• 17For the past two decades, religious organizations around town have come together right before Thanksgiving to host a service focused on gratitude and being thankful for one another.

    Although COVID-19 canceled last year’s interfaith service, it won’t cancel this year’s plan.

    “I think that the idea here is that it's refreshing to see other viewpoints of what organizations bring in their expressions of gratitude, especially in the week of Thanksgiving,” Daniel Tenrod, the communications director of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

    The congregation that hosts the interfaith service rotates every year. This year, it will be the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that will host the event. In 2019, Beth Israel Congregation hosted the service.

    Tenrod says that at previous interfaith services, close to 100 people will show up from all different types of faiths from the Fayetteville community, and he says each year new people show up.

    Each participating religious congregation will talk at the service and share a special message of gratitude.

    They want to highlight mutual declarations of gratitude, peace and love.

    Participants who will be represented at the Interfaith Thanksgiving Service include Beth Israel Congregation, Courtyard Church of Christ, Fayetteville Friends Monthly Meeting, Holy Trinity Episcopal Church and the St. James Lutheran Church.

    In a newsletter to his congregants, Rabbi Dov Goldberg said that this time can be a place for giving thanks for the blessings everyone has received.

    “Let us come together to lift each other up, not by denying the difficulties we have faced, but by remembering that there is still much good in our lives, and although frequently more socially distanced than we would like, we are not alone,” Goldberg wrote.

    For Tenrod, seeing how people of other faiths express gratitude in their own ways is amazing to see.

    For example, he loves hearing the Hebrew prayers that come from the rabbi of the Beth Israel Congregation and being part of the quiet that comes when the Quakers of the Fayetteville Friends Monthly Meeting pray.

    “Everyone is truly grateful. It's not just something they are saying off their lips. You can feel their sincerity,” Tenrod said.

    After the service, which is typically about an hour-long, there will be a meet and greet reception with light refreshments.

    The event will take place on, Nov. 22 at 7 p.m. at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints off 3200 Scotty Hill Road.

    There will be hand sanitation stations throughout the church and masks are encouraged. There will be security at the event as well, but reservations are not required.

  • 15It is Christmas time in 1944 and the men are away fighting the war. Despite their absence, the Carol sisters are determined to celebrate the season. The three Carol sisters are trying to produce “A Christmas Carol” but are having a hard time without the men. This is the premise for the next Gilbert Theater production.

    “The show is special because it's not going to be one of the same Christmas or holiday shows you can see every year,” said Lawrence Carlisle III, artistic director at the Gilbert Theater.

    The Gilbert Theater began in the basement of Lynn Pryer’s home in 1994. The Gilbert Theater has hosted classical theater productions as well as contemporary pieces. In 2012, Robyne Parrish took over as artistic director of the Gilbert Theater. She started educational programs such as the Gilbert Conservatory, Gilbert Rep and Gilbert Glee Club. She also created a volunteer base for the theater.
    In February 2017, the third artistic director, Matthew Overturf, replaced Robyne Parrish. The Gilbert Theater is a very intimate space. The theater is now located at 116 Green St., above Fayetteville’s Fascinate-U Children Museum. The entrance is on Bow Street.

    Popular in Pennsylvania, this is a newer program.

    It's heartfelt, cute and hilarious, according to the Gilbert Theater. This is the second year performing the show for Gilber Theater and the entire cast is back.

    It gives people another chance to see the musical if they missed it last year due to the pandemic.

    “Performing this musical for the second year, everyone is connecting and having so much fun,” said Eden Kinsey who plays the lead, Lilly Carol. “I love her character. Lilly is a very independent person. She’s telling the story. She is strong-willed and hard-headed."

    Kinsey’s favorite part of “The Carols” is the tap number.

    “I love the music and period pieces.”

    It is a family show with a little bit of everything, including different styles of music. “As always, I hope the audience has fun,” said Carlisle. “The show is full of laughs and heart. It is all about family.”

    “The Carols” will run Nov. 26 – 28, Dec. 3 – 5 and Dec. 17 – Dec. 19. Friday shows begin at 8 p.m.; Saturday shows are at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; Sundays shows begin at 2 p.m. Concessions are available for donation.

    Tickets are $18 and can be purchased at the Gilbert Theater website, gilberttheater.com, or by calling 910-678-7186.

  • 11Military Giving Tuesday is set for its third year of observance on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, which falls on Nov. 30. Its inception began in May of 2019 when three of the Armed Forces Insurance Military Spouse of the Year awardees came together with a shared vision.

    Jessica Manfre, 2019 Coast Guard Spouse of the Year, Maria Reed, 2019 Army Spouse of the Year, and Samantha Gomolka, 2019 National Guard Spouse of the Year “wanted to create something special that would unite all the branches of service in a collective effort to serve with purpose and in kindness.” The #GivingTuesdayMilitary movement was born.
    In its inaugural year, 2019, the campaign utilized hashtags to record over 2.5 million acts of kindness. When Stacy Bilodeau, 2018 Coast Guard Spouse of the Year joined the team in 2020 the movement produced Inspire Up, a 501c3 whose mission is to “Inspire Up a kinder and more giving world by uniting the military and civilian communities through empowerment, education, community building and a commitment to serve,” according to inspireupfoundation.org.

    “It’s not about money, it’s about kindness,” explained Director of Community Engagement and Director of GMT, Brittany Raines, who is a Fort Drum military spouse.
    Local Fort Bragg spouse Tawni Dixon, a member of Fort Bragg’s 2020 Family of the Year, connected to the movement via Raines and with her counterpart Shauna Johnson, together as GMT Ambassadors they are bringing the movement to Fort Bragg.

    They have created a Facebook group (GivingMilitaryTuesday – Fort Bragg) and they are spreading the word via personal networks.

    “We have a really amazing volunteer pool here at Fort Bragg. I think Fort Bragg just has a lot of rock-star-volunteers here and so once you talk about it word just travels really fast,” Dixon said. “We know that Fort Bragg is such a family it has been easy to get the word out.” It’s all about improving the community and bringing smiles to people’s faces.

    “Our motto is dropping kindness all over the center of the military universe. It doesn’t matter how, it can be so simple,” said Dixon

    One example Dixon shared is when, at her place of work, someone placed googly eyes on a debit card payment system and in a few other select places and it made people smile.

    “It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture we just want people to spread kindness.”

    The group has several events planned to further their cause. They will be supporting the Armed Services YMCA’s Operation Holiday Hooah to give out gifts to military families in need, and they will be participating in a packing party and helping to distribute food at the ASYMCA Food Pantry on Nov. 30 in observance of GMT.

    If you are interested in participating and want to get involved, the group can be contacted at givingmilitarytuesdayfortbragg@gmail.com.

    It is open to anyone who wants to volunteer, although events on post may require a DOD ID or entry through All-American Access Control Point.

    “Giving Tuesday is not about being grand… it's really just about being kind in the world,” said Dixon.

  • 10The annual Veterans Day Parade in downtown Fayetteville will kick off Heroes Homecoming week. Cumberland County Veterans Council created Heroes Homecoming in 2011 as a way of showing all veterans that the community remembers and appreciates their courage, sacrifice and everything they did to defend our freedom.

    The parade was canceled in 2020 and all events were limited to being virtual. This year, everything is back and in-person.

    The overall theme this year will be honoring the Armed Forces medical personnel and first responders who served on the front lines over the past 18 months during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Grilley Mitchell, president, Cumberland County Veterans Council, said that the council decided to honor the medical forces earlier this year.

    “They were the ones who were on the front lines treating people and the COVID situation. Not just nationwide but worldwide,” Mitchell said. “They are the heroes of today because they were there on the frontlines doing what was required of them to take care of the sick.”

    The parade will feature several high school marching bands, a number of JROTC groups, military equipment, various organizations, color guards, churches and groups such as the Shriners. They will also feature members of the Fort Bragg community, including the 18th Airborne Corps and the U. S. Special Operations Command.According to the Cumberland County Veterans Council, there are about 52,000 veterans that live in Cumberland County.

    That doesn’t include the Fort Bragg population of 545,926 soldiers and their 70,000 family members.

    The two honorees this year are Sgt. Maj. Jacob "Jake" Roth and 1st Sgt. Lawrence "Bud" Wilson. Both Roth and Wilson are Korean War Prisoners of War.

    “They are my heroes. Those two guys are living heroes,” Mitchell said. “They are living legends that you get to actually thank them in person for their sacrifice. I work with both of them, every time I'm with those guys, it's an honor and pleasure to be with them.”

    The parade will kick off Nov. 6 at 10 a.m. and will take place on Hay Street by the Airborne and Special Operations Museum and end at Cool Spring and Person Streets, behind the courthouse.

    Following the parade will be the City of Fayetteville’s Veterans Day Ceremony at the North Carolina Veterans Park.

    Spectators are recommended to arrive early in order to find parking. Mitchell asks that people come out, have a good time and show appreciation to the military and the city’s veterans.

