• 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


    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


    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


    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.

    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.

  • 18 Taking what you see and reversing its concept of form — that’s the basic description of Reverse Reality art. Turning organic items like people and trees into geometric shapes and turning man-made objects into more fluid shapes. This type of art made by Jonathon Shannon will be on display at Dirtbag Ales throughout June in the new exhibit, Bringing It Back.

    Shannon lives in New York City but has roots here in Fayetteville, growing up in a military family. He spent much of his childhood in our local city before graduating from Savannah College of Art and Design.
    Shannon traveled to France and Hong Kong during his college years to expand his understanding of art. He moved to New York City afterward and currently works as an art handler outside of being an artist.

    His work has been featured in art shows and exhibitions in New York City, North Carolina, Savannah, Atlanta, Miami, Hong Kong and France.

    However, Fayetteville is home. Shannon still has family in the city and came back to live here in the early months of the pandemic.

    Bringing it Back is inspired by Shannon’s desire to bring his art in New York City back to his hometown to inspire his friends, family and community to dream big.

    “This series is based on me living in New York City at the time. I basically go around the area within Brooklyn Manhattan area, just walking around and just painting on-site throughout the city,” Shannon said. “I do my own interpretation. Where in the past, I used to paint the way I see things, more like impressionists, and then that kind of coupled with that style. But I just kind of thought I was just repeating history. I developed a style called reverse reality.”

    This isn’t the first art exhibit Shannon has had in Fayetteville. In 2016, his exhibit, NightLife: A Reversed Reality at Gallery 116th, was on display, and it was during this exhibition that Shannon met the owners of Dirtbag Ales for a sponsorship.

    “So I reached out to them and see if they would be open to doing like a small sponsorship, or like drinks at my show. And they agreed to it, and it worked out amazing, and they really enjoyed the interactions with all my friends and family,” Shannon said. “I just enjoy that collaboration so much that when I came back down to visit, probably like, three months ago, I checked out their new location because they expanded because they’re doing so well and opened a new location from the ground up. And they wanted to keep that art theme to have some art in there. So I reached out to them after seeing their available space to have a show.”

    The exhibit will be free to the public. The opening reception will be on June 3 from 5 to 10 p.m. Bringing it Back will be on display at Dirtbag Ales until June 30.

    “Everyone’s welcome. Don’t feel judged. Art should be for the masses... that’s kind of why I did it in more of a public area instead of a gallery,” Shannon said. “Galleries sometimes could make people feel a little bit secluded or cut off from society.”

    More information about the gallery and the opening reception can be found at bit.ly/3wSQTqd.

  • 15Fayetteville native and spoken word artist Lawrence "Law" Bullock II is preparing to share his fifth book of poetry through a reading at The Sweet Palette on Friday, June 3 at 7 p.m. "Abstract Intoxication: A Poetry Reading" is Bullock's first one-man show, and he's excited to bring his art to the people of a city he loves so much.

    "I'm nervous, but being nervous is a good thing. It means you care about what you're about to do or say," Bullock explained to Up & Coming Weekly.

    A lifelong writer, the thirty-one-year-old poet, will share his most personal writing to date in the pages of "Abstract Intoxication," a title he feels aptly expresses the subject matter therein.

    "The title came about because I wanted something to catch your attention and make you think. I don't want to be direct in my work — I love art that makes you see more than what's there. Intoxication comes from a love for your craft that's so strong it intoxicates you."

    Bullock's work in this series touches on many topics, some dark, but all true to the poet himself. According to Bullock, addiction, reflection and a heavy emphasis on mental health make this work daring but necessary.

    "For this particular show, I want to break mental health stigma and start an important conversation," Bullock said. "This book is the most intimate in terms of my backstory. Sometimes I don't remember everything that's happened to me; it comes and goes in flashes. This book is my attempt to hold on to those flashes."

    The book and its message offer comfort and hope to those struggling with mental health. "We all go through the battles, but we're not alone," Bullock explained. "Mental health is a universal issue. Just because you're down or struggling doesn't mean there's something wrong with you."

    Bullock was awarded a mini-grant by The Arts Council of Fayetteville to cover printing costs and art fees to bring Abstract Intoxication and its message to life.

    The support for poets and other artists in the Fayetteville area is something Bullock would love to see more of from the community. He hopes readings like this bring more exposure to those wanting to share more of their craft.

    "I want people to leave with a better sense and love of poetry. Just as with mental health, there's a stigma around poetry as well. So many people misunderstand it. I've been a vendor at a lot of events this year, and you can tell the people who are interested in poetry but don't know where or how to start. We need more people to come and support this awesome community."

    Bullock is especially excited to share his work at The Sweet Palette, a premier bakery and art gallery in downtown Fayetteville.

    "We've done a lot of shows at The Sweet Palette," Bullock said. "It has done so much for us poets in general and is the perfect place for this series — I'll have artwork behind me. Anyone who wants to have a good time on a Friday night should come to check it out."

    The show will be about forty minutes long with plenty of breaks so people can enjoy delicious desserts and check out the work adorning the exposed brick walls.
    Bullock invites "anyone seeking to understand spoken word poetry" and those who want a more intimate take on mental health.

    As for himself and his work, Bullock is grateful for the opportunity to share his art with others.

    "You can't be afraid to let people know what you have going on," he said of the show. "We're given gifts that we're not meant to hold on to —someone needs it."
    The Sweet Palette is located at 101 Person St. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/events/529058305375168. To find more information on poetry and poets in Fayettville, visit www.facebook.com/groups/poetryinfayetteville.


  • 25bAmitria Fanae and Cerina Johnson sit on the prop stage set upon the actual stage at Cape Fear Regional Theatre. It has wide boards that make up a very inornate platform. The background of the stage is plain and minimalist, hinting toward the poverty and rural area in which the play is set.

    Fanae kicks her legs out rapidly and tucks her head in as she smiles. Her feet are tucked into ankle-high brown boots. Fanae looks up, laughs and then connects arms with Johnson. The two break out into a simple children’s song. Fanae portrays a naive, young teenager perfectly. Celie has come to life before the audience’s eyes, and she is endearing.

    Alice Walker’s famous novel-turned-musical, “The Color Purple,” has hit the stage at Cape Fear Regional Theatre this month. According to director Brian Harlan Brooks, the play is about a journey inward — one that many of the characters in this play take and one the audience themselves can take alongside them. This journey is full of boisterous musical numbers with amazing voices to match. The actors do not disappoint in their singing and musical talents; deep gospel-like tones are mixed throughout the entire play. Each song transforms the audience, bringing them to a place where music communicates without the need for much else. Both the songs sung by the entire company and single actors were glorious and felt rich in depth.

    One of the best songs is “Hell No,” sung by Melvinna Rose Johnson, who played Sophia. In this song, Sophia describes the treatment that will not happen to her and the oppression she won’t allow. Her will is strong.

    Johnson played her part well and gave the audience a lot of comedic relief through her potent display of a character with a who-the-hell-do-you-think-you-are attitude and a stern but loving quality. She was captivating and mesmerizing to watch as she completely overtook the character. The audience falls in love with Sophia almost instantly.

    Cerina's portrayal of a humble, abused and naive young girl is broken free by her louder-than-life voice and confident portrayal of a woman who is transformed. There is another fantastic performance by Fanae when she sings, “I’m Here.” In the moment, everyone in the room is proud of Celie and her ability to overcome and find within herself all that she ever needed.

    These two characters were perfectly balanced by their counterparts, including Harpo and Shug Avery, played by Herbert White II and Toneisha Harris, respectively. White was a joy to watch and matched Sophia well with tidbits of comedic relief during the serious topics discussed during the play. Each time he took the stage, the audience waited in suspense to see what his next line or movement might be. Harris really steps into the role as the sexy, free-spirited Shug and has an intensely beautiful voice that fills the entire theatre.

    The downside to this play was the occasional inability to understand the words being sung. This may have been a one-time sound issue but was still distracting during portions of the play. However, the beautiful, poetic music often overpowered the occasional inability to understand all the words of each song.

    Towards the end of the play, the background will become a vibrant display of color and transform just as the character Celie has, and the audience may find themselves in a different place than where they started.

    “The Color Purple” will run until May 29. Tickets are on sale at cftr.org. This play is rated M for mature due to references of a sexual nature and discussion of abuse.

  • 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.

  • 19 A bold new play is coming to the Gilbert Theater for the season's final show.

    The Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “Fairview,” written by Jackie Sibblies in 2018, will run from May 7 through June 12.

    “I picked this play because it's a challenging piece for the director, the technical director, the actors on stage and the audience,” said Laurence Carlisle III, the Gilbert's Artistic Director.

    “It's a show about racism, how stories are told and how stories can change based on the people watching them.”

    Throughout its three acts, “Fairview” focuses on two groups of people: an African American family preparing for a birthday party and the four white people observing them as they do so.

    “The play is a very nuanced and intelligent dissection of the ‘white gaze’ and what happens as the stories you try to tell are altered and affected by those watching and listening,” Carlisle stated. “The show demonstrates the transformative nature of observation in an interesting twilight-zone sort of way; the show starts pretty normally and slowly gets weirder and weirder.”

    The Gilbert Theater prides itself on the diversity often seen in its productions and encourages anyone and everyone from the community to come out and audition.
    However, since race is the play's central topic and integral to telling the story, the director followed the vision of “Fairview's” playwright and cast actors that reflect the race of their characters as written.

    “It's important to the story and how it needs to be told,” explained Carlisle. “We had to have this particular make of the cast for the play to work.”
    In her main stage-show directorial debut, Deannah Robinson will lead a cast of four white actors and four African American actors in a play Carlisle is excited for people to see.

    “Race is a topic that bears discussion — it's not going away,” he said. “I've always felt the job of art in any form is to make people think, make them think about things they don't think about or make them think about it differently. I think this is a fantastic show, and I want people to come to check it out; it's extremely fascinating.”

    “Fairview” follows Gilbert's production of “Othello" by William Shakespeare, another play that takes a focused look at race and other uncomfortable topics. While their position in the season is a coincidence, both plays and their subject matter speak to his vision for the theater and the material it produces.

    “I hope to bring thought-provoking content in all my seasons,” Carlisle said. “If you want something that challenges you and makes you a little uncomfortable, but you also want to be entertained, see this show. The play is very funny but sometimes very uncomfortable. I hope it sparks conversation and makes people think about race in America and what their own blind spots are when it comes to that subject.”

    General admission tickets are $15 and can be purchased online at www.gilberttheater.com or by calling 910-678-7186.

    Discount tickets for first responders, military, students and seniors are also available.

    The Gilbert Theater is located at 116 Green St. inside the Fascinate U Children's Museum building.

  • 20 The Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra has planned an unlikely pairing of classical music and beer for a truly unique moviegoing experience.

    Following its successful debut last fall, Symphony Movie Night returns Friday, May 13, at Dirtbag Ales Brewery, starting at 8 p.m.

    1921 silent film "The Kid," directed by and starring Charlie Chaplin, will light up the outdoor screen as the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra performs Peter B. Kay's arrangement of the score live.

    "We did our first movie night back in October with a showing of Nosferatu," said community engagement manager Anna Meyer. "It was a great success and a bit of a surprise to many of the patrons there. We're hoping to get the word out well ahead of time so more people can come and enjoy the show."

    "This is a fun, lighthearted film, and even to those unfamiliar with silent films, people tend to recognize Charlie Chaplin. We thought it would be a good choice for the spring," she explained.

    Meyer, who's been with the orchestra for a year and has a background in theater and arts management, is excited to be a part of the bustling cultural movement in Fayetteville. She's passionate about creating opportunities to engage with the community.

    Events like this and Symphony on Tap, which brings classical music to local breweries, are a few initiatives geared toward keeping the symphony connected to the community it serves.

    "This event is in tune with what I love to do," she told Up & Coming Weekly. The Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra has been here a long time. We want to focus on bringing the symphony to people instead of expecting people to come to us."

    The symphony began in 1956 as a community orchestra, humbly rehearsing out of musicians' living rooms before securing a space of its own. Over the past six decades, the orchestra has grown into an institution, a professional orchestra with the best of the best North Carolina musicians on its roster.

    "I think we provide cultural enrichment to the community. We offer a lot of exposure to different kinds of music," Meyer said of the symphony's importance in the community. "From classical music at our traditional concerts to jazz and pop covers at Symphony On Tap, we try to have something for everybody.

    "This is just such a vibrant community," she said, speaking of downtown Fayetteville's arts and culture movement. "There are so many affordable options and opportunities for people to experience."
    Symphony Movie Night is free to the public, and all are encouraged to attend. Weather permitting, the event will take place on the patio, with a plan to move indoors if necessary.

    "We're hoping to reach everyone," said Meyers. "Kids are welcome, and Dirtbag is very family-friendly, but I think it would make a great date night," she suggested.
    Symphony Movie Night was initially scheduled for Saturday, May 7, but has been rescheduled for Friday, May 6.

    Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom is located at 5435 Corporation Dr. in Hope Mills.
    For more information about the event and the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra, visit their website at www.fayettevillesymphony.org/.

  • 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.’’

  • The Carolina Country Music Association is hosting the two-day North Carolina Songwriters Festival in Fayetteville May 6 through 7.

    Known as the “Longest Songwriter Pub Crawl” in North Carolina, the festival features the independent singer-songwriters behind some of country music’s greatest hits.

    Unique in that it’s not housed at a single venue, the event encourages those in attendance to sample the wares and listen to music at several different locations.

    Starting at 6 p.m. on May 6, the festival, which will take place at around a dozen different venues across Fayetteville and surrounding areas, is a way for fans to interact with independent singers and songwriters up close.

    Venues familiar to locals, such as Dirtbag Ales, Fayetteville Bakery and Café, Dirty Whiskey Cocktail Bar, and their newest venue Gates Four Golf and County Club are free and open to the public. However, some private events will come at a cost.

    19 Host of Carolina Country on 100.1 WFAY in Fayetteville, and Executive Director of the Carolina Country Music Association, Christy ‘Sweet Tea” Andrulonis, sees the festival as an excellent opportunity for everyone involved.

    “This festival is a way to promote independent artists and draw the community into multiple venues,” she said. “Live music will be happening all over the city, bringing people together.”

    The festival will feature acoustic music and allow singer-songwriters to share the stories behind their greatest hits before they play.
    Some venues will feature one artist, while others will have as many as four performers on stage at a time in a round table discussion of their work.

    While there will be several indie artists who have submitted applications to be a part of this event, the festival is a draw for some big names in the industry. Damien Horne, a North Carolina native and member of the MuzikMafia, will be in attendance to share his music and his story with festivalgoers.

    According to their online bio, Carolina Country Music Association is “an industry trade group for singers, songwriters, musicians and country music fans.” In addition to “sharing the stories of the Carolinas,” the organization prides itself on being the most prominent supporter of independent singers and songwriters with roots in the Carolinas.

    North Carolina shares a long, rich history with country music and has had a significant impact on the genre over the last 90 years or so. Industry legends such as George Hamilton IV and Randy Travis call North Carolina home. This festival is an opportunity to bring exposure to the great artists of Carolina yet to be discovered.

    When the festival is over, Andrulonis hopes attendees will leave with a greater appreciation of these indie artists and the incredible work they do to bring music into people’s lives.

    “I hope they leave with an understanding of just how important it is to support local art and music. There’s much more going on behind the scenes of your favorite No. 1 song on the radio. There’s so much more than meets the eye.”

    For more information and a complete list of artists and venues, visit www.carolinacountrymusicassociation.org/ncsongwritersfestival.

  • 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

    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.

  • 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:


    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.

  • 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.

  • 16 Infinite Art Studio NC and the Fayetteville Bakery and Cafe will be hosting a two-day event geared toward shining a light on mental health for veterans. Artists Perform to Stop Veteran Suicide will be held May 14 and 15 at the cafe at 3037 Boone Trail Ext. in Fayetteville.

    Live music will be accompanying a two-day market with local vendors. Saturday evening will be full of live music in the cafe, and spoken word artists will perform Sunday afternoon.

    “We’ve already got a host of talent lined up. Musical acts Michael Daughtry and the Drift, Afro Dope, Gamalier Padilla, Judah Marshall and Jammin’ Jon will play free to the public throughout the two-day event in front of the Fayetteville Bakery and Cafe,” said Thomas Walk, president, Infinite Art Studio NC. “Special guests Franco Webb and Luevelyn Tillman will speak on Saturday. Spoken word artists Aaliyah Hazel Lane, Law Bullock and T.A. Walk will perform Sunday afternoon.”

    The market will open at 8 a.m., May 14. Food trucks and vendors will be set up in front of the Fayetteville Bakery and Cafe until 6 p.m. The cafe will hold an adult open mic night from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. The following day, the market kicks off at 10 a.m. Spoken word artists will begin to perform at 2:30 p.m. Events wrap up at 4 p.m.

    Walk is a retired Army veteran who served for ten years. He was a combat engineer but became a bio-medical equipment technician during his military service. During his deployment to Iraq from September 2006 to September 2007, he had a moment that changed his life forever.

    “In all my time deployed, I found myself fractured by one moment in time. Approximately 30 seconds of my life,”
    he said. “I was in the hospital where I was stationed, and I happened upon a ward filled with civilian casualties. To be honest, until that moment, ‘enemy’ casualties never crossed my mind … However, these women and children were not the ‘enemy,’ and there was no ignoring that. I went the wrong way down a corridor and viewed this room and its occupants as I passed for no more than 30 seconds.”

    Walk has suffered from severe post traumatic stress disorder as a result. For years he said he was heavily medicated.

    “[I would take ] a handful of medications in the morning to combat the handful taken the night before. Years and years of betting on a cure that tore me further apart rather than putting my pieces together,” he said.

    Suicidal tendencies were a side effect of one of the medications he was taking, something he says contributed to tearing his family apart. He decided to be pharmaceutically clean. He began to write. Walk published two novels and was working on a third when a friend and fellow veteran committed suicide, causing him to put the book aside.

    But Walk persevered. He discovered painting. His partner introduced him to acrylic pour painting.

    “We decided to try our hand together, and what started as a bunch of wasted paint and trashed canvases has become our wellbeing,” he said. “Along with my PTSD comes slight obsessive-compulsive disorder issues, control issues, etc. This style of painting is the most chaotic, uncontrollable thing I could choose, but I love it … Over time, we noticed the changes creativity had affected in me and decided we wanted to find a way
    to share our ‘therapy’ with our community.”

    The two created Infinite Art Studio NC to do just that. The studio currently doesn’t have a brick-and-mortar space, but Walk is confident that with mobile events like Artists Perform to Stop Veteran Suicide, they will be able to lease space by the end of the summer.

    “Our mission is mental wellness through creativity,” he said. “We want to be a place the community can feel welcome and safe, and a place people can leave their illnesses behind for a little while.”
    Artists Perform to Stop Veteran Suicide is the first of several events Infinite Art Studio has planned for the summer.

    The event is looking for more performers and vendors. For more information, to donate or sign up as a vendor or food truck, visit www.eventbrite.com/e/artists-perform-to-stop-veteran-suicide-tickets-317236461797.

  • 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

    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.

  • 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.  

  • 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.’’

  • 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.


    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.

  • 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.

  • 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). 

  • 23 What were the two most used new words in the news last week?
    The term “Great Replacement.”

    I admit that I had never heard of the term until the recent attack in Buffalo by a white 18-year-old man that left 10 people dead. A long document, found with the attacker’s property and presumably written by him explained his motives and concerns about the "replacement" of the "white race" and "white culture."

    CNN reported that, “The author also writes about his perceptions of the dwindling size of the white population and claims of ethnic and cultural replacement of whites.”
    In an article published by CNN, Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney and a columnist for The Daily Beast, writes that what the document found with the shooter “espouses is, in essence, the white supremacist concept known as the Great Replacement Theory. This ‘theory' is meant as a warning to white people that soon, people of color — typically immigrants, Latinos and African Americans — may outnumber white people and in essence ‘replace’ them.”

    A recent article in The Wall Street Journal gave the following summary: “The great replacement’ is a conspiracy theory that asserts elites — politicians, business executives, media — are using immigration and other policies as a tool to reduce the white population.”

    The Journal article continues. “Interest and belief in the idea has increased in the U.S. in recent years, researchers say, as the percentage of white Americans, compared with nonwhite people, shrinks. The nation’s non-Hispanic white population dropped 2.6% between 2010 and 2020, according
    to the Census Bureau. Projections by the bureau indicate that the total population of nonwhite people in America will exceed the white population by 2045.”

    The replacement theory is not new. The idea got its modern start in France in the early part of the 20th Century. More recently, a 2011 article by French writer Renaud Camus and titled “The Great Replacement” is used by white supremacists in the U.S.

    According to the Journal, Camus wrote that “white Europeans will eventually be extinct because of immigration and since some nonwhite populations, particularly those of Africa and the Middle East, have higher birthrates. People from Africa and the Middle East have emigrated to France from former French colonies in increased numbers in the postcolonial era.”

    The increase of immigrant populations in Europe and the U.S. is fact, not a theory. There are consequences in terms of a rise in influence of immigrants and their children in Europe and the U.S. and the corresponding loss of power and influence of white Americans.

    But there is more to the theory than these facts.

    Versions of the theory allege a conspiracy among some people to replace the long-time white residents of Europe and the U.S. with people from Africa and Asia. The conspirators, it is said, are politicians, elitist people and institutions. They promote policies that open the doors to immigrants and empower people of color and other minority groups. These people would become voters who would do the will of the conspirators.

    I could find no credible evidence about the “elites” exerting control over the votes of immigrants and minorities.

    I confess that I have hoped that the changing makeup of North Carolina’s population that is under way would help my political party more than the other party.
    Does that make me part of some conspiracy?

    I don’t think so.

  • 7 Today we shall stare into the void. Trigger warning: Before you read any further, remember what our pal Nietzsche said, “If you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”

    Let us carefully descend into the wonderful world of caves. To quote the world’s most famous rooster Foghorn Leghorn, “I say boy, holes in the ground, my boy, holes in the ground.” Today we shall spelunk into what lies beneath. The abysses into which we shall exchange furtive but tasty glances are the fabled Cheese Caves of Springfield, Missouri. What? You have never heard of the famous Cheese Caves of Missouri? Pull up an ottoman and have a seat. Today will be a learning experience. Kindly bear with me; we will get to the Cheese Caves, but first, a brief survey of two other world-famous caves.

    Among the most famous group of caves is the Lascaux cave complex in France. These caves feature about 1500 wall paintings done roughly 17,000 years ago by paleolithic cave dudes and cave dudettes. According to Mr. Google, the wall paintings show people, animals and mysterious abstract drawings.

    The caves remained undiscovered until 1940, when a teenager was walking his dog. His dog Robot managed to fall into a hole that turned out to be the entrance to the Lascaux caves. If not for Robot’s fortuitous clumsiness, Lascaux might have remained hidden for another 17,000 years. Who’s a good boy? Robot’s a good boy.

    A most excellent cave story was in the “Andy Griffith Show,” where Andy and Helen get temporarily stuck in a cave. Barney is not a fan of caves or bats. He tells Thelma Lou why going into caves is a bad idea.

    Barney: “You know what you find in caves? Bats. That’s right — bats. You know what they do? They fly into your hair and get tangled up in there and lay their eggs, and you go crazy.”

    Thelma Lou: “Laughs.”

    Barney: “Alright, laugh, it’s happened. You want a head full of bat eggs? I don’t.”

    I agree with Barney. Even if I had hair, I would not want a head full of bat eggs. However, if you choose to have bat eggs in your hair, that is no one’s business but your own. I will not think less of anyone sporting bat eggs in their hair.

    Now let us return to the Cheese Caves. America may not have baby formula, enough gas to go around or flying cars, but we have a Strategic Cheese Reserve buried in Missouri. According to no less an authority than The Washington Post, the U.S. government has 1.4 billion pounds of cheese stored underground in various Cheese Caves. The Feds began buying and storing cheese during President Carter’s time to help dairy farmers sell their products. Cheese is easier to store and keeps much longer than milk. The Feds would buy all the cheese dairy farmers could produce. Naturally, the farmers kept producing more and more cheese. Pretty soon, this added up to a lot of cheese. When Reagan became President, he gave out 30 million pounds of government cheese to the hungry masses. Some of you who are a bit long in the tooth may recall the government cheese program. If you can remember this, please don’t drive after dark.

