Nearby Stars Vanish, Scientists Propose.” From the title I was unsure if Scientists were proposing to Something Huge or to each other. Intrigued, I read the whole thing so you don’t have to. This is what I found.

    We all know what are the five most frightening words in the English language: “according to a new study.” This article was no exception. It began “An invisible cosmic behemoth might be tearing apart the closest star cluster to the Sun, leaving one side of the cluster eerily dark and devoid of stars, according to a new study.” Uh oh. A hungry Cosmic Behemoth is in the neighborhood. Like those nice young men in their clean white coats, it may be coming to take us away. It’s something called a “dark matter substructure” with the mass of 10 million suns made of “a mysterious non-luminous substance.” That did not sound good to the unpracticed ear. The scientists called it a Galactic Lump. This is not to be confused with Lumpy Rutherford from "Leave it to Beaver" who was a big guy himself. Somewhere out in the Cosmos there is a Galactic Lump hanging out in the Hyades star cluster. This is not to be confused with Goo Goo Clusters w hich hang out at the Grand Ol’ Opry.

    Ms. Science Tereza Jerabkova spotted the Galactic Lump in the Taurus constellation using the Gaia satellite to spy on the Hyades star cluster. At the head of the Taurus constellation there is a V shaped cluster of stars called tidal tails that flow backwards like the wake of a speed boat. Most of these V shaped clusters are equal in size on both wings of the cosmic wake. But not Taurus. Something is awry. Something invisible and really big — the Galactic Lump is tearing apart one of the tidal tails.

    Ms. Science proposes the Galactic Lump a big mess of Dark Matter which has an alias of “sub-halo” in polite society. I prefer Galactic Lump. As this is my column we will just call it Lumpy after Lumpy Rutherford.

    Ms. Science says that the tail stars aren’t being eaten by a Black Hole rather that Lumpy is somehow blocking them from sight through its clever use of Dark Matter. Dark Matter is a big deal in Astronomy — the Dark Matter in the Milky Way Galaxy is thought to be “more than a trillion times the mass of the Sun.” So, should we be concerned about Lumpy eventually eating up our solar system and blacking out the Sun? Like Bob Dylan almost warned, “Will we have darkness at the break of noon, eclipsing both the Sun and Moon?” Instead of climate change will we have solar system change? The mind boggles. As we all know, a boggling mind is a terrible thing to waste.
    Well, so as to not keep you in suspense, Ms. Science says not to worry. Lumpy will not eat our Galaxy. Apparently the Milky Way Galaxy is too small and too far away for Lumpy to be concerned with us. Why would Lumpy want to eat the Milky Way which is the equivalent of MRE’s when he can keep chowing down on the much larger Hyades star cluster? We are small cosmic potatoes to Lumpy. He is going to stay at the Hyades Big Buffet in the sky.

    Ms. Science explained that sometimes star clusters like the Milky Way enter the Transfer Portal like One & Done college basketball players and swap planets and players among themselves. Our solar system is safe from the Transfer Portal because she explained “The Sun is a lonely star that left its natal cluster long ago.” I guess that should make us feel better about ourselves but it kind of makes me sad for the Sun. Poor thing, the Sun left its natal cluster and has been on its own for a very long time. Our sun is an orphan, booted out of its natal cluster at a tender age. Isolated from its brother and sister stars without hope of swapping planets. This is Bigly Sad.

    But not to leave you on a morose note. Lumpy won’t eat us. Let us not forget what Hemingway wrote: The Sun also rises. Be like Martha White self-rising flour. Get your biscuits out of bed and go face the day.

    Pictured above: Lumpy Rutherford is not to be confused with the Galatic Lump recently discovered by scientists. 

  • 09 MVIMG 20200402 175323When God closes a door, he opens a window. And, he does this by utilizing his people. Why? Simply put, for their good and his glory. It’s been a tradition each year that many churches in the Fayetteville and Cumberland County area join together for a city and countywide Easter sunrise service. This traditional service is a celebration of love, hope, unity and faith. This year, the grand event, which was planned by several area churches, was to be held at Segra Stadium in downtown Fayetteville. However, because of the COVID-19 situation, and in keeping with the North Carolina and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s health and safety precautions designed to limit the transmission of the virus, organizers had to cancel the event.

    Rev. Robert James of Fayetteville’s First Baptist Church on Anderson Street in downtown Fayetteville was one of the coordinators of the event. He was looking forward to filling Segra Stadium on Easter Sunday morning with a congregation of all faiths for a service that would be a demonstration of unity, God’s love and encouragement as they celebrate the holy day amid the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “I was so excited that our churches would be bringing the Annual Easter Sunrise Service to Segra Stadium this year,” said James. “It was a dream that each of the other pastors and I had been pursuing for months.  We saw it as a wonderful opportunity to bring our churches and our community together.  We hoped that by holding the event at the new stadium that even more churches and more of our neighbors would want to join us in celebrating Easter.  Having to cancel this service has been a grieving process for me, and I am sure it has been for each of my colleagues.”

    James and the other event organizers will replace the service with another very special event that will also inspire the community and express a collective sense of hope, love, unity and faith: The Easter Ringing of the Bells. A communitywide church bell ringing event. On Easter Sunday, April 12, at sunrise — 6:47 a.m. — participating Fayetteville, Fort Bragg and Cumberland County churches are invited to ring their church bells and chimes continuously for five minutes as a symbolic gesture of ringing out assurances of hope, love, unity and faith during this time of crisis, social distancing and isolation. All churches are invited to participate. This will be especially meaningful for some congregations because some churches do not ring their bells during the entire Lenten Season — until Easter. This Sunday, they can ring out joyfully, celebrating the greatest Christian event since the beginning of time — the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

    Regardless of the weather, the bells will ring, and the prayers for humanity will rise from the hearts of those within their sound.

    For some Christians, these circumstances may not seem so unusual because they believe, as I do, that God sometimes uses events to remind us that when life and things around us seem to careen out of control, his son is the “Christ of the crisis.”

    Even though we may be curfewed, hunkered down, sheltered in place and practicing social distancing, we are still bound together by God’s love. As that old song says, “We’ll be one in the Spirit, one in the Lord, and we pray that all unity will one day be restored.”

    Basil Hume once said, “The greatest gift of Easter is hope.” Well, these are desperate and challenging times in which we live. Dark clouds of uncertainty continue to form on the horizon and threaten our way of life — and possibly our existence. It is during these times that we need chimes and bells, lots of bells, ringing out loud and clear as a gallant call to arms, invoking prayer, hope, love, unity and a firm proclamation of faith. This world may never be the same. The COVID-19 crisis could prove to be a game-changer for all humanity. Only God knows the future. In the meantime, may the ringing of church bells this Easter Sunday morning restore your hope and faith in humanity, dispelling any fears that may be lingering in your heart. Inspiration and hope come from the very one for whom Easter is celebrated, the one who proclaims, “Fear not, for I am with you, for I am your God, I will strengthen you. I will hold you up with my victorious hand.”

    “In a time of so much fear and uncertainty, it brings me hope and joy to imagine church bells all over our community ringing out in unison our faith in God’s resurrection power,” said James.

    Let those bells toll on Easter Sunday morning, not only in Fayetteville and Cumberland County but across America and around the world. Christ has risen and he has risen for all of us, abolishing fear and death and spreading the message that we, too, shall live and become more than conquerors. And that includes the coronavirus pandemic.

    Listen up. The bells will ring for you and your family. I am thankful to live in a community that places such high values on love, hope, faith, unity and humankind. Happy Easter!


    Pictured: Rev. Rob James ringing the church bell at First Baptist Church, Anderson Street. 
    Photo credit:  Ryann McKay

  • 04-27-11-oratio-logo.jpgSaturday, April 30 marks the endof the Cumberland Oratorio Singers and the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra 2010/2011 season. The two are teaming up to present Ralph Vaughn Williams’ Serenade to Music at Reeves Auditorium on the Methodist university Campus .

    While there are indeed some purists who perform this piece with only 16 soloists, there are also full choirs that perform this piece with feature soloists. Cumberland Oratorio Singers Director, Michael Martin has chosen to audition singers from the Cumberland Oratorio Singers membership as well as the greater Fayetteville area to come up with a group of 28 amazing singers who will perform to the talented musicians of the Fayetteville Symphony Orche04-27-11-symphony-logo.jpgstra.

    Martin considers Vaughn Williams a standard bearer of choral music, and Serenade to Music the perfect piece for a collaboration with the symphony.

    “This is not a large piece or all that diffi cult to put together. What is remarkable about it is that is does show a willingness by the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra and the Cumberland Oratorio Singers to start partnering to do choral works together,” said Martin. “I think this is a fi rst step in a much larger process. Next year we are going to be working on Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, so I will be looking to coordinate several choirs from all over the area to come together as a mass choir and sing with the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra. We are trying to build the idea of a large choral work with the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra on a regular basis and bring that kind of experience of art to Fayetteville. I think you always have to start with small successes and build to larger ones. that is what Fouad Fakhouri and I are trying to do.”

    While bringing great choral music to Fayetteville is Martin’s goal, there is always room to grow. In fact, the group is hoping to add a few more men to their ranks. “I would like to have more men join this group,” said Martin. “I can’t understand how in a demographic our size we can’t fi nd an additional 15 or 20 men who can sing. Not to say the men we have don’t sing well, they do, but the proportion from man to woman is high on the women side right now. We want basses. We want tenors.”

    Fouad Fakhouri, conductor of the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra is excited about including the COS in the orchestra’s season finale and considers it the perfect ending to an artistically strong season. “I am very much looking forward to working with Michael Martin on this,” said Fakhouri. “It has been a great season, a very gratifying season in terms of the artistic products that we produced. This is going to be a great fi nale.”

    In addition to collaborating with the COS, the symphony will perform Symphony No. 4 in E-flat Major Romantic by Anton Bruckner.

    “I would just encourage anyone and everyone who has ever thought of going to a symphony to attend this concert,” said Fakhouri. “You seldom hear this piece performed in the United States. It is a little bit longer, but it is a very powerful work and I wanted to fi nish the season with a substantial work.”

    As has become the custom, audience members are invited to come early and enjoy a pre-concert chat with Fakhouri. In this session called Know the Score Fakhouri discusses the music that will be performed and talks a bit about the composers of the pieces. “I am hoping that Michael (COS director) will join me on stage with a few musicians and we will talk about the music,” said Fakhouri.

    The pre-concert chat starts at 6:45 p.m., while the show starts at 7:30 p.m. COS season tickets will be accepted at the door or tickets may be purchased at the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra price of two tickets for $15 for the fi nal concert of the season. Find out more at http:// cumberlandoratoriosingers.org or www.fayettevillesymphony.org.

  • 02 RoadWorkSignHC1601 sourceLet’s be honest with ourselves. No one, even the most progressive among us, likes to pay taxes. Nor do we enjoy paying our rent, mortgages, utility and insurance bills, or any other cost of daily living that does not reward us the same way a new car or even a new outfit does.

    We do, however, enjoy having homes with electricity and temperature controls and knowing that insurance can help us cope when adversity strikes. That requires us to pay to maintain these mainstays of American life. Most of us do that routinely, though sometimes begrudgingly.

    Taxes are a different story. It is harder to connect the mainstays of America’s collective life — schools, roads, bridges, mass transit, military services, law enforcement and public safety, and other governmental services — with the checks we write to the U.S. Treasury and the N.C. Department of Revenue and other taxes we routinely pay. Governmental services are big and abstract by comparison with the air conditioning keeping our homes cool all summer and the safety professionals who protect us in our own communities.

    Like so much else in life, changes in the U.S. tax structure have largely snuck up on us. Over the last 6-7 decades, tax rates for the wealthiest Americans, particularly corporate tax rates, have steadily declined while tax rates for the majority of us have remained the roughly same or risen. This includes sales taxes and some government-mandated “fees,” since they impact lower income earners more than those in the upper levels. Most critical is the corporate tax rate. Very few advanced nations maintain corporate tax rates as low as the United States.