  • Editor's Note: Small Business Saturday is a national initiative started in 2010 by American Express. It is observed on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and is designed to highlight small businesses. This shopping guide is not exhaustive, so, be sure to venture out and check in with all of your local favorites to see if they are offering specials. All offers listed are subject to change without notice and are subject to supply availability. For any additional details please reach out to the individual businesses.
    A Bit of Carolina
    A Bit of Carolina will be offering 20% off all Simply Southern items, a free gift with every $50 purchase and free gift wrapping. They will also be featuring two local jewelry vendors and be giving out refreshments, Saturday only. A Bit of Carolina is a specialty gift shop carrying everything North Carolina-themed. They are located in Downtown Fayetteville at 306 Hay St. They are open Monday to Saturday from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
    Apple Crate Natural Market
    Apple Crate Natural Market will be offering $20 off of every $100 spent at their store, Saturday only. They focus on nutrition supplements, vitamins and specialty and organic foods. They have two locations, 2711 Raeford Road which is open on Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. – 8 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. The other location, located off 5430 Camden Road Suite #103 is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
    Bragg Unique Boutique
    The Bragg Unique Boutique Gift Shop will be offering 25% off all wholesale for the entire month of November, as well as a chance to win a $10 gift card for every $30 you spend. The BUB is part of the Association of Bragg Spouses and is supported by ABS Volunteers. They sell gifts, handmade items and specialty items. All profits go directly to the ABS Scholarship and Welfare Funds. They are open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Their website, bragg-unique-boutique.square.site is also available 24/7. They are located on Fort Bragg at Bldg 2-2211 Woodruff St.
    The Pickin Coop Antique Mall
    This shopping center will be offering 10% – 25% off on certain dealers on Friday and Saturday. Their vendors sell antiques, primitives, farmhouse items, painted furniture and unique gifts. They are open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. They are located at 708 Ramsey St.
    City Center Gallery & Books
    This vintage and used book shop will be offering a 25% discount on their vintage and rare collectibles. Everything from Truman Capote’s "A Christmas Memory" in a slip-cover ($20) to a first-edition of Willa Cather’s "My Antonia" ($375). They offer a wide selection of quality used books, vintage black and white pictures and local art. They are located in Downtown Fayetteville at 112 Hay St. and are open daily from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., until 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 1 – 6 p.m. on Sunday.
    The Downtown Market of Fayetteville
    Shoppers who spend $50 or more will be gifted a box of truffles from the Carolina Chocolate Lady while supplies last. A small local-centric grocery and gift shop, The Downtown Market of Fayetteville works directly with farmers, producers, artisans, bakers, anglers, ranchers and others to offer locally sourced healthy products to the Fayetteville community. In addition, The Downtown Market of Fayetteville is home to an award-winning florist. They offer weekly delivery on all items stocked on their website to Fayetteville, Fort Bragg, Raeford and Hope Mills. 
    Dragon's Lair Comics
    This local comic book store will be offering  50% – 90% off select comic books, Saturday only. Dragon’s Lair Comics has been a part of the Fayetteville community for over 40 years. This store is open Monday through Sunday, typically from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. and is located at 6243 
    Yadkin Road.
    The Fayetteville Doulas
    The Fayetteville Doulas boutique will be offering 10% off all online orders on Saturday. The Fayetteville Doulas is a doula agency focused on families in the surrounding Fayetteville area. They offer classes and services to expectant and new moms. They are located at 2018 Fort Bragg Road and their boutique website is tfdboutique.com.
    Heritage Jewelers
    Heritage Jewelers will be offering sales on all items, including gold, pearls and diamonds on Friday and Saturday. Military and custom repairs will be excluded from the sale. Heritage Jewelers is a veteran-owned business. They are known for military custom jewelry, like the Special Forces Ring. They are open 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and are open 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturdays. They are located at 114 Westwood Shopping Center.
    Leclair's General Store
    Leclair's General Store will be offering store visitors 15% off of three or more bottles of wine/packs of beer, 10% off Leclair's apparel, and for every $25 spent customers will be given a raffle ticket that enters them into a raffle for a gift basket of curated goods from Leclair's General Store. Leclair's is located in the heart of Haymount at 1212 Fort Bragg Road. They offer a unique selection of coffee, wine, craft beers, specialty groceries, vintage decor, antiques, art, jewelry and local goods. They are open Monday to Saturday, 8 a.m. – 7 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    Pressed - A Creative Space
    For the whole weekend, Pressed will have sales in their shop and online. T-shirts will be buy one, get one half off; crystal bracelets will be buy two, get one free; all crystals will be 30% off. On Monday, their website will be 30% off as well. Pressed sells clothing, crystals and other items of interest for those who see things differently. They are a veteran-owned business in Downtown Fayetteville. They are open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. and are located at 120 Hay St.
    Renaissance Day Spa
    Renaissance Day Spa will be offering a 10% discount off all retail in their recently opened holiday boutique, Saturday only. Their little store is filled with gifts and stocking stuffers to give to loved ones. They are open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. They are located at 1534 Purdue Drive.
    The Rock Guns & Accessories
    The Rock will be having several sales including 30% off all Kydex gun holders, 10% off all Cerakote, 50% off knife sharpening and they will have 50% off select merchandise such as t-shirts. The Rock Guns is a Special Forces veteran-owned business. Their aim is to provide the best products and services to customers in order to meet their firearms needs and build a community around the advancement of firearms knowledge. They are located at 6113 Yadkin Road and are open this Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
    Rude Awakening Coffee
    Rude Awakening Coffee will be giving out a free keychain with every gift card purchase as well as donating all coffee bean sales to Connections of Cumberland County, an organization that focuses on giving resources to women and women with children who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness. Rude Awakening will also be featuring their Mexican Spice Mocha for the weekend. They are located at 227 Hay St. and are open from 7:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.
    Sweet Tea Shakespeare 
    Sweet Tea Shakespeare, a theater company, will be offering special deals on brand new merchandise on their website, as well as an exclusive buy one, get one free discount on upcoming shows. This sale will only be available on Saturday. This non-profit company focuses on gathering a diverse community around a common table to delight in the magic of story, song and stagecraft. Their website is sweetteashakespeare.com/shop/#store.
    Guiding Wellness Institute
    Guiding Wellness Institute is launching a new Live Well Lifestyle Boutique on Saturday. At 9 a.m. there will be a Warm Flow class and shopping in the boutique will be open after. The Guiding Wellness Institute is offering 21% off of purchases over $21 and giving free tickets to their Live Well Day Retreat being held Jan. 2, 2022, with boutique purchases over $210. The boutique offers athleisure wear, yoga mats, journals, natural skincare, candles, teas and more. The Institute is located at 143 Skateway Drive.
    White Trash & Colorful Accessories 

    White Trash will be offering buy-one-get-one 50% off, Mantra Scarves and free "bah humbug" wine glass for anyone who spends $30 or more. For anyone who spends $50 or more they are offering a tote bag that says "rose all day" and anyone who spends $100 or more will get a free tote bag that says “underestimate me, that’ll be fun.” The sale is on Saturday only. White Trash & Colorful Accessories sells a collection of items from greeting cards to artist jewelry. They are located at 223 Franklin St. and are open from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m, Monday through Saturday.

  • 11The Fort Bragg 10-Miler event is officially kicking off this week after several cancellations over the last two years due to the pandemic.

    The run’s goal is to encourage a healthy lifestyle not just among soldiers, but with family and people outside of the military community as well.

    Jennifer Fayson, the Fort Bragg special events coordinator, said that they are excited to hold the event, especially since this run was initially canceled earlier this year and the All-American Marathon was canceled.

    “It's our first big event since 2019. You know, it's a fun event for the troops and for their family,” Fayson said. “They're able to go and participate in something fitness-wise and actually increase the morale of the base.”

    One registrant who has already started training for the run is 2019’s 10-Miler winner, Capt. Daniel Schlich. As of last week, Schlich was running laps at the Hedrick Stadium on base.

    “So starting about four or five months out, we run. I start out probably about 40 miles a week, get up to about 60 or 70 miles a week, running six days, seven days a week,” Schlich said.

    Schlich says he is hoping to run the 10 miles within 52 minutes. In 2019, he ran the race at 52 minutes and 20 seconds. That means he averaged five minutes and 14 seconds for every mile.

    Fayson however says this race is open to everybody, not just the people with speed and a great run history.

    “We also have people with strollers out here, people that bring their kids out here. So it’s all ability levels,” Fayson said.

    For those who are just starting, or may be interested in running the 10-miler for the first time, Schlich says that it’s all about your mindset.

    “I would say pacing is probably the biggest thing because most people, if you haven't ran too much or you haven't been running recently, you got kind of a race mindset. Everyone starts out really fast and you just go way too fast and burn yourself out. So you really have to pace yourself,” Schlich said.

    The race will kick off on Nov. 6 at 8 a.m. Registration for the race closes, Nov. 5, 7 p.m. and there will be no race-day registration.

    So far, over 600 people have signed up for the race, but there is space for up to 1,500 people to register.

    “I’m eager to get back out there, run a race with other people,” Schlich said. “Being able to have a crowd outside, you know, cheering you on to do your best.”

    The race will start at Sports USA and runners will go down Long Street, go down Gruber Road, turn around and come back and finish. For those who just want to watch the event, there will be music and a ‘finish fest’ for those who finish the race. Fayson warns that roads will be closed for a majority of the day starting at 6 a.m., so people will be asked to park at the Womack Hospital parking lot and then walk over to the run site.

    Registration will include an event t-shirt, a finisher coin and a tab for a free beer.

  • 09Throughout the year Gallery 208 exhibits contemporary works of art which include a variety of themes, techniques to express ideas, styles ranging from representational to nonobjective abstraction and exhibits that can often be challenging. Yet rarely do we have an exhibit about beauty.

    Beauty, especially if it relates to the figure, can be a problematic subject: we each see beauty differently and images of beauty have been marketed in ways that result in stereotypes. Yet it is still important in the human psyche to experience beauty. For example, we welcome the beauty of sunshine after many days of overcast and rainy weather.

    Beautiful Strangeness: Photographs by Kyle Harding opens Nov. 9, at 5:30 p.m. at Gallery 208 and is an exhibit that explores the beautiful strangeness of being a child, any child, or our own experiences as a child. The challenge for Harding was to enable us to go beyond a family portrait and experience a universal time that should have been filled with wonder, mystery and simple pleasures in the smallest events, ordinary objects and everyday activities.

    Harding earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Art Education, with a concentration in photography, from East Carolina University in 2008 and earned a Master in Art Education at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke in 2017. A public art schoolteacher, adjunct faculty at Fayetteville State University, mother of two young children, married with a large family of in-laws, and a daughter and niece to her immediate family, Harding is a very busy individual.

    Intermittently she takes time to focus on what is happening during the daily and never-ending experiences of being around her two young daughters as an artist. As an artist, she tries to see past the familial and capture the universal.

    After being invited to participate in the 2021 Art Faculty Biennial in Rosenthal Gallery at FSU, Harding shared the following in her artist statement: “I chose a subject I am most passionate about at this time in my life: my 4-year-old and 7-year-old daughters." The selections in the exhibit are part of a larger body of work to capture universal themes with my children as the subject: innocence, reflection, play, hope, and vulnerability. In a larger context, I hope the photographs have the power to evoke memories for everyone of what it means to be a child and to remember the strange beauty of the world around us when we were children.”

    One of the many reasons for visitors to attend the opening of Beautiful Strangeness at Gallery 208 is to meet the artist and enjoy how a photograph, by an art photographer, can go beyond the subject. Harding’s main objective is making an artistic statement through a photograph – photography is used as a medium for creative expression, to express an idea, a message, or an emotion.

    A definition of fine art photography involves bringing a vision, emotion, or a state of mind to life through a photographed image.

    It involves creating something that previously only lived in your mind, as opposed to simply capturing what you see in an artistic way.

    In Beautiful Strangeness, Harding has selected images from activities we would take for granted and elevated the cropped images to convey states of mind through the photographed image.

    In the photograph titled "Three Amigos," the viewer is looking down on two sets of small bare feet standing on cement, the two front legs of a spotted short-haired dog are between the children.

    The legs of the children are captured below the knees and cascade into the photo from the top edge, almost as if thin columns on each side of the photo. Thin, yet muscular front legs of the dog are combined to create repeating pairs of legs and feet, all related in some unknown way while individually anchored to their placement on the

    In "Three Amigos", like the rest of the photographs in the exhibit, visitors will enjoy the ways in which Harding’s keen or heightened sense of seeing brings vision and states of mind to life through the photographed image.

    She has successfully shared with us a way to see the world that we may have forgotten is possible.

    In "Sadie with Sunglasses", Harding has photographed a close-up of a young Sadie wearing a seemingly large pair of sunglasses. The face is relaxed and almost expressionless, the child’s eyes are hidden. Details of the hair, sunglasses and gathered printed shirt contrast with an out-of-focused and minimal background. The smooth surface of the skin echoes the minimalism of the background tone but is brighter - the smooth fullness of youth presents itself as a natural and emerging, volumetric form.

    Harding has only included black and white photos in the exhibit for several traditional reasons. Color can distract us from what the photograph is about. When you remove color the emphasis of an image shifts to other compositional elements like contrast, texture, lighting, and form. Viewers are no longer seeing something familiar in color, but a different version of reality.

    One in which black and white photography is more interpretative.

    Harding combines the above advantages of a black and white photograph with its other potential of seeming timelessness. By cropping the figures and often showing us only parts, she used fragments to suggest a larger story.

    In each photograph, we see how a story symbolically overlaps or unfolds into another one. Each picture is a fleeting memory, a momentary experience. We can sense the lives of those in the photograph or remember our own lives as interconnected stories we may have taken for granted.

    Harding brings us back to those moments in time, photograph by photograph.

    I am confident visitors to Beautiful Strangeness: Photographs by Kyle Harding will leave the exhibit happier than when they arrived at Gallery 208. One cannot help but smile when we connect ourselves to innocence, joyfulness, and hope.

    The public is invited to attend the opening of Beautiful Strangeness: Photographs by Kyle Harding on Nov. 9 at Gallery 208 between 5:30 – 7 p.m.

    Gallery 208 is located at Up and Coming Weekly, 208 Rowan Street in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

    The exhibit will remain up until the end of December. Gallery hours are Monday – Thursday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. For information call 910-484-6200.

  • 13Carl Pringle has roots in the Fayetteville community. Pringle's mother was raised here, and in 1993 Pringle moved to Fayetteville from Washington D. C. He is a father of four, a daughter and three sons. His sons also live in Fayetteville. Pringle retired from the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Plant five years ago.

