• The public health of our communities is — and should be — our collective priority during these unprecedented times. As our families, friends and neighbors face the challenges posed by our ever-changing reality, we must also reflect on the role that a healthy natural environment plays in sustaining our lives.

    Reliable, affordable and accessible energy resources are critical now that much of our population is home-bound. Clean, viable water is crucial to maintaining our personal hygiene. Proper waste management procedures sustain sanitary homes and communities. And, our natural world is an important source of joy, providing many people with physical and mental respites as we practice social distancing.

    But right now, our most necessary asset is one that we cannot even see: our air.

    This spring, air quality has been at the forefront of the media more than ever, as researchers have discovered that air pollution is one of many factors in the spread and severity of the novel coronavirus. Conflicting reports about air quality abound. Stunning images reveal crisp, clean skylines in cities that are usually buried in a cloud of smog. Other reports claim that, in some areas, air quality is at its absolute worst. One fact is certain, though: better air means better health.

    Clean air is essential for everyone but especially for those with respiratory issues such as asthma and emphysema. On rare occasions when our air is considered to be unhealthy, each breath becomes more of a concern for all. Now that our society faces a virus that adversely and indiscriminately impacts our respiratory health, our air quality is one natural resource that we simply cannot take for granted.

    We are typically blessed with clean air in the Sandhills. In fact, our area boasts some of the best air quality in the state of  North Carolina. But, we must not become complacent if we want to cultivate that distinction further.

    Several organizations are leading the charge for healthier air. We can attribute our air quality successes to the vigilance of agencies such as the Fayetteville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, Sustainable Sandhills, and the Air Quality Stakeholders. Their initiatives to improve and manage the air quality of our region contribute to our public health and the quality of our lives.

    Each resident of the Sandhills is also a key player in the efforts to enhance our air quality. May 4 to May 8 is National Air Quality Awareness Week. You can care for our air by adopting habits that foster healthier air in the Sandhills. Simple steps — such as riding your bicycle instead of driving your car, fueling your vehicle when temperatures are cooler and properly inflating your tires — can have significant impacts. You can also learn about the Air Quality Index. The AQI is a forecast of the air quality in a region, ranging from “good” or “Code Green” to “hazardous” or “Code Maroon.” Most weather reports include the AQI. You can learn more about the Air Quality Index and other issues at airnow.gov or sustainablesandhills.org/airquality.

    Our society will undoubtedly learn many valuable lessons from these uncertain days. By using our resources responsibly and protecting the natural assets that are so vital to our lives, we can protect our residents and build healthier, more vibrant, more resilient communities that can withstand any threat — today, tomorrow and forever.

  • 12librariesAs the heart and soul of the college, the Fayetteville Technical Community College Paul H.Thompson Library and campus libraries are where students of different educational backgrounds reach their goals, working in partnership with experienced librarians.

    Three locations support FTCC students with library services and dedicated library staff to answer questions: the Paul H. Thompson Library at the Fayetteville campus; the Spring Lake Campus Branch of the Cumberland County Public Library; and the John L. Throckmorton Library on Fort Bragg.

    The libraries offer students access to thousands of print and electronic resources that are timely, relevant and reliable to assist with their educational success. Working together with faculty, librarians conduct library orientation classes to introduce students to library resources and develop search strategies to help them complete assignments using the catalog and electronic databases. Tutorials are available on the library website to provide brief instruction on searching specific databases.

    Students may also take advantage of the book-a-librarian service to receive individualized instruction from librarians by appointment for up to 45 minutes. Librarians are also available for unscheduled book-a-librarian sessions to answer more targeted questions that take a shorter time.

    Interlibrary loans extend a student’s borrowing power to all member colleges of the North Carolina Community College System.

    High school students receiving college credit through the NC Career and College Promise dual-enrollment program have access to all library resources to assist in their transition to college and ease the research challenges required of their college courses.

    At each location, students have access to a wide variety of spaces where they can study, conduct research, read or meet in small and large groups to collaborate on projects. Students have access to computers, printing, copying and faxing at all locations. Scanning capability and additional laptops are available for checkout for use within the Paul H. Thompson Library reference room and at the Spring Lake Campus branch library. At the Paul H. Thompson Library, coffee is available for purchase in the reference room all day.

    The FTCC Archive collection, housed in the Paul H.Thompson Library, consists of photographic materials, college course catalogs, yearbooks, scrapbooks and college ephemera. The scrapbooks are currently available online with DigitalNC by clicking on the FTCC Archive link from the library homepage. Additional materials are expected to be digitized and available electronically. Physical materials in the archive are available for viewing by appointment.

    Library staff are available to assist with reference questions during business hours in person or by calling 910-678-8247, 0080 and by email library@faytechcc.edu. When the library is closed, students can get answers by using the “Ask-a-Librarian Chat Now” button located on the library homepage at www.faytechcc.edu/campus-life/academic-support/library/ 

    Fayetteville Technical Community College libraries locations and hours:

    • Paul H. Thompson Library:

    2201 Hull Rd., Fayetteville, NC

    910-678-0080

    Mon-Thurs 7:45 a.m.- 9 p.m.

    Friday 8 a.m.- 7 p.m.

    Last seven Saturdays each semester: 11a.m.-3p.m.

    • Spring Lake Campus Branch Library:

    101 Laketree Blvd., Spring Lake, NC

    Mon-Wed 9 a.m.-6 p.m.

    Thurs 9 a.m.-7 p.m.

    Friday Closed

    Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

    • John L. Throckmorton Library:

    Randolf St. Bldg. 1-3346, Fort Bragg, NC

    910-396-2665

    Mon-Thurs 9 a.m.-7 p.m.

    Friday 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

    Saturday Noon-4 p.m.

  • 07Tyrone WilliamsLegal wrangling may impede the process by which Fayetteville City Councilman Tyrone Williams is removed from office. Williams’ lawyer and city attorney Karen McDonald disagree on some of the steps city council is taking. As a courtesy, McDonald provided attorney Kris Poppean opportunity to offer feedback on procedures she developed to conduct what’s known as an amotion.

    McDonald agreed to some of his ideas but rejected others. Poppe contends Williams should not have been denied his right to vote on issues he’s accused of being involved in. McDonald insists the excusal protects the validity of the process.City council adopted McDonald’s recommendations following an hourlong discussion at a dinner meeting. Williams did not vote.

    North Carolina state law provides for the removal of public officials, but the process is general. McDonald stressed her rules and procedures are intended to make certain the District 2 councilman receives a fair and impartial hearing. Until now, the city had no written policy on amotion. It’s the only time official efforts have been made to remove a member from office. McDonald told council she followed her interpretation of state law because “we don’t know where the process will take us.”

    The first significant step is Williams being served with a petition for removal. It will culminate in a quasi judicial public hearing. By law, council’s amotion decision must be based only on evidence received during the hearing.

    Williams is a first-term council member elected this past November. He took office the following month and is alleged soon thereafter to have asked Jordan Jones, the project manager of Hay Street development projects, for $15,000 to remedy an issue with the deed to the former Prince Charles Hotel building. Jones’ company is renovating the eight-story building. Jones recorded the meeting with Williams and turned the recording over to the FBI.

    In March, Williams told council he had a financial interest in Prince Charles Holdings, which Jones denied, and asked to be recused from voting on all downtown development projects because of a possible conflict of interest. Later, Williams reversed himself, saying that he had been improperly advised by McDonald to recuse himself from voting. McDonald vehemently denied that, and council voted unanimously to excuse him from voting on anything related to downtown economic developments, including the minor league baseball stadium now under construction.

    The FBI has jurisdiction over violations of more than 200 categories of federal crimes, including public corruption at all levels of government. Corruption includes bribery, which is offering to do something for someone for the expressed purpose of receiving something in exchange. It also includes extortion by a public official, defined as the oppressive use of his or her position to obtain a fee. This is known as acting under the color of office.

     

    PHOTO: Tyrone Williams

  • by STEPHANIE CRIDER

    Click the Image for UCW's Online Edition!

    Can you smell the scent of funnel cake and popcorn in the air? The fair is in town.

    05_05_cover.jpg
    The Fort Bragg Fair, one of the c ommunity’s most anticipated spring events, is opening its doors, or fairgrounds rather, to the community and inviting everyone to come out and enjoy the festivities.

    The Fort Bragg Fairgrounds, located on Bragg Boulevard is open to the public for this event.


    “It is a great family-oriented event,” said Rhett Stroupe, event coordinator. “It is where families can come and enjoy a carnival atmosphere with games, carnival rides and live entertainment and just relax.”


    Stroupe has been coordinating the Fort Bragg Fair for about seven years now and thoroughly enjoys the opportunity to meet and be involved with so many different people.


    “For me it is about the personal relationships,” said Stroupe. “Each year has is its own little challenges, which keeps it fresh and keeps it interesting; plus we try to keep it fresh for our customers as well.”


    Speaking of keeping it fresh. There will be a few new rides this year, and some changes in the entertainment, too. 


    “Traditionally, we’ve had mainly live bands but we are doing it a little different this year,” said Stroupe.


    “We’ll still have live bands, but we are also doing a dance troop. We are having a magician perform for us and then we are having some Star Wars characters come out. It is going to be pretty awesome.”

    Over the years, attendance at the fair has averaged about 42,000, but Stroupe is hopeful that they can serve even more this year.


    “Because we have a large number of soldiers who have come back, this is an opportunity for them to reacquaint themselves with their families and I am very excited about it,” he said.


    Noting the downturn in the economy, he looked to that as a factor in projecting attendance.


    “A lot of people aren’t traveling away as much, which I look at as an opportunity for us as well.”


    As in previous years there are discounts on certain days. Monday through Thursday is Customer Appreciation Day. Admission is $5 from 5-7 p.m. Mother’s Day is another special discount day for moms only. Moms pay just $5 when accompanied by a paying child 3-17 years old.


    Regular hours are as follows: gates open at 5 p.m. Monday-Friday; and at 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Admission rates vary depending on the day and time.


     After 7 p.m. Monday-Thursday, general admission is $10, military/Department of Defense civilians, $8, children ages 3-9, $8, handicapped non-riders $5, senior citizen non riders (age 50 and older) $5. From 5-7 p.m. children 3 and older $5, children under 36” free.


    Friday through Sunday general admission is $14, military/DoD civilians, $12, children ages 3-9, $12, handicapped non-riders, $5, senior citizen (50 and older) non-riders, $5, children under 36” free. There is also free parking throughout the fair.


    For more info call 396-9126/6126 or visit www.fortbraggmwr.com.



  • 11Chalk BanksIn the Fayetteville area, we know the Cape Fear River. But have you everheard of Chalk Banks, a trail that runs along the edge of Lumber River State Park? May 19, this area will host its annual event called the Chalk Banks Challenge and River Festival.

    At 133 miles long, the Lumber River extends from as far north as Scotland County all the way down to the North and South Carolina border before eventually emptying into the Atlantic Ocean. As a blackwater river, which is a kind of river that is slow-moving through swamps and wetlands, the Lumber River is the only one of its kind in North Carolina to be designated as a Natural Wild and Scenic River.

    Here, at this natural haven unbeknownst to most people coming into the Fayetteville or Fort Bragg area, is a set of races that are free and open for the public to participate in or just watch. There are 2-mile canoe and kayak races. There is also a 5K trail run at 9:30 a.m. and a one-mile race at 10:30 a.m. for any school-age students.

    The event’s most eccentric challenge, though, is homemade raft races, which start at roughly 11:45 a.m.

    According to Cory Hughes, director of the Scotland County Tourism Development Authority, the raft race originates from a popular tradition in Scotland County during the 1970s and 1980s when people would raft down the river just for fun.

    Hughes said the purpose for this wacky, fun event nowadays is to perhaps introduce or reinvigorate interest in the Lumber River State Park.

    “We have a beautiful state parkup at Chalk Banks, and people just don’t know about it,” said Hughes. “When I’m walking through the event and hear people go, ‘Wow, I’ve never been out here, this is really great,’ that’s a win.”

    As for the raft race, teams must build their own raft, without using traditional parts for boats. The rafts cannot be motorized. Many different groups have participated in the past, including Boy Scout troops, fire departments and military officers.

    “The raft races are, I don’t want to say comical, but absolutely leisure(ly) and casual,” said Hughes. “It’s not Gilligan’s Navy, but it’s something pretty close to it. Once (participants) do it once, they have such a good time.”

    Hughes described one group of military officers from Fort Bragg who participated in the event for several years. This group, on the first year, made their raft out of an inflatable mattress, plywood and duct tape – and didn’t quite make it all the way down the river. But they came back the next year after “learning their lesson” and ultimately won the race. The following year, the same members of the group were all deployed in Afghanistan but made time to send a message on YouTube to the event, wishing everyone good luck and saying they would be back the next year to defend their title.

    “It’s that kind of attitude that embraces the whole day,” Hughes said. “It’s just a day to come out, have fun, enjoy your friends, meet new people, laugh – maybe laugh so hard you cry.”

    For those not competing in the races, the River Festival component promises to entertain outdoorsy, interested families. There will be inflatables to bask in the river’s slow moving channel and bands playing bluegrass or country music throughout the day. There will also be craft vendors as well as food vendors providing barbecue fare and Italian ice.

    Hughes also mentioned there will be a “Kid Olympics,” featuring several youth games like relay races, hollering contests and grape spitting contests.

    “It’s a country-good-time kind of thing,” said Hughes.

    The event is free and open to the public. It takes place at the Chalk Banks access point in Wagram May 19 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For directions or more information, contact the Lumber River State Park at 910-628-4564.

  • 14 01 Pineforeststadium Reopening is the key word in sports at all levels right now. Every day, there are new projections for when the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball will resume — and if the National Football League will start on time this fall.

    Along with leaders of youth-level sports and the NCAA, the NFHS and its member state associations are exploring all options for conducting sports this fall. And while we all want answers, the truth is that there are more questions than answers at this point.

    14 02 Jack britt stadiumDr. Anthony Fauci, the leading national medical authority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, recently told ESPN that “the virus will make the decision for us” on whether sports will return this fall. His comments underscore the need for leaders of all levels of sport in the United States to exercise great caution as we re-engage in activities.
    Without a doubt, education will play a larger role in the decision-making process for high school programs than for nonscholastic programs. Despite the significant loss of revenue that could occur at some levels if programs remain closed, health and safety concerns must take priority when it comes to reopening the sport or activity.

    At the high school level, sports and other activity programs will most likely not return until schools reopen. High school sports and performing arts are education-based programs and complete the learning process on a day-to-day basis. As such, academics during the school day and sports and other activities after school are inseparable.
     Could any of those sports and activities return without fans? That option is certainly not one schools favor, but it is a very real possibility. While a few state associations opted for that arrangement to complete state basketball tournaments, that is not a desired ongoing plan for school sports. Besides, this troubling question would have to be addressed: If it is unsafe for fans in the stands, is it safe for the students to participate?

      Students, parents and other fans in the stands cheering for and supporting student-athletes, and applauding from the theatre audience, are among the most wonderful aspects of education-based activities. Before accepting that arrangement, efforts will continue to make attending events a safe experience for everyone.

    While we remain uncertain as to the timetable for the return of high school sports and other activities, we believe that when these programs return — and they will return — that everyone will bring renewed zeal to provide the 12 million participants in these programs the best experience possible.

    One of the challenges to solving the crystal ball of high school sports and activities this fall is the uncertainty of the spread of the virus as states begin to reopen this month. The NFHS will continue to work with its Sports Medicine Advisory Committee on an ongoing basis to provide the most updated information.

    With the non-negotiable tenet of safety for student activity participants, expect every avenue to be pursued so that students can be involved in football, soccer, volleyball, field hockey, speech, debate, music and many other school activities this fall.  
     
  • 11 nancePhysical education teachers do a lot more than roll out the basketballs for their students and make sure everybody is wearing the proper attire for running laps or playing volleyball.

    Especially physical education teachers like Jeff Nance at Gray’s Creek High School. In addition to regular physical education classes, Nance teaches what’s called an adaptive physical education class for students with special needs.

    It was partially because of his work with this group of students that led the North Carolina High School Athletic Association to single Nance out as one of the winners of this year’s Homer Thompson Memorial Award called Eight Who Make A Difference.

    The award is presented annually by the NCHSAA to one person from each of the state’s eight regional districts. The winners were honored as excellent role models to student athletes through a positive and dedicated approach to coaching. Nance was nominated by Gray’s Creek athletic director and NCHSAA Board of Directors member Troy Lindsey.

    The press release from the NCHSAA called Nance a special person who comes around once in a blue moon, describing him as gregarious, passionate, outspoken, humble and larger than life.

    Earl Horan may have offered an even better description of Nance. Horan is a special needs teacher on the faculty at Gray’s Creek. His son, Earl “Early Bird” Horan, was one of Nance’s special needs students during his four years at the school.

    “Jeff has the patience of a saint,’’ Horan said. “He’s got such a good heart.’’

    Every morning during school, the two self-contained special education classes at Gray’s Creek come to the school’s atrium where Nance is on duty. “They’ll ask permission to come over there and give him a quick hug,’’ Horan said. “He goes out of his way to tell them he loves them.’’

    Nance said the adaptive physical education class he teaches is easily his favorite. “It’s for kids who need a little extra help in a controlled setting,’’ he said. “We have to modify some of the games and the techniques we teach them. A lot of the kids are nonverbal.’’ He treats each child as an individual but does it in a class setting.

    “They are just a pleasure to be around,’’ he said of his adaptive students. “They take everything in stride and they’re not judgmental of each other. They’re always happy to do what you ask them to do.’’

    Nance said his exceptional children are blessed with what he calls a double dose of love and compassion. “I don’t think they are tainted by wanting to be in the pecking order,’’ he said. “I don’t think they are worried about being popular. They love life for what it is.’’

    Nance coaches the Gray’s Creek baseball team and has exceptional children involved in his program as managers for the team. “Our players take our managers in as their little brothers or teammates,’’ he said. “Baseball is a kid’s game played by young men and adults, and they (the exceptional children) bring a child’s-like view to the game.’’
    The managers wear baseball helmets in the dugout for safety and help with a variety of duties like sweeping out the dugout, chasing foul balls or keeping up with pitch counts. “They are so happy to be part of it,’’ Nance said. “I hope it rubs off on the players that no matter what your role is, just being part of the team, everybody is equal. You don’t have to be the superstar.’’

    Nance thinks he gets as much from the experience of working with exceptional children as they do. “They bring me back to center,’’ he said. “They
     relax me.’’

    He thanked both his immediate family and the countless coaches he’s worked with since his youth for helping to foster his love for young people.
    “I’m happy to have role models like my mother and brother and former coaches,’’ he said. “It motivates me to try and do better.’’

  • 13 strunkFew people are better qualified to talk about the current state of high school athletics in North Carolina than Rick Strunk. Strunk joined the staff at the North Carolina High School Athletic Association in 1985 and spent 30 years there before stepping down in 2015.

    During his early years with the NCHSAA, Strunk had a conversation with longtime NCHSAA leader Charlie Adams about what events could disrupt high school sports on a statewide scale.

    Adams told Strunk one thing would be a major war that could put restrictions on travel.

    The second thing Adams said was an epidemic.

    Strunk said during his time with the NCHSAA, they did have to deal with a situation like that, but it was nothing on the scale of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

    “There was a measles outbreak,’’ Strunk said, adding that it was confined to one area of the state. “School systems went under quarantine for a limited period of time to try and track down the source of the measles.’’

    Schools in that area developed a workaround, redoing their athletic schedules and playing games against schools that weren’t under quarantine, then once the quarantine was lifted, making up all the postponed games against the schools that were in lockdown.

    He thinks the NCHSAA has done the best job possible trying to make decisions within the framework of the restrictions that have been set down in North Carolina to curb the spread of the pandemic, and he thinks coaches, athletes, parents and fans need to understand that the NCHSAA lacks the freedom to make plans for the future at will.

    “When the governor says something is going to happen on this date, you can’t make your own decision to run counter to that,’’ he said. “Health and safety of the participants is paramount. That is what North Carolina has focused on.’’

    Strunk said he has stayed in contact with members of the NCHSAA staff during the pandemic, and hopes the public appreciates this has been a painful process for them. “They know the value of high school sports and that kids want to play,’’ he said. “I really feel bad for seniors who didn’t have a season in the spring because it was stopped so early.’’

    At the same time, he had nothing but praise for how school systems and coaches are still reaching out to support both students and athletes.
    “Schools have had to pivot quickly,’’ he said. “Without much run-up they had to put classes online.’’

    He said coaches have had to design strength conditioning programs for homebound athletes who don’t have access to gyms or weights.

    In the face of everything, Strunk is trying to be optimistic and hopeful that by this fall, some degree of normalcy will return and coaches and athletes will be back on the field.
    “First is the decision about school,’’ he said. “That will drive a lot of things.’’

    He’s also concerned about if fans will feel safe going to games and if small businesses will be able to provide financial support to local teams after being closed.

    Instead of a light switch, Strunk thinks the return to sports will be more like a dimmer switch. “The safety of the public, the athletes, the coaches, the fans, all of those are the prime directive in this case,’’ he said.

  • 10 biscuitvilleCumberland County’s newest Biscuitville fast-food restaurant is all dressed up and ready for opening day in Hope Mills.

    The only question is exactly when that will be.

    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the opening date for the restaurant at the intersection of Hope Mills Road and George Owen Road is generically scheduled for summer, but officials at the business’s restaurant support center in Greensboro can’t offer any more specific information on the opening than that.

    Alon Vanterpool is the marketing manager for Biscuitville, which is primarily a North Carolina business with locations largely located in the Triad area of Winston-Salem, Greensboro and High Point, along with some in Virginia.

    Vanterpool said Biscuitville has expanded into the Triangle area of Raleigh and Durham and is also growing in Fayetteville as the addition of the Hope Mills restaurant indicates.

    Construction of the Hope Mills location was well underway when concerns about the pandemic reaching the United States started to grow.

    Vanterpool said Biscuitville officials quickly realized plans for moving forward with the opening of the restaurant would be heavily influenced by following state guidelines put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

    Biscuitville does have other restaurants already open in the Fayetteville area that are currently serving drive-through customers only.

    The first step to get the new Hope Mills location up and running will be completing the hiring of a manager for the store along with the staff.

    Vanterpool said Biscuitville typically begins the search for the top staff positions about six months before opening then hires the members of the restaurant crew four to six weeks before opening.

    As of mid-May, the Hope Mills location is still looking for a manager/operator, with plans to hire approximately 40 people to work on the restaurant crew.
    Vanterpool said open positions on the restaurant crew can be found at www.biscuitville.com/careers.

    She isn’t sure what the status of filling any of the crew positions is at this time, but she knows the hiring of crew members was on Biscuitville’s radar before the pandemic struck.

    “As soon as we get the go-ahead, we’ll be going full speed ahead,’’ Vanterpool said.

    Visit the company’s website at www.biscuitville.com for any general questions about Biscuitville or the new Hope Mills location.

  • 11 01 faith francisThe COVID-19 pandemic has ground activity on high school athletic fields to a halt, but there’s still plenty going on off the field. Here are a few items of interest:

    • The Gray’s Creek High School boys cross country team was the only Cumberland County squad to be recognized by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s 2019-20 Scholar Athlete Program.

    The program annually recognizes students and teams for their academic success. To qualify, the combined unweighted grade point average of the team must be 3.1 or higher during the semester when the team is competing.

    11 02 kellymelvinGray’s Creek earned a 3.75 GPA, placing third in the state behind first-place North Davidson at 3.84 and second-place Crest at 3.8.

    The win earned the school a $100 prize.

    • Fayetteville Technical Community College is using the lights at J.P. Riddle Stadium to join in a national program to honor this year’s graduating high school seniors who are missing out on their final year of sports or performing arts because of the pandemic.

    The idea apparently started in Texas, spread to Colorado and then took off nationally, as high schools turned on the lights on their athletic fields at 8:20 p.m., 20:20 in military time, and left them on for 20 minutes and 20 seconds to honor the class of 2020.

    11 03 thurstonSteve Driggers of FTCC said the lights were turned on the last two Fridays this month at Riddle Stadium and will be lit a final time on Friday,
    May 22.

    • Congratulations to Faith Francis of the Westover High School girls’ basketball team. Francis has been selected to the East roster for this summer’s North Carolina Coaches Association East-West All-Star basketball game in Greensboro.

    If restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic will allow, the game will be played Monday, July 20, at the Greensboro Coliseum.

    Francis led Westover to a 21-7 record and a second-place finish in the Patriot Athletic Conference behind state 3-A co-champion E.E. Smith.

    A 6-foot-1 wing player, Francis averaged 15.4 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. She made 23 three-point field goals. She was named the Patriot Athletic Conference girls Player of the Year.

    • Two Cumberland County schools recently hired head coaches. Kelly Melvin is the new volleyball coach at Cape Fear High School while Thurston Robinson will coach the girls basketball team at Terry Sanford.

    According to a press release posted on social media, Melvin is a graduate of Douglas Byrd High School with degrees in physical education from Methodist University and North Carolina A&T.

    She has been a teacher and athletic director at Albritton Middle School for 28 years.

    She worked with the Cape Fear volleyball program since 2016, serving as head junior varsity coach and assistant varsity coach.

    Robinson’s hiring was also announced on social media. He has coached for more than 20 years in the Fayetteville area, coaching both boys’ and girls basketball.

    His teams have won championships at both the state and national level.

    He has also had teams appear in major showcase tournaments around the country.

    • Proponents of adding a shot clock to high school basketball suffered another defeat recently when the National Federation of State High School Associations announced the high school basketball rule changes for the 2020-21 season.

    A proposal for a national rule requiring a shot clock, along with a rule allowing individual states to adopt one if they desired, were not approved.

    In a press release from the National Federation, Theresia Wynns, NFHS director of sports, said members of the Basketball Rules Committee discussed the pros and cons of adding the shot clock and will continue to study the issue.

    • One rule that was updated involved what happens if no coach is available to be on the bench because the head coach has been removed for unsportsmanlike conduct.

    The new rule says if a coach is removed from the bench and no authorized school personnel are available to take over the team, the game will be declared a forfeit.

    • Another rule was clarified to state that officials don’t have to give a coach a warning before assessing a technical foul. The existing rule gave the impression that a warning was needed before calling a technical.
    • A new rule was added for clock operators, who are now required to sound a warning signal to start a 15-second period to replace an injured or disqualified player. A second warning is given at the end of 15 seconds to alert teams it’s time to prepare for play.
    • A complete list of the rule changes for next season can be found at www.nfhs.org. Go to Activities and Sports at the top of the home page then click on Basketball.
  • 10 01 hpThe fate of this year’s Hope Mills Fourth of July celebration is far from being decided, but town officials are moving ahead with plans to hold some kind of observance of the holiday, even if it may be muted.

    The town’s Board of Commissioners voted earlier this month to move ahead with plans for the annual event. Now, Parks and Recreation Director Lamarco Morrison and his staff are looking at what they can do to make the observance, or some positive alternative version of it, happen.

    North Carolina governor, Roy Cooper, recently announced Phase 1 of the plan to reopen the state to more normal activity in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Morrison is hopeful things will get better and not worse as July 4th approaches, but town staff is considering a variety of options to deal with whatever the situation might be at that time.

    The big news, for now, is that there will be a fireworks display, but people might have to view it in a different way.

    10 02 fourth of july“We want to do drive-in fireworks,’’ Morrison explained. “We’ll let people drive in and park at the (old) Hope Mills golf course. People can enjoy the fireworks from
    their car.’’

    As for the annual Fourth of July parade, it may have to be altered drastically if severe social distancing restrictions are still in place when the holiday rolls around.

    Meghan Hawkins, assistant director for special events and programs, has been looking at alternatives to the parade if needed. Morrison said Hawkins has explored the possibility of doing a backward parade for the town.

    Under Hawkins’ plan, the town would purchase Fourth of July decoration kits for people and allow them to register to decorate their homes. The town would provide a map of the decorated homes and allow people to visit the different locations in their cars.

    Morrison is remaining hopeful that, by July, the restrictions will be lifted enough that an idea that extreme won’t be needed.

    The problem is, to plan for a meaningful Fourth of July celebration, the town can’t wait until the last minute, especially if they are going to try to put on a parade, if the circumstances will allow it.

    With the governor announcing that Phase 1 of reopening of the state is underway, that loosens the restraints a little on what can be done, but Morrison thinks the town will need to make some concrete decisions about what can and can’t be done with the parade by the middle of May.

    One thing that likely won’t be seen in the parade, no matter how much better things are in terms of the pandemic, would be marching bands, which would clearly put large groups of people in close proximity with each other.

    Units in the parade could be limited to things like vehicles and animals only.

    As for spectators, Morrison said the town would likely need the assistance of the Hope Mills Police Department to make sure spectators along the parade route observed appropriate social distancing while the parade was in progress.

    That could pose a problem, one that has already reared its head at the Hope Mills Lake Park.

    “We’ve been met with resistance at the lake, with people’s emotions being heightened,’’ Morrison said. “They haven’t been the nicest about being told they can’t gather.’’

    Morrison said crowd control is not normally a major responsibility for the lake attendants who work with Parks and Recreation.

    In addition to the lake park, Morrison said there have been problems with the area around the proposed Heritage Park, where construction hasn’t even started.

    “We had to rope off the future Heritage Park site,’’ he said. “People were parking and gathering down there, essentially breaking the rules by hanging out.’’

    He said things have gotten a little better recently with fewer calls to break up inappropriate gatherings of people.

    As for planning ahead for the Fourth of July, Morrison is hopeful with the addition of online registration for Parks and Recreation activities, he and his staff will be able to wait until the latest date possible to make definite plans for the Fourth of July celebration.

    Morrison said he also remains hopeful that the town will be able to salvage the summer youth sports season. “I’m thinking July is far enough out,’’ he said. “A lot of people don’t want to refund their money. I’m thinking we’ll be able to play in some form or fashion.’’

    He’s just hopeful that whatever steps are taken to reopen the state to business will be taken with caution.

    “If they open too quickly, I’m afraid we’ll have another surge,’’ Morrison said.

    In the meantime, if anyone has questions or concerns about Parks and Recreation department activities, they can keep up to date by going to the webpage, townofhopemills.com, and clicking on the Parks and Rec link. They can also visit the Parks and Recreation Facebook page, Hope Mills Parks and Recreation.

    For other questions, call 910-426-4109. The front desk at the recreation center on Rockfish Road is staffed most days from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m.

  • 14 scott graham EPppwcVTZEo unsplashVernon Aldridge, student activities director for the Cumberland County Schools, has long stressed the importance of the county’s coaches taking courses to make them better at their jobs.

    That commitment recently earned the county national recognition as the National Federation of State High School Associations listed three county schools as first in the nation to reach Level I status on the NFHS School Honor Roll program.

    The three schools are Gray’s Creek High School, John Griffin Middle School and Pine Forest
    Middle School.

    Since the initial three schools were announced, five more have been added to the list. They are Pine Forest High School, South View Middle School, Hope Mills Middle School, Spring Lake Middle School and Anne Chesnutt Middle School.

    To make the list, a school must have at least 90% of the full-time coaches on its staff complete four courses offered online by the NFHS.

    The courses are Fundamentals of Coaching, Concussion in Sports, Sudden Cardiac Arrest, and Protecting Students from Abuse.

    There are two more levels schools can achieve by completing additional NFHS courses.

    Because all the county schools have been taking part in the NFHS initiative, Aldridge is optimistic it won’t be long before every county school is recognized for at least reaching Level I.

    “The more we take these courses, the higher quality our coaches are,’’ Aldridge said. “I think it enhances the experience for the student-athletes.’’

    He added all coaches in Cumberland County Schools have been required to take the four NFHS courses before the School Honor Roll program was started last December.

    In addition, all county schools coaches must receive training in performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation and using an automated external defibrillator.

    “My goal is to have all our schools to be Level 3 in two years,’’ Aldridge said.

  • The Town of Hope Mills recently got good news and bad regarding its Parks and Recreation Trust Fund Grant.