    Since the 1950s, the corporate tax rate has steadily declined and is now to the point that major U.S. corporations pay no taxes at all. The New York Times reports that these include Fed Ex (despite all the millions of packages it has delivered during COVID), government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, Nike and agricultural behemoth Archer-Daniels-Midland.

    You are not wrong if you wonder how these corporate giants keep what they make while you share a hefty percentage of your resources with various levels of government. And, you might note that higher income Americans own more stock in such corporations than lower income Americans do, meaning that they share in bigger corporate profits. The rich are indeed getting richer, and the divide between them and the rest of America continues to grow.

    Our nation has invested very little in our infrastructure since the big highway efforts of the mid-20th century, and it shows. President Biden is promoting a major infrastructure initiative to do what we have not done in decades. Americans want to be safe and secure in our homes and on our roads, and we support this effort. It will not happen, however, without changes in our tax structure, which Biden is also supporting. Over time, both Democrats and Republicans have backed tax reductions for corporations and by extension, wealthy Americans, but there is little to no evidence that those reductions have produced expanded job opportunities or higher incomes. In short, trickle-down economics have failed. They have actually done the opposite. They have trickled — or flooded — upward, accelerating the gulf between haves and have-nots.

    Millions of us want better and safer infrastructures. As politicians debate them and the rest of us listen and ponder, we must keep in mind this truth. In government, as in our private lives, we get what we pay for.

    Pictured above : President Joe Biden is promoting a major infastrusture initiative. Many argue that it will not happen without changes in our tax structure. 

  • 01 GirlHeadDown Blue girlPublisher Bill Bowman yields his space this week to Dr. Shanessa Fenner, who shares an up close and personal educator's perspective on the importance of raising awareness of child abuse prevention.

    I remember my first year as an elementary teacher. I decided that I wanted to sit all of my students in a circle on the carpet and have a discussion about appropriate and inappropriate touching. They sat there and looked at me while listening attentively to every word that I said.

    After the conversation one of my girls walked up to me and grabbed my hand. She told me that she had something to tell me. She told me that someone had inappropriately touched her. I told my teacher's assistant to watch the kids and we ran to the front office. I was so upset. Of course the authorities were contacted but I remember thinking that I am going to talk to my babies on a consistent basis about this because I have to protect them. The years have passed by, but I still think about her from time and time and hope she is doing okay.

    April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds in the United States. At least one in seven children have experienced child abuse and/or neglect in the past year. The Administration for Children & Families report a national estimate of 1,840 children died from abuse and neglect in 2019 compared to 1,780 children who died in 2018. Rates of child abuse and neglect are five times higher for children in families with a low socioeconomic status compared to children in families with a higher socioeconomic status.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about one in four girls and one in 13 boys experience child sex abuse at some point in their childhood. Some of the signs of sexual abuse include difficulty walking or sitting, sleeping with clothes on, age inappropriate bedwetting, runs away, not wanting to go to the bathroom, and sexual behavior or knowledge inappropriate for a child.
    Signs of neglect entail being dirty or has a body odor, frequent absences from school, begs or steals food, developmentally delayed, and not having the right clothes for the weather.

    General symptoms of abuse include low grades in school, mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, or low self-esteem, unusual interaction with parent, and slower than normal development.

    The impact of child abuse does not end when the abuse stops. These children may experience depression, anxiety disorders, poor self-esteem, aggressive behavior, suicide attempts, alcohol and drug abuse, post-traumatic stress, and other difficulties.

    Some states require all adults to report suspicions of child abuse or neglect. It is not your job to investigate, just report what you suspect. If you suspect a child is being abused call the National Child Abuse
    Hotline at 1-800-422-4453.

    Pictured above: Child Abuse (n)- pysical, sexual or psychological mistreatment ot neglect of a child by a parent or other caregiver. 

  • 12 DadSonBibleHC1406 sourceIn general, parents tend to fear the things they can't control. We tend to be particularly afraid of the sensational hazards, those that draw unwelcome attention and make for movie-of-the-week melodramas. From the graduation from diapers to pants and first loves to getting caught shoplifting candy from a convenience store, there are plenty of opportunities for parents and their children to feel like they've blown it.

    But the good news is this: you're doing fine.

    The fact of the matter is that life is a lot shorter than we give it credit for, and for parents, that short span of years is made up of a series of firsts.

    That's true for you, me, and every parent on the planet. So let's start by giving each other some room to learn, react and grow.

    If you have more than one child — or any number of siblings — you probably already know how tough life can be on first kids and first time parents.

    So many experiences in life can be deemed traumatizing in growing up and parenting alike, and while we may flippantly attribute some of the most horrendous scenarios to bad parenting in someone else's family, it's not usually how we see it if we're the parent.

    Somewhere near the middle of my military career my wife and I got a call to meet with the commandant of the overseas housing area we lived in. For a military family, that is not a good thing. The commandant is someone whose face is framed in an official hallway somewhere — not sizing you up from across an oversize desk in a quiet office. Whatever our kid had done had put our ability to reside on that installation in jeopardy. In serious cases, families can be ordered to return to the continental U.S. while the military member served out the rest of the tour alone. Not a desirable option. Definitely not the type of thing that gets you promoted.

    Here's the thing: I don't even remember what happened. I can't recall whatever incident led to the meeting, and I don't remember the meeting itself beyond its implications. Gone. Forgotten.

    Yet at the time, it seemed like the end of the world.

    Looking past the truly catastrophic situations that may occur in your life, or the lives of those around you, I want to encourage you with three simple things you need as a parent: License, Love and Forgiveness.

    Your license to parent is like a two-sided coin. One side affords you the power to exercise the discipline needed to steer your children toward becoming the best person they possibly can be.

    The other side of that coin is love. Discipline with love will always yield the greatest results, because in that is care and concern for the outcome.

    And finally, forgiveness. Your child will make mistakes, and so will you. Learn early on to own and accept those things that don't go according to plan, because there will be plenty. Perhaps forgiveness will be a little easier when you pause to realize this – not only is it your first time parenting, but it's your child's first time being your kid.

  • 04 gunner biden pic by Jim JonesIt is said, watch what politicians do and not what they say. Our country is sideways. We are surrounded by cowards, feel-good laws, guilt marketing and a sense of perverted righteousness. Many representatives get elected, take office, swear to uphold the Constitution. Within minutes, many of them do everything they can to circumvent and destroy the very foundation they swore to uphold.

    In the last few weeks, we have had two highly reported shootings. The president did not miss an opportunity to use these tragic events to push his agendas. The president touted the Atlanta shooting at three massage parlors as "An assault on the AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islanders) community in Georgia." The shooter has not been charged with a hate crime. Playing the race/hate card, the propaganda machines spread fear to Asians. They failed to mention the victims included six Asians and two whites murdered and a Hispanic man who was injured. The motive does not look like it was racial; the accused said he had a sex addiction.

    Six days later, in Boulder, Colorado, a man entered a grocery store parking lot, killed 10 people, and wounded one. The president and media led people to believe that the shooter used the evil AR-15 rifle. However, he had two pistols — a Ruger AR-556 and a 9mm pistol (believed to not have been used). Both were legally purchased.
    In response to the Atlanta shooting, the president quickly asked Congress to send him the "COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act" to sign, which had nothing to do with the shootings. The very fact that our government leaders think that one group, race, sex, or even one person is better than another is a tribute to their lack of moral character to enforce and uphold our laws.

    In response to the Boulder shooting, the president used the moment to reiterate his campaign promise to go after "assault weapons," saying, "As president, I'm going to use all the resources at my disposal to keep people safe." He went on to say, "I got that done when I was a senator. It passed. It was a law for the longest time, and it brought down these mass killings." He did not mention that studies show the ban did not have a significant effect on firearm homicides. According to the CDC, there is one-half to three million incidents annually where people use firearms for protection.

    A few weeks ago, President Biden fell three times going up the steps to board Air Force One. In America, each year, 12,000 Americans die due to stairway accidents. Each year, there are less than 400 people killed by rifles, including hunting, shotgun, and AR-15 style rifles combined! Currently, there is an estimated 10 to 30 million AR-15 style rifles in the U.S.

    In 2013, during an interview with Parents magazine, then Vice President Gunner Biden said, "Get a double-barreled shotgun... Jill, if there's ever a problem, just walk out on the balcony here, walk out and put that double-barrel shotgun and fire two blasts outside the house. I promise you whoever is coming in is not going to. You don't need an AR-15. It's harder to aim, it's harder to use, and in fact, you don't need 30 rounds to protect yourself. Buy a shotgun. Buy a shotgun."

    Umm, as the VP at the time, what he was saying is, if all of the Secret Service and their weaponry fail, just walk outside and shot two shotgun shells in the air. No responsible gun owner would ever tell anyone to shoot in the air.

    Let me ask you if you are unlike the Bidens and do not have Secret Service protection, and you hear a noise in the middle of the night, and you grab your Gunner Joe double-barreled shotgun and walk into your living room and discover three people breaking into your house? What if you squeeze a blast off and miss? How does that math work for you?

    Why don't our current laws work? There is no deterrent. Death-sentenced prisoners often spend more than one to two decades in jail before being exonerated or executed. That is decades for families to have to deal with a murderer and a criminal justice system. They become victims by a system that never gives them peace or justice.

    We need representatives that are willing to uphold our Constitution before party loyalties and politics. Our law enforcement agencies have to go after real criminals. Our prosecutors have to go after righteous cases. Our judges have to be fair and give out just punishments. Our judicial system must provide sentences that are speedy and respectable.

    Why is the government obsessed with assault rifles when you are 30 times more likely to be killed by a flight of stairs than an AR-15? Is it optics, lobbyists, ignorance, federal agency job security, or something else?

    Why are they gunning for your guns? Probably the same reason that England wished they had gun confiscation back around 1770. The same reason Hitler confiscated guns in Germany. As recently as 1997, England banned firearms and is now known as the "most violent country in Europe." London has a higher crime index rate than New York City, and London has banned people from carrying knives. This is about control so the government can have complete control over your life and give up your freedoms.

    Gun control bills on both sides of the political spectrum have failed in the past. Many times, due to the filibuster rule. If the statistics show that assault weapons are not the problem, that gun ownership saves more lives than not, then it is reasonable to ask why are they using mass shooting events as a tipping point to gun down the filibuster? Without the filibuster, a voting majority by one person could change the Constitution or ram a cockamamie cause down citizens' throats without fear of an uprising?

    The Constitution is framed on checks and balances. The Second Amendment ensures we have a First Amendment, and the First Amendment ensures we have Second Amendment and so forth.

    No matter what Gunner Biden’s intentions are, the first wave of change in the name of gun safety or gun control initiatives can only lead to gun registration and gun confiscation, turning millions of law-abiding citizens into criminals.

    If you, your representatives, and leaders cared about your safety, they would encourage Americans to exercise their God-given right to protect themselves and the Second Amendment.

    It took 58 minutes for the Boulder shooting to happen from start and finish. For some, sadly, that was a lifetime.

    If you find yourself in a life-or-death situation, you will have the rest of your life to figure out if you should have the right to protect yourself with whatever weapon you choose, or if you are willing to bet your life and wait for the police to arrive?

  • 10 AdobeStock 276423886 1024x606Thanks to the fiscally responsible policies of the North Carolina General Assembly, state government has some $5 billion in unspent funds and unanticipated revenues in its General Fund.

    And thanks to the fiscally irresponsible policies of Congress and the Biden administration, North Carolina will receive another $5.2 billion in “COVID-19 recovery” funds that will be borrowed from Chinese investors and other holders of federal treasuries.

    Gov. Roy Cooper and his aides have looked up at that towering, tottering mountain of one-time cash and taken its measure. They think it’s too small.