    The Springfield News-Leader says that there are seven million pounds of cheese in the Springfield Cheese Caves. The caves have been turned into a giant 3.2 million square foot warehouse. Being about 100 feet underground, the caves remain about 60 degrees year-round. They can be cooled to 36 degrees which makes cheeses very happy. The cheeses can live long and prosper at 36 degrees. Unfortunately, the Springfield Cheese Caves are not open to the public.

    Here are some cheese facts which might help you forget your inability to tour the Cheese Caves for a personal look. The federal government reports that 36% of Americans are lactose intolerant. Demographically 75% of African Americans, 51% of Latinos, 80% of Asian Americans and 21% of Caucasians are lactose intolerant. The Cheese Council reports that processed cheese was originally made for wartime use as it can last almost as long as a Twinkie. Pilgrims brought over cheese on the Mayflower. The first cheese factory did not manufacture cheese until 1851. One-third of all milk in the United States is made into cheese. The average American eats 23 pounds of cheese a year. The most popular cheese recipe in the United States is macaroni and cheese.

    I am proud to have gotten through this column without a bunch of gratuitous cheesy puns. There were some Gouda ones I discarded. It could have been a Feta accompli to have riddled this column with bad puns like an overripe Swiss Cheese. But then the column would have smelled like a sweating Limburger cheese on a 100 degree-day. No dogs named Robot were injured during the writing of this column. As Mr. Spock would say,

    “Live long and Parmesan.”

    To quote Elvis, “I’ll have a Blue Christmas, but you can have a Bleu Cheese.” The Cheese stands alone. Got Cholesterol?


  • 5 According to the latest estimate from fiscal analysts at the North Carolina General Assembly, our state government will take in about $6.2 billion more in General Fund revenue over the 2021-23 budget biennium than was originally projected last year.

    That’s a huge number. It represents nearly a quarter of the entire General Fund budget for the current fiscal year. And it’s not even the full amount of funds available. As of April 30, there’s $8.2 billion in unspent and undesignated money sitting in the General Fund.

    Now that state legislators have returned to Raleigh for their 2022 short session, we are about to hear a spirited debate about how to spend the revenue bonanza.
    Democrats are insisting that the General Assembly fully fund a court-ordered settlement on education funding.

    Republicans are looking at infrastructure needs and tax relief.

    Both parties are telegraphing a desire to increase compensation for public employees.
    I favor some of these ideas. But may I offer a few words of caution?

    Our broader economy is in trouble. America’s real GDP shrank by an annualized rate of 1.4% during the first three months of this year. And in an attempt to bring down rampant inflation, the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates.

    That’s the right response, to be sure, but everyone needs to be mindful of the probable tradeoffs.

    Eight of the past nine periods of monetary tightening by the Fed were followed by recessions. Although a “soft landing” is theoretically possible, then, there’s a very real possibility that the GDP will contract sometime over the next year. If the contraction happens in the second quarter, that would constitute a recession by the standard definition.

    I know North Carolina’s economic fundamentals look pretty strong right now. Our labor markets improved markedly in April, with the headline unemployment rate falling to 3.4% (down from 5.1% a year ago) and our labor-force participation rate topping 60% for the first time since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Other states in our region posted good jobs numbers last month, too (in fact, North Carolina’s unemployment rate is the highest in our neighborhood, though it’s low by historical standards).

    Still, it doesn’t require Eeyore-level pessimism to worry about a possible recession and its effects on state revenues and expenditures. It only requires realism.
    It also requires looking more closely at that surplus-revenue figure of $6.2 billion cited earlier. Most of it, $4.2 billion, is occurring during the first year of biennium, and involves one-time shifts in the timing of reported income. The pandemic produced some rather weird financial patterns in both the public and private sectors. It would be a mistake to assume these patterns will continue into future years.
    If even a modest recession follows the Fed’s actions on interest rates, that will both reduce revenue collections and increase state expenditures on Medicaid and other forms of public assistance. The projected surplus would shrink. It might even become a deficit.

    Thanks to years of conservative budgeting, North Carolina has accumulated a large rainy-day fund and other reserves. Unlike some states, we wouldn’t have to close a fiscal gap by raising taxes, canceling contracts or laying off employees. Indeed, the state could actually play a countercyclical role by giving teachers and state employees a pay bump.
    That argues for a balance between addressing immediate needs and hedging against future risks — which is precisely what I think House Speaker Tim Moore, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, and other legislative leaders are likely to do during the short session.

    They know that if a recession occurs, they can’t (and shouldn’t) rely on another round of massive federal borrowing to paper over state and local deficits. They also know that their steady and disciplined approach to state budgeting is a big reason why North Carolinians have become increasingly comfortable with GOP majorities in the General Assembly.

    We should all hope the Fed can engineer a soft landing. But hoping is not governing.

  • 4For 24 years, the Up & Coming Weekly community newspaper has proudly showcased the people, businesses and organizations that have invested their time, money and expertise in our community. One of the ways we do this is by publishing our Best of Fayetteville Readers Survey and asking our newspaper readers to identify and ultimately determine who is Fayetteville’s Best of the Best. They have what makes Fayetteville and Cumberland County unique, enjoyable and livable.

    Well, it is that time of year, and beginning with the June 8 edition of Up & Coming Weekly and running through July 3, our readers will be able to cast their ballots for the Best of the Best two ways. They may fill out a ballot located in the newspaper and return it to Up & Coming Weekly, or they can go online to the Up & Coming Weekly website, www.upandcomingweekly.com. While there, you can sign up for a free electronic subscription of Up & Coming Weekly and receive your copy every week on your home or office computer.

    Using time-tested and enforceable voting rules and guidelines, such as one ballot per reader, we have elevated the honor, integrity and prestige of the Best of Fayetteville designation. This process continues to be a respected, well-organized, informal and non-scientific survey. By monitoring and auditing the ballots, eliminating the nomination process and conspicuous ballot stuffing, our survey has proven to be incredibly accurate and extremely valuable to residents and the businesses and organizations that have earned the honor of being voted the Best.

    No doubt about it, this has been a challenging year. Businesses continue to operate in full recovery mode. This makes the Best of Fayetteville recognition even more relevant and valuable by highlighting those who have managed their businesses through high gas prices, supply chain shortages, a challenging labor market, confusing COVID-19 restrictions and rising inflation. Under these circumstances, operating a successful business is a real challenge, and achievement deserves recognition. Your vote is very important to your favorite business or organization. The winners will be recognized and celebrated on September 27 at the Crown Coliseum Complex. The Best of the Best will congregate to celebrate their achievements and contributions to our Can-Do community.

    Our newspaper has changed immensely over the past 26 years, especially in the last nine months. However, the Best of Fayetteville reader’s survey has not. It continues to reflect the best aspects and amenities the Fayetteville community has to offer. Annually, we receive thousands of ballots and painstakingly record the comments and sentiments of our readers. This process allows us to get to know the who, what and why our readers value these businesses. We showcase these people, businesses and organizations to Fayetteville, Fort Bragg and Cumberland County residents. Your vote is important! Our readers will determine who the 2022 Up & Coming Weekly Best of Fayetteville winners are.

    For area newcomers and those not familiar with the Best of Fayetteville format and guidelines, this is a sanctioned, time-tested reader’s survey. The survey is designed and audited to provide residents, local businesses and organizations the recognition they deserve for their dedication, expertise, trustworthiness and perseverance in their quest for excellence.

    And we make it easy to participate. Participants must vote in at least 15 categories to validate a ballot. Since the survey began more than two decades ago, the Up & Coming Weekly newspaper has successfully told the stories of our Best of Fayetteville winners. Then we invite the winners to join the Up & Coming Weekly staff, and our 2022 Best of Fayetteville sponsors at a very special recognition celebration party. This begins the Best of Fayetteville winners 24/7, 365-day exposure in the Fayetteville/Cumberland County community, and year-long presence on our official website www.upandcomingweekly.com.

    Thank you for supporting local businesses and for reading Up & Coming Weekly.


  • 19There is little we can do to prepare for some of life’s best moments, yet everything we’ve ever done has prepared us for the next.

    Graduation season is upon us here in North Carolina. Emotions run the gamut as young men and women everywhere experience that final trip through the doors of their school as students.
    Most will reflect fondly on the days they spent preparing to launch into the world and begin writing their own story. And like every generation before them, both friendships and rivalries they swore would last forever will start to fade as others grow.

    Of one thing they can be certain: relationships with fellow students, educators and even their families will all change in some way as they continue their journey through life.

    Of all the things which could possibly cause me anxiety, concern for future generations is somewhere near the top of the list. Partly because of their expectations and partly because of the condition of the world we’re leaving them. Not the physical world we leave them, but the condition of mankind in general.

    Somewhere along the line, we seem to have taught young people in America that winning is more important than character.

    The very people who we need to be able to look up to are failing and falling around us, and we are too quick to condemn and step around them to notice and avoid the brokenness that led them there in the first place.
    So can we change the course? Can we raise up a generation of leaders with the intestinal fortitude to right the many wrongs we’ve left them to deal with?

    As a person of faith, I believe we can, and it’s really a matter of moral integrity stemming from deep convictions and an acknowledgment of a creator to whom we’re all accountable.
    Some will disagree and stop reading right here, so if you’re still with me, maybe we agree — if only a little.

    Our real problems begin at home. There’s growing indifference to patterns of behavior eroding families. From what we allow to enter through screens in hand or on the wall to our relationships with our children’s friends and their families, indifference is creeping in.

    Everyone knows the phrase “it takes a village,” but when the village steps in with advice, it’s too often taken as a personal affront. Someone stomps away only to return with a posse willing to prove how wrong the offender is and how we can destroy them and their way of thinking.

    We can do better. And for the sake of the next generation we’re launching into the world beyond their family home this graduation season, I pray we’ll start soon.


  • 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.

  • 5“I’m a Tar Heel born, and a Tar Heel bred, and when I die, I’m a Tar Heel dead.”

    Those fight song lyrics have been sung by generations of students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, fiercely fought athletic contests, pep rallies and parties and quietly in their own hearts.
    Increasingly, though, we are not a state of “born and bred” North Carolinians, much less of individuals who attended UNC-CH.

    According to researchers at UNC-CH, 44% of us are not North Carolina natives, and that percentage is growing. North Carolina is what demographers term “in migration” over the last decade, nearly 10%. And North Carolina is now the ninth largest state in the nation, with an additional seat in Congress to show the strength of our growth.

    Those of us who are “born and bred” take pride in and love to share our Tar Heel culture with newcomers — our barbecue with its competing eastern and western factions, our music encompassing both James Taylor and Nina Simone and why we are a “vale of humility between two mountains of conceit.” (A modest and independent colony and early state between the wealthy and aristocratic cultures of Virginia and South Carolina.)

    Sadly, we also have aspects of 21st-century culture that are far less attractive and appealing and have embarrassed us before the rest of the country and beyond.

    Think the so-called “bathroom bill” passed by homophobic legislators in Raleigh and ridiculed on late-night talk shows. Think the more than a decade of extreme gerrymandering that guarantees legislative and

    Congressional seats to the party in power. Think the war on public schools that has seen teachers fleeing classrooms across the state. Think the racism and venom aimed at “the other” that stained us in conflagrations over “Black Lives Matter” and improper law enforcement actions.

    A recent opinion piece in The News & Observer caught my attention. Sara Pequeno is apparently North Carolina “born and bred” but writes that she once wanted to leave our state, considering it “boring” and “backwoods.” Instead, she attended UNC-CH and decided to stay in North Carolina as a journalist. She sees our growth and its potential, and she also sees our warts and scars, many stemming from the past and rarely addressed because they are so entrenched and so painful.

    Couple our past as a “vale of humility” with our current reality of highly educated and booming metropolitan areas and less educated and economically challenged rural areas.

    The resentment of folks who feel left behind is clear and understandable. There is an element of “how ya keep ‘em down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree?” at work here. Families and communities want their young people to stay where they grew up, but career opportunities and cultural amenities draw them elsewhere. North Carolina now falls squarely into the narrative of “the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer,” both as individuals and as communities.

    That said, we are an original state with an old, rich and deep culture with strong traditions, families who have been here for generations and enthusiastic newcomers, and an economy that is strong and growing in certain sectors. In other words, North Carolina has a lot going for her and us.

    Sara Pequeno put it this way: “North Carolina is home to people who want this state to be better, who have been fighting the good fight for decades. It’s home to people who love this state, in spite of its flaws, because they see the place it could be. We’ve been working on our own to make this state better for decades, even though there is still work to be done.”

  • 4The privilege to vote is one of our most precious rights as Americans. Yet, we fail to take advantage of this essential aspect of living in a free democracy. In Fayetteville/Cumberland County, our voting record is much worse than in other communities, and there are substantial reasons for this disturbing and frightening situation. For those of you who read this newspaper regularly, I will apologize in advance because for over 25 years, I have commented and opined on this very subject dozens of times. I have articulated my concerns, and even though they have been acknowledged by prominent state and local public servants, all have failed to stimulate even the slightest attempt to solve or resolve the problem. So, once again, I will outline the sources of our low and apathetic voting turnout. These are the same reasons that inhibit our community from showcasing its assets and touting our quality of life.

    Part of the issue is that we have no local television station. Over two decades ago, Fayetteville and Cumberland County leadership failed to acknowledge the importance of having a local TV station. First, city and county elected officials preferred operating government in the shadows, away from the observing eyes of the public. Secondly, our local daily newspaper, the Fayetteville Observer, was enjoying a monopolistic heyday, parsing out and re-shaping the local news. They garnered the majority of local advertising dollars spent by businesses and organizations. So, it didn't take long for them to realize the benefits they would enjoy from the demise of our only TV station, Channel 40.

    Unfortunately, the rest is history. All the major networks (ABC, NBC & CBS) jumped at the opportunity to corral this market of over 300,000 with a bonus of Fort Bragg. Other cities saw the benefits and potential of this growing market, while our leadership chose to ignore it. Why is this significant? Because as a media source, a local TV station is a hub from which all other media communications radiate into the community. Residents, visitors and guests rely on local network television for information, education and awareness.

    Without it, citizens have no collective way to effectively understand or know the people, issues and circumstances that affect their daily lives. So, you may ask, what does this have to do with our inherently low voter turnout? Everything. Especially when only 16% of Cumberland County registered voters turn out at the polls, as was the case with the primary election.

    Local citizens do not know about the people running or the community's problems. They do not know the candidates who are running for elected office. With this being the situation, why would they come out to vote? It's not apathy on their part. They don't have trustworthy news and information that local television provides on a city and country-wide basis. Without TV, it dilutes the effectiveness of other media resources: newspapers, radio and billboards, because there is nothing there to stimulate local interest and help "connect the dots." This lack of visibility makes it difficult, if not impossible, to assess or vet political candidates. Low voter turnout is only one of the ill effects. This media void encourages a lack of transparency and invites corruption and misdeeds at all levels leaving a community vulnerable to disaster. Look no further than the Town of Spring Lake for the near-perfect example of what happens when a community is without a TV station or legitimate form of media. Jason Brady wrote a comprehensive report on the Spring Lake situation in last week's Up & Coming Weekly edition. Read it. News coverage discourages voter fraud and exposes ill-qualified candidates and, in some cases, those who are corrupt or have criminal intent.
    Executive, Legislative and Judicial Branches make up the state of our government. The Fourth Estate (the media) is what is supposed to keep them in check by reporting their actions to the American people. Without media, you invite tyranny.

    At Up & Coming Weekly, we continue to fill the media void to serve our community readers with news and information and to keep this from becoming a media desert. With your help and the grateful support of our partners and advertisers, Up & Coming Weekly will remain free on the newsstand and free to online subscribers. We also will remain a consistent resource for what to do, where to go and how to enjoy the amenities offered here in Fayetteville/Cumberland County. You can depend on us.

    With ongoing partnerships with the Carolina Journal, the Carolina Public Press and CityView Today, we are able to provide news and insights on important local, regional and state issues affecting our readers. These three organizations, along with our own writers, reporters and editor, serve as the local media to keep you informed with honest, up-to-date news you can use and trust. Together we are proud to be a community vanguard against government waste and tyranny. Subscribe, write us, call us, support local and original stories, help support media and good journalism, but, most importantly, make an effort to seek out the truth. Think local, read local, support local.

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • 27bThe next few weeks I bet you will be attending a graduation ceremony —yours or a friend's or a family member's. In an earlier column I shared my thoughts about the speeches given at those times. With a few changes, here is what I wrote.

    Can you remember anything said at your graduation? I mean anything other than your own name as you crossed the stage to get your diploma, shake the hand of a school official, flip your tassel, and head back to your seat thinking, "It's over. It's over. I'm all done with this."

    Come to think of it, how many speeches of any kind can you remember? If you are like me, not many. Can you even remember your minister’s sermon last Sunday? Can you remember the newspaper article or column that you read just before you got to this one?

    Be honest. And know that recalling what we hear and read does not come easy for any of us.

    It makes you wonder about those of us who like to give speeches and write newspaper columns. I guess we are arrogant enough to think we are different — and that people will remember what we say or write. In my mind I know that few will read these words, fewer still (if any at all) will remember, but my heart says, "Keep talking, keep writing, somebody will hear you say something that will be helpful to them."

    That must be what most graduation speakers think, too. And that is why there are so many long graduation speeches each spring. Fortunately, some speakers are different.
    For instance, former Greensboro mayor and president of the Joseph Bryan Foundation, Jim Melvin. Inspired perhaps by a similar one given by Winston Churchill, he once gave this speech at a Greensboro College graduation event.

    Never give up. Never, never, never give up.

    That was it. The entire speech.
    Too short?

    Maybe, but everybody who heard it will remember it. Is the message too simple? Maybe, but it is a strong message. Better to be too short than too long.
    There is a graduation speech that most people in my hometown remember — even though it was given 60 years ago. Dabney Stuart, 1960 Salutatorian at Davidson College, gave the following commencement address:

    Much has been written,
    And much said,
    And those who wrote, or spoke,
    Are dying, or dead.
    Jesus said, before he died,
    “Love one another.”
    I have nothing significant to add.

    Some in the crowd were stunned. They thought the short talk was disrespectful because it broke so radically from the norm. But today, looking back, that message seems right on point and memorable.
    Short speeches are hard to write.

    So are short columns. But short ones are better ones.

    Someone once asked President Woodrow Wilson how long it took him to prepare an hour-long speech. He said that it took about five minutes to prepare. Then he was asked how long it takes to prepare a five-minute speech?

    "That takes hours and hours," the president said.

    It does take longer to figure out how to say something important or complicated in a few words. But those of us who want people to remember what we say or write had better learn how to do it.
    Wait. I know what you are thinking. "This guy has made his point. Why doesn't he stop? Why doesn't he follow his own advice and keep his column short?"

    You're right. I'm done.

  • 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.  


    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

  • 27aBy and large, even where we find it difficult to understand, most people love their country. No doubt they will be critical of it at times. Certainly, others will level criticisms at it. The difference is that citizens’ dissatisfaction with their nation generally comes from a place of love and loyalty, while outsiders may have a wide array of motives.

    Regardless of the degree of pride for achievements or frustration with perceived failings, most of the populace will express their patriotism and affection through celebrating national holidays.

    In addition to unique customs, most countries will share common festivities, such as parades and firework displays. For the past couple of years, most places scaled back their celebrations in the face of the worldwide pandemic. But, with the availability of vaccines, many places have been moving towards a return to more typical celebratory events.

    Last week, Israel marked its 74th Independence Day, and some two dozen celebrations again scaled back or eliminated their fireworks displays across the Jewish state, but for a very different reason. This year, there was a concern about the impact that the loud explosions have on people living with post-traumatic stress disorder, which led to the downsizing of celebratory pyrotechnics.

    Advocates struggled to educate officials, and the public about the adverse impact booming fireworks has on many veterans and others struggling with PTSD.

    Unfortunately, it took an April 2021 tragedy to begin to galvanize greater PTSD awareness. Last year, just before Israel’s Memorial Day (which is commemorated the day before Independence Day) in protest, a veteran, frustrated with his inadequate PTSD care, set himself on fire in the entryway to a military rehabilitation facility. Fortunately, he survived, and the nation has closely followed his slow and painful recovery.

    Such a wake-up call should not be needed anywhere, but the realities of competing priorities, inadequate budgets, bloated bureaucracies and political expediencies make this a reality pretty much everywhere.

    Indeed, in response to the events, the struggles of soldiers with PTSD almost immediately began to receive much-needed attention. What and how much will change remains to be seen. And we should not be surprised that there has been push-back from those who are disappointed with the curtailing of the traditional aerial festivities.

    No doubt, there is a complicated balancing act between the understandable desire of a nation to celebrate itself and concern for those who may be impacted negatively through certain forms of that celebration.

    We who live within the Fort Bragg area can especially understand these competing considerations. Obviously, every country has its own unique history and set of circumstances, so even if this issue were confronted globally, the particular calculus would necessarily and appropriately play out differently in different places.

    We are in the midst of Mental Health Awareness Month. I would suggest that taking note of this kind of weighing of values, wherever it occurs, is just the type of awareness-raising regarding the mental health issues that we are meant to engage in at this time of year.

  • 8It’s Greek mythology time again. We’re going to see if our old friend Icarus can teach anything to Vlad Putin since Vlad apparently won’t listen to anyone but the voices in his head.

    Icarus was one of the Wright Brothers of Greek mythology. Kindly recall he flew too close to the sun, which resulted in trouble.
    Imitating Icarus, Vlad has flown too close to Ukraine. Let us begin with Icarus’s family history. Icky, as his friends called him, was the son of Daedalus. Daedalus was the ancient Greek version of Elon Musk. Daedalus was Athen’s greatest architect, designer of labyrinths and Thomas Edison style inventor. Like all mythology backstories, Daedalus’ was a humdinger.

    Once upon a time, King Minos was in charge of the island of Crete. Like most islands, Crete was surrounded by water. This meant Poseidon, the King of the Seas, was a big deal there.
    Poseidon sent King Minos a snow-white bull so that Minos could sacrifice the bull in honor of Poseidon. There was a lot of sacrificing back then. You might ask, why didn’t Poseidon just sacrifice the bull to himself and enjoy a barbecue? Don’t ask. It would ruin the story.

    Minos liked the bull so much he could not bring himself to sacrifice it in Poseidon’s honor. Bad idea. When Poseidon didn’t smell Texas-style BBQ on Crete, he became really cranky. He laid a spell on Minos’ wife, Pasiphae, which was even more potent than Love Potion Number 9. Like the guy who kissed the cop on the corner of 34th Street and Vine, she took one look at the white bull and was smitten. She fell in love. She and the bull made whoopee. From this union, the Minotaur was born. The Queen’s bouncing bundle of joy had the body of a man and the head of a bull. Minos soon realized he was not the father.

    Minos was embarrassed by his wife’s bovine dalliance. He decided he needed to hide the love child, who was running wild and eating local citizens. Minos hired Daedalus to design and build a labyrinth to hide the Minotaur from the paparazzi. Daedalus did his thing, and the Minotaur was stuck in the maze. Minos ordered seven young men and women of Athens to go into the labyrinth each year to serve as Minotaur chow. This precursor to Soylent Green irritated the Athenians to no end.

    A local hero named Theseus volunteered to enter the labyrinth to try to kill the Minotaur. Minos’ daughter gave Theseus a ball of string to put on his path on the way in so he could follow the string back out. Theseus slew the Minotaur and skedaddled with Minos’ daughter; this really got Minos’ goat. Minos had to blame someone. Theseus had escaped, so Minos blamed Daedalus for a design flaw that allowed the Minotaur to be killed. Minos made Daedalus and Icky stay on Crete as prisoners at a Grecian Formula Gulag. (We will get back to Putin in a while.)

    Daedalus and Icarus got pretty bored on Crete. It was time to make a getaway. Daedalus designed a set of wings for each of them made of feathers held together by wax. It was the perfect plan. Daedalus knew his son was a hothead like Sonny Corleone. He warned Icarus not to fly too high because the sun might melt the wax and not to fly too close to the ocean because the moisture from the sea might cause his wings to stop working due to humidity. This advice is reminiscent of Dean Smith’s advice to his University of North Carolina basketball players: “Don’t get too high in the good times and don’t get too low in the bad times. Remain steady.”

    You can figure out what happened next. After Daedalus and Icarus started flying off Crete, Icarus began cutting the fool, zooming up and down all over the sky. Like Sonny Corleone, he ignored his father’s advice and flew too close to the sun. Melt City. The feathers fell off his wings, plunging Icky headfirst into the drink. Icarus drowned. He was last seen in Davy Jones’ locker sleeping with the fishes like Luca Brasi. What a Dumbo.