    The grant, which will help fund planning for pedestrian walkways in the central area of Hope Mills, was scheduled to be presented to the state by the McAdams group on behalf of the town earlier this month.

    The North Carolina Department of Transportation gets to pick which firm handles consulting work on the grant, and the good news for Hope Mills is it already had a longstanding relationship with McAdams.

    But according to town manager Melissa Adams, there’s a downside to the future of developing the pedestrian plan.

    Because of the COVID-19 crisis, people aren’t driving as much as they used to, which has cut into a lot of funding that DOT receives from sources involved with travel.

    The bottom line is, if there’s a shortfall in funding this month, that could mean the planning for the Hope Mills pedestrian project could be delayed, which further means the actual start of the construction phase of the pedestrian project would also be set back.

    Chancer McLaughlin, who is the development and planning administrator for the town, is trying to maintain a positive outlook on the situation and remains hopeful there won’t be a significant enough shortage of money to force the implementation of the design plan to be delayed.

    “One of the ideas we are going to push with this plan, which I think will be groundbreaking, is to see about the facilitation of a greenway that connects the (old) golf course to Trade Street,’’ McLaughlin said.

    Sidewalks are in the works from Town Hall on Rockfish Road to Johnson Street down to Trade Street, McLaughlin said. The greenway plan would complete a loop and link neighborhoods to the back side of the former golf course.

    “Now you have something more impactful from a pedestrian standpoint,’’ McLaughlin said. “People can walk from the golf course to Town Hall, and from Trade Street to the lake. All through pedestrian avenues, greenways and
    sidewalks.’’

    McLaughlin stressed that the money that has already been allocated will go to funding the creation of an overall plan for the proposed pedestrian upgrade, there is no money to pay for building the new walking area itself. “Once they come up with a plan, we’ll have to come up with funding for construction,’’ he said. “This is strictly for design.’’

    While there is a potential for delay in the pedestrian project, McLaughlin said town growth is doing well otherwise — in spite of the pandemic.

    The new Chick-fil-A restaurant had a successful opening recently, taking drive-through customers only, as the state’s regulations designed to protect against spread of COVID-19 continue.

    Another opening is expected to be held in the near future as the new Biscuitville franchise has wrapped up construction. McLaughlin said he was initially informed Biscuitville was planning for a summer opening, hopefully after the COVID-19 situation improves. There has been talk the opening date could come earlier, but McLaughlin said he had heard nothing concrete.

    Otherwise, McLaughlin said town business is going well and he’s gotten numerous requests for construction permits.

    “The staff is doing everything we can to be as innovative as we can during this pandemic, so we can keep things in some sort of normalcy until we can get back to our regular schedule,’’ he said.

  • 09daylilliesWhen the afterglow of spring is long gone, daylilies spread rainbows of color through the summer garden. From late spring to frost they are the stars, but they are not temperamental stars. They are hardworking, strong-growing contributors and the easiest to grow of all decorative perennials for Sandhills gardens. 

    One of the best ways to get to know daylilies is to visit the local American Hemerocallis Society accredited show. The event will be Saturday, June 3, on the top floor of Berns Student Center at Methodist University. 

    Since daylilies come in just about every color except true blue and in heights from a foot tall to over five feet tall, a gardener can find a cultivar for any place in the garden that gets five to six hours of sunlight. 

    They thrive in hot summers, so they are a good choice for our Sandhills landscapes. They tolerate some drought but fare better and produce more blooms if they get at least an inch of water a week. 

    Most daylily flowers are round with fairly wide petals. There are also spidery flowers with narrow petals and sepals; unusual forms with petals and/or sepals that twist, fold, or curl; and doubles that can look somewhat like a peony or like one flower sitting inside another one. 

    Flower sizes range from just over an inch to over 15 inches for some of the spiders. There are more than 80,000 registered daylilies in an incredible array of color, form and size — something for every niche in the garden.

    For best performance of your daylilies, prepare a bed with good soil that has organic material incorporated for good drainage. A soil test can give guidance about what type of fertilizer to use and how to amend the soil for proper pH and nutrients. 

    Daylilies are usually sold bare-root with leaves cut back to reduce transpiration, or loss of water vapor.  A good way to plant is to soak the roots (daylilies don’t have bulbs) for a few hours and then put the plants in the ground in the late afternoon. Do not soak for more than a day.

    Dig a hole, mound the dirt up in the center of the hole and place the plant so that the crown (where root and leaves meet) is no more than an inch below the soil with the roots reaching down into the soil. Fill the hole with the soil you dug out. Water the plants well and cover the soil with about two inches of mulch or compost. This will give the plant several hours to acclimate before the heat of the next day.

    To learn more about daylilies, join a local club and the American Hemerocallis Society. Visit local growers to see plants that grow well in your area. 

    Sandhills Daylily Club meets on the fourth Thursday of the month from February through October.  The usual meeting place is Friendship Baptist Church, 3232 Davis St., Hope Mills; but we do occasionally meet at other venues. We start at 6 p.m. with a potluck meal and the speaker starts about 7 p.m. Visitors are welcome. 

    To enter flowers in the June 3 show and win awards, the flowers must be on the registration table by 10 a.m. The show will be open to the public from 2 until 4 p.m. Starting at 10 a.m. there will be short presentations on topics like hybridizing daylilies, planting and care of daylilies, herbal recipes, air layering, and companion plants. Plants for sale will be available at 12:00 p.m.  To learn more about daylilies, visit www.daylilies.org.

  • A number of Cumberland County high school athletes recently received statewide recognition by being honored as all-stars and were given the chance to compete in all-star competition, subject to the lifting of COVID-19 shelter-in-place restrictions later this summer.

    Most of the athletes were chosen to take part in this summer’s North Carolina Coaches Association East-West All-Star games in Greensboro this summer.

    Here’s a brief look at each of the honorees:

    Football

    Cape Fear head coach Jake Thomas was previously chosen as an assistant coach for the East team in this summer’s East-West game at Grimsley High School in Greensboro on Wednesday, July 22.

    Four Cumberland County football players were named to the East roster, linebackers Mark Burks of Cape Fear and Jackson Deaver of Terry Sanford, running back Matthew Pemberton of South View and wide receiver Anthony Fiffie of Jack Britt.

    Thomas will coach the linebackers in the game. He said Deaver was a four-year starter with
     the Bulldogs who plays like a coach on the field. “He’s very smart and will come up and hit you,’’ Thomas said.

    Deaver was the defensive player of the year in the Patriot Athletic Conference. He finished second in Cumberland County in tackles with 162.

    Burks is a versatile player who can also double as a safety. “That’s a plus when you’re coaching in an all-star game,’’ Thomas said. A three-year captain for Cape Fear, Thomas called Burks an outstanding teammate and leader.

    Burks had 70 tackles and 4.5 sacks. He was first team All-Patriot Athletic Conference at linebacker.

    Fiffie is the only one of the four county players that Thomas didn’t actually see in a game this season since Cape Fear and Britt don’t play each other. “I’ve heard offensive coaches talking about him, his size as a receiver and his hands,’’ Thomas said. “He does a great job of running routes and being precise.’’

    Fiffie was a first team All-Sandhills Athletic Conference wide receiver. He led Cumberland County in receiving with 81 catches for 1,156 yards and 17 touchdowns.

    Thomas called Pemberton a versatile playmaker who can do all kinds of things to help a team win. “He’s just a tremendous athlete,’’ Thomas said.

    Pemberton was Athlete of the Year in the Patriot Athletic Conference. He rushed 230 times for 1,919 yards and 31 touchdowns. He caught 20 passes for 235 yards and three touchdowns.

    Girls soccer

    Terry Sanford’s Maiya Parrous was the lone county player selected to the East girls soccer team. Previously announced as head coach of the team was Pine Forest’s Isaac Rancour.

    Like the rest of the soccer players in the state, Parrous had her senior season stripped from her when the spring sports season was halted on
    March 16.

    Before play was halted this season, Parrous was one of the leading scorers in Cumberland County. She had eight goals and two assists. Last season she scored 19 goals.

    Parrous, who will attend the College of Charleston in the fall, said she’s excited about what she hopes will be one more chance to put on the uniform and compete as a high school player.

    “Everyone hopes it happens,’’ she said of the soccer all-star game, which is scheduled for Tuesday, July 21, at Greensboro’s MacPherson Stadium.

    Rancour said he plans to play Parrous at a wing position. “I think she has good technical ability and fits in well with the other players,’’ Rancour said. “I hope she can score a few goals.’’

    Rancour said all-star game officials indicated they would make a final decision on whether they will be able to play this summer around mid-June. “A lot of it revolves around the coaches clinic and what’s going on there,’’ he said.

    The East-West games are annually held in conjunction with the North Carolina Coaches Association Clinic, which takes place at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex.

    Girls golf

    Although not connected to the East-West competition in Greensboro, Cape Fear High School golf standout Toni Blackwell was chosen to take part in the fifth annual Tarheel Cup as a member of the
    East team.

    The competition, which has been canceled because of COVID-19, was scheduled May 15-17 at MacGregor Downs Country Club in Cary.

    The event would have pitted six girls and six boys from the eastern part of the state against six boys and six girls from the western part of the state using a Ryder Cup-style format.

    Blackwell won the NCHSAA East Regional championship this year and placed third in the 3-A state tournament with a two-day total of 80-69-149.

    She plans to join the golf team at UNC-Pembroke in the fall.

  • 12 masksCumberland County Schools are shut down for the rest of the 2019-20 year, but that hasn’t prevented Jack Britt High School teacher Henrietta Jutson and student Saathvik Boompelli from working together on a project providing needed support to frontline health care workers at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center.

    Jutson, an integrated systems technology teacher at Britt, has access to 3-D printers used at the school. Boompelli reached out to Jutson with the idea of putting the printers to use by programming them to print out a clasp that would be attached to masks like those worn by healthcare workers.

    Unlike typical clasps that loop over the ears, the ones that Boompelli envisioned go around the back of the head, so they are more comfortable to wear for extended periods of time and don’t put as much strain on the ears.

    Jutson has had the 3-D printers at Jack Britt since around 2015. There are a total of three of them, each roughly the size of a refrigerator you’d find in a college dormitory room.

    Each printer has a gantry with a filament head that features an X, Y and Z axis.

    Jutson said the printer head moves left and right, forward and backward.

    “It’s like a hot glue gun,’’ she said. The printers are loaded with a roll of plastic, or filament, that Jutson purchased for the project.

    The process is a bit time-consuming, Boompelli said, noting that it takes about two hours
     to print about five of the plastic clasps.

    The Britt printers have produced a total of 350 of the clasps so far, which they’ve donated to Cape Fear Valley.

    Boompelli said until the hospital makes a new request for additional clasps, they are looking around to see if there are other area hospitals or frontline care workers that could use the clasps to make protective masks of their own.

    “The clasps can be reused and other people are making masks,’’ Boompelli said. “We thought we would focus on this.’’

    Boompelli said Jutson recently received an email from the parent of another student thanking her for providing the clasps.

    “It’s really cool to see how it’s affecting the doctors,’’ Boompelli said.

    The only problem associated with the project is the plastic filament used to make the clasps isn’t free and has to be purchased. Jutson is using a teacher fundraising tool to help raise money donated to cover the cost of the filament.

    The website is known as donorschoose.org. Visit the site and in the search space type in “Henrietta Jutson”, then look for the link entitled Filament for Good.

    As of Monday, May 4, the project still needed $280 to help pay for the filament.

  • 08OperationMovieNightGun violence is a serious issue that affects families and the communities they live in. One of the ways the Fayetteville Police Department battles this is by connecting with the community with fun events that allow people to get to know each other — and police officers. 

    Outdoor movies are one way to do this. Fayetteville Police Department’s Operation Ceasefire presents “Family Movie Night” on Friday, June 2 at Rivers of Living Water Church of God. The church is providing a hot dog meal at 7:30 p.m.  and the movie will begin at 8:30 p.m. 

    “This is our 10th anniversary of Ceasefire Movie Night and what we do is take our movie nights out into the city and the county,” said Lisa Jayne, Operation Ceasefire program coordinator. 

    “If we notice there is a spike in gun activity and crime in that area, we will look to go into that area during the calendar year and people also request for us to come to their location.” Jayne added that the purpose is for kids to come out and do a gun pledge. 

    They also offer free gun locks to parents and show a PSA before each of their movies about gun and gang violence. Parents are given pamphlets about warning signs that may indicate their child may be in a gang and who to call if they have that concern.   

    The event will feature a kiddie train, a fire safety house, health screenings by Cape Fear Valley, health and wellness resources, a rock wall, a bounce house, K-9 demo, the fire truck, police vehicles, games, popcorn, drinks and officers on site to answer any questions participants may have.                 

    This is part of the Ceasefire approach to combating gun and gang crime through suppression, intervention and prevention. “This is one of our community outreach prevention measures,” said Jayne. “We have our EKG program, which is educating kids about gun violence in the Cumberland County Schools System that we teach to all seventh graders and just finished up a third year with that.” 

    Jayne added that they have taught over 20,000 students the program and since they initiated the program, violent crime for that age group has gone down by 3 percent. 

    “We look forward to meeting new faces and having the community come out and enjoy the evening,” said Jayne.       

    Admission is free. Bring a chair or blanket to enjoy a free movie under the stars. In the case of inclement weather the movie will be held inside. The church is located at 1764 Bingham Drive. For more information call Lisa Jayne at (910) 433-1017.  

  • 12 01 72213353 BE6B 400B AC34 B47D274108A2Westover High School’s boys and E.E. Smith High School’s girls basketball teams made history last week, joining a handful of other North Carolina High School Athletic Association teams as the first virtual state champions in NCHSAA history.

    After the COVID-19 pandemic forced the NCHSAA to first postpone and then cancel this school year’s state basketball title games, Westover and Smith had been waiting for almost a month-and-a-half to learn what the fate of their title bids would be.

    It came via a virtual meeting of the NCHSAA Board of Directors last week on the computer meeting app Zoom. The cyber gathering of NCHSAA board members voted unanimously to name all of the teams that made the eight state championship finals for girls and boys basketball state champions.

    12 02 georgeWestover was declared the 3-A boys co-champion while Smith was named the 3-A girls co-champion.

    Brad Craddock, the NCHSAA president, who serves as principal at Glenn High School in Kernersville, said the board got a briefing
    from NCHSAA assistant commissioner James Alverson on the precedent for not having single champions.

    During the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918, no state champions were determined in football. For a period of time during the 1960s and 1970s, some sports didn’t play to a state title, stopping at regional championships because the NCHSAA feared the season was getting too long. One of those teams was Seventy-First, which ended its 1970 season with a 3-A Eastern football championship.

    12 03 vernon aldridge copy“We felt like in this crazy time we are in, crowning an East and West regional champion did not do either side justice,’’ Craddock said. “We felt co-champions was the best thing we could do to honor all the work the student-athletes put
     into it.’’

    Both Westover boys’ head coach George Stackhouse and Smith girls’ head coach Dee Hardy were delighted with the decision.

    “I think the folks involved put the kids first,’’ Stackhouse said. “That’s what we are in it for and that’s what it looks like they did.’’

    Hardy has now had a hand in two state championships for Smith. She was a member of the Smith girls track team that won the state title in 1981. She said the basketball state title is the first Smith has won since then.

    “The seniors have been through enough and it’s the least we can do to say they are state champions,’’ Hardy said. “I think that’s the best ending we could have at this point in time.’’

    Vernon Aldridge, student activities director for the Cumberland County Schools, served on the NCHSAA board as representative of the North Carolina Athletic Directors Association.

    Aldridge said he will reach out to city and county government officials to make sure Fayetteville and Cumberland County honor the Westover and Smith teams when the pandemic passes and people can safely assemble for a public celebration.

    “This is very exciting for Cumberland County Schools to have two state basketball champions,’’ he said. “As long as I’ve been here, I can’t remember us having two state basketball champions in one year.’’

    In other major action by the board, changes were approved in the practice restrictions for high school football.

    Beginning with the fall season, the amount of preseason scrimmage time will be reduced from seven hours to five. Schools will have to observe a 48-hour break between scrimmage sessions. This does not include scrimmages in a one-day jamboree setting.

    Beginning with April 15 and continuing to the final 10 days of the school year, teams can practice a total of 60 minutes of what is called bumping, a modified form of body-to-body contact that stops just short of tackling an opponent and bringing him to the ground.

    In other rulings, athletes will not be required to get a new physical if they got one in 2019 but they will have to update their family medical history. The NCHSAA will develop a physical requirement for athletes who come from out of
    state schools.

    The realignment process has been put on hold by COVID-19 and will not resume until the realignment committee can safely meet face to face again.

    The plan is still for the next realignment to take effect by the 2021-22 school year.

    NCHSAA commissioner Que Tucker made no commitment on the status of fall sports but said it is possible one or more sports may have to start late and trim the nonconference schedule to get a season completed.

  • 11 IMG 3123The lack of traffic on North Carolina’s highways caused by shelter-in-place orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing the North Carolina Department of Transportation to delay numerous road projects statewide. A number of them are in the Hope Mills area.

    Earlier this month, NCDOT released a list 20 pages long of road projects across North Carolina that have been put on hold as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    It’s not safety issues preventing the workers from completing projects. The money normally available to pay for the work has evaporated.

    Many state road projects are funded through the Motor Fuels Tax, Highway Use Tax and fees from the Department of Motor Vehicles.

    With driving dramatically curtailed because so many people are staying at home, there is currently a budget shortfall of $300 million for NCDOT for the current fiscal year, which ends on June 30.

    Projects that were already underway or that have already been awarded won’t be affected.

    In addition to a release from the NCDOT, Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner was briefed on the delays during a recent conference call involving Cumberland County’s mayors along with representatives of the county Board of Commissioners and representatives of the city of Fayetteville.

    “So much is happening with the highways in Cumberland County,’’ Warner said. “Everyone is concerned. They are moving quickly to get the outer loop finished.”

     Warner said her biggest concerns for delays in Hope Mills road construction are at the intersection of Camden Road and Main Street as well as the intersection of Golfview and Rockfish Roads near the proposed new public safety building in Hope Mills.

    The intersection at Camden and Main is one of the busiest in Hope Mills.

    “That is one of our high-traffic areas,’’ Warner said, noting that a fatal accident recently took place near there. “A lot of development takes
    place on that side of town,’’ she said. “That would be the Camden Road section that goes by Millstone Theater.’’

    The other big area of concern is where the construction of the new public safety building for the Hope Mills police and fire departments, around Rockfish and Golfview Roads, is hopefully scheduled to begin work sometime this year.

    It is already a high traffic area, and the pending construction of the new public safety building is only going to make the problem even worse.

    The police department has temporarily relocated to the old Ace Hardware store on South Main Street, while the Hope Mills Fire Department
    will continue to operate out of its building on Rockfish Road.

    It’s not hard to see how road construction along Rockfish and Golfview Roads at the same time work is taking place on the public safety building could create a serious logjam.

    “If that (roadwork) project is delayed and we continue to do work on the public safety building, I see a lot of problems with that,’’ Warner said.

    She is hopeful that a town committee that has been working for some time on the Hope Mills Gateway Plan will be able to head off any major headaches the combination of the road construction and the building of the public safety building will cause.

    The Gateway Plan group includes various officials and citizens of the town of Hope Mills along with representatives of the Fayetteville Economic Development Commission, Duke Energy and the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

    “We’ve had very good strategic planning sessions,’’ Warner said. “We’ve been ahead of what’s going on with Interstate 295 and how it will impact Hope Mills.

    “Now we can just add to that concern and talk about what we do now if there is a delay. We have to have an immediate plan. This will give us opportunities to look at what we’re doing with a lot of input. It might mean we need to step back and do a better job.’’

     Following is a complete list of all the major Cumberland County road projects that have been delayed by the NCDOT funding shortfall:

     1. Bridge 60 over Lower Little River on U.S. 401.

    2. Bridge 25 on N.C. 242 over Beaver Dam Creek.

    3. 1-95 install broadband fiber from South Carolina state line to Virginia state line.

    4. I-95 in Cumberland and Robeson Counties from U.S. 301 (Exit 22) to North of I-95 Business/U.S. 301 (Exit 40). Widen to eight
            lanes.

    5. Fayetteville outer loop from South of State Road 1003 (Camden Road) to South of State Road 1104 (Strickland Bridge Road.)

    6. Fayetteville outer loops from South of State Road 1104 (Strickland Bridge Road) to South of U.S. 401.

    7. U.S. 401 (Raeford Road) from U.S. 401 (Raeford Road) from Old Raeford Road to East of Bunce Road.

    8. Cumberland, Hoke. State Road 1102 (Gillis Hill Road) from North of State Road 1112 (Stoney Point Road) to U.S. 401 (Raeford
            Road). Widen to multi-lanes and replace Bridge 250075 over Little Rockfish Creek.

  • 14CapeFearIt took the best athletic year in school history to make it happen, but Cape Fear High School is finally the owner of the Maxwell and Wells Fargo Cups.
    The Maxwell is for the best overall athletic program in Cumberland County while the Wells Fargo is for the best program in the Mid-South 4-A Conference.
    Both are based on points presented for order of finish in official conference sports.


    Cape Fear narrowly edged perennial cup winner Jack Britt 102-101 in the final tally. The Colts had a strong spring led by a co-championship in baseball and outright titles in softball and boys’ tennis. The softball team has been nationally-ranked most of this season, getting as high as No. 3 in the country in the USA Today poll.
    Highlights earlier in the year were an unbeaten regular season in football and the school’s first conference title, and Cape Fear’s first boys’ Holiday Classic basketball championship.
    Some of Cape Fear’s top athletes will quickly tell you attitudes around the school and community have changed toward the school’s sports program.

    Softball star Haley Cashwell said knowing you have the tools and qualities to make athletics successful makes it more fun. She doesn’t think
    the tradition will die out when this year’s seniors depart.


    “More people know about it and how successful we are becoming,’’ she said. “People want to carry on. They don’t want it to die.’’
    A.J. Baldwin was a standout in basketball and football. He gives a lot of credit to Cape Fear principal Lee Spruill who frequently uses the phrase, “Colt pride never stops.”
    “Mr. Spruill is giving us school spirit,’’ he said. “It puts a smile on everybody’s face. Plus we’ve got support from the community and coaches telling us to work hard.’’
    Jackson Parker, a baseball and football player, said school pride is on the rise. “At all our games, you see the stands filled up,’’ he said. “More people get involved, more people take it seriously. That’s been a big part of the success.’’

    Football standout Justice Galloway-Velazquez agrees with Parker that community is a huge part of the school’s success. “The community got behind us and stuck with us,’’ he said.
    “We had personal relationships with them. The teachers started believing in us.

    “Everywhere I go now it’s all about Cape Fear. You see guys that don’t even go to our school wearing Cape Fear stuff. I tell them it’s all about our fans in the community.’’
    Galloway-Velazquez returns for his senior year this fall and he’s aware of what it will take to keep Cape Fear on top.

    “We’ve got to stay strong in the classroom,’’ he said. “If the coaches stay on us, we should have another fun time of it.’’

  • 10 Yolanda Burse artist WakandaThe Culture and Heritage Alliance will host the “NC Wakanda Gala” on May 15 from 6-10 p.m. at the Volta Space downtown, which is located at 116 Person St.

    The event will feature a variety of art, music, dancing and more. Attendees are encouraged to wear their “Wakanda” themed or African outfits.

    “We are having fun with it,” said Kelly, the vice president for the Culture and Heritage Alliance. “There will be three artists there, we’ll have African drums, dancing, local artists, there will be African food. The Gala will feature artists like Matthew Mercer, Kognoscenti, Yolanda Burse amongst others.”

    Drinks and mingling will begin at 6 p.m., and customers will be served African hors d'oeuvres.

    Mercer, an artist who specializes in comic books, will be offering some “Black Panther” artwork for viewing and purchase.

    The Gala will observe COVID precautions, allowing up to 75 people, and temperatures will be taken at the door.

    “The Alliance promotes peace, culture in our community and all of North Carolina,” Kelly said. “We promote dance performances, culture exhibitions, storytelling to inform others of the customs, culture and traditions of all indigenous people and that’s native American, Latino, African and so much more.”

    Located at 105 Person St., the Alliance started 15 years ago and hosts events like the African World Peace Festival, the NC African Film Festival, Salsa & Swing Nights, Celebration of African Culture and workshops throughout the year.

    The Salsa & Swing event is free to the public, happening every Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at the Volta Space. Donations are welcome and go towards the Heritage and Culture Alliance, Kelly mentioned.

    “People don’t know how much diversity is in our area, so we bring that forth and bring that out, people can see that there is diversity,” she said.

    “Everyone loves African art, but where can you get it? Is it online but you can talk to us and we’ll find someone for you.”

    Tickets prices for the “NC Wakanda Gala” are $25 single and $40 for a couple and can be purchased at www.eventbrite.com/e/nc-wakanda-gala-culture-heritage-alliance-tickets-151006994987?aff=efbeventtix&fbclid=IwAR30FZbXELJKNcg6UH4oft8FW--9LID5GZ38FEtySbtAv3aRrAXcED6AzYw

    To learn more about the Alliance, visit www.cultureandhertiagealliance.org

    Pictured Above: The Gala feature works by artists Yolanda Burse (above) and Mathew Mercer, who will dislay "Black Panther" themed works. (Photos Courtesy the Culture and Hertiage Alliance). 

  • 05_27_09_cover.jpg Every time the Fayetteville SwampDogs take the field at J.P. Riddle Stadium, it’s an outdoor festival — food, entertainment, activities, parking, ticket sales, security — and a baseball game.

    Off the field, the team has a different list of responsibilities.

    When you run a sports franchise, it’s not like you’re selling garden variety widgets.  Your employees are celebrities. Your customers are demanding and vocal. And your business has a special place — a unique place — in the community, one that carries responsibilities and expectations.
    “We want to be a charitable organization and a good corporate citizen,” said coach and general manager Darrell Handelsman.

    “We take our responsibility seriously.”

    The team holds regular fundraisers for Special Olympics (Lou Handelsman, co-owner of the SwampDogs, has sat on the board of Special Olympics), to fight cancer, and other special causes. It has raised thousands of dollars — including significant contributions of its own — for these causes.

    The team also contributes prizes to other groups’ causes — game tickets, SwampDog merchandise, and opportunities to spend a day with a team member (including time in the dugout).

    The SwampDogs have another mission — to provide affordable, wholesome family entertainment.

    For an activity that involves the purchase of a ticket, SwampDogs baseball is a cheap date or an evening out for the family. A Family 4-Pack — four tickets, four hot dogs, four bags of chips and four drinks — costs just $30. Season general admission tickets cost $125, or $175 for box seats. Tickets at the gate cost $5 for general admission and $7 for a box seat, with $1 off for military, senior citizens and children. And, per Handelsman, if you stop by the office and let them know you’re out of work, you get in free.

    Food at the stadium is affordable, as well. The most expensive menu items, chicken or fried fish baskets, cost just $4.75 — about what a large drink costs at a movie theater.

    “We want it to be affordable, so people will come out,” Handelsman said.

    THE LONG TRADITION

    Baseball and Fayetteville go way back — Babe Ruth is said to have hit his first professional home run — in March 1914 — and earned his nickname right here. Fayetteville had a minor league team, the Cubs, starting in 1946, in the original Coastal Plain League. But by the turn of this century, minor league baseball had struggled to gain a foothold. The Generals left after nine years, followed by the Cape Fear Crocs, which left after only three years.

    Enter the collegiate summer league in 2001 with the Fayetteville SwampDogs, which Lou and Darrell Handelsman, a father and son team, purchased in 2004.
    Darrell Handelsman runs the operation and is head coach and director of operations. He had experience with other franchises and saw good business potential. He and his father shopped around and bought the Fayetteville team after learning it was available.

    Handelsman moved his wife to Fayetteville a short time after acquiring the team. The couple has had two children born in Fayetteville since then. Darrell and his father have since bought a team in Wilmington, the Sharks, but Darrell plans to remain in Fayetteville.
  • 051210-project-homeless-connect-078.gifAccording to www.about.com, almost 303,000 people live in Cumberland County. Adolph Thomas, City of Fayetteville community development specialist, knows that about 1,033 of them are homeless, and that there are not enough resources to go around to help these people.

    That is why the City of Fayetteville is joining forces with other agencies to try and bring changes to the community with Project Homeless Connect on May 20 at First Baptist Church on Moore Street.

    “Project Homeless Connect is an event sponsored by the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness steering committee,” said Thomas. “The purpose is to bring the community together — and when I say that, we are talking about the primary agencies that deal with housing, health issues, parenting — all these different agencies under one roof — to provide a one-day service to the homeless residents of our county. The idea is that any issues that these people have we are asking people to help us deal with it.”

    For example, North Carolina identification cards are a big deal. Without one you can’t get get a job and you miss out on many services that are available. Project Homeless Connect has asked the N.C. Department of Motor Vehicles to provide a way to get ID cards to those who need them and would not otherwise know how to go about getting them. The $10 fee is waived for homeless individuals, for obvious reasons.

    “That is a big stumbling block for a lot of these folks,” said Thomas. “A lot of them don’t walk around with $10 in their pocket.”

    This is just one of the many areas that the event will focus on. It starts at 7:30 a.m. and runs through 1:30 p.m. Breakfast and lunch will be served. Free haircuts will be offered along with medical prescription assistance, medical and dental assistance, housing assistance, job placement, government assistance and more.

    “We are trying to include local, private agencies as well,” said Thomas.

    Everyone from local churches and non-profits who are looking for ways to be helpful in solving this problem while ensuring financial accountability is offered the chance to participate.

    Local businesses will be on hand, as well.

    “We are trying to include them as part of the solution, and to make them feel a responsibility for helping to solve the problem,” said Thomas, noting that the city is also reaching out to Fort Bragg in an effort to deal with the large number of homeless veterans.

    Transportation is provided free of charge to the event for those wishing to attend. Thomas said homeless individuals need to procure and give the bus driver the Homeless Connect F.A.S.T pass.

    “Most people think of homelessness as the guy on the street corner with a sign,” said Thomas. “What they don’t realize is that a lot of our homeless in Cumberland County are families sleeping in cars — single moms and children.”

    For more information about this event, or to volunteer call 433-2161.

  • Source Code  (Rated PG-13)  Five Stars05-04-11-source-code.jpg

    Source Code(93 minutes) is the best Philip K. Dick novel that Philip K. Dick never wrote. It bears a resemblance to several other “hard” science fiction films, even if the science is a little fuzzy. Get out your blender, toss in Total Recall, Groundhog Day, The Matrix, then sprinkle with a topping of misdirection. Director Duncan Jones where have you been all my life? Hey! He directed Moon! That was also good.

    The film starts off with disorientation. Tricksy camera angles distort a suspiciously clean city … supposedly Chicago, but very, very, shiny and new. All kinds of red herrings are set before the audience, and some are even relevant. Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) finds himself in the middle of a, ahem, quantum leap. It is unclear if he is perhaps a little nuts or possibly experiencing a psychotic break during the eight minutes immediately preceding him getting hit in the face by a huge explosion.

    Then it turns out that he was not actually hit in the face by a huge explosion … it was teacher Sean Fentress, whose body he is borrowing, who was actually melted by the incoming fireball. He figures this out only after a positively exhausting interview/sort-of-debriefing with Captain Colleen Goodwin (Vera Farmiga, who reminds me more of a Cate Blanchett/Tilda Swinton hybrid in every film she does). He irritatingly refuses to put the lives of other people ahead of his own confusion, repeatedly demanding answers that he is clearly not going to get.

    Finally, Captain Goodwin gets it through his thick skull that he is part of a special program combining quantum whoosit with whatchyamacallit parabolic science and the movie Memento. But enough physics! Time to return to the Source Code, where Captain Colter has eight minutes to get as much information as possible about a train bombing so the army guys (and Captain Goodwin) can prevent an even bigger bombing. Not that he can change anything, so don’t even worry about that. Even if you subscribe to the many worlds theory, Dr. Rutledge points out that Colter would not be changing reality prime (that’s kind of a Slidersreference, but mostly I made it up), he would just be creating a totally new reality.