    So in the 2021-23 budget proposal he just released, the governor is recommending that North Carolina borrow another $4.6 billion for capital spending on schools, colleges, universities, museums, and other government facilities. Some of these projects are clearly worthwhile. Others are pork-barrel giveaways. Still others are somewhere in the middle — nice-to-haves, let’s say, though hardly must-haves.

    I’ll say two positive things about Cooper’s debt scheme. First, it is true that, all other things being equal, it is better to borrow when interest rates are low than when they are high. Second, Cooper proposes that the new debt be issued as general-obligation bonds, meaning that North Carolina taxpayers will get to vote on the package in a bond referendum.

    But even at low interest rates, borrowing is costlier than paying cash. And Cooper proposes to put his massive borrowing spree on the ballot in an off-year, low-turnout election. A better approach would be to be put state government’s current surpluses to effective use, including a concerted effort to pay down the state’s already burdensome debt load.

    While the state currently has $4.1 billion of General Fund debt on its books, that’s not its only fiscal obligation.

    The state has also promised pension and health benefits to current and former public employees. North Carolina’s pension fund is better funded than that of most states, but not yet fully funded. And the unfunded liability for retiree health benefits is staggering: about $28 billion.

    This big hole in North Carolina’s financial position is hardly invisible. Governor Cooper sees it. His budget even included a $150 million deposit into the reserve for health benefits. Given the current surplus, however, this is also pitifully inadequate.

    With more than $10 billion in cash to spend, we don’t need to borrow another $4.6 billion. Instead, the state legislature should convert that one-time surplus into ongoing benefits for North Carolinians.

    First, I recommend that lawmakers put $1 billion into the state’s pension fund, $2 billion into the state’s retiree-health reserve, $500 million into dedicated reserves for disaster relief and the state’s turbulent Medicaid program, and $2 billion into the state’s rainy-day reserve.

    In the latter case, that would take the rainy-day fund to $3.1 billion, which comes to about 12% of last year’s General Fund budget. Most economists believe 2021 and 2022 will be banner years for economic recovery. I certainly hope so. But having a healthy cushion of operating expenses in the bank is a sensible precaution, and will keep North Carolina from having to raise taxes or cut programs with a meat cleaver if bad news comes.

    As for the remaining cash, I think the General Assembly should do a combination of capital investment and debt reduction. We absolutely need to upgrade key state assets, from education and health institutions to prisons and courthouses. We can do that while also paying down some of our $4.1 billion in bonded indebtedness, which consumes hundreds of millions of dollars a year that could be devoted to future operating expenses or tax relief.

    Keep in mind that I’m only talking about North Carolina’s one-time cash. The state is projecting robust revenue growth next year, which can fund essential services and pay raises for public employees.

    Politicians make some of their worse decisions during the “best” of times.

    Fiscally speaking, that’s where North Carolina is right now.

    The governor erred in proposing a new borrowing spree. Lawmakers should pursue a wiser course.

  • 03 clutter downsizeAmong the many unanticipated effects of our year of COVID-19 lockdown at home has been the urge to clean out and, for some, to downsize. Folks of my generation have been pondering downsizing for some time, and many, including moi, have actually done it. The rest are still talking about it.

    Award winning novelist Ann Patchett and her hubby made the clean out, downsize their possessions effort, and she wrote about it recently for The New Yorker. She began by tossing out dishtowels with images of dogs, birds, koala bears, and more, but that was just a warm up. Eventually, out went etched crystal champagne flutes, insect repellant from prior decades, brandy snifters, dolls from her childhood, bottles of dried up glue, and silver trays, vases, serving utensils, and a tea set. Ditto multiple colanders, pencils, old campaign buttons, and a bowl and collar belonging to a long-gone dog.

    Boy, do I relate to Patchett’s article!

    Her cathartic experience seems to have spanned quite a bit of the COVID year. Mine, however, lasted only about 2 frantic weeks, courtesy of Uncle Sam’s military moving schedule. Every day was the same. I awoke and began asking myself the same series of questions about thousands of items, not unlike Patchett’s collection of lifetime detritus.

    1. Do I want to keep this, and if not, who wants it?

    2. If no Precious Jewel or friend wants it, what do I do with it?

    3. Is this something a charitable organization could use, and if so, which one and will it pick it up or do I have to get it there?

    4. If that avenue is closed, is the item recyclable or is it fated to take up space in the landfill?

    It was emotionally and physically exhausting to the point that Precious Jewel and a Tennessee friend who had come to help called in a professional organizer to get me through the last few days.

    That said, I do not miss anything. Occasionally, I wonder what happened to some piece of furniture or kitchen implement I once enjoyed using, but I really do not care. I am not sure I achieved what organizing guru Marie Kondo describes as “sparking joy,” but I am considerably less burdened by my belongings and enjoy using what I have and remembering how individual belongings came into my life. The bottom line is that no one — repeat, no one, needs several dozen pairs of black pants in various sizes and styles, not counting the black leggings that have been my daily sartorial choice during COVID.

    Patchett and those downsizing and clearing out during COVID face a circumstance I did not pre-COVID. Charitable organizations that traditionally accept all sorts of donations are struggling. Many are concentrating on human services — food banks, health clinics, child care, educational needs, to the point that other needs and services are on back burners. In addition, charities need cold hard cash more than they need our household goods and memories. Their in-person fundraising events have come to screeching halts, and volunteers who are only too happy to help have been unable to gather. Charities, like most other aspects of life, will ease back to “normal” over time.

    The year of COVID has focused us on the core of our lives — our families, our health, the overall quality of our lives. It has established yet again that belongings, even treasured ones, do not make us happy. Our relationships do. Unburdening ourselves of possessions confirms that.

  • 05 Hypocrasy WarningIt's becoming outright depressing to witness the gross hypocrisy taking place in America and permeating our daily lives. Many of us try to avoid this disorder, but to no avail, falling victim to mass depression, overeating, alcoholism and untimely suicides. It's horrid, devastating, and it's everywhere! Hypocrisy is present at all government levels, our local communities, our educational systems, businesses and even our churches. With no end in sight, it's spreading unbridled at epidemic proportions.

    The sad truth is that here in America, we have only ourselves to blame. Slowly over the decades, we allowed politicians (both Democrat and Republican) to become much too powerful and greedy, allowing subversive and self-serving corruption to prioritize serving their country and the American people with fairness, justice and even humanity. Our entire political system is corrupt and vile. Americans' welfare and safety are no longer a priority or concern of most wealthy and elite elected political operatives. This is evident in law enforcement's weakening and the disregarding our Constitutional rights and the rule of law. Justice is not being served, and it is evident in the neglect we see in addressing many serious issues such as the southern border crisis, the advocacy and defense of criminals over victims' rights, condoning the inhumane treatment of women and children in the hands of known criminals who beat, rape, abuse, and sell them into sexual slavery.

    The Americans who support and encourage this despicable and inhumane behavior are not third-world despots. They are wealthy, fat and arrogant bureaucrats that we elected and are staying in power by changing, manipulating and ignoring the rule of law. These people are the richest amongst us and can ignore the laws that we have to abide by.

    This situation will not have a happy ending for future generations of Americans unless we come to our senses and start calling out those basking in this hypocrisy. I'm talking about regular everyday citizens in our community. The ones that sit on non-profit organizations and advocate for women's rights, protect them from abuse, support right to life or choice agendas, advocate for children, or any of the dozens of social service programs created to serve the poor and underserved.

    These same people actively support the agencies, parties, people responsible for the policies and actions that are causing these atrocious inhumane acts. Acts that are tearing America apart one Constitutional Article at a time.

    Here's my message: In the end, that uneducated child, that sick and infected migrate worker or MS13 gang member or similar undocumented criminal, child molester, rapist, or murderer will suddenly and without notice change your life forever, and not in a good way.

    America is in a deep state of denial. Nothing good is going to come out of our current situation. So, while we collectively romance the criminals, attempt to disarm the innocent, dismantle our laws, embrace and defend policies of inhumanity on the southern border as the Mexican cartel gangsters continue their reign of terror by throwing six-month-old babies in the river and throwing three- and five-year-old little girls over a fourteen-foot border wall then running away. You may be curious as to why they would do such a hideous act when they could have walked those youngsters into American through an unguarded opening just a few hundred yards away.

    Well, here's why: first, it was an intentional act of hostile aggression by the Mexican cartels who wanted to send a pointed message to America. They intended those children to die from the fall so America would have blood on their hands, giving the anti-border wall folks more talking points.

    Second: the cartels were sending us a pointed message that they were in control of the border and had the power and wherewithal to do anything they wanted, including murdering children at will.

    Those of you who are reading this and still have control of your conscience but are having trouble sleeping at night may want to know of an organization that feels your pain and anxiety. This organization professes that if you think you cannot support the kind of policies and hypocrisy taking place in America, they encourage you to WALK AWAY from it. Walk away from the people, policies and politics that conflict with your American values. There is peace of mind when you surround yourself with people who value others' rights, the Constitution, and American values. Color, creed or ethnicity doesn't matter. Everyone is welcome except the hypocrites. Check it out at www.walkawaycampaign.com.

    Thanks for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  •      {mosimage}The term “brotherhood” is not used lightly in certain circles. It is a bond that is forged not from birth, but from a shared experience; through blood, sweat, and yes, tears. In Cumberland County, that word is particularly sacred to the members of the Special Forces Regiment, and in this case to a band of brothers who take their passion on the road.
         The Special Forces Brotherhood is a motorcycle club that is open only to men who have donned the Green Beret and worn the tab. They ride American motorcycles and throughout the year conduct a number of rides.
         On Saturday, April 11, the brotherhood will sponsor its annual Spring Poker Run. This year, the funds raised will be used to construct a 3rd Special Forces Group Memorial Walk.
         The event kicks-off at noon at M & M Leather on Bragg Boulevard. The first bike out is at 1 p.m.    Throughout the afternoon, the riders will stop at many of the area’s favorite watering holes to receive another card for their hand. Stops along the way include Aviator’s Grill & Pub, Charlie Mikes and Louies Sports Pub. The ride will end at Poindexter’s Saloon, where participants will be treated to free food and live music featuring Abandon Solatude and The New Machine.
         Registration is $10 per bike, with a $5 fee for additional riders. There will also be a 50/0 drawing, raffle and door prizes.
         For more information, visit the group’s Web sit at www.specialforcesbrotherhood.com


  • Closing out another stellar season, Community Concerts welcomes the incomparable Patti LaBelle to the04-04-12-patti-labelle.jpgCrown on Friday, April 13.

    LaBelle spent her early years singing in a Baptist choir. She launched her professional career in 1960 when she and Cindy Birdsong formed a group call the Ordettes. By 1962, the group, which was then known as the Blue Belles, had scored Top 20 pop and R&B hits with “I Sold My Heart to the Junkman.” That was the start of a hit-filled career that spans more than 50 years. From pop to funk to romantic ballads, LaBelle has made a career of wowing audiences. This concert promises a great ending to a spectacular season.

    Community Concerts delivered another great group of performances this year with concerts by Darius Rucker, LeAnn Rimes, REO Speedwagon and the talented cast of Rock of Ages.

    “This has been our biggest season so far,” said Michael Fleishman, attractions director for the Community Concerts series. “There are so many people throughout the community who are dedicated to this program and very supportive of our mission and I want to thank them for helping to make this such a great year.”

    When the non-profit organization booked Patti LaBelle, event organizers knew she would be a hit, but they didn’t realize how big.

    “Patti LaBelle is the consummate diva. She is bigger than life and fi res on all cylinders when she gets in front of the audience,” said Fleishman. “It looks like this is going to be the biggest concert of the season. In fact, I would recommend that anyone planning to see the show go ahead and buy their tickets because there aren’t that many left.”