    Which finally gets us back to Vlad Putin and Ukraine. Ol’ Vlad thought he could sashay into Ukraine and topple it over in four days. Not so fast, KGB-dude. Vlad’s war plan re-enacted Icarus’ flight to the sun. He did not say “May I?” before invading. Vlad flew the Russian Army too close to the sun, that is, President Zelensky, the Ukrainian Army and the Ukrainian people. The wax has melted off the wings of the Russian Army. The Russian battleship Moskva is sleeping at the bottom of the Black Sea with Poseidon, Luca Brasi and Icarus.

    So, what have we learned today? Aeronautical science has come a long way from waxwings and feathers; PETA would have hated Theseus for killing the Minotaur; sunshine may be the best disinfectant but ain’t good for waxwings. And, finally, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it. Don’t believe me? Ask Icarus and Vlad.

    Slava Ukraine! Glory to Ukraine.

  • 5When is the last time you heard a quasi-government agency broadcast they are not raising your rates or taxes? Well, from the press release from the Public Works Commission last week, their utility customers' electric rates are not expected to increase during 2023. This update reflects the staff at our hometown utility doing a great job and looking out for their Fayetteville customers. Together, they provide leadership by example, not being afraid to make decisions, take action, roll up their sleeves and get the necessary work done to better the community.

    The nearly $400 million 2023 proposed budget calls for more than a 10% decrease from the current budget. Yes, decrease! Water rates, however, will increase slightly. According to PWC's President and CEO, Elaina Ball, higher water rates will take effect in 2023, and average water and sewer customers about $3 a month. These water rate increases were postponed in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Kudos to PWC. They are setting the example for both our city and county governments. This kind of responsible strategic planning and high-level leadership is sorely needed at all levels of our local government. And, in today's economic climate, it is more important now than ever before. As we approach the upcoming 2022 city and county elections, voters must pay special attention to the character, leadership skills, abilities and vision that local candidates are touting.

    Several days ago, I was at a meeting with four businesses that started here in Fayetteville/Cumberland County 25 to 30 years ago. We all adamantly agreed that the foundation of our success came from the leadership and support we received from the City of Fayetteville, Cumberland County, the Chamber of Commerce, Fayetteville Visitors Bureau, and the office of Economic Development. Today, not so much. Our reputation has become that we are not a business-friendly community. That is why it is so important to vote in the upcoming elections for candidates who will again provide the vision and leadership that will move this community forward. We have plenty of opportunities here that need cultivation and development, and our current leadership has failed us in so many ways. Look no further than the last 8 to 10 years if you need proof. Look around, ask your own questions, make your observations and draw your own conclusions.

    Here are a few to get you started: Is it easy doing business with the city and county? Does our homicide rate have you concerned that Fayetteville is quickly becoming the murder capital of North Carolina? Why can't our City Council make the most straightforward decisions like what downtown Fayetteville paid parking hours would best benefit the downtown businesses and encourage visitors, guests and residents to frequent historic downtown Fayetteville. Or, how should Fayetteville repurpose the historic Market House without involving the Justice Department and conducting countless (and fruitless) meetings with the Fayetteville/Cumberland County Community Relations? These decisions should be relatively easy to make, but there are not being made. Yet, these same bodies can approve an expenditure of $450,000 of taxpayer's money on an impromptu request for a study on an African American Museum followed the same impromptu approval from the Cumberland County Commissioners. Together, on a whim, they approved $900,000 for this project when the unhoused, those facing mental health crises and panhandlers, aimlessly roam our streets. Deadly carcinogens were creeping dangerously close to contaminating our Cape Fear water supply. Recently PWC took the initiative to seek financial assistance from the Cumberland County Legislative delegation and received $200 thousand to address this problem. PWC matched it and came up with the solution to clean up the site and avoid such a disaster. Reaction from the City of Fayetteville? Honestly, I'm not sure many city council members even knew they owned the property or were aware that our region's water supply was in severe danger.

    And, with Gray's Creek homes and schools still having to drink bottled water because of GenX contamination, Cumberland County Commissioners seem to be slow-walking solutions with an attitude of "well, want to you want us to do about it?"

    In my opinion, these are misplaced priorities by both the city and county. Ask yourself what's more important? Preventing a regional contaminated water supply disaster or a government-funded festival? Providing housing and care for the homeless and mentally ill, or contracting for another downtown museum? Having our school children continue to drink bottled water or fund repurposing a historic building?

    I own a business downtown. I see a great community suffering from poor decisions and inadequate leadership every day. Only involved caring citizens can change this situation. I urge everyone I come in contact with to get involved and make their voices heard. Vote. There are many good people in our community that are willing and able to do the right things for the right reasons. For this, I am grateful, and they need to be encouraged and supported. This is a good community; however, it can be a great community with fantastic potential and endless opportunities with exemplary leadership. The leadership at PWC, our Hometown Utility, gets it. City and county leadership should follow in their path.

    Thank you for reading the Up & Coming Weekly community newspaper.

  • 5 Since the dawn of time, we human beings have changed everything we encounter. When we got tired of gathering berries, we chopped down trees and cultivated land for our food. When we got cold and tired of eating raw food, we harnessed fire to cook and to warm ourselves. When living in caves got old, we learned to create structures for shelter.
    We also figured out how to harness our own minds, developing frameworks to understand our world through religion and philosophy. Turns out we also found ways to change the way we experience our world using what the DuPont company dubbed “better living through chemistry.”

    Yes, we figured out how to alter our minds through all sorts of compounds, including caffeine, plants, alcohol and more recently, chemical compounds, including prescription drugs.
    Many scientists believe that early agricultural societies used alcohol and mind-altering plants in ceremonial rites and perhaps recreationally, but our real troubles with various substances began millennia later.
    They have reached five-alarm fire proportions now, and the COVID-19 pandemic and its accompanying stress have both contributed to and placed a spotlight on American substance abuse.

    Let’s look at alcohol first.

    Apparently, we have been drinking up a storm. A study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that during the 20 years between 1999 and 2019, alcohol related deaths rose 3.6%, but in 2020 alone the death rate soared a breathtaking 25%! Alcohol related deaths went up across the board — men and women and in every ethnic and racial group.

    Young adults, 25 to 44, had the greatest increase at 40%. In 2020, alcohol related deaths zoomed past the rate of increase for all other causes, including COVID-19.

    Then there are preventable drug overdose deaths, more than 100,000 of them over the last year, up nearly 50% since the start of the pandemic and up an astounding 649% since 1999.

    The majority of these deaths are caused by opioids, both prescription and illicit, with the fastest growing lethal category being synthetic opioids such as fentanyl and like substances.
    Methamphetamines also cause preventable overdoses, but at much lower rates. Most deaths occur in the 25 to 34 age group, with 7 out of 10 deaths involving men, although the death rate for women is rising.

    These sterile numbers, grim as they are, represent human beings who lost their lives to substances we humans created and that many of us use on a regular basis. These souls lost left people who loved them and who continue to suffer. My guess is that everyone reading this knows someone affected by alcohol and/or drug abuse.

    Minds far greater than mine struggle to address the dramatic increases in alcohol related and preventable drug overdose deaths, and I pray they succeed — and soon. Their causes are myriad and vastly complex.

    Among them in my mind is turning alcohol into forbidden fruit. Human history tells us that we are not going to get rid of it, so we should teach people, especially young folks, how to use it responsibly. It makes no sense to tie our nation’s drinking age to federal highway funding, forcing young people to wait to have a beer until they are 21, though they can get married, vote, get a loan and give their lives for their nation at 18.

    Our medical establishment, pharmaceutical companies and government have failed us on the opioid issue. Big business pushed the drugs, physicians joined in, and Congress OK’d ubiquitous direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising which now tortures us every hour of the day. Only one other nation, New Zealand, allows this ugly practice.

    Our nation is overdue for soul-searching about these skyrocketing death rates, both individually and collectively.

  • UAC05112204 PUB PEN Sometimes we receive letters from the community that are just too important and relevant to ignore. Below is one of them. I gladly relinquish my space to share this message with our readers and the entire Fayetteville community.
    —Bill Bowman, publisher, Up & Coming Weekly

    I am Margaret Dickson, a business owner, journalist, former state senator and representative from Cumberland County.

    I am Rick Glazier, a lawyer, former Cumberland County school board member, Fayetteville State University professor and state representative.

    I am Dr. Eric Mansfield, an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor in Fayetteville and former state senator from Cumberland County.

    I am Diane Parfitt, a nurse, local downtown business owner and former state representative from Cumberland County.

    Together for many years, we represented Cumberland County in the NC General Assembly.

    Together, we fought for public education, affordable health care access, housing affordability, consumer protection, economic development, and environmental and social justice.

    Today, we write together to support one of North Carolina's best qualified, most effective and deeply respected state senators, Kirk deViere.

    When COVID-19 hit, he answered by fighting for and securing tens of millions of dollars for Cumberland County to prevent evictions, home foreclosures and utility cut-offs.

    When public education needed a voice, he answered by effectively negotiating with the Republican legislative leadership. He did this for, quite literally, hundreds of millions of dollars in teacher pay, additional school nurses, textbooks, teacher assistant positions, early childhood education funds, broadband funds, school lunch monies and more social workers in the schools. He has led the fight for full Leandro funding.

    While many have failed for 10 years in the executive and legislature, Kirk has been at the forefront of negotiating for Medicaid expansion and finally has gotten all parties to a place where that expansion may finally occur this summer.

    When our waters were polluted along the Cape Fear River basin, Kirk led the charge to go after the polluters and get the state and the polluting companies to take responsibility, stop the pollution and begin to effectively remedy the damage.

    When voices cried out for social justice and civil rights, he has been on the front lines of criminal records expunction, driver's license restoration, removing occupational licensing barriers and vigorously fighting for voting rights for all and equal justice for our daughters as well as our sons.

    When predatory lending companies tried to enter North Carolina, he stopped them.

    When community watches meet everywhere in the county, he is there, listening and always responds.

    Kirk has always been that way; as a military veteran of 11 years, Fayetteville city councilman, local business owner and state senator. That is why he is immensely respected by his colleagues in Raleigh and is thought of as one of the brightest state senators in the country.

    He is the first in his office most days and the last to leave at night.

    He is thoughtful, intelligent, informed and compassionate, just as the four of us tried to be in our public service. Only — he does it even better!

    He is a statesman and a rare commodity in public office; someone there for all the right reasons; someone who listens and not just talks; someone who values authenticity and morality over ideology and expediency; someone who delivers for our children, our families and our community.

    He is, in our collective opinion, everything you want and we need in public service, in leadership and a model of community engagement. He is a man of uncommon sense and sensibility.

    Together, we are proud and honored to endorse Senator deViere for re-election.*

    *Our endorsements are personal and are made in our individual capacities and not on behalf of any organization to which we are a member.

    Pictured above: (left to right) Margaret Dickson, Rick Glazier, Dr. Eric Mansfield, Diane Parfitt.

  • What books are you featuring on PBS-NC’s North Carolina “Bookwatch” this season?

    When I get this question from fans of that television program, I have to explain that the program was recently discontinued by PBS-NC.

    Then some people want to know what North Carolina-related books and authors would have been featured if the program had continued.

    Here are some of the programs I would have recommended for inclusion.

    “The Last First Kiss,” by Walter Bennett. A widowed retired lawyer reconnects with his high school girl friend in a hurricane on the Outer Banks.

    “The Beauty of Dusk” by Frank Bruni. The New York Times columnist and new North Carolina resident deals with his possible blindness.

    “Fire and Stone: The Making of the University of North Carolina under Presidents Edward Kidder Graham and Harry Woodburn Chase” by Howard Covington.

    “Midnight Lock” by Jeffery Deaver, the bestselling thriller author of the Lincoln Rhyme series who lives in North Carolina.

    “Balcony Reserved for White Spectators” by the late Walter Dellinger. Although Dellinger died before he completed this book of his extraordinary memories, we can hope his family and friends will find a way to finish it.

    “Saving the Wild South: The Fight for Native Plants on the Brink of Extinction” by Georgeann Eubanks.

    “The Recovery Agent” by Janet Evanovich. This bestselling author who lives in North Carolina begins a new series that the publisher asserts “blends wild adventure, hugely appealing characters, and pitch-perfect humor.”

    “A Good Neighborhood” by Therese Anne Fowler. A story of race and family set in Raleigh.

    “The Last Battleground: The Civil War Comes to North Carolina” by Philip Gerard.

    “The Other Dr. Gilmer: Two Men, A Murder, and an Unlikely Fight for Justice” by Benjamin Gilmer. A caring doctor is also a killer.

    “UNC A to Z: What Every Tar Heel Needs to Know about the First State University” by Nicholas Graham and Cecelia Moore.

    “The Unwilling” by John Hart. Set in North Carolina, a fifth bestseller by Hart, who grew up in Salisbury.

    “Mountain Folk” by John Hood. A political columnist’s fanciful look at the times of the American Revolution.

    “To Drink from the Well: The Struggle for Racial Equality at the Nation's Oldest Public University” by Geeta N. Kapur. A Black UNC-Chapel Hill graduate re-writes the history of the university’s admission denials.

    “Frank Porter Graham: Southern Liberal, Citizen of the World” by William Link.

    “The Mays of Alamanns’ Creek: A Family Odyssey” by John May. A family history beginning hundreds of thousands of years ago.

    “Hell of a Book” by Jason Mott, who won the 2021 National Book Award.

    “The Faces of Poverty in North Carolina: Stories from Our Invisible Citizens” by Gene Nichol.

    “Sea Level Rise: A Slow Tsunami on America’s Shores” by Orrin and Keith Pilkey.

    “A Small Circle” by William Price. A privately published book of family memories by Reynolds Price’s brother William.

    “Andy Griffith’s Manteo: His Real Mayberry” by John Railey. Griffith’s life story told from his beloved Manteo.

    “In the Valley” by Ron Rash. Short stories by a master of the craft and a sequel to Rash’s bestselling “Serena.”

    “Searching for Amylu Danzer” by John Rosenthal. Famed photographer Rosenthal’s memoir of a lost friendship still haunting after more than 50 years.

    “How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America” by Clint Smith. This #1 New York Times bestseller by a Davidson graduate who visited places where slavery is more than a simple memory.

    “The Return” by Nicholas Sparks.

    “Paul’s Hill: Homage to Whitman” by Shelby Stephenson. Narrative poetry by a former state poet-laureate.

    “French Braid” by Anne Tyler. Another best seller set in Baltimore by an author who grew up in North Carolina

    “Hanging Tree Guitars” by Freeman Vines. Photographs and memories of Vine and his guitars.

    “A Consequential Life: David Lowry Swain, Nineteenth-Century North Carolina, and Their University” by Willis Whichard, expected to be released later this year.
    “Bookwatch” may be gone, but North Carolina-related books and authors continue to thrive.

  • 7 Hey, you! Yeah, you, the one holding this issue of Up & Coming Weekly in your soon-to-be ink-stained hands. Astrologically speaking, troubles are heading your way. Consider this column a warning. A word to the wise, so to speak. Do not make any major decisions in the next couple of weeks.

    To quote the greatest astrologer of our times, Creedence Clearwater’s John Fogerty, “I see a bad moon a-rising/ I see trouble on the way/ I see earthquakes and lightning/ I see bad times today.”

    Beware, Mercury is about to slide into retrograde. Right now, you are probably asking yourself, “Self, what is Mercury in Retrograde, and why should I care?”

    Fortunately, for both the readers of this column, Mr. Science has the answer. Nothing less than The Wall Street Journal had a front-page article on the effects of Mercury in retrograde written by their crack astrology reporter Stephanie Lai. If The Wall Street Journal says it, I believe it, and that settles it.

    Today, Mr. Science will examine astronomy and its ugly cousin, astrology. Trigger warning: If you believe in science or astrology, do not read this column as it contains potentially disturbing content that may be disconcerting to sensitive souls. Go to your safe place and have a cookie instead. Throw away this paper and begin whimpering.

    Mercury in retrograde occurs when Mercury seems to reverse its orbit and move backward in relation to the Earth. While Mercury doesn’t really go backward to Earthlings, it appears to do so. It turns out appearances can be deceiving. When Merc (as his friends call Mercury) goes into retrograde, bad luck peaks on Earth. We are about to enter a Merc in retrograde phase in the dangerous period between May 10 and June 2. If you don’t floss the teeth you want to keep during that period, your friends will call you Gummy.

    Ms. Lai’s article cited a number of Earthlings who had bad experiences in prior retrograde periods who blamed their ill fortunes not on the Bossa Nova but on retrograde. The financially prudent thing to do is to postpone trips, decisions and gambling junkets during retrograde. To be extra safe during retrograde, follow Larry David’s advice in “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” go to bed, pull the quilt over your head and sob quietly until retrograde passes you by.

    What do you get when you mix astrology and medical science? Take a look. Back in medieval times (not the one at Myrtle Beach) but rather the 14th Century, Europe and Asia played host to the bubonic plague. The Black Death ultimately killed about a third of Europe’s population. A bad time was had by all. French King Phillip VI wanted to know what was causing this disaster, so he appointed the best and brightest minds at the University of Paris in 1348 to cipher out the cause. And cipher they did, producing “A New Study,” which pinned down the cause of the plague.

    Forty-nine of the smartest doctors of their time put on their thinking hats to discover the origin of the Black Death. They were able to pinpoint the creation of the Black Death in their official report, the “Paris Consilium.”

    And wasn’t that a dainty dish to set before the King? They found the Black Death was born on March 20, 1345, when there was “a triple conjunction of Saturn, Jupiter and Mars in the 40th degree of Aquarius.” If you can’t trust the finest medical minds of the time, who can you trust?

    Medical science and astrology were joined at the hip during the medieval period, as shown by the University of Paris report. To be a great doctor, you also had to be a great astrologer. Medical science was written in the stars. Despite the best efforts of the 49 Parisian docs, it later turned out that the cause of the bubonic plague was a nasty bacteria called yersinia pestis, which spread by fleas jumping off the bodies of dead rats. The infected fleas then chowed down on human hosts, giving them the plague resulting in an early exit from the land of the living. A little ivermectin would have been helpful back then.

    So, with retrograde on the near horizon, what can we expect next? The early victims of retrograde appear to be the demise of CNN+, the Russians’ planned four-day war in Ukraine and Twitter’s battle with Elon Musk.

    Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of Mercury? As the Former Guy would say, “Stay tuned.”

    Have we learned anything today? Alas. Once again, not so much. This column is really a waste of your time. Creedence Clearwater tried to warn us about Merc in Retrograde when they sang: “I hear hurricanes a-blowing/ I know the end is coming soon/ I fear rivers overflowing/ I hear the voice of rage and ruin.”

    Moral: If you are not going to hide under a quilt until Mercury in retrograde passes, at least carry an umbrella. As the Morton Salt Girl says: “When it rains, it pours.”

  • 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.

  • I’m a conservative without a conversion story. Plenty of others have such a tale — they read a certain book, had a certain teacher or somehow became disenchanted with their previous, left-leaning views.

    If the conversion happened as adults, after first being politically active as a progressive, socialist or communist, they were called neoconservatives. One of the most prominent, Irving Kristol, famously defined a neoconservative as “a liberal who has been mugged by reality” and a neoliberal as “a liberal who got mugged by reality but has not pressed charges.”

    I only got mugged once, while working as a magazine reporter in Washington, and I was already a conservative. It was an attempted mugging, actually, because I happened to be carrying a synthesizer in a heavy case, it proved to be a handy weapon to swing, and the would-be mugger was stoned out of his mind.

    But Kristol wasn’t really talking about crime as a political issue, of course, although the rise of criminality and social disorder during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s was a factor that propelled some Americans into the modern conservative movement. What bound the disparate elements of that movement together was the existence of critically important and inescapable realities — such as what the free-market economist Thomas Sowell later described as the “constrained vision” of human nature, as distinguishable from the “unconstrained vision” of would-be social engineers.

    Both here in North Carolina and around the country, the modern conservative movement is an alliance of what used to be called traditionalism and what used to be called liberalism.

    Traditionalists believed there are fundamental truths and virtues, either revealed by God or confirmed by millennia of human history, that ought to guide human action.

    Classical liberals didn’t necessarily disagree with that premise, actually. But they elevated the principle of freedom to the top of the list — the right of individuals to make decisions for themselves above the power of the state to take their property and control their lives.

    Traditionalists valued freedom, as well, but observed that individuals aren’t born as human atoms who later, voluntarily, form human molecules. We are born into families and communities, and thus into a thick and complex web of social obligations. Many traditionalists, then, defined freedom in communitarian terms, as “ordered liberty.” Classical liberals emphasized the right of the individual to make decisions, even if the results dismayed their neighbors or injured themselves.

    When cultural critics, libertarians and anti-communists forged the modern conservative movement in America during the 20th century, they were reacting to the threatening rise of populism, progressivism and socialism.

    It was a case of longtime rivals, traditionalists and classical liberals, forming first an alliance of mutual need and then, through fits and starts, forging a more systematic integration of their ideas.

    The result wasn’t a catechism. It was and remains messy and incomplete. There are areas of disagreement and differences in emphasis. But the various strands of modern conservatism have enough in common to work together — and what they have in common, for the most part, is a belief that governmental power should be minimized so that freedom can be maximized.

    Why? Because it is in the nature of humans to thrive, in the long run, when they are free to make their own decisions, rather than being compelled to comply with some central plan. The empirical evidence for this proposition is massive and constantly growing.

    For example, a peer-reviewed study by North Dakota State University economist Jeremy Jackson employed the Frasier Institute’s Economic Freedom of North America Index and a set of survey data on life satisfaction.

    All other things being equal, states with lower taxes, smaller budgets, and fewer regulations had a higher share of happy residents than did those with expansive, expensive governments.

    My conservative colleagues and I here in North Carolina fight for freedom not as an abstraction but as a practical tool for promoting opportunity, progress, happiness and virtue. And we welcome converts to the cause.

  • 4After attending the recent municipal forums, listening to the candidates on the radio and reading their social media posts, I can honestly and confidently make several assessments. For the most part, these candidates are honest, hard-working, and good-intentioned Fayetteville citizens with deep concerns for our city. Otherwise, they would not be seeking public office.

    However, I question the motives of several of the newbies and a few incumbents who are vying for reelection. The current configuration of districts in our city council does not allow for a cohesive community vision. After all, because of how the nine Fayetteville municipal districts are determined, it fosters an environment that encourages, protects, and disguises laziness, neglect of responsibilities, and gross incompetence while restricting our voice in local government. For more information on this issue visit, www.voteyesfayetteville.com.

    If history and past performance are indications of future leadership expectations, then why would anyone think these dysfunctional, uncooperative and uninformed city council placeholders would perform any differently if reelected? Tisha Waddell resigned her position in District 3 on November 9, 2022 after realizing, among other things, that it was impossible to work and achieve anything for the citizens of Fayetteville in such a hostile, dysfunctional environment. She resigned after realizing there was no path forward to improve or influence change for honest and transparent governance for all Fayetteville residents.

    As we listen to these political wannabes, everyone seems to tout public safety, the unhoused, storm water, infrastructure and the need to make Fayetteville a cleaner and more attractive business-friendly city. All spewing words without substance that go primarily unchallenged by the general public. These are ambiguous talking points and sound bites void of remedies, solutions, or plans to move our city forward. They do not reflect a working knowledge of how the city government operates.

    The Fayetteville Can Do BETTER campaign, funded by donations collected from citizens who want a better Fayetteville, will run through the General election on Nov. 8. The campaign has two primary objectives: To remind and encourage people to vote in the upcoming elections and let the current city-elected officials know that we see and experience what they chose to ignore every day in our city.

    Up & Coming Weekly is accepting contributions to the ad campaign and photos highlighting issues in our city from the community. Please email me directly at bill@upandcomingweekly.com or send them direct to Fayetteville Can Do BETTER c/o Up & Coming Weekly, 208 Rowan St., Fayetteville, N.C., 28301.

    Fayetteville is a fabulous community with great potential for a bright and prosperous future, but only if we can elect leaders with integrity and a strong work ethic. Your comments are welcome and appreciated.
    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • 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. 

  • 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.

  • I was recently allowed to get a sneak peek at the Gilbert Theater’s production of “Fairview,” the 2019 Pulitizer Prize-winning play by Jackie Sibbles Drury.