    While in Washington D. C., Pringle was deeply impressed by Party At The Park, a series of community events held in the area. Upon his arrival to Fayetteville, he sought to recreate these events with the plan to create "some positive" in the community.

    The events, which involved renting out parks and hiring a D. J. to provide a safe, fun and positive space, were smaller in attendance than he hoped. But even with smaller numbers, they were creating the positive he was looking to manifest.

    A party-in-the-park-goer stopped after one event to thank Pringle for organizing the event. It was then that Pringle realized it wasn't about the number of attendees, but about making the best of those who had made it out for the event.

    This event and that realization were just the beginning. Pringle has built a community of helpers, and together they selflessly give back to his mother's hometown. Together they help where they can when they can. His main event has come together over seven Thanksgivings.

    Seven years ago, Pringle stopped in at a local restaurant to purchase plates of food for a family in need during the holidays, and each year the measure by which he and his community give back has been amplified.

    The theme of his Thanksgiving event has evolved into We Are 1 Big Family. Pringle explains that many different groups, motorcycle clubs, and groups from throughout the community have become part of the family and the team over the years.

    "We don't care who is doing it; we look at the mission on hand," Pringle said. "We try to touch as many people as we can."

    Last year when Operation Turkey was canceled due to COVID-19, Pringle's group stepped up to deliver over 1000 plates to families in Spring Lake and an additional 500 to 600 plates in Lumberton.
    In addition, he created Lunch On Us. Carl and his army of community-minded helpers handed out food plates across different locations in Fayetteville for twenty-seven weeks on Sundays.

    They served chicken, hot dogs, burgers, anything they could get their hands on to cook in support of feeding the community.

    "If you can kill it, I can cook it," Pringle explained.

    The hope was to fill the gap that school meals and weekend events might miss for hungry families in the community. The event is ongoing but has shifted to one Sunday every month.

    "I didn't want to burn out the volunteers," Pringle said.

    The Lunch On Us crew currently serves free lunch to those in need on the corner of Bragg Boulevard and Johnson Street. This location serves a purpose. Pringle strategically hands out meals at this

    intersection near the Bonnie Doone community because he feels this is a place in need.

    Pringle explained the nearest safe spaces, Westover Recreation Center and College Lakes Recreation Center are too far to walk to.

    14Pringle said that the Bonnie Doone area is a place that needs "some positive."

    Pringle hopes one day to purchase a home in this area to create an extension of a safe space, a place where everyone who walks into the yard can leave the negative behind.

    "When they walk in the yard, they are in a safe place," Pringle explained. "The best way to bring people's property values up is to invest in our communities."

    This year Thanksgiving will see Pringle and his crew serving the community as they have for the last six years. They will be plating up turkey, stuffing and rolls; the vegetables will vary. These meals are available for pick-up and delivery for individuals and families.

    "We try to touch as many people as we can," Pringle said. "Everybody comes together; they are all part of the family."

    This year food will be plated and distributed from the team's base station at 541 Bonanza Dr. (behind Ponderosa Shopping Center).

    Individuals looking for a warm Thanksgiving plate or those who want to donate or volunteer and support the We are 1 Big Family event can reach Pringle via Facebook or at 910-584-0203.

    "Please help us help others," Pringle said.

  • 12Founder of Cora's Community Foundation, Rakeem "Keem" Jones, has organized a community event to "ensure that no family goes hungry or cold during the holiday season," taking place Nov. 21, at Segra Stadium from 2 – 6 p.m.

    Cora's Community Foundation and Southern CC Inc. have partnered together for this community event, entitled "Everybody Eats," as a form of community service and unity with the city of Fayetteville.
    Cora's Community Foundation's mission is listed on charitynavigator.org as “spiritual, educational and economic empowerment of underserved youth, families and other at-risk residents in Cumberland County, North Carolina.” Southern CC Inc. is described on their website “as a non-profit organization whose sole mission is to empower homeless veterans by rebuilding and revitalizing communities — while providing a network of support to assist homeless veterans and residents rebuild their lives.”

    The event will also honor veterans, from 10 a.m. — 2 p.m. by showing Veteran Awareness Films centered around human trafficking, autism awareness and cryptocurrency.

    Jones asserts that Everybody Eats shows that Fayetteville creates more opportunities through citizen and community effort by coming together in unity for the holidays.

    "I remember the different holiday events all over the city. However, I remember my mom not having transportation to get to them," Jones said. "So I felt there should be one major event rather than multiple events."

    Everybody Eats is offering resources and supplies for families to make it through the following months as winter sets in as well as support in recovering from the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    "We will have resources to assist with rent, utilities, education, job placement, clothing/hygiene," Jones listed. "Health and wellness, veteran services and youth services, along with food and winter items."

    As a community leader, Jones’ self-proclaimed mission is to guarantee that Everybody Eats because "COVID hurt more than the homeless population... everybody was affected drastically. That's why this event is called Everybody Eats.”

    Jones chose Segra Stadium for the event based on convenience for those traveling.

    "Segra Stadium is the perfect location because of the amount of space. Furthermore, on a personal note, I wanted to show people that grew up with me, or like me, that you can do anything you put your mind and heart to," Jones said. "Don't ever let anybody tell you what you can't do."

    Jones encourages the community to support the homeless population and those who may suffer from the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    "I feel like if we come together as a community, we can help the community," Jones said.

    For more information or to help support the Everybody Eats event, contact Jones at 910-709-0826 or rjjones5045@gmail.com or Tony Brown at 910-568-5165 or contact@southernccinc.org.

  • Second Harvest Food Pantry supports southeast North Carolina

    09Action Pathway opened in Cumberland County almost 40 years ago. During that time, they evolved into the Second Harvest Food Bank. They are a partner of Feeding America and serve those in Cumberland, Bladen, Duplin, Harnett, Hoke, Robeson and Sampson counties.

    David Griffin, the Action Pathways Food Bank Director, says they service 196 agencies and organizations daily. With COVID-19 impacting so many people last year, Second Harvest Food Bank saw an increase in need. Last year they distributed 14.6 million pounds of food.

    “We saw a 40 percent increase in first-time pantry usage at our agencies and at distribution,” Griffin said. They will be hosting a mass food distribution to anyone who needs it at the Smith Recreation Center, near Fayetteville State University. It will be a drive-thru distribution and they will be providing produce, canned food and meat. The food will hopefully last families at least a week.

    The mass distribution will take place on Nov. 20 and will start around 9:30 a.m. It will be first-come, first-serve. They will have enough food for 250 households and will serve no more than 2 households per car. Second Harvest is also collecting items at this time.

    They are looking for donations of canned foods, cereal and non-perishables at this time — including hygiene products and household items.

    People can also volunteer their time with Second Harvest. Griffin said that they are looking for people with all different types of skillsets to help volunteer. This can be clerical work, social media/marketing skills or just helping to hand out food at a distribution site. Volunteers are welcome at any time of the year, not just during the holiday season.

    “We continue to bring food to those underserved in our communities,” Griffin said. “It doesn't stop with the holidays, it goes on all 12 months of the year.”

    Another distribution event is planned in December in Cumberland County. Griffin said they are still working on details, but they hope to help at least 1,200 people by bringing in three 18-wheeler trucks full of food. If you want to volunteer your time, donate food, or if you need help, their contact number is 910-485-6923.

    Fayetteville Technical Community College Food Pantry supports local students

    10The Fayetteville Technical College Food Pantry started exactly a year ago opening its doors on November 17, 2020. The FTCC Food Pantry was born in an unexpected manner when it came to light that a sociology professor had been keeping a small pantry of items for students in need in her office. Worsened by the impact of the pandemic it became clear that FTCC students needed extra support in the wake of lost jobs and financial insecurity.

    “It kind of magically happened,” explained Sandy Ammons, executive director, FTCC Foundations. The FTCC Food Pantry is placing specific attention on their need for gift cards this holiday season.

    The Christmas season is of more immediate concern to the FTCC Food Pantry because it stretches over a longer period of time than the Thanksgiving break. Additionally, while harder to come by food items such as canned hams and meats are being requested for donation, the food pantry has a mix of students who use their services ranging from families to single students. Gift cards allow for more flexibility in how they are able to support their students in need. Some folks just enjoy the experience of shopping to help others, so all donations are welcomed. “We are just grateful,” Ammons said of any donations received.

    The FTCC Food Pantry is set up like a grocery store; students can shop from shelves that are stocked with food, household items, personal care and baby items. To be eligible, students must be currently enrolled in classes and have a valid FTCC ID. Students can stop in at the FTCC Food Bank fill out a short form explaining their need and circumstances and help follows.

    The Food Pantry is located on the backside of the Horace Sisk Building (HOS) 2204 Hull Road, Fayetteville, NC 28303. Donations are dropped off at a separate location from the Food Pantry.

    Those wishing to make donations of food and other personal care items are asked to bring those items to the Property Control Office located at 284 Hull Road, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. To donate money or gift cards, contact the FTCC Foundation at 910.678-8441 or foundation@faytechcc.edu; to donate to the FTCC Food Pantry, visit www.faytechcc.edu/giving/give-now/; to learn more about the FTCC Food Pantry, visit www.faytechcc.edu/giving/food-pantry/.

    Fort Bragg's Armed Services YMCA Food Pantry

    11In October of 2019, the Armed Services YMCA at Fort Bragg opened a food pantry for all service members regardless of rank. The ASYMCA Food Pantry helps address food insecurity for active-duty military families and area veterans.

    “The program is a ‘client choice’ model where patrons can shop from a variety of well-balanced perishable and non-perishable items,” explained Jeremy Hester, executive director, ASYMCA Fort Bragg.

    The food pantry is open on Wednesdays and Fridays as well as one Saturday a month. Participants are able to register online to schedule a visit to the pantry once a month. The program is confidential and referrals are not needed for junior enlisted service members, families and veterans. Senior enlisted and officers will need a signed memorandum from a commander.
    The ASYMCA Food Pantry always welcomes support and finds that monetary donations are most helpful, but they will also welcome food drives or drop-off donations.

    Donations can be dropped at 2411 Rodney Trail, Building #2, on Fort Bragg. Monetary donations can be made at fortbragg.asymca.org/give/340604/#!/donation/checkout.

    With the upcoming holiday season, the best way to find out what is needed and what is happening is to follow AFYMCA on Facebook and Instagram. Donation needs vary week to week and a weekly wishlist is released on Facebook every Wednesday.

    Families can register on the website for the food pantry and a turkey giveaway. There will be extended hours and weekend hours during the holiday months. Whatever the needs of service members and their families during this holiday season, the ASYMCA is geared up to help.

    “We want all families in the community to reach out to us no matter rank or situation; especially during the holidays, we are here to help everyone,” Hester said.

    Hester added that even if families are not able to register online, the ASYMCA is open 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. Families are free to call or come by to see how the AFYMCA can assist, whether it’s with the Food Pantry or any of the other programs they have available. Additional information and registration for service members in need can be found at www.asymca.org/what-we-do-fort-bragg.

  • nov18-maxwell-fam.jpgThere is no shortage of people in our area who live their faith daily so I rarely have difficulty writing my article. I usually have more difficulty getting it to the editors than actually compiling the information. However, this week I wrestled with what to write because I wanted to do this particular story justice.

    Like so many others in this area, I experienced a sense of overwhelming sadness and disbelief after hearing the tragic news about the Maxwell family. As a former English teacher at Village Christian Academy, I felt connected to my former students and coworkers who knew and loved the family, though I personally did not. I felt helpless. I wanted to cry. I wanted to try to make sense of things.