    In addition to providing great entertainment, Community Concerts is focused on doing good in the community. From music clinics and scholarships to supporting the Boy’s and Girls Club to the Fayetteville Hall of Fame, Community Concerts strives to continue to build on the momentum they’ve established over the last 76 seasons.

    This year’s Hall of Fame inductees were Wesley Pritchard and Betty Howie. They were recognized for their contributions to the community and honored at the REO Speedwagon concert in January.

    Wesley Pritchard is a two time Dove Award winner who has produced hundreds of gospel music projects for many regionally and nationally prominent gospel artists. An accomplished singer, bass player and producer, Pritchard is also the pastor and music minister at Fayetteville Community Church.

    Betty Howie is an accomplished concert pianist, composer and music teacher to the children of the Fayetteville community. Howie’s dedication and work with the North Carolina Symphony, various Methodist College musical education and entertainment projects and her dynamic work with production and writing for area performances in both the adult and children’s venues are renowned for their quality, and demonstrate the wide scope of her gifts.

    The Hall of Fame came about as a way to thank those who contribute to the music scene in Fayetteville. Past inductees include teachers and performers who invested time and effort to educate and entertain the community.

    While the Community Concerts organizers are already hard at work planning next year’s concert season, Fleishman is excited to have one more chance to show the community a good time, and offer a great night of entertainment with a musical legend before this season ends.

    “Patti LaBelle puts on an amazing show,” said Fleishman. “From the moment she walks onto the stage she offers a top-notch performance that covers a wide range of genres, from disco to funk to pop.”

    The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. There are a limited number of tickets still available.

    Visit www.community-concerts.com to learn more about Community Concerts and the many programs offered to the community and the its surrounding area.

    Photo: Community Concerts presents the legendary performing artist Patti LaBelle at the Crown on April 13. 

  • It’s a birthday party for the prince! Prince Siegfried, that is, in Act 1 of Swan Lake at the Crown Center Theatre04-18-12-charlotte-blume.jpg on April 22, when North Carolina State Ballet presents Act 1 and Act 11 of Swan Lake in the Ballet Classics.

    The production is directed by Charlotte Blume and will feature 30 plus dancers and actors. Guest art-ists, Melody Staples Hammell and John Tabbert, dance the roles of Odette the Swan Queen and Prince Siegfried.

    Charlotte Blume and Assistant Director Wei Ni have staged Act 1 of Swan Lake for the first time since the North Carolina State Ballet presented a full four-act produc-tion of the piece in 1993. Additionally, Ni will present his new choreographed piece, Venus from Holst’s The Planets. Completing the program, Blume has re-staged the colorful dances from the prologue of Sleeping Beauty, which will star Annemarie Strickland as the Lilac Fairy.

    Guest artist John Tabbert is currently with the Charleston Ballet Theatre and Melody Staples Hammell was formerly principal dancer with that company. In addition to Swan Lake, Hammell’s many dance roles include the sugar plum fairy in the Nutcracker, Cinderella and Romeo and Juliet. This is her seventh season with the North Carolina State Ballet as Odette.

    In Act I of Swan Lake, the prince is celebrating his 21st birthday with friends and members of the court. The Queen Mother presents him with a cross bow for hunting as his birthday gift. She reminds him it is time to choose a bride. The prince leaves on a hunting trip with friends. Act I of Swan Lake will feature Ashley Watters, Daniel Rivera and Mary Maxton Fowler in the Pas de Trois and Anne Talkington and Thomas McGill in the Waltz. Assistant Director, Wei Ni, will dance a cameo role.

    In Act II, the hunting party finds a mist-covered lake in the forest where they see swans circling and landing. Just as Prince Siegfried is about to shoot a swan she magically turns into a girl. She has been transformed into a swan along with the others by the evil Rothbart, who assumes the form of an owl. If Rothbart dies, the girls remain swans forever. Only true love for the Swan Queen can break the spell. Siegfried promises his love. With hope renewed, dawn approaches and the girls return to the lake.

    Tickets for the Ballet Classics April 22, may be purchased at the Crown Center Box Office or through ticketmaster.com. This is a military discount at the box office with ID. Curtain time is 3 p.m.

    Photo: The Ballet Classics is directed by Charlotte Blime and features more than 30 dancers.

  • The Fayetteville Swamp Dogs, will host the 3rd Annual Big Bite on Saturday, April 20 from 1 to 7 p.m. This04-10-13-big-bite.gifcommunity event will take place at J.P Riddle Stadium, a.k.a. “The Swamp.” The event is designed for local restaurants and caterers from all over the Sandhills region to showcase their fare and share their offerings with the community. The participants will have one day to put their specialties on display for the public.

    “We have a good group of participants this year,” said Phillip Sims, SwampDogs outside events and community relations coordinator. “The restaurants this time are Off the Hook: a Taco Emporium, which was recently opened by the Invisible Chef; The Parkton Grill, Trade Street Café and Elite Catering, Royal Grill, Fazoli’s, Roly Poly Sandwiches, Honey Baked Ham Company, Crystal’s Sweet Treats, Heavenly Ice, which serves sno cones and shaved ice treats and there will also be an organic coffee set up.”

    While entry to the event is free, some of the activities are not. “Food sampling tickets cost $1 each,” said Sims. “Pricing at each vendor is up to them. They will have sample-sized servings. For example, a sample taco may cost 2-3 tickets or people may be able to get half a sandwich or wrap for two tickets, but that is determined by each vendor.”

    At the end of the day, the tickets are counted, and the vendors get to keep 80 percent of the money they raise. “The other 20 percent goes into the SwampDogs community fund,” said Sims. “We use that fund to help out the many nonprofits that we support in the community. In the past we have given to charities like the Karen Chandler Trust Fund and the Wounded Warriors. It doesn’t benefit just one cause, we partner with many organizations.”

    Being a family-oriented team, the SwampDogs plan to have kid-friendly activities on site, including bounce houses and face painting. “Hot Rod Tattoos is partnering with us to do face painting. They are really good,” said Sims.

    Like most events at The Swamp, there will be plenty to see and do. Attendees can look forward to some of the community’s best food, fun activities and live music. The Cumberland County Cornhole Championship is scheduled to take place at 3 p.m. The entry fee for the Cornhole Championship is $25 per person and includes three food-sample tickets. The first place team will receive a cash prize, two season tickets to the SwampDogs and the opportunity to throw out the first pitch at a home game.

    “We have four bands that are scheduled to play,” said Sims. “They are going to play music on the beer deck on the left field side.” At 1 p.m. Autumn Nicholas will kick-off the music. Each band will play about an hour or so. At 2:30 p.m., Essential Elements will perform, followed by Chris Hurst at 4 p.m. and Python at 5:30 p.m.

    Ring Wars Carolina professional wrestling will be on hand providing live wrestling exhibitions. Sims said that the wrestling ring will be set up on the field and that the matches will take place between the music sets.

    “The Big Bite started as a way to give local restaurants a venue to showcase what delicacies they have,” said Sims. “We are all about supporting local businesses. Last year we hosted between 700 and 800 people. The goal is to grow each year and put on a bigger and better event every year. So that is what we are hoping to do.”

    Email Phillip Sims at Phillip@GoSwampDogs.com or call 910-426-5900 for more information.

    Photo: Visitors to The Big Bite can sample food and enjoy good music and other activities.

  • 04-17-13-pride-&-pred.gifSet at the turn of the 19th century, Pride and Prejudice remains near the top of the “most loved books” in the world. The story, which explores the social issues of manners, upbringing, education and marriage in England, remains relevant and intriguing today. That’s one of the many reasons, the play was added to the season at the Cape Fear Regional Theatre. And, over the next two weeks, the theatre invites you to step back in time and enjoy this classic story as Pride and Prejudice comes to the CFRT stage.

    “I love this story,” said Tom Quaintance, artistic director of the CFRT. “In a season where ‘Great stories told here’ was the guiding principle, Pride and Prejudice was an obvious choice for the season. This is one of the great romantic stories of all time.”

    Quaintance said the story becomes real and remains relevant because of the strength of the characters that people it.

    “There are such great characters in this story,” he said. “And one of the things we do well, is to produce shows that give us the opportunity to highlight the talent within our community and this show allows us to do that. We started the seasons with the modern, political story of Jesus Christ Superstar, so ending it with the faithful telling of this beloved story gives the season great balance.”

    Quaintance explained that there are a number of adaptations of the book for theatre, but he is particularly fond of the version that will be staged at the CFRT.

    “I love this adaptation. This is a very theatrical play, much like Around the World in 80 Days, this play demands the use of your imagination,” he explained.

    Quaintance said that Elizabeth Bennet, the main character in the play, only leaves the stage once, and scenes flow quickly from one to another.

    “This gives us the opportunity to tell the story in a different way,” said Quaintance. “It is also a very fast-paced story, where a character may talk about something and then you jump right into the middle of it.”

    The period setting lends itself to a faster pace. Within 20 minutes of the play’s start, six or seven period dances happen. Quaintance said that it has been a lot of fun researching and integrating these pieces into the story. He noted that the story is very faithful to the period etiquette.

    “This story has been told so many times that there is a lot to live up to,” said Quaintance. “It’s a great challenge.”

    The play opens on Thursday, April 18 and Friday, April 19 with two preview performances. These performances give the cast, many of whom are New York based, to work out the kinks in the show. The preview shows have special ticket pricing of $10. The opening on Saturday, June 20, includes a reception with the cast. For tickets and information, visit www.cfrt.org.

  • 13Town HallThe town of Hope Mills will hold its annual observance of National Day of Prayer on Thursday, May 2, at noon at the flagpole at Town Hall.

    In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will be moved indoors to the nearby Parks and Recreation Department building.

    Clergy and lay people from various denominations in Hope Mills will participate in the ceremony, according to the Rev. Bob Kretzu of Hope Mills United Methodist Church.

    “I think we tend to forget the spiritual aspect of our national life,’’ said Kretzu. “We watch the news or listen to news or read the news, and we complain. We think, what can we do?” 

    Kretzu suggested the answer is prayer. “We can have a huge influence through prayer,’’ he said. “I think most Christians believe that. You can accomplish things in prayer long before they are manifested physically.’’

    The theme of this year’s National Day of Prayer is “Love One Another.’’

    “That is such a need for both our community and our nation, to stop being divided and treating each other like enemies and pariahs, to love one another as Americans, whether or not people are Christians,’’ Kretzu said, “to start showing that by the way we respect each other.’

    Kretzu said anyone who believes in prayer, regardless of their faith, is welcome to attend the Hope Mills event. “I’ve joined in worship services at mosques and synagogues,’’ he said. “I think people of faith in prayer have a lot in common, even if they’re not members of the same religion.’’

    Pastor Wesley Holmes of the Hope Mills Church of God agreed with Kretzu that prayer brings people together and helps unify both the community and the nation.

    “I think a lot of times we can learn from one another and see we don’t have as many differences as we think we do,’’ Holmes said. “We’re serving the same God, coming together to pray to the same God. We may use different methods of doing that, different backgrounds we come from, but we’re praying to the one, true God.’’

    Holmes is also appreciative that local government leaders come to take part in the National Day of Prayer observance in Hope Mills. “It’s on our money: In God we trust,’’ Holmes said. “If we don’t trust in God, we’re never going to make it in this life.

    “Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself. If you serve God, you’re going to have love in you. In 1 John it tells us that God is love. I think loving one another brings unity to the faith and understanding that God is all about love. We need to love one another as well.’’ 

    Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner signed the proclamation recognizing the National Day of Prayer in Hope Mills. She has been a regular participant in the event since she was first elected the town’s mayor.

    “The National Day of Prayer in Hope Mills is significant because of the number of denominations that participate,’’ she said. “We have a great turnout of all the churches in the area as far as pastors that are leaders.’’

    Traditionally, prayers are offered at the Hope Mills observance for a variety of things, including the town’s mayor and Board of Commissioners, first responders, the military and schools.