    Subsequently, I can say it was some of the most powerful, uncomfortable, and truly bizarre theater I have ever seen, though “experienced,” is a much better word.
    The play opens into the living room of what could easily be any American’s home. Tasteful furniture, a nice rug, and a dining room table all speak to the banal existence of your average middle-class family.

    “Fairview’s” take on this ubiquitous image is the Frasiers, an African American family who in their exaggerated wholesomeness, bring to mind the groundbreaking sitcom perfection of “The Cosby Show.”

    There’s comically hysterical Beverly (Jacquelyne Johnson-Hill), who needs everything to be just so for her mother’s birthday dinner. Her long-suffering husband, Dayton (Shaun McMillan), works almost too hard to keep his exasperated wife happy. The arrival of Beverly’s passive-aggressive, meddling sister Jasmine (J. Ra’Chel Fowler) brings some laugh-out-loud dialogue, and the youngest Frasier, teenage Keisha (Jalani Rapu), completes a family that looks just like any other.

    In her quest to “make everything absolutely perfect,” Beverly burns the birthday cake (of course), faints dramatically in poor Dayton’s arms, and the stage goes black.

    At this point in the play, things go significantly off the rails.

    Act II opens with the arrival of new voices, but the stage is dressed the same. A white man (Justin Gore-Pike) and a white woman (Amanda Briggs) begin a contentious conversation about race as a construct and what race they might choose if such a thing were possible.

    The incredibly cringe-worthy dialogue here is uncomfortable but is one of the more interesting takes on benign racism that I’ve seen. It’s racism born of stereotype-driven ignorance that doesn’t seek to hate but is equally destructive as it seeks to paint minorities with a broad, incapable brush.
    In the background of this racially charged conversation, the Frasiers repeat Act I without speaking any of their lines as another white man (Gabe Terry) and woman (Molly Hamelin) join the conversation happening in the foreground. The cast is now complete: four unnamed white spectators to comment and observe the lives of four black people, much like they’re enjoying a television show.

    It’s a lot.

    An increasingly angry conversation about what black people are or aren’t continues as the Frasiers go past the point of the previous action in the background. The silent blacks and the chatty whites make for chaotically fascinating theater as the audience confronts the larger conversation threading its way through the scene.
    Act II ends in an unhinged monologue delivered to the audience by the play’s loud, swaggering, white, cis-male antagonist. The message, which I won’t write about here, will definitely ruffle the feathers of those listening closely.

    Act III, the last in the play, is by far the most confusing. Culminating in a bizarre twist, the play arrives at its message with a shaken, disoriented audience in tow. Frankly, I was happy to see it end — I could finally release the breath I’d been holding.

    Chosen for its contentious subject matter by the Gilbert’s artistic director, Lawrence Carlisle III, the play’s director, Deannah Robinson, meets the challenges of the material with a deft hand.
    Creating some truly funny moments in a play that seems oppressively heavy at times, Robinson clearly understood the assignment and creates a space that’s hard to stay in but impossible to leave.
    Hill, Fowler, McMillan, and Rapu do an excellent job of silently replicating their performances in Act II, while Hamelin, Terry, Briggs, and Gore-Pike commit to performances that are as grotesque as they are brilliant.

    The chemistry evident between the play’s actors is a high point of the production. While the play’s commentary almost certainly made for some awkward initial read-throughs, we’re left with the feeling these actors became a little closer throughout rehearsals. It makes the tougher bits easier to swallow.

    Technical director Vicki Lloyd’s tidy set and expert lighting design plunge the audience into a bizarre world of meta-theater where we, the audience, become the watchers of the watchers of a show not meant for either of us. Her skillful direction moves the play through transitions that seem simultaneously seamless and jarring. The haunting spotlight on newcomer Rapu in her closing monologue is an image that is sure to stick with audiences long after the play ends.

    “Fairview” is a play of outrageous demands and unflinching permissions. It allows itself to be the crude, vulgar uncle at a family barbecue and demands you don’t dare leave the table.
    I recommend that you grab a seat and settle in for a necessary conversation.

    “Fairview”runs through June 12.
    The Gilbert Theater is located at 116 Green St. above the Fascinate U Children’s Museum.

    Tickets can be purchased at www.gilberttheater.com/ or 910-678-7186.

  • 19 Free live music, food trucks and southern summer nights come together every second Friday evening of the month for a concert series starting on June 10.
    From 6 to 10 p.m., Fayetteville After Five, held at Festival Park in downtown, will open its gates to couples looking for a fun night out or families looking to beat the summer doldrums.
    While outside food and drink, canopies and coolers are not permitted on-site — camping chairs, blankets and service animals are more than welcome as attendees experience an evening of good vibes, good food and good music.

    A summer staple for the last decade, Fayetteville After Five has the successful summer bash down to a science. Park gates will open at 5 p.m., followed by an opening act at 6.
    For those coming to rock, the live music offering will not disappoint. Fayetteville After Five will feature a range of tribute and cover bands. From the Eagles to Led Zeppelin, there’s a little something for everyone.

    Opening acts taking the stage this summer include Southern Haze, Throwback Collaboration Band and 10 O’Clock High.

    A rotation of five to seven food trucks will be on-site with plenty of options, including dessert and several types of beer.
    At 8 p.m., the night’s headlining act will grace the stage, and the lineup this year features crowd favorites such as On the Border, Rivermist and Zoso.

    As an extension of the Dogwood Festival, Fayetteville After Five offers those still crowd-shy after the precautions of the past two years an opportunity to get out and have a good time. Sarahgrace Snipes, executive director of the Dogwood Festival, sees it as a great way for people to reengage without battling the overwhelming crowds often present at other events.

    “It’s a bit more relaxing,” she told Up & Coming Weekly. “This is a great event to not be right on top of people. We’ll have lawn games; kids can run around, people can interact with each other and enjoy live music without a huge crowd.”

    While Fayetteville After Five will have a lot to offer those looking for something free, fun and local to add to their summer plans, Snipes is most excited to share good live music with the public.

    “I am most excited about On the Border,” Snipes admitted. “It is the ultimate Eagles tribute band, and people love them. They usually bring in the largest audience, and it’s very fulfilling to see the park full, people having fun and seeing the happiness our events bring to the community.”

    The concert series will take place over three dates throughout the summer: June 10, July 15 and August 12.

    “I hope to hear that everyone had a wonderful time,” Snipes said. “And I hope to hear that they’re coming out to the next event, and they’re excited for the Dogwood Festival in October.”
    Festival Park is located at 335 Ray Ave. in Fayetteville.

    For more information regarding vendor and music lineup, visit the event website at www.thedogwoodfestival.com/fayetteville-after-five.


  • 17 Sweet Tea Shakespeare will take audiences all the way back to "the rom-com that started it all" with their production of "Much Ado About Nothing" by William Shakespeare. This comedy, directed by Sweet Tea Shakespeare's Artistic Director Jeremy Fiebig, will open Friday, June 3, and run through June 26. Shows start at 7:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday, with a live music preshow at 6:45 p.m.

    Written around 1598, "Much Ado About Nothing" focuses on the romantic exploits of two couples in the idyllic Italian countryside. Beatrice and Benedick are cynical individuals more interested in exchanging witty repartee than vows of love. A second romance in the story follows the maiden, Hero, and brave soldier, Claudio. A colorful cast of characters both aid and usurp the four would-be lovers, and hilarity ensues.

    "I think this play is just wildly entertaining," said Jen Pommerenke, managing director for Sweet Tea Shakespeare. "It lends itself to any age group, and it's an accessible Shakespeare comedy. It's funny, witty and just a great storyline."

    The play will receive a few updates — moving to the "Bridgerton" esque Empire period with some infusions of modern music. The source material has been cut down to fit a run time of around two hours. However, it's still "all Shakespeare," Fiebig assured Up & Coming Weekly.

    Sweet Tea Shakespeare brings The Bard and the magic of his stories to old fans and newcomers alike. Over 500 years after changing the way humans engage with story craft, Sweet Tea Shakespeare believes Shakespeare is still extremely relevant today.

    "I think Shakespeare gets humans," explained Pommerenke. "He understands our tenacious spirit and our desire for love. You can take Shakespeare and drop the story just about anywhere. We've seen Shakespeare take place in Georgia, seen it in army fatigues, and I'm sure there's one with robots," she joked. "There's a Shakespeare for everyone."

    "We are all Shakespeare in a sense," said Fiebig, adding to the sentiment. "So much of [his] writing has become, over time, how we see and experience the world — how we laugh, how we fall in love, even how we think. Shakespeare has a really robust way of sticking with us — I think because there's such a depth to the ideas in the plays."
    While some may be intimidated by the idea of Shakespeare and the language of the play, Fiebig feels confident no one in the audience will be left behind.

    "At Sweet Tea Shakespeare, we work to make the Shakespeare as accessible as possible, and audiences will be able to follow along. We provide them some extra help on-site, too."
    Pommerenke suggested the pay-off is worth it. "I think it's really good for people to be challenged by stories. You do have to pay attention to a Shakespeare play; you have to engage the head and heart; you can't go in and zone out — and it just sounds so lovely on the ears."
    Sweet Tea Shakespeare strives to create a holistic experience for its audience that speaks to the mind and the celebratory spirit of theater.

    "The main difference at Sweet Tea Shakespeare is that the play is part of a larger event," said Fiebig. "We have a preshow with music and other fun entertainment, beer, wine and a specialty cocktail just for the show. Our productions fold in modern music. We like to think of our work as a party where a play breaks out."
    The company travels with its own playhouse set-up, and the play will be performed outdoors when weather permits. Attendees are encouraged to bring camping chairs, quilts or blankets to spread on the ground. Light fare will be for sale from local vendors.

    General admission tickets are $22 in advance, and day-of tickets will cost $30. Tickets can be purchased on the website, https://sweetteashakespeare.com/tickets/, by calling 910-420-4383 or email tickets@sweetteashakespeare.com.

    Information regarding performance locations can be found at https://sweetteashakespeare.com/much-ado-sweet-tea-shakespeare-rom-com/.

  • 15The Gallup Poll first measured LGBTQ data within communities in 2012. At the time, the population who identified as LGBTQ was around 3%. In the latest poll, Gallup reports the number of people who identify as LGTBQ has risen to 7.1%, with higher percentages among those born from 1981 to 2003.

    “If you take in the population of Fayetteville, that means there’s about 15,000 people in Fayetteville who identify as LGBTQ,” said Katrinna Marsden, president, Fayetteville PRIDE. “In Cumberland County, that’s like 24,000. If you look at the surrounding areas, that’s around 60,000 people who identify as LGBTQ, and that’s just the general percentage.”
    Fayetteville PRIDE began in March 2017 with a PrideFest interest meeting at the Cliffdale Library. Previously, a Facebook group had been what connected LGBTQ individuals in the area, but during the meeting, it became clear to attendees a nonprofit group could really help the community.

    By April 2017, a board was set up; Marsden, a founding member, wrote the bylaws, and they were signed into action. The organization achieved nonprofit status in October 2017.
    According to its website, Fayetteville PRIDE’s mission is “to instill pride, celebrate unity and embrace diversity and inclusiveness in our LGBTQ community and allies, and provide a support network and educational advocacy group dedicated to increasing awareness and acceptance.”

    “We sat down as a board and decided that yes, having a PrideFest was a goal, but we didn’t want that to be our only emphasis. We knew pretty quickly that we wanted to have community service projects, we wanted to have events for the community, we wanted to be involved in more ways than just putting on a party,” Marsden said.
    Community projects for the organization have helped groups such as Seth’s Wish, a homeless center in Fayetteville. They organized a uniform drive for school uniforms. This year, the focus of Fayetteville PRIDE’s community project will be to help feed the hungry.

    Fayetteville PRIDE also has a youth engagement group. Meetings are on the third Saturday of every month and are open for kids aged 12 to 19. The meetings are run by a board member who is also a social worker.

    “The group focuses on learning about empowerment and living authentically,” Marsden said. “They explore that through artistic expression, and they work with a local artist.”

    A long-term goal of Fayetteville PRIDE is to open a community center. Marsden expressed the desire to have a library with LGBTQ reading materials for all ages, spaces to have meetings more often than once a month and space more available for walk-in hours.

    “It can be hard for people to find resources,” she said. “We are increasing awareness and acceptance for the community. It has been our goal since the beginning to have a community center. We’d use that as an umbrella for other LGBTQ organizations to use that space and for people to have meetings.”

    Fayetteville PRIDE helps out the local civilian community and the soldiers of Fort Bragg. One of the very first events for the organization happened on the military installation. The group was invited to a panel discussion of transgender rights in the military during Fort Bragg’s LGBTQ observance day in 2017.

    The organization has put on PrideFest every year since 2018, with the exception being 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, PrideFest will be held at Festival Park on June 25. PrideFest is the largest fundraiser in the Fayetteville PRIDE calendar, but Marsden wants the community to know Fayetteville PRIDE is more than PrideFest.

    “We aren’t just a festival, we are an organization that is year-round, and our mission is about embracing diversity. It’s about being a support network and being an educational advocacy group,” she said.

    “I think that most people who are LBGTQ have spent some part in their lives, and that time varies for everybody, where they’ve wondered how they fit into the definition of what normal is. I think that when you are kind of figuring yourself out, finding out that there is a group of people who have a similar experience to that makes you feel like you have a place in the world,” she said.

    For more information, or to donate to Fayetteville PRIDE, visit www.fayettevillepride.org/. For more information about PrideFest, pick up the next edition of Up & Coming Weekly on stands June 8.

  • 17I love smoothies in the summer, and I often make them with what I have picked from the garden or what I have in the refrigerator.
    Smoothies are popular because they are versatile, nutritious, portable and delicious. They often become a morning meal, afternoon snack and a great way to make a healthy meal.

    Fitness centers are carving out specialty smoothie areas and availability in grocery stores, cafes and restaurants are on the rise.
    Smoothies are thick and creamy beverages blended with fruit, fruit juice, coconut water, almond milk, vegetables, yogurt, seeds, nuts or dairy products. They are often blended with frozen fruit or ice, giving the consistency of a milkshake.

    Homemade smoothies can be a combo of fruit such as berries, bananas, peaches, mango, pineapple, strawberries and blueberries.

    Vegetables may include spinach, avocado, cucumbers and carrots. Nuts and seeds are popular additions and may include peanut butter, almond butter, chia seeds, pecans and almonds.

    Many extras can consist of herbs, spices, protein powder and powdered vitamins — the addition of nontraditional sweeteners may be maple syrup, raw sugar, sorbet and honey.

    Proteins are another requested addition and are often paired with yogurt and vegetables. Smoothies can be a great way to increase your fiber intake, including nuts, vegetables, and whole grains.

    A smoothie can be beneficial for health reasons, but it can also have a downside with ingredients packed with sugar. Just because you are drinking a smoothie does not always mean healthy!

    Commercial ingredients tend to be higher in added sugar. Reading the label of a ready-made product will help you identify ingredients to look for: granulated sugar, ice cream and sherbet.

    It can be a misconception that they are low in calories because some can pack more than 1,000 calories depending on the size and ingredients.

    Establishments that sell smoothies may have a summary of ingredients and calorie counts. Smoothies can be used as an apparent weight loss tool if the intake does not increase your daily caloric needs.
    They can be as filling as solid food, and drinking your calories rather than eating them can be just as satisfying but not for all your meals.

    Begin experimenting with what you like, and the best way is to select your base, which will be juice, water or dairy. The most nutritious combine fruit, veggies, yogurt and healthy fats.

    The superfoods rich in antioxidants are berries, and veggies will give you an extra power boost.
    Making your smoothie is the first step in a combo that you will look forward to having each day with a recommended one serving.

    If you are interested in making it a meal, include at least 25 grams of protein and 10 grams of protein for a snack. The pairing of ingredients is just as crucial as a well-planned meal.
    Research what is beneficial for your dietary needs and ingredients, and be mindful of calories.

    You can find many recipes online, and when you begin making them, you will quickly find your favorites.

    There are a variety of blenders in all price ranges. Select one with a blade in the bottom with a container, good processing speed, and a cap for refrigeration in two container sizes.
    Live, love life and have a smoothie.

  • 14Tri-State Underground and the DaVille Skate Shop are hosting a concert May 28 at 8 p.m. in the skate shop at Rowan Skate Park. The concert will showcase three bands, two local and one from New York, who will play until midnight.

    “I think it’s going to be a really good time,” said Timothy Day, co-founder of Tri-State Underground. “I book bands I want to see live, and as a result, I’m hyped about every show we put together. Hopefully, everyone else enjoys it.”

    Machinegun Earl, out of Raleigh, Second Class Citizen from New Bern, and Like Minded Criminals from Long Island, New York, will all be playing throughout the night.

    “I had a large list of local bands I was able to choose from. I haven’t seen the two local bands in person yet, but the recorded stuff they have sent me in their submissions is pretty fantastic. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing them live at a Tri-State show,” Day said.

    “(Like Minded Criminals) have done a ton of shows for me over the years. Anyone who comes out to the show will very much enjoy these guys. They have to be one of the best on-site bands I’ve ever worked with.”

    Tri-State Underground began in the Wilmington, Delaware, area about five years ago. The purpose of the group was to bring together lesser-known bands with more well-established bands, but as Tri-State Underground evolved, they began to find another purpose: to help out communities through their shows. Currently, several of the group members live in North Carolina and have been working to bring shows to the area.

    They ask concertgoers to bring non-perishable food items, which are donated to local food banks. Proceeds from the sales of their T-shirts and sweatshirts are donated to local charities and food shelters. Rainbow Records contributed used vinyl albums to Tri-State Underground, which they raffle off at every show. The proceeds of the raffle are also donated.

    Admission to the concert is $15, paid at the door. Part of the proceeds are paid to the bands, but the rest will be given to Friends of the Skateparks Foundation.

    “When I was a kid, I loved skateboarding. It’s cool to go back and live that era again in a sense by putting together a show at a skate park. Since I started Tri-State, there have been a few things that I have wanted to do and have been interested in doing that haven’t come to fruition yet. One of those things was putting together a show at a skate park,” Day said.

    Day says he hopes to continue to work with Terry Grimble, president and founder of the DaVille Skate Shop.

    “We are hoping that eventually, either in conjunction with Tri-State or just with Terry and other people he works with, we might be able to do full-on festivals outside at the skate park,” said Day. “The goal for him, and I hope I get to be a part of this, would be to utilize the outdoor pavilion and host music events outside as well. It’s a great spot; the scenery, the halfpipe, the bowl is there, the little creek with the walk-over bridge, the scenery at the park is just spectacular.”

    The Half Pipe Dream concert will be held on May 28 at the DaVille Skate Shop and Rowan Skate Center. For more information about the show, visit https://stayhappening.com/e/half-pipe-dream-E2ISUARIOBI. For more information about the Rowan Skate Park, including summer camps and taking lessons, visit www.rowanskatepark.com/.

  • 13Mostley Crue, the tribute band for 80s hard rockers of (mostly) the same name, is set to play the Gates Four Summer Concert Series on June 3.

    The band has been together for 15 years and has played hundreds of shows as Motley Crue. The current lineup and their alter egos are Gabriel Pettit as lead vocalist Vince Neil, Darius Rose as drummer Tommy Lee, Keith Baumbaugh as guitarist Mick Mars and Miller Barefoot as bassist Nikki Sixx.

    Pettit is the only original member of the band. He was in another band creating his own music when he was asked to join Mostly Crue as Vince Neil, but he had his doubts.

    “I was thinking to myself that I’m not sure I could pull off an hour or two of Motley Crue. It’s got that really upper-end screamy range. And, you know, it’s a lot of hard work, but I decided to. Why not? (It) sounds like fun,” he said. “I got the part, and years later, here we are.”

    Pettit is known for his uncanny ability to sound like Neil by duplicating his range and tone. He credits this to spending years as a karaoke DJ, where he would imitate other musicians. The Motley Crue singer happened to be one of them. And, like most people, he liked to sing on road trips.

    “I used to sing in the car all the time, and I would adapt my voice to whatever the singer happened to be on my playlist at the time,” he said. “I just listened to an absolute ton of Motley Crue for a fairly extended period of time, over a few months.”

    A Mostly Crue concert might not have the theatrics of an original performance, like elaborate pyrotechnics or Tommy Lee’s rollercoaster drum set. Still, they like to get the audience involved in the show.

    “I firmly believe in getting audience interaction back and forth. I like to include them, especially (when) we do a song called ‘Ten Seconds to Love,’ which is a classic Motley Crue song,” Pettit said. “It’s one that Crue has done in the past to do some audience participation. So, we kind of adopted that song and a similar style of how they included people.”

    He also likes to play pranks on unsuspecting audience members when he can.

    “I like to go out in the audience, though and pick out somebody to get them and their friends to specifically help. And sometimes it’ll be somebody who’s not paying any attention at all, which is all the more fun because you get somebody who’s sitting there texting somebody on their phone,” he said. “(I) come up behind them, and there’s a thousand people around, and they’re all staring, and they’re oblivious until they turn around and realize (and have) this deer in the headlight look.”

    Pettit and the band members knew the music of Motley Crue from growing up in the 1980s. Most rock bands of that era were known for living a lifestyle of sex, drugs and rock and roll and indulging in the excess of that decade, but Pettit thinks the music should not be overlooked.

    “The music was about the fun,” he said. “In the ‘big hair’ era, you had players who could really play; they didn’t have Auto-Tune. They could really sing.”

    “I like unique vocal styles, you know, you had Klaus (Meine) from the Scorpions, Tom Keifer from Cinderella, and all of them could perform live. They sounded just as good live as they did on the album.”
    Attendees can expect all the Motley Crue hits, but the band does play earlier songs and B-sides or songs that may not have made it onto an album. But they should not expect the band to come out rocking the glam look popular in the 80s.

    “Our look is more of a hybrid (of) their later look, post-glam,” he said. “Obviously, none of us look good in spandex anymore.”
    Fans can expect to hear the hit ballad “Home Sweet Home,” which is a song they dedicate to active and retired military.

    “It’s something we’ve done for 15 years. We’ll continue to do it as long as we continue to play, for as long as I’m the singer,” he said. “It’s something I firmly believe in because I believe that those people sacrifice so much for our rights and for our way of life that I think they deserve our appreciation.”
    Pettit and the band enjoy meeting fans after the show and encourage them to come to talk to them after their set.

    “We are humbled by everyone’s appreciation of us, and we love to hear and speak to those people who come to see us. We’ll take pictures with fans,” he said. “This is about enjoying the music and enjoying the process of playing it. Don’t be scared to come up and talk to us. We’re here to have fun, too.”
    The band was playing up to 40 shows a year in previous years, but have scaled back a maximum of two shows a month because they have day jobs and families.

    “In our twenties, the idea of being on the road and playing all the time for a living was an ideal thing because you’re not rooted down, you don’t have your families, you don’t have a mortgage necessarily,” Pettit said.

    “(Now), we get there, we get to pretend we’re rock stars for a few hours and then walk away back to our normal lives, and it’s a great escape for us.”
    The Gates Four Summer Concert Series is held at Gates Four Golf and Country Club Pavilion. The series kicked off April 1 and will run through September with six local bands. Attendees are welcome to bring chairs and blankets. The event is free. VIP tickets are available at www.fayettevilledinnertheatrre.com/tickets.

  • 11Multi-platinum selling country rock group Alabama is performing at Crown Coliseum Saturday, June 2, with special guest Exile.

    Alabama’s roots run deep in their home state, but the band got its official start in nearby South Carolina, not in the Heart of Dixie.
    Cousins Jeff Cook, Teddy Gentry and Randy Owen, spent the summer of 1973 playing covers of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Merle Haggard at the legendary Myrtle Beach bar, The Bowery. The bar considered Alabama their house band until 1980.

    One of their first original songs, aptly named “My Home’s in Alabama,” got the attention of listeners and music producers. They were invited to record a single, “Tennessee River,” which shot to number one on the Billboard country charts.

    Fast forward to 2022, and the former bar band has had more than 40 number one hits on the country charts. They have released 26 studio albums from 1976 to 2015.

    Alabama is considered one of the most recognized names in country music and is billed as one of the biggest multi-platinum selling groups. They were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2005.

    With hits like “Song of the South” and “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas,” the band embodies the southern culture rooted in classic country music, but critics have noted they were one of the first country bands to bring a rock ‘n roll edge to the genre. They took cues from country, rock and pop, which was largely unheard of when they got their start.