    He is sent back? (in? through? to?) and manages to avoid sounding crazypants this time. He has a slightly different conversation with Christine (Michelle Monaghan) the woman sitting across from him than he did during the opening credits, and he becomes convinced that the things he does on the train actually create change in the “real” world. Thinking about it now makes my head hurt, but at the time it made total sense.

    He starts to wonder what is going on with his reality as the metal capsule he is strapped into seems to be deteriorating in between trips. Jerky Dr. Rutledge (Jeffrey Wright, or “Basquiat” to the hardcore art nerds) points out that there a larger issues at stake, and every second they spend pandering to Colter’s insecurity about the nature of reality is one less second they are trying to prevent the annihilation of Chicago.

    With each trip, he gathers marginally more intelligence, but also becomes more certain of two things. First, he is not being told the whole truth about his status. Second, he can save the otherwise doomed people on the train. He begins to gather intel about himself as well as about the pending explosion.

    Colter does eventually get answers, and so does the audience. Half the fun is speculating about where he actually is, and if any of his desperate attempts to communicate with reality prime are successful. Overall, a superb addition to the time loop genre deserving of a much larger audience than it is getting.

  • get down downtown flyerCool Springs Downtown District will host Get Down, Downtown on May 28 from 7-9 p.m. in downtown Fayetteville.

    “The mission behind Get Down, Downtown Fayetteville is to showcase our local musicians, artists and performers, while encouraging visitors to shop and eat local in downtown Fayetteville,” said Lauren Falls, Cool Springs director of marketing and events.

    This event highlights the organizations Busker Program, which has been incorporated in their 4th Friday and holiday events over the last three years.

    Attendees can expect seeing live performers, artists, musicians along Hay Street and Person Street. The family-friendly event will also feature a balloon artist.

    “This is a free, family friendly event and we encourage you to come and enjoy the local talent here in downtown Fayetteville,” Falls said.

    Some of the artists and performers will include, Michael Daughtry and the Drift (Musician), Aloha Ka'naka O Hula Hulau Dancers, Matthew Mercer (VADEN presents Art by D-Zine), Costa, a balloon artist from Imagine Circus, Shadows of the Fire Dance Troupe, performers from Gilbert Theater, among others.

    The event won’t feature specific deals or promotions, but attendees are encouraged to support local businesses and attractions.

    “At Get Down Downtown Fayetteville, you can expect to see a diverse group of performers, artists and musicians from our Fayetteville community” she said.
    For more information, please visit our event page: https://bit.ly/GetDownDowntownFay

  • 11 rocknontheriverAfter being shut down last year due to the pandemic, local music event Rock’n On The River is back and ready to kick-start the season with a double header May 21.

    The concert series will feature a performance each month from May until October at 1122 Person St. (behind Deep Creek Grill) in Fayetteville. The May show will feature two tribute bands — Mostley Crue, playing Motley Cure hits, and Shoot To Thrill, who will pay homage to AC/DC.

    “The event will benefit two local non-profits - Karen Chandler Trust and Kidsville News,” said Greg Adair, organizer of Rock’n On The River. “Half of the proceeds from the event will go to these non-profits.”

    The Karen Chandler Trust is a local nonprofit helping those battling cancer. Kidsville News Foundation is an education and literacy nonprofit in Cumberland County.

    Mostley Crue will perform from 6-8 p.m. Shoot To Thrill will kick off at 8:15 p.m. to 10:15 p.m.

    “We are a pretty high energy band and bring a lot to the show,” said Scott Koempel, lead guitarist for Mostley Crue. “It will be a lot of fun and will be a great night if the weather is perfect.”

    Based out of Raleigh, Mostley Crue started about 13 years ago and currently has four members and a growing following.

    “They are there to laugh and have a great time,” he said. “The band we are playing with, we are great friends, they are a great band and, in the music community, a lot of the community is like family, we support each other.”
    Shoot To Thrill, another Raleigh native, consists of five members and is an all women rock band covering AC/DC that has been around for the last eight years. Shoot To Thrill is known for their fun stage show that incorporates the
    audience.

    “Even though we like to dress up, rock out and put on a show, we really like to play well,” said Wendy Brancaccio of Shoot To Thrill. “We are so excited … it was so fun when we played two years ago.”

    The Rock’n On The River events will feature food and drinks for purchase at the venue.

    “Deep Creek Grill is the partner that will offer different diner type foods like barbecue, hotdogs, the typical southern diner food,” Adair said. “This is also a Healy sponsored event, and they will be selling beer, four different types of beer and drinks. No outside food or drinks will be allowed.”

    Rock’n On The River began in 2018 when Adair felt the need for a local event for the people of Fayetteville.

    “I just found the place down there and wanted to bring the river back, it wasn't being utilized the way it should and it's a really pretty place,” he said.

    The music series will feature other bands like Reflections II, Trial by Fire, Heart Breaker, Joyner Young & Marie and more for the rest of the season.

    “It's a great set up that gives a chance for a lot of new people to discover bands that may not have seen or go to see usually,” Koempel said. “It's a win situation for the vendors, the event, the bands and people.”

    Parking for the show begins at 5 p.m. and costs $3 per person in any vehicle. Food and beverage sales also begin at 5 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to bring their chairs and blankets. No pets are allowed at the event.

    For more information, line-up updates on Rock’n On The River, visit their Facebook page www.facebook.com/Rockn-On-The-River-271048666818630

    10 Crue and Thrill

     

     

     

     

     

     

    May 21
    6 p.m. Mostley Crue (Motley Crue Tribute)
    8:15 p.m Shoot To Thrill (AC/DC Tribute)
    June 18
    6 p.m. Reflections II (variety)
    8:15 p.m. Trial By Fire (Journey Tribute)
    July 16
    6p.m. Joyner, Young & Marie (Pop/Variety)
    8:15 p.m. Heart Breaker (Heart Tribute)
    Aug. 27
    6 p.m. Throwback Collaboration Band (R&B/Dance)
    8:15 p.m. North Tower (Beach/Boogie)
    Sept. 17
    6 p.m. Cool Heat (Variety/Beach/Dance)
    8:15 p.m. Bad Inc. (Bad Company Tribute)
    Oct. 22
    6 p.m. Rivermist (Classic Rock/Variety/ R&B)
    8:15 p.m. Tuesday's Gone (Skynyrd Tribute)

  • nerd marketIt’s time to put on your favorite superhero outfit because the Cool Spring Downtown District is hosting its first-ever Nerd Market on May 15 from noon until 4 p.m.

    “The Nerd Market will be a place where you can find DC and Marvel memorabilia, artists selling their work, and so much more,” said Lauren Falls, the director of marketing and events for Cool Spring Downtown District.

    Adults and kids of all ages are invited to take part in the opportunity to shop and support the local nerd/comic con community.

    “This is a family-friendly event and free to the public. We will have a food truck, DJ and a cosplay contest that you can enter to win a prize,” Falls sad.

    The Nerd Market will be held at 301 Hay Street in Fayetteville. Those interested in entering the cosplay costume contest can register online. For more information and sign up please visit https://bit.ly/NerdMarketDowntownFay.

  • Active-duty Soldiers bring the emotional, mental, physical, spiritual and family pillars of military life to the stage in05-02-12-soldier-show.jpgArmy Strong, the 2012 U.S. Army Soldier Show. “Every section of the show has something to do with strength in one of those areas,” Production Manager and Producer Tim Higdon said.The 90-minute song-and-dance production is designed to accentuate the strengths and resiliency of soldiers and military families through modern songs, current hits, vibrant costuming, exciting choreography and spectacular visuals.

    “That is in line with the chief of staff’s motto for this year, which is, ‘The strength of our nation is our Army, the strength of our Army is our soldiers, the strength of our soldiers is our families, and that’s what makes us Army Strong,” Higdon said. “So the show is designed to follow that theme, and to highlight the strength aspect all the way through.”

    Soldiers will attempt to sing and dance their way into the audiences’ heart, mind and soul. “Entertainment for the Soldier, by the Soldier,” is the working motto of the U.S. Army Soldier Show, which is designed to deliver a positive message to the troops.

    It’s all about ‘Army Strong – Hooah!’ So we’re moving out and doing that,” Higdon said.

    The 2012 edition unveils a state-of-the-art, high-resolution LED video wall — 13 feet tall by 28 feet wide — featuring photographs of Army life on a virtual backdrop revolving from scene to scene and song to song.

    “It’s going to be a very visual show — very current, very modern,” Higdon said. “We’re excited about that new aspect of the show. The incorporation of that LED technology is going to make the show move forward with a very modern and relevant presentation.”

    Army Reserve Sgt. Melissa Neal, winner of the 2011 Operation Rising Star military singing contest, will make a taped appearance. The Soldier Show cast will join Neal’s video backdrop to sing “Hallelujah,” which she performed during Operation Rising Star finals week in San Antonio and later recorded at EMI Music’s Capitol Records Studios in Hollywood.

    “It’s kind of magical,” said Soldier Show artistic director Victor Hurtado, who worked all three projects with Neal.

    As always, sections of the show are dedicated to legends of the entertainment industry, such as Etta James. Another blast into the past features a segment accentuating musical eras of the 1920s, ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, capped with the Rolling Stones’ classic “Satisfaction.”

    “The motivation for that was ‘Moves like Jagger,’” Hurtado said. “We love that song.” That tune is by Maroon 5, featuring Christina Aguilera.

    “Everything in the show really speaks to resiliency, being able to adapt and overcome,” Higdon said. “Resiliency really is that mental part, being able to put things in a perspective which allows you to continue to continue to move forward — that you never come up against a challenge that you can’t overcome.”

    “Putting the show together has gone from hard to simply difficult,” said Hurtado, a 26-year Soldier Show veteran and 12-time director. “The show came from many, many briefings, and all of these things are always in the back of my mind. … But the end result is Soldiers’ lives are illustrated within the show in a really cool way.”

    For example, strength is personified by Des’ree’s “You Gotta Be.” Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory” is dedicated to the soldier-athletes in the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program training for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, along withsSoldiers who participate in All-Army Sports, post intramurals and daily physical fitness drills.

    The Soldier Show comes to the Crown at 7 p.m. on May 11 and at 2 p.m. on May 12. Admission is free.

  • 12 10North Carolina USA Boxing presents their 1st annual Carolina Gloves Boxing Tournament May 14 through Sunday, May 16 at Freedom Courts Sportsplex.

    Tournament sessions for Saturday are scheduled to begin at noon and 6:00 p.m. Championships will take place Sunday at noon.

    “We wanted an event that we could grow every year and it had to be branded with the Carolina Gloves name on it,” said Patrick Finklin, tournament director and president of NC Amateur Boxing.

    “We decided to have a boxing tournament in Fayetteville because it is the center of the hub of North Carolina.”

    Finklin added that after COVID-19 many boxers are hungry to start boxing again.

    Boxing is a positive intervention that has been proven to help at-risk and troubled youth stay on the right path.

    “It is an outlet and a lot of gyms in the United States use it to keep kids out of trouble,” said Finklin.

    “They see Floyd Mayweather as well as other well-known boxers and their goal is to become one of them because it is not just always about basketball and football.”

    Boxing can be a platform to not only give kids a positive outlet, but also encourage a long-term commitment to the sport.

    “I was too short for basketball and too small for football,” said Juan Verdejo, who started boxing in his teens. Now 34, Verdejo serves as the head boxing coach at Burgess Boxing & Fitness in Spring Lake. “I think boxing is a way of life.”

    The tournament is a way to bring boxers from area clubs together and promote the sport, Verdejo said.

    “This event will help bring awareness, be entertaining and help build up local youth,” Verdejo said.

    The tournament is open to the public and local audiences can also expect to see talent from across the country compete.

    “Right now we have people registered from California, Florida, New York and Ohio that are coming to participate in the tournament, said Finklin. “We are expecting about 300 boxers to show up in Fayetteville from 8 years old to 70 years old.”

    Being a great boxer requires a lot of training, skills and endurance. It takes 4 months to a year to train for a big fight.

    “The characteristics of a great boxer are being motivated, having great mental and physical discipline, perseverance and the determination to get better,” said Finklin.

    “Their training entails stretching, muscle memory, running, sparring, fighting and competing.”

    He added, “They start off as a novice which is 0-10 fights and once they get more than 10 fights they are in an open division. Every boxer’s main goal is to make the United States Olympic Team and afterwards to become pro.”

    “We have about 6 gyms in the Fayetteville and Spring Lake area and we have boxers from all over the country coming in,” said Finklin. “If you have students who are in the boxing gym come on out and support the event because those students will be at the tournament.”

    Prizes for the winners of the tournament include a Championship Belt and bragging rights for the 1st place winner and a medal for the 2nd place winner.

    “We want to bring some exposure of amateur boxing to North Carolina because there are a lot of people who don’t even know that it exists,” said Finklin. “We wanted to create an outlet for people to be able to be excited about and come out to watch.”

    All boxers and coaches must check-in Friday, May 14 from 12-6:00 p.m. General admission is $15 and $10 with a student ID. The event is open to the public. For more information call 910-309-6956 or visit www.ncusaboxing.net

    Pictured Above: Head boxing coach Juan Verdejo (center giving thumbs up) will be coaching boxers from Burgess Noxing and Fitness in the 1st Carolina Gloves Boxing Tournament. (photo courtesy Burgess Boxing & Fitness). 

  • 11 Fay area Trans MuseumThe Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum opened Literary Fayetteville: Pages of Our Past, a new exhibit that showcases books from the late 18th century to the mid-20th century.

    These books tell the story of Fayetteville’s past through pamphlets, stories, diaries, familiy bibles and more.

    “This exhibit has never been done before,” said Museum Director Bruce Daws. “We picked a timeline, and discussed what to showcase within that frame.”

    The exhibit features over 50 books and pamphlets, each with a unique story and connection to Fayetteville.

    Each book within the exhibit is numbered and there are binders provided that contain the information and background for each book displayed.

    The exhibit also examines Fayetteville's authors, book dealers and libraries. It breaks down the importance of books and how they related to social life in the early 1900s.

    Literary Fayetteville: Pages of Our Past is not just an interesting learning experience for the family, it also provides knowledge to both historians and book collectors. Book collectors can learn what makes a book valuable, and factors relating to the care and condition of a book. Historians can learn the backgrounds of previously unknown books.

    This exhibit provides information that is not only interesting to Fayetteville locals but also fills in the gaps for history buffs.

    One of the pieces that stand out is number 49, which is the diary of Elizabeth Poe as it was kept from 1903 to 1909. She was one of the last of the Poe’s to live in Fayetteville’s E. A. Poe House, now a museum on Arsenal Avenue. This diary allows viewers to step back in time and experience Fayetteville’s life and society through the words of a young woman living in that time.

    The free exhibit was opened to the public on April 23. Depending on the popularity of the exhibit, the Museum will determine if it will remain open for six months or a year.

    The exhibit is a family-friendly environment with something for all ages.

    The Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum is located at 325 Franklin St. and offers tours of several different historical monuments, the museum and the museum’s annex. Museum hours of operation are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    For more information about tours and schedules visit their website www.fcpr.us/facilities/museums/fayetteville-area-transportation-and-local-history-museum or call 910-433-1457.

     

  • 09 Gary Lowder picAs more pandemic restrictions are being lifted, many of us are ready for spring and summer activities to begin. Warmer weather and sunshine invite us to venture outdoors to enjoy friends, good food, a favorite beverage and great music. On May 14, Fayetteville Dinner Theatre, Up & Coming Weekly, and Gates Four Golf & Country Club will kick off the Gates Four Summer Concert Series with the Carolina Summer Beach Bash.

    Piedmont Natural Gas and Jay Dowdy of All American Homes are the title sponsors of this new summer-long outdoor music venue for Cumberland County residents. Working in conjunction with Healy Wholesale Distributors, these great sponsors support this musical series to assist in raising money for reading and educational resources for Cumberland County children through the Kidsville News Literacy and Education Foundation.

    All concerts will be presented outdoors at the Gates Four Pavilion and socially distanced. The Concert Series includes a variety of musical acts from Beach to the Beatles. The Concert Series will be held monthly through September, with tickets available online at www.fayettevilledinnertheatre.com or the Gates Four business office during business hours. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. with food (included with ticket price) served 6-7:30 p.m. A complete line of beverages will be available at three convenient full-service cash bars serving Healy Wholesale beer and wine products and your favorite mixed drinks. Concierge table service will be provided for VIP tables inside the Pavilion. Fayetteville's own Mash House Brewery will also have a large selection of their custom craft beers available. Sweet Frog will be present for those with a sweet tooth.

    There will be something for everyone during this concert series which showcases a different band each month. Kicking off the Concert Series on May 14 is Gary Lowder & Smokin' Hot. Known as a party band based out of North Myrtle Beach, their music covers songs from several decades with many different genres of music represented, including soul, rhythm and blues, funk, reggae, jazz standards, country, 50s, 60s and Carolina Beach Music. In addition to covering today's top trending hits, the Gary Lowder & Smokin’ Hot also has successful hits on local radio and internet stations across North and South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Florida.

    Members of Smokin' Hot have been nominated collectively for several Carolina Beach Music Awards over the years. In 2013, the band won "CD of the Year" at the Carolina Beach Music Awards. In 2014, they won "Group of the Year." In 2015, they were nominated for 13 Carolina Beach Music Awards, with J.K. Loftin, group guitarist, winning "Engineer of the Year." In 2016, they were nominated for 6 CBMA Awards, including "Male Vocalist" (G. Lowder), "Group Album" ("Playin' With Fire 2"), "Entertainer" (G. Lowder), "Engineer" and "Producer" (J.K.Loftin), "Collaboration or Duo" (G. Lowder & Marsha Morgan, "Too Many Tears"). Gary Lowder & Smokin' Hot is an example of the quality entertainment Gates Four brings to Fayetteville and Cumberland County.

    The next concert on June 26 will be the British Invaders, who will present a Beatles Tribute to Beatlemania of the 1960s when English bands stormed the U.S. music charts and won over crowds of screaming fans. While dressing in period Nehru suits and playing vintage instruments, the British Invaders will entertain the audience with a mixture of British hits from the Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks, Dave Clark Five, The Animals, The Yardbirds, Rod Stewart and Elton John.

    On July 17, it's a classic retro rock party with the Jan Michael Fields Band performing hits of the 70s and 80s. Here is another decade of fabulous Rockin' in the 80s music. Jan Fields is a charismatic performer known as one of the top vocalists in the southeast. His stellar voice and ability to work the stage are just as relevant today as in the 80s when he was the frontman for the international touring act, Sidewinder. Jan is the consummate pro, and his dedication to his craft earned him a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016 for outstanding contributions and support of the North Carolina music industry.

    August 28 picks up in the 90s with Stylin' Country with the Tim Hair (Tim McGraw) Tribute Band. For fans of McGraw's country and crossover hits, the show will follow his career from his 1994 breakout "Indian Outlaw" and feature his many number one songs through his chart-topper "Humble and Kind."

    The grand finale of the Summer Concert Series is on September 18, showcasing Fayetteville and Cumberland County's 4-time winner "Best Local Band" in Up & Coming Weekly's Best of Fayetteville survey. The versatile Rivermist Band will be performing their award-winning songs to include top forty, rock, pop, funk and R & B. This talented group of musicians has played together in Fayetteville and the southeast for more than 40 years. It is a great way to end the Summer Concert Series. Their shows are always professional, energetic and entertaining.

    Plan to be at the Pavilion at Gates Four on May 14 for the Carolina Summer Beach Bash. The Gates Four Summer Concert Series offers terrific music from the talented artists along with Gates Four hospitality, friends, great food, plenty of drinks and a great time. Tickets for all concert dates are available for purchase at Gates Four or online at www.fayettevilledinnertheatre.com. Tickets are $60 per person and include the concert, food, lawn seating (bring your chairs), gifts, door prizes and a few surprises.

    For VIP Tables, group rates or more information, call 910-391-3859. Tickets are limited in order to keep the concert attendees comfortable and socially distanced.

  • 08 sdc parachute 3The Salvation Army of the Sandhills region will be hosting a Summer Day Camp for children in grades K-8 from June 7 to
    Aug. 16.

    “The Salvation Army Red Shield Club Summer Day Camp is our annual camp that provides a safe environment for the children we serve to play and grow,” said Alison Henion, who serves as the community relations and development coordinator for Sandhill’s Salvation Army.

    The camp takes place annually and can usually hold 45 to 50 kids but will host only 22 this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. The camp costs $55 per week, with a one-time $15 registration fee, and will have a rolling registration all summer so participants can join anytime. Camp will be held during the day from 7:45 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.

    “This year is an Olympic theme so we will have many friendly and fun competitions mimicking the Summer Olympic Games,” Henion said. “We also have art and crafts, field trips, movie days and computer time. We incorporate education in a fun way as well by hosting a reading competition and academic games.”

    The camps will be led by their Community Center Director Donya Campbell along with two other program aides.

    “We also will have different businesses, churches and community groups come spend time with the kids,” she said. “They host activities provide lunch or just simply hang out and play.”

    The camp application to the camp can be found at www.salvationarmycarolinas.org/fayetteville/community-center/? and emailed to donya.campbell@uss.salvationarmy.org or delivered in person at the admin office located at 220 E Russell St.

    For those interested in donating to the local Salvation Army or volunteering, visit www.salvationarmycarolinas.org/fayetteville/? or call Alison at 910-483-8119.

  • 07 CFRT BEFORECape Fear Regional Theatre is undergoing renovations to improve the audience experience.

    The popular theatre that began performing in 1962 under the name “Fayetteville Little Theatre” became CFRT and now features a three-story complex serving about 49,000 audience members in a typical year.

    “This theatre is flying from coach to first-class,” Mary Kate Burke, artistic director for CFRT, said.

    CFRT will be getting a new HVAC system, more handicap accessible and stair-free seating, better lighting and a new sound system, among other changes.

    “The width of the seats will go from 19 to 21 inches and the depth of each row will gain at least 6 inches deeper than before from the knees to the back of the chair,” Burke said. “There was a lot of community engagement and consensus and we have decided to stick with the red seats.”

    In the past, CFRT received feedback about volume issues and uneven hearing throughout the theatre. The new sound system will address and fix these problems. The organization invited Rob Kaplowitz to help design the system.

    Kaplowitz is a 25-year veteran in the sound industry, having worked as a composer, sound designer and is a recipient of a Tony Award for “Fela!” and an OBIE Award for Sustained Excellence In Sound Design, among other celebrations of his work. He has worked in many theatre companies on and off Broadway.

    CFRT hosted a meet-and-greet with Kaplowitz for theatre sponsors, donors and patrons on April 16 to show the crowd prototypes of the new improvements and the new sound system.

    “The old sound system’s best speakers were the center ones, you can see there’s a wide variation from front to bank, so rest assured I have replaced all of them,” he said. “We are becoming inaudible going to the back. Before, the person who wanted the front and aisle seat was hearing the worst sounding show possible.”

    Kaplowitz said the equipment that CFRT had been using in the building is pre-2000s and basically obsolete, adding that sound technology has rapidly evolved in the last few years.

    “The new speakers sound 60 times better than the voice you heard so far,” he assured the crowd. “With the new speakers, you've got coverage all the way to the back, with very little variation. The difference between two seats will not be more than 8 decibels, which is very low.”

    CFRT has reached over 70% of their monetary goal to pay for renovations due to contributions from various patrons and donors. The theatre also received a $250,000 grant that jump-started the campaign from a foundation that prefers to remain anonymous.

    Theatre-goers can also sponsor a new seat with a plaque bearing a name or message. There are about 100 seats left to sponsor. Sponsor plaques from the original seats will be part of a new installation in the lobby. More information can be found by visiting www.cfrt.org/support/#capital-campaign. Those interested in learning how to become a sponsor can call Ella Wrenn at 910-323-4234 ext. 229.

  • The book of Matthew tells the Gospel story of Jesus’ birth and his childhoo in Gainesville, Ga05-15-13-cotton-patch.gif. Wait…it doesn’t? The Cotton Patch Gospel, directed by Bo Thorp, founding artistic director of Cape Fear Regional Theatre, tells the story of what would have happened if Jesus were born in America. Cape Fear Regional Theatre adapted this play for its 29th Annual River Show, which is performed each spring at the Sol Rose Amphitheatre at Campellton near the Cape Fear River.

    “The play is taking a look at Jesus’ life in modern-day terms. He is born in Georgia instead of Bethlehem and he doesn’t go to the high priests, Jesus goes to Atlanta’s ‘black bible society.’ The message is serious but it’s told in an entertaining and creative way and still very inform-ing,” said Mike Rice,who plays Matthew.

    Though it’s a religious story, you don’t have to be reli-gious to enjoy the play.

    “People’s first impressions are it’s a religious show, yes, but you don’t have to be Bible-literate, it’s a good story to come down and see,” saidDanny Young, one of the cast members. Andrew Crowe, a newcomer to North Carolina a who plays Joseph and Judas follows up, “You may be surprised and love some things about it that you least expected. But if nothing else, come hear some great music.”

    The music is something the whole crew agrees is very significant. “The music is very integrated to the feel of the atmosphere, it’s lively and earthy. It tells the story as the dialogue does; it’s not an interlude, it reinforces events and takes you to a place you weren’t before. The songs capture events, such as the excitement from Jesus and his disciples,” Rice explained.

    “The music is a resounding experience,” chimed in Crowe.

    Bill Joyner, the music director, was praised for putting the musicians togeth-er. “It’s very remarkable to bring people together with different harmonies and structures. It’s also about hiring outside people like Andrew and developing that chemistry and comfort,” Rice said.

    Crowe added, “It takes strength to adapt and figure out how to use everything.” Picking up the conversation, Rice continued, “It’s not enough to learn the notes, you have to learn the style; learn the feel and move with the music.”

    They all agreed that the audience is another important factor. Rice said, “They are the focus. It’s the characters talking, but the narration is directly to the audience, it’s why we are here!”

    If you think the play is unique, the crew and cast mem-bers are just as cool. Rice has a degree in philosophy and theology, but also a bachelor’s in music theatre. “I’ve sung, and played guitar at churches for young people. Who would have thought 28 years ago playing guitar in this show that I would end up with the lead in the show.”

    Crowe has always been interested in music; he was doing classical music his senior year of high school but fell in love with acting and ended up splitting it with his major in music in college. This is his first performance in North Carolina and he has performed all over including Missouri, Milwaukee and Boston. Crowe said, “The continuing job of the actor is to always look for more work. When I get a job, that’s vacation. I have leisure time to learn my lines — unlike the other guys here who have other jobs and have to cram stuff in.”

    Other members can attest to that. Joyner confirms, “Having a day jobs gets exhausting and it’s hard to balance it.”

    Nevertheless, everyone is anticipating an outstanding performance. “I’m very excited,” said Joyner.

    The River Show runs May 16-26. There is a dinner-theatre option where fried chicken with all the fixin’s is served. Reservations are required for the dinner-theatre option. Or, there is an option to come at 8 p.m. when the show starts. On May 19 and 26 there will be a matinee performance at the theatre on Hay Street at 2 p.m. Lawn chairs can be brought to the Campbellton Landing performances but, please no coolers; beer, wine, sodas and snacks will be available for purchase.

    For reservations call, 910-323-4233. For more information, visit www.cfrt.org.

  • trails.jpg
    “What do you want to do today?”

    “I don’t know.  What do you want to do?”

    We’ve all been there.  When that restless feeling hits and you don’t necessarily feel like getting dressed up to go out to eat and the mall and a movie just don’t sound that appealing.  What to do? What to do?  Here is a suggestion.  Go to www.visitfayettevillenc.com and click on Drive the Trails of Fayetteville.  

    There are more than 750 miles of themed driving trails in Cumberland County and they cover pretty much every angle of the area’s history as well as other topics of interest.  Simply choose your trail and a ready made itinerary pops us along with a map of all the stops. Download the map and there is a synopsis of the trail and info about each stop so you can get a feel for what is in store before pulling out of the driveway. There is also an estimate of the time it will take to complete the tour so be sure to allot enough time for the adventure. If there isn’t anything that strikes your fancy in the pre-planned driving tours, take a short survey and blaze your own trail through the Fayetteville area. Print out the itinerary and let the fun begin.

    Although these mini adventures are billed as driving trails, many of them have stops that are well worth the time and effort it takes to explore them.  The Gaelic Beginnings Trail, for example takes visitors to Cross Creek Cemetery where many of Fayetteville’s earliest settler’s have been laid to rest.  Renowned stonemason George Lauder carved a significant number of head stones here.  It is in large part thanks to Lauder’s works that this Fayetteville landmark is listed on the National Register of  Historic Places. Each of his headstones is considered an historic treasure.

    “There are few cemeteries listed on the National Register,” said Fayetteville Historic Properties Manager, Bruce Dawes.  “These are works of art and carved by hand.  They really tell a story.”
    Old Bluff Church and Cemetery in Wade is one of the oldest  Presbyterian churches in Cumberland County.  Visit the grave of David “Carbine” Williams at this stop.  While in prison, this Godwin native invented the short-stroke piston and the floating chamber principles  which were used in making the M-1 Carbine. 

    Early congregants of Old Bluff used to ride rafts from the other side of the river and climb the bluff by holding on to tree roots to attend services, according to church member Mac Williams.  Stairs were eventually installed in the mid 1900s, but one peek at the slope inspires admiration for the dedication of the faithful of times past.  The church was not heated until the 1920s and attendees were left to their own devices when it came to keeping warm.  

    “They’d sometimes carry heated bricks wrapped in a blanket to church to keep warm,” said Williams.
    Along with many other churches and cemeteries, this tour includes the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex.  The exhibits here cover four centuries of North Carolina history.  There are often other traveling displays there as well that make this a fabulous place to spend some extra time.

    Gillis Hill Farms could be an adventure in itself.  For eight generations the Gillis family has been working thousands of acres in Hoke and Cumberland Counties.  They started in timber and turpentine and then moved on to farming, which they still do.  Although, in more recent years they’ve added agri-tourism to their farm. 

    “There are so many people here now and the town has grown up so much,” said family spokesman Andrew Gillis. “We wanted people to be aware of the history here.”

    For $2 take a self guided walking tour of life on the farm centuries ago.  Along with all the animals, and just a lovely serene setting, you can check out the tobacco barn, and the old saw mill which is partially steam powered and still in use today.  Gillis is working to rebuild the grist mill, which he hopes to have in working order by the end of the summer, complete with a working water wheel.   The 1911 era cotton gin is in disrepair right now, but Gillis plans to make that a part of the tour in the near future too. At the end of the walking tour don’t miss the chance to have some homemade ice cream in the old family homestead.

    These are just a few stops on one of the 15 available trails.  Sure a few of the sites are on more than one trail, but you get a different perspective every time and the over lap is minimal.  

    Trails:

    There is so much to see and do out there, and the leg work has already been done: choose from the list below and go have a blast.  Check back again soon for new trails that are currently in the making. That’s www.visitfayettevillenc.com

    • Dogwood Trail
    • All-American Trail
    • North Carolina Birding Trail
    • North Carolina Civil War Trail
    • North Carolina Coastal Plain Paddle Trails
    • Cape Fear River Trail
    • Homegrown Handmade–Art Roads & Farm Trails
    of North Carolina
    • Lafayette Trail
    • Cross Creek Linear Trail
    • Literary Trails of the North Carolina Mountains
    • North Carolina Cultural Trails
    • Discover NC Craft site
    • Blue Ridge Music Trail
    • Cherokee Heritage Trail
    • North Carolina African American Culture Tour

  • uac052814-1.gif If you follow Ben Franklin’s philosophy, then you have probably heard the phrase that “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” If that is the case, then you are not going to want to miss the Blues-n-Brews Festival on Saturday June 7 at Festival Park.

    The festival is the only fundraiser held each year by the CFRT. The funds raised by this fun and musical event are used to stage the award-winning professional shows produced by the theatre each season. So while there is a very serious reason for this annual venture, the day itself promises to be anything but serious, with great food, music, games and beer on tap.