    “As a leader and as a Christian, I think it is important we take the time and opportunity any time we can to pray and also to be an example for others,’’ Warner said.

    “I’m a United Methodist, but the Baptists are there, the Catholics are there, the Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Church of God, we have everything. We’ve had a rabbi before. We represent all religions in Hope Mills, and that’s what I think is important, too.

    “I think that show of strength in prayer is one way we can come to some solutions for some of the issues we are facing.’’

  • Meetings

    For details about all meetings and activities, including location where not listed, call Town Clerk Jane Starling at 910-426-4113.

    Festival Committee Monday, May 6, 6 p.m., Town Hall

    Mayor’s Youth Leadership Committee May 6, 6 p.m., Town Hall (in conjunction with Festival Committee)

    Board of Commissioners Monday, May 6, 7 p.m., Luther Board Room, Town Hall

    Citizens Academy Tuesday, May 7, 6-8 p.m., Town Hall

    Historic Preservation Commission Wednesday, May 8, 5-6 p.m., Parks and Recreation Building


    Hope Meals Food Truck Rodeo Thursday, May 2, 5-8 p.m., Town Hall rear parking lot

    Veterans Outreach Day Friday, May 3, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., VFW Post 10630

    Hazardous waste collection, shred event and spring litter sweep Saturday, May 4, 9 a.m., Town Hall

    Good 2 Grow Farmers Market Saturday, May 4, 9 a.m., Town Hall

    Hope Mills Area Kiwanis Club at Sammio’s, second Tuesdays at noon and fourth Tuesdays at 6 p.m. For details, call 910-237-1240.

    Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Senior programs at Parks and Recreation Building. Senior programs are for those ages 55 and up who are residents of Cumberland County. Various activities, especially Zumba classes, are scheduled Monday through Sunday throughout the day. For details on times and days, check the schedule at townofhopemills.com. You can call the recreation center at 910-426-4109 or email Kasey Ivey at kivey@townofhopemills.com.

    Promote yourself

    Email hopemills@upandcomingweekly.com.

  • 12Food Truck RodeoThe response to the monthly Food Truck Rodeos in the town of Hope Mills has been overwhelming, and that hasn’t been lost on Chancer McLaughlin, the town’s development and planning administrator.

    “We did hear the response of the community with the last event,’’ said McLaughlin. The most recent Food Truck Rodeo near Town Hall drew close to 1,400 people, nearly triple the size of the regular crowd at the rodeos.

    “The lines were very, very long,’’ McLaughlin said. In some cases, people were waiting upward of 25 to 30 minutes to be served by the six trucks that were on the scene.

    At the next Food Truck Rodeo, Thursday, May 2, the town will add three food trucks for a total of nine that will serve the public.

    In addition, instead of a DJ playing recorded music, there will be a live jazz band.

    The nine trucks at the next rodeo will include some that are familiar to people who have attended the event before, along with a few new ones. Following is a list and brief description of each food truck coming to the rodeo this week.

    R Burger is one of Cumberland County’s most popular food trucks, featuring a variety of special hamburgers.

    Kona Ice features shaved ice treats. 

    32 Degrees is a unique truck specializing in two kinds of ice cream, one for people and one for their dogs. “A lot of people don’t realize puppies can’t eat regular dairy products,’’ McLaughlin said.

    Big T’s is the mobile version of the popular food stand at Hope Mills Lake. Big T’s usually features items like funnel cakes, boiled peanuts and lemonade, to name a few.

    A Catered Affair by Chef Glenn is another Hope Mills-based truck. Chef Glenn offers items like fried green tomatoes and pineapple chicken stir-fry.

    Cedar Creek Fish Farm One word. Catfish.

    Nannie’s Famous offers selections like wings and crab legs.

    One Nine Drive is a newcomer truck from Aberdeen. It features specialty items like smoked beef brisket, curry chicken bowls and sweet potato wedges.

    Rome N Round, also new to the redo and hailing from Aberdeen, features pizza.

    “What typically happens at these rodeos is people will hit multiple trucks,’’ McLaughlin said. “If I’ve got to wait 30 minutes in each line, I might not be able to get everything. The easiest way to possibly make the line go faster when you have a much larger crowd is to have more options.’’

    McLaughlin is mindful of balancing the need for more options with the need to avoid having too many trucks at one time so that each truck won’t make too little money.

    McLaughlin said the town is having discussions about how to handle the potential growth of the Food Truck Rodeo. He said if necessary, it may eventually be moved to the nearby baseball fields at Municipal Park.

    In addition to food trucks, the town will also have vendors present to share information about local service and charitable organizations.

    As always, the rodeo will include the opportunity to donate nonperishable food items to the ALMSHOUSE.

    If anyone would like to be a vendor at a future rodeo, or if there is a food truck the public would like to see come to the rodeo, McLaughlin welcomes suggestions. Reach him via email at cmclaughlin@townofhopemills.com.

  • 15Pat EdwardsHope Mills Commissioner Pat Edwards doesn’t understand the fascination her fellow board members have with preserving the aging parish hall that a previous board voted to demolish.

    At last Monday’s meeting of the commissioners, the board voted to hire a structural engineer to evaluate the chances for restoring the building, part of the property donated to the town by the local Episcopal Church seven years ago.

    Edwards questions the interest in the building given the town’s history of turning over many of its historic buildings to private entities.

    She noted two prominent downtown buildings not far from the parish hall that are both currently owned by private businesses.

    “They’ve given away or sold all the mills,’’ Edwards said. “Why all of a sudden is this parish building so important when they let other more historical buildings go? Why spend money we don’t have?”

    Jeff Adolphsen, a senior restoration specialist with the North Carolina State Historical Preservation Office, recently inspected the parish hall. He said as buildings he’s inspected go, it was in better shape than many of them — but, he added, repairs will be needed in a number of areas.

    Adolphsen said the building needs a new roof. There has also been water leaking down a chimney that was not flashed.

    He indicated the aluminum siding on the building could be removed. He also found termite and water damage, and added the structural integrity of the timbers in the building appeared to be decent but could be improved.

    He said the building likely needed to be treated for termite, fungus, mildew and mold problems, adding that the crawl space under the building appeared to be fairly dry.

    Many of the problems were related to the fact that mechanical systems in the building had been shut off for some time. In addition to repairing problems associated with age and wear, Adolphsen said if the town plans to make the building available for access by the general public, it will have to made handicapped accessible.

    He said that includes having parking spaces that meet certain size requirements, along with an unobstructed path to the front door and handicapped-friendly access to the building, the bathroom and other main areas.

    He did not inspect the bathroom regarding modifications needed for handicapped access, but he did note the door to the bathroom was narrow and would need to be widened.

    “As a preservationist, you try and minimize the changes or minimize the effect of the changes,’’ he said. “Ninety-nine percent of what we look at is what we call rehabilitation, where you are taking a historic building and you’re fixing it up for modern, efficient, contemporary use, but you’re keeping those features and finishes that make that building historic.’’

    Adolphsen did not offer any figures on the cost of restoring the building. He did say some things would require a licensed contractor. “I told them I’ve seen buildings like that get rehabbed before,’’ he said. “I think it could be rehabilitated. They might be able to find some grants somewhere. They may be able to do some volunteer labor.’’

    Edwards would like to hear from town staff before spending more money on the project. “We have qualified staff that could tell us if it could be saved or not,’’ she said. “It’s going to cost a lot of money regardless.’’

    Photo: Pat Edwards

  • 14Drew MenscerWhen Drew Menscer was assigned a project as an officer in the National Honor Society at Gray’s Creek High School, she had loftier goals than baking a cake to sell or getting a few items together to auction.

    “I’m pretty athletic and I’m really into sports, so I decided to combine all of that,’’ the senior member of the school’s softball team said. “I wanted to give back to my community through that.’’

    And give back she did. Menscer, with an assist from her mother, Nena Menscer, organized a charity golf tournament at nearby Cypress Lakes Golf Course.

    The tournament was held on March 30 this year and drew a field of 17 teams, about 66 players. Menscer was also able to line up 22 sponsors for the tournament, with all the money they donated going to Menscer’s chosen charity, Rick’s Place.

    Rick’s Place, according to a brief history on its Facebook page, was founded by the Rick Herrera Foundation. It’s a 50-acre park in Fayetteville that features fun high-quality activities for soldiers and their friends and families.

    Menscer’s golf tournament raised $5,000, which she donated to Rick’s Place.

    She said she got the word out about her tournament by posting fliers on social media and also sharing them with people in her neighborhood.

    The whole project took about six months from the time she had her initial idea for a golf tournament until the tournament was held last month. 

    Being a full-time student at Gray’s Creek plus playing softball, she admitted making the whole thing happen wasn’t easy.

    “The hardest part was trying to get everything organized,’’ Menscer said. “If it wasn’t for my mom, I wouldn’t have been able to pull it off. It was tiring to work with my schedule, trying to pick up donations and figuring those things out. My mom had to help me a ton.’’

    But Menscer hinted that business acumen runs in her family. “I have a lot of entrepreneurs in my family,’’ she said. “I just decided to do it.’’

    Menscer said she doesn’t have strong ties to the military in her own family, but she was drawn to the project because of her friends with parents who are military-connected. “I know how hard it is for them,’’ she said. “That’s what influenced me the most.’’

    As for her future, Menscer plans to enroll at Elon University this fall where she’s earned a scholarship to play softball. Not surprisingly, she wants to major in business.

    “I’m grateful for the experience,’’ she said of the successful fundraiser. “We raised $5,000 for Rick’s Place, which I’m really proud of. I hope they can use it.’’

    Photo: Drew Menscer

  • Meetings

    For details about all meetings and activities, including location where not listed, call Town Clerk Jane Starling at 910-426-4113.

    •Veterans Affairs Commission Thursday, April 25, 6 p.m., Parks and Recreation Center

    • Citizens Academy Tuesday, April 30, 6 p.m., Town Hall

    • Festival Committee Monday, May 6, 6 p.m., Town Hall

    • Mayor’s Youth Leadership Committee May 6, 6 p.m., Town Hall (in conjunction with Festival Committee)

    • Board of Commissioners Monday, May 6, 7 p.m., Luther Board Room, Town Hall

    • Citizens Academy Tuesday, May 7, 6 p.m.-8 p.m., Town Hall


    • Hope Meals Food Truck Rodeo Thursday, May 2, 5-8 p.m., Town Hall rear parking lot

    • Veterans Outreach Day Friday, May 3, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., VFW Post 10630

    • Hazardous waste collection, shred event and spring litter sweep Saturday, May 4, 9 a.m., Town Hall

    • Good 2 Grow Farmer’s Market Saturday, May 4, 9 a.m., Town Hall

    • Hope Mills Area Kiwanis Club at Sammio’s, second Tuesdays at noon and fourth Tuesdays at 6 p.m. For details, call 910-237-1240.

    Promote yourself

    Email hopemills@upandcomingweekly.com.

  • 13VetsMany elder veterans and their families don’t have access to the internet and can’t tap into the many resources available to veterans and their families. That’s why the Veterans Affairs Committee of the town of Hope Mills is sponsoring a one-day Veterans Outreach on Saturday, May 3, to help get the word out.

    The event is open to veterans anywhere who would like the chance to meet face-to-face with people who can provide them information about benefits available to veterans and their families and how to get them.

    The event will be held at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10630 at 3226 Davis St. in Hope Mills.

    Jim Blevins, a member of the Hope Mills Veterans Affairs Committee, said many elderly veterans and their spouses aren’t computersavvy and aren’t aware of benefits that might be available.

    “That’s what our main goal is, to try to reach out to those who don’t have a computer, or (to) widows who didn’t serve in the military, to understand what their benefits are.’’

    There will not be a formal presentation or lecture about what benefits are available, Blevins said.

    Various organizations will have representatives on hand to provide information, and those attending can come at their convenience and speak with the people who represent the various groups involved to ask specific questions and get information about the subjects they are most interested in.