    Instead, I made a phone call. I made a phone call to Village Christian and spoke with the one person I felt I could reach out to and that was Kimet Montooth, middle school principal.

    The first question she asked me was, “Did you teach Connor?” I had not. My first question to her was, “Do you need help with grief counseling because that’s all I know to do?”

    She responded to my offer with gratitude and appreciation. We spoke briefly and ended our conversation.

    What I have read and heard about the Maxwell family for the past week is what compelled me to honor them in this way. They are all individuals who loved the Lord and served him to the best of their ability. They were, in life, truly faces of faith in our community and in the lives of others they so deeply touched. In death, they remain the same faces of faith because their faith and trust in the Lord determined their heavenly home. “For to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”

    Rest in peace, Maxwell family.

  • 13When it comes to Cool Spring Downtown District, there is a new kid on the block.

    In the spot formerly occupied by The Coffee Cup, 108 Hay St., Vagabond Café is putting down roots.

    The owner, Nancy Ramos, was bit by the coffee bug while working as a barista in a popular coffee chain during her undergraduate college days. She participated in coffee tastings, read up, attended more training all in an effort to make the best cup of coffee.

    Coffee is her passion.

    Ramos was a coffee enthusiast in college, but it wasn’t until 2019 that she bought the espresso machine she uses now. Six months after the purchase she started her company. When the opportunity arose to buy a camper van she took a chance.

    She then turned it into the mobile Vagabond Café.

    By January 2021, she was working her business full time.

    Luckily for Vagabond Café the business was not really impacted by COVID-19.

    “We are mobile, so no one was coming into a shop,” Ramos explains.

    Ramos’ dedication to the perfect cup of coffee is not just lip service.

    Her coffee beans are single source, direct trade produce, and Ramos has close relationships with everyone from the farmer to her roaster. This ensures a high quality, fresh cup of coffee every time.

    She is passionate about the process.

    “I like the coffee itself and the science behind it,” Ramos said. “It is a lot more than brewing coffee. Different regions roast coffee beans to bring out the notes the coffee was meant to have. I like the interaction,” Ramos said. “I sell an experience people cannot get anywhere else.”

    Ramos’s coffee beverages are unlike any other coffee served on Hay Street now. Her Mexican heritage is the inspiration for some of her coffees.

    Utilizing ingredients and flavors familiar to her such as those she imports from places such as Teocaltiche in the Mexican state of Jalisco.

    She has created specialty drinks such as “Frida” which is a hibiscus tea and cold brew. Her mother passed down a recipe for “Horta” which is popular. The drink is milk-based with cinnamon and espresso.

    Ramos strives to use authentic ingredients. “I also use Mexican cinnamon, “said Ramos. She will also have pastries available in the shop and is currently talking to a
    local baker.

    “We love seeing our vendors leap from mobile units to storefronts,” said Bianca Shoneman, CEO, Cool Spring Downtown District.

    “When we set out to host the District Summer Market, we designed it to be an incubator for our vendors so they could move up the entrepreneurial food chain," Shoneman said. "It’s a pleasure to see Nancy grow in her business, especially in downtown Fayetteville.”

    When asked if she will continue to use the camper, Ramos said very enthusiastically, “Absolutely, it is the heart of the company.”

    Ramos views her company as a great success.

    “It isn’t all about the money,” explained Ramos. “It makes me happy to change people’s mindset about wanting specialty coffee.”

    Bringing her Latin heritage to the Cool Spring Downtown District is something Ramos finds very exciting.

    There will be 2 – 3 employees working hard to create scrumptious beverages for Vagabond's patrons.

    Vagabond Café’s grand opening will be Nov. 5. The shops hours of operation will be Monday — Saturday from 7:30 a.m. — 6 p.m.

  • There is a distinct joyfulness in the watercolors and oil paintings of Joanna McKethan. Brilliant colors and highly detailed subjects exude11-10-10-gallery-208.gif states of grace, sensation and sentiment.

    Visitors to Gallery 208 on Rowan Street, Thursday, November 18, will be able to get a preview of the exhibition Works by Joanna McKethan and meet the artist between 5:30 and 7:00 p.m. The artist will be speaking at 6:00 p.m. to give visitors to the reception insight into her journey as an artist.

    McKethan resides in Dunn, North Carolina, and has a studio and business in Dunn where she has taught painting for many years. A regular visitor to Fayetteville, some of her local activities include being a juror for the Fayetteville Art Guild, studying printmaking with Silvana Foti at Methodist University and winning two Regional Artist Grants at the Arts Council of Fayetteville and Cumberland County.

    I met the artist recently during her gallery talk after she had juried a competition for the Fayetteville Arts Guild. Seeing an exhibition of her work only affi rmed what I already knew of the artist from that initial meeting, she was highly trained and able to verbally discuss works of art in a critical manner.

    In addition, what I see in her exhibition is a body of work that refl ects a personality that was communicated during her gallery talk — exuberance and competence.

    No matter what the subject she is painting, still lifes or landscapes, there are several underlying themes in her work — one is the unfolding of beauty. McKethan calls her style “playful realism,” but I sensed much deeper meaning when I viewed her body of work. For me there is something always unfolding for us to discover among her subjects of feathers, leaves, bubbles or old letters.

    In talking to McKethan, she affi rmed her intuitive approach to painting; response overrules planning. In many of her works the placement of objects unifi es the composition, all the pieces fit to make a whole that results in a type of truth for the viewer.

    The abundance of beauty in McKethan’s paintings invites contemplation. We are immediately drawn to the color and the subject; the signifi cance of play, balance and harmony are spring boards to the essence of meaning in her work.

    The inner harmony of McKethan’s paintings is subtle; the truth in her work is revealed by the way she has come to terms with her environment with selected interest and is presenting that discovery to us. In the process of painting, the artist has attained equilibrium with her environment, one that brings new and fresh adjustments for the viewer.

    For example, a magnolia leaf in McKethan’s painting is not simply green or brown, but for McKethan is “layers of bronzed metallic colors.” McKethan stated, “I see the depth of the color, not just color in terms of brightness.”

    The artist shows us a new environment from the familiar. Her objective study of the objects in her still lifes becomes an experience that moves away from the descriptive and aligns itself with interpretation — equilibrium is always present.

    A well trained artist, McKethan’s experience in art spans thirty years. She studied art at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, but left the university with a BS in Philosophy. While living in Germany, McKethan undertook three years of Old Masters training in oils by a German master, Bergheim and watercolor training at the University of Munich Extension by a Polish master, Leon Jonczyk.

    Some of her awards include the Salis International Award from the 59th Juried Exhibition in Boone, NC, the Silver Brush Award for the 25th Southern Watercolor Society Anniversary Exhibition in Baton Rouge, LA, two Regional Artists Grants from the Fayetteville and Cumberland County Arts Council and the Purchase Award from the Watercolor Society of North Carolina in Cary.

    When not being exhibited in galleries and competitions around the country, McKethan’s paintings hang at two of her galleries, j’Originals’ Art Studio at 126 East Broad Street in Dunn and at Art on Broad Atelier at 217 East Broad in Dunn.

    In the McLeod Gallery at Up & Coming Weekly, local artist A. Jones Rogers will also be having a reception of a solo exhibition of his watercolors.

    A. Jones Rogers has been exhibiting his large format watercolors in Fayetteville galleries for many years, so I welcome a body of his work to be viewed at one time. Rogers is known for his close attention to detail, panoramic views of local sites and historical moments in time.

    Rogers’s watercolors seem to be more about the details of a moment. In all of his work I feel as if I am in the moment of his experience. Seeing details through the eyes of the artist, I scan his watercolor surfaces as he creates form and story with particulars, information and fi ne points of color and light.

    Like McKethan, Rogers has received many awards for his watercolors; one of his recent awards was a fi rst place award last year for Cargill Plant in the Fayetteville Arts Council’s Cultural Expressions competition and a first place award in this years competition at the Cape Fear Studios on Maxwell Street.

    People attending the reception will be able to meet this enigmatic artist. I have seen his large scale watercolor for years in exhibitions, yet only recently met the artist. So for people familiar with the work, it is their chance to hear the artist talk about his work and his journey as an artist. For those unfamiliar with his work, it will be a perfect time to meet an accomplished local, realist artist.

    The two exhibitions compliment each other. Both artists are a testimony to the types of knowledge we can experience as an artist translates and manipulates a similar medium.

    The public is invited to Gallery 208 in the offi ces of Up & Coming Weekly at 208 Rowan Street, Nov. 18 at 5:30 p.m. to attend the opening of these two exhibits. Both artists will be present to talk about their work; exhibitions will remain up throughout the month of December.

  • 10In the tradition of Charles Dickens’ classic short story, “A Christmas Carol”, the annual A Dickens Holiday is a Victorian-era holiday shopping and entertainment celebration held in historic Downtown Fayetteville. A Dickens Holiday is intended to encourage the community to shop and support local businesses during the holiday shopping season.

    This is the twenty-second year that the Arts Council of Fayetteville, through support from the City of Fayetteville, Cumberland County, and the North Carolina Arts Council has planned the event. Vendors line both sides of Hay Street selling a diverse range of goods from hand-knit scarves to metal sculptures, local honey to flavored popcorn — the artisans offer unique products. Shoppers can grab one-of-a-kind gifts to put under the tree.

    Vickie Toledo used to be a patron, now she is a vendor, The Crafty Rooster. She has been a patron for 16 years and a vendor for four years.

    “I love the theme and the people who dress up. It makes it so much more fun than a holiday craft fair,” said Toledo. “It's a craft fair in the era of Dickens, with all the characters from A Christmas Carol, carriage rides and cider, a beautiful candle-lit march down Hay Street and more. It’s a blast.”

    A Dickens Holiday is considered the kickoff event for the holiday season bringing together the best that Fayetteville has to offer. Each year, thousands of onlookers join in the Hay Street festivities.
    Following guidance from the Cumberland County Health Department and in light of COVID-19, the Arts Council’s Board of Trustees has taken a cautious approach to this year’s celebration by encouraging social distancing and offering a lower density of crafters, artists and vendors for the event. Also due to COVID-19, the Dickens candlelight procession to the Market House and firework display will not take place this year.

    There will be street performances by Michael Daughtry, David Nikkel, Coventry Carolers, Highland Brass Ensemble and others. In addition, there will be festive holiday performances by the English Country Line Dancers, a solo violinist, Gilbert Glee, a magician, Highland Brass Ensemble, a stilt walker, Oakwood Waits Double Ensemble, Anthony Sutton and Friends, Fayetteville Symphony Youth Orchestra, and the Alpha Omega Dance Academy’s ballet excerpts of "The Nutcracker."

    Characters from “A Christmas Carol” including Father Christmas, Ebenezer Scrooge, the Ghosts of Christmas Past and Christmas Future, Jacob Marley, London Bobbies and the Cratchit family with Tiny Tim will be ambling around downtown, mingling with the spectators. This is Eric Hoisington’s fourth year participating in A Dickens Holiday by playing the role of Ebenezer Scrooge.
    “I am a huge fan of Charles Dickens and have read all of his novels, so it’s amazing to see Fayetteville town’s people once again exposed to the quaintness of Victorian times and the drama inherent in 'A Christmas Carol' while played out by various town-thespians,” said Hoisington. “I walk up and down Hay Street in a bad mood, trying to terrorize the crowd with the depravity that is Ebenezer Scrooge.”

    There are memories to be made at the event including Victorian horse-drawn carriage rides on Hay Street, and Dickens photo cut-outs and a holiday selfie station. The event is free and dog-friendly, though owners should check if animals are allowed inside establishments. A Dickens Holiday event will be held on Nov. 26, from 1 – 8 p.m.

  • 09Light Up the City: A Holiday Decoration Celebration is coming to the Cool Springs Downtown District. The event is free for all who wish to attend or participate and encourages shop owners to decorate their windows for the holidays.