    Co-chaired by Jenny Beaver Deviere and Karen Tinsdale, the festival will feature close to 60 breweries/beer distributors highlighting some of their top beers. The price of beer tasting is included in the ticket price, with each ticket holder receiving a glass specifically for tasting. Again this year, Dirtbag Ale, a local micro brewer operated by three soldiers, will be on hand to showcase beer made right here in the community, of course they will be joined by bigger brewers like The Mash House and Huske Hardware House.

    Deviere pointed out that the festival has grown in size since its move from Campbellton Landing, and now in addition to lines of brewers, there are also lines of participants waiting to enter the gate when the festival opens at 5 p.m. If you want to bypass the lines and get a jump on tasting, you can opt for a VIP05-28-14-blues-and-brews.gif ticket, which will get you in the door at 4 p.m. VIP tickets inlcude early admission and a one-hour private beer sampling, the opportunity to judge the beer tasting contest to name the best of show, a catered dinner, snacks throughout the evening and a private lawn for listening to the music. The VIP area is open only to those 21 years of age and older. No children are allowed in the area. Deviere noted that while children are not prohibited from attending, it is designed to be an adult experience.

    New this year is a game area where, for a small fee, attendees can play corn hole and a “beer pong”-like game for prizes. For those not purchasing VIP tickets, there will be food vendors on hand. No outside food or alcohol can be brought into the park.

    The evening would not be complete without the Blues, and the three bands slated to play will keep the park rocking. Fayetteville’s own Ethan Hanson will take a turn on stage, followed by the Fat Bastard Blues Band, with the Holy Ghost Tent Revival wrapping the evening up.

    Tickets, which can be purchased in advance at www.cfrt.org, are $30, which includes tasting or $15 non-drinkers. VIP tickets are $60.

  • 09STSSweet Tea Shakespeare presents “Richard III” and “The Merry Wives of Windsor” on alternating nights, beginning Tuesday, June 4, on the grounds of the 1897 Poe House.

    From this famous opening line, “Now is the winter of our discontent…” to the last line the eponymous Richard utters, “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse!” Shakespeare’s “Richard III” is an epic play with reams of dialogue and a huge cast of characters. STS’ challenge in presenting it is to condense the script and the cast to fit the Sweet Tea format and yet still tell the sweeping tale that effectively put an end to The Wars of the Roses.

    “This production will feature a ‘Sons of Anarchy’ vibe,” said director Jeremy Fiebig. “But what I’d love to mention is that ‘Richard III’ is source material for some of the storylines in ‘Game of Thrones.’ In particular, Tyrion Lannister is modeled after Richard.”

    A brief synopsis of English history is helpful in establishing context. The House of Plantagenet held the English throne from the mid-12th until the waning years of the 15th centuries. Midway through the 15th century, a decades-long struggle to capture the throne ensued between two branches of the House of Plantagenet — the House of York with a heraldic white rose and the House of Lancaster with the heraldic red rose. These battles and betrayals, which came to be known as The Wars of the Roses, killed off the direct male line of both houses and merged York with Lancaster when Henry Tudor, of dubious Lancastrian descent, ascended the throne and subsequently married Elizabeth of York. “Richard III” tells this story.

    Shakespeare’s script involves the audience as an accomplice to Richard’s single-minded intent to seize the English crown. Richard’s soliloquies establish his motive, means and methods while, at the same time, his dialogue with others seeks to obscure them — often humorously. Aaron Alderman plays Richard while Cheleen Sugar plays Richard’s wife, Lady Anne.

    Asked how he intended to portray Richard, Alderman said, “I can’t imagine him being a straight villain. I’ll try to find the man who fits into the oddly shaped hole that the text has left us. I believe there are moments where he is human, frail and afraid in ways many can understand.”

    “The Merry Wives of Windsor” is full of marital intrigue and comic impediments to young love. Intrigue ensues when Falstaff, whose name has become synonymous with ineptness, woos two married women simultaneously. A subplot revolves around one father’s attempt to marry off his young daughter. “Wives” is directed by Fiebig as well. Alderman plays Falstaff, which should demonstrate his diverse acting talent as the bumbling Falstaff is a 180 from the Machiavellian Richard. Traycie Kuhn- Zapata plays Mistress Ford, and Sugar takes the role of Mistress Page.

    “Show up early at 6:45 p.m. for live music, great food and beer and a great backyard party atmosphere,” said musical director Jacob French. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. Ticket prices vary, and there are discounts for students, seniors and members of the military. See Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s website, sweetteashakespeare.com, for performance dates and ticket prices. Tickets can be purchased online. Be sure to bring your own seating.

    Photo: Richard III” and “The Merry Wives of Windsor” are next up in Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s season. STS actors left to right: Traycie Kuhn Zapata, Aaron Alderman, Cheleen Sugar Photo credit: Jacob French

  • In the world of the United States Military, sacrifice is a very common thing, but to sacrifice without honor is rare. As a community, Fayetteville absolutely appreciates its military and honors them. Locally the military plays a vital role in both our lives and the local economy. 05-23-12-runforthelegend.jpg

    The Airborne & Special Operations Museum invites you to join them and show your support at the 5th annual 5K/10K Run for the Legend. The run is scheduled for Saturday, June 2. Start times are 8 a.m. for the 5K run, and 8:05 a.m. for the 10K run. There is a $20 registration fee if you register by May 30, and a $25 fee anytime after that date up to and including the day of the run.

    Paul Galloway, executive director of the Airborne & Special Operations Foundation staff explained the museum’s support for the military. Galloway’s job is to make sure that everything at the museum, including events and tours, runs smoothly. While the museum is operated by the U.S. Army, to continue showing support, the museum foundation started an annual 5K/10K run. The fundraiser started in 2008 as a means of financial support for the foundation to support the museum.

    “This is the fifth year and we’ve been averaging a little more than 400 runners each year. We have been getting closer and closer to 500 but have not broken that number at this point,” Galloway said.

    The first 500 people to register will receive a free T-shirt. All are welcome and encouraged to participate in the event, but there are other ways to be involved and for your support to count. Sure the staff from the museum will be working that day and a unit from Fort Bragg has agreed to come out to help with water sites located throughout the route, but there is still plenty to be done. You can volunteer by calling the museum at 643- 2778. It will be fun, healthy and a great way to support the military and the community.

    The run is a USA competitive track-and-field certified run. It will be a family-friendly run for women, men, boys and girls. You can even bring Fido, but remember to put him on a leash. All of the competitive runners will be up front heading in two directions. One set of runners will begin heading up the hill toward Haymount while the remaining runners will be heading toward downtown into the heart of Fayetteville. All of the runners will meet up on the route and continue the race to the finish line.

    “Our run is a challenge so we’ve kept the same route for years. This is the military so it should be a challenge, right?” said Galloway.

    The top three men and women overall will win trophies. There will also be eight age groups that will win certifi cates, 10 and under is the youngest group and 60 and over is the oldest age group. Galloway expects the competition will be great since there are a lot of kids in this area and crosscountry competition is popular among students.

    For more details go to www.active.com, or www.asomf. org or call 643-2778. On the day of the run, registration is 6-6:30 a.m.

    Photo: The Airborne & Special Operations Museum invites you to join them and show your support at the 5th annual 5K/10K Run for the Legend. 

  • 08MatthewShepard“The Laramie Project” opens May 30 at Gilbert Theater on Green Street. It tells the story of Matthew Shepard, a gay college student at the University of Wyoming. He was beaten and left for dead by two men in October 1998. Days later, he died from his injuries.

    “The Laramie Project,” written by members of the New York-based Tectonic Theater Project and originally produced in 2000, is about the aftermath of Matthew’s death and the community’s reactions. Known as “verbatim theater,” the play and dialogue were culled from hundreds of interviews conducted by the Tectonic Theater Group members during their visit to Laramie, Wyoming. Larry Carlisle directs the production at Gilbert Theater.

    “‘The Laramie Project’ is decidedly different from other productions in that the emphasis is on the characters and their monologues and not on sets or props,” Carlisle said. Carlisle takes a minimalist approach to directing his cast, preferring to let them interpret the characters. “I always say an actor’s job is to make the show look good — my job is to make the actors look good.”

    Each member of the cast plays as many as 10 different characters, and some of them are drastically different. The emotional range necessary to bounce back and forth is astounding, but the cast takes it all in stride. Deannah Robinson plays five characters. “It’s a bit of a challenge, and it’s definitely a learning experience, but it’s something I’ll take with me,” she said.

    James Merkle plays Matt Galloway, the bartender and the last person to see Shepard before the attack. He’s guilt-ridden for having not seen what was about to happen. But Merkle also plays Aaron McKinney, one of the two men who killed Shepard. "We have to come up with different ways of creating the characters so they don’t sound the same. It can be challenging, but also fun,” said Galloway.

    Chris Walker plays both Dennis Shepard, Matthew’s father, and Rev. Fred Phelps. Phelps was the head of the notorious Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. His parishioners, made up almost entirely of his family members, gained national attention for protesting at the funerals of gay people.

    Merkle, who spoke with a palpable reverence for Shepard, said: “You’re seeing two spectrums — those that were horrified by what happened and those who were defending the attackers.”

    He also feels the play is especially timely in respect to current political situations. “I find it very relevant today of what’s going on out there,” he said. “It almost seems like we’re heading back to that moment. If we don’t learn from the past, we’re doomed to repeat it. But there’s also a sign of hope — hope that we can move past this.”

    While Shepard has become the face of the movement against hate crimes, “The Laramie Project” has become the proverbial mirror in society’s face. It continues to reflect the many reactions to the LGBTQ community and the dangers its members face.

    “The Laramie Project” opens May 30. Performances are at 8 p.m. May 30 – June 1 and Jun 5 -8. Matinee performances are at 2 p.m. June 1-2 and June 8-9. Visit www.gilberttheater.com to purchase tickets.

  • 11MusicBeing a music lover, I’ve gone to many a concert in my 29 years. I grew up secretly “borrowing” albums from my mom’s CD collection, back when being in a mail-order CD club was the cool thing to do. Many weekends, my mom and I would hit I-95 to head out to the Walnut Creek Amphitheatre in Raleigh to hear one of her favorite artists. I’m guessing I surprised her when she noticed I could sing along to all the songs at my first Alanis Morissette concert — not my proudest 6-year-old moment. Needless to say, her CD collection was moved to the top shelf of the bookcase after that particular show.

    Nonetheless, even an unreachable CD collection couldn’t stop my love affair with music. And live music? What a treat! I would find any reason for my mom to take me to see live music. I even asked to go see my 60-year-old, 6th grade P.E. teacher play in his beach music band in a run-down, hole-in-the-wall restaurant one summer when I was in middle school. And, after seeing NSYNC perform at the “Dean Dome” at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in ’01, I knew I had the whole college thing figured out. Desperate? I think so.

    But I had to be around music. It moved me. I needed to feel it pounding in my chest. I needed to know every lyric, every guitar solo, every era, every genre, anything I could get my hands (and ears) on.

    I had a good friend in middle school, a best friend, who introduced me to my love of lyrics — figuring them out, what they meant, where they came from and what they said about the human race. We’d write out lyrics we didn’t understand and pick them apart until we did. I found myself dissecting songs I had heard a million times, trying to find a song I identified with past the good beat and interesting melody. I fell in love with words written beautifully. Poetry moved me. Songs came alive for me when I could find a lyric I could sing with all my heart because it felt like my own. Where my words failed me, music explained me.

    I found a song for everything — missing my friends, graduation, heartbreak, feeling known and seen, dancing, happiness, freedom. What a release it is to sing a song that resonates with you deep in the core of who you are. It makes you feel like someone gets you. It lets you know you are not alone.

    I think that’s why I love worship music, which is just like that but on a whole different playing field. It helps me “get” Jesus.

    At WCLN Christian 105.7, we have a portion of the day we like to call Midday Praise. It’s an hour and a half of worship music, full of lyrics centered around who Jesus is, how Jesus is and how we should respond to his love and grace. Boy, am I always rocked to my core. Connecting that truth that I am loved beyond anything I could ever imagine with a song that digs deep into my heart really connects what I know with what I feel, or at least what I desire to feel. I definitely know Jesus loves me... but I want to feel it, especially on days when it feels otherwise. Worship music helps me do that.

    Check out Midday Praise if you get a chance, every weekday from 10:30 a.m. until noon on 105.7 FM. I know I need a little extra peace during the day. Maybe you could use it too.

  • 08ArtFayetteville’s 4th Fridays are a community tradition. On the 4th Friday of every month, people of all ages are welcome to enjoy a night on the town — downtown that is — with free entertainment that differs from one month to the next. Fayetteville’s historical district meets modern art with May’s theme: Art Attack. The event takes place May 24 from 6-10 p.m.

    “We’ll have live art up and down the street, from Hay Street to Person Street and the side streets,” said Johanna Brum, the event co-chair for this month’s 4th Friday.

    Instead of only selling previously made art, local artists will paint and dance and sculpt in front of a live audience. “Dancers (will be) out on the street; we’ll have body painters out. It’s the first time we’ve done it,” said Brum. To broaden audience appeal, Art Attack will be more PG-13 than kid-oriented, so a Kids Corner will be set up by Greg’s Pottery on Maxwell Street. It will feature face-painting, balloon animals and other activities.

    Downtown businesses are getting involved with 4th Friday a little differently this month. “They’re actually going to sponsor the artists,” said Brum. “It’ll be free for almost all of the artists.” The businesses will support the artists one-on-one, and each artist will set up shop in front of his or her respective store sponsor.

    Systel will sponsor Second Time Around, an old-fashioned swing band featured on Jazz Juice Radio. “Fifteen people with horns and all kinds of instruments (play) swing music from the ’40s, and they cover more contemporary music,” said Jane Casto, Headquarters manager at Cumberland County Public Library. “They have been coming for several years — it’s kind of a tradition.” Refreshments will be available.

    The Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County will play an important role in the event as well. According to Christina Williams, marketing specialist at the Arts Council, 4th Friday attendees can expect an exciting display for the evening. “We will be opening our ‘Public Works’ exhibit, which is traditionally our largest exhibition of the year,” said Williams. This exhibition is open to artists of any age and skill level in Cumberland County and the surrounding areas. The Parsons, a local folk band, will perform outside the Arts Council building, and Fayetteville PWC will be inside handing out free conservation goodies.

    Art Attack is a large-scale version of a weekly event hosted by Shawn Adkins at The Rock Shop. It is designed to unite all types of artists, from photographers to tattoo artists, with one platform. Adkins is now the owner of Back-A-Round Records downtown.

    For more information about 4th Friday, visit www.theartscouncil.com or call the Cool Spring Downtown District at 910-223-1089.

  • 12marian 2 1 copyI was recently invited to view Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s “Maid Marian” at the historic 1897 Poe House. The production was enchanting. The brick-paved courtyard was lined with homemade quilts and Turkish carpets for guests to sit on while enjoying the show. The cast interacted with guests, introducing one another, explaining the history of the play and creating opportunities for the audience to enjoy it on many levels. STS raffled a walk-on part to audience members, which proved to be a hilarious addition to the production. STS also auctioned an opportunity to sit on a fabulous velvet lounge.

    The story of Robin Hood has enthralled audiences since the 16th century, but Jessica Osnoe, an actress and playwright with the company, has reimagined it from a decidedly female perspective for the company’s Honey Series, celebrating women in theater.

    It would have been easy for Osnoe to take a hyperfeminist perspective in her rewrite, depicting men as accessories and usurping the traditional legend of Robin Hood for Marian. But Osnoe used a gentle approach, implying Marian’s evolution as a vigilante, or benefactor to the masses, ran parallel with Robin Hood. Instead of removing him from the scenario, she created a level playing field on which they met as true equals. This, in turn, leaves the audience with the hope of their eventual romance.

    The play begins as the devious Sheriff of Nottingham suggests his disciple, Guy of Gisborne, marry Lady Marian so he might control her family’s estate — and their profit. The high-borne Marian, played by Jen Pommerenke, and her younger sister Emma, played by Laura Voytko, abandon the estate and flee to Sherwood Forest with several women from the village.

    Marian and Emma are joined by Marian’s cousin Eleanor, played by Osnoe. They teach other women to fight, then disguise themselves as performers so they can move about the countryside without drawing the sheriff’s attention. Then, they plunder! They rob the rich to feed the poor in proper Robin Hood tradition. Marian and her all-girl gang establish themselves as legends amongst the villagers and proper criminals with the sheriff and Sir Guy.

    Pommerenke wows the audience with her performance. She gives depth to what has traditionally been a two-dimensional character. Her Marian is strong, innovative and, at times, humorous.

    Voytko fearlessly introduces Marian’s sister Emma to the world. She’s precocious and unapologetic, educated and playfully charming.

    And Osnoe brings strength and determination to the character of Eleanor. She’s a stabilizing influence for Marian, a voice of reason in their world of chaos.

    Remaining show dates for “Maid Marian” are May 9-12. The shows begin at 7:30 p.m., and there is a preshow at 6:45 p.m. General admission is $25. Advance general admission is $17.50. Advance senior/military admission is $15, and advance student tickets are $10.

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

  • uac052213001.gif A true band of kindred spirits, the Gypsy Women have been together for 18 years. They’ve seen each other get married, have babies and raise families. They’ve weathered divorces, illnesses, deaths and other tough times together. The Gypsy Women take care of each other — and they take care of the ones they love.

    Sometimes that means a sick friend or a widow. Sometimes it means giving to a worthy cause like Hospice or Duke Children’s Hospital. It always means giving back to the community. That’s what the Gypsy Women do. And they do it wholeheartedly — with sass and vigor. Stewart and Marsha Bryant can attest to that.

    The Bryants were in an accident last July while in New York and found themselves facing a pile of unexpected bills. Even though the couple had insurance, it was still a big hit financially, not to mention the emotional trauma.

    “I was in the hospital for a week and we had extra expenses and hotel rooms and rental car bills and medical expenses that our insurance didn’t cover,” said Marsha. “The Gypsy Women did a poker run for us and raised about $6,000. We are defi nitely thankful for them and what they did for us. We were even able to give $1,000 of that money to another lady who has breast cancer and was struggling to pay her bills, too.”

    Though there is always something going on at Legend’s Pub on Bragg Boulevard, the Spring Fling is a favorite for Gypsy Woman and Legend’s Pub owner Holly Whitley. This year the event falls on May 24-26.05-22-13-holly-cover.gif

    Spring Fling is a weekend packed with activities, food and fun. And each year, the Spring Fling raises money for a worthy cause. Things kick off on Friday, May 24 with a pre-party that includes a pool tournament. Up to 32 people can play, it costs $20 per player, with a $500 pay out.

    Saturday’s events kick-off with a poker run. Registration for the poker run starts at noon. The ride is followed by a pig pickin’, an auction and a raffle. The pig pickin’ and auction are set to happen after the ride, most likely around 5 p.m. Up for raffle this year is a 2004 Dyna Wide Glide. Tickets for the raffl e cost $50 and only 200 will be sold. The raffle winner will be drawn after all the tickets have sold. Winners do not have to be present to win. The raffle is sponsored by Ray Road Auto Parts and Service, Legend’s Pub and Sellers Paint & Body Shop.

    Sunday features a bike show. Registration starts at noon and judging will be around 3 p.m. to announce the winners. After the bike show, stick around for the rodeo, which includes fun and games — Gypsy Women style. Don’t miss the cookout afterwards, too.

    The proceeds from this year’s Spring Fling benefit Kidsville News! Kidsville News! is a literacy publication that goes into the hands of every elementary student in Cumberland County. Partners like the Gypsy Women help put the papers in the children’s hands.

    A check will be presented Sunday evening at the cook out.

    05-22-13-legends-old-cover.gifAs one of the first biker bars in Fayetteville, Legend’s has acquired an eclectic group of patrons, something that Whitley loves.

    “We have people from all walks of life that come in here,” she said. “And they all bring something different to the place,” said Whitley.

    Julie “Jules” Farrell, one of Whitley’s friends and a Gypsy Woman, says it is Whitley’s big heart that makes Legend’s such a special place.

    “Holly is such a generous person and so giving. She comes from the heart and people can sense that in her. It is easy to see that cares about people.”

    This is represented well on the back wall of the pub. It’s filled with images of friends, family and patrons who have been a part of Legend’s Pub in some way.

    “These are people we loved. They are our family, and now they are gone,” explained Whitley.

    Some of them were killed in combat, some in accidents, some were taken by illnesses. All of them were loved and a part of the Legend’s family. Whitley knows each of them by name, how they died and when. She shares touching stories about each one and it is clear that they were more than customers. They are family.

    Whether it is poker runs, a Spring Fling or Thanksgiving Dinner at the pub, people who know Whitley know that she looks out for her friends. Last year the Gypsy Women raised more than $40,000 for a variety of causes. Whitley estimates that the group has raised about $500,000 through the years.05-22-13-legends-today-cover.gif

    “We’ve done poker runs and other things like the Spring Fling for a bunch of different causes. We have helped people with cancer and other sicknesses. We’ve raised money for people who have been hurt in accidents, and we’ve given to organizations like Duke Children’s Hospital. We even helped Goodys (the apparel store that used to be on Skibo Road). We raised more than $10,000 for them for a fundraiser they were doing. This year we are giving the money from the Spring Fling to Kidsville News!,” explained Whitley.

    While Whitley is the driving force behind the Gypsy Women, there are others who eagerly step up to support her endeavors.

    “Some people are busy and are able to help by donating cash or auction items and other people choose to give their time. I can’t tell you how many hours have been donated to helping us help other people out,” said Whitley. “Our men are always ready to help out and do whatever we ask them to do, too.”

    “They do a lot of the heavy lifting for us,” added Farrell.

    Legend’s recently underwent a facelift, with upgrades to the building inside and out. After some push back from regulars and a few jokes about putting lipstick on pigs, it has turned out to be a good thing because the things that make Legend’s Pub Special are still there. The atmosphere is still laid back and welcoming. The beer is still cold. The wall of pictures still holds the faces and memories of the departed and Legend’s is still the home of the Gypsy Women.

    Find out more about Legend’s Pub, the Gypsy Women and Spring Fling by calling 867-2364.

    Photos: top right; Holly Whitley, Gypsy Woman and owner of Leg-ends Pub. Middle left: Legend’s Pub in the early years. Bottom right: Legend’s Pub today.

  • 09Memphis 1In the 1950s, Memphis, Tennessee, was subject to Jim Crow laws and segregation. R&B and rock ’n’ roll played to two distinctly different crowds — until DJ Dewy Philips changed things. Take a journey with Cape Fear Regional Theatre to “Memphis,” where rock ’n’ roll was born. The show runs May 9-26.

    “Memphis” is inspired by reallife events and people. According to director Suzanne Agins, the central character is a white DJ, named Huey Calhoun in the play, who makes it his mission to expose his white audience to the blues. He is played by Matthew Mucha and is based on real-life DJ Dewy Philips. The story is about his drive to expand people’s minds about music and his relationship with African American blues singer Felicia Farrell, a character who is not based on a real-life counterpart. “It is all this great R&B and early rock ’n’ roll coming from the African American community, and this guy who made it his life’s work to get it out to whites,” said Agins.

    When she started thinking about how to tell the story best, Agins, who also directed “Dreamgirls” at CFRT in 2017, reached back to her previous experience in Fayetteville. “I was here for ‘Dreamgirls,’ and it was an amazing thing to be surround by amazing women,” she said.

    Agins noticed that Felicia, played by Shonica Gooden, didn’t have strong female characters to relate to in the story. “I thought about the main character and wondered why she didn’t have a friend to talk to,” said Agins. “I looked at (the character of ) her brother and thought there is nothing about this (character) that is inherently male. It is a human who cares deeply for his sister.

    “We asked the licensing company if we could change this to a female character and made our case. … We cast an amazing actress, and she is killing it.” The script didn’t change, just the gender of one character.

    Gooden didn’t know the role of her character’s brother was going to change to that of a sister, but she’s embraced it. “I think it has made it better,” she said. “We brought that sisterly bond into the story, making it that much more authentic onstage.”

    CFRT Marketing Director Ashley Owen noted that the story covers an important topic — race. “It delves into the relationship between white and black people in that time,” she said. “The message is one of loving people when you come together and experience something special. It is an important story to tell, and we work hard to do it well, if for no other reason than for people to be able to talk about the message.”

    David Robbins plays Bobby Dupree, Huey’s best friend. For him, the music adds to an already meaty performance. “‘Memphis’ won best score for the year it came out,” he said. “You will be leaving the theater humming the tunes.”

    Ricardo Morgan is a Fayetteville native and no stranger to the CFRT stage. “Member of the Wedding,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Sweeney Todd” and “Trip to Bountiful” are a few of the shows he’s performed in. Morgan is in the ensemble. “Given the theme of the show and climate of our nation, this is another opportunity for the arts to help heal,” he said. “And in doing so, we talk about preconceptions. You will leave singing, but you will also leave having asked yourself questions. Questions we ask daily come to life onstage — it is about a sense of community and supporting each other.” Due to the content, the show is rated PG-13.

    The play runs May 9-26. Visit www.cfrt.org for tickets and information. Look for theme nights and special events, including Red Carpet Ready, Opening Night Dance Party, Mimosa Brunch and Military Night, on the website.

    Photo:  Matthew Mucha as Huey Calhoun (left) and Shonica Gooden as Felicia Farrell (right)

  • 03 vote verticalIn 2006/7, I led the opposition to an effort to restructure the Fayetteville City Council. I was wrong. Vote Yes Fayetteville is a current attempt to change the Council make-up from nine single member districts to five single and four at-large seats. This is an opportunity for correcting a serious past failing, and I am taking it. I will do all that I can to help achieve this restructuring.

    In 2006, I attended a meeting where several speakers made the case that the proposed referendum to change the Council structure would dilute Black representation on the Council. In that meeting, I agreed to lead an effort opposing the referendum. I did so even though I had signed the petition calling for the referendum.

    My mind was changed because I accepted the argument that Black citizens face some challenges that are best understood by other Blacks. In addition, when looking at voting patterns in the city, it was clear that white citizens primarily voted for white candidates. This voting pattern brought in the likelihood that there was a racism component at work. There was also the consideration that running at-large is more expensive than competing in a single district and that would be a hindrance for Black candidates.

    In the end, on February 6, 2007, the referendum passed and the process of implementing the new structure started. However, the U.S. Justice Department had authority to reverse the decision of Fayetteville voters and did so. The Justice Department concluded that that the 6-3 plan could negatively affect minority voting. That is, make the election of minority candidates less likely.

    Opposing passage of the restructuring resolution gave our group members far better insight into the issues affecting all Fayetteville citizens, but especially Black residents. More clearly, we saw the societal and political blind spots: areas that needed to be addressed, but with different approaches and attitudes from what was the norm. For this reason, what had been the referendum opposition organization, “NO 2,” became the Fayetteville Area Coalition for Equality (FAYCE). I was elected chairman of the new organization.

    The focus of FAYCE was on the needs of Black residents while endeavoring to have local governments treat all residents fairly and equally. It is absolutely critical to understand that it was not our aim to have any group(s) of Fayetteville citizens given attention to the detriment of any other group(s). Even though our focus was on issues affecting Black citizens, the aim was fair and equal treatment for all.

    FAYCE had a clearly defined approach for pursuing our overall aim. Gathering facts and examining those facts, before taking a position on any issue, was central to that approach. There was also commitment to detailed planning for any project or action.

    Our commitment to these principles showed through in the structure of our meetings, in how we addressed difficult issues, in developing a candidates’ guide for the 2007 municipal election, and sponsoring candidates’ forums for that election. In line with our desire to get facts and thoughtful responses and to accurately and productively inform citizens, we provided forum questions to the candidates in advance. In line with our approach, these forums were not about tripping anybody up; they were about informing citizens and encouraging reasoning over emotion.

    Into 2008, FAYCE was proving very effective in pursuing the organization’s goals. Then came the 2008 North Carolina presidential primary. Barack Obama received 9 out of 10 Black votes. Don Worthington, a reporter with The Fayetteville Observer, called and asked me what I thought about Blacks voting so overwhelmingly for Obama. He quoted me correctly as saying, “If nine out of 10 Blacks voted for Obama, they may be guilty of the same racism they accused whites of in the past.” The main argument in 2006, against restructuring the Council, was that since whites overwhelmingly voted for whites, that voting pattern indicated the presence of racism. Continuing that reasoning, why would Blacks voting overwhelmingly for a Black candidate not also raise the possibility of racism?

    Although there were some individuals who publicly agreed with what I said, the outrage in opposition was deafening. WIDU, a local radio station with a sizeable Black audience, was inundated with calls from people who were totally disgusted with my comment.

    The level of disgust was eye-opening for me. Then there was this statement written by someone on Ron Harrison’s blog: “…FAYCE flounders — and honestly, it was beginning to look like an organization that could positively influence the community … which befuddles me why Merritt opened his mouth in such a manner.” The clear message from the outrage and comments, such as the one quoted here, was that I should have been quiet regarding a condition I believed could prove dangerous and debilitating for this city and even the nation. That was not and is not my approach to leading or living. I resigned as chairman of FAYCE.

    The experience that I have reviewed to this point caused a major revamping of the framework within which I do my thinking. For instance, there was a time when, if the government said something was true, I accepted it without question; I was inclined to, without detailed examination, accept claims of racism as true; I believed that the vast majority of politicians were committed to doing what was good for all Americans; did not give extensive attention to the political process, governmental policies, or fiscal considerations. Every one of these components, and more, of my framework for thinking has shifted 180 degrees.

    Against this backdrop, here is how I now assess Vote Yes Fayetteville. The 5/4 restructuring is required because the current structure of nine single member districts is doing exactly what, in 2006, those of us who opposed that restructuring claimed would happen if it were instituted; except, in 2021, the racial impact is reversed. In 2006, there were more white residents than Black. That is no longer the case. Eight of the 10 members of Council are Black and, during elections, indications are that Black citizens overwhelmingly vote for viable Black Democratic candidates. Applying the racism argument made in 2006/7 by those of us who opposed restructuring, and by the U.S. Justice Department in overruling the will of Fayetteville voters, the current Council structure requires some effort to even the playing field for white citizens.

    Another point of opposition being raised again is that it is more expensive to run at-large than in a district and this puts Black candidates at a disadvantage. One response to this claim is to point to Blacks who are currently serving in at-large positions, such as: sheriff, chairman of the County Commission, and Clerk of Court.
    In terms of fairness and equal treatment of all, the impact on white citizens of this at-large cost argument demands attention. It says to white citizens who have financial means, “You are able to provide substantial financial support to candidates or to your personal campaign; consequently, we must maintain a system that prevents you from participating in the political process in a manner equal to all other citizens.” This is totally unfair and certainly smells like discrimination.

    There also seems to be greater attention to issues championed by Black residents than to those affecting all citizens of the city. The first of these regards the Market House; despite its otherwise very positive historical significance, because slaves were sold there, Council is giving significant attention to what might be done to quell outrage from some Black citizens and an undetermined number of white citizens. Of equal high priority with Council is satisfying demands for a citizens police review board that would have access to records and information that are not now publically available.

    While there is tremendous focus on these two issues, the weightier responsibilities of local government are getting far less attention than is necessary or reasonably expected by the general public. Among these are understaffing of the police department, rising crime rates, failure to protect property during a season of protesting/rioting/looting, not proactively promoting economic development, questionable handling of infrastructure needs, and, in general, conducting city affairs in a fashion that divides rather than unifies citizens.

    The negative consequences of the picture painted here are many, but the loss of white residents is one deserving of serious consideration by those who might oppose Vote Yes Fayetteville. Since 2000, maybe before, the white population of Fayetteville has been in decline. If this restructuring and other fairness/equalizing actions are not taken, Fayetteville will experience the same terrifying quality of life decline as other cities that followed our current course. Consider Chicago, Baltimore, Los Angeles and so forth.