    A short list of those who will be present includes representatives of the Army and Air Force offices of mortuary affairs, the Lone Survivor Foundation, the American Red Cross, and the Cape Fear Veterans Medical Center.

    “This is mainly to get phone numbers and contacts so we can move through as many people as possible,’’ Blevins said. He said there will be a total of about 15 different organizations on hand.

    Blevins stressed that the event is not limited to veterans from the Hope Mills area. “It’s open to any veteran,’’ he said.

    Grilley Mitchell, chairman of the Hope Mills Veterans Affairs Committee, said the intent is to “empower veterans and family members, make them aware of the benefits and services available that they qualify for.’’

    In addition to the people connected with providing benefits, Mitchell said a number of local political leaders will be on hand.

    “Many individuals don’t know who their local representation is in the event they need some help,’’ Mitchell said. “I want them to put a face with the name so when they do reach out they’ll have some familiarity with those individuals.’’

    If anyone has questions about the event prior to May 3, they can contact Blevins at 910-853- 4587 or Mitchell at 910-476-3719.

  • Meetings

    For details about all meetings and activities, including location where not listed, call Town Clerk Jane Starling at 910-426-4113.

    Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee Monday, April 22, 6:30 p.m., Parks and Recreation Center

    Citizens Academy Tuesday, April 23, 6 p.m., Town Hall

    Appearance Commission Tuesday, April 23, 6:30 p.m., Parks and Recreation Center

    Veterans Affairs Commission Thursday, April 25, 6 p.m., Parks and Recreation Center

    Citizens Academy Tuesday, April 30, 6 p.m., Town Hall

    Festival Committee Monday, May 6, 6 p.m., Town Hall

    Mayor’s Youth Leadership Committee May 6, 6 p.m., Town Hall (in conjunction with Festival Committee)


    Hazardous waste collection, shred event and spring litter sweep Saturday, May 4, 9 a.m., Town Hall

    Good 2 Grow Farmer’s Market Saturday, May 4, 9 a.m., Town Hall

    Hope Mills Area Kiwanis Club at Sammio’s, second Tuesdays at noon and fourth Tuesdays at 6 p.m. For details, call 910-237-1240.

    Promote yourself

    Email hopemills@upandcomingweekly.com.

  • 12Heritage ParkWhile the Hope Mills Board of Commissioners considers spending money on a temporary fix for the ongoing project to develop the former Hope Mills Golf Course, Commissioner Pat Edwards would like some money spent on the permanent completion of another town project.

    Edwards recently toured the proposed Heritage Park land with town director of public works Don Sisko.

    She took the tour a couple of days after the board debated spending $100,000 on what Edwards said would be a temporary fix of the golf course property.

    “After we got through talking about it, I asked Don Sisko what $100,000 could do at Heritage Park as a permanent fix,’’ Edwards said.

    Heritage Park is located near the Hope Mills dam and lake area and has historical ties to the community’s rich history as the home of textile mills. Edwards said Sisko replied that the $100,000 applied to Heritage Park would allow the town to do a lot of things.

    To get a first-hand look at the potential for Heritage Park, Edwards said she reached out to Hope Mills town manager Melissa Adams to arrange a tour of the property for herself, with Sisko as her guide.

    What she saw impressed her. Two members of the public works staff were working on the trails and greenways that the area offers.

    “It’s the first time I’ve been all the way through it,’’ Edwards said. “He took me down to where the creek is. It’s just beautiful. The serenity.

    “It’s wonderful.’’

    Edwards said Sisko showed her four or five greenways leading through the park, along with an area that could be leveled out to accommodate picnic tables.

    “For something like this, we wouldn’t have to consult or pay for an engineer to design it,’’ Edwards said. “We have staff that are very qualified to do this.’’

    She added that Sisko has a lot of foresight and ingenuity when it comes to developing the park to its fullest potential. “He’s like a visionary,’’ she said.

    There is also potential to share the history of the town’s roots as a mill village, Edwards said, while using it as an opportunity to bring more art to the community.

    The old gates from the previous dam are still there on the grounds of the future park. According to Edwards, Sisko said they could be refurbished to be put on display. He also talked about the possibility of storyboards to tell more about the town’s past.

    “There is a lot of history there, and a lot of work to be done,’’ Edwards said. 

    While some of the area is rough and steep in places, Edwards said she managed to navigate it without a major challenge.

    She would love to see Heritage Park completed and linked with the walkingareas at the dam and the lake, and eventually with the town museum that’s also being discussed.

    “It would be so nice to walk from the lake over to Heritage Park,’’ she said. “I think the citizens of Hope Mills would rather see the money used that way than in a temporary fix somewhere else. That’s just me thinking.’’

    While the existing trails in Heritage Park would need some work, Edwards said an effort should be made to keep the area as natural as possible. “It needs to stay like Mother Nature,’’ she said. “You don’t want to change too much.’’

    For safety purposes, Edwards doesn’t think grilling should be allowed in the area because of the potential fire hazard.

    Edwards encourages interested citizens to take a look at the property themselves by reaching out to town manager Adams about arranging a guided tour of the area. She said people should not try and visit the property on their own without permission. “I wouldn’t want anyone to get hurt,’’ she said.

    “Maybe they can see the possibility of what’s going on, how beautiful and how quiet,’’ Edwards said. “The scenery around it is just beautiful.’’

  • 11Hazardous waste illustrationIt’s that time again for residents of Hope Mills to get rid of hazardous waste and outdated sensitive documents. Saturday, May 4, the town holds its annual shredding and hazardous waste collection event, along with the annual litter sweep.

    The shredding and hazardous collection will be from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., and the litter sweep takes place from 9 a.m. until noon. There is also a registration period for the litter sweep only beginning at 8:30 a.m.

    Beth Brown, stormwater technician for the town of Hope Mills, said all the events will be basically the same as last year.

    She reminds people coming to the shred event that the actual shredding of documents won’t take place on-site.

    They will be picked up either later Saturday or as late as Monday to be transported elsewhere for the shredding.

    If the material to be shredded has to be kept overnight before being removed, it will be locked inside containers and then stored in a secured, locked location in Hope Mills.

    Residents may bring up to five boxes of material to be shredded. Paper products should be brought for shredding, but paper clips, binders and staples are also acceptable.

    That Saturday will be a busy one for the town as the first Good 2 Grow farmers market will be taking place on adjacent property at the Town Hall complex.

    For the shred event, the easiest point of access is the road between the police department (5776 Rockfish Rd.) and town hall (5770 Rockfish Rd.).

    There will be sandwich boards in place to direct people coming as to the best place to enter the area off Rockfish Road.

    Brown said the people collecting the hazardous waste prefer that those bringing material to drop off do not get out of their cars or trucks.

    They should leave their material in the trunk or somewhere the workers collecting the material can easily access it. This is to keep traffic moving as smoothly as possible.

    Those who would like to get out of their cars are asked to park in the back area of town hall and visit the farmers market.

    To participate in the litter sweep, people need to sign up in advance at the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Department, or at the 8:30 a.m. signup period the day of the event.

    Children are welcome to take part in the litter pickup, but they need to be accompanied by adults, Brown said.

    The parks and recreation staff will provide materials needed to help with the litter sweep, including gloves, bags, bottled water, safety vests and other items.

    The town will identify specific areas that need to be cleaned up, or those participating can agree to clean up their own street or neighborhood.

    “Most folks focus on a stretch of the larger streets,’’ Brown said. “We would like to get the whole town, townwide, cleaned with different groups of people.’’

    For questions about the hazardous waste pickup and shred event, call town hall at 910-424-4555. For questions about the litter sweep, call the parks and recreation department at 910-424-4500.


    From the workbench:

    • Adhesives, glues, resins

    • Hobby supplies, artist supplies

    • Latex

    • Oil paints

    • Stains, thinners, stripper

    From the garage:

    • Car batteries, dry cell batteries

    • Engine degreasers, brake fluids

    • Transmission fluids

    • Waste fuels (kerosene, gasoline)

    From the yard:

    • Insecticides, weed killers, poisons

    • Pesticides

    • Propane cylinders

    • Swimming pool chemicals

    • Wood preservatives

    From the home:

    • Aerosol cans

    • Cleaners, spot removers

    • Computers, electronic equipment

    • Hearing aid (button-style) batteries

    • Ni-Cad batteries

    • Photo chemicals, chemistry sets


    • Ammunition, fireworks, explosives

    • Infectious and biological waste

    • Syringes

    • Radioactive waste

    • Unknown compressed gas cylinders


  • Meetings

    For details about all meetings and activities, including location where not listed, call Town Clerk Jane Starling at 910-426-4113.

    Historic Preservation Commission Wednesday, April 10, 5 p.m., Parks and Recreation Center

    Mayor’s Youth Leadership Monday, April 15, 6 p.m., Parks and Recreation Center

    Board of Commissioners Monday, April 15, 7 p.m., Luther Meeting Room

    Citizens Academy Tuesday, April 16, 6 p.m., Parks and Recreation Center

    Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee Monday, April 22, 6:30 p.m.,

    Parks and Recreation Center

    Citizens Academy Tuesday, April 23, 6 p.m., Town Hall

    Appearance Commission Tuesday, April 23, 6:30 p.m., Parks and Recreation Center

    Veterans Affairs Commission Thursday, April 25, 6 p.m., Parks and Recreation Center

    Citizens Academy Tuesday, April 30, 6 p.m., Town Hall


    Hope Mills Area Kiwanis Club at Sammio’s, second Tuesdays at noon and fourth Tuesdays at 6 p.m. For details, call 910-237-1240.

    Promote yourself

    Email hopemills@upandcomingweekly.com.

  • 12Chief Joel Acciardo copyMoving day is a big enough headache for the average family. Try to imagine the challenges involved with moving a police headquarters.

    Hope Mills Police Chief Joel Acciardo and his staff don’t have to imagine it. They are preparing for it, as they’ll have to relocate for an estimated two years while a new headquarters for the Hope Mills police and fire departments is being constructed.

    “If you boil it down to its simplest form, you are basically setting up a facility that’s not intended to be permanent but has to operate a minimum of 24 to 26 months,’’ Acciardo said. “You are talking about moving your records, your administrative people, personnel issues and your operating environment for your road officers to come in and do interviews.

    “That’s no small undertaking.’’

    The good news is the town has located an almost perfect location for the temporary headquarters of the police, the vacated Ace Hardware building on South Main Street.

    The new location offers several positive attributes. It has roughly twice the square footage indoors as the current police headquarters.

    It includes parking in the front of the building, plus a secure lot on the side of the building that opens via a gate to a street behind the temporary location. That will give officers an option from driving directly onto South Main Street or exiting from the rear when traffic is heavy.

    Possibly the best advantage of the former hardware store is that the interior is an empty shell. This will allow the town to modify the interior walls or other elements.

    One of the biggest challenges in getting the temporary location ready to occupy will be setting up a variety of secure areas inside, Acciardo said.

    There will be no need to install any cells for holding prisoners. There are no cells in the current Hope Mills police station as all people requiring incarceration are taken to the Cumberland County jail in nearby Fayetteville.

    But secure areas will be needed at the temporary location to take care of records. There will also have to be an area where juveniles are taken so they can be separated from other people brought into the police station.

    How long the transition process will take from current station to temporary location is difficult to predict.

    Drew Holland, finance director for the town, said the lease to occupy the temporary location begins May 1.

    Acciardo is hopeful that once work on the temporary facility is finished, the move to the new location can be completed by late November or mid- December.

    “That’s a very fluid time,’’ he said. “A lot of that could depend on contractor work.’’ That will include things like installing fiber optic lines along with heating and air conditioning and setting up the work spaces. In those cases, the speed of the contractor’s work will dictate how soon the move can take place.

    The move won’t be done in a rushed manner. “You move one department area at a time,’’ Acciardo said. “That way everything is in an orderly transition.’’