    The idea is to bring residents downtown to view the lights and decorations. The decorations turn downtown Fayetteville into a decoratively lit winter wonderland. It is ideal for taking photos and making memories.

    Last year, 35 businesses, restaurants and downtown museums took part in the event.

    It is a great way to fill downtown Fayetteville with holiday spirit. Some locations are decked out with Christmas trees, others strung up lights and lots of places put up garland.

    People can take a self-guided tour downtown. A map will be available on the Light Up the City: A Holiday Decoration Celebration Facebook event page (facebook.com/events/262093505957203) highlighting the establishments that are taking part in the event.

    Maps of businesses taking part in the Light Up the City will also be available at 222 Hay St. beginning Dec. 1. The event will take place from Dec. 1 – 31.

    Letters to Santa will also return with this event and there will be a giant five-foot red mailbox in which children can send their Christmas lists and Santa letters to the North Pole. The “Direct to the North Pole" mailbox will be located outside of the Cool Spring Downtown District's office at 222 Hay Street.

    Just next door downtown visitors will also find the Holiday Alley, a photographic urban holiday oasis designed to spark joy and filled with holiday lights and decorations.
    Families can visit and take photos in the alley.

    “Last year, we saw hundreds of families come, enjoy the holiday decorations and take photos of their children at the photo stations,” said Lauren Falls, director of marketing and events for the Cool Spring Downtown District.

    This is the third year Light Up the City: A Holiday Decoration Celebration will be held and it is the second year patrons can mail a letter to Santa and visit the
    Holiday Alley.

    Businesses are invited to sign up for the event by visiting this link, forms.gle/2YDiUgAZYu7PTfRq5. They must have decorations up by Dec. 1. They may decorate their storefront or inside their business to qualify and share the event link on their social media pages.

    Pedestrians checking out the many lights can vote for the Viewer’s Choice Award, the best display in participating businesses.

    The window voted best dressed wins $250.

    “Last year, we had around 500 people vote for the Light Up the City Viewer's Choice Award poll and the winner for last year was the United Way of Cumberland County,” said Falls.

    In addition to the businesses that have decorated, there will be a 14-foot tree decked out in holiday finery. The community tree will be located at 301 Hay St., in front of the Arts Council of Fayetteville and Cumberland County building and will likely be a prime spot for visitors to take photos.

  • 16Thanksgiving is a day when we reflect on all we are thankful for, often that is our family and friends.

    It can be hard to spend the holidays far from family and friends.

    Fayetteville has a large military population, which means that there are a lot of folks far from home, and they often can’t make it back home for the holiday.

    “We always have a great military crowd in our taproom, and we are a veteran-owned company,” said Olivia Caughey, event manager at Bright Light Brewing Company. “We encourage those serving that do not have Thanksgiving plans to come on down!”

    BLBC is hosting Hoppy Thanksgiving for the fifth year. They are a startup nano-brewery in downtown Fayetteville located at 444 West Russell St., Suite 102. Hoppy Thanksgiving is free and open to all ages.

    The event starts at 1:30 p.m. and runs until 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving, Nov. 25. There will be live music from 7 – 9 p.m. Dogs are welcome.

    What would Thanksgiving be without turkey?

    BLBC will be cooking up three turkeys for the event. Side dishes and goodies will be prepared and donated by staff.

    If you want to share your favorite food, they encourage patrons to bring it to the taproom. But don’t feel as though you must. You do not need to bring anything to celebrate Thanksgiving with BLBC.

    “The company expects to see some of their mug club members which is a group of 75 individuals we have invited to be a part of a group where they have a permanent mug at our taproom and special events,” Caughey said. “Also at Hoppy Thanksgiving, in addition to the mug club members, staff family and friends, and hopefully those who don't have Thanksgiving plans will come.”

    BLBC knows how to put the “hop” in Hoppy Thanksgiving.

    “We will, as always, have 15 taps, canned ciders and wines, as well as three new beers,” Caughey said. “We're bringing back our pineapple pale ale, a caramel macchiato beer and a special holiday pilsner.”

    There is no reason why you should be alone this holiday. BLBC invites those without a place to go to join them on Thanksgiving to enjoy good company, a holiday meal and a beer.

  • 12Fayetteville's unique connection to the military and veterans is never more evident than during Heroes Homecoming. Encompassing a week of events focused on service members, veterans and families, Heroes Homecoming has been a staple in America's Hometown since 2011. This year is no exception. The event kicks off with the annual Fayetteville Veterans Day Parade, see page 15 for the full story.

    Once families have celebrated the heroes on Hay Street, there are several additional activities to enjoy throughout the area.

    For a few of these additional events folks can head out to Dirtbag Ales Brewing and Taproom.

    Dirtbag Ales is hosting a Kickball Tournament and registrations is $25, all of which will go to Mission 22.

    Mission 22 is a national community seeking to support services members, both active and veteran and their families, in dealing with mental health issues, raising awareness and helping to remember and honor service members and veterans.

    It is a cause close to our hearts, explained Shannon Loper, operations manager, Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom. The brewery will also serve their Heroes Homecoming Pilsner.

    Dirtbag will donate a dollar of every pint of Heroes Homecoming Pilsner sold to Mission 22.

    In addition to the Kickball Tournament, patrons can purchase tickets to the Hope Mills annual Chili Cook-Off. The event has been running for approximately a decade but is celebrating its third year at Dirtbag Ales.

    Previously held in October, the event is now in November due to indecisive North Carolina weather.

    "Depending on how fickle the weather can be, nobody wants to eat a bowl of chili when it's 80 degrees outside," president of the Hope Mills Chamber of Commerce, Casey Ferris explained.The cook-off is one of the chamber's biggest fundraisers, and this year they will be donating a portion of their proceed to the Veteran's Farm of North Carolina.

    VFNC's mission is to educate service members and veterans of all ages and eras on all aspects of agriculture.

    "VFCN allows veterans to become heroes in life for a second time by helping them transition into becoming the farmers for tomorrow," according to the VFCN website.

    Participation in the cook-off will cost contestants $25 and an 8-quart crockpot of chili.

    This year the chamber is encouraging festive and fun competition.

    "We want to make it a fun event," Ferris said.

    Chili consumers can purchase a chili flight, which will provide them with a selection of chili-filled shot glasses and a ticket to vote on their favorite.

    Taste-testers can buy tickets for $10 online or at the venue on the day of the event.

    Ferris said quite a few fun participants have already jumped in to compete. Competitors include, but are not limited to, the Hope Mills Fire Department, which will be serving up their "5 Alarm" chili, Fayetteville Technical Community College's Culinary Arts, Napkins and 910Comedy, who will likely be heckling and roasting their competition.

    There are cash prizes for first, second and third place, and any additional chili left after votes are counted and tallied at 2 p.m. will be sold for $5 a bowl.

    These events honor, celebrate, remember and give back to the military and veteran community and programs that support them.

    "We like the opportunity to give back and support our veterans," Ferris said. To participate in the Kickball Tournament, contact Dirtbag Ales at 910-426-2537.

    To sign up to compete in ($25) or eat at ($10) the Hope Mills Chili Cook-Off visit hopemillschamber.com/chili-cookoff-2021.

    Additional information and competition rules and regulations are available on the Hope Mills Chamber of Commerce website.

  • 02It has been two years since the virus we now know as COVID-19 began as a stealth incubation in Wuhan, China before exploding onto the world stage. It has since taken 5.1 million lives, almost 800,000 of them in the United States and nearly 19,000 of those in North Carolina. None of us remain untouched by the pandemic, whether we have lost someone near and dear or whether we feel merely inconvenienced by COVID-19 restrictions.

    The second year of holiday celebrations affected by the virus is now upon us. Experts and regular folks alike are realizing COVID-19 will be with us for the long haul and thinking about how we are going to live with it. The Dicksons, all thoroughly vaccinated and feeling fortunate to be so, will gather for Thanksgiving with a handful of family and friends in a way we did not last year. We will take precautions — knowing that everyone except a 2-year-old is vaccinated, and we will stay outdoors as much as we can, both cooking and eating. While we and millions of other Americans are indeed choosing to gather, we are also thinking about how to go about our lives knowing that COVID-19 is not the raging pandemic it once was but it remains a very real threat. We are going to learn to live with COVID risk. We will learn to accept it the same way we accept the risk of riding in vehicles of all sorts, participating in sports and engaging in other once-routine activities. So, what will that look like in our daily lives?

    People in Asian counties have long worn face masks in public, because of both various illnesses and air pollution. Many medical experts expect Americans to do so for the foreseeable future in public places such as grocery stores, cabs, buses, planes and in gatherings of people we do not know.

    People will likely continue working remotely at least some of the time and communicating electronically, in part because of health concerns and because we have discovered its convenience.
    We are now able to ponder our lives ahead because while the United States remains less vaccinated than other developed nations, about 65% of us have had at least one shot and 60% have had more than one. That means that the risk of contracting COVID-19 is going down, especially in more vaccinated communities.

    In addition, COVID-19 treatments are becoming more effective, meaning that this virus may eventually be just another illness and not one that takes over our lives.

    Increasingly, experts are saying COVID-19 could become like seasonal flu, an illness no one wants and can be successfully vaccinated against.

    All of which is to say that we are not going to wake up one morning to headlines screaming, “COVID-19 eradicated forever,” that is a dream not likely to come true.

    The poet T.S. Eliot wrote that the world would end “not with a bang, but with a whimper.”

    Johns Hopkins University epidemiologist Jennifer Nuzzo has the same thoughts about COVID-19. As Nuzzo told the Washington Post recently, “It doesn’t end. We just stop caring. Or we care a lot less... I think for most people, it just fades into the background of their lives.”

    I look forward to that day, even if it means I mask up from time to time.

  • 01Elected officials and staff of Fayetteville and Cumberland County could learn a great deal about cooperation and teamwork from our present Cumberland County delegation. Congratulations are due to our Cumberland County Legislative Delegation Chairman, Rep. Billy Richardson, Sen. Kirk deViere, Sen. Ben Clark, Rep. John Szoka, Rep. Diane Wheatley, and Rep. Marvin Lucas for the passing of North Carolina's first budget since 2018. For months they worked together diligently for one primary purpose, to do the right things to better the quality of life for the residents of Cumberland County. Serving the citizens of Fayetteville and the other eight municipalities was, and should always be, the highest of all priorities. Today, we are fortunate to have dedicated local leadership representing us in Raleigh, and they have done just that. As a result, last week, Gov. Roy Cooper signed off on a state budget and infrastructure bill that has been long over overdue. Anytime you can bring home over $402 million to your community, one must give credit where credit is due. It was only through hard work, compromise and cooperation that they accomplished this. The projects and programs funded by the new budget will impact the Cumberland County community for decades. The teamwork demonstrated by our bipartisan leadership resulted in the passage of a budget that will significantly impact Carolinians from the mountains to the coast. It targets the state's infrastructure needs in health care, K-12 education, broadband water restoration, community colleges, universities, medical research and much more. The tax policy portion of the budget is pro-growth, lowering the personal income tax and lowering the corporate income tax rates.

    In addition, military pensions for North Carolina Veterans will no longer be taxed thanks to Rep. John Szoka, the primary sponsor of HB 83 and signed on to by Rep. Diane Wheatley. According to Szoka, this will make North Carolina more attractive to military retirees from all over the country. Specifically, it will aid in attracting and retaining retirees here in Cumberland County. Another budget highlight and a huge win for our local community was the allocation of $59.6 million for the North Carolina Civil War & Reconstruction History Center. Another example of fantastic teamwork, cooperation and perseverance by project Chairman Mac Healy, Mary Lynn Bryan, and members of the Center's board of directors who pursued an endeavor that is good and beneficial for the entire community. This state-run venue will bring hundreds of thousands of visitors and guests and millions of dollars into our community annually. What's not to like about that?