    At the bottom line, I contend that if this effort to restructure the Fayetteville City Council fails, it will show us to be a city where white citizens are treated unfairly, the primary indicator of racism in voting only applies to whites, and we are willing to protect these conditions at the cost of a dramatic decline in our quality of life.

    Support Vote Yes Fayetteville.

  • 02 churchIt’s that most wonderful time of year again, when the current temporary members of the Fayetteville City Council are tempted to sell the rights to the Public Works Commission for thirty years. In return, the Council will get a mess of pottage in a secret financial story of Biblical proportions.

    This time the would-be buyer is an investment outfit from Louisiana called Bernhard Capital Partners. Let’s call this firm Bernie to keep things simple. The Fayetteville City Council will play the role of Esau. Bernie will take the role of Jacob. PWC will inhabit the role of Birthright in this story.

    Ponder the story of Jacob and Esau from the Bible to see how this fits the City Council’s current flirtation with selling PWC to some out of towners for some fast cash.

    Jacob and Esau were the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah. Esau was born first which gave him the Birthright. This was a big deal in Hebrew times as the first born got the best parts of the family inheritance. Jacob grabbed Esau’s ankle in an effort to be born first. However, Esau emerged first securing his claim to the Birthright.

    Years later, Esau had been out in the fields. He came home hungry as a starving bear. Jacob, being a homebody, had cooked up a mess of red pottage which is what they used to call stew. Jacob, sensing an investment opportunity, refused to give Esau any of the pottage unless Esau swapped his Birthright for a bowl of pottage. Esau’s blood sugar was way down which caused him not to think clearly. Choosing immediate gratification over the delayed version, Jacob agreed to swap his Birthright for the mess of pottage.

    The deal was done. No birthright for Esau. It was a sweet deal for Jacob who was just out a bowl of stew.

    So how does this story fit our very own City Council and its interest in selling PWC as an indentured servant for 30 years to some strangers? Apparently, the City Council was working out a double secret deal like the Manhattan Project with Bernie to sell off PWC. The Raleigh News & Observer spilled the beans in a story on April 13 blowing the cover off the negotiations of the proposed 30 years of PWC wandering in the wilderness under the tender mercies of an out of state company.

    Turns out there is a non-disclosure agreement between the City Council, PWC and Bernie so the full details aren’t available to the roughly 140,000 electric, water and sewer customers of PWC.

    As the Church Lady used to say, “Well, isn’t that convenient?” At the time of the writing of this column, the NDA was still in place and the details were still double secret. The News & Observer report said Bernie had offered $750 million to the City for the PWC rights for the next 30 years.

    If the opening offer was $750 million, you know that the rights are worth far more than that amount.

    PWC has been around since 1905. It is owned by the city of Fayetteville which means the citizens of Fayetteville. It has received numerous awards for being well run and providing excellent service to our citizens.

    In the interest of full disclosure, my father E.H. Dickey was an electrical engineer for PWC for many years. He was one of those guys who got up in the middle of the night during storms to get the power back on. There are a lot of those guys at PWC who get up in the middle of the night to keep things running. They are local. Having local guys who live here take care of things here is a good thing. No one in Louisiana currently decides when to do maintenance in Fayetteville.

    Under Bernie, that could change. Deferring maintenance is way absentee owners make more money. Do you want to trust an absentee owner to decide whether to spend money to maintain PWC’s equipment? I don’t.

    All this comes under the heading of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Bernie may be wonderful. I don’t know. I do know PWC ain’t broke. Why gamble?

    The makeup of the City Council is temporary. Council members come and go. Fayetteville’s citizens outlast councils. PWC has been run by local citizens since 1905 unless the Council decides to sell it into indentured servitude. The temptation for the current Council to sell PWC is going to be great. The Council would have a slush fund of $750 million to spend on all sorts of favorite ideas. How long do you think it would be until they spent that pile of money on pet projects? The current Council will be out of office, the pile of money will be gone, and Bernie down on the bayou will be setting our rates, deciding on maintenance, and putting us on voice mail before you can say “Oops!”

    It was not a good idea to kill the Golden Goose to get her golden eggs. Indenturing PWC for 30 years to get PWC’s Golden Eggs today will be a decision we will all regret later. PWC is Fayetteville’s Birthright.

    It’s your hometown utility. Tell the City Council not to trade 30 years of PWC for a mess of pottage. Tell your City Council to tell Bernie thanks, but no thanks.

  • 01 Crime Stoppers LogoWell, now that our Hometown Utility PWC has ceased negotiations with Bernhard Capital, Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin and his cabal may be back to the drawing board for an alternative plan to raid the coffers of one of the most caring, well-managed and efficient utility companies in the state.

    On two fronts, the entire ordeal of the prospect of allowing an equity firm with no utility experience to take over the management or our local utility was the near-perfect example of how the lack of transparency in local government can impact a community.

    One: lack of transparency allows unpopular and unsavory schemes to hatch.

    Two: When there is openness in government, it enables local media to report news and provide detailed information to the general public, keeping them informed on issues and situations that affect taxpayers' livelihoods and quality of life.

    Transparency encourages elected officials to justify their actions. Free speech and transparency in government are vitally important in maintaining a free democracy. Of course, it helps when local elected officials care more about their constituents than they do themselves. In our community, it's sadly becoming pretty apparent they do not.

    Those who care about the Fayetteville and Cumberland County community and its residents get involved with the community. Two recent Fayetteville events demonstrated this type of caring.

    The local Crime Stoppers organization cares about our law enforcement officers. Fayetteville Crime Stoppers recently launched a county-wide appreciation initiative where they began visiting law enforcement agencies in Fayetteville and Cumberland County to present officers a full dinner gift card from Chick-fil-A. It was made possible through the partnership and generosity of local businessman Tommy Arnold, owner of Chick-fil-A, and the dedication of the Crime Stoppers organization. The initiative was launched May 6 with a presentation to the Fayetteville City Police Department by Arnold, Fayetteville Crime Stoppers Chairman Dr. Eric See of Methodist University, and Duncan Hubbard of Holmes Electric. These Crime Stoppers supporters and volunteers are people, businesses and organizations that care, and the Fayetteville community is better and safer because of them.

    The Care Clinic on Robeson Street is another perfect example of a local organization dedicated to caring for the health and welfare of residents who cannot afford health insurance for medical and dental services. For over a quarter century, this invaluable and charitable non-profit organization has depended on a countless number of caring volunteers from all walks of life, funded only by generous donations and a few well-planned community events.

    One such event was also May 6, when they held their annual Wine Tasting and Silent Auction at the Cape Fear Botanical Gardens. It was heartwarming to see the outpouring of community support for an organization that provides medical and dental services to residents free of charge. The event was a virtual "who's who" of caring residents, including Mike Nagowski, CEO of Cape Fear Valley Health Systems, and State Representative John Szoka. Unfortunately, conspicuously absent were members of our city and county management team and our elected officials. This was highly disappointing.

    You would think this would have been the perfect time to come and support the Care Clinic and the people that do so much work for our residents. Our local elected officials missed this opportunity while sending a message of apathy to their constituents. No doubt, if asked, everyone will have a grand excuse for not attending, but the fact remains — “actions will always speak louder than words.”

    Another saying our leadership should become familiar with: "No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care."

    As a media source, we work with hundreds of people and dozens of great invaluable organizations covering all aspects of quality of life in Fayetteville — people and organizations that care. These people and organizations make our life better and our community pleasantly unique.

    We need leadership that respects, encourages and endorses those values. There is no hiding from the truth. Again, "actions will always speak louder than words."

    In the coming months, all residents must pay close attention to the actions of those who seek leadership positions in our community. Their track record will speak volumes on how much they care about the Fayetteville and Cumberland County community.

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • tribute 2I never truly understood the role of a mother until I lost my mother, Cora Jones, the night before Thanksgiving in 2007. I also lost the person who informed me of her death. My little sister, Chakita Jones, was murdered four days before her 26th birthday. My sister and mother were not perfect, but they did their best to give their kids the best. As a mother of seven, my sister gave her life to save her son’s life. When my sister was killed, she was shielding my nephew from bullets. During her last six months of life, my mother was more worried about me, Kita, and Josh than the fact that she was dying. Her biggest concern was making sure that I finished high school and enrolled in college. But, when Kita called me, my entire world changed. I had never experienced the death of a family member. When I lost my mother, I felt numb for months. When I lost my mom, I lost unconditional love. I lost my direction in life, motivation, and my will to continue with life. Yes, I had suicidal thoughts. While many will not admit it, this is a reality for many of us who have lost our mother. You will never get over it. Every year, I, like others, am reminded of the importance of a mother.

    Mother’s Day is bittersweet for those who do not physically have a mother. We take the time to reflect on the beautiful memories she left us. However, we are constantly wishing that we can have one more conversation. Everyday, I wish that I can go back to 1360 Davis Street and sit on the steps under the tree with my mom while she has a cold beer after a long day of work at the cleaners.

     On Mother’s Day, me and Kita would visit her gravesite and reflect. Now, Kita is gone and I have to visit two gravesites. When my mom passed away, Kita was that last living piece of her that I had. Kita was four years younger than me, and no matter how much we would argue, I always knew she was going to be there. She provided that unconditional love that I needed at a trying time. We did not judge each other. When she had my niece, I watched her grow from a girl to a woman fast. Though she was young, she understood that she had to care for this life she was bringing forth. As we grew older, Kita had more kids and loved each one equally. At the time of her death, she was the mother of seven beautiful children. Realistically, I was in no position to take on the responsibility of seven more kids alone. So, I am forever thankful to my cousins Brittany, Courtney, and Iesha for being there. These women along with all the other females in my family stepped into a void that was created by a senseless act of violence. Before my mom passed, she met this woman that lived across the street from my aunt and they became friends. Over the years, Kia grew to be more like family and would become grandmother to all 10 of my mother’s grandchildren. She does her best to be present for every special occasion concerning the kids, just as my mother would.

     I will never forget the day I told Kita and Kia I was about to have my first child. They acted as if they were more excited than me. However, nothing will ever top the moment that my kid’s mother jokingly threw two positive pregnancy tests on me and said “congratulations, you a daddy now.” I jumped out of the bed and grabbed her instantly. She made me the happiest man on earth and gave me a reason to push forward. I was already confident in her mothering skills because she had a child prior to us meeting. I was the one who had to learn how to be a parent. She was the greatest teacher. When my son was born, I was constantly wondering if I was doing the right thing. I would always ask questions like “can I hold him,” “how am I supposed to do this,” or “are you sure I’m not hurting him.” She would always laugh while she helped me and reassured me that the baby is good. Like many mothers, G has made sacrifices to ensure that me and my boys can have peace... and clean clothes. As a father, I must commend the mother of my children. She is a mother and business owner that loves to give back. Last summer, in the late stages of her pregnancy, she participated in marches and helped to serve the homeless at the Market House. Her maternal gifts allow me the opportunity to focus on providing for our family. There is no amount of gratitude that can be shown to express how I feel about her.

     She recently donated her time and hands to mothers that lost their sons in combat. Her company, Royal Stitches, provided handmade red, white and blue roses named American Flowers to veteran nonprofit Southern CC, Inc. as a part of their “Tribute to Gold Star Mothers.” CEO Tony Brown and his organization honored Gold Star Mothers with a day of pampering. Mothers received a makeover courtesy of Fusion Hair Salon. After receiving makeovers, the group of women were escorted to Pierro’s for dinner and Hummingbird to make candles. During dinner, the mothers were serenaded by Tony and a group of men. Before departing, each mother was given a gift bag that included American Flowers among other gifts donated by small businesses throughout the community.

     A mother is the most important person you have in your life. As men, we will never know what it is like to carry a child. Witnessing childbirth changed my life. I can only imagine how it feels to birth a child. But, women do it every day. So, salute to every mother. Happy Mother’s Day. Salute to every activist getting active. Peace.  

     

    Pictured below: (left) Author Rakeem Jones and his sister Chakita.  (right) Cora Jones, the author's mother.

    Photos courtesy of the author.

    Keem and Kita

    Keem Mom Cora Jones

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • 11 N2105P21004CIn 1914, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson officially recognized Mother's Day as a national holiday. More than a hundred years later, the holiday has become a global celebration to honor the mothers who made sacrifices to raise generations of children and support them through adulthood.

    While flowers or chocolates are a perfectly suitable way to say thanks, it's the way you live your life, the special words you say to her, or even those you write in a card that mean the most.

    Before I even turned 18, I left home to join the Army, and never returned except to visit. And while I can still hope that my life in some way is a tribute to the mother who raised and launched me into the world, so much of what I know about mothers and their adult children I've learned from a front row seat to an amazing mother and grandmother — my wife.

    On a recent Saturday, she made plans for as many as wanted to join us to gather their Nerf® guns and follow us, or to see how many we could fit inside each vehicle for a drive-thru dinosaur hunt in a neighboring county. It was a day of silliness including a lunch-on-the-road and picking strawberries at a local farm.

    Later that same day, our son knocked on the door with his children who were excited to give us some small gifts they picked out for us while on a Spring Break vacation. As if that weren't enough, the following day, our daughter invited mom and me over for fresh strawberry pie and some fun conversation.

    This is some of what being a mom is about. Loving your children, giving them your time and attention, and watching them blossom into parents who do the same. It's not all dinosaur hunts, gifts and strawberry pie, but those things stem from a life well-lived, and children well-loved.

    The Bible has much to say about the joys, challenges and rewards of motherhood. In Proverbs 31:26 it says "She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue." That's what I see when I look at the woman — the mother — I've spent more time with than any other. Wisdom and kindness. A mother who loves her children and theirs. A mother who wants the very best for every single one of them, and stops to call, video chat, and pray for each of them on a regular basis.

    There's not enough I can't say enough about the importance of motherhood, so if you're a mom — thank you. If your mother is still living, I hope you'll take it from here. Call her. Write a letter. Fill a card with words that will honor her and place it in her hands.

    As you celebrate all that motherhood is and means, let me point you again to the Bible. If you only have time to read one small chapter, read Proverbs 31 where you'll find this in the 28th verse – "Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.

  • 01 PWC FHUNote from Publisher Bill Bowman: I am yielding my space this week to Fayetteville resident, PWC ratepayer, and former District 8 Fayetteville City Councilman Ted Mohn. He is known for his laid-back common-sense management style, keen insights into complex city issues, and his razor-sharp analysis of what constitutes fiscal responsibility and good municipal business practices. Below he raises 13 pertinent questions about the proposal made to our city by Bernhard Capital to manage our Hometown Utility. These questions need to be answered before any further consideration is given to this proposal.

    Fayetteville PWC is correct to request being released from the non-disclosure agreement with Bernhard Capital LLC. Citizens of Fayetteville and FAYPWC ratepayers deserve answers on this proposal. Fayetteville City Council should join our FAYPWC in being released from the NDA. Our Hometown Utility belongs to us and we deserve answers in a reasonably timely manner.

    In June 2019, I attended a meeting at City Hall along with Mayor Mitch Colvin, Councilmember Tisha Waddell, FAYPWC Commissioner Darsweil Rogers, select Fayetteville senior staff and members from Bernhard Capital. Bernhard provided us a handout with background company information and the basic concept of how such an agreement might work. No specific financials were ever discussed. Everyone agreed much due diligence was needed for any further discussion for an initial financial proposal of this magnitude. June 2019 was the last time I heard of Bernhard’s idea until I noticed a closed joint-meeting between City Council, our FAYPWC Commission, Bernhard members and select city and FAYPWC senior staff. That meeting occurred on December 1, 2020, at Fayetteville State University. I thought it was odd at first but then I realized the extra space was most likely needed because of COVID-19 and social distancing requirements.

    Fayetteville taxpayers and FAYPWC ratepayers outside city limits deserve details of the Bernhard proposal. Below are some of my simple questions:

    1. How much actual cash will the city be provided upfront from Bernhard?

    2. Is Bernhard going to pay-off all current city debt in addition to the upfront cash?

    3. Who will set the FAYPWC customer electric, water and sewer rates?

    4. Who will negotiate with Duke Energy for long-term bulk electric rate purchases in the future?

    5. Will Bernhard pay actual property taxes versus how FAYPWC now pays Fayetteville money from their electric fund as payments in leu of taxes (PIT) as specified in the City/FAYPWC charter?

    6. Will the potential new annual property tax payments from Bernhard be greater each year than the PIT money currently paid by FAYPWC to the city per the charter?

    7. Will Bernhard actually build a satellite headquarters in Fayetteville and bring 200+ jobs like they told Lafayette, Louisiana, they were considering back in 2018 and never did?

    8. Bernhard says they make their investment back by being more efficient in running business. During their due diligence what aspects of running FAYPWC will they make more efficient to save money which would go back to their investors?

    9. Fayetteville PWC is a not-for-profit utility. Will the NC General Assembly have to update the charter to allow FAYPWC profits to be turned over to Bernhard and their investors?

    10. Fayetteville PWC currently takes what could be considered profit and turns around and uses that money for infrastructure upgrades, extensions and improvements. Will Bernhard take that money to repay their investors or will they continue to invest in infrastructure upgrades and replacements?

    11. Will Bernhard want some type of revenue sharing agreement where they automatically get “x%” of the initial annual revenue from the electric, water and wastewater fund regardless of projected/planned infrastructure needed upgrades identified by the FAYPWC?

    12. Who will have regulatory oversight of Bernhard’s management of our FAYPWC’s electric, water and wastewater departments and funds?

    13. How many years does this proposal last and what happens at the end of this proposal to the city, FAYPWC ratepayers and Bernhard investors?
    Many questions still need to be answered and I’ve only scratched the surface. If Bernhard has done their due diligence to make this a win-win for the city of Fayetteville, FAYPWC ratepayers and their investors, I’d like to see their amortization tables on who is held harmless, who makes out and who gets the short end of the stick. I need to see these projections from Bernhard broken down by each utility fund to better understand what is being proposed and projected. I also want to see projections from our FAYPWC senior staff and whomever the city of Fayetteville might have hired to review all of this.

    Residents and FAYPWC ratepayers deserve transparency on this proposal and we need it before our City Council and FAYPWC Commissioners take public votes on the Bernhard proposal.

  • 07 khiarimhoons Quarantine may seem to be winding down, but the need for social distancing remains. In the past few months, the quarantine brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that personal connections are a vital part of daily living. Without them, the world seems a little bleak. In response to this need for connection with others, the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County joined forces with artists of all disciplines to host Hay Street Live Virtual Jam Session. It is a bright spot in a trying situation and something to look forward to each week.

    Using modern technology, the Arts Council is bridging the gap by hosting a series of virtual events every Friday, at 6 p.m., through live streaming on Facebook.

    While the concept of time may be altered due to the quarantines, the attempt to reach some kind of normalcy is vital to mental health and maintaining relationships. Whether it seems real or not, spring has sprung, and Memorial Day is in the rearview mirror. Summer has officially begun. Aren’t we all ready for some fun? May 29, performer Kiari Mhoon will be featured on Hay Street Live Virtual Jam Session to kick off summer with some smooth R&B and pop tunes.
     
    Although he’s young, 21-year-old Mhoon has performed for many years, starting his foray into entertainment right after he learned to walk and continuing to today. Originally from Arkansas, his family settled in Tennessee, where he attended high school and performed in school plays, the choir and madrigals, as well as small group ensembles and solo performances. During his time in the Army, Mhoon played the lead in the “ U.S. Army Soldier Show” and sang the national anthem at several events and ceremonies.

    After winning a contest held by Universal Records, Mhoon took his group “Versatile” on a nightclub tour. In 2017, he released his first album, “24 Hours,” under his independent label, Mhoon Records. This was followed by a second album, “All I Want,” in 2019.

    This week, Mhoon, who is influenced by artists such as Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, John Legend and Beyonce, will perform for the Fayetteville community, so get ready to groove. According to Mhoon, listeners can expect to hear “songs from his albums, along with songs that have inspired me in some way.”

    “Kiari is an immensely talented vocalist, and he also performs in the 82nd Airborne Band,” stated Metoya Scott, public relations manager for the Arts Council. She continued, “While this may not be the same experience as seeing Kiari perform live, it will still be very entertaining” for those who attend.

    In closing, Scott acknowledged how the Hay Street Live program has grown since it started. “The Arts Council is grateful (for) the amount of participation we’ve received for Hay Street Live, and we are looking forward to more performances to come,” she said.

    To view Kiari Mhoon this Friday, and for performances going forward, visit www.theartscouncil.com, www.wearethearts.com, or check out Facebook @TheArtsCouncilFAY to view the upcoming virtual concerts.
     
  • 09 01 magicianThe Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County presents Hay Street Live: A Virtual Jam Session, every Friday, from 6-7 p.m., streaming live through Facebook.

    “Hay Street Live is a virtual jam session that is streamed live through our Facebook account, which is at Facebook.com/TheArtsCouncilFay,” said Metoya Scott, public relations manager of the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County. “It gives our community a chance to connect with local artists from North Carolina and comment and party in the house.”

    It’s a fun and entertaining way to support and showcase local talent, but with a twist! For each show, the Arts Council invites a mixologist from a local restaurant to share their favorite mixed drinks with the audience and to share the secrets of how to make a perfect cocktail. Often, the drink recipes are original recipes or modern interpretations of classics. The audience gets a new recipe and insight on the science of beverage making, and businesses and mixologists get some exposure — it’s a win-win.

    The entertainment lineup varies from week to week. Last week, soulful singer Leme Nolan of Beaufort, North Carolina, entertained Fayetteville audiences by belting out covers of pieces by Erykah Badu, Mary J. Blige and SWV, in addition to performing her original work, “Love with a Ring Attached.” 

    The week before that, it was the All-American rock group, The Guy Unger Band — the ultimate “light up your life” party band that really knows how
    to rock.

    Coming up on the Virtual Hay Street Live program this Friday, May 22, is another local top-notch Carolina rock band known from the mountains to the coast, Rivermist. Voted the 2018 and 2019 Best Band in Fayetteville by Up & Coming Weeklyreaders,  Rivermist has been performing up and down the East Coast since 2014, although the band members have performed together for decades. According to Greg Adair, founding member and manager of Rivermist, they love working locally, especially when supporting the Arts Council, historic downtown Fayetteville and the military. He’s proud of the band’s motto: "Ain't No Party Like A #rivermistparty cause a Rivermist Party Don't Stop!"

    The band did not feel right about accepting donations or tips during Hay Street Live for their personal use because of the circumstances of the virtual event, but there will be a link to the Dr. Susan Love Foundation for Breast Cancer Research should people decide to donate on behalf of the band.

    Rivermist hopes to replicate the feeling of a live performance. “We figured what we’d do is set up several cameras — we've got a system that we’re going to try to use," Adair explained. "We’re going to try to do a full stage, lights, everything show. I know it’s going to be more work and a lot more tech involved, but people have waited this long for it.”

     Adair hopes that people will interact with the band online while the event is streaming and even make requests.

    Hosted by Bill Bowman, publisher of the Up & Coming Weeklynewspaper, he will introduce the evening’s official guest mixologist, Joseph “BEAR” Dewberry, owner of On After Bar & Grub. BEAR will introduce viewers to two of his favorite signature summer drinks — "Bear’s Southern Peach" and the "Hot Head."

    In addition, Hay Street Live introduces Jeremy Ruis, a young Fayetteville-born magician who has been making magic an art since he was 7 years old. Watch closely. Jeremy brings fun, wonder and amazement everywhere he goes.

    Since the arrival of COVID-19, the Arts Council’s in-person events have been canceled, but that doesn’t mean the fun stops. “During this uncertain time, we want to give people a way to connect and still be entertained,” said Scott. “We recently had to cancel an exhibition, and the artist donated the money that they paid to have their art exhibited back to the Arts Council. That really warmed our hearts, so we wanted to do something to promote our artists — so we started doing Hay Street Live.”

    Scott added that because COVID-19 has impacted so many artists, the Arts Council wanted to give them a platform to continue to share their artistry while engaging people at home with high-quality entertainment. With a little creative thinking, it didn’t take long to come up with something different and entertaining to look forward to every Friday night.

    “Please join us by streaming — and interact by asking the band, bartender or host questions,” said Scott. “This event allows you to have a really
    good time.”

    There is a page on the Arts Council’s website for bands or artists to apply to perform. The performer for Hay Street Live on May 29 will be Kiari Moon. Viewers can send a virtual tip to the performer by visiting www.wearethearts.com. Visit www.theartscouncil.com for more information.

    09 02 RivermistVirtual 4th Friday

    The excitement doesn't stop when Hay Street Live ends. In a typical month, Fayetteville citizens could look forward to walking the streets of downtown Fayetteville, perusing local businesses, looking at art, hearing great music and participating in events for the Cool Spring Downtown District’s 4th Friday event. Although little has been typical recently, CSDD has been working  hard to provide the same level of entertainment and fun that locals look forward to every month but all available through handy technology. From 7-8 p.m., visit the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/events/1131937423837143/ to see a livestreamed Virtual 4th Friday.

    "We want to help our downtown community during this time, and virtual 4th Friday is one of the few ways we can do that … 4th Friday is another thing people can experience from the comfort of their own homes but also be directed to a website with downtown businesses that are currently open," explained Lauren Falls, the marketing and events director for CSDD. "We want to do that because we not only want to support our downtown community but give back during this time. Virtual 4th Fridays are one of the few ways we can do that."

    If you loved Rivermist's music for Hay Street Live, they will be back for an encore performance for the 4th Friday live stream. In addition to the live music, Matthew Mercer will create some new art during the stream. Mercer has an impressive resume. In his 20-year career, he has illustrated three books, drawn a family portrait of NFL Hall-of-Famer Emmit Smith of the Dallas Cowboys and his family and even been invited to the White House, where he drew a family portrait for President Barack Obama. In addition to these impressive achievements, Mercer has drawn over 20,000 caricatures between working as an artist at Walt Disney World and his own business.

    "I think virtual events are important for the community not just to have something to do, but the way we try to do our 4th Friday event is to try to encourage people to shop, eat, and support local," Falls said.

  • 07 haystreetliveThe world has changed a lot in the last six months. We’ve changed the way we shop, worship and celebrate. We’ve changed the way we greet each other, and when we are lucky enough to meet in person, that’s changed, too — masks on and 6 feet apart, please. What hasn’t changed, though is our desire to have fun. To connect. To be entertained. To interact. Also unchanged is the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County’s passion to bring art and entertainment to the community. The organization has reimagined ways to support artists while engaging residents. Gallery tours are virtual now. And a new program called Hay Street Live provides an interactive and entertaining alternative to passively binge-watching yet another series. The next Hay Street Live is set for Friday, May 15.

    Remember going to a live performance and laughing and chatting with friends? Watching the mixologist show off their newest recipe? Connecting with the energy of a talented performer? Hay Street Live has remixed that experience. It’s part talk show, part convo, part mixology lesson and 100% entertainment. And in this case, the audience is up close and personal with the host and the talent. Tune in to the Arts Council’s Facebook page at 6 p.m. for the Facebook
    Live event.

    The flow of the evening takes the natural course of a night out — some chatting, then maybe some entertainment and a short conversation with the performer. Cutaway to the mixologist for some chit chat and a new recipe and demonstration, then back to the performer for another song, etc. Attendees participate throughout the event, commenting and using Facebook’s interface to let the other people involved know how they feel about what is going on.

     This week’s host is Kia Anthony, founder and president of Circa 1865.

    R&B singer Leme Nolan headlines the musical portion of the event with a combination of original and cover songs. Her original piece is “Love with a Ring Attached.”  She will also perform pieces by Erykah Badu, Mary J. Blige and SWV.

    Nolan said one of her favorite things about performing is the connection she creates with the audience. “With music, it is all about connecting and being real. It represents who I am, and it comes naturally to me. I am really thankful for this opportunity. We are going to have a good time.”

    Nolan also plans to relaunch her dance challenge at Hay Street Live.

    Jaquetta “Lady J” Gooden is the mixologist for the week. She’s no stranger to the show, having been the host as well as the mixologist in the past.

    This week, she’ll be making her take on a blood orange margarita and another tequila-inspired cocktail.

    In addition to being fun, the program is important. “Hay Street Live is a virtual show that gives local artists a platform to showcase their talents,” said Gooden. “ … I believe what makes Hay Street Live stand apart from other streaming events (is that) it is providing a sense of going out without leaving your home. It’s like attending a concert from your home — and you get to learn how to make some fun cocktails along the way.”

    Hay Street Live lasts from 6-7 p.m. and is set for every Friday through June 12. To find out more about the Arts Council and Hay Street Live, visit www.theartscouncil.com. Find out more about Nolan at https://www.lemenolan.com/ or check out her music on Youtube.

  • 09 01 Stonecloud picA cool evening breeze drifting lazily up the banks of the Cape Fear River. Live music wafting through the air. Friends and family gathering to enjoy an evening in the fresh air. This is what longtime musician and Fayetteville native Greg Adair had in mind when he set out to bring Rock’n on the River to Fayetteville in 2017. And he had the perfect spot in mind, just across the river from Fayetteville proper near Campbellton Landing.

    09 02 Bad Inc“It is such a cool place — a quaint place with shade and a meadow off the river,” said Adair. “Using the Cape Fear River is always a plus. It has always appealed to me. … I love being riverside.”

    He first had his sight set on the Sol Rose Amphitheater, home of the Cape Fear Regional Theatre River Show for many years. In the end, he chose to partner with Craig Williams, owner of both the nearby eatery Deep Creek Grill and the sporting goods store Deep Creek Outfitters. “Craig built a stage behind  Deep Creek Grill with a permanent top on it,” said Adair. “It’s perfect for what we wanted to do. We figure we can 09 03 Throwback Collaboration Bandfit 1,100-1,200 attendees.” And they’ve already come pretty close to that.

    Rock’n on the River hosted its first concert in October of 2018. About 400 people showed up to hear Adair’s band, Rivermist, and  The Guy Unger Band.

    2019’s season had three successful concerts. The first brought in close to 400 people. The second had over 500 attendees and the third saw 915 eager listeners show up.

    09 04 North Tower picThe 2020 season will have a late start but will include six concerts. The first two concerts had to be rescheduled, but  even if it means doubling up, the season will be completed, Adair said.

    There are two bands at every show, Adair said, a regional or local band performs at 6 p.m., followed by the main headliner. “The headliners are all tribute bands this year,” he added.

    The Rock’n on the River concerts are set for the third Friday of the month. “We worked around other events, so it gives everyone somewhere to go without  putting anything on top of each other,” said Adair. “I feel like everyone was getting out before, but I think when things are back to normal, people will really show up.”

    09 05 Joyner Young MarieDeep Creek supplies food for purchase. The menu usually includes barbecue sandwiches, corn on the cob and grilled burgers. “They sell soft drinks, and Healy Wholesale Company, our presenting partner, provides beer for purchase,” said Adair. “The CARE Clinic distributes the beverages. Sandy’s Automotive has also contributed, and BOB FM has been nothing short of great.”

    Parking is $10 per vehicle and  $5 for a motorcycle,  but the concert free. The parking fee allows Adair and the event sponsors to pay for security. “We’ve never had a problem, and we don’t expect to, but we want to be smart and safe. It is always better to have it and not need it than vice versa,” Adair said.

    09 06 Heart Breaker Heart TributeAdair and the event sponsors have been thoughtful about providing a safe, unique and fun experience and have implemented all the practical amenities needed for a good time. Before each concert, Mosquito Squad comes out and sprays. “It knocks the mosquito count way down,” said Adair. “Then we have portable toilets brought out. They are always clean. We usually have two regular and one handicap-accessible.”

    Rock’n on the River  is about people having access to entertainment. It’s about coming together and having a good time. “It is about having a place to go and having a good place to go,” said Adair. “There are several places we could go to fit more people, but I would 09 07 Rivermist BW Wlogo for trailerrather keep it close to the river and have it in a more intimate atmosphere.”

    Schedule:

    June 19Stone Cloud opens at 6 p.m. followed by Bad Incorporated  at 8 p.m.

    Stonecloud was formed in the spring of 2016 in Lumberton. The band is multitalented as they can play multiple genres from classical blues to rock and country.