    He anticipates there will be a brief window where the police department will have to work out of both locations.

    Once the old police station is vacant, Holland said it will be demolished and the property fenced in to become a staging facility for the construction of the new combined police and fire headquarters.

    The fire station will continue to operate from its current location but will only be able to use the rear of the bays in the station, Holland said.

    When the temporary station is ready, Acciardo said the public shouldn’t notice a lot of difference from the way the current station is set up.

    “There will be a lobby and front staff,’’ he said. “It will be the same methodology that we do here, but at a different location.’’

    Photo:  Hope Mills Police Chief Joel Acciardo

  • 11RecGerald Pone said his late brother John Dove “J.D.” Pone wasn’t an exceptional athlete, but that it never stopped J.D. from being an avid promoter of opportunities for Cumberland County young people to take part in a variety of sports.

    At a ceremony held Saturday, March 30, Cumberland County honored Pone for his years of work on behalf of the county’s youth. The county officially renamed the Gray’s Creek Recreation Center the John Dove “J.D.” Pone Recreation Center in his memory. The center is located at 2964 School Rd. in Hope Mills. In addition to having his name placed on the front of the building, a plaque was unveiled inside.

    Delivering remarks during the ceremony were Dr. Jeannette Council, chair of the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners; Helen Brockett of the Gray’s Creek Ruritan Club; and Dachia Pone Davis on behalf of the Pone family.

    The ceremony was hosted by the Cumberland County Commissioners. The naming of the center was unanimously approved by the commissioners in memory of J.D. Pone, who passed away in April of 2016.

    Pone worked as a volunteer with various youth organizations in Cumberland County, including the Gray’s Creek Youth Association, and served as chairman of the Fayetteville-Cumberland Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission. He was also a member of the board of directors for Communities United for Youth Development.

    In addition to his work with youth programs, Pone was deputy chief of the Gray’s Creek Fire Department Station 24 and chaplain for the Cumberland County Fire Chiefs’ Association.

    Gerald Pone, J.D.’s brother, was a basketball player for Ron Miller at South View High School. He remembers 30 years ago when the Gray’s Creek community began to organize sports opportunities for young people.

    He and J.D. both had sons who were old enough to play recreation sports, and J.D. became a coach.

    “He just fell in love with it,’’ Gerald said of J.D. “They asked him to be on the advisory board for Cumberland County. He’s the kind of person who hated to say no to anything. He became involved in that as well.’’

    Gerald said his brother showed no special allegiance to any particular sport.

    “It didn’t matter if it was baseball, basketball, football soccer or whatever,’’ Gerald said. “As long as the children participated, he wanted them involved in something that  off the streets, keep them focused on athletics.’’

    Gerald said the options to play sports that his brother helped promote were a large vehicle for young people in the Gray’s Creek community to take them other places in life.

    He said his entire family was deeply honored by the ceremony put on by the county to rename the recreation center for his brother.

    “It was overwhelming,’’ he said. “My family and I appreciate all the support, everyone who showed up, even those who didn’t show up but thought about us. It was fantastic.’’

    Gerald added that it’s important that the name of someone like his brother will live on at the recreation center.

    “Young people need to know there are people in the community that really care about them,’’ he said, “not only to see them in sports, but to see them involved in anything that’s going on to help them succeed in life.

    “That’s where his heart was,  wanting to see the growth of young people.’’

  • Meetings 

    For details about all meetings and activities, including location where not listed, call Town Clerk Jane Starling at 910-426-4113. 

    Citizens Academy ProgramTuesday, April 9, 6 p.m., Town Hall 

    Historic Preservation CommissionWednesday, April 10, 5 p.m., Parks and Recreation Building 

    Mayor’s Youth LeadershipMonday, April 15, 6 p.m., Parks and Recreation Building 

    Board of CommissionersMonday, April 15, 7 p.m., Luther Meeting Room 

    Citizens AcademyTuesday, April 16, 6 p.m., Parks and Recreation Building 

    Parks and Recreation Advisory CommitteeMonday, April 22, 6:30 p.m., Parks and Recreation Building 

    Citizens AcademyTuesday, April 23, 6 p.m., Town Hall 

    Appearance CommissionTuesday, April 23, 6:30 p.m., Parks and Recreation Building 


    Food Truck RodeoThursday, April 4, 5-8 p.m., Town Hall rear parking lot. Enjoy music, an assortment of food trucks, bouncy house and games for kids, and presentations by various public service vendors. 

    Breakfast with the Easter Bunny/Easter egg huntSaturday, April 6, 8:30 a.m-11 a.m. and 11:15 a.m., Hope Mills Recreation Center. Registration for the breakfast is now closed. The Easter egg hunt, however, is free and does not require registration. Call 910-426-4109 for more information. 

    Hope Mills Area Kiwanis Clubat Sammio’s, second Tuesdays at noon and fourth Tuesdays at 6 p.m. For details, call 910-237-1240. 

    Promote yourself 

    Email hopemills@upandcomingweekly.com. 

  • 14RunShineLight, a Fayetteville-based organization that offers services for individuals with autism, will hold its 5K Shine Your Light run and one-mile fun run Saturday, April 27, at Town Hall in Hope Mills. The address is 5776 Rockfish Road. 

    Nikki Creecy, chief executive officer of ShineLight, said the organization is 13 years old and was previously called Genesis, A New Beginning of Fayetteville. 

    “We rebranded in 2014 and decided to specialize in autism,’’ she said. Creecy said the rebranding was done because the majority of people the organization was working with suffered from autism. 

    The services provided to individuals with autism are of a behavioral nature, she said. The services deal with skill development that allows autistic individuals to replace maladaptive behaviors and function in society, the community, at home and in school. 

    Recently, ShineLight has added applied behavior analysis to its services. 

    The run is an annual event that was held in Fayetteville last year. Creecy said it’s held in April because that’s autism awareness month. 

    “It’s all about shining the light on autism and ShineLight, as well, so people will know who we are for the purpose of educating the community,’’ Creecy said. 

    All proceeds from the race will go toward funding the services ShineLight provides. 

    The race is open to both serious runners and to those who just want to get out and support the cause. 

    There will be official timing for those who want to compete. The first 300 finishers will get medals, Creecy said, but there will be separate prizes for the first-, second- and third-place overall finishers. There will also be awards presented in various age groups. 

    In addition to the race, there will be a raffle for wireless ear buds, a Go Pro camera and a Fitbit. Raffle tickets are $1 each, and those buying tickets don’t have to be present to win. 

    There are three entry fees. For the Shine Your Light 5K, the cost is $35. The one-mile Fun Run is $17. Teams of five runners can participate for $30 each. 

    Registration for the race is day-of from 6 a.m. until 7:30 a.m. The 5K race starts at 8 a.m. and the Fun Run starts at 8:15 a.m. 

    Sponsorship opportunities are also available. There are five levels of sponsorship, from $5,000 to $250. Each offers combinations of race entries, event T-shirts, logo recognition and vendor space. 

    For those not interested in the sponsorship option, in-kind donations or direct contributions are available. 

    Creecy said volunteers are also welcome to help out, and if any food trucks would like to set up at the race site, they are welcome to contact the ShineLight offices. In order to be assured recognition in printed race materials, sponsors must finalize their deals by April 12. 

    Creecy can be reached at nikki@shine-light. org, 910-323-1335 or in person at the ShineLight office, 203 Rowan St. 

  • 13Vanessa WadeThe first thing Vanessa Wade says about her job as a social worker at Gray’s Creek High School is there’s no such thing as a typical day. 

    “I can start at 8:30 and think I’ve got all day to get this done,’’ she said. “By noon, all of that has gone out of the window. Every day is completely different.’’ 

    Yet in the face of that kind of challenge, Wade is apparently doing her job well. Evidence of that fact came last month when she was named the social worker of the year by Cumberland County Schools. 

    It could be her early life as a self-described Army brat that helps her deal with the variety of situations she has to work with. She lived all over the world, she said, moving about 18 times before landing in Fayetteville in 1994 and spending 14 years with the Department of Social Services. 

    In 2008, she got the call to come to work as the social worker at Gray’s Creek High School, and that’s where she’s been ever since. 

    For those who don’t know exactly what a school social worker does, Wade described it as being like the parent a child doesn’t have. If they do have parents, then she’s the aunt or uncle. 

    “You are there when things are falling apart,’’ Wade said. “You are there when things are great. As a school social worker, you get to deal with the whole realm, the rainbow of kids, high academic to low, high socioeconomic to low.’’ 

    One of Wade’s biggest battles is trying to help students overcome the barriers that prevent them from regular school attendance. 

    This includes a host of issues, such as making sure the students are getting food and have clean clothes to wear. 

    Much of Wade’s job is done on school grounds so she can have regular contact with the students who are in the greatest need. But she also makes regular home visits to deliver food and check on the living conditions of the students under her charge. 

    She said she sees barriers to students getting the education they need that are different from those faced 20 or 30 years ago. 

    She finds many children are forced to become independent quickly because they lack needed support at home. “I think the teenagers need their parents more than ever,’’ Wade said. 

    Despite facing a lot of challenging situations in her work, Wade said she tries to remain as positive as possible when working with young people. “Even though I’m having a rough day, they don’t need to know that,’’ she said. 

    She feels she’s reached a level of peace and is able to provide better service to her students. 

    Wade never went into social work for personal glory, but she calls the award from the county an incredible honor, and she’s proud to be part of a team that extends beyond the walls of Gray’s Creek High School to help the area’s youth. 

    “We have an incredible faith-based community in Gray’s Creek that allows us to be more creative,’’ she said. 

    She praised Rev. Scott McCosh, pastor at nearby Mount Pisgah Baptist Church, for helping with a variety of services and outreach for young people. 

    Wade said if someone gave her control over the purse strings, she’d like to see the schools offer more hands-on training in skills for those young people who aren’t going to enter the military or enroll in college. “For some kids, it’s not in their family culture or mindset, but they will go on to be great kids doing hands-on skills,’’ she said. 

    Wade thanked the staff and administration at Gray’s Creek, her husband, her parents and her son for helping her do the best job she can. 

    “I tell my kids every day, I don’t have a job without you,’’ she said. “I tell them they are never bothering me, and they smile.’’ 

    Photo: Vanessa Wade

  • 04-23-14-river-people.gifThe Givens Performing Arts Center, as part of its annual season will host The 4th Annual River People Music and Culture Fest.This is a gathering of both nationally-renowned and local artists that showcase American Indian music and culture. The performance will feature The Ulali Project known for its contributions to the soundtrack of the film Smoke Signals and their musical appearance on the Tonight Show. Charly Lowry, who is a member of Dark Water Rising, Layla Locklear, a member of Lakota John and Kin are local performers who will also perform.

    One of the most exciting new performers this year is Star Nayea who has won multiple awards for her powerful and moving music. Nayea began her music career at an early age. It was born from struggle, but is incredibly positive. “When I was 5, I started with music because it made me feel uplifted, happy and, in a way, untouchable. When I was young I suffered abuse but the music saved me and enabled me to latch on to who I was truly supposed to be. I was adopted by a family of non-natives and they were abusive. The music removed me and healed me. I loved the way music made me feel and I knew that the rest of the world must have probably caught on,” she says.

    Nayea uses her music as far more than entertainment. She uses it as a tool to reach out and help heal struggling Native people, children in particular. She brings the healing and uplifting power of music to the communities through music camps. She explains her approach by saying, “Not every native child will have my life, but sadly many native children who live on reservations have things that they are battling. Some have trouble at home, bullying at school, depression or families that are not functioning correctly. These problems are heavy on a child. Also in Indian Country we have a high rate of suicides, so I try to concentrate on communities that are reeling from suicide. Some of the communities are traditional and some are very religious, but despite differences, music is one thing that connects us all. It heals all and brings joy to all.”

    During her performance, Nayea will be joined by a group of local Lumbee youth.