    This bipartisan leadership is the kind of leadership that needs to be replicated locally in Fayetteville and Cumberland County. We have an election coming up soon after the first of the year. We should be looking for and voting for candidates who want to cooperate to better the circumstances of the city and county citizens. We need honest and trustworthy leaders who understand the detriment that municipal and community silos have on the progress of a growing community. Sure, we are moving forward in our development but not at the pace we should be because the cooperation and teamwork amongst our city, county and influential community organizations are only evident in fruitless sound bites. We now have a herculean opportunity to negotiate the $402 million earmarked for Cumberland County into a formidable "can do" community. Our Raleigh delegation has set the near-perfect example of what is accomplishable through teamwork and cooperation. We must encourage and demand that our local city and county leaders do the same. We need action, not empty words. We need to keep those traits in mind when we vote for our future leaders.

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • 01Holy Smoke! The last few weeks have kept us crazy busy regarding news and events explicitly focused on our local government and city officials. First was the Island Flava incident, Oct. 13, where one man was shot and killed and another injured. A local news blog has alleged the Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins and Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin were at that location socializing and celebrating Fayetteville State University’s Homecoming that evening. The blog further accuses Hawkins of misuse of police resources and abuse of power. On Tuesday, Nov. 9, former Councilwoman Tisha Waddell resigned abruptly from her District 3 seat, alleging corruption on the part of Colvin, and accusing the mayor and city council members of self-serving misconduct, mismanagement and conflicts of interest. Then last week, at a special meeting to appoint citizens to city committees and commissions, Councilmembers Johnny Dawkins and Yvonne Kinston engaged in a shouting brouhaha that resulted in an impromptu recess and cooling-off period. These are indications that a day of reckoning is approaching for our city, which has allowed the lives and livelihoods of over 200,000 citizens to be entrusted to incompetent and unqualified leadership.

    No doubt we can do better. Much better. Out of the ten members that make up our council very few have adequate business, government or political experience. Four are ordained ministers and all of them are being led by a mayor with a dubious and criminal past. One might ask, what possibly could go wrong? The answer, everything. After years of turning a blind eye to inept governance, contradictions in policy, corruption and conflicts of interest, it is coming to light that Fayetteville’s City Hall is being ravished by scandals and scallywags. As a local news source, we haven't written or commented much about these issues because, in many cases, accusations of criminal misconduct are difficult to substantiate without ample resources. However, what has always proven likely in this community is that where there is smoke, there is fire. Here at Up & Coming Weekly, we tend to believe in what we see and not what we hear. We did not comment on the Island Flava incident because we could not, and have not, substantiated or been able to contact someone who would come forward to substantiate the allegations. We concluded it is likely the story is an embellishment of the facts and is intended to target Hawkins, who is highly unpopular within the Fayetteville Police Department. Because it came from a source inside the FPD, the story was afforded credibility, and this fueled the attention it garnered. We immediately requested a comment or clarification directly from the Police Chief and City Hall concerning the incident and were told that a statement from the chief’s office would be forthcoming. It never came. Now, we're told City Attorney Karen McDonald is slow-walking an official request to have the incident investigated. One must ask, why the delay?

    I admire Waddell's moxie in articulating all the unsavory allegations in her recent resignation letter. Anyone on the inside who cares about the welfare of the Fayetteville community knows there is substance to every one of her accusations. Many citizens not privy to the local government's goings-on do not have access to all of the information. After all, Fayetteville and Cumberland County lack adequate local news media coverage. This allows for little or no public oversight regarding what is taking place in our local government. And, like Waddell made clear in her letter, the only body capable of monitoring the conduct of the Fayetteville City Council is the City Council themselves. Yes. The fox is guarding the henhouse. No doubt this has made everyone's tempers short, and their nerves are on edge. This could be why Councilmembers Johnny Dawkins and Yvonne Kinston squared off at an Appointments Committee meeting.

    Bad behavior has been rewarded for way too long: now it's time to pay the piper. We know there is currently an official complaint filed against Hawkins in the Superior Court. We have also recorded past corrupt, improper and questionable conduct by city staff and City Council members. (i.e. Ted Voorhees/Tyron Williams.) Now, Waddell has laid out at least a dozen accusations of mismanagement and misconduct directly at the feet of the City Council and all of Fayetteville. It is a bold and courageous move by a local official who refused to "go along to get along." It will be interesting to see how city officials react or if they react at all.

    I would be remiss if I did not again point out that all of these issues stem from a lack of media or news journalism to provide oversight to ask hard questions. These events and actions evolved without transparency, following the same corrupt plan the Town of Spring Lake followed for over a decade before being taken over by the state for misuse and mismanagement of over $1.8 million of taxpayer's money. We cannot let that happen in our city.

    A special thanks to Waddell, regardless of what her motives were. The Fayetteville City Council has now been confronted with serious allegations. The warning signs of corruption are obvious. Let's see how they handle it. Yes. It's time to peel back the onion, take action and hold people accountable.

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • uac110514001.gif North Carolina is steeped in tradition from blue grass music to BBQ and craft beer. That being the case, visitors can sample a great many of the state’s finer traditions at When Pigs Fly on Nov. 15 at Festival Park.

    Anyone with a bone to pick in the battle between tomato-based and vinegar-based sauces won’t want to miss this event because the festival showcases the very best when it comes to the finer points of North Carolina BBQ.

    Cindy Kowal, event organizer and director of Communities in Schools is excited about a distinction to the festival earned this year. When Pigs Fly is now sanctioned by the North Carolina BBQ Association. That is significant for several reasons. One of the primary reasons is that it guarantees attendees can sample fare that is prepared in accordance with age-old North Carolina traditions.

    Traditional N.C. BBQ is slow cooked with only wood or charcoal fueling the fire versus cooking with gas, which lets the meat cook slower and absorb the flavor of the wood or gives it the smoky taste derived from cooking over charcoal. While the rules for cooking are strict, there is plenty of room for discussion in the tomato versus vinegar sauce debate, which festival-goers can weigh in on while sampling plenty of both.

    “We are really excited to be a sanctioned event. That adds a lot of credibility to the competition and will draw more big competitors, which can only be good for the people who come out on that day,” said Kowal. “Last year some of our competitors mentioned that it would be nice if we were a sanctioned competition. We decided to look into it. A lot of them were affiliated with Kansas City BBQ. But North Carolina BBQ is not like Memphis BBQ or Kansas City BBQ or Texas BBQ and we wanted to stick to standards that make sense for who we are and embrace our traditions. So we decided to go with a relatively young sanctioning organization: The North Carolina BBQ Association.”

    Competitors from all across the state have signed up to compete for cash, prizes and bragging rights. The categories are whole hog, pork shoulder or chicken. Contestants can compete in one category or all three.

    “Last year we had teams from all over the state,” said Kowal. “We are giving $7,500 in cash prizes to the BBQ teams overall winners — the grand champ is the team that receives the highest score. They will win $3,500, Reserve champ is $2,500 and the first through third place in each category receive prizes, too. In addition there is a really big trophy and a cutting board.”

    Wash down all that BBQ with one of the dozen craft beers that are on tap. From IPAs to porters, there is something for everyone.

    “I’m really excited about this new craft beer Great Lakes. I doubt many folks have seen this one yet and I am also excited about having our new local brewery — Dirtbag — on hand. For non-BBQ lovers, R Burger will offer a BBQ alternative,” said Kowal.

    In addition to great food and drink, four bands are set to play throughout the day. Big Daddy Love is from Charleston, South Carolina.

    “Our State Magazine put together a scenic mountain play list and Big Daddy Love is on that list,” said Kowal.

    Supatight Funk started in Durham and moved to the Asheville area.11-05-14-cover-story.gif

    “They can do anything — funk, groove, country, rock. They have a lot of great original music, too,,” said Kowal.

    Doc Aquatic started in Fayetteville before moving on to Asheville. “When we mentioned the bands to the under 35 crowd, the response was great. It is going to be a lot of fun,” Kowal added. “The final band is the Oak Grove String Band, a traditional blue grass band. We had some incredible blue grass bands last year and people asked for more variety. You will see that this year.”

    If you are worried about calories, burn a few at the 5K that is run in conjunction with When Pigs Fly. The course is somewhat challenging and is sure to build an appetite. It hits Haymount Hill pretty early in the race and then the hills in Haymount keep things interesting. It’s definitely not a flat course.

    “This year we have great prizes for the overall male and female winner; each will win a Dell tablet, donated by Dell Military. Because our pig noses were so popular last year — we’re also giving a prize for the best 5K costume. So, although it’s a challenge, it’ll be a fun race, too. And, the smell of BBQ is a pretty good motivator,” said Kowal.

    VIP tickets are available and include a private concert on Friday night. The gates open at 7:30 p.m. Teams will be in Festival Park throughout the night grilling goodness, with Saturday’s events beginning at 11 a.m. and going to 6 p.m.

    Proceeds support Communities in Schools, which advocates for students in Cumberland County Schools. Communities in Schools leverages resources, which allows teachers to teach and kids to learn.

    “We touched more than 20,000 kids last year,” said Kowal. “And there are still many that need our help.”

    Find out more about When Pigs Fly at www.cisofcumberland.org/when-pigs-fly.

    Photo: Communities in Schools is bringing some great North Carolina traditions to Festival Park: BBQ, craft beers and Blue Grass. Join the fun on Nov. 15 and help bring much needed resources to Cumberland County Schools and students.

  • 01Publisher's Note: There many who are running for local offices in the upcoming year. Their voices need to be heard. Those individuals wishing to reach out and be heard by the community have an open invitation to be heard in the Up & Coming Weekly. Simply reach out and send us an email to let us know you have something to say.

    When I came to Fayetteville in 2008 as a wounded soldier assigned to the Wounded Warrior Project on Fort Bragg, I remember receiving several briefings that strongly advised us to refrain from visiting certain areas of the city and certain businesses due to their shady business practices.
    I can remember receiving briefings from my commander during in-processing that warned me about the level of crime around the city. However, I do not remember ever getting a briefing that warned me about the level of corruption that could be found in Fayetteville City Hall, but man did I quickly learn as I got more and more involved in the Fayetteville community, just how much corruption there was. Everything from politicians creating so-called non-political taxpayer-funded organizations, to politicians attempting to cut side-deals with wealthy developers, to city leaders in cahoots with destructive criminal elements dedicated to destroying the very city that they swore an oath to protect and defend.

    Fayetteville is no stranger to corruption and scandal within its ranks, as we have all either lived through or heard stories about "Fayette-Nam." But it seems this city has seen a more blatant element since Mitch Colvin took office as Mayor in 2017. All of us remember the dishonorable city councilman from District 2, Tyrone Williams, and everything that took place with him in 2018 when the "Prince Charles Gate" scandal rocked the city. Who knew that he would be the precursor of things to come during Colvin's term in office? Who knew that three years later, the mayor and top city officials, including City Manager Doug Hewett and Police Chief Gina Hawkins, would allow rioters, looters, Marxists and anarchists to destroy and pillage our beloved city unhindered, while ordering our sworn Fayetteville police officers to "stand down" while criminals ravaged our city.

    Since 2017, the city of Fayetteville has been under the leadership of Colvin and our police department under the supervision and leadership (if you can call it that) of Hawkins, who came to Fayetteville by way of Atlanta, Georgia, in the same year. Since then, our police department has suffered tremendously under her leadership, and the citizens of Fayetteville have paid the price. We have a police department that is low on morale and high on egos, and I say enough is enough!
    We have a mayor who feels that he is not answerable to the citizens of Fayetteville and who only seems to be concerned about his next business investment and how he can use his position to further enhance his economic fortune.