    09 08 Tuesdays Gone Lynyrd Skynyrd Tribute copyBad Incorporated is a Bad Company/Paul Rodgers Tribute Band out of North Carolina, honoring the music of British super group Bad Company and its legendary front man Paul Rodgers.

    July 17Throwback Collaboration Band takes the stage at 6 p.m., and North Tower follows at 8 p.m.

    Throwback Collaboration Band shares old-school music as well as original music they are proud to call their own.

    09 09 Mostley Crue Motley Crue TributeNorth Tower is a Beach, Top 40 and Show Group. The band launched in October of 1978.

    Aug. 21, at 6 p.m., Joyner Young & Marie take the stage, and at 8 p.m., enjoy Heart Breaker.

    Joyner Young & Maries has played all over Fayetteville, Southern Pines and Pinehurst for over 30 years. They play a wide variety of music.

    Heartbreaker is the Ultimate American tribute to the band Heart. They perform with the goal of playing each song with love, respect, and 09 10 Shoot To Thrill Girls ACDC Tributea true passion for the original material; their goal is to bring a truly transcendent, and pitch-perfect concert experience, both musically and visually.

    Sept. 18 Rivermist, presented by Up & Coming Weekly, opens at 6 p.m. Tuesdays Gone takes the stage at 8 p.m.

    Rivermist was formed in July 2014 in Fayetteville. The band is collaboration of musicians that have been playing in and around the Fayetteville area for more than 40 years. Rivermist is primarily a Classic Rock/ R&B/ Variety party band. They have been voted Fayetteville/ Fort Bragg’s 2017 Best Local Band, 2018 Best Local Band, and even more recently,  2019 Best Local Band by Up & 09 11 Cool Heat picComing Weeklyreaders. 

    Tuesday’s Gone is the ultimate tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd and was formed in 2005 in Raleigh. They are dedicated to reproducing the original sound of one of the greatest and most legendary bands of all time. 

    Oct. 23’sperformance was originally scheduled for April and will feature Mostley Crue at 6 p.m. and Shoot to Thrill at 8 p.m.

    09 12 TBF picMöstley Crüe is the ultimate tribute to one of the 80’s most notorious and legendary hard rock acts, Mötley Crüe. Möstley Crüe was formed in Raleigh in 2007 and quickly rose in popularity with local and regional hard-rock fans still longing for a taste of the 80s.

    Shoot To Thrill is an all-female tribute to AC/DC. They decided on AC/DC in particular, because the band’s songs are a marriage of compelling music and creative storytelling.

    The Nov. 16 show, which was originally scheduled for May, features Cool Heat at 6 p.m. and Trial by Fire at 8 p.m.

    Cool Heat is a variety cover band from Southeastern North Carolina known for playing Motown, R&B, Soul, Funk, Beach and classics from the 60s, 70s and 80s. Cool Heat is made up of five accomplished musicians, three of which have played together since high school.

    Trial by Fire is a tribute to Journey. Trial by Fire was born out of the hearts of five seasoned Charlotte-based musicians. They embrace the sound and visuals of the Steve Perry era of Journey.

    Find out more about Rock’n on the River at the Rock’n On The River Facebook page.

     

     

     

  • 05-18-11-hankwilliams.jpg“Your Cheatin’ Heart,” “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” “I Can’t Help It If I’m Still In Love With You,” “Jambalaya” and “Honky Tonk Blues” are just a handful of the songs written, performed and recorded by the legendary Hank Williams.

    Known as one of the most imporant musical artists of all times, Williams is known as much for his colorful life as he is music. In a short five-year period that started in 1947 and ended with Williams’ death at the age of 29, Williams wrote and recorded more than 35 hits. And for a two-week period this month, May 19-29, the Cape Fear Regional Theatre will bring the legend to life in Hank Williams: Lost Highway during its annual River Show.

    Directed by Gina Stewart, the show will feature more than 20 of Williams’ songs, and will tell the story of his life from his perspective“

    I love this script,” said Stewart. “It has all the great music in it. It doesn’t shy away from the true story. It really presents the man as a real human being. What makes me so passionate is what I’ve learned about Hank. He died at 29, and made his mark on music within a five-year period. I think the show is about the passion behind songwriting — he’s an artist who could take his passion and pain and turn it into music that can comfort people.”

    Calling Williams a “passionate, volatile person that had some trouble in his life,” Stewart noted that his music came from the tragedies of his life.

    “I love that this script doesn’t shy away from that,” she said.

    Stewart has gathered what she calls the “A list cast.”

    “This is the best, I wouldn’t trade anyone in this cast for anybody in the world,” said Stewart. “I just feel incredibly lucky. Not only is everybody fantastic, but Hank looks like Hank. He sounds like Hank.”

    “When I heard the band, I was sold,” she said. “Bo called me and said, ‘I think Jerome and the Parsons are going to do the music,’ and I said, ‘I am in.’ We are so blessed. Everybody is so supportive and admiring of each other. It just works.”

    Jon Parsons, of the Parsons Family, will play the role of Jimmy in the show, as well as providing the music.

    “This script is just real,” he said.

    Parsons said he grew up with Williams’ music, but he didn’t know a lot about his life.

    “I know almost all of the songs, but I didn’t know about his life,” he said.

    Parsons said that the band will be using musical instruments much like those in use when Williams was recording. “We are going to put the real deal out there, so this is really special for us,” he said.

    “It’s really like having Hank here and having him tell you the story of where the songs came from,” added Stewart.

    The show will be the theatrical debut of Cliff Hale. Hale, who has a striking resemblance to Williams, has been singing for a number of years.

    “This is way new for me,” said Hale. “It’s lots of learning, I feel like my head is going to explode some nights when we leave here.

    ”All joking aside, Stewart said Hale and the remainder of the cast will put on a stellar show.

    As in year’s past, patrons will have the option of dining at the river or buying show-only tickets. Tickets for the dinner theatre range from $25 to $28. Show-only reserved seating tickets range in price from $14 to $20 and show-only tickets are $12 to 18.

    Bring your lawn chair or blankets and bug spray, but leave your coolers at home. Concessions will be available with beer, wine, soft drinks and snacks.

    Reservations are required for the dinner theatre and reserved seating. No reservations are required for show-only tickets.

    Dinner is served at 7 p.m., the show starts at 8 p.m. In case of inclement weather, the show will be moved to the CFRT.

    For more information or to reserve seats, call 323-4233.

  • 05_13_09_cover.jpg
    Click the Image for UCW's Online Edition!
     
    For 13 years now the Fayetteville After Five concert series has been  a part of the local music landscape and summer time festivities. The  first 10 years, events were held on the Fayetteville Museum of Art  property. Then Festival Park opened.  The performances were moved to downtown, and each year has been better than the last. The crowds average between 2,500 and 4,000 each month, but there is still room to grow, and that is exactly what the museum is hoping for.
     
    “I think what has been really great about the opening of Festival Park three years ago has been that it is one central location for our community as a whole, not just the downtown crowd, not just museum goers.  This is a very large music venue that is a real gem for our community and I think as popular as it is, there is still a very large part of our community that doesn’t know that festival park exists and that there are free concerts in our community every month in our downtown,” said Michele Horn, Fayetteville Museum of Art assistant director/curator.  “I’ve lived in many other ares and certainly I’ve never been in a place where there are so many free events for a community and I think we take that for granted sometimes.  That is what is great about Fayetteville and what is great about bringing these people together for Fayetteville After Five.  It is a free concert and our community really needs to take advantage of that. Other communities aren’t blessed with such a venue.”
     
    While there are still great regional and national bands lined up to entertain the community, this year local talent will be a part of the festivities, too.
     
    “This season we’ve got opening acts from the local area,” said Horn. “They will start around 5:45 (p.m.) and open and then the large acts that have been brought in will start closer to 6:45(p.m.).”
     
    This year’s Fayetteville After Five kicks-off with the Chairman of the Board. Group members General Johnson, Ken Knox and Danny Woods have been performing together since the 1970s.   
     
    Originally, billed as an R&B act in Detroit  with hits like “Patches” and “Give Me Just a Little More Time,” things slowed down considerably for them in the ’80s, on a national level at least.  Thankfully, for lovers of Carolina Beach Music, the band relocated and found great success performing their brand of music on the shores of the southeastern states. They’ll be performing on May 21 in Festival Park.  Bring your lawn chair, or blanket (no coolers please) and enjoy an evening getting into the summer frame of mind.
     
    “We’ve always been the third Thursday of the month.... We are getting  you up for the weekend,” said Horn. “We know you have one more day of work but it is a great way to enjoy Fayetteville for those people that pack up and go to the beach for the weekend or travel on the weekend. Thursday is a great night to come out and enjoy the concert while you are still in town.”
     
    While the music is what makes it a concert, watching the audience delight in the atmosphere and let their hair down is what makes it a joy for the event organizer and sponsors.
    “I think the best part is after we’ve set everything up and the main act is on. That is a chance for us to step back and watch the crowd and see their enjoyment,” said Horn.  “It is great when I see a family or young children or even ladies in their ’50s, ’60s, ’70s get up on the promenade  and just start dancing to the music and really enjoy themselves and kind of brush off that hard work week or whatever has troubled them through the week.  They just get up there and enjoy the music and enjoy themselves and have a great time.”
  • The 50th Anniversary Golden Season of the Cape Fear Regional Theatre has been a special season. So it05-02-12-on-golden-pond.jpgseems only fitting that the staff of the theatre chose to end the regular season with a really special production. With the staging of On Golden Pond, they did just that.

    If you didn’t make it to the theatre to see this production, you missed the boat. The show, starring William Christopher and Bo Thorp was noth-ing short of magical. Sure, they had a great story, with wickedly witty dialogue, but without the mastery of these two seasoned actors, the show could have fallen flat. But that didn’t hap-pen. From the moment Christopher uttered his first, “Who the hell is this?” to their last exit to say goodbye to the lake, they had the audience, hook, line and sinker.

    On Golden Pond tells the story of Norman and Ethel Thayer, a couple in their twilight years, who spend their summers on a quiet Maine Lake known as Golden Pond. The show spans one season on the pond, and deals with the issues of time, familial relationships and the approach of death — all pretty dark stuff. But playwright Ernest Thompson, puts a humorous, yet sentimental spin on the story, which keeps it from being maudlin. Throw in the sharp wit exchanged by the characters and it becomes almost comical.

    Actors performing this show must walk a fine line between sentiment and comedy to render the sweetness of the story. Thorp and Christopher had great balance. To play the roles of Norman and Ethel convincingly, there had to be connection between the actors. In the days leading up to the show’s opening, Christopher was worried that the cast would not have the time to dig into the subtle nuances that make the show so special. He didn’t need to worry.

    The two have chemistry on stage that usually comes over a long period of time. In this case, I think it comes from the mastery of their craft. Both veteran actors, Thorp and Christopher handled the material gently. They wove the story so convincingly that I felt like I was in their living room, not in the audience. They pulled the sweetness from each moment. You knew them. Watching them on stage, I pictured my own grandparents who traded similar barbs. The words were sharp, but there was always love underneath them.

    The four other cast members Liza Vann (playing the Thayer’s daughter, Chelsea), Greg King (Chelsea’s boyfriend, Bill), Jonathan Flom (the mailman) and Sean Thomas (playing Bill’s son) all did a fine job, but quite honestly, Christopher and Thorp stole the show.

    In his director’s notes, Tom Quaintance, the artistic director at the Cape Fear Regional Theatre, noted that he had to “pinch” himself to realize it wasn’t a dream to work with such a beautiful script and extraordinary actors like Christopher and Thorp. I understand where he is coming from.

    As we left the theatre, I couldn’t help but wish that the sum-mer went on forever, and that we wouldn’t have to say good-bye to Golden Pond.

    Photo: On Golden Pond tells the story of Norman and Ethel Thayer, a couple in their twilight years.

  • uac051111001.jpg While the rest of the country sets aside one day in May, Memorial Day, to honor military heroes, Fayetteville/Cumberland County dedicates the entire month to doing so with the annual series of events 31 Day Salute, now in its third year. Our community has joined forces to salute our brave soldiers, veterans and their families, and to show our appreciation for their service through various patriotic performances, ceremonies, exhibits, films and fairs.

    As America’s First Military Sanctuary, we take our patriotism seriously. Home to Fort Bragg, we have a special connection with those in uniform who have selfl essly put their lives on the line abroad to keep us safe at home. Fayetteville/Cumberland County looks forward to May 1 when we begin celebrating our heroes.

    May is a special time when our community bands together to show our patriotic spirit and pay tribute to those who have served or currently serve in the Armed Forces. Many local organizations have expressed a desire to demonstrate their support, and the 31 Day Salute event series gives them a chance to do so. More than 15 community groups are participating this year, from military organizations to cultural and historical associations, each committed to rolling out the red carpet for the military.

    31 Day Salute allows us to invite the world to do what we do every day — show our appreciation and respect for those who defend the freedoms we often take for granted.

    We encourage and welcome patriots from all over the country to visit Fayetteville/Cumberland County in May to say thank you to those in uniform while enjoying our entertaining events. 31 Day Salute gives us a chance to show our gratitude and express what soldiers, veterans and their families mean to our proud military community.

    This year, 31 Day Salute features exciting new events and many returning favorites.

    The Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum will allow history buffs to re-live the American Civil War through the Cumberland County Goes to War exhibit, which observes the Sesquicentennial of the war, remembers the community’s involvement in the war, and includes artifacts, pictures and educational panels.

    The Airborne & Special Operations Museum Foundation (ASOM) will host Movie-in-The Camp, where attendees will be transported back to the Korean War-era through the film Jumping Jacks (1952) starring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis. Prior to the movie, guests can enjoy a performance by The Andrews Sisters Tribute Show featuring choreography, singing, tap dancing, comedy and acting. Also coinciding with Movie-in-The Camp will be a care-package drive hosted by the Army’s Army, a military support group made up of more than 1,200 citizen and business volunteers. Museum attendees will be able to visit the Army’s Army booth and fill care packages with pre-donated items, which will be sent to the troops overseas with the help of Fort Bragg’s Family Readiness Group.

    The annual Glory Days event will take place in historical downtown Fayetteville on Memorial Day weekend. From May 14 through June 11, the breathtaking Field of Honor featuring hundreds of flags honoring soldiers and veterans will cover the field near the ASOM and the new impressive North Carolina Veterans Park with red, white and blue.

    Those looking to enjoy a true military experience can attend the 82nd Airborne Division’s All American week, which returns after a hiatus last year due to the high number of deployments. The week will include a four-mile run, various sporting and social events, wreath laying cerem05-11-11-31-day-salute-logo.jpgonies at several monuments and a division review on Pike Field with troopers in formation — something not to be missed. During this time, the 82nd Living History Detachment will be at the 82nd Airborne Division Museum as well.

    A living history program, Military Through the Ages: A March Through History, will be presented at the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex. The event will highlight various time periods throughout United States military history with encampments and educational programs that the entire family can enjoy.

    Fayetteville author Dr. Michael C. Hodges will visit the Cumberland County Public Library and Information Center to speak about his book A Doctor Looks at War. The book chronicles his experience in an Army combat support hospital during the initial year of Operation Iraqi Freedom, giving readers a unique look into the war.

    Throughout the entire month, Cape Fear Botanical Garden visitors can participate in a Red, White and Blueberry scavenger hunt. The game will take adventurers on a hunt to identify those plant species that are associated with red, white or blueberries. The Cape Fear Botanical Garden will also offer a discounted admission to members of the military.

    Fascinate-U Children’s Museum is offering half-price admission to all military families and free admission to families of deployed soldiers all month. In addition, children can create their own Blue Star flag, which symbolizes the sacrifi ces of families in war and is placed in the window of a home.

    Clark Park Nature Center will offer half price admission to retired and active military and their spouses for the Cape Fear River Boat Tour — A Military Historic Passage. The boat takes riders down the river and highlights its military history.

    In March, to build excitement across the United States for 31 Day Salute, the community kicked off the search for America’s Most Patriotic Person with Patrioke or Patriotic Karaoke.

    Enthusiastic patriots have been flocking to local spots such as Cross Creek Mall and Fayetteville State University to compete for the title, all performing the beloved American song Yankee Doodle Dandy. One patriot was crowned as America’s Most Patriotic Person at the Fayetteville Duck Derby. The performances can be seen on a Patrioke YouTube channel.

    For a full listing of events, details and participating organizations taking place during 31 Day Salute please visit www.31daysalute.com. With diverse events that will appeal to all ages and interests, there is something for everyone. Fayetteville/Cumberland County invites both locals and out-of-town travelers to come out and join us as we salute soldiers, veterans and their families throughout the month of May.

  • 05-25-11-10miler.jpgOn June 14, the U.S. Army is celebrating its 236th birthday! Fort Bragg is celebrating a little earlier with the running of the 15th Annual Fort Bragg Army Birthday 10-Miler on June 3.

    The race starts at 6:30 a.m. at Sports USA and finishes back at Sports USA after trekking through a “rolling and challenging” course on Fort Bragg. Participants are to report to the Sports USA/Hedrick Stadium area by 6 a.m. Following 6 a.m., area accessibility will be more difficult due to road closures. Pre-race instructions will be given at 6:20 a.m.

    Seven water points and two water sprays will be located along the route. Five of those water points will provide Gatorade drink. Portable restroom facilities will also be available near each water point.

    Pets, bicycles, headphones, and rollerblades will not be permitted on the course. Walkers may be required to use sidewalks in order to facilitate a more prompt reopening of streets.

    Entries will be accepted through June 2 at 5 p.m. No registrations will be taken on the day of the race. On May 26 - 27 and May 31 - June 2, complete the entry form and submit it, in person, to Funk Physical Fitness Center located at Building C-2015 on Gruber Road near Longstreet Road. Entries will be accepted at Funk PFC, from 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. on these dates. On June 1, hours for registration will be extended until 7 p.m.

    For more information, visit www.fortbraggmwr.com/sportsrec/tenmiler/raceinfo.htm.

  • 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, June 3, 6 p.m., Town Hall Front Conference Room

    Mayor’s Youth Leadership Committee Monday, June 3, 6 p.m., Town Hall, Front Conference Room

    Board of Commissioners Monday, June 3, 7 p.m., Luther Meeting Room, Town Hall

    Historic Preservation Commission Wednesday, June 12, 5 p.m., Parks and Recreation Building

    Board of Commissioners Monday, June 17, Luther Meeting Room, Town Hall

    Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee Monday, June 24, 6:30 p.m., Parks and Recreation Center

    Activities

    Good2Grow Farmers Market Saturday, June 1, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., between Town Hall and Parks and Recreation Building.

    Pet Fest Saturday, June 1, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Hope Mills Park.

    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 e-mail Kasey Ivey at kivey@townofhopemills.com.

    Promote yourself:Email hopemills@upandcomingweekly.com.

  • 14almshouseAnother school year ended for Cumberland County this past Friday, and that was cause for concern for Delores Schiebe and the folks at the ALMSHOUSE in Hope Mills. “We have no contact with the children after that,’’ said Schiebe, referring to the regular ALMSHOUSE house program of providing free meals to those in the community in need while school is open.

    Just three days after school closed this year, the ALMSHOUSE began a new program that will help solve the problem of making sure hungry people, especially children, can get a meal at lunchtime while school is out. The ALMSHOUSE will provide free bag lunches Monday through Friday during the summer months for anyone in need. People just need to come by the ALMSHOUSE headquarters on Ellison Street off Trade Street in downtown Hope Mills to pick up the lunch.

    Plans for the bag lunches aren’t final, but what Schiebe said the ALMSHOUSE hopes to provide is something basic, including a bottle of water, a sandwich, a bag of chips and a piece of fruit.

    “There was a time in the past when we had been able to do a lunchtime meal every day of the week, but we had to eliminate that,’’ Schiebe said. “We are very concerned because there are people needing meals at lunchtime and we’re very concerned about the children when they are going to be out of school.’’

    Once the summer bag lunch program is ready to begin, Schiebe said a notice will be posted on the door of the ALMSHOUSE building on Ellison Street. “Anyone who needs a meal can come by and get that meal from us,’’ she said.

    It’s possible the lunches could begin before mid-June if the details get worked out, but for now Schiebe said that will remain the target date for starting.

    One thing that will keep the program running during the summer months will be regular donations from the public of sandwich items like bread and various types of meat and cheese, as well as fresh fruit like apples, bananas, oranges and tangerines.

    Schiebe said the sandwiches will be prepared in advance as much as possible, and they can store them for a time in refrigerators and freezers at ALMSHOUSE. “We’ll do the sandwiches in advance so we can put them in sealed containers, Ziploc bags,’’ she said. “We won’t put mayonnaise or mustard on them. They’ll receive little packs of that.’’

    If anyone would like to inquire about specific donations needed to help with the summer bag lunches program, they can call the ALMSHOUSE at 910-425-0902, or contact Grilley Mitchell via email at grillmitch@gmail.com.

    “One of our main concerns is the children,’’ Schiebe said. “We want to take care of adults as well. But we’re unable to get to children now that school is out, and we want to be able to do that.’’

  • 13hurricaneWhen Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner first got the phone call some 18 months ago, she admitted she was skeptical.

    It was a woman from Cypress, Texas, named Virginia Valentine, who said she represented an organization called Angels Serving With A Purpose. Valentine had seen news reports on television about how Hope Mills was struggling from the after-effects of back-to-back hurricanes in the fall of 2017. She wanted to offer her organization’s help.

    It took more than a year and a half, but when Valentine and her volunteers arrived in Hope Mills just over a week ago, they found local residents who were still in need of help long after the storms had passed.

    Valentine and her group have been in operation for four years. They travel to any area of the United States that has suffered a disaster or an emergency or where there are simply people with no resources who need help.

    “I have a heart and a love for this,’’ said Valentine, who is originally from Arkansas and grew up picking cotton. “We have started doing this with my foundation, and I want to continue doing this.’’

    She watches news reports on local and national television to find out the places that might be in need of her charity. Then she reaches out to the officials of those cities, starting with the mayor, and finds local organizations she can partner with to distribute what she has to offer.

    She recently arrived in Hope Mills with two rented trucks and two vans filled with her and her team of eight volunteers.

    They brought along furniture, clothing, toiletries, cleaning products, brooms and mops. Some of the items were donated to Valentine; others she purchased with her own money.

    She doesn’t screen anyone who comes to one of her giveaways. “We just bless them,’’ she said. “We try not to discriminate or hurt. I do this generously, willingly and lovingly. Everything is free. I don’t charge anybody for anything.’’

    Valentine’s giveaway set up shop at the Hope Mills Shrine Club. Warner put Valentine in contact with the Shriners because she felt their site provided enough parking and space for Valentine to spread out all the things she planned to give to people.

    News of the giveaway was quickly spread by word of mouth and social media the day before the event was held.

    Warner said even before Valentine’s volunteers had completed setting up, people were already lining up to take advantage of the event. 

    Expecting a mad rush for the various free items, Warner said the atmosphere was calm and orderly. “They let them come in five at a time,’’ she said. “Gradually, people would take what they wanted, then the next wave came in. Nobody was grabbing. Nobody was fussing over anything.’’

    On many occasions, Warner said, Valentine would meet with people, talk with them and ask them what their specific needs were. In some cases, where families wanted the same item, Valentine would talk with them and try to determine who had the greatest need in an attempt to make sure the item went to the most deserving family.

    Warner said she saw a young soldier, who had a wife and baby and no furniture, pick up a sofa, chair and some baby items. An elderly gentleman who lost everything in the 2017 floods got a recliner and a chair.

    When the giveaway ended and there were a few items left, Valentine and her group didn’t want to take anything back to Texas with them, so Warner arranged for it to be donated to a local charity that agreed to take it.

    Valentine and her volunteers stayed in Hope Mills through the weekend, worshipping at a local church on Sunday and returning to Texas the following Monday.

    “The people that needed stuff got the message and they came,’’ Warner said. “It was very calm and orderly. It was a good thing.’

  • 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, May 23, 6:30 p.m., Parks and Recreation Building

    Appearance Committee Tuesday, May 28, 6:30 p.m., Parks and Recreation Building

    Mayor’s Youth Leadership Committee Monday, June 3, 6 p.m., Town Hall, Front Conference Room

    Board of Commissioners Monday, June 3, 7 p.m., Luther Meeting Room, Town Hall

    Historic Preservation Commission Wednesday, June 12, 5 p.m., Parks and Recreation Building

    Board of Commissioners Monday, June 17, Luther Meeting Room, Town Hall

    Activities

    Good2Grow Farmers Market Saturday, June 1, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., between Town Hall and Parks and Recreation Building.

    Pet Fest Saturday, June 1, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Hope Mills Park.

    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 e-mail Kasey Ivey at kivey@townofhopemills.com.

    Promote yourself: Email hopemills@upandcomingweekly.com.

  • 11AdamGriffithHope Mills is going to the dogs. Fortunately, this will be in a good, family fun way. Hope Mills Park, at 5770 Rockfish Rd., will be the site of the sixth annual Pet Fest on Saturday, June 1. The event, sponsored by Naturally Unleashed and promoted by Cumulus Broadcasting, is scheduled to run from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m.

    Kelly West of Rock 103 FM said the primary purpose of Pet Fest, aside from giving pet owners a chance to congregate and interact with their beloved animals, is to raise money for the Fayetteville Animal Protection Society. “It’s just wonderful to give back to them,’’ she said.

    The way to support FAPS via Pet Fest is to register to take part in the 5K pet walk that will be held as part of the festivities. The registration fee is $15, with the money going to FAPS. To register online, go to the Rock 103 website, www.rock-103rocks.com. A link is posted there to access the registration form.

    Pet Fest used to be held in the Naturally Unleashed parking lot on Boone Trail Extension, but that created a problem. The parking lot is asphalt, West said. “This is an animal thing,’’ she said. “These animals need to stand on grass and be in a nice park area.’’

    So the event was moved to Hope Mills Park. “It has been nothing but good for them,’’ West said of the relationship with Hope Mills. “It brings a lot of people to the park that otherwise wouldn’t know it’s there.’’

    Pet Fest will get an additional boost this year as it will be held in conjunction with the second Hope Mills Good2Grow Farmers Market. “They’ll have the farmers market stuff and we’ll have food vendors, so it’s going to be a fun day,’’ West said.

    Food vendors will just be a small part of the activities associated with Pet Fest, West said. An artist who does caricatures of animals will be on hand to draw images of pets.

    There are also several contests scheduled, including a pet and owner look-alike contest. There will also be competitions for the cutest pet, oldest pet, smallest pet, largest pet and prettiest pet.

    In addition, there will be some special pet performances. The Canines in Flight, which is from Georgia and features all rescued animals, will perform. Also on hand will be the Freedom Flyers, a Fayetteville fly ball dog team, plus a team of dancing horses.

    While there is a registration fee for the 5K pet walk, all of the other events at Pet Fest are free. The only restriction is that all pet owners have their animals leashed or contained somehow.

    “I want owners to respect other pet owners,’’ West said. “It’s a free event for all ages. Enjoy yourself.’’

    Contact West at 509-901-3467 with questions about Pet Fest.

    Photo Credit: Adam Griffith on Unsplash

  • 10bathsnobsConnie Rushing makes no apologies for being a bath snob. That should be obvious because it’s the name of the business she just opened in Hope Mills with her mother, Mary Thompson, and her sister, Tammie Melvin Carlile. Bath Snob specializes in homemade candles and bath products. It is located in a former orthodontist’s office in the Hope Mills Plaza Shopping Center.

    Long before Rushing had an interest in making soap and other bath products, she said she was picky when it came to bath and body products. One day, her husband went to purchase her a gift and made the mistake of getting a standard bubble bath product from a chain pharmacy.

    “He knows I love bubble baths,’’ she said. “That’s like my zen moment. That’s the moment I can be by myself. Everyone knows, don’t disturb mommy, it’s bubble bath time.’’

    When she saw what her husband had purchased, she was less than pleased and made it known. “He was like, ‘You are such a snob,’” she said of her husband. “So when we were coming here to start a bath and body company and (thought) what do we name it, he said, ‘you’ve got to name it Bath Snob because that is what you are.’’’

    Rushing and her mother and sister didn’t decide to open the store on a whim. Their mother, a native of Elizabethtown, decided to retire in Hope Mills. That led to Rushing moving here from California and her sister relocating from Virginia.

    Both sisters had operated their own bed and bath businesses before moving to Hope Mills.

    The sisters decided to join forces with their mother and start one here.

    “We did a couple of fairs to test what kind of products people like out here,’’ Rushing said.

    Last November, they opened a kiosk at Cross Creek Mall to do more test marketing. They continued there through January, where they developed a good following for their products.

    Three weeks ago they held a soft opening of the new business in Hope Mills, then did the grand opening the second weekend in May.

    The new business offers two basic product lines.

    One is candles. In addition to traditional candles, the store also sells something called scoopables, which are a softer wax you can put into a warmer to release the scent. The scoopables come in a Mason jar.

    They also sell cookie tarts. They look like cookies, but they’re actually pieces of scented wax that can be broken up and put into a warmer.

    Bath Snob also offers what are called drink candles, like the martini, as well as banana pudding and pie candles.

    The rear part of the business contains the bath and body line. “That’s where we have our lotions, our soaps, sugar scrubs and bath bombs,’’ Rushing said.

    Rushing stressed that everything in the shop is made on-site. Special orders can be made, too. She recently had a customer who needed a soap with a higher olive oil base. Rushing let her try samples she had already made of an 80% and a 50% olive oil.

    “I said if that doesn’t work out, I’ll go 100 percent,’’ Rushing said.

    She also has customers who are allergic to things like coconut oil and shea butter. “That’s the good thing about having (the making process) in shop,’’ Rushing said. “You can cater to what they need. It’s going to make you make a better product for that customer base that needs that type of thing. They can’t get that at the regular bath and body shop.’’

    But it doesn’t stop there, and part of that is because of the unique equipment already installed in the business when the sisters and their mother took the location over.

    The orthodontist who previously occupied the space left a double sink area where the dental office chairs were located. The chairs have been removed, but the sink remains so that customers can sample various products on the premises.

    The business is also set up to allow time to take trial runs.

    They have an area where visitors can sit down, relax, get on the phone or use Wi-Fi while those shopping can take time to try out products. “We are so confident once you try the product, use that body scrub, use that lotion, use that soap and see how it does for your skin, you’re going to walk out with the product,’’ Rushing said.

    The business is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. To learn more, visit the Facebook page at Bath Snob, or the website, www.bathsnob.com.  

    Photo: Left to right: Hope Mills Chamber of Commerce President Jan Davis Spell; Bath Snob owners Tammie Melvin Carlile, Mary Thompson and Connie Rushing; Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner; and Hope Mills Commissioner Pat Edwards.

  • 13Farmers market 1The first Good2Grow Farmers Market, held at the Hope Mills Town Hall complex recently, was a rousing success.

    One thing that certainly didn’t hurt was timing the first market with several other major town events that created a lot of foot traffic in the area. On the same day as the farmers market, the town held its annual hazardous waste collection and document shredding events for citizens, along with the annual litter sweep of area streets.

    Chancer McLaughlin, development and planning administrator for the town, said there were some 17 vendors who took part in the farmers market.

    While there was obviously an emphasis on produce and farm-grown products, McLaughlin noted there were also many vendors with handmade crafts.

    Vendors offered a variety of items like farmraised pork products, goat cheese, handmade jewelry, strawberries, jalapeño jams and jellies, natural remedies, essential oils, candles, baked goods and even natural mosquito spray.

    “Every vendor that was there was so excited (about) how it turned out,’’ Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner said. Many of the vendors sold out of the items they brought.

    Warner was especially pleased with the family atmosphere of the event. “You saw kids running around, eating strawberries,’’ she said. “Parents were shopping. So much was going on.’’

    Warner is hopeful that the event will continue to grow in popularity and add more vendors over time.

    “The next one (June 1) will be the same Saturday as Pet Fest,’’ she said. “Pet Fest will be between Parks and Recreation and Town Hall. (The) farmers market will be in the area next to the ball fields.’’