    They were a big influence on the bands that came after them, opening the door to mixing genres and bringing a new sound to standards of country music.

    In 2002, Alabama played a farewell tour, citing exhaustion from years of being on the road. In 2011, after a series of tornados hit their home state, they played a benefit concert to raise money for the victims. The fundraiser rekindled their desire to tour again.

    In 2013, they celebrated their 40th anniversary with a tour named “Back to the Bowery,” a reference to the bar in South Carolina where they first got their start.

    They have continued to tour over the last few years and released their last studio album in 2015. With a 50-year career, they will have no shortage of songs to play on the year’s tour, and they will probably run out of stage time before they can get through all 40 of their number one hits.

    Another popular genre-bending band, Exile, is opening for Alabama. Known for their pop hit “Kiss You All Over,” the band started focusing on country music in the early 1980s, but their music still spans all genres. They have toured with legendary rock bands like Aerosmith and Fleetwood Mac and stayed closer to their country origins on tours with George Jones and Merle Haggard.

    The show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are on sale at www.crowncomplexnc.com

  • 10GloCity Event will be hosting a day of family fun and delicious local food on June 4 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.

    The first annual Taste the Fayettenam event will take place on King’s Field in Fayetteville. It will serve as an opportunity for local food vendors to speak to the people of the community through their food.

    “We created this event because we want to help local food vendors and food trucks around here become more well-known,” said Genevieve Hyman, owner of GloCity Event.

    “The nickname Fayettenam has so much flavor, and there are so many opportunities for good food right here. Instead of people chasing down trucks all over the city, we wanted to bring them together in one place. We want these vendors to let their food be their voice.”

    GloCity Event was established around two years ago. Since then, their chief objective has been to “provide events and activities for the community to do outside of the home.”

    Tired of hearing complaints about the lack of activities in Fayetteville, Hyman wanted to create a business that filled an entertainment void for the people of her community.

    “We started with sip and paint events and it kind of exploded from there,” Hyman explained. “At the end of our events, we have a suggestion box to get ideas from the community on the types of events they’d like to have here. “

    From those suggestions sprang the idea for Taste the Fayettenam.

    The family-friendly event will feature between 10 to 15 food trucks and games, live music, bounce houses and face painting. Hyman hopes the event serves as an opportunity for local and small businesses to get their deserved exposure.

    “We’re all trying to uplift our small businesses and feed our families,” Hyman told Up & Coming Weekly. “Events like this keep revenue circling in our community.”

    Through Taste the Fayettenam, Hyman hopes to show people just how much the city has to offer.

    “We want to end the idea that there’s nothing to do here. Fayetteville is growing every single day; we don’t have to go outside the city to have fun,” she said.

    Hyman loves creating memorable events for the people of Fayetteville and their families; she admits the message is bigger than simply having a good time, and a lot goes on behind the scenes to make events like Taste of Fayettenam possible while also keeping them free.

    “We are also raising money through donations to continue giving back to the community,” Hyman said.

    “In partnership with the Love Laugh Leyai Foundation, we give out free Thanksgiving turkeys and offer free lunches and meals at the local recreation centers. We come to the table and think of ways to keep funding within our community. Especially amid this inflation, we find ways to help families who need it.”

    Ultimately, Hyman hopes people come out and enjoy the day and the delicious food on offer.

    “We’ll be out there supporting food trucks, trying to give them a day to be celebrated and rewarded for all their hard work.”
    King Field is located at 127 S. King St. in Fayetteville.

    The event is free and open to the public. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/glocityevent.

  • 26Local firefighters will be making the rounds in Hope Mills neighborhoods on Saturday, May 21, but not to fight fires. They want to teach residents about fire safety and the importance of having a working smoke alarm in their homes.

    The American Red Cross Sandhills Chapter partnered with the Hope Mills Fire Department, Town of Hope Mills, United Way of Cumberland County and Cape Fear CERT for Sound the Alarm, a national initiative to install 50,000 free smoke alarms with partners in more than 50 at-risk areas during the month of May.

    Hope Mills was chosen because they have had an increase in home fires. Volunteers placed door hangers on homes earlier in the month to let residents know about the event.

    Since launching in 2014, the program has helped save 34 lives in eastern North Carolina by installing more than 31,600 free smoke alarms making more than 13,000 homes safer.
    According to the Red Cross, every day in the United States seven people die in home fires, and many occur in homes without smoke alarms.
    Children, the elderly and people in low-income communities are the most vulnerable during house fires and they are the most likely to live in homes without smoke alarms.

    “Smoke alarms save lives,” said Phil Harris, executive director of the American Red Cross Sandhills Chapter. “The chance of survival is greater when you have a working smoke alarm.”

    In fact, the Red Cross says a working smoke alarm can double a person’s chance of survival of a residential fire.
    Firefighters and volunteers will be visiting homes in Hope Mills from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. the day of the event. The visit lasts about 20 minutes and includes installation of a smoke alarm (or changing the batteries in an existing one) and tips for fire prevention and preparedness.

    “We sit down with homeowners or tenants and children to make sure they have two ways out of the house, (and ask) ‘do you know to crawl under the smoke?’” he said. “There are a lot of tips and things that we share during the visit, in addition to either checking working smoke alarms, changing batteries or providing new alarms.”

    Smoke alarms have a life span of 10 years, so residents who receive one during this event will be added to a list to receive a replacement when the unit expires.

    The American Red Cross Sandhills Chapter and Hope Mills Fire Department work together year-round to help victims of fires and other emergencies. They are eager to meet the community to teach prevention and preparedness so residents can stay safe and will not need their services in the future.
    Community volunteers can sign up to help install smoke alarms or be on hand to share fire safety information. No experience is required. The Red Cross will provide training the morning of the event.

    Residents can learn more at SoundTheAlarm.com/enc, sign up to volunteer or schedule an appointment for a free installation the day of the event.

  • 25aFriends of Cape Fear Botanical Garden will host a night of "true elegance" on Wednesday, May 18. A Garden Gathering begins at 5:30 p.m. and promises to be a beautiful evening of drinks, conversation and culinary intrigue beneath the stars and amongst the flowers.

    The Cape Fear Botanical Garden comes alive this time of year. Springtime blooms of every color dot the garden and paths, making it just right for a night of enchantment.

    "We have the perfect setting for an outdoor farm-to-table fundraising event to bring awareness to our mission to connect people with nature. It also fits seamlessly with our initiative to grow and donate produce to the Fayetteville Urban Ministry," said Sheila Hanrick, director of Events and Marketing for Cape Fear Botanical Garden.

    A night of Fayetteville's finest entertainment has been crafted for guests' enjoyment with no detail overlooked.

    From 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., guests can look forward to a floating cocktail hour as they make their way through the Eleanor and Raymond Manning Children's Garden.

    The dulcet sounds of Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra's Jazz Trio will play sweetly in the background as those in attendance are served an exquisite three-course meal of locally sourced ingredients prepared by Chef Mark Elliot of Elliot's on Linden.

    While the event is "formal," Hanrick wished to clarify expectations regarding attire. "The event is not a 'formal' attire event," she explained, "but more of a garden party. We advise guests to wear shoes that allow them to walk the garden grounds and grassy areas."

    A Garden Gathering is an event open to the public, though it does require a pre-purchased ticket.

    Tickets will be sold individually for $125 or as part of several VIP package options.
    A VIP table of four is $625 and includes a household membership to Cape Fear Botanical Garden. A table for eight costs $1250 and includes a patron membership to Cape Fear Botanical Garden. Both VIP options include valet parking courtesy of Valley Auto World.

    A premier destination for weddings and social gatherings, the Cape Fear Botanical Garden is more than just a pretty face. The institution is fiercely committed to its mission "to transform people's relationship with plants and the natural world."

    Since its establishment in 1989, the Cape Fear Botanical Garden has maintained the link between nature and the Fayetteville community through its many educational and cultural programs.
    Symposiums like Gardenmania, nature camps for children of all ages and programs like yoga in the park create resources that ensure citizens of the region can enjoy being in nature while learning about everything it offers.

    Fundraising events like A Garden Gathering work to support the efforts of Cape Fear Botanical Garden as it continues its valuable service to the community.
    Cape Fear Botanical Garden is located at 536 N Eastern Blvd. in Fayetteville.

    To purchase tickets, visit https://friends-of-the-garden.square.site/?source=qr-code&fbclid=IwAR3lHgZ4kNgZ3xoI6nBS4QuQnxnZZLBM5pMqYcdxHaz3Ncy8aRDAeTPTnVU.
    To learn more about the Fayetteville Urban Ministry, visit their site at www.fayurbmin.org/about-us.


  • 23bCool Spring Downtown is throwing a party every fourth Friday of the month, and everyone in Fayetteville is invited.

    “Fourth Friday is when we line the streets of downtown Fayetteville with food carts, artisans, makers and vendors,” said Lauren Falls, director of Marketing and Events for Cool Spring Downtown District. “It’s a time when we invite families to come downtown and shop locally from 6 to 9 p.m."Beginning in March of each year, Fourth Friday concludes with the downtown Zombie Walk in October, giving the people of Fayetteville around eight Fridays a year to see the city really let her hair down.

    Fourth Friday has been a popular addition to the downtown scene for over a decade. The block-party-type event is an opportunity for citizens to come together in love and pride for their city.
    Like so many other social events worldwide, Fourth Friday moved to a virtual platform during the height of the pandemic. Falls is excited for people to have the full Fourth Friday experience as the city opens back up to larger events.

    “Fourth Friday serves the families of this area because it’s such an engaging experience for people of all ages. There are so many things to do,” Falls told Up & Coming Weekly. “You can come with your kids, grab something to eat from the food trucks, see local artists, listen to local music and visit some downtown shops.”

    Visitors to Fourth Friday can look forward to extended business hours, live performances and art of all types on display as they weave their way through a bustling marketplace with a little bit of everything to offer.
    Like many programs and events throughout the city, Fourth Friday is part of a movement committed to bringing culture, arts and entertainment to the area while supporting local artisans and businesses.

    “I love so many things about Fourth Friday,” Falls said. “I love seeing kids get excited when they see local art and watching the faces of people enjoying themselves as they go into different shops and experience something new.”

    “Come expecting something unique,” she said, offering advice to those visiting for the first time. “Be open to trying new things. Come out, enjoy new food and shopping experiences, and try out a new business or local merchants.”
    Parking decks are located on the 400 block of Hay Street and the corner of Franklin and Donaldson. Both are open and available for public use during Fourth Friday.

    “I would love people to leave Fourth Friday excited about trying a new brewery or restaurant and loving where they live,” Falls said. “I would also be excited for them to come back to see the plethora of events Cool Spring Downtown District organizes throughout the year. I would love each and every person to get plugged into the downtown scene here.”

    Fourth Friday is a free event and open to the public. The next Fourth Friday event will be Friday, May 27, starting at 6 p.m.
    For more information, visit https://visitdowntownfayetteville.com/events/7046/.

  • 23aChanning Perdue wants people to experience the taste of locally grown produce and farm fresh meat, so she hosts Farm to Table dinners twice a year at her family homestead.

    The spring event, on Saturday, May 21, will include a cocktail hour with charcuterie and wine followed by a three-course dinner prepared by a local chef. People will also have a chance to tour her property, Farms Helping Families, and meet their animals.

    Locals will not have to go far to reach the 10-acre farm.

    “We're basically in the center of Fayetteville. So, we're easily accessible from I-95,” she said. “Our property's a little hidden gem because our house is right on the road on Cedar Creek Road, but then our property goes back behind it, and it's peaceful back there.”

    She and her husband purchased the home and land just over four years ago. They decided to stay in the area after he left active military service and joined the Reserves. The home was built in the 1940s and renovated before they moved in, but the land needed their help.

    “(It) was completely overgrown, so we kind of rejuvenated it. It used to be a farm that raised mules and turkey. We've redone a lot of the pastures,” she said.
    The idea for having a farm came before Perdue even found the property. She started with a desire to teach her children how to grow vegetables in a garden, then she decided to purchase chickens so they could have fresh eggs.

    From there, her ideas grew to include having livestock and growing produce on her own farm. She also wanted to teach other children and adults the joys of farming and sustainable practices and provide farm fresh products to the community. The family now owns chickens, hogs and dairy goats and plan to add turkeys and cattle in the future.

    “I really wanted to have a farm to help families to learn about food, learn about where food came from and help our community,” she said.

    Perdue is a self-taught farmer who learned from classes through the Cumberland County Cooperative Extension and the Soldiers to Agriculture program through North Carolina State’s Agricultural Institute. The program introduces veterans and their families to careers in agriculture.

    After learning to develop her own land, Perdue began helping others interested in sustainable farming for their families. She shares her own experiences and helps them plot a piece of raw land with the appropriate areas for livestock and crops.

    “The thought process came to (me) because a lot of the farmers now are single commodity commercial farmers,” she said “My brain goes back like hundreds of years before things got commercialized to ‘How did we sustain life back then? What did we grow? How did our communities eat?’”

    Farms Helping Families has camps for kids teaching them how to start their own gardens. Each child is given a selection of vegetable seeds that they can use in a recipe for vegetable dip or salsa when they harvest the produce. She believes it is important for kids to understand where their food comes from.

    “We started with chickens because (my kids) didn't understand that eggs didn't just come from Walmart or the grocery store. They actually came from a chicken.”

    The Spring Farm to Table dinner is Perdue’s chance to share their family’s story and their hope to rebuild the culture of small sustainable farming. She wants to use the land to continue teaching people to build farms so they can provide for their own families.

    “It’s taking a piece of land and figuring out how you can feed your family, but also feed the community.”
    Tickets and more information about the event can be found at https://farmshelpingfamilies.com/events.

  • 21“We live here, so we want to help here,” explains Steve Brack, vice president, Cape Beard.

    And for 10 years, that is just what the Cape Beard organization has done in Cumberland County.
    Cape Beard is a nonprofit group of bearded and mustachioed individuals, many of whom are veterans. The group was organized in February 2011 and is currently composed of 25 members who meet monthly.

    “We are around 25 strong and growing, of course, like our beards,” laughed Brack.

    The group has raised a total of $190,000 locally from their events since the first Pig Pickin’ in May 2012.

    The group began as a club of facial-haired friends and grew into something more with their charity events.

    “It just grew into something that nobody saw as a future goal,” Brack said.
    Cape Beard Treasurer Johnny Schantz echoed this sentiment.

    “We are like Kudzu. We just take over,” he said.

    The Pig Pickin’ event itself has raised over $85,000 over the years.

    The proceeds from the event are given to the Autism Society of Cumberland County.

    The society was founded in the 1980s by a small group of parents. These parents were looking for support and wanted to learn more about autism and improve the quality of life for their children. The group’s mission is to provide support and promote opportunities that enhance the lives of individuals within the autism spectrum and their families. For more information on the cause, visit www.autismcc.org.

    Marking a decade of helping locally, the tenth annual Cape Beard Pig Pickin’ will kick off at 10 a.m. and run until 5 p.m. on May 21.

    On top of supporting the cause, attendees can expect to find much to enjoy at the event. Cape Beard will be prepping 750 pounds of Boston butt. Hungry visitors can grab a $5 plate of pulled pork, slaw and baked beans, hang and eat in a tented dining space, or grab their food and go. Sodas and water will be available for purchase, and Bright Light Brewing Company will be on hand with their local beers.

    If patrons find they need to finish off their BBQ with something sweet, Freddie’s Frozen Custard will be selling frozen custard with proceeds going to the cause.

    Not hungry? There will be vendors on site selling everything from wood crafts to soaps, jewelry and more.

    There is a strong contingent of downtown businesses supporting the event and vending. The Downtown Market of Fayetteville, Garnet Skull, Rude Awakening and White Trash will have booths set up at the event.
    Kids can wear themselves out in any of the four free bounce houses, including an inflatable obstacle course, and all can enjoy music.

    The All Veteran Parachute Group is slated to make an appearance on the day; for up-to-date times on their jump, double check the event’s Facebook page.
    Organizers expect it to be busy.

    “People come, get a plate of pork or pork to-go and then boogie, so you have this constant flow all day,” Brack said.
    The event will be held at the Harley-Davidson of Fort Bragg, located at 3950 Sycamore Dairy Road.

    “We truly take over their dealership,” said Brack.

    “Oh yeah, every inch. Grass, parking lot, all of it,” Shantz said.

    For Brack, it is a satisfying endeavor. For him it is all about “seeing the event grow; seeing the payback to the community; seeing the community appreciate what we are doing.”

  • 19Locals who want to learn how to cast a line only have to venture down to the Pechmann Fishing Education Center on Raeford Road. The center offers programs to people of all ages who want to learn the ins and outs of fishing. It is the only education center of its kind in the state, and all classes and programs are free to the public.

    The land the center currently sits on has been a hatchery for nearly a century, according to Fishing and Aquatic Education Manager Thomas Carpenter from the Wildlife Education Division, NC Wildlife Resources Commission. Private hatcheries were the norm before the wildlife commission came into existence in 1947. These private hatcheries helped to stock the local ponds and lakes with fish.

    The commission took over that job, and the hatchery on Raeford Road began focusing on striped bass production, which it did from 1964 until the late 1980s. At that point, the hatchery was turned into a depot.
    In 1994, Cumberland County Ducks Unlimited held a Greenwing event for kids at a local lake. They had over 100 children show up to the event but only managed to catch one fish. The head of the Greenwing program at the time, Lee Warren, reached out to the NC Wildlife Resources Commission and asked if they could hold their next event at the hatchery in Fayetteville. John Pechmann, a Fayetteville lawyer on the commission and a friend of Warren’s, helped bring the Greenwing event to the hatchery.

    It was a wild success, and the commission began to think of how they could use the hatchery as an education center. Plans and programs began to form, and in 2004, plans for the actual education center came into fruition. The center was named for John Pechmann in 2005 and was officially opened to the public in 2008.

    Currently, the center hatcheries house catfish, bass and bluegill fish. In the winter, when the water is colder, and they can support the population, trout are brought in from the Bobby N. Setzer State Hatchery in Pisgah National Forest. Trout is a popular fish for fly fishing, and the center holds classes concentrated on the sport.

    “I love all types of fishing, but I’ve really migrated toward our fly fishing programs,” said Carpenter. “It’s growing pretty rapidly, and it really appeals to younger kids, younger people."
    "We have a young woman on staff who has created a group called Reel Women Fishing Adventures. We are trying to get more women to do these things, and fly fishing seems to be one of those things that they want to try.”

    Carpenter has been working with the center since 2009 when he started as a temporary educator. In 2015, he became the director.

    “We are completely focused on getting people into fishing, and we are following some principles that are being developed by a national movement called R3,” Carpenter said.
    R3 stands for recruitment, retention and reactivation. The purpose of the conservation campaign is to help people rediscover hunting and fishing.

    “(We are ) trying to increase the number of licensed anglers because those anglers are what provide us the economic backbone for our conservation activities,” said Carpenter.
    An excise tax is exacted on fishing tackle and equipment, a tax that is then paid into the fish and wildlife service. This money is allocated to each state based on population density and the number of licenses within the population.

    “We are able to use the money for habitat restoration, management activities like stockings and species research and management, and boating and fishing accesses,” said Carpenter. “Another portion of it is available for education. It’s kind of a big circle which equates to better fishing and facilities for people.”

    The Pechmann Fishing Education Center holds numerous classes throughout the month. On May 19 and 20, the staff will be holding an Introductory Fishing for Adults class.

    “We missed generations of people who may want to try fishing, and now they are a bit older and thinking about it, so we are breaking down the basics of everything to hopefully get them more into fishing,” said Carpenter.

    On May 21, a fishing and cooking class will be held, teaching attendees how to catch fish and how to clean and store them for the best flavor. The day will conclude with a cooking class, showing students how to cook fish in various ways.

    Camps will be held throughout the summer, starting May 26, for kids ages 12 to 15; the camps will focus on catching bass with natural baits.

    In June, the center will hold a virtual class entitled “Hook, Line and Picture.” The purpose of the course is to teach people how to take great fishing photos.

    “We are trying to help people create some really great memories,” said Carpenter.

    Classes are free to attend, and those interested in going to classes at the center should register at www.ncwildlife.org/Learning/The-John-E-Pechmann-Fishing-Education-Center/EventRegistration. Interested individuals can also see a calendar of events on the website.

    Fishing licenses are not needed to attend the center’s events; however, would-be-anglers can get a fishing license at https://deq.nc.gov/about/divisions/marine-fisheries/licenses-permits-and-leases/recreational-fishing-licenses.


  • 15Show off your ride and raise money for cancer patients at the Fight 4 Cure charity car show on Saturday, May 21 at Jordan Soccer Complex.
    The car show was added to Fight 4 Cure’s roster of fundraising events in 2019 when organization founder Dr. Lisa Wright wanted to explore other ideas to raise money for the non-profit.

    “When we did our first car show, we had so much participation from it [we thought] maybe this could be an annual event for everyone to participate,” she said. “Because who doesn't like showing off their car, their prized possession?”

    The entry fee for a car or truck is $20 and a motorcycle is $15. Registration is open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. the day of the event. Judging will take place from 1:30 to 3 p.m. with dozens of awards up for grabs, including Best of Show for each vehicle type.

    Volunteers will be firing up grills for a barbeque and selling lunch plates. Wright wants to raise additional money to offer free mammograms to women in the community during October’s Breast Cancer Awareness month.

    When Wright’s mother and sister were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, she saw how difficult it was to find assistance beyond treatment. She created Fight 4 Cure with a mission to foster hope for cancer patients and increase awareness on resources available for overlooked communities.

    “The problem that we came across was, there was no information or assistance for individuals that were underrepresented, underserved, regardless of color or ethnic background,” she said. “They were left alone.”

    Fight 4 Cure offers both financial and emotional support. They provide patient care grants to people in treatment to help offset the costs of food, housing and utilities.

    They also send care packages with items to help chemotherapy patients, like water bottles, chap stick, blankets and journals. Since July 2021, they have mailed 69 care packages to patients in 22 states.
    Fight 4 Cure gives back 95 % of the money they raise through events like the car show. Wright and her husband often pay out of pocket for prizes and trophies.

    “I want the money that’s received from charity events to go to the cancer patient,” she said. “Everything else, it comes from in-kind donations or out of our pockets.”
    Wright recently found out she has breast cancer, but her diagnosis has not stopped her passion for helping others. Just a few hours after having a bilateral mastectomy, she was on the phone helping another patient in treatment. She plans to be at the car show even though her chemotherapy is scheduled to start the week prior.

    “I can’t complain. If I did, it wouldn’t do any good,” she said. “I am committed to helping others. That has not changed.”

    Learn more about Fight 4 Cure and the car show at https://www.fight4cure.org.

  • 22 Summer is beckoning us to enjoy the warm days and beautiful sunshine.

    Although the sun can cause long-term damage to our skin, cause premature aging and the potential for skin cancer, the sun also benefit our health.

    If you take sun safety precautions, you can enjoy the benefits. The upside to the glorious sunshine is a boost in our serotonin, a feel-good chemical in the brain. It helps to promote Vitamin D, which is a crucial component for strong and healthy bones and is also considered a part of a healthy immune system.

    Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States It is so prevalent that it is estimated that one-in-five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer in their lifetime.

    The most common types are basal cell and squamous cell with melanoma a less frequent diagnosis.

    Sunburns in the early years of youth and adolescence may not appear in the form of skin cancer for 20 to 30 years later. Skin cancer can affect anyone regardless of skin color, but it is more prevalent in caucasian individuals, especially those with fair complexions.

    The sun isn’t the only reason people can develop skin cancer. Excessive use of tanning beds also increases the risk of skin cancer.

    Adults must be proactive in the prevention of sunburn for themselves as well as their children with a good sunscreen. People tan because the sun causes the skin to produce more melanin and darken. The peak hours for strong sun rays are between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

    It can be a daunting task to select the right sunscreen with many available products. Wearing a good sunscreen is essential to protect your skin from ultraviolet rays, also known as UV rays.

    You may notice in your weather forecast a rating for the UV level. UV Rays are electromagnetic rays present in sunlight. A high-level UV can result in sunburn in 15 to 25 minutes. A UV index registering eight to ten can put your skin at harm from unprotected exposure.

    There are two categories of UV light when selecting a sunscreen. UVB causes sunburn, and UVA has long-term effects on the skin. Choose a sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection and look for an SPF factor of 30 or higher and one that carries a label for protection from UVA and UVB rays.