    The city of Fayetteville and the Fayetteville Police Department have come a very long way from the '80s, and I refuse to allow our city to become another corrupt municipality like the town of Spring Lake. Fayetteville has witnessed a tremendous increase in violent crime over the past two years, and just this year alone, our city has been rocked by more than 40 homicides, and we are currently on track to double last year’s homicide rate, and unfortunately, we have even recently made the nation's top 100 list of the most dangerous cities, and there seems to be no end in sight.

    As the holidays rapidly approach, we have more than 6000 families facing eviction in our community, due to a flawed, fractured and failing Emergency Rental Assistance Program. Fayetteville has recently been branded "America's Can-Do City" but, I have coined her "America's Can-Do Better City." The people of Fayetteville deserve and demand better from their leadership, which I intend to give them. Better. How do we "do better?" We start by removing the toxic leadership in the city. We un-handcuff our law enforcement professionals and allow them to do the jobs they swore an oath to do, and we empower and equip them to enforce the laws they swore to enforce. We identify the toxic rank-and-file within our law enforcement community and remove them immediately. We remove the unproductive and self-serving people within our city government and replace them with genuinely dedicated people who will dedicate themselves to the betterment of Fayetteville.

    Fayetteville is a city that houses talent and potential, she is a city that inspires innovation and she is a city that embraces diversity. As the next Mayor of Fayetteville, I intend to build on the foundation and "Lead Fayetteville Forward," but that requires us to move forward together and lead with honesty, transparency, integrity, vision and foresight. I am J Antoine Miner. I am running for Mayor of Fayetteville. I am that leader.

  • This editorial message is a tribute and thank you to the entrepreneurial spirit of all of our privately owned, local Fayetteville businesses. 

    No doubt, creating and developing your own successful business in these hard economic times is a major challenge. I’m talking about real grass root local businesses and not necessarily those hundreds of franchises that have migrated here. You know the businesses I’m talking about. The ones where absentee owners either cling to the elusive dream of striking it rich or revel in the title of “business owner” completely void of any sense of local community. 

    The Internet compounds this situation and contributes considerably to the deterioration of local communities. Sure, “shop local” is a warm and fuzzy sound byte, but my fear is that it has become meaningless and somewhat of a cliché. That shouldn’t be. Small, independent businesses are the heart of America and the heart of this community. Yet dozens of new small businesses go out of business each month from lack of direction and support, while more established Fayetteville/Cumberland County businesses struggle to survive under the pressures of a sagging economy, high  taxes, excessive rules and complicated ordinances. And, of course, we have to again mention the Internet, which attracts and solicits an apathetic following, while returning nothing to the community. 

    We need to celebrate locally owned businesses and create an ongoing awareness of their importance to our local economy. Alarm companies, printers, clothing stores, restaurants, financial services, pawn shops, jewelers, gift shops, art galleries, automobile dealers and even non-profit charitable organizations are local businesses that respond to the needs of our community. These businesses are the ones that sponsor arts and cultural events, buy season tickets and are asked to contribute to our schools, dozens of charities, festivals and cultural events. 

    These people are committed. They are the ones who care about quality of life and have a true investment in our future. Big-box stores, franchises 

    and Internet businesses siphon revenue, profits, taxes and opportunity from our community while locally owned businesses bear the burden of providing amenities  and infrastructure to
    local citizens. 

    Our local businesses are often contributors to the problem: unpredictable hours, short staff and questionable customer service. Look at downtown on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. People are out and about, but a large number of the businesses are closed!

    I believe the majority of the local business owners truly care about their customers and the community. The point is this: No one is denying the lure and strength of the Internet. However, we need a greater awareness campaign marketing and promoting the support and consideration for locally owned businesses. A serious and aggressive one. Residents cannot continue to spend local dollars with Internet businesses and then depend on local businesses to support the community. 

     Here at Up & Coming Weekly we appreciate and salute small businesses and the entrepreneurial spirit. Count on us for continued assistance and  support. After all, we too, are a small business. 

    Thanks for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • Completing his student teaching this December at Terry Sanford High School, retired military artist Rick Kenner is imparting what he learned as a college art student to his students in the public school classroom. Working alongside his cooperating teacher, full time art teacher Kellie Perkins, Kenner is learning how to impart his knowledge of the arts and pedagogy to his students.

    Knowing Kenner was going to open with an exhibit of his work at Gallery 208, located in the offi ces of Up & Coming Weekly on Dec. 3, I hoped his students from Terry Sanford High School might be interested in seeing nov18-dissipation.jpgwhat their teacherin- training does as an artist, and be able to ask him questions about his work.

    I wondered if they had seen his series of paintings and how he integrates X-rays of his spinal cord into his paintings; or how his work can be totally non-objective in style, but always refl ective in content.

    Kenner is the fi rst to admit his affection for the nonrepresentational.

    “Abstraction offers me a vehicle to convey emotion through color and shape without getting lost in the narrative that is often associated with realism. I use color with varied opacity and geometric shapes to form compositions; an attempt to evoke an emotional response from the viewer,” he said.

    As a teacher, he must focus on bringing the student to their own work. Do they know his personal philosophy as an artist?

    “My current work is an exploration of the presence of technology in our lives. It is a personal attempt to fi nd balance and meld the ideas of mind, body, and spirit with the ever-increasing assault of technological advancement,” noted Kenner.

    Since Kenner is a quiet and reserved fellow, I knew he would not have touted his achievements in academe, his many exhibitions in the community, selling his paintings, and also winning the 2008 Lois Ferrari Memorial Art Scholarship at the Cape Fear Studios in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

     A prestigious award, Kenner won the Lois Ferrari Memorial Art Scholarship by competing against regional art students majoring in the fi ne arts at Fayetteville State University, Methodist University, Fayetteville Technical Community College, the University of North Carolina-Pembroke and Meredith College.

    It has been my experience that after asking him a question, you will usually get a one word answer like “Yes” or “No.” So, I was curious as to how he was working out in the public school classroom; I called Perkins, his mentor, at Terry Sanford to get the scoop.

    Perkins was very patient and took time out of her busy schedule to talk about the arts in the classroom and the attributes of a good teacher. To his advantage, Kenner has made the grade with Perkins — she is the only high school art teacher in Cumberland County that is nationally certifi ed (a diffi cult and rigorous accomplishment).

    I first asked Perkins about her experiences with other art teachers and what she felt were the skills that someone needed to have to be a successful art teacher. Perkins didn’t skip a beat, she stated without pause, “Someone who prefers one-on-one with students, is competent in art and education pedagogy, encourages and relates to students, and someone who gets along with their colleagues.”

    She commented that Kenner had these skills, but that he also has other special attributes. “He can fi x anything and he knows a lot about technology, he’s organized, plans in advance, very thorough in what he wants the students to learn in content and very neat,” she said. “He can be very innovative and wants to help the students build a strong foundation in art.”

    That is the Rick Kenner I know. When I asked him how he enjoyed teaching, he didn’t hesitate either. In as few words as possible, he told me he liked it and the students. I reflected on how fortunate Kenner was to have a veteran art teacher to model after; Ms. Perkins has taught for more than 20 years and has kept her enthusiasm for teaching in the classroom. She is presently pursuing a master’s degree in Art Education at UNC-Pembroke.

    I feel as if Ms. Perkins is modest, too, after she said, “A classroom teacher is a role model for a student teacher, but at a certain point I turn my classes over to him, and then I am more like a coach, it’s a journey for any student teacher to discover the classroom and what works during their experience as a student teacher.”

    My last question was in reference to the importance of an art high school teacher that was also a practicing artist. Her answer fi t Kenner.

    “Remaining an artist is very important to being a teacher that is knowledgable about 21st century styles and the infl uences of technology,” she said. “Students need to know the about the latest styles and new techniques artists are using.”

    Before the art students at Terry Sanford High School say farewell to their latest student art teacher, they have a chance to see Kenner’s work at his opening reception, Thursday, Dec. 3, between 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. at Up & Coming Weekly, 208 Rowan St. The reception is free to the public and the artist is asked to do a brief presentation to the people attending the opening around 6 p.m.

    Kenner leaves Terry Sanford High School in December; he will also have earned his B.A. in Visual Art and a B.S. in Art Education at Fayetteville State University. Future plans for Kenner and his wife, Anita, include relocating to Texas to be closer to their daughter and grandchild. While in Texas, Kenner has plans to continue to create art, seek employment as an art educator (preferably at the high school level), and work towards completing an MFA and possibly a PhD in Art Education.

  • The Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program, or C-STEP, housed in the office of Undergraduate Admissions at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, seeks to admit, identify, enroll and graduate high-achieving, low-to-moderate income students transferring to UNC-Chapel Hill from partner community colleges.

    Fayetteville Technical Community College’s C-STEP program began in 2011. Each year, two cohorts of students — a group of first-year FTCC students and a group of second-year FTCC students — participate in C-STEP.

    FTCC students Halona Dantes and Anjali Saji attended FTCC’s open house during summer 2019. Both young ladies arrived in Fayetteville the day before the open house event. Both students are from India where their mothers, who are nurses, participated with a recruiting agency for nurses to allow their families to emigrate from their home country to the United States. Neither student nor family knew each other before their arrival in Fayetteville.

    “My parents sacrificed a lot for me, and the thought of having a chance to better myself with the educational opportunities within the United States is what motivated my parents to make the move,” Dantes said.

    The process for Dantes' parents to leave Kuwait and Saji’s parents to leave Bahrain began in 2018 and was not an easy feat.

    Dantes said, “The process is hard and intense, and I wanted to do well in college because of all the advantages my parents were trying to afford me with.”

    Each family had to complete a compilation of tests and exams in English and score proficiently in each area to pass. They also had to complete and pass an interview. At the time, they did not know that both mothers would end up working as nurses at Cape Fear Valley Hospital.

    After applying and being selected to C-STEP, both students quickly adjusted to the program and made friends with their cohorts.

    Saji reflected on that early period: “I was really scared, and I had a fear about coming from abroad and being accepted," she said. "However, my cohort group was very accepting and welcoming. The fear I had about making friends vanished because I got to make friends through class engagement and various other components that the program provides.”

    Each student exudes the embodiment of what it means to be a C-STEP student. Each student has goals, accountability, strong character and a desire to achieve and give back to the community.

    The C-STEP program requires interested students to earn their associate degree at a North Carolina Community College and then transfer to Carolina to complete their studies. Once a student completes a degree at FTCC, he or she is guaranteed admissions into Carolina.

    But the advantages offered to C-STEP students go far beyond providing them with admission into UNC-Chapel Hill. C-STEP is an all-encompassing program that allows students to gain extensive knowledge of the Carolina campus, meet key individuals who will be of aid when they arrive at Carolina, and receive an opportunity to learn and grow with like-minded individuals who become far more than just peers.

    Saji summed up her motivation to succeed: “How could I not do well in my classes? My parents have given up and sacrificed so much to give me a better chance.”

    For more information about FTCC and C-STEP, please contact the author, the FTCC C-STEP Progam Director, at

    07 01 DSC 0734Halona

    07 02 DSC 0709anjali











    Pictured:  (Left) Halona Dantes and (Right) Anjali Saji.  Both are students in FTCC's C-STEP program.

  • 04 the CarolsThis holiday season the Gilbert Theater presents its newest Christmas production, “The Carols,” starting Nov. 27.

    “The Carols,” with its classic 1940’s style comedy set during World War II, is a story about the three Carol sisters who run the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post and are struggling to put on their annual “A Christmas Carol” production while facing another dilemma — the lack of men in town due to the war.