    “I am coming to the community one week before the festival and working with the Lumbee youth. We will have a daily music camp where I will work with them on writing and recording.

    “We will work together to craft one song. I wish we could do more, but we have limited time and I think it would be better for us all to join together to create one beautiful song that embodies who they are and what they want to say. Then they will get on stage and sing this song with me,” she said.

    The festival is on April 26 at 6 p.m. at the Givens Performing Arts Center. The center is located at 1 University Drive in Pembroke. Children under five are free and tickets are $10 for adults or $5 for students with a valid ID. For more information visit www.unc.edu/gpac of call 910-521-6634.

    Photo: Star Nayea, who has won multiple awards for her powerful and moving music, is set to perform at the event.

  •   uac041614001.gif It’s not too late to adopt a duck for the 4th Annual Fayetteville Duck Derby on May 3. The grand prize is a 2014 Toyota Scion XD. There will be prizes for second and third place, as well. In the end, everyone wins because the money raised goes right back into the community.

    As the big day approaches, Ducky is on the move visiting local schools and businesses to spread the word about The Duck Derby.

    “The Quack Attack Tour is active and in full effect,” said Brandon Price, event spokesperson. “Quacky has been to Chick-fil-A, J.W. Coone Elementary School, Mary McArthur Elementary, Long Hill Elementary and he is going to the Special Olympics. He’s been at the North Carolina welcome centers at the Virginia border and in Lumberton. Quacky is all over the place — look out for him.”

    One of the things that makes this event different from other fundraisers is that it benefits so many local organizations. Fayetteville Urban Ministry hosts the event, organizes the activities and manages the duck adoptions, but there are many nonprofits that have signed up to participate and to raise money for their causes.

    To participate in The Duck Derby, the public is invited to visit www.duckrace.com/fayettevilleduckderby and adopt a duck. If you want to be sure that your adoption helps a particular organization, once you click the “adopt a duck now” button, click on the “teams” tab and choose a team or teams to support.

    This year, the Cumberland County Schools system is participating, which gives the community an opportunity to support a particular school or schools. Several participating schools are sponsoring fun events to get kids and families excited about The Duck Derby. “Some of the uniform schools are allowing a dress down day for students if parents buy a duck and some of the schools are holding classroom competitions,” said Price. “The class that sells the most ducks will get a Quack Attack from Ducky during lunch.

    ”Price sees the Cumberland County Schools’ participation as a great fit because the big day features so many kid-friendly events. “It will be all about kids this year at The Duck Derby,” said Price. “We are going to have games set up — much like a field day. There will be a lot of Zumba and a band called 45 rpm will perform. It is an all-girl band.”

    There will be live entertainment, food vendors and a Kids Zone where youngsters can play and enjoy activities04-16-14-duck-derby-pic.giffor free. Many of the nonprofit teams will be there to share information about their causes and to answer questions. The event starts at noon and ends at 3 p.m. The Corporate Duck Race is at 2 p.m. and is followed by the main event.It costs just $5 to adopt a duck. If you choose to support a team, the team will receive $1for each duck adopted under the team. At the main event all of the adopted ducks are dropped into the Cape Fear River. The first duck to cross the finish line wins and the person that adopted this duck will get the grand prize. Companies are invited to adopt ducks for the corporate race, as well.

    Proceeds from this event that go to Fayetteville Urban Ministry are used to support the outreach programs at the organization. Fayetteville Urban Ministry is built around four programs: Adult Literacy Program, Emergency Assistance Program, Find-A-Friend Program, and Nehemiah Home Repairs Program. The organization serves people from all types of backgrounds. It serves a number of veterans, active military service members, single parents, grandparents, dual parent households, and the list goes on. Not everyone it serves is poor or a single parent. Many of the people Fayetteville Urban Ministry serves are in crisis, or they moved to the area due to natural disasters. Fayetteville Urban Ministry is a place people come to when they need help. The programs are designed to give a hand up not a hand out and continue to exist because people continue to support the organization and events like the Fayetteville Duck Derby. Whether it is teaching someone how to read, tutoring or mentoring a child, helping with food or clothing, or helping to make homes safer, Fayetteville Urban Ministry does it 100 percent free of charge. While the need is great and sometimes resources are scarce, the staff at Fayetteville Urban Ministry knows that no one can do everything, but everyone can do something.

    Find out more about Fayettville Urban Ministry at www.fayurbmin.org. Sign up a corporate team or purchase ducks at www.fayettevilleduckderby.com. It costs just $5 to adopt a duck and the money goes right back to the community. There is still time to schedule Quacky for a visit, too.

    Photo: On May 3, thousands of ducks will race down the Cape Fear River to support local nonprofits.

  • 14COSJason Britt has been a part of Cumberland County’s music community since he played cello in the strings program at Eastover Elementary School. These days, he serves as director of the Cumberland Oratorio Singers. Britt and the members of COS are currently preparing for the final show of their season, “We Sing to Experience,” set for Friday, April 27, at 7:30 p.m.

    With “We Sing to Experience,” Britt, who has a bachelor’s degree in music from Methodist College (now Methodist University) and a master’s degree in music education from East Carolina University, will wrap up his first year as director of the COS. He was notified in March 2017 that he would be serving as the new director, and to hear him talk about his time with COS is to recognize how much he loves working with the ensemble. 

    “My favorite aspect of working with COS is that I get to work with people who – down to their core – really enjoy music and have a deep interest for singing in a choir,” he said. “I love working with like-minded people who want to strive toward a common goal.”

    The upcoming “We Sing to Experience” will feature performances from the COS, the Cross Creek Chorale, and the Campbellton Youth Chorus. According to Britt, the concert is “comprised of works all choirs should do or have in their libraries. These would be works that are a sort of ‘who’s who’ of choir music.”

    The program will feature arrangements of “Sing unto God” by G.F. Handel, “Sicut Locutus Est” by Johann Sebastian Bach, “Achieved is the Glorious Work” by Joseph Haydn and many other classic and familiar choral selections.

    Britt is also excited to announce the theme of the Oratorio Singers’ next season – “The Night Was Meant for Music.” The 2018-19 season will include “A Night of Jazz” on October 19; “A Night with the Masters” on March 8, 2019; and “A Night of Stage and Screen” on April 27, 2019.

    The 2018-19 season will also see the return of the Fayetteville tradition – a December performance of Handel’s oratorio, “Messiah,” with full orchestra. Between Cole Porter and arrangements of popular Broadway works, the COS’ upcoming season promises to be a crowd-pleaser.

    “We Sing to Experience” is scheduled for Friday, April 27, at Haymount United Methodist, 1700 Fort Bragg Rd. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $27. All student admission is free with school ID. The COS also offers discounts for groups of 10 or more.

    For more information, email Jason Britt at cumberlandoratoriodirector@gmail.com or Matthew Franks, the president of COS, at cumberlandoratoriosingers@gmail.com. For more information about the COS, visit www.singwithcos.org. Individuals or businesses interested in any of the COS’ many sponsorship levels can contact Mary Potter via phone at 910-822-4447 or by email at claymary25@gmail.com. 

  • 09EyreSweet Tea Shakespeare and its company of performers are readying the stages at The 1897 Poe House at the Museum of the Cape Fear for an upcoming run of the classic and widely beloved “Jane Eyre.” “Jane Eyre” is a stage play adapted from the popular Victorian novel of the same name by Charlotte Brontë. The show opens Thursday, April 26, at 7:30 p.m. and runs through May 6.

    “Jane Eyre” tells a sort of coming-of-age story about a woman named Jane, a young orphan in Victorian England. Much of the earlier sections of the novel show the many trials Jane faces as an orphan trying to make her way in the world. As Jane ages into adulthood, the novel focuses more on her complicated relationship with Mr. Rochester – the lord of Thornfield Manor where Jane is employed as a governess.

    The original novel is typically printed in editions that top out at 400 pages. Adapting that for the stage is no easy task, but according to Jessica Osnoe, associate artistic director for Sweet Tea Shakespeare, the adaptation serves the source material well without being overwhelming. 

    “The adaptation captures the essence of the novel in its characters and themes and, like other adaptations, focuses primarily on Jane’s time at Thornfield,” said Osnoe. “Our guiding lens became Jane’s search for home. So, we focused our production on the events in the novel (that) best tell that story.” 

    Osnoe pointed out that Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s 2017-18 season has explored themes of homecoming in a variety of ways. “Sweet Tea Shakespeare creates a home for beautiful, wondrous storytelling, so ‘Jane Eyre,’ the story of an orphan in search of love and home, makes perfect sense for us,” she said.

    Sweet Tea Shakespeare truly offers a unique experience to its patrons. Performances can happen in a variety of venues around the city. According to Osnoe, “Our shows are not static. We perform at several locations in and around Fayetteville; we play indoors and out, and we seek to bring the party to our audiences. We want both our stories and our delight to be accessible to everyone in the community.” 

    Cape Fear serves as the Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s primary spring and summer performance space, while Holy Trinity Episcopal serves as the company’s winter venue. 

    General manager of Sweet Tea Shakespeare, Jennifer Pommerenke, is also looking forward to the run of shows and wants those who plan to attend to have the best possible experience. It is recommended that patrons arrive around 45 minutes earlier than the 7:30 p.m. start time. 

    According to Pommerenke, “All of our shows begin with a musical ‘What you Will’ pre-show. The music always reflects the themes of the story we are about to tell.” Additionally, Pommerenke said, patrons are responsible for their own seating since the performance will occur outdoors. There will be food and drink available the night of the performance. Otherwise, patrons should “be ready to see a beloved, timeless story told with care and heart.”

    There are performances each evening from April 26-29 and from May 3-6. General admission tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Senior citizen and military tickets are $13 in advance and $18 at the door. Admission for students and children ages 6-12 costs $8 in advance and $13 at the door. Children under five are admitted for free.

    For more information or to order tickets, visit www.sweetteashakespeare.com. Sweet Tea Shakespeare can also be reached at 910-420-4383.

  • 08CollinsIt can be hard to put a name on the genre of music the Andrew Collins Trio plays, but regardless of label, the music resonates. Thursday, May 3, the winner (seven times) of the Canada Folk Music Awards and nominee (five times) of the JUNO awards – Canada’s Grammy – brings its award-winning sound to the Cameo Art House Theatre on Hay Street.

    Collins fell in love with the mandolin when he was 18. “But I’d had guitars before and didn’t think I would have it in me to practice,” he said. “It kept me from getting a mandolin. 

    “I went to a fest with a friend. I like music played at a high level, and bluegrass is a technical music. That is what I like about it. At 23, I was living a ski bum’s life. (Then) I quit skiing and sold my gear to buy my first mandolin. It took over my life.”

    Now, he writes and plays, enjoying the growth that comes from performing onstage with the band. It’s challenging, he said, but fun to see hours of playing together yield synergistic energy in performance venues. It’s musically technical and soulfully touching. 

    “Our music draws from jazz, classical, folk, swing and blue grass,” said the group’s namesake. “There is usually enough of a musical memory and feeling of familiarity for people to feel comfortable and appreciate it, but it’s also new and fresh.” 

    The playlist includes the band’s double album “Tongue & Groove.” It’s 11 vocal cuts, or tongues, and 11 instrumentals, or grooves. 

    We do a few covers of things including jazz and traditional bluegrass,” Collins said. “The instrumentals move around several styles, too. These two albums are a real mix, which is really fun.

    “Our show has a lot of storytelling and jokes within the show as well. The idea is to make it musically fun but also entertaining.”

    The trio is composed of Collins, who plays mandolin, fiddle, guitar, mandola, mandocello and croons smooth vocals; Mike Mezzatesta on the guitar, mandolin, fiddle and mandola; and James McEleney on bass, mandocello and vocals. 

    The Andrew Collins Trio pushes for technical prowess matched equally with soul and personality. “The genre that we play – a lot of peopl