    One application of sunscreen does not last the entire day. Many factors are to be considered, such as time of day and activities, including time in and out of water.

    As a rule, it is better to apply frequent applications and wear a hat or protective clothing if you are prone to burn and avoid sun exposure at high peaks of the day.

    Being conscious of any areas of your body can also aid in the early detection of skin cancers. Do not assume that a red bump is always a bug bite. Being aware of any changes in your skin is valuable for early detection and treatment. Look at your skin often and use a handheld mirror for places that may be hard to see, such as areas on your back.

    A dermatologist can assess your skin for any areas that appear to be questionable.
    Take the time to protect your skin. Live, love life and enjoy the sun!

  • 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.

  • 21 Hundreds of students will mark their graduation from Fayetteville Technical Community College this year at the College’s 60th Annual Commencement Exercises on May 13 at the Crown Coliseum.
    Due to the large number of graduates, FTCC will hold ceremonies at 10 a.m. and at 2 p.m.

    The morning commencement will recognize graduates from FTCC’s public service, engineering and applied technology, allied health technologies, nursing and continuing education programs. The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m., with doors opening to the public at 9 a.m.

    The afternoon commencement will recognize graduates from FTCC’s arts and humanities, business, math and sciences and computer information technology programs. The ceremony will begin at 2 p.m., with doors opening to the public at 1 p.m.

    Each ceremony will have its own commencement speaker. Cape Fear Valley Health System CEO Michael Nagowski will give the commencement address at the morning ceremony and Dr. Y. Sammy Choi, director of the Department of Research at Womack Army Medical Center, will give the commencement address in the afternoon.
    Pastor Sharon Thompson-Journigan, president of the Fayetteville-Cumberland County Ministerial Council and pastor of Integrity Ministries Global Church in Eastover, will provide the invocation and benediction at both ceremonies.

    The graduates will include Jennifer and Jenna Warnock, a mother and daughter who are both graduating from FTCC. Mom Jennifer Warnock is graduating with an Associate degree in Physical Therapy Assistant. Daughter Jenna Warnock is graduating with an Associate degree in Arts. Both Warnocks have earned highest honors and Jenna Warnock was voted the recipient of FTCC’s President’s Award.

    The two women said they’re proud of each other and pleased with their educational experience at FTCC. Jennifer Warnock said she learned about FTCC’s physical therapy assistant program more than a decade ago. Even after moving away, the family had always planned to return to Fayetteville so she could enroll in the program. A few years ago, the Warnocks did just that, moving back to Fayetteville from northern Virginia.
    Jennifer Warnock said the PTA program was as good as she had expected.

    Meanwhile, after COVID forced Jenna Warnock to close out her sophomore year at Jack Britt High School with online classes, she decided to quit school — with her parents’ blessing. That summer, she took the GED test at FTCC and passed, then enrolled three weeks later in FTCC as a college student.

    Jenna Warnock, now 18, said her experience at FTCC provided a challenging education along with caring instructors and robust resources. She said the affordable tuition saved the family thousands of dollars and she was able to live at home even while getting involved in a variety of student activities.
    Jenna Warnock’s next step will be transferring to Appalachian State University where she plans to study to become a registered dietitian. Jennifer Warnock, who teaches yoga, plans to work part time as a physical therapy assistant.

    They won’t lose touch with FTCC — in part because another family member (Jennifer Warnock’s son and Jenna Warnock’s brother) — is pursuing his degree in fire protection technology. He will graduate next year.

    “We love FTCC!” Jenna Warnock said.

  • 20 For the first time, the Airborne and Special Operations Museum Foundation is hosting the Legacy Ball on May 21. The Airborne and Special Operations Museum, established in 2000, “captures, preserves, exhibits, and presents the material culture and heritage of the U.S. Army Airborne and Special Operations Forces from 1940 and into the future. The Museum celebrates over 80 years of Army Airborne and Special Operations history and honors our nation’s soldiers — past, present, and future,” according to the museum website.

    The event has been designed to celebrate the history of Airborne and Special Operations soldiers. The guest list will include distinguished guests of honor, Medal of Honor Recipient, Master Sgt. (Ret.) Leroy Petry, and Lt. Gen. Christopher Donahue, Commanding General 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg.

    “Our guests will hear stories of bravery and courage from two very impactful distinguished guests of honor. It is my hope that they are inspired to support our endeavor to improve our visitor experience and educate future generations through our Honoring America’s Heroes capital campaign,” said Renee Lane, ASOMF executive director.

    Donahue is recognized as the last American soldier to leave the country during the 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan. Petry, who received the Medal of Honor in 2011, was the second living recipient of the medal and was recognized for his actions in Afghanistan in 2008.

    The event dress code is black tie or military equivalent, and the evening has been organized to match the glam attire. Catered by Elliotts on Linden, a Pinehurst restaurant that boasts “refined, imaginative dishes made with local ingredients, and global wines.”

    The evening’s menu includes an appetizer, salad, steak and scallop entrée and dessert; there is a vegetarian option. Attendees will also enjoy a cocktail hour and flag presentation by Vann Morris, a combat veteran, orator and motivational speaker.

    The 82nd Airborne Division All American Chorus will perform, and a bourbon bar, cigar station and fire pit will also be offered. The event will conclude with dancing.

    In addition to fine dining and drink, there will be a silent auction supporting the ASOMF.
    Event check-in begins at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are limited and are only available in advance. Tickets are $250 or $400 for two tickets; member tickets are $150; active-duty military tickets, which include a plus one, are $200; tables of eight are available for $2500 or $2000 for museum friends; tables for four outdoors are $1500.

    To purchase a ticket or table, visit www.asomf.org or call 910-643-2778.

  • 18 Fort Bragg’s Smith Lake Beach's opening weekend is scheduled Friday, May 27, until Monday, May 30.

    The fun-filled weekend will feature themed days, giveaways, games and plenty of activities for the whole family.

    On FREEdom Friday, the first 500 guests can enjoy free entry and a meal. SUPER Saturday will feature water slides, bouncers and games.

    Those visiting on Sunday Fun Day can check out local food trucks and participate in family-fun games.
    Giveaways and more fun activities will conclude the weekend on Memorial Day.

    New to the lake this year is an inflatable aqua park with over 40 elements and a 1/4 mile long Ski Rixen, which pulls wakeboarders, water skiers and knee boarders.

    While family fun is undoubtedly high up on the list for an epic Memorial Day weekend, safety takes the top spot.

    “The beach is, well — a beach,” said James Day, chief of outdoor recreation, Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

    “It has very little shade, so be sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen, and you just might want to bring a sun hat.”

    Though Smith Lake Beach does have lifeguards on duty, parents are responsible for their children.

    Any ID card holder under the age of 13 must be accompanied by an adult guardian 18 years of age or older. Patrons 7 and under must be within arm’s reach of an adult guardian 18 years of age or older at all times. Children are allowed to wear Coast Guard-approved life vests in the water.
    After destruction from Hurricane Matthew, Smith Lake was closed from 2016 until 2020. The park is now open seven days a week to the public. Although Smith Lake is on Fort Bragg, only certain areas are restricted to DoD ID cardholders.

    “Because of its location, tucked away in the pine trees of Fort Bragg, you can enjoy the outdoors without having to travel too far,” said Sharilyn Wells, Fort Bragg spokesperson. “Smith Lake Recreation Area really has everything.”

    Smith Lake Recreation Area is a popular location for military and civilian families alike. The 200-acre park features picnic areas, grills, playgrounds, camping, fishing and trails for hiking or biking.

    “As the garrison, it is our job to provide our community with holistic ways to improve and maintain mental and physical health,” said Col. Scott Pence, Fort Bragg garrison commander. “Smith Lake is just one of the many facilities that offer service members and their families options for an overall better quality of life.”

    The fun kicks off at 11 a.m. and those coordinating the event are excited to get the party started.

    “When visitors leave, I hope they say, ‘What a great day! I cannot wait to come back again,’” Day told Up & Coming Weekly. “We hope the time they spend at Smith Lake is enjoyable, and we’d also like them to spread the word. Smith Lake will be a great place to cool off from the summer heat and enjoy time together.”

    Smith Lake Beach is open only to DoD Id cardholders and their guests.

    Current access fees for swimming are $5 for guests aged 12 and older and $3 for those 11 and younger.

    For more information, visit https://bragg.armymwr.com/programs/smith-lake-recreation-area.

  • 17 The Von Karman Line, or "the edge of space," is only sixty-two miles above sea level. For those living in the Sandhills, the great frontier will get even closer with the Grand-Reopening of Fayetteville State University's Planetarium on May 15.

    Closed since 2017, when major renovations to the Charles A. Lyons Science Building began, the planetarium has received some major upgrades during the hiatus.

    "Our university prioritized making sure the planetarium was a part of the renovation process," said Dr. Jonathan Breitzer, assistant professor of Chemistry and Planetarium director.
    In addition to new seating, the planetarium boasts ten new projectors, a high-resolution computerized system that captures the deep black of space and a 6500-watt sound system for an experience that's truly out of this world.

    Planetarium Manager and Instructor of Astronomy Joseph Kabbes was brought on board just as the planetarium closed its doors and was hugely instrumental in its extreme makeover.

    "With the old system, we could only show the stars from earth due to the mechanical limits of the projector," explained Breitzer. The projector ran on gears; you'd have to calibrate it to make sure Mercury was in the right spot. Everything is calculated with the new computerized system, and we're not just confined to the earth. We can go to different planets; we can even go outside the galaxy."

    Breitzer, who ran the planetarium alone for six years before Kabbes was hired, feels the planetarium is essential in maintaining the connection between the community and FSU and called it a "great public service."

    "Historically, the planetarium has been a way to connect people with our university and get them interested in science," said Breitzer. "It's been here since the 1980s, but not many people knew about it. We reached out to schools and homeschool groups and it's grown from there."

    "When I was five years old, in Chicago, I couldn't wait to go to the planetarium as soon as I was old enough to get in. I thought it was the coolest thing ever, and it made me want to be a scientist. I want to be able to give that back," Breitzer explained.

    To further capitalize on the planetarium's wow factor, the date for its grand re-opening corresponds with a major astronomical event: May 15 is the night of a lunar eclipse.

    The partial eclipse will begin at 10:27 p.m., with totality occurring at 11:29 p.m. The planetarium will have telescopes available to view the event, and even those without show tickets are more than welcome to join.
    Breitzer shared a few tips for guests to observe before arriving at the planetarium: "Like any theater experience, try to remain quiet during the presentation, put away cell phones."
    Ultimately, Bretitzer hopes people arrive ready to be amazed and leave with more knowledge about our place in the cosmos.

    "I know I've failed as a teacher if there aren't lots of hands in the air after a presentation," Breitzer joked. "Bring your questions, your curiosity and your sense of wonder. It's a place where everyone is valued, and where everyone is treated as a scientist.

    Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for children and can be purchased on the planetarium's website, www.uncfsu.edu/community/planetarium.
    The planetarium is located at W.T Brown Drive in the Charles A. Lyons Science Building on FSU's campus.

  • 14 Soldiers regularly arrive at Camp Mackall to undertake what has been deemed one of the most stringent selection processes in the U.S. Army. They show up, set aside rank and unit, are organized alphabetically by last name, and embrace 21-days of “suck.” The Special Forces Assessment and Selection process is a grueling one. But it is only the beginning. Those selected then enter the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, and attend the Special Forces Qualification Course, where they are met with challenges and learning opportunities that will, if they persevere, deliver them to the ranks of some of America's most elite soldiers.

    Many of these soldiers do not arrive to the Q-Course alone; they arrive with their spouses and families in tow.

    Several of those spouses signed up for a unique opportunity to walk in their partner's footsteps, even if only for an afternoon on Wednesday, May 4.

    This is the second year the Spouse Q-Course, organized by JFKSWCS and Orient, Navigate, Employ, Train, Educate, Advise and Mentor (O.N.E. T.E.A.M.), has been offered.
    DeeAnn Rader, the JFKSWCS family resiliency coordinator, explained that the event took on a life of its own, with spaces filling up very quickly.

    “There was huge interest,” Rader explained.

    One participant signed up to gain insight into what her husband was experiencing and to meet new people.

    “I signed up mainly to get the experience he went through, and the second thing was to meet other wives, other spouses,” said Ashton, whose husband is in the Special Forces Delta (Medic) Q-Course.

    The day began with a briefing on the events planned for the day.
    After being separated into groups, the spouses rotated through different modules, each representing some form of the training their partners have experienced or will be experiencing on their journey to becoming Green Berets.

    Arriving in a caravan of white buses, participants disembarked at the Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape (SERE) training facility at Camp Mackall.

    At the SERE facility and under the instruction of the school's cadre, the spouses were introduced to forms of makeshift weaponry such as atlatls, an ancient style of spear, and wooden bows. Each took a turn with the weapons while learning skills and details similar to what their spouses are taught when they attend the SERE school.

    After demonstrating the construction and use of the weapons, the instructor explained that the weapons help the soldiers feed themselves in austere conditions.

    “Now we have something we can kill with, with a lot more accuracy,” a cadre member said.
    After learning how to create an active means to feed themselves through weaponry, the spouses took a stroll through a winding path of preset snares and traps.

    “In Vietnam, one of their [Prisoners of War] main sources of protein was trapping,” an instructor explained. “When they [soldiers] are out evading and need to feed the machine, these are some of the techniques we teach them.”

    Beginning with Figure Four, a baited trap, the SERE instructor explained how each trap could help a soldier survive.

    “This is a baited trap, and as we tell y'all's husbands you need to catch the nose first,” he said.
    As explained to the participants, each trap on display has a particular mechanism designed to target specific types of prey and each trap or snare works best when placed in the right environment.

    “It's got to be in the right area,” he explained.

    After learning about trapping and snares, it was time to learn about the other wildlife that can make or break a soldier's survival chances.
    Entering the Little Muddy Training Area, a classroom with stadium seating and a wall of primarily venomous snakes, another SERE instructor welcomed the participants.

    “This is the survival training area,” explained a member of the SERE cadre. “This is the first-place students come before they continue on in the SERE pipeline. We set the ground rules for everything we need to be able to survive behind enemy lines.”

    After a joke or two about escaped snakes, civilian instructor John Breach, originally from the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), taught the visiting spouse-students about the different types of snakes on display. While most were dangerous, one of the menagerie was a harmless corn snake that was passed around to the participants. Some squealed, some faced fears, and some handled the serpent like old pros.

    As the participants filed out of the facility, they were greeted by the “Roadkill Café.” Two types of meat were presented on a grill over a smoking firepit. Each pile of meat was accompanied by the corresponding creature's leg to help identify which was deer and which was goat. Cadre offered the teams of spouses small portions of both to sample.

    One of the spouses asked about food preparation techniques.

    “If there is one thing we stress, there is no medium rare with wild game,” explained the Roadkill Café chef as spouses collected their samplings. “You thoroughly cook it and then boil it until it's nice and tender and then I cut it up, put it over the fire and let the smoke take care of it.”

    After grabbing a piece of each Roadkill Café offering, the students assembled on bleachers to learn all about fire.

    Christopher Kibler, a civilian instructor, asked the attendees, “What is our goal here?”

    In unison, they responded, “Survival.”

    Kibler rattled off a long list of pros and cons of fire and showed his audience what wood to burn and how to create fire with a mix of unexpected tools, including household batteries. Kibler explained that while fire is essential, they teach soldiers it has a time and a place.

    “It provides that psychological boost. You know, you're staring at the old Ranger television, and it makes you feel good,” Kibler said. “The problem is you're staring at this [fire], and you don't see who is staring back at you. So, fire gives you that psychological boost, but it also gives you a false sense of security.”

    After the group fire course, the spouses broke for a lunch of Meals, Ready-to-Eat.

    Next up, the spouses encountered an obstacle course of legendary proportions. The Nasty Nick obstacle course is a rite of passage for would-be Green Berets. The course is named for Col. James “Nick” Rowe, who was held captive during the Vietnam War and was one of only 34 American POWs to escape his captors. He spent five years in captivity. Rowe is credited with developing the SERE program from the knowledge he gained as a POW.

    The course comprises more than 20 obstacles and stretches for a mile through the Camp Mackall woodlands.
    As the participants navigated the course, they called out words of support and coached one another over difficult hurdles.
    Michelle, who is an Army veteran herself, said she did not train before the event.

    “I had no idea what I was getting myself into,” she said.

    At the third obstacle, she was feeling the difficulty of the task.

    “I am winded, and I am nervous to see what's next.”

    However, the experience has been a positive one.

    “My biggest takeaway is how fortunate we, and I am, to be able to come out and do something like this. And to just be around an awesome group of people, not just the spouses but the cadre and the service members themselves. That they're taking their time to do this for us and teach us these things, give us this boost of confidence,” Michelle said.

    Rader explains that the teams have built a strong connection by the end of the event.

    “You can see the interaction build, and you see how throughout the day they encourage one another, and they build on one another's strength,” she said.
    Rader said that she feels this event exemplifies how the Special Operations community works hard to support soldiers and their families.

    “SOF World is an awesome enterprise that focuses on the health and wellness of the whole family; this is just one of these examples that we take pride in of taking care of our soldiers and the families. Families are very important, and I think that is a great experience for all of the spouses to be able to have,” Rader said.

    Ashton was excited about going home to share her experience with her husband.

    “It was a blast,” she said. “We are going to sit down and talk about every single obstacle, and I am going to try to remember every instructor's name and say, ‘do you know this guy’ and ‘do you know this guy?’”

    She said that her feedback for the organizers is simple, “Keep doing it … Keep doing and providing things like this.”

  • 13 It's springtime in the Sandhills. The local flora is alive with color, and it's a perfect time to grow something beautiful. For those born without a green thumb — not to worry; the Cape Fear Botanical Garden is here to help.
    The second annual Gardenmania event returns to the Cape Fear Botanical Garden on Saturday, May 14, from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    Canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns, Gardenmania made its debut in the spring of 2021 with great success. This year promises to be "bigger and better," said Meghan Woolbright, marketing director at Cape Fear Botanical Garden.

    Fayetteville is a city that shows a lot of love for its local musicians, artisans and makers of all kinds. Gardenmania brings the same exciting energy to a skill set that's perhaps not celebrated enough.

    “Our Director of Events and Marketing, Sheila Hanrick, wanted to create a signature event that would give a festival-type atmosphere celebrating all things gardening; thus, Gardenmania was born. Anyone interested in learning more about gardening, art, birds and sustainable living will have a blast!” Woolbright told Up & Coming Weekly.

    Designed as a garden symposium, participants can look forward to a slew of activities that both enrich and educate throughout the day. From those who feel right at home in their flower beds to those who aren’t sure how to get started, Gardenmania has a wealth of knowledge to sow.

    Gardenmania will have several presentations and workshops to entice advanced and novice gardeners alike. Participants can sign up for camellia pruning demonstrations, berry gardening, make/take herb garden, DIY bird feeder and create/take sculpted daylily canvas, to name a few.

    Woolbright is especially excited for this year's keynote speaker, Bryce Lane. Lane is a professor of horticulture at North Carolina State University and the former host of the Emmy Award-winning show “In the Garden with Bryce Lane.” Professor Lane will be leading a special workshop on container gardening for those who sign up. One lucky garden visitor will win his creation in a raffle.

    In addition, Amber Williams, park ranger supervisor at Lake Rim Park, will be leading a table talk about bird watching.

    Guests wishing to attend workshops like “Build Your Own Bird Feeder,” “Make and Take Your Own Herb Garden” or “Daylily Canvas Painting” will need to select “add-on” when pre-purchasing tickets on Eventbrite.

    For those simply wanting to enjoy a lovely day outside, Gardenmania is ripe with things to do. New this year, the Cape Fear Botanical Garden will have a plant sale, and Sustainable Sandhill's Farmer's Market will be in attendance with locally made crafts and produce.

    Gardenmania is a family-friendly event, and there will be plenty of activities to keep the kiddos entertained. Pond dipping, a scavenger hunt, a seed table and farm animals provided by Sweet Valley Ranch ensure a variety of fun for all ages in attendance.

    No day of education, entertainment and fellowship would be complete without good food. Gardenmania will have local fares such as The Walking Crab Food Truck, Hollywood Java, Lady and the Frank and Tropical Sno on-site to assist in that aim. Several vendors will also have food and drinks to sell.
    While fun and camaraderie are a priority on May 14, Woolbright expressed her passion for the value of this event to the community and its long-term benefits to those in attendance.

    “Gardenmania is about educational opportunities, social interaction and an awareness of gardening and sustainability. Gardening teaches a person reliability, self-confidence, curiosity, teamwork, patience and so much more. These are all important traits that all people must have to be successful. Being able to experience growing from seed to harvest is a memory that will last a lifetime.”
    Founded in 1989, Cape Fear Botanical Garden has been an “urban oasis” within the hustle and bustle of downtown Fayetteville. Popular among tourists and locals alike, the Cape Fear Botanical Garden strives to evoke a sense of wonder and a deep appreciation for the beauty of nature.

    “Whether it's the chosen venue for your engagement, wedding, maternity photoshoot, baby shower or your child's first birthday party, Cape Fear Botanical Garden is where memories are created,” said Woolbright.
    Gardenmania, and events like it, speak to Cape Fear Botanical Garden's desire to not only educate their guests but inspire them as well.

    “At the end of the day, I hope people feel encouraged and excited to learn more about gardening through the activities and workshops we offered,” said Woolbright. “I hope visitors find gardening to be a new hobby that relieves their mind, body and soul. I also want there to be an anticipation for the next Gardenmania!”

    “There's always something blooming here at Cape Fear Botanical Garden, twelve months out of the year. Whether it be our camellias in winter, the tulips in spring, sunflowers in summer, or the ginger lilies in the fall.”

    The Cape Fear Botanical Garden's homepage boldly proclaims, “Nature is the Poetry of Earth.” With events like Gardenmania and their continued role as an educational resource, Cape Fear Botanical Garden ensures earth's poetry is heard.

    Gardenmania is free for members. $10 for non-members. Non-member children's tickets for ages 6-12 are $5. All children under five are free. When pre-purchasing tickets, workshops require an “add-on” before checkout.

    Tickets can be purchased at www.eventbrite.com/e/2022-gardenmania-tickets-328357113967?aff=ebdssbdestsearch.

    Cape Fear Botanical Garden is located at 536 N Eastern Blvd.

  • 12 The second annual KidsPeace Art Gallery of Hope will be held Sunday, May 15, at the Church at Paddy’s Irish Public House in Fayetteville. The black tie evening event will showcase art from local Fayetteville artists, and will include an auction of the artwork.

    KidsPeace is a private charity organization that helps children in foster care. It was started in 1882, and has grown across the U.S. as an organization. The mission of KidsPeace is, “to give hope, help and healing to children, adults and those who love them.”

    Locally, KidsPeace holds fundraisers throughout the year to help the kids of Cumberland County and the surrounding areas, but in 2020, COVID-19 restrictions put their usual fundraising events on hold. The Art Gallery of Hope is a recent addition to the KidsPeace fundraiser calendar.

    “The Art Gallery of Hope came into play last year. We used to have a lot of dress up fancy galas for KidsPeace but then Covid hit. We were looking for a reason to get dressed up again,” said Dominique Womack, art chair and founder of the KidsPeace Art Gallery of Hope. “We came up with this theme of doing an art gallery and giving people a chance to be snooty while still raising money for the kids and picking up some of the slack due to Covid.”

    Last year’s event was a huge success, with $10,000 raised for the local charity. All proceeds of the event went to North Carolina kids in foster care. Womack decided to hold this year’s event in May, during Foster Care Awareness Month.

    Canvases, prints and photography will be on display from local artists. Kids from the KidsPeace organization as well as students of Capital Encore Academy have donated artwork for the event. Adrian Warwick, a tattoo artist with New Addiction, has donated a print of one of his original works: a black and white portrait of a child standing in front of a tank with the Ukraine flag in color, in the background.
    Carlos Tolentino will also be donating a piece of original artwork. Tolentino creates black and white images with bleach. His piece was the highest selling at last year’s auction.

    “These two guys have been heavy hitters when it comes to art here in the city,” said Womack. “They are going to donate their work and their time to help us raise awareness for foster care.”
    General admission for the event is $23 and tickets can be found at www.eventbrite.com/e/2nd-annual-kidspeace-art-gallery-of-hope-tickets-291739459577. The event runs from 6 to 9 p.m.