    “So they decide they're going to cast all women, then put an audition notice out, nobody shows up but this surprise guest,” Director Robyne Parrish said. “This one dude, Melvin, shows up and he's not quite right but he's all they've got, so they hire him on and they put together one of the most ridiculous ‘Christmas Carols’ of all time.”

    She describes it as a sweet, feel-good movie about family, loss and hope. The production shows the sisters struggling to put on their show with just four people, said cast member Evan Bridenstine.

    “It seems impossible for quite some time but then they perform and that's the act two,” he said. “The songs are great, none of them are those you've heard, most of them have that ear-worming quality that gets in your head and stays for a while.”

    Bridenstine, who plays the character of Melvin, described the production as funny, yet having a seriousness to it, due to the times it's set in.

    Parrish said the themes for the hour and 45-minute show are family, ‘there’s no place like home,’ and a kind of Christmas carol in disguise.

    The Artistic Director for the theater, Lawrence Carlisle, described the show as something on a lighter note that is needed during current times.

    “The Carols” will run three different weekends: Nov. 27- 29, Dec. 4-6 and Dec.18-20. Patrons can purchase tickets on the website. Tickets start at $16 but the theater offers discounts for military, students and first responders. There will be a military appreciation day with tickets being $10, Carlisle said.

    Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the theater, which usually holds about 100 people, has had to cut down capacity to 25. There will be temperature checks for patrons, a requirement for masks and contactless entry with use of electronic tickets.

    On Nov. 28, the first Saturday show, there will be a masked performance where the actors will wear face shields to accommodate patrons who don’t feel comfortable with mask-less actors, Parrish said.

    Despite continued concerns with the pandemic, the Gilbert continues to produce local entertainment even as it struggles, Carlisle said. Having to reduce audience capacity, buying additional cleaning supplies and rearranging how they do things has been interesting, he said.

    Parrish said the theater already operates on a small budget where about 50-75% of the annual budget comes from ticket sales.

    “It wasn’t going to work for us to just go in the dark for a year, and wait for a vaccine,” Carlisle said. “To not have any shows at all, you know, we would have just gone out of business.”

    Since a lot of people can’t be with family this holiday season due to the pandemic, Parrish said attending a show can be a way for them to feel like they’re a part of something.

    “If you’re looking forward to a little bit of joy during the holiday season and a little opportunity to escape and just smile … this show will allow people to escape, for a little while, from all that we are going through right now,” she said.

    For more information on “The Carols” and Gilbert Theater, visit www.gilberttheater.com/index.php

    Pictured: Cast members of "The Carols" rehearse for the musical scheduled to open Nov. 27 at the Gilbert Theater.


  • 01 01 dickens1900037‘A Dickens Holiday’ holds a special place in the hearts of many area residents. Locals look forward to coming together and kickstarting the holiday season with this festive event in downtown Fayetteville. Like so many other traditions in 2020, this year’s event will be a little different due to the pandemic, but participants will still be able to enjoy the beloved event inspired by Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

    “This is the 21st year we are doing this festival, usually it happens the day after Thanksgiving,” said Antonio Renteria, director of operations for the Arts Council of Fayetteville.

    “It started off as a way to bring traffic from the mall area to downtown and focus on those small businesses. It grew from there,” he said.

    Instead of a one-day event, this year’s celebration is titled ‘In the Spirit of Dickens,'” and also offers events on the two weekends before Thanksgiving with musicians and other performers.

    “We’ll have some carolers out there and cut outs to bring the holiday season even sooner,” Renteria said.

    The holiday may look different this year, but the Arts Council is using the opportunity to return the focus to supporting downtown merchants, he said.

    Merchants will be doing different specials leading up to the main festival on Nov. 27. The festival won’t have the usual fireworks or the candlelight procession. Also absent this year will be the arts and crafts vendors set up in the downtown area.

    “These are some things that we are not doing to mediate some of the larger crowds,” Renteria said. “We are encouraging merchants to bring out holiday gear and come out of their shops and decorate,” he said. “We’ll have the Fayetteville Orchestra, and different actors, like Scrooge, Ghost of Christmas Past, walking up and down the streets.”

    This year’s festival will be a combination of efforts with the Arts Council and Cool Springs Downtown District to provide a unique shopping experience.

    What we do plan to do is still support our mission of combining the arts in support of our local business and restaurants, that will also allow us to help support our local artists that have been out of work since March, said Robert Pinson, interim president/CEO of the Arts Council.

    “The idea is that you may not know exactly what is happening downtown, but you know that there is something fun to see and do and shop, or a great restaurant for lunch or dinner,” Pinson said.

    Some of the other attractions downtown for the festival will include Coventry Carolers, local adult and youth musicians from Fayetteville Symphony, brass quartets and Dickens character actors from the Cape Fear Regional Theatre.

    “One of my favorite things that we are doing, and I am glad we are getting a chance to do it again this year, is the ‘Gingerbread Community of Hope’ … a gingerbread house competition,” Renteria said. The competition is open to the public, there’s no cost to enter, and you can go online to sign up, he said.

    The Encore Academy will display entries in their windows beginning Nov. 23, Pinson said.

    “The houses will be up that Monday before and stay up the whole week, so people can come downtown, look at them, scan the QR code and vote on the ones they like,” Renteria said. “It’s a public competition so the community really gets to come out and decide which is the best one.”

    The winner of the competition will receive a $250 prize and will be announced the weekend of the event.

    The Fayetteville Area Transportation Museum will be doing story time for children and there will be horse drawn carriage rides, said Metoya Scott, public relations manager for the Arts Council.

    Like every other year, attendees and visitors are encouraged to dress up in Dickens-themed or Victorian clothing, and a guide to the dress code is available on the Arts Council’s website, Renteria said.

    The Arts Council will stream certain events live on the festival’s event page on Facebook for those who don’t feel comfortable coming downtown due to the pandemic.

    “For me the biggest thing you’re coming for … is getting to see the carolers and Scrooge, the Ghost of Christmas Past, walking around and really just get you into that holiday spirit,” Renteria said.

    The event will end the evening of Nov. 27 with the lighting of the community Christmas tree in front of the Arts Council.

    “If you're looking for a way to forget about 2020 a little bit, then get outside and enjoy the holiday season for the pure sake of it just being the holidays," Renteria said. “This is definitely the time to come out and do it and leave with a smile on your face.”

    For more information about ‘In the Spirit of Dickens,' visit https://www.theartscouncil.com/feature/dickens-holiday

    01 02 dickens1900021

    01 04 dickens1900085

    01 03 dickens1900078






  • 11242010-mike-epps.gifUnless you are a movie buff or a comedy buff, you might not recognize the name Mike Epps. But when you see his face and hear his voice, you will instantly recognize Epps as one of the most popular comedians of the past few years. On Friday, Nov. 26, Epps will bring his comedy to the Crown stage.

    Epps was born in 1970 in Indianapolis, Indiana, into a large family. His family encourage his comedic side and he began performing while still a teenage. Following a move to Atlanta, Ga., where he worked at the Comedy Act Theater. In 1995, he moved to New York City where he found a home on the Def Comedy Jam. During that time he also made his first big screen appearance in Van Diesel’s Strays, a film that explored relationships and drugs.

    Strays was just the first of many big-screen roles Epps has tackled. He became a fan favorite from the Friday series of films, where he brought the role of Day-Day to life in Ice Cube’s Next Friday.

    In 2001, Epps stepped out of the spotlight and behind the mic to bring the voice of Sonny the Bear to life in Eddie Murphy’s Dr. Dolittle 2. He also has voiced the role of Boog in Open Season 2 and Open Season 3.

    2004 and 2005 were busy years for Epps, who starred in Resident Evil Apocalypse and Guess Who? with Ashton Kutcher and Bernie Mack, and the remake of The Honeymooners. In 2006, Epps hit the big screen again with a cast of stars in the fi lm The Fighting Temptations, which featured Cuba Gooding Jr. and Beyonce. In 2007, he reprised his Resident Evil role in Resident Evil: Extinction, followed up by Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins and Hancock in 2008. He also played Black Doug in The Hangover in 2009.

    When Epps isn’t filming, he is touring the country and performing his comedy act, The Mike Epps On the Edge Tour to sold-out theaters and arenas across the country.

    While Epps has played some diverse roles, he is quick to point out that they are merely roles and do not define who he is. When fans mistake Epps for one of his characters, he frequently makes it part of his comedy routine.

    “I learned that you don’t have to be all over the place, that you can be subtle and you can say what you say,” said Epps. “The words that you put together can be just as hilarious as falling all over the place or doing something.”

    Epps looks to old movies and television comedy to help develop his craft. A key inspiration was the role of Ed Norton in The Honeymooners.

    “I can remember when I was a baby and my mother was there watching the show (The Honeymooners).I went and bought 100 episodes and watched them,” he said during an interview before his remake of the movie was released. “I respect it so much that the sitcom itself and Ed Norton; I’m not playing Ed Norton but my version of it, cause I’m a black man.”

    “I watch old school fi lm so that I can learn so much that I just sort of miss all the new stuff,” he continued.

    Epps takes his success in stride, noting, “I’m a survivor of life. I try to give the glory to God and appreciate what’s happening to me. I’m gonna have to develop myself. I’m just going to do the best that I can do, but I’m humble enough to wait and just chill. I’m having fun just working with these good people.”

    Epps will be joined on stage by comedienne Sheryl Underwood. Underwood, a former member of the armed forces and has two master’s degrees frequently makes jokes about “all the creative places you can get busy on a military base.”

    Underwood refers to herself as “a sexually progressive, God-fearing, black Republican,” and is best known for her stand-up, but has had some time on the big screen.

    The show starts at 8 p.m., and tickets for the event range in price from $46 to $55. Tickets may be purchased at the Crown Box Office and all Ticketmaster outlets. For more information, visit www.atthecrown.com.

  • 11-10-10-ibn-said.gifThe Museum of the Cape Fear is celebrating the life of Omar Ibn Said through Dec. 5 and invites you to join them as they delve into the life of this Muslim slave whose writings and works are still studied by scholars today.

    The story of Omar Ibn Said is an interesting one indeed. A man of privilege, he was born in 1770 and raised in what is modern day Senegal and enjoyed a prosperous life until he was captured and sold into slavery. His family was Muslim and he was educated in the Qur’an, Islamic practices and prayers. He also learned how to read and write in Arabic and knew some math too. He considered himself a scholar, a teacher and a merchant.

    By the time he came to America as a slave, Omar Ibn Said was 37 years old. He ended up in Fayetteville in 1810 after running away from a cruel master in Charleston, S.C. Of course, he was captured pretty quickly and charged with being a run away slave. While in jail, he turned to his faith and used coals from the fireplace to write prayers to Allah on the walls and ceiling of his cell. Being an educated Arab, all of his writings were in Arabic and the citizens of Fayetteville were intrigued by the markings he made in the jail.

    “They weren’t familiar with the writings, but it was obvious that this was an educated man,” said Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex administrator David Reid. Omar Ibn Said was purchased by James Owen of Bladen County and went to live with the family there. “Omar was held in high esteem by the family and treated quite well.” Reid added.

    Little did Omar Ibn Said, or the young town of Fayetteville, know what an impact he would have — one that would last for centuries.

    Although Omar Ibn Said is not the only Muslim sold into slavery in the U.S., he is the only one known to have penned his autobiography in his native language — Arabic. In fact, his original autobiography, which was penned in 1831, is the cornerstone of the exhibit.

    The manuscript consists of two parts. Omar Ibn Said begins with a chapter from the Koran, surat al-Mulk (‘dominion’ or ‘ownership’), then follows with his own narrative. Omar Ibn Said’s narrative is addressed to a “Sheikh Hunter,” who presumably asked Omar to write the narrative.

    In 1836, Omar Ibn Said sent his manuscript to Lamine Kebe, a freed slave