    McLaughlin said the market will continue through October, on the first Saturday of each month.

    The fees for vendors are $50 to set up at the market every month or $20 if a vendor only wants to take part in the event one month.

    The original deadline to submit information to become a vendor was April 26, but McLaughlin said that has been extended. Vendors can now apply as late as the day before the next event.

    All application information and rules for being a vendor at the farmers market are on the town of Hope Mills website, www.townofhopemills.com.

    For those who don’t have access to the internet, McLaughlin said you can stop by Town Hall at 5770 Rockfish Rd. during normal business hours and pick up a hard copy of the application and rules.

    McLaughlin said organizers are working on getting a vendor that will sell fresh fish for the next market. They are also looking for more varieties of produce, including watermelons, more fruits, okra and other vegetables. He said a lot of the vegetable and fruit options will be dictated by what’s available during certain seasons of the year.

    To contact McLaughlin with questions or concerns regarding the farmers market, email him at cmclaughlin@townofhopemills.com.

  • Meetings

    For details about all meetings and activities, including location where not listed, call Town Clerk Jane Starling at 910-426-4113.

    Board of Commissioners Monday, May 20, 7 p.m., Luther Meeting Room, Town Hall

    Lake Advisory Committee Tuesday, May 21, 6 p.m., Parks and Recreation Building

    Veterans Affairs Commission Thursday, May 23, 6:30 p.m., Parks and Recreation Building

    Appearance Committee Tuesday, May 28, 6:30 p.m., Parks and Recreation Building

    Activities

    Good2Grow Farmers Market, Saturday, June 1, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., Between Town Hall and Parks and Recreation Building

    Pet Fest, Saturday, June 1, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Hope Mills Park

  • 12Veterans Memorial ParkBill Green, adjutant quartermaster for Hope Mills Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10630, encourages everyone in Hope Mills to take time during Memorial Day weekend to honor the memory of those who died in service of this country, as well as those who served and remain as veterans or active duty members of the military. The Hope Mills Veterans Affairs Commission will again hold a special ceremony to remember the fallen on Memorial Day in Hope Mills. It will be held at the Veterans Memorial Park in Hope Mills near the Parks and Recreation Center on Monday, May 27, at 4 p.m.

    In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will be moved indoors to the recreation center.

    “Memorial Day is to honor the sacrifices of our great men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice,’’ Green said.

    The format for this year’s observance will follow a familiar pattern and feature things like the invocation and call to order, performances by a dance group, and speakers who were winners of an annual VFW contest. Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner will also read the official proclamation from the town.

    There will be some special additions to this year’s observance, Green said. One will be a presentation by Hope Mills Commissioner Jessie Bellflowers, a former commander of the local VFW post. He will share some comments about the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion at Normandy, which will be officially observed in June.

    Three nameplates will be added to the memorial at the park, honoring three members of the local VFW post who have died: Jim Clark, Joe Edwards and George Hill.

    “Their families will be there so we can put nameplates on the memorial,’’ Green said. “This is just one way we can recognize them. When you put your name on a memorial, it’s there forever. This way, they are never forgotten.’’

    It’s the act of remembering that’s most important to Green.

    “You should take a brief moment... and give thanks,’’ he said of the Memorial Day observance. “If it wasn’t for the veterans, (citizens) wouldn’t have the freedoms they have today. That’s what it all boils down to.’’

    Warner thanked the Veterans Affairs Committee for all the hard work its members do in making the Memorial Day observance in Hope Mills possible.

    “We have an opportunity to remember those that have served and also recognize the active duty (soldiers) and the veterans that live in Hope Mills,’’ she said. “It’s always a somber and very special event. It’s important for Hope Mills because of our military attachment here.’’

    Warner especially praised the late Jim Clark for his years of service on the Veterans Affairs Committee in Hope Mills.

    “If you needed something, especially if you needed something from the VFW, he was willing to get it done for you,’’ Warner said. “He was instrumental in helping me get the flags we used to recognize all the veterans the first time we did a field of flags in Hope Mills.

    “He kept it alive and moved to get more veterans involved with different groups here in Hope Mills.’’

  • 18Night basketball posterThe Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Department is launching a new initiative aimed at keeping young people off the streets on summer nights by engaging them in wholesome activities. Beginning June 7 and continuing until July 12, the department will offer coed 3-on-3 basketball at the recreation center gymnasium, every Friday night from 9 p.m. until midnight. The doors will open at 8:30 p.m. each Friday.

    There is no charge to play — participants simply have to sign up at the recreation offices at 5766 Rockfish Rd. 

    Lamarco Morrison, new head of the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Department, said he got the idea after a recent meeting of the town’s Citizen Academy and the result of a conversation with recreation department staff member Stephen Kessenger.

    Morrison said the question was raised as to what the town was doing to attract youth in hard-to-reach areas of the community.

    The idea of night basketball was suggested. “It was a way to get the youth off the street in the summer, plus involve the police department,’’ Morrison said.

    Morrison later learned that Kessenger had done something similar when he was working in Hoke County. Morrison then ran the idea by other people in Hope Mills, including the town manager and people associated with the parks department.

    The plan every Friday is to hold play from 9 p.m. until midnight in the recreation department gym. There will be two half-court games going on at once, each team composed of three players. Each game will last 12 minutes.

    “If you win, you stay on the court,’’ Morrison said. “If you lose, you’re off the court. We’ll go that way until 12 (a.m.’)”

    The league is open to both male and female players. Although there is no age limit for the games, Morrison said the targeted age group is from 15 to 20 years old.

    Morrison is working to get members of the Hope Mills Police Department to play in the games, along with staff from the recreation department. They will be there both to participate but also to supervise the activity.

    “The police have two roles,’’ Morrison said, “to make sure everybody behaves, but they also will be involved with playing the game.’’

    Morrison said he is still working out some details of that arrangement with Hope Mills Police Chief Joel Acciardo.

    Concession stands won’t be open inside the gym during the games, but Morrison said food trucks would be outside for those who might want to get something to eat.

    “We’ll do it for six weeks,’’ Morrison said. “If people say they want more, we’ll look at doing it longer.’’

  • uac050813001.gif Jazz music is a uniquely American music. It was born on American soil and since its inception it has influenced every genre of music that has come after it. The hallmarks of Jazz are the use of blue notes and the polyrhythms that have permeated African American musical traditions for centuries. Unlike many movements in arts, jazz has not faded or morphed into something new destined to be completely forgotten. Jazz is still quite popular. WFSS is embracing this incredible genre of music and bringing it to the public by hosting the All American Jazz Festival on May 11.

    “This is actually an outgrowth of the Jazz on the River event that WFSS has hosted at Campbellton Landing for the last several years,” said Marsha McLean, WFSS Interim General Manager. “We are looking forward to having this at Festival Park. It is such a nice venue, and a place that the audience can really enjoy themselves.”

    One of the featured acts at the festival is The Jazz Crusaders. Since the 1970s this band has been producing a jazz-funk style of music that has topped R&B and Pop charts alike. They have recorded more than 40 albums since their inception and will be performing at the All American Jazz Festival. The members of The Jazz Crusaders are Joe Sample, Gerald Albright and Wayne Henderson.

    Keiko Matsui will also take the stage at the event as a featured performer. She is an incredible performer who has brought new life to Jazz. She is native to Japan, but now resides in Los Angeles. Keiko found her love for music at the tender age of five, when her mother gave her the first piano of her career. Her love of Jazz also developed at an early age, in middle school. She was a top student at the Japanese institutions where she studied, and was signed to a recording contract with the jazz-fusion group, the Cosmos. She came to the United States at the age of 19, and has been making her unique brand of new age, smooth jazz, and jazz-fusion records ever since.

    Marcus Johnson is another featured performer that night. He is a jazz keyboardist and performs contemporary jazz. He is known not only for his skill, but also the incredible passion he puts into his music. Johnson listened to a variety of music as a child and fell in love with jazz when he was 13 years old.

    Smooth jazz fans will be treated to a performance by Maysa. She started her career as a back up singer for Stevie Wonder and moved on to work with Arsenio Hall, Oprah and performed on The Tonight Show. She has had several top ten hits on the Jazz and R&B charts.

    “We are very excited about the lineup this year,” said McLean. “Any of the musicians featured at the All American Jazz Festival could stand alone as headliners. They are all top names in the jazz industry and bring a lot of talent to the stage.”

    While WFSS consistently provides high quality programming to the public, McLean pointed out that there is a lot more to this broadcasting station. As a public radio station there are some freedoms and some challenges that shape the services and programming. “We are proud to broadcast jazz music along with our other broadcast features like NPR’s All Things Considered and Morning Edition. Jazz is not something that is commonly heard on commercial radio stations and we are glad to provide our audience with a different kind of listening experience,” said McLean. “As an institute of higher learning we have many mass communications majors that are able to get hands-on experience here. We work with the students to give them valuable learning experiences that will prepare them for the future.”

    Because WFSS is a public radio station there is always pressure to find ways to fund the radio programming and to continue to meet the needs of the listeners. The All American Jazz Festival is a way to celebrate great music while supporting public radio and the Fayetteville State University students that train at the station. The All American Jazz Festival will be held at Festival Park. The gates will open at 3 p.m. and the preshow will begin at 4 p.m. Featured artists will be presented at 8 p.m. Festival park is located at the corner of Ray Ave and Rowan St.

    Tickets are $35 in advance and $45 the day of the show. VIP tickets are $75. Ticket are available from a variety of locations. To purchase online tickets visit www.wfss.org or www.Etix.com. To order tickets by phone through Etix call 1-800-514-3849. Tickets are also available at the J.W. Seabrook Auditorium, which is open Mondays through Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m and located in Fayetteville State University at 1200 Murchison Rd. Sponsorship and vendor opportunities are also available for anyone interested and further information can be found at www.wfss.org.

  • 17IntersectionIt’s been more than two years since the town of Hope Mills took action to start the process of bringing red-light cameras to the community.

    The cameras, which are already in nearby Fayetteville, are posted at no cost to the town at designated intersections and capture images of drivers running red lights.

    The drivers are contacted by mail and assessed fines. The money collected from the fines is divided between the company that operates the cameras and Cumberland County Schools.

    Neither the town nor its police department are involved in any way in the operation of the cameras or where the money goes. The only thing the town does is decide which intersections to have the cameras cover.

    When the plan was first presented to the town’s board of commissioners March 6, 2017, members of that board voted unanimously to move forward with looking into adding cameras to the town.

    The issue has resurfaced since the North Carolina House of Representatives recently passed legislation that would bring the cameras to Hope Mills. It still has to pass the North Carolina Senate for it to happen.

    Hope Mills Police Chief Joel Acciardo stood by his previous comments from the board meeting of two years ago and said traffic safety is always a priority in Hope Mills. He added that no decisions had been made on where cameras would be located if they are finally approved. When it comes time to make a decision, Acciardo said, the town will likely draw on statistics and find the locations where accidents have been the biggest problem.

    Commissioner Pat Edwards, who seconded the original motion by Commissioner Jerry Legge to look into the cameras, said she had heard a lot of pros and cons since then about bringing the cameras to Hope Mills.

    Edwards said input from citizens would guide her final decision on adding cameras, but she added that if the issue involves safety for the community and the schools get additional funding from the project, she would tend to be supportive.

    “How often do you get something that doesn’t cost anything that provides safety?’’ Edwards said.

    Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner supports the cameras, both for the role they could play in saving lives and for providing money to the schools.

    Warner mentioned a number of intersections where accidents occur frequently that have been looked at in previous years. The list includes Hope Mills and Camden Road, Hope Mills and Highway 162, and Legion Road and Highway 162.

    “A lot of it has to do with impatience, especially at Main Street/Hope Mills Road and Camden,’’ Warner said. “They just take a chance. We see it happening all the time.

    “Statistically, there is national proof that the red-light cameras save lives and prevent accidents in attempting to prevent traffic from running yellow and red lights. Ultimately, the final decision will be left up to this board.’’

  • 05-15-13-4th-friday.gifMay 24th won’t be just any Friday; it is the celebration of 4th Friday, and for Fayetteville, that means tons of fun events, exhibits, music and art for all ages downtown.

    Visit art galleries including the Gallery ONE13 and the Arts Council. The Arts Council will show off its exhibit called Get the Picture III. This is the third juried photography competition hosted by the Arts Council. Residents of the Cumberland County who are 18-years-old and older were encouraged to participate and submit their best photography in black-and-white, color or digitally-manipulated formats. The selected entries will be shown on 4th Friday and winners will be announced at 8 p.m.

    The title, Get the Picture, emphasizes the goal and photographers were asked to keep that in mind.

    “It’s not about taking the picture, it’s about getting the best picture out there, going out and capturing something compelling and spectacular,” Mary Kinney, marketing director of the Arts Council said. She herself enjoys this event, “With $1,000 dollars in total prize money up for grabs, photographers will submit their very best work, making this show truly exceptional.”

    The much-anticipated show will run through June 22, so there are plenty of chances to view it.

    Fascinate-U Children’s Museum is to host a free craft activity from 7 to 9 p.m. for children and their families. Show off the colors red, white and blue by making Patriotic Wind Streamers in collaboration with the museum’s month-long celebration of Military Appreciation Month.

    People will also get to travel back in time at the Fayetteville Area Transportation Museum, where an exhibit will show the progress of transportation from pre-history up to the early 20th century. Other fun activities include crafts, produce for sale, a vintage car display and also live music. Bands include Blues Engima and the Raiford Street Band playing tunes of rock and blues. Also in the museum, visit the newest exhibit called A History of Fayetteville’s Jewish Community. It celebrates the Jewish community here in the city and how they have positively impacted us with their contributions socially, economically and culturally. This exhibit covers the early 19th century through mid-20th century and also tells of the events of the Holocaust and World War II.

    More history takes place in Fayetteville’s own Market House. People can walk around the historical monument’s display, A View from the Square: A History of Downtown Fayetteville, filled with maps and images telling the unique past of our own city.

    Music selections heard at every corner make for a very fine-tuned evening. City Center Gallery and Books hosts the favorite family, the Thiriot’s, in which each family member plays the violin.

    The Army Ground Forces Brass Quintet is expected to play brass music along Hay Street. And stop by Headquarters Library to hear a performance by the band Second Time Around. Citizens can listen to swing music while enjoying refreshments. The fun starts at 6 p.m. and ends at 10 p.m.

    Find out more about 4th Friday at www.theartscouncil.com

  • 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, May 8, 5-6 p.m., Parks and Recreation Building

    Board of Commissioners Monday, May 20, 7 p.m., Luther Meeting Room, Town Hall

    Lake Advisory Committee Tuesday, May 21, 6 p.m., Parks and Recreation Building

    Veterans Affairs Commission Thursday, May 23, 6:30 p.m., Parks and Recreation Building

    Appearance Committee Tuesday, May 28, 6:30 p.m., Parks and Recreation Building

    Activities

    Citizens Academy Tuesday, May 14, 6 p.m.-8 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.

    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.

  • uac052913001.gif If you’re looking to have a good time on Saturday, June 1, you don’t have to look far. Simply take a drive down to Festival Park, where you can enjoy two sultry pleasures — beer and the blues, as the Cape Fear Regional Theatre brings back the Blues and Brews Festival.

    The Blues and Brews Festival, an annual fundraiser for the theatre, has been a favorite community event for a number of years. First held at Campbellton Landing, the festival has grown dramatically over the years, which lead to the move to Festival Park. Last year, more than 2,500 people sipped their way through the festival, which has event organizers setting their sights a little higher this year.

    “We are shooting for 3,000 people this year,” said Jenny Deviere, the chair of this year’s event. This is Deviere’s 褀rst year as chair, and she hopes that some minor tweaks to the already successful festival will help bring in more people.

    “This is the first year we have had a presenting sponsor,” explained Deviere. “Mellow Mushroom is partnering with us as the presenting sponsor. They will cater the entire VIP tent, as well as have a raf踀e for a lucky couple to win pizza for a year.”

    The VIP ticket was introduced several years ago and has been a tremendous success. VIP ticket holders gain entrance to the festival an hour earlier than normal ticket holders and their ticket includes dinner in the VIP tent.

    There will be a tasting featuring all the breweries during the VIP hour. Those holding VIP tickets will have the opportunity to sample the brews and vote for the Best in Show. The winning brewery will have a banner in front of their tent proclaiming its beer the Best in Show.

    For those who do not purchase a VIP ticket, there will be more food vendors on hand than in years past. That is one of the tweaks Deviere and the Blues and Brews Committee made. “We don’t allow outside food or drinks, so it is important to have a big assortment of food for folks who are spending the evening,” said Deviere.

    One of the biggest tweaks to the festival revolves around the music.

    “One of the biggest areas that we have had people comment on over the past couple of years is the music,” she noted. “We have heard that folks think the music has been lacking; that we haven’t paid as much love to the music and bands as we should have. So we are correcting that this year.”

    Blues lovers will be happy to know that there will be not one, but three great blues acts performing this year.

    Kia Walker, a local performer will be on hand in the VIP tent beginning at 5 p.m.05-29-13-brews-&-blues-1.gif

    On the mainstage, Old Habits, a Raleigh-based band, will belt out its mix of Blue Grass and Rock-A-Billy Blues. Old Habits will be followed by a band that Deviere classi褀es as a dirty, old blues band, the Fat Bastard Blues Band out of Mebane, N.C.

    With the music covered, that brings us to the heart of the festival — the beer.

    “We will showcase more than 100 beers from all over the southeast,” explained Deviere. “With each (full-priced) ticket purchased, attendees will receive a commemorative glass for tasting.”

    Nannette Walsh, a theatre volunteer, was in charge of organizing the brewers for the events. Walsh brought together an eclectic mix of independent brewers and brewers who are represented by distributors. Two distributors, R.A. Jeffreys and Healy Wholesale, will focus on some of their more non-traditional beers.

    Confirmed brewers and beers that will be available for tasting are:•

    Aviator Brewing Company, a Fuquay-Varina-based brewery, that will feature HogWild IPA, HotRod Red and the Devil’s Tramping Ground Belgian Tripel.

    • Barrel Trolley Brewing Company out of Rochester, N.Y., represented by Mutual Distributors, will showcase its Barrel Trolley Shandy. Also represented by Mutual, is Saranac Brewery, which will feature Saranac Summer Shandy, Blueberry Blonde and a White IPA.

    • R.A. Jeffreys will feature a number of breweries, including:

    * Blue Point Brewing Company, Long Island, N.Y., with a Toasted Lager Hoptical Illusion, a White Ipa and a Summer Ale.

    * Carolina Brewery, out of Pittsboro, N.C., with a Sky Blue Golden Ale, Copperline Amber Ale, Flagship IPA and Bullpen Pale Ale.

    05-29-13-brews-&-blues-2.gif* Natty Greene’s, a Greensboro-based brewery, will have a Southern Pale Ale, Buckshot Amber Ale, Elm Street India Pale Ale, Shock Top, Shock Top Apple, Landshark and Black Crown available for tasting.

    * Blue Point Brewing Company, of Long Island, N.Y., will have Toasted Lager, Hoptical Illusion, White Ipa and Summer Ale.

    * Carib Brewery will showcase its Carib Lager and Mackeson Stout.

    * Goose Island will showcase 312, Honkers and a Summer IPA.

    * Fayetteville’s own Huske Hardware will pour its Watermelon Wheat Beer and its Ala Yeah Pale Ale, Farmhouse and Spring of Perles Light Lager.

    * Wild Blue from Anheuser-Busch.

    * Lonerider Brewery our of Raleigh, N.C., will have The Preacher-Saison, a Shotgun Betty Hefe Weizen and Sweet Josie, a Brown Ale.

    * The Lion Brewery, of Wilkes-Barre, Penn., will feature a Lionshead Pilsner and a Stegmaier High Drive.

    * Triangle Brewery will bring a Belgian Golden, a Triangle White and a Best Bitter.

    • Carolina Brewing, of Holly Springs, N.C., will bring a Carolina Pale Ale, Carolina Nut Brown Ale, Carolina India Pale Ale and Carolina Summer Ale.

    • Fayetteville’s Mash House will feature a Blonde, Irish Red, IPA and Maibock.

    • Railhouse Brewery, out of Aberdeen, N.C., will pour a FCA IPA and a Mastiff Oatmeal Stout.

    • Raleigh Brewing Company will feature a House of Clay Rye IPA and a Czech Pilsner

    • Healy Wholsale will represent a number of brewers, including:

    * Boulevard Brewery with a Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat

    * Foothills Brewery showcasing Hoppyum, Seeing Double and a Carolina Blonde Hefe.

    * Leinenkugel Brewery will pour Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy.

    * New Belgium Brewery will serve Fat Tire, 1554, Ranger IPA and Dig.

    * North American Brewery will pour Magic Hat #9.

    * Sierra Nevada Brewery will present Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Sierra Nevada Summerfest.

    * 10th and Blake will have Crispin Cider, Blue Moon, Blue Moon Seasonal and Batch 19.

    Tickets for the event are $35 for those tasting; $15 for general admission; and $50 for VIP admittance. The VIP Tent is open from 4-5 p.m., with general admission beginning at 5 p.m. This year, credit cards can be used at the gate. For tickets and more information, visit www.cfrt.org.

    Photo: Middle right: Blues and Brews — from Campbellton Landing to Festival Park. Bottom left: Fat Bastard is set to perform along with Kia Walker and Old Habits.

  • 16Hope Mills fire chief chuck Hodges copyA national car rental company once had a major advertising campaign based on the notion that since they were No. 2, they tried harder.

    Nobody’s suggesting the Hope Mills Fire Department do the same thing, but the No. 2 rating it received from the North Carolina Office of the State Fire Marshall is something to brag about. 

    A No. 1 rating is next to impossible to get according to Derrick Clouston, one of the people involved with handing the ratings out. There are currently 1,252 fire departments in the state. Clouston said only nine have No. 1 ratings.

    Clouston said what it takes to get a rating of one varies by community. “It’s not a cookiecutter process,’’ he said. “You can’t compare one community to another.’’

    The No. 2 rating Hope Mills received is also based on support Hope Mills could get at a fire from surrounding departments, like Fayetteville, Stoney Point or Pearce’s Mill, Clouston said. 

    Mike Williams, who also works with the office that handles the inspections, said the rating is based on a number of factors, including the county water system, communication system, overall operation of the local fire department and its training.

    Williams said the high rating Hope Mills earned, which will go into effect in August this year, shows Hope Mills has done a great job maintaining its overall efficiency as a fire department.

    Hope Mills fire chief Chuck Hodges is delighted with the rating Hope Mills got, adding that to him it’s like getting a one. “Our guys are pretty ecstatic,’’ he said. “You’re recognized nationwide with this rating. For a fire chief, it’s saying how I stack up, not in other departments by size. This is how I stack up against every fire department in the United States.’’

    Earning the rating involved a lot of hard work by Hodges and his staff. Much of the inspection for the rating involves going through paperwork, including years of service test records. Hodges said the Hope Mills fire department team assembled the records ahead of time as much as possible to make the process go smoother.

    But there is also a physical inspection involved. “They open every compartment on every truck,’’ Hodges said. They also check to make sure all the needed equipment is there, going so far as to count how many pike poles of certain lengths a truck carries.

    “They look at how many trucks we send to certain types of calls, how many people we have on those types of calls,’’ Hodges said.

    The tangible benefit for the town, aside from having a fire department ready to handle the job required, is how it can affect the community’s insurance rates.

    “The lower your rating, the less insurance premiums you pay as far as the town is concerned,’’Hodges said. “We look very good to businesses and developers. That’s a selling point to them.

    “You can move into Hope Mills, open a business in Hope Mills, and you’re going to pay less insurance premiums because of the ratings. Commercial properties really see savings when you get below a five.

    “For any town officials trying to recruit business or development in the town, that’s a feather in the cap.’’

    Photo: Chuck Hodges

  • People use words like energetic, adventurous, outgoing and strong-willed to describe Zach Grullon. A graduate of Jack Britt High School, Grullon dreamed of serving in the United States military and considered a tandem jump with the U.S. Army Golden Knights a dream come true.

    Grullon passed away on Jan. 28, 2012 after battling a rare form of cancer, Fibrolamellar Hepatocellular Carcinoma, for more than two years. The disease, which primarily attacks teens and young adults, is a rare liver cancer. Annually, 200 young adults die from this disease each year. Some 72,000 teens and young adults are diagnosed with various forms of cancer every year, according to a 2010 Wall Street Journal article, of that number, 10,000 die. Until 2008, little research was done in the area of Fibrolamellar because it is so rare, but that changed when Tucker Davis, the founder of the Firbrolamellar Cancer Foundation, was diagnosed with the disease.

    Davis founded the foundation with the hope of finding a cure for this often fatal disease. The foundation’s mission is threefold: Find a cure and treatment options, raise awareness of the disease and bring attention to teen and young adult cancers.

    Grullon’s parents, Kevin and Shawn, local realtors want to contribute to that mission in their son’s memory. Zach Grullon was diagnosed with FHC in March 2010. He had been dealing with severe stomach pain and nausea for a couple of months. Friends and family didn’t think much of the pain because Zach worked out so hard. After numerous test and scans, a grapefruit-sized tumor was found on his liver. In April 2010, he had a liver resection, but the cancer had already spread to his lymph nodes. Zach began an intensive round of chemotherapy, but he didn’t let it stop the way he lived his life. He continued to work out and play sports. And, in August 2010, just a couple of months after his high-school graduation, he jumped with the Golden Knights.

    05-23-12-janice-article.jpgThe memory of that jump inspired his parents to host a Free Fall to Fight Cancer on Saturday, June 2 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Raeford Parachute Center. The event will give individuals the opportunity to perform a tandem jump with former and off-duty members of the Golden Knights who are volunteering for the cause. For a $330 donation, individuals will get to jump with the world-famous team and receive a video and photos of their jump to share with friends and family. Those interested in participating in the fundraiser must be at least 18 years of age and weigh less than 235 pounds.

    In addition to the jumps, there will be raffles for great prizes, a silent auction and fund games for children. Food and beverages will also be available for purchase.

    A Cruise to Fight Cancer, featuring classic cars, will drive a route from Spec Ops Motorsports in Hope Mills around Fayetteville. Students from Paul Mitchell School will be on hand to give manicures and the Renaissance Day Spa will have a tent as well. All proceeds from the event will go directly to the Firbrolamellar Cancer Foundation.

    To register or for more information, contact Kevin and Shawn Grullon at 910-257-3027 or 910-229-1100 or email grullonteam@gmail.com.

    Photo: Zach Grullon and his father, Kevin, at his jump in August 2010. Zach died earlier this year after a two-year battle with cancer.

  • Travel is a leading American industry that’s more than just fun. In fact, travel and tourism is one of the country’s leading industries — it impacts the economies of the nation, the state and here in Cumberland County. May 4-12, we recognize the impact of this industry with National Travel & Tourism Week, a national celebration from the U.S. Travel Association that champions the value of travel. The 2013 theme for National Travel & Tourism Week is “Travel Effect.”

    Nationwide, travel supports 14.6 million jobs with a $200.9 billion payroll. U.S. travelers generate $2 trillion in economic impact that contributes $128.8 billion in tax revenues for federal, state and local governments. In fact, without travel and tourism’s contribution to the tax base, each household would be taxed an additional $1,060 per year.

    In 2011, domestic visitors spent $18.4 million across North Carolina, generating $2.8 billion in tax receipts. This is an 8 percent increase from the previous year and a record high spending fi gure. North Carolina tourism supports 187,900 jobs for North Carolina residents and contributes $4.18 billion to the state’s payroll.

    Of North Carolina’s 100 counties, Cumberland County generates the eighth highest economic impact from domestic tourism. In 2011, the industry generated $450.11 million in expenditures and $33.96 in state and local tax revenues. This represents a $104.53 tax savings to each county resident. Additionally, Cumberland County’s tourism industry employs 4,200 people with a payroll of $80.97 million. Tourism is Cumberland County’s second largest industry.

    Marketing the community

    The Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau works to maximize the economic impact of travel and tourism in Cumberland County. That figure is steadily rising. From 2001 to 2011, domestic tourism expenditures grew 83 percent from $245.99 million to the present fi gure of $450.11 million.

    The bureau is funded through occupancy taxes collected from overnight visitors at Cumberland County hotels and administered by the Tourism Development Authority (TDA). This means that no local taxpayer money is used for the promotion of travel and tourism. (The Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County and The Crown Center also receive a portion of occupancy tax collections.)

    You might wonder how the FACVB markets the community to visitors. Each year, we produce a detailed program of work that outlines the program for the coming year. All marketing decisions are research-based, allowing us to pinpoint the wants and needs of the visitor.

    Some tactics/projects on the plan include:

    • Attending trade shows to secure leads for meeting planner, group tour operator and sports tournament business.

    • Managing and maintaining a comprehensive website that promotes the entire Cumberland County travel industry

    • Public relations efforts to secure positive publicity on Cumberland County as a travel destination. These efforts may include social media contests, writer visits, press releases, event listing in trade and Web publications and outreach to targeted journalists.

    • Development of a Destination Guide to cover all travel markets

    • Targeted advertisement with lead generation for continued marketing

    The FACVB continues to maximize the impact of travel and tourism on our economy by providing programs and services for visitors to Cumberland County. We always keep an eye on the visitor — and work to fulfi ll their needs.

    BECAUSE THE VISITOR

    Because the visitor has a need, we have a job to do.

    Because the visitor has a choice, we must be the better choice.

    Because the visitor has sensibilities... we must be considerate.

    Because the visitor has an urgency, we must be quick.

    Because the visitor has high expectations, we must excel.

    Because the visitor has influence, we have hope of more visitors. Because of the visitor, we exist.

    - Karl Yena Yena & Associates

  • 05-22-13-ryan.gifDiagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma during his senior year of high school, Ryan Kishbaugh was a determined young man who refused to let cancer get the best of him. His inspirational story gives hope to others who are fighting cancer, so in memory of Ryan, the 2013 Ryan Patrick Kishbaugh Memorial Golf Tournament will be held on July 13 at 8:30 a.m. at Cypress Lakes Golf Course to benefit the nonprofit Carpe Diem Foundation.

    The Carpe Diem Foundation has three tenets: it supports other foundations, it promotes and helps fund education and research for the treatment of chronic illnesses and it provides college scholarships for student athletes who have a chronic illness or someone who has battled a chronic illness during their formative years and plans on attending college.

    “This is the 10th year of Ryan’s memorial golf tournament and it has turned into a large annual event,” said David Kishbaugh, father and host of The Ryan P. Kishbaugh Memorial Golf Tournament. “Each year we raise money and we give it to The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.”

    Kishbaugh added that last year they maxed out participation and used all of the available slots.

    The event will consist of a day of golf, food, beverages, T-shirts and prizes. There will be a hole-in-one contest, a 50-50 raffl e and a special putting contest. There will be prizes for longest drive and closest to the pin.

    “Restaurants will provide the food and drinks for the event,” said Kishbaugh. “Everyone comes out and we play golf in memory of Ryan.”

    Ryan Patrick Kishbaugh was born on July 26, 1984. He was an exceptional young man who excelled in all of his endeavors. He graduated second in his high school class and was accepted into Princeton University. He played varsity soccer and basketball. He won the 2001 Governor’s Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service. He worked for Habitat for Humanity, helped at Better Health and worked at diabetes clinics.

    Kishbaugh describes Ryan as a good kid, independent and hardworking.05-22-13-ryan-golf-tourn.gif

    “He believed in people and was my most free-spirited child.” said Kishbaugh. “He didn’t believe in conformity, but yet he was so self-driven and excelled in anything he wanted to do.”

    Kishbaugh added that when Ryan learned that he had cancer in 2001, he decided that he was going to defeat it and not let it get him down.

    Openings for the tournament are fi lling up fast, and Kishbaugh hopes to see a full roster on the golf course again this year. Online registration at http://golfdigestplanner.com/22842-2013RPK and includes a one-year subscription to Golf Digest. Registration on the day of the event begins at 7:30 a.m. For more information, call 850-7833.

    Photo bottom right: The 2013 Ryan Patrick Kishbaugh Memorial Golf Tournament will be held on July 13 at 8:30 a.m. at Cypress Lakes Golf Course to benefit the nonprofit Carpe Diem Foundation. 

  • When was the last time you discussed hot flashes in public? What about night sweats and mood05-07-14-menopause.gif swings? Well, grab your girlfriends, ladies. Menopause the Musicalis coming for one day only to the Crown Center on May 18. It’s a Chick Flick, live on stage!

    The entire musical is set in a department store, where four women with seemingly nothing in common meet by chance over a black lace bra. From there, a friendship is formed that gives way to conversations about hot flashes, chocolate cravings, wrinkles and mood swings. The show is staged to classic tunes from the 60s, 70s and 80s and promises to have you dancing in the aisles.

    It is estimated that nearly 11 million women have attended a performance since the 2001 opening in Orlando, Florida. Inspired by a hot flash and a bottle of wine, writer and producer Jeanie Linders created the show as a celebration of women who are on the brink of, in the middle of or have survived “The Change.”

    Although the show’s message may seem a little “senior,” Ingrid Cole, one of the leading ladies of the show and winner of the 2012 Suzi Bass Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical for her portrayal as Rose in Gypsy with The Atlanta Lyrics Theatre, promises that people of all ages will love it- men, too. “Men love the show! This is why the show is so popular. It applies to everyone,” Cole says.

    As an original show cast member, Cole was a bit surprised at first at how popular the show is, but not anymore. “We are all a little amazed at how this little show has exploded. But, it’s no surprise anymore that people have at least heard of it.”

    Cole says she and her cast mates are having the best time touring with Menopause. “We get along really well and respect each other. You can see it on stage, too.”

    The show is produced by GFour Productions, which has won more than 40 Tony Awards. Notable productions include The Book of Mormonand I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.

    The show begins at 3 p.m. and runs for 90 minutes. Tickets range from $30 - $65 and are available online at Ticketmaster.com, in person at the Crown Center Box Office and all Ticketmaster outlets or by phone at 1.800.745.3000. Group discounts of 10+ are available by calling 888-686-8587 x 2. Additional service charges and fees may apply.

    Menopause the Musicalhas entertained audiences in more than 450 U.S. cities, in a total of 15 countries and more than 300 international cities. Internationally, the show has been performed in Australia, Canada, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea and the United Kingdom.

    Cole says, “You get in the room with a bunch of women who are celebrating the change and a magical thing happens. We feel like rock stars! Be prepared to laugh and have a good time! And, don’t we all need that?”For more information about the show, please visit www.menopausethemusical.com.

    For more information about Ingrid Cole, please visit www.Ingridcole.com.

  • 05-14-14-kiwanis.gifIn the minds of many people, there is no more noble a gesture than caring for the needs of the children in our community. There are so many children and so many needs that people feel should be addressed. If an individual can make a sustained effort to make a difference, some of those needs can be filled. If a group of individuals comes together to take up the cause, the effect of the individual can be multiplied several times over. If that group can sustain the effort for an extended length of time, it is possible to make a substantial difference.

    The Kiwanis Club of Fayetteville is an organization of individuals from our community that have taken the gesture of caring for the needs of children and embraced it as a mission. Bill Bowman, publisher of Up & Coming Weekly, is a member of the club who describes it as, “dedicated to the community and improving the lives of youth.” Since its formation in 1921, the Fayetteville Kiwanis Club has worked to better the community and serve children, preschool to high school, by offering and supporting many programs in varying areas of interest.

    For the Kiwanis Club of Fayetteville, one program has become particularly endearing to the community, the annual Talent Night Showcase. The showcase has returned for its 63rd year and will be held at its traditional home at the Cape Fear Regional Theatre on June 13. The event is a showcase for talented young people from pre-school age though high school that serves as a fundraiser to support other Kiwanis programs like; Reading is Fun, Little League Baseball, and Key Clubs.

    Bowman credited the community for the longevity and enduring success of the event, “When you have an event like this that draws the crowds it draws and serves the community it serves, it perpetuates itself. It’s not us that keep it alive; it’s the fact that it is a successful and prestigious event and this community that keeps it alive.”

    Youth from all corners of the area will descend on the Honeycutt Recreation Center on May 31 for auditions. If they are selected as finalists, they will perform on the stage at Cape Fear Regional Theatre on June 13. The competition for those spots in the main show will be intense according Bowman, “We will audition hundreds of children who will vie for five or six spots in each category. We have them broken down by grade level but only five or six, depending on the competition, will be chosen. This is not just a talent show; this is the best of the best.”

    In speaking about the type of talent that is selected, Bowman elaborated, “It is some amazing talent. We have had winners from the Kiwanis Talent Night go on to hold positions in the Boston Pops, go on to Broadway, and even become Miss North Carolina. We have a long tradition of turning out some of the best talent the county has to offer... For $7 you should not pass up the opportunity to see these young performers. “

    For more information about attending or performing, please visit the Kiwanis Talent Night Showcase website at www.fayettevillekiwanis.org/talent.

    Photo: Local students are invited to compete in the 63rd Annual Talent Night Showcase.

  • 05-28-14-ceasefire.gifIn 2002, Project Safe Neighborhood came to Fayetteville under the Operation Ceasefire name. The program is part of a national initiative that was started under the Bush Administration in 2001. It is rooted in successes from programs that were implemented in Boston, Mass., and Richmond, Va., in the late 1990s.

    On June 6, at J.S. Spivey Rec Center, Operation Ceasefire presents Escape from Planet Earth. The movie is free and open to the public. It starts at 7:30 p.m. Bring a blanket or chair to sit on and enjoy an evening with friends.

    According to the Operation Ceasefire website, the goal is “To improve the quality of life for all residents of Fayetteville/Cumberland County by reducing gun and gang violence in our community.” Lisa Jayne is a part of the Fayetteville Police Department and serves as the Operation Ceasefire Coordinator; she describes Operation Ceasefire as having three core elements, “intervention, suppression and prevention.”

    The intervention component comes from a series of meetings Jayne refers to as “Call-ins.” “We work with Probation Parole; they send us about 100 parolees that are currently on probation or parole for gun crimes … That list gets narrowed down to around 30 individuals. We meet at Kingdom Impact Ministries as the faith based aspect is a part of Ceasefire, too. The parolees are given an appointment for a follow-up assessment with me. They are then put into a resource room … to provide education resources, jobs, healthcare, anything that people with felony convictions on their records have a hard time with. I also have speakers who have been there and done that… to give them some hope for how things can be turned around. After the speakers, there is a panel of all the law enforcement agencies of the area, from federal to state; they give them some tough love.”

    Suppression is a joint effort between local and federal law enforcement. From Jayne, “We have a very strong relationship with Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms... Any cases, tips, or anything done at the state level, we funnel it through the ATF to see if they can take the case federally. Federal sentences are much longer than state sentences … you don’t get out for good behavior… there is no parole or early release.”

    Jayne says that prevention is accomplished by a number of initiatives including the Movie Night program, “In 2007, we purchased outdoor movie equipment … We go into neighborhoods that are disadvantaged with a free movie, popcorn and soda. The police are on hand, while the children are watching a movie … if the public wants to talk to the police about a certain area where they may see a problem or if there are people causing problems. It is over two hours of face-to-face time in a non-threatening, laid back and family atmosphere.” The program also utilizes a gang detective that goes and does presentations about gangs that are just for adults. To promote gun safety, gun locks are distributed at no charge to anyone who owns a gun that also has children.

    For more information about Operation Ceasefire and any of its programs, including the Movie Night schedule, visit their website at www.ceasefire.ci.fayetteville.nc.us. Program Coordinator Lisa Jayne is available to provide information on the program, volunteering and donation opportunities at 910-433-1017 or LJayne@ci.fay.nc.us.

  • 11 NeverlandAlpha & Omega Dance Academy is bringing Peter Pan, Captain Hook and the Lost Boys to the Sandhills with its spring recital, “Neverland.” The AODA team welcomes the community to enjoy this unique, dance driven presentation of Peter Pan’s story Saturday, June 9, at Fayetteville State University’s J.W. Seabrook Auditorium.

    A scaled-down children’s recital, featuring dancers ages 3-6, begins at 10:30 a.m. “Neverland,” the larger production showcasing students ages 7 and older, begins at 3 p.m.

    “Instead of holding a typical dance recital, our artistic staff and dancers work hard to provide a theatrical and thematic production, complete with a cast of main characters, narration, acting, costumes and creative sets and props,” said AODA owner and instructor Rachel Choi.

    AODA offers classes ranging from pointe to hip hop, and each of those classes will tell a part of the story – from ballerinas flying to Neverland to tap-dancing crocodiles to musical theatre performing the iconic song “Ugg-A-Wugg.”

    “Whether you’re attending our (production) to support your friends or decide (if) our studio is right for you, we’re excited to give you a sneak peek into our world of dance,” said Sarah Pages, artistic and production director and dance instructor.

    Choi said, “I hope this will be an entertaining show, but even more so, I hope ‘Neverland’ will serve to inspire everyone, young and old, to never forget the beauty and power of imagination, hope, belief and friendship – and perhaps a little bit of pixie dust.”

    AODA is a Christian studio and one of the only local non-competitive dance studios. Its ratings on popular platforms like Facebook boast 5 stars. Past AODA productions include “A Puppet to a Boy” (“Pinocchio,” 2012), “Oz” (“The Wizard of Oz,” 2013), “Narnia” (“The Chronicles of Narnia,” 2014), “Alice” (“Alice In Wonderland,” 2015), “Adventures with Mary and Bert” (“Mary Poppins,” 2016) and “Belle”( “Beauty & The Beast,” 2017).

    Tickets to “Neverland” on June 9 cost $10 and include entry to the morning children’s recital. They can be purchased in advance at AODA, 201 S. McPherson Church Rd., or at the door the day of the production at J.W. Seabrook Auditorium. AODA students and children under the age of six enter free. Seating begins 30 minutes prior to each show.

    Visit www.alphaomegadanceacademy.com or call 910-860-1405 to learn more.

  • 10 CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOFPlaywright Tennessee Williams wrote often about the human condition. Cruelty, suffering and yearning for love in alonely world consumed his writing. “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” which he wrote in 1955, is no different. The Southern classic fits perfectly as the last show of the Gilbert Theater’s 2017-18 season, punctuating a theatrical journey of wild, caged hearts. Performances of the show run June 1-10.

    “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” tells the tale of a husband and wife, Brick and Maggie, who are at odds both physically and emotionally. They don’t sleep together. Brick, a copious drinker, is still in shambles over the suicide of his best friend. Maggie is concerned with whether or not Brick’s siblings will inherit Big Daddy’s fortune. Meanwhile, everyone except Big Daddy seems to know he is dying of cancer.

    Knee-deep in the sludge of greed, familial discord and lies, the whole clan gathers to pretend and to smile and to “celebrate” Big Daddy’s birthday. Yet as often happens with family, past slights explode to the surface.

    In Williams’ original play, he critiques the homophobia and sexism rampant particularly in the South. But these critiques don’t quite make it into the 1958 MGM film version, starring Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor. The film was produced in the height of the Hays Code era, when sexual repression on film was the standard.

    According to director James Dean, the Gilbert Theater adapted Williams’ 1974 version of the play, which contains more overt portrayals of the original undertones.

    “(Williams’) plays are usually about how difficult communication is between people,” said Dean. “This one is really about this one rich family and their lack of communication in that core, the dysfunction of this family.”

    One of Williams’ earlier plays is subtitled “A Prayer for the Wild of Heart That are Kept in Cages.” It is also a good working summary of the Gilbert Theater’s season.

    The season opener, “Evil Dead: The Musical,” is a playful reflection of the wild being caged in a dead zombie body. A cage is a cage.

    The Gilbert’s follow-up was the classic story of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” George Bailey so embodies the idea of a caged free spirit. He wanted to build things. Go places. Be somebody. But he become strapped in his small town, destined to take over his father’s banking business and live a life of quiet desperation. The ending sees George accepting and becoming almost grateful for his cage.

    To paraphrase the candid Williams: you either accept it, kill yourself or stop looking in mirrors.

    By adapting David Ives’ play “Venus in Fur,” the Gilbert continued the theme of a trapped wildness aching to be free. Thomas wants to put Vanda in a certain kind of box: submissive to the director’s ideas and ego, demure, not headstrong. Still, Vanda is the one to turn the tables and put Thomas in that very box designed for her.

    “Antigone,” on the other hand, shows the wild heart of an activist, a revolutionary, trapped in the cage of simply being born in the wrong time.

    With “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” one hopes the Gilbert captures the desperation of Williams’ characters to connect beyond the steel cage of our individual selves. If so, it will be the cherry a top a well-crafted season.

    “Every single person can relate to the things going on in this play,” said Dean. “We all have problems within our family units. You might love them and at the same time you just can’t believe they’re saying or doing the things that they do.”

    To support the Gilbert and its 25th anniversary season next year, the theater is hosting a fundraiser featuring classical chamber music June 10. Tickets are $30 per person. For more information, visit www.gilberttheater.com.

  • 15BiltmoreHere is a newspaper headline from last week: “A ‘palace’ in NC: One of the state’s largest homes is for sale.”

    Must be the Biltmore House in Asheville, I thought. Then I kept reading. No, the 16,000-square-foot home in the headlines is in Rougemont, a high-end Durham suburb. You can buy it for $6.95 million.

    But if you owned it, you would not come close to having one of the largest houses. Just for comparison’s sake, the White House has 50,000 square feet. President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago has 62,500. Whitehall, the Palm Beach house Henry Flagler built for his North Carolina bride, Mary Lily Kenan, is 60,000.

    Another large North Carolina-connected house, Duke Farms, built in New Jersey by James B. Duke, had 58,000, until it was taken down in 2016.

    But if you are still thinking Asheville’s Biltmore House, you have the right idea. With a reported area of 175,000 square feet, it is by far the largest privately owned house in the United States.

    It is also one of the country’s most visited attractions.The mansion with 250 rooms is packed full of art, antiques, architecture, books, collections of vintage clothing and other accessories representative of the Gilded Age. The house is part of an 8,000-acre compound containing expansive gardens and landscapes, the first managed forest in the country, a deer park, miles of level paths and walking trails, a section of the French Broad River and a winery that enjoys a growing reputation.

    On a typical day, thousands of visitors pay up to $75 for a one-time visit to the attractions. If it sounds expensive, it is really a bargain compared to a trip to France to see something comparable.

    How did this world-class attraction come to be in North Carolina?

    In her latest book, “The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss and American Royalty in the Nation’s Largest Home,” Denise Kiernan tells the story of how and why the Biltmore House was built and how its gradual transformation to a high-class tourist attraction made its survival possible.

    In 1888, George Washington Vanderbilt, a young wealthy bachelor, and his mother came to Asheville to take advantage of the healthy mountain air. On horseback rides around the surrounding mountains and forest, George was enthralled. Through agents, he began the secret and systematic purchase of thousands and the tens of thousands of forest and farm lands. Ultimately, more than 100,000 of these acres became the nucleus of the Pisgah National Forrest.

    George also decided to build a home for himself and his mom. The idea began modestly, but after a trip to the Loire Valley in France with the famed architect Richard Morris Hunt, plans expanded. The designer of Central Park, Frederick Law Olmsted, was brought on to design the landscape, and Gifford Pinchot agreed to plan for the massive forests.

    The house opened in 1895. Kiernan told merecently that it might have been simply a 275-room “man-cave” for the then aging George. In 1898 he married Edith Stuyvesant Dresser, and in 1900 their daughter, Cornelia, was born at Biltmore.

    In Kiernan’s opinion, Edith is the great hero of the Biltmore story. When George died in 1914, financial challenges had surrounded the Biltmore operation. Edith took the lead. She secured and followed expert advice that required painful cutbacks and sales of beloved projects. Later, she arranged for the sale of most of the forest properties.

    In 1924, Cornelia married British diplomat John Cecil. Although their marriage did not last, their sons, William and George, and their families took charge of the aging castle. They developed a sustainable and profitable business model that assures our state will have our country’s largest privately owned house for many years to come.

  • 12FYSOThe Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra presents the Fayetteville Symphony Youth Orchestra’s Spring Concert Sunday, May 20, at 4 p.m. at Fayetteville Academy.

    “The purpose of this group is to give kids another opportunity to play; they are not incompetition with anybody,” said Dr. Larry Wells, music director of the FSYO. “This concert will feature all three of our ensembles: a concert band, a string ensemble and the full orchestra.”

    Wells added that one of the things he loves about this group is they don’t do many arrangements and they do the real versions of the compositions.

    “Some of the pieces are quite difficult and the students are learning how to manage professional music situations, so it is not watered down,” said Wells. “The full orchestra is doing the real version of John William’s movie music to ‘Jurassic Park,’ which is fantastic.” Wells added all of the groups are playing tough pieces, and it should be a great concert.

    The FSYO is now accepting applications for the 2018-19 school year. Registration deadline is Friday, Aug. 31. The orchestra is for students ages 13-21 in public, private or home-school, who have experience playing the violin, viola, cello, double bass, flute, oboe, clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon, saxophone, French horn, trumpet, trombone, euphonium, tuba orpercussion.

    An advanced summer music camp will take place June 25-29 from 9 a.m.– 2 p.m.at Fayetteville Academy. It is suited for advanced players. In addition to the age requirement, the student must be able to play a two-octave chromatic scale and know at least five of the 12 major scales on their instrument and/or the student must have been participating in the FSYO for at least one year. The registration deadline is June 8.

    “We don’t turn anybody away and we will find a home for you,” said Wells. “We invite everyone to come out to the concert and see what the students have learned.”

    The concert is free and open to the public. For more information about your child’s opportunity to be a part of the FSYO, call 910-433-4690 or visit the website at www.fayettevillesymphony.org

  • 10Public Works Call Home Hero copyOn May 25, Cool Spring Downtown District will host 4th Friday, Fayetteville’s monthly exhibitionof art and culture, in conjunction with E. E. Smith High School. This month’s theme is high school reunion.“

    A joyful time, to be sure,” said Janet Gibson of 4th Friday, director of marketing and communications of the Arts Council of Fayetteville and Cumberland County. “Unique stores and restaurants are a buzz with activity. The streets are often filled with music and dance. Art is everywhere to be found.”

    One of the highlights of the event will be the opening of the annual art exhibition called “Public Works,” sponsored by Fayetteville PublicWorks Commission. This will be the thirteenth annual exhibition.

    “For the people and by the people, anyone can enter,” Gibson said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re three or 93, you can enter. If you’re into painting or photography, you can enter.” The only rule for submission is that you must live in Bladen, Cumberland, Harnett, Hoke, Lee, Montgomery, Moore, Richmond, Robeson, Sampson or Scotland County, Fort Bragg or Pope Army Air Field.

    This time-honored exhibit is something the community looks forward to every year and is a celebration of the many talented artists in the area.The art will be displayed within the art center gallery. “It will look like almost every square inch of the gallery will be filled with art,” Gibson said. There will be a people’s choice winner, which will be voted for online.

    The Arts Council is one of many places to visit during 4th Friday.

    There will also be a show of songs and stories from the ’50s to the ’80s at Headquarters Library, presented by The Parsons folk group from 7 to 9 p.m.

    A third highlight of the event will include arts and crafts with Fascinate-U Children’s Museum, where children can create spoon maracas out of recycled plastic eggs and explore the museum. Fascinate-U Children’s Museum will have free entry for the event.

    Additional exhibits include several art and history installations, such as displays at the Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum and the Cape Fear Studios Members’ Anniversary Exhibit.

    Gibson described 4th Friday as a celebration of the community. “You can feel the energy; it’s a great time to celebrate the arts, visual and performing, and it’s really heating up with spring and summer,” she said. “People get off work on Friday, they come down, they bring their families, and it’s a joyful celebration of everything we have down here.”

    Visit www.visitdowntownfayetteville.com/visit/4thfriday or www.theartscouncil.com/thingsto-do/fourth-fridays or search for Fourth Friday Fayetteville on Facebook for more information.

  • 08CrownsCape Fear Regional Theatre will wrap up the season with “Crowns,” a gospel musical, May17–June 3. The show, written by Regina Taylor, is adapted from the book “Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats” by Michael Cunningham and Craig Marberry.

    The book is a collection of photographs and oral histories of African-American women in their Sunday best, which includes elaborate head gear, a cherished custom prevalent in the South among many religious denominations.

    The musical weaves many of those stories into characters who offer support and encouragement to each other, said CFRT artistic director Mary Kate Burke. “It’s really a collection of stories about acommunity,” she explained.

    Yolanda, an African-American, struggles with grief after the death of her brother. She goes down South to live with Mother Shaw, her grandmother. Mother Shaw introduces Yolanda to her circle of “hat queens.”

    The “hat queens” embrace the younger woman and take her under their wings, said Cassandra Williams, who plays Mother Shaw. Each hat they wear has a story of a wedding, a funeral, a baptism. The women share stories of how they’ve managed life’s struggles. As a community, they help Yolanda deal with the loss of her brother and find her own identity.

    “It shows African-American culture, but any group of women can identify with the story,” Williams said. “The whole play is cathartic.”

    “And it’s funny,” said Burke, adding that these characters deliver a good bit of “hattitude.”

    “There is a different hat for every occasion,” Williams said, “and you are introduced to different characters vis-à-vis the different hats they wear.”

    Williams explained that “hat queens” are those women who can wear any kind of hat. “A regality comes with it and you feel like a queen – you know that you look good.”

    With that regality and confidence comes a broader message, said La’Tonya Wiley, who plays Mabel in the show.

    “We call them her crowns,” Wiley said. “It celebrates the power of a woman; it celebrates womanhood and femininity.” She added that the show allows men to see the complexity of women – just as there are layers and many parts to a hat, there are layers to women.

    The show will appeal to men as well as women, said Burke. “It is a celebration of womanhood, but not at the cost of men,” she said. “It has such a generous spirit.”

    “Crowns” is directed by Donna Bradby (“The Wiz”). The songs are traditional gospel, with some blues and jazz. Featured songs include “Ain’t That Good News,” “Marching to Zion,” “Just a Closer Walk with Thee,” and “Wade in the Water.”

    Joining Williams and Wiley in the cast are Ariel Blake as Yolanda, Sha’air Hawkins, Janeta Jackson, Chasity McIntosh and Walter Johnson.

    Tickets for “Crowns” range from $17-$32, with discounts and group sales available. Special events for the musical’s run include Preview Nights May 17 and 18; Opening Night Celebration with the cast and creative team May 19; and Military Appreciation Night May 23.

    There will be a Tea and Chat with milliner Barbara Wood on May 20 at 5 p.m. with a hands-on demonstration of making a pillbox hat. The catered event is free but seating is limited, so register by contacting the box office at 910-323-4233 or janisl@cfrt.org. This event is sponsored by the Fayetteville Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

    For more information about the show or special events, contact the box office at 910-323-4233 or visit www.cfrt.org.

  • 11F2TMovies can transport us to any place or time or culture. They engage the entire spectrum ofhuman emotions. We can laugh over life’s little failures or die a thousand deaths of heartbreak through the characters that flit across the screen. But really, we love movies because we love the shared experience.

    “Frame to Table” aims to celebrate the shared experience of film culture on Friday, May 4, at 7 p.m. at SkyView on Hay. It is a fundraiser with a unique twist that will benefit the third annual Indigo Moon Film Festival.

    With food and wines reminiscent of legendary movies, attendees can enjoy a “culinary trip around the world.”

    Pat Wright and Jan Johnson are the co-directors of the nonprofit putting on the fundraiser, as well as the organizers of the film festival. Both agreed the inspiration for this distinctive fundraiser stems from the desire to celebrate a love of movies.

    “There are certain films that are in our childhood that we love and mark moments in our lives where the family will all be gathered around the television or they all go out to a drive-in,” said Wright. “Film is very important cultural art, and we want people to remember how important film is to them and their personal history.”

    Though the films and local caterers have yet to be chosen for the event, the organizers promise attendees will not be disappointed.

    “It’s for movie lovers,” said Johnson. “We love decorating the tables to reflect the different ethnic areas like Italian or Vietnamese or Thai or African. There are films associated with all of those countries, so we just think it’s fun. People really enjoyed it last year.

    ”You can expect movies like “The King and I” for China or “Good Morning, Vietnam!” for, of course, Vietnam. Clips from the movies will play at each table chosen to represent a different country and its cuisines.

    According to Wright and Johnson, the fundraiser works as a way to “ignite excitement” about the upcoming Indigo Moon Film Festival. Seeing familiar movies from the past reminds festival-goers of the brand new international films to be screened in a few months.

    Last year, hundreds of people gathered to watch films submitted from all over the world. According to Wright, films have already been submitted from as far away as Afghanistan, Iraq and China this year.

    The fundraiser is vital to the film festival because it provides necessary funding to bring the filmmakers to Fayetteville.

    “Filmmaking is a difficult life and you often do a lot of work for not much money and very little in the way of screenings or recognition,” said Wright. “We want to do everything we can to encourage the directors to come and to be apart of the festival screening.”

    In fact, last year, the Indigo Moon Film Festival was the North Carolina premiere site for the acclaimed documentary “Hondros,” featuring Chris Hondros and directed by Greg Campbell. Both were Fayetteville natives and Terry Sanford High School graduates. According to Variety, the film has gone on to be purchased by Netflix.

    “We hope they have a great time (at the fundraiser), learn a little about how to attend a film festival and bring films up in their minds and remind them how much they love film,” said Wright.

    Indigo Moon will accept film submissions until July 30. Categories include feature-length and short narrative and documentary films, animation and student films.

    “Frame to Table” will take place at SkyView Lounge on Hay Street. Tickets are $50 per person. Visit www.indigomoonfilmfestival.com/f2t/tolearn more and to reserve your seats.

  • 08Natural Embrace photoThe city of Fayetteville, through the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County, currently has several sculptures on display in various locations downtown.The complete exhibit is titled “Work in Progress.” The public art exhibit began two years ago with 11 sculptures. Because the sculptures are leased for 11 months, the current exhibit is the second rendition and is properly titled “Work in Progress 2.” There are now 17 sculptures on display. Private donors matched with Arts Council funding helps make them available to the Fayetteville community.The Arts Council is aiming to make one of them permanent.

    The sculptures are distributed strategically to encourage visitors and residents alike to explore the downtown district. City leaders across the state have been inquiring into Fayetteville’s “Work in Progress” Art Exhibit to learn how they could also implement such an exhibit in their cities. Various groups, including one home school group of 50 students, have requested tours to view the sculptures and learn about the artists and meaning behind the art. The city’s new mobile app offers self-guided tours using an interactive map that shows where to find the sculptures. It’s available for both Android and iPhone and is free.

    One sculpture in the exhibit has captured the hearts of many in the community. The public artwork is called “Natural Embrace” by sculptor Paul Hill. It is located at Person Street Plaza across from the Cumberland County Courthouse. The sculpture, made of metal, depicts a spiraling Venus fly trap. In a community wide survey, “Natural Embrace” was voted the favorite out of the 15 works of public art that were installed over the course of the year. There is currently a drive to raise funds to purchase it and make it permanent so it can be enjoyed for generations to come.

    The price for Fayetteville to purchase the sculpture is $40,000. The Arts Council’s goal is to raise $20,000 through fundraising efforts, and then it will contribute up to $20,000 in matching funds. Donations have ranged from $1 from a young child to over $2,000 from a resident committed to the arts. So far, $17,752 has been raised. Janet Gibson, director of marketing and communications for the Arts Council, has no doubt the Arts Council will meet the goal by the deadline. “Thanks to the generosity of community donations, I am confident ‘Natural Embrace’ will be a permanent fixture in downtown Fayetteville,” she said.

    If purchased, “Natural Embrace” will be the third permanent sculpture placed by the Arts Council in downtown Fayetteville. The sculptures “Tree of Good and Evil” and “Dancer” were both donations. Eric Lindstrom and Kennon Jackson donated the former and Dr. and Mrs. Patrick Callahan donated the latter.

    Gibson explain that in the unlikely event that the Arts Council falls short of its goal of $20,000 to put toward purchasing “Natural Embrace,” the sculpture would move on to another city in September and donations would be returned. Donors would also be given an opportunityto repurpose their donations to the Art Council.

    Learn more about the project at www.theartscouncil.com/naturalembrace

     

    PHOTO: “Natural Embrace” is located at Person Street Plaza across from the Cumberland County Courthouse.

  • 05JaneEyre1The sun sets on a picturesque Sunday afternoon in Fayetteville. Further down the hill on Hay Street, the annual Dogwood Festival was wrapping up its final day, but in the backyard behind the 1897 Poe House at the Museum of the Cape Fear, blankets were being spread and folding chairs were being opened in anticipation of a production of Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s “Jane Eyre.”

    The play is an adaptation of the Victorian novel of the same name by Charlotte Brontë. It’s about an orphaned girl who grows up to become a governess at Thornfield Hall where she is charged with looking after Adèle, the ward of a wealthy man named Edward Rochester. The novel and the play focus on the evolution of Jane’s relationship with Rochester, which is never as simple as it might seem.

    Director Jessica Osnoe and her crew have assembled a cast worthy of bringing this show to life. Jen Pommerenke turns in a delightful performanceas Jane – the humble orphan-turned-governess. Pommerenke brings a unique and quiet charm to the role. Opposite of Pommerenke for most of the production is Richard Adlam’s Edward Rochester. Adlam’s charisma commands attention any time he is onstage.

    The rest of the ensemble is a delight as well. Sweet Tea Shakespeare employs an old theater trick called “doubling,” which allows performers to work in multiple roles. This is the case with the rest of the performers in this production, who are all a pleasure in their own right.

    Alexcia Thompson (BlancheIngram/Bertha Mason) plays an essential part in the narrative and is a commanding presence. She brings such commitment to her part as Bertha, the mysterious laughing woman hidden away in the attic of Thornfield Hall, that the audience will inevitably want more of her.

    Traycie Kuhm-Zapata (Mrs. Fairfax/Mary Rivers) confidently leans into her position as a source of comedic relief. Gage Long (St. John Rivers/LordIngram/Clergyman) captivates and Annalise Kelly (Adèle Varens/Hannah Smith) is a treat to watch as is Erin Fossa (Mary Ingram/Diana Rivers). Gabe Terry (Richard Mason/Host), who has a unique and rewarding delivery, rounds out this capable ensemble.

    According to Osnoe, “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.”

    Pommerenke agreed: “’Jane Eyre’ is a timeless story that is recognized by so many. To me, both Jane and Rochester find a home in the love and acceptance of each other. But home also comes in the form of redemption, forgiveness and family in this story.”

    Long added that working on ‘Jane Eyre’ has been a true pleasure. “I’d have to say, besides working with a passionate cast, my favorite aspect (of this production) would have to be bringing the script to light on stage. With the help of Miss Osnoe, we’re able to bring deeper insight into Brontë’s story. My deepest hope is to connect with an audience, and I get the joy of doing that at every performance.”

    It is clear that the entire cast shares in that sentiment. It is a joy to watch the company at Sweet Tea Shakespeare bring this story to life.

    “Jane Eyre” continues with shows May 3-6, starting each evening at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $8-$20. Children under five are admitted for free. For more information, or to order tickets, visit www.sweetteashakespeare.com or call 910-420-4383.

     

    PHOTO: Richard Adlam plays Edward Rochester.

  • 22Darius McLeodDarius McLeod

    Westover • Basketball/golf • Senior

    McLeod has a grade point average of 3.8. He was a second team choice in the 2018 Holiday Classic basketball tournament. He played golf three years for Westover. He is a member of National Honor Society, National English Honor Society and the Academy of Health Sciences.

    23alainawalkerAlaina Walker

    Westover • Volleyball/softball • Senior

    Walker is ranked third in her class, with a 4.18 grade point average. She has been a member of Health Occupations Students of America for four years. She is a member of National Honor Society and the Academy of Scholars.