    “Cumberland County has the most kids awaiting foster care,” said Womack. “I’m excited to get that final number and know those kids are getting after school programs, clothing, their foster parents are getting help.”

    “We are giving them a home to lay their head in instead of having them bounce from house to house with their stuff in trashbags. That’s what hurts me the most, they carry their stuff around in trash bags. I just want to raise as much money as I can to help out these kids in our program,” she added.

    The Church at Paddy's is located at 2606 Raeford Road. To donate to KidsPeace, visit www.kidspeace.org.

  • 25 Capt. Daniel Gordon, Alpha Troop, 3rd Squadron, 2nd Security Force Assistance Brigade, smiles as he talks about his love for obstacle races. In the plainly decorated gym at his apartment, he pulls 45-pound weights off the rack and places them onto the bar. He is focused on the events awaiting him at the end of June.

    He gets a little distracted as he talks about his upcoming race — the Spartan Death Race in Pittsfield, Vermont. He is both excited and nervous. He begins to discuss some of the mental challenges he'll face.
    Gordon is strong, and he spends a lot of time inside a gym or doing sporting activities. He has an infectious energy about him and moves and talks rapidly. His girlfriend, Melody Chong, is standing beside him and watching him with a smile. She picks up the weights and places them on the bar.

    For 72 hours, Gordon will complete a series of tasks, both mental and physical, without any sleep. These tasks will include a 14-hour ruck march, a 26.2-mile sandbag carry and 26.2 miles of burpees. Gordon is not exactly sure what to expect at the Spartan Death Race. The race itself has about a 5 to 10% completion rate.

    Tonight's workout is the second of the day for Gordon. This morning he ran 10 miles on Fort Bragg at 5 a.m. He tries to include running in his daily routine.

    “I'm still not the quickest runner. I don't love running,” he says, laughing.

    Spartan is very specific about the race's qualifications. Gordon went through an application process and was required to upload training videos each month after acceptance as a participant. He will compete in a series of mental challenges during the race, then complete the physical challenges.

    “I think the more you get wrong, the more you do,” Gordon said of the physical exercises.

    He admits that he is not entirely sure of all the activities and obstacles he will have to tackle to complete this three-day course. This part seems to energize Gordon. He has always been up for challenges. This is good considering this race also includes a barbed-wire-crawl marathon along with the other events.

    “I've been doing a lot of mental preparation. I have been listening to podcasts. Your mind can handle ‘I'm going to carry this rock for an hour,' but it can't handle 'I have to carry this rock for 72 hours,’” Gordon smiles widely, then continues, “I want to be able to mentally function when I'm dead tired.”

    Gordon attended West Point and said he was very active in sports growing up. His father, also in the military, pushed him not to give up and always complete things. He also taught Gordon and his sister to work hard at their activities. Gordon remembers spending hours hitting balls outside for practice. The discipline he has developed he credits first to his dad.

    “He always pushed us to do our best,” Gordon explains.

    Obstacle racing has become part of his life in the last couple of years. These races, according to Gordon, are also good practice for his military career. They help prepare for situations that a soldier may find themselves in. It helps him answer some questions he says are essential to his job duties.

    “Can you operate as a team when you are tired and hungry and you haven't slept? Can you mentally stay in the game when you want to quit?”

    Gordon leans back to do a bench press. He does a few sets and then sits back up.

    “You know,” he says, “I can handle you are going to crawl under barbed wire for 10 miles … it's that hour 65 or 70 when you are wondering when is this going to end; that's the scary part of it.”

    Gordon leans back down and lifts more weights. He admits that the thirtieth of June isn't too far away, and 72 hours is a lot of time for things to “go wrong.” The right attitude, Gordon says, is key. “I think you only know if you are ready once you get there. And once you get there, you kind of gotta say, ‘alright, now I'm here. I got to accept that I am here.’”

    “I'm not going to be one to tap out and do the walk of shame,” He explains. “… I think I'm going to make it. Once I'm there, I'm going to be there. That's been my mindset.”

    Regardless of the outcome, Gordon says he will run it again. Pushing his limits is a thrill that he can't seem to get enough of.

  • 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

  • 23 Mother's Day Carriage Rides in Downtown Fayetteville
    Mother's Day is just around the corner. Gift the experience of taking a carriage ride through downtown Fayetteville with the Mother's Day Carriage Rides. The Queen Victoria Carriage will take you on a 15 to 17 minute scenic ride through downtown Fayetteville on Saturday, May 7 from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.
    The carriage will arrive and depart from the Cool Spring Downtown District's office located at 222 Hay St. (across the street from Pierro’s Italian Bistro).
    Tickets are $75 and include carriage seats for two to six people. Carriages can accommodate approximately four adults and two children. Upon purchasing your ticket you will receive an email asking how many people to expect for your carriage ride. This is a rain/shine event and tickets are nonrefundable.
    Cool Spring Downtown District strongly encourages those interested to take the opportunity to purchase tickets in advance online at https://bit.ly/MothersDayCarriageRides2022.
    Contact the Cool Spring Downtown District’s office at 910-223-1089, for additional information.

    Huske Hardware’s Simply Southern Mother’s Day Brunch
    Join Huske Hardware Restaurant & Brewery for our Simply Southern Mother's Day Brunch in beautiful downtown Fayetteville. Brunch favorites to include our Signature Salmon and Huske Benedicts, steak and eggs, biscuits and house sausage gravy, country fried steak and eggs, chicken and waffles and other dining favorites.
    Huske will be highlighting our Stella Rosa Mimosas that include flavors such as peach, berry, blueberry, pineapple, as well as a traditional Moscato Mimosa.
    The full bar will be open and serving will be from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
    Reservations are highly recommended and can be made through Eventbrite at https://huskebrunch.eventbrite.com. Reservations are held for 15 minutes before table is released. All parties must be present to be seated.

    Mother's Day Brunch Iron Mike Conference Center
    Iron Mike Conference Center on Fort Bragg is hosting a Mother’s Day Brunch, May 8. The brunch will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and reservations are required.
    The menu will include a variety of breakfast items, a carving station, a salad bar, a selection of vegetables and a dessert spread.
    This event is open to the public. Call 910-907-2582 for additional information or to make reservations.


    Fort Bragg Fair Mother’s attend free
    “The Fort Bragg Fair brings together soldiers and families with our supportive community members,” said Col. Scott Pence, Fort Bragg Garrison Commander. “As we emerge from pandemic restrictions, we are happy to return to the normalcy of fair rides, local concerts and nostalgic fried food concoctions.”
    The public is invited to enjoy carnival rides, games, entertainment, food and more.
    The fair will be open through May 8, Monday through Friday from 5 - 7 p.m. Bring your mom out for a day of fun on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 8. All mothers will be admitted free with a paying child 36 inches or taller up to the age of 17.
    Parking is free and accessible off Bragg Boulevard to non-ID cardholders, just outside the fairground. ID card-holders may park on the installation at Watson Street.
    For entertainment and admission prices, please visit https://bragg.armymwr.com.

  • 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.

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    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.”
  • 22 Fayetteville’s summer concert series, Rock’n on the River, is back for the third year. The events will be held once a month on Fridays from May to October and feature a variety of performers, from local acts to tribute bands.

    The series is billed as a place where families can relax and listen to great music. The community is invited to bring chairs and blankets and settle in for a night of family-friendly entertainment along the Cape Fear River.

    “I want people to come out and bring the family and enjoy themselves, and have some food and have some drinks,” said event organizer Greg Adair.
    The series started in 2019 when Adair realized there weren’t many activities for families after the Dogwood Festival in the spring.

    “I just wanted another concert series where people can go have a drink, take the family and enjoy themselves,” he said.

    “And that’s what we created, and it just took off.”

    The first year the series had three shows, and the next year, they doubled to six. The pandemic forced cancelations in 2020, but they were able to bring it back in 2021.

    Attendance has grown over the years, proving that the community wanted an event like this. One of the most popular nights in previous years brought in more than 1000 people.
    Adair knows the importance of supporting local businesses after the shutdowns of the last two years, so all the event partners are from the area.

    “When we went through 2020 [we] saw all these [businesses] really struggle to stay open,” he said. “It’s something we owe our community— to shop local. They have struggled for a year, almost two years now, and just barely getting back on their feet.”

    He acknowledges that local businesses do not have to support events during downtimes, but they have stepped up to provide free entertainment for the community.

    “They are still supporting these shows so people can have a free place to go,” he said. “There is a lot to be said about that.”

    The season will kick off May 13 with opener Dark Horse (country) and headliner ABACAB (Genesis/Phil Collins tribute). Parking will open at 5 p.m., and the first band starts at 6 p.m. The second band will perform at 8 p.m. and end at 10:15 p.m.

    Additional Rock’n on the River concerts are planned for June 17, Stone Whiskey (southern rock) and The Fifth (80s hard rock); July 22, Autumn Tyde (beach/R&B) and REV ON (Foreigner tribute); August 19, Regional Band Blowout with 80s Unleashed, Guy Unger Band and Rivermist (Adair’s band); September 16, Reflections II (party music) and KISS ARMY (KISS tribute); October 21, Joyner Young & Marie (pop) and Night Train (Guns N’ Roses tribute).

    There is no admission charge for the event, but parking is $15 per car. Food and drinks are available for purchase on-site, so concertgoers should only plan to bring chairs or a blanket. The series is held at 1122 Person

    St. behind Deep Creek Grill.
    Follow the event Facebook page for updates at www.facebook.com/Rockn-On-The-River-271048666818630.

  • 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.

  • 21 Sustainable Sandhills and Sweet Valley Ranch are teaming up to bring an exciting new farmer's market to the people of the Sandhills.

    Sandhills M.A.D.E. Market at Sweet Valley Ranch will launch on May 7 and continue every first and third Saturday through Oct. 15.
    M.A.D.E., an acronym for makers, agriculturalists, designers and entrepreneurs, is a project of Sustainable Sandhills, and this will be its first year in operation.

    Up & Coming Weekly spoke with Jonelle Kimbrough, who has been executive director of Sustainable Sandhills for the past three years.

    "The market provides a place for farmers, artisans and crafters to come together and have an outlet to sell their products to the local community while also connecting them with a consumer base in the absence of a brick and mortar store."

    The market is especially eager to connect those who sell fresh produce with those who may have difficulty finding it.
    Sweet Valley Ranch, located off I-95, is considered to be part of a low-access tract area, meaning a significant portion of the population lives more than one mile away from a grocery store or supermarket, making it a challenge to purchase fresh, affordable produce.

    Kimbrough hopes the market not only creates access to these goods but brings exposure to those providing such a valuable service.

    "Local food is healthier, better for the environment and better for the economy," she said.
    According to their website, Sustainable Sandhills is a non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening communities by creating resilient environmental, economic and social resources for current and future generations.

    The organization aims high with this new endeavor and hopes it will be bigger than the average farmer's market.

    "Small businesses are the cornerstone of the local community, and they keep money in our community. When you shop locally, you're giving money to a family, possibly a neighbor, not another big box store," she continued.

    "We take pride in recruiting vendors of all backgrounds. We support small businesses owned by women, veterans and members of the BIPOC community. While other markets in the area have a long waitlist to participate, this market is a great opportunity for newer vendors who want to get their names and products out. We want to be a network for small business owners, helping them market and sell to their local community."

    North Carolina is home to around 217 farmer's markets. It is ranked tenth in the number of farmer's markets in the United States.

    "I would say this market is different because we have a unique set of vendors who possess a wide variety of skills," Kimbrough told Up & Coming Weekly. "We have vendors that produce their meat right here in the Sandhills, apothecaries, just so many types of artists and crafters who create a great cross-section of makers and farmers."

    Only goods grown, raised or made in North Carolina are accepted at the market. The hands that sell the products are the same ones that made the product which Kimbrough feels is an essential aspect of this program.
    Another unique feature of the M.A.D.E. market is its location.

    Sweet Valley Ranch, an agro-attraction here in Fayetteville, will have activities for just about everyone on market days. Dinosaur World, inflatables, Go-Karts and fun seasonal activities will make this market fun for the whole family. Parents can shop and enjoy the food trucks while kids can get out and run around.

    "We're looking forward to getting it open and underway," said Kimbrough optimistically. "We're excited for everyone to come out and have a good time."
    The Sweet Valley Ranch is located at 2990 Sunnyside School Road.
    For more information about the market or to be a vendor, visit https://sustainablesandhills.org/sweetvalleyranchmarket/.

  • 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.

  • 18 Each year, with the exception of 2020, the CARE Clinic hosts Toast of the Town at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden. May 5 will mark the twenty-second Toast of the Town. This fundraiser is vital to The CARE Clinic, which offers health care to support local individuals who have no insurance and are in a low-income bracket. The clinic does not receive any government funding and is run solely through donations, grants and fundraising. Monthly costs to keep the organization running are approximately $55,000. The CARE Clinic has seen a marked increase in the need for the type of services they provides since the start of the pandemic.

    The CARE Clinic is hoping the community will show up in numbers to support their vital mission.

    “We are expecting between 300 to 400 attendees,” explained Tara Martin, CARE Clinic development and marketing director.

    Martin is new to the organization and is particularly excited about the chance to interface with the local community.

    “I am looking forward to the opportunity to meet and talk with our supporters and sponsors face-to-face. Since I just started working with the clinic in November, this is my first major in-person event as development director. I will get to finally put faces to the names I have been learning over the past six months,” Martin said.

    Held at the Cape Fear Botanical Gardens, Toast of the Town will begin at 6 p.m. and run until 10 p.m. Attendees will enjoy a night out in the gardens with hors d’ oeuvres and desserts from Two Brothers Catering to snack on. Wines, beers, ales, spirits and hand-rolled cigars from Anstead’s will also be available.

    The event is being supported by and features a selection of local small businesses.

    “Wine will be provided by Johnson Brothers Mutual Distributing and served by Leclair’s General Store. Our breweries will include Bright Light Brewing Company, Mash House Brewing and Dirtbag Ales. The Spirits will be provided by Cape Fear Distillery. Lastly, the cigars will be provided by Anstead’s Tobacco Company,” Martin told Up & Coming Weekly.

    The CARE Clinic will run a virtual Silent Auction featuring priceless baskets donated by businesses from all around North Carolina and there will be travel experiences to the castles of Ireland, the Greek Islands, Costa Rica and more. In addition to the silent auction, event organizers will be running a 50/50 raffle.

    “The winner of the drawing will walk away with half of the money raised from raffle ticket sales. We have already begun selling tickets as a lead-up to the event. The pot is currently up to $1600 — that means whoever wins that night is guaranteed to receive at least $800,” Martin said on April 29.

    Tickets are available for $100 until Wednesday, May 4 at 5 p.m. After that time, tickets will be $125. For more information, visit www.toastofthetownfay.com or call the clinic at 910-485-0555.

    Drinking and tobacco are not all that is offered; there is something for everyone.

    “This event will be so much fun. If someone is on the fence about coming, I invite you to still come on out for a night of socializing. Even for those who do not drink, there is still a lot for this event to offer,” Martin said.


  • 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)

  • 17 Nothing says “summer is on the way,” quite like Cinco De Mayo.

    The festive holiday is an excellent opportunity to gather with friends, eat good food and play a few rounds of charity golf if the Hope Mills Area Chamber of Commerce has anything to say about it.
    On May 5, at Gates Four Golf and Country Club, the Hope Mills Area Chamber of Commerce will host
    its Annual Cinco De Mayo GolfTournament.

    A long-standing event within the community, the golf tournament is a popular fundraising opportunity for the people of Hope Mills and surrounding areas.

    “The objective of this event is multi-purpose,” says Lisa Bastic-Penardo, treasurer, Hope Mills Area Chamber of Commerce.

    “The tournament raises funds for the Chamber of Commerce and a local non-profit. This year we’ve partnered with United Way, so a portion of the proceeds will support that organization and its various projects.”

    The Golf Tournament Committee made up of Connie Rushing, Nolan Clark, Brenda Seay and Bastic-Penardo, has been busy planning the event since last September, working hard to get everything just right.

    “We wanted to continue the tradition of the golf tournament,” Bastic-Penardo said. “Our Chamber is blessed to have such like-minded people working together to make everything a success. It’s a lot of work, but it’s always worth it in the end.”

    “The tournament has been going on around twenty years — It’s been around here a lot longer than me,” she said.

    As the town of Hope Mills prepares to celebrate its 130th anniversary and the chamber its 30th, the tournament is one of the community’s oldest and most memorable events.

    Just right for Cinco De Mayo, this year’s theme is Tacos & Margaritas and evokes the sense of fun Bastic-Penardo hopes everyone will take away from the event.

    Participants can sign up as a team of four or as individuals with a cost of $100 per player.

    Registration for the tournament begins at noon with a shotgun starting at 1 p.m. Awards and dinner will be served at 6 p.m.
    Those participating will enjoy 18 holes of golf, a four-person captain’s choice format and unlimited range balls before the tournament begins.
    Additionally, the admission cost covers a cart, green fee, boxed lunch and a taco & margarita dinner buffet.

    The tournament will also feature several contests to heighten the sense of fun. Awards for first and worst, closest to the pin and longest drive are all up for grabs for those daring to show off their golf skills.

    For those lacking in the aforementioned golf skills, there’s no need to worry — all skill levels are welcome.

    “Everybody is invited to come,” says Bastic-Penardo. “It will be a great day for anyone who wants to have a good time, relax with other like-minded people, and enjoy a little family-friendly competition.”
    Gates Four Golf and Country Club is located at 6775 Irongate Drive in Fayetteville.
    For more information about the tournament, visit the event website at www.visitfayettevillenc.com/event/cinco-de-mayo-charity-golf-tournament/17588/.

  • 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)

  • 15 The Crown Theatre will present its 84th season of Community Concerts featuring the Oak Ridge Boys Friday, May 13, at 7:30 p.m.

    In a musical career that has spanned over three decades, the quartet has broken the mold for classic country music. The band members are William Lee Golden, baritone; Richard Sterban, bass; Joe Bonsall, tenor; and Duane Allen, lead vocals.

    Their music is universal, and they are currently in overdrive touring for their 150-day-long “Front Porch Singin’ Tour.”

    “At the concert, there are some things that are very obvious, and you are going to hear me sing ‘Giddy up omm poppa mow mow’ because that song is the law,” said Richard Sterban.

    “It is quite an interesting story how the song “Elvira” came about,” he said.

    Last year was the 40th anniversary of their signature song, “Elvira,” and the band is celebrating it. A gentleman named Dallas Frazier wrote the song. Several years ago, Frazier was driving home from a recording session in East Nashville, and he saw a street sign that said Elvira Street.

    He pulled up to the street sign and wrote on a piece of paper, “Elvira, Elvira, my heart is on fire for Elvira.”

    Then he wrote the “Giddy up omm poppa mow mow” part because that imitated the bumps on the road, the potholes on Elvira Street. When he got home, he finished the song and wrote the verses about a woman so that the music would make more sense, but the song’s original inspiration came from a street sign in East Nashville.

    “I’ve talked to a lot of songwriters, and they have told me that you never know where the inspiration to write a song is going to come from,” Sterban said. “So that is the story about the song that most people do not know.”

    Some of their chart-topping hits are “Elvira,” “Thank God for Kids,” “Just A Little Talk With Jesus,” “Come On In,” “Bobbie Sue” and these hits propelled them to sell over 41 million albums, have over 30 top ten hits and more than a dozen national number one singles.

    “We will perform a lot of our hits, and our most requested song is “Thank God for Kids,” Sterban said. “William Lee Golden, the guy with the long beard in our group, does a good job of interpreting those lyrics and communicating it to the audience.”

    The group can glide across musical genres as they have recorded both country and gospel hits.

    “We make our living singing country music, but we all grew up singing gospel music, and we love it,” Sterban said. “We are also excited about our latest album, ‘The Oak Ridge Boys Front Porch Singin’ and it is very inspirational music, and a lot of it is gospel, but there are some new country songs on it.”

    He added, “All of the songs are very meaningful, and it really is the kind of music that we need to hear right now with all of the things that are going on in the world today.”
    Oak Ridge Boys recorded their latest album in a very informal manner. The group walked into the recording studio in Nashville, and their producer, Dave Cobb, asked the question, “Fellas, if you guys were on the bus and you were getting ready for a show, what would you sing?”

    The lead singer, Allen, immediately began singing an old spiritual called “Swing Down Chariot.”
    The other members joined in and started harmonizing with him. This is a song they have known for years and had never recorded.

    “Dave told us to get to the microphones immediately to record the song,” Sterban said. “We sang the song, and we were probably in the studio for less than an hour, and it was a done deal.”
    Sterban added, “I think this is a great example of how this album was recorded in an unstructured setting of four guys harmonizing together.”

    Their hardcore fans affectionately call them “The Oaks,” and over the years, they have become known for their Christmas music. “We have eight Christmas albums, and for over 30 years, we have done a great Christmas tour on the road, and it is the biggest part of our year,” Sterban said. “We do our Christmas Show every night from Thanksgiving up until Christmas Eve night except Tuesdays, and it is a great family show.”

    Their musical awards include the Country Music Hall of Fame, Gospel Music Hall of Fame, five Grammy Awards, two American Music Awards, four Academy of Country Music Awards, four Country Music Association Awards, 11 Dove Awards, five Billboard Awards, eight Cashbox Awards, they are members of the Grand Ole Opry and many more.
    Sterban has been in the music industry for decades and has some valuable advice for young aspiring bands.

    “This is a very competitive business, and a lot of young acts try to make it, and only a handful really do make it,” he said. “My advice is to decide what you want to do, work on your craft, sing every chance that you get, strive to become the best performer that you can possibly become and never slough off because you never know who will be listening.”

    With so many accolades and accomplishments under their belt, the Oak Ridge Boys have no plans on retiring anytime soon.

    “For the next few years at least, we are going to keep doing what we love doing, and that’s recording, traveling and taking our music live to our fans,” Sterban said. “Come out and join us for a night of good music and family entertainment because we are so happy to be back on stage working again.”

    For ticket information, visit www.capefeartix.com.

  • 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


    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


    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


    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


    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 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

  • 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.

  • 05-22-13-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. 

  • 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.

  • 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. She helped the Westover softball team to its first state playoff appearance in school history, batting .400 and driving in 15 runs.

  • Here is the Patriot Athletic All-Conference softball team as chosen by the league’s head coaches.

    Coach of the year: Stuart Gilmer, Gray’s Creek

    Player of the year: Jaden Pone, Gray’s Creek

    Pitcher of the year: Katie Murphy, Cape Fear

    First team:

    • Terry Sanford — Anna Suggs, Maddie Beard

    • E.E. Smith — Kayla Parson

    • Pine Forest — Zareeya Watson, Brianna Crosby, Brittany Maultsby, Korie St. Peter, Mary Lee Sullivan

    • Gray’s Creek — Mackenzie Mason, Drew Menscer, Kylie Aldridge, Morgan Brady, Courtney Cygan, Jaden Pone

    • Overhills — Malik’s Dones, Kiana Jones

    • Cape Fear — Katie Murphy, Morgan Nunnery, Alyssa Meredith, Taylor Melvin, Aubrey Griffin, Jess Oxendine

    • South View — Mia Ayers, Danielle Golcher, Alex Deville

    • Westover — Alaina Walker

    Honorable mention:

    • Terry Sanford — Mylie Leahy

    • E.E. Smith — Madilyn Hotchkiss, Abraonna Williams

    • Gray’s Creek — Summer Powell, Madi Badley, Rebecca Collins

    • Overhills — Taylor Nunn, Megan Maurer, Liz Mitchell

    • Cape Fear — Marlin Horne, Aleiyah Payne, Lauren Adams, Ava Basket, Toni Blackwell

    • South View — Faith Franklin, Raven Camacho, Bailey Lockwood, Katie Smith

    • Westover — Chkylie Boado, Jasmine Kelsey, Maya Johnson

  • 18davidjohn HerzHere is the Patriot Athletic All-Conference baseball team as chosen by the league’s head coaches.

    Coach of the year: Sam Guy, Terry Sanford

    Player of the year: Davidjohn Herz, Terry Sanford

    Pitcher of the year: Nick West, Cape Fear

    First team:

    • Cape Fear — Cade Oliver, Cole Altman

    • Douglas Byrd — Edwardo Alfons

    • Gray’s Creek — Landen Harris, Tyler Strickland, Aaron Smith, Ryan Miller, Dillon Taylor

    •Overhills — Ricky Kelly

    • Pine Forest — Justin Honeycutt, Isaac Gonzales, James O’Brien, Lance Lockamy

    • South View — Riley Caudle, Damon Evans, Keshawn Dunham

    • Terry Sanford — Justin Ebert, Jackson Deaver, Marcus Sanchez, Dorian Clark, Tommy Cooney, Hunter Wiggins

    Honorable mention:

    • Cape Fear — Nick Minacapelli

    • Gray’s Creek — Hunter Smith, J.J. Rivera

    • Overhills — Johnny Vickers, Richard Hooks

    • South View — Caleb Shinn

    • Terry Sanford — Jack Cooney

  • 15haleynelsonFreedom Christian Academy’s softball team experienced tragedy before its 2019 season ever started. But by season’s end, the coaches and players were able to move from tragedy to triumph as they bought home the school’s third North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association state title in four years.

    The Patriots entered this year’s NCISAA 2-A state tournament as the No. 3 seed but cruised through the double elimination portion of the playoffs unbeaten. They beat both top-seeded Rocky Mount Academy and No. 2 Halifax Academy along the way, the former on its home field in a 16-inning duel lasting over three and a half hours.

    Freedom finished the season 16-4 under the leadership of first-year head coach John Smith. Smith was no stranger to the Freedom softball program. He became the school’s director of security in 2016 after his longtime friend, the late Eddie Dees, had become Freedom’s softball coach and led the Patriots to their first-ever softball championship.

    Dees passed away that same year. Smith, a former member of the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department and the Hope Mills Police Department, continued in an assistant coaching role until he was asked to take over as head coach entering the 2019 season.

    It wasn’t long after he was hired that the team experienced misfortune. Haley Roberson, the starting third baseman, died at her home in late September one morning before school.

    “She was a solid defensive player and an offensive threat,’’ Smith said of Roberson. “Between the emotions of losing her, starting the season without her and trying to fill that void, it was some trying times.’’

    It was reflected in the team’s record as they struggled to a 3-3 start.

    “We only had five returnees and eight new girls,’’ Smith said. “The nucleus of that bunch was seventh and eighth graders. They had travel ball experience, but they hadn’t been with our program. We had to learn their skill set.’’

    Smith praised the work of two veteran assistant coaches, Russell Montgomery and Jimmy Nelson. “They know the game inside out and were there to help me,’’ he said.

    So were their two daughters, pitcher Haley Nelson and catcher Molly Montgomery. Nelson, a junior, is committed to play at Queens University of Charlotte. Montgomery, a senior, has a scholarship to Gardner-Webb University.

    Just getting to the postseason was a brutal test for Freedom because of the tough competition it faced in its own league, the Sandhills Athletic Conference. Cape Fear Christian Academy won the NCISAA 1-A state championship. Fayetteville Christian made the final four in the 3-A playoffs, and Village Christian was a top ten seed in the same classification.

    The Patriots lost at Rocky Mount Academy 4-0 in their second game of the season, so Smith knew when they faced them again in the state playoffs it was going to be a challenge.

    “It was definitely a pitching duel for 16 innings,’’ he said of the rematch in the state tournament. Finally, Marissa McQueen, a seventh grader, drilled a double to right center to score a pair of runs that held up for the win.

    Nelson went the distance on the mound and recorded 13 strikeouts in the win. Both she and Montgomery were selected to the NCISAA 2-A All- State team.

    But those aren’t the most interesting numbers about the championship season. Roberson’s jersey number was three, her position third base, and that number kept popping up for Freedom in the postseason. To begin with, they were the third seed in the state tournament.

    They won the final game of the tournament over Halifax 6-3, after scoring three runs late to break a 3-3 tie. And when the season was over, the Patriots had their third state title.

    “Although Haley was not present, she was there in spirit and mind with us,’’ Smith said.

    Photo: Haley Nelson

  • 16IsabellaWitherow

    Isabella Witherow

    Gray’s Creek  • Cross country/swimming/ Unified track •  Junior

    Witherow has an unweighted grade point average of 4.0. She is a member of National Honor Society and the Yearbook Club. She will attend North Carolina Governor’s School this summer.



    Nick Quinn

    Gray’s Creek • Wrestling/Unified track • Senior

    Quinn has a weighted grade point average of 4.4. He was a member of the Academy of Information Technology at Gray’s Creek. He will attend North Carolina State in the fall to study engineering

  • 15tennisterrysanfordHere is the Patriot Athletic Conference tennis team as chosen by the league’s head coaches.

    Player of the year: Alexander Kasari, Terry Sanford

    First team, singles:

    • Terry Sanford — Nathan Lieberman, James Barefoot

    • South View — Christian George, Ben George

    • Overhills — Roger America, Chase Thompson

    • Pine Forest — Jacob Green, Colby Blackwell

    • Gray’s Creek — Garrett Hoyt, Dylan Daniel

    • Cape Fear — Jalen Farmer, Hunter Edwards

    First team, doubles:

    • Terry Sanford — Nathan Lieberman, Alexander Kasari

    • South View — Christian George, Ben George

    • Overhills — Roger America, Chase Thompson

    • Gray’s Creek — Garrett Hoyt, Dylan Daniel

    • Cape Fear — Hunter Edwards, Eli Benbenek

    Photo:  Left to right: Terry Sanford’s Nathan Lieberman, Coach Gene Autry, Alex Kasari

  • 14CorrineShovlainHere is the Patriot Athletic Conference girls soccer team as chosen by the league’s head coaches. 

    Goalkeeper of the year: Lindsay Bell, Terry Sanford

    Defensive player of the year: Kara Walker, Terry Sanford

    Offensive player of the year: Corrine Shovlain, Terry Sanford

    Coach of the year: Karl Molnar, Terry Sanford

    First team:

    • Terry Sanford — Maiya Parrous, Kate Perko

    • Pine Forest — Sierra Turisch, Alyssa Rancour, Cate Hinton, De’Sheryl Hill

    • Gray’s Creek — Kylie Rock, Emma Brock

    • Overhills — Valeria Pomales, Tayra Chikhaoui

    • Cape Fear — Amelia Shook

    • South View — Kyra Delany, Lillian Flantos

    Second team:

    • Cape Fear — Gabrielle Bynum

    • Terry Sanford — Courtney Arnold, Halie Blizzard, Imani Elliott

    • Gray’s Creek — Eve Morrison, Gabi Jobes

    • Pine Forest — Holly Harwick, Avery Vorholt, Kahala Bandamann, Stella Valenzuela

    • Overhills — Georgia Migos, Aja Wilson, Katelynn Johnson, Marissa Rodriguez

    Honorable mention:

    • Overhills — Tyanna Lee, Aliyah Proctor

    • Pine Forest — Hailey Harwick

    • Cape Fear — Lily Terwilliger, Emily’s Holt, Nyanja Williams

    Photo: Corrine Shovlain

  • 12LandenHarrisIf the early turnout is any indication, Mark Kahlenberg should not have a problem keeping a full team on the field this summer for the Hope Mills Boosters American Legion baseball program.

    At the first official practice of the season last week, Kahlenberg had a potential roster with 23 names of players from area high schools who were either on hand at the first workout or had expressed interest in playing this year.

    Even with the good turnout, Kahlenberg expects this year’s team to be somewhat young, with a number of players who will be getting their first taste of the American Legion brand of baseball. The roster is heavy with a big crop of players from Cape Fear. Gray’s Creek High School has returned to the mix, along with players from South View and Douglas Byrd.

    Before it’s all over, Kahlenberg hopes to pick up some players from Freedom Christian and Terry Sanford. The Bulldogs were still involved in the state 3-A baseball playoffs when the Boosters American Legion season kicked off last Sunday with a doubleheader against Jacksonville Post 265.

    “Last year we were struggling to put nine guys together around tournament time,’’ Kahlenberg said. “At our first meeting (this year), we had 14 guys, and I knew there were 10 other guys who couldn’t make it.’’

    Among the players Kahlenberg will be counting on are pitcher Landen Harris from Gray’s Creek, who’s committed to play at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Another prospect is Aaron Smith, Harris’ Gray’s Creek teammate, who batted in the No. 3 position for the Bears this season.

    South View prospects include Riley Caudle, who recently committed to play for Methodist University. Another promising player is Cape Fear’s Nick West, who played shortstop and pitched and could fill an important need for Kahlenberg in the heart of the lineup.

    Kahlenberg doesn’t feel the team has an established pitching ace as the season begins and will have to rely on pitching by committee until things get more settled. “Hopefully we can develop those pitchers into a starting rotation,’’ he said.

    Both Harris and Caudle are optimistic about this team’s chances this summer.

    “I like playing with my friends from all over Cumberland County,’’ Harris said. “I think we can do pretty good if we bring it all together, hit the ball and play the game how we learned it.’’ Harris also hopes to use the Legion experience to work on his off-speed pitches and improve his velocity.

    Caudle is looking forward to facing better pitching this summer, improving how he sees the curveball and working on improving his ability to hit to the backside. “We have a lot more people than last year,’’ he said. “A lot of them are going to college, so they’ll focus on Legion ball.’’

    The Boosters will again play their home games at South View High School.

    Following is this year’s schedule. Whiteville currently does not have a team this year, but Kahlenberg said he had seen reports on social media that the Whiteville club was attempting to get funding so it could possibly return this year. For now, its games have been removed from the schedule.

    Photo: Landen Harris



    EDITOR'S NOTE: Due to some late changes in the Hope Mills Boosters 2019 schedule, portions of the version in this week's print edition are incorrect. The correct schedule appears below. 


     IMG 3915




  • 17Jason PorterJason Porter

    Gray’s Creek • Basketball • Senior

    Porter has an unweighted grade point average of 3.74. He averaged 4.3 rebounds per game for the Bears basketball team last season.


    18Heather Edge copySarah Emilie Edge

    Riverside Christian Academy • Softball • Junior

    Edge has a 4.0 grade point average. She is a member of the Cedar Creek Baptist Church Youth group. She volunteers to run sound equipment at Riverside Christian for school and church programs. She is a member of the Beta Club and volunteers with Samaritan’s Purse and Baptist Men’s Disaster Relief.

  • 16DK sportsAfter a five-month hiatus to regroup and reorganize, the DK Sports Page sports radio talk show has resumed on Monday nights from 6-8 p.m. It airs on WFNC 640 AM with hosts Trey Edge and Bill Boyette.

    “Fayetteville needs a local talk show based on local sports, from the high school level to the college level to NFL ties,’’ said Edge. In addition to hosting the show, he’s the play-by-play voice for the DK Sports, Inc., game of the week in various sports. He’s also the Friday night voice of Terry Sanford during football season.

    Also on the game broadcasts are Boyette, providing color commentary and occasional appearances by Don Koonce, founder of DK Sports, Inc.

    When it comes to the DK Sports Page, Edge said the show will try to cover everything but will focus primarily on local sports.

    “We’ll always have a high school segment each and every week,’’ he said.

    When the show returned to air for the first time last week, high school guests included Terry Sanford baseball coach Sam Guy and Jack Britt softball coach Sebrina Wilson. Also interviewed were University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill football coach Mack Brown and Fayetteville Woodpeckers general manager David Lane.

    The initial version of the show, which debuted in the late summer of 2017, was heavy on interviews with coaches. Edge said the goal this time around will be to try and talk with more players, both active ones and former players from the area who have moved on to the professional ranks.

    Boyette, Edge’s cohost, is a veteran high school basketball coach who led his Fayetteville Academy Eagles to the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association 2-A championship last season.

    Edge said Boyette is an avid sports fan who obviously has a lot of expertise in basketball but is detail-oriented in all aspects of sports. “That’s probably why he’s successful as a coach too,’’ Edge said.

    The show was strictly studio-based during its initial run, but Edge said that could change with the revived edition. “We may be looking to go out live,’’ he said, “for example, to a Woodpeckers game. We may try to do something where we get in front of people and do live broadcasting from there.’’

    To keep up with the show and to send suggestions for possible topics or guests, Edge said fans should follow the show on Twitter at @DKSportsPage.

  • 15Wells Fargo CupFor the second time in three years, Cape Fear High School has won the Patriot Athletic Conference Maxwell/Wells Fargo Cup for overall athletic excellence. The Colts took the cup back from last year’s winner, Terry Sanford, which finished second in this year’s chase for the honor.

    The award is based on points awarded to each school for order of finish in official conference sports.

    Cape Fear had 150.5 points to 145.5 for Terry Sanford.

    The Colts used a strong finish in the spring sports season to wrap up the trophy. They shared the regular-season title in softball with Gray’s Creek and won boys golf while placing second in boys tennis and boys track. The Colts took third in baseball. Other championships won by Cape Fear this season were volleyball, girls golf, wrestling and boys and girls swimming.

    Terry Sanford also had a strong spring, winning girls soccer, baseball and boys tennis, with a second-place finish in girls track.

    Terry Sanford’s other championships this year were in boys soccer and girls tennis.

    Pine Forest finished third with 132 points. The Trojans won conference titles this season in football and boys basketball.

    The Trojans didn’t win any championships in the spring but took second in girls track, boys golf and girls soccer.

    Other conference titles for the year were won by South View in boys and girls cross country and boys and girls track. E.E. Smith won girls basketball. Cape Fear and Gray’s Creek shared the conference regular-season title in softball.

    Other point totals for the conference were Gray’s Creek 128.5, South View 125, Overhills 99, E.E. Smith 87.5, Westover 53.5 and Douglas Byrd 32.5.

    Photo: Cape Fear athletic director Matt McLean arrives at Terry Sanford with a dolly to reclaim the Wells Fargo Cup.

  • 14Exemplary schoolCumberland County Schools made history at last week’s North Carolina High School Athletic Association annual meeting in Chapel Hill at the Dean E. Smith Center. For the first time, the same school system captured the NCHSAA’s coveted Exemplary School Award in consecutive years. Cape Fear won the honor in 2019, and Terry Sanford made it two straight by winning this year’s award.

    They are the second and third county schools to take the honor. Jack Britt won it in the 2009-10 school year.

    Vernon Aldridge, student activities director for Cumberland County Schools, said the award means much more than athletic success. He said the award also recognizes the number of nationally certified coaches a school has on its staff.

    “On the academic side, they look at testing scores and the number of students taking advanced placement honors classes, as well as how students do on advanced placement exams,’’ he said.

    “It’s an all-around award, truly recognizing a school that has embraced the idea of the student athlete.’’ 

    Terry Sanford athletic director Liz McGowan said it’s great for the school to be recognized by both its peers and a statewide organization like the NCHSAA. “It’s not just coming to school and doing a good job,’’ she said. “It’s my coaches taking extra classes, my kids going to leadership conferences they are invited to. My kids’ grade point averages are awesome, working hard inside the classroom as well as on the field.’’

    Terry Sanford principal Tom Hatch said the award validates what the school’s coaches do every day, as well as the work they do beyond the athletic field.

    Retired Cumberland County student activities director Bill Carver often referred to high school athletics as the front porch of the school. Hatch said he agrees with that philosophy.

    “Athletics allows people who graduated from a school or live in that community to come around and watch a lacrosse match or a wrestling match, football or basketball, talk about what’s happening with their child,’’ he said.

    ‘’Athletics is the front porch of the school, and our front porch looks pretty good right now.’’

    Photo:  Left to right: Vernon Aldridge, Cumberland County Schools student activities director; Joe Franks, NCHSAA Board of Directors member; and Liz McGowan, Terry Sanford athletic director

  • 21Emilya HoltEmilya Holt

    Cape Fear • Soccer • Senior

    Holt has a 3.9 grade point average. She’s a member of the Student Media Specialist Association, Key Club, and Students Against Destructive Decisions. 


    22Matthew RaynorMatthew Raynor

    Cape Fear • Baseball • Senior

    Raynor has a 4.6 grade point average. He’s a member of Student Government Association, Game Day Operations Staff, and the Creative Writing Club.

  • 20schoolTwo complex issues, the athletic status of transgender students and allowing home-schooled students to play for public school teams, were addressed at the May 1 spring meeting of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association Board of Directors in Chapel Hill.

    On the subject of transgender athletes, the NCHSAA ruled that when the gender an athlete identifies with differs from the one listed on his or her birth certificate, the student must submit a Gender Identity Request Form to the NCHSAA.

    The form lists a variety of supporting information the student must provide to the NCHSAA, which will refer the matter to the Gender Identity Committee for consideration. That committee will include a member of the current NCHSAA Board of Directors, a school administrator, and a physician and a psychiatrist or psychologist with credentials in the area of gender identity health.

    Home-schooled students will be allowed to participate in athletics with the school located in the district where they live. They must provide notice to the school principal 10 days before the first practice of the sport in which they wish to participate. They must also provide documentation on such things as attendance, immunization and transcripts before being allowed to play for a high school team.

    East Bladen High School’s Patty Evers attended her final NCHSAA board meeting May 1. Evers has represented Region 4 for the last four years. The region includes Fayetteville and surrounding counties.

    “I think we moved in a positive direction,’’ Evers said of the announcements on both transgender athletes and home-schooled athletes.

    Evers thinks the new language added to the NCHSAA Handbook for the 2019-20 school year is a good starting point. “Like everything else, there will be tweaks along the way,’’ she said.

    Speaking specifically about the transgender issue, Evers said she knows there are transgender athletes in some parts of the state and that their parents have questions.

    “It’s something we needed to do,’’ she said. Other action taken by the board at last Wednesday’s meeting included the following:

    • Wilson, the official ball of the NCHSAA, will be used in all playoff competition for volleyball, soccer, football, basketball, softball, baseball and tennis. Schools that don’t use the Wilson ball will be penalized for illegal equipment.

    • An increase in fees for officials for five percent will be established every four years starting with the 2020-21 school year.

    • Baseball and softball teams can play doubleheaders with both games lasting five innings, subject to mutual agreement.

    • Wrestlers can take part in two tournaments per day. But there are limits. They can’t exceed any weekly limitations. The two tournaments must be on the same day. Only varsity wrestlers can do this, and only a maximum of three times per season.

    • An annual girls wrestling state tournament was approved. The NCHSAA held its first-ever all-girls wrestling tournament this past season on a trial basis. It drew more than 80 female wrestlers from across the state.

  •     If the Crown Theatre could speak, it surely would have let out a lusty “Hoo-aah!” on Monday, May 19, as the 41-year-old building was renamed and rededicated in honor of our nation’s fighting men and women.
        As local dignitaries, politicians, military officers and enlisted men looked on, a red-white-and-blue ribbon stretching across the front door of the Crown Theater was sliced as easily as a hot bayonet through butter, transforming the facility into the Cumberland County Memorial Auditorium: a true journey through the past as Cumberland County Memorial  Auditorium was the facility’s original name when it was opened way back in 1967 — it was re-christened the Crown Theatre in 2002 by then-CEO Rick Reno for marketing purposes.{mosimage}
        It was only fitting that the man wielding the scissors which gave the Cumberland County Memorial Auditorium back its glory was Sgt. First Class Michael Onstine, who was recently awarded the Silver Star medal for heroics in Iraq. Onstine, despite being wounded in the shoulder and both legs by shrapnel during a pitched battle, held back a band of 20 insurgents single-handedly with cover fire from his M-1 and grenades while his platoon, pinned down by enemy fire, was able to safely withdraw.
        Onstine’s grit and bravery, and that of all soldiers, past and present, who have walked the streets of Fayetteville, and Baghdad and Siagon, was recognized by Dr. Jeannette Council, vice chairman of the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners.
        “Many of the soldiers who served in Vietnam trained here in Fayetteville,” said Council. “And now we are at war again in the desert of Iraq. It is right and appropriate that this complex be renamed in honor of our military. This building is proof of what they have done and how we hold them in our hearts.”
        Lifelong Fayetteville resident Mayor Tony Chavonne invoked the rich past of the complex, citing the many great performers and shows that took place there back in the glory days. You could almost hear the whip snap and the tiger’s roar as Chavonne described the childhood wonder of watching the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus perform inside those brick walls; the mayor even invoked the King, Elvis Presley, who played here, taking with him the hearts of thousands of screaming, swooning women when he finally left the building.
        But the true kings on this day didn’t carry a bullwhip or come adorned in rhinestones: the royalty on this warm, windy morning wore military braid black, burgundy, tan and green berets, and combat boots.
    Eighth District Congressman Robin Hayes wore his own military regalia as he honored the soldiers, particularly those of the 82nd Airborne Division.
        “I am wearing an 82nd Airborne hat and pin today,” said Hayes. “General Bill Caldwell gave me this old, raggedy hat, which I recently wore when we opened a VA hospital in Hamlet.
        “It’s an All-American day as we pay tribute to the men and women who provide us the freedoms and the right to practice our religion,” said Hayes, who added an aside to the recent chapel controversy at Fayetteville’s VA Hospital, “We’re taking care of that little issue at the chapel and we will get it worked out.”
        After the rededication ceremony, entertainment was provided by the internationally renowned 82nd Airborne Division All-American Chorus, which performed such rousing, patriotic numbers as Your’re in the Army Now, Mr. Smith and America The Beautiful, finishing with an appropriate and heartfelt version of Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA.
        On this day, citizens and soldiers were especially proud to be Americans, basking in the glory of the Crown.
  • 19Josiah HopkinsA year ago, Pine Forest’s Josiah Hopkins had his worst round of the regular season in the final match and fell short of winning the Patriot Athletic Conference individual golf championship. Cape Fear boys golf coach Todd Edge entered this season with a young team that included no seniors as he tried to rebound from a second-place finish to Pine Forest last year.

    Both Hopkins and the Cape Fear team found the answers last week during the final regular season conference match at Baywood Golf Club.

    Hopkins shot a final round 74 at Baywood to win both the weekly tournament and the regular season title. It was his lowest round of the season.

    The Cape Fear team completed a sweep of the seven regular-season matches, shooting a 326 on its home course at Baywood.

    “I think one of the main reasons I blew up last year was my mindset wasn’t in the right place,’’ Hopkins said. “I guess you could say my chances were pretty good, but when push comes to shove, I just wanted to have fun this year and give all the glory to God.”

    Hopkins didn’t feel any one part of his physical game made a big difference for him this year. “I don’t hit the ball that far,’’ he said. “I don’t hit the ball that straight. I’m not the best chipper, and I don’t make the most putts.

    “Frankly, there are better golfers in our conference than me. The only thing that separates me from the rest is keeping a good attitude when I hit the bad shots.’’

    Hopkins feels last Monday’s win gives him some momentum entering postseason competition in the regionals and possibly the North Carolina High School Athletic Association state tournament if he or the Pine Forest team manages to qualify.

    “I hope I qualify for the states,’’ he said. “That’s been my goal for this season.’’

    Edge said his team entered this year leaning on the play of junior Colton Danks. “He was the most experienced player coming back,’’ Edge said. “He didn’t have a good sophomore season.’’

    Freshmen Austin White and Mason Starling contributed to the Colt effort in some tournaments this year. Edge also got some good rounds from Luke McCorquodale and Alex Benbenek.

    “We didn’t have the best player every match, but we had four consistent players every match,’’ Edge said. He said he could count on two or three players shooting in the 80 to 85 range every match. Danks turned in a 76 at Baywood last week, his lowest round of the regular season.

    “We played well off each other,’’ Danks said of the Cape Fear team. “We had each other’s backs, and we knew what we were capable of.’’

    Playing the final match of the regular season at Baywood, Cape Fear’s home course, was also a boost, Danks said. “That’s something we looked forward to, that we could finish up at home, having all our parents there to see us win,’’ he said.

    If Cape Fear survives the regional tournament, Danks thinks the Colts could challenge for a top five finish in the NCHSAA championship match.

    “There is going to be a bunch of higher level competition, but I believe we could give it a run,’’ he said. “We are going to have to play with a more defined strategy than we’ve had all year. We’re going to have to be confident and believe in our abilities for us to do well in the postseason.’’

    Here is the Patriot Athletic All-Conference golf team, which is based on order of finish in the regular season. Coach of the year was based on a vote of the head coaches.

    Player of the year: Josiah Hopkins, Pine Forest

    Coach of the year: Todd Edge, Cape Fear

    First team: Josiah Hopkins, Pine Forest; Max Canada, Terry Sanford; Colton Danks, Cape Fear; Spencer Barbour, Terry Sanford; Luke McCorquodale, Cape Fear; Austin White, Cape Fear.

    Second team: Hunter Cole, Gray’s Creek; Walker Shearin, Pine Forest; Mason Starling, Cape Fear; Alex Benbenek, Cape Fear; Chandler Parker, South View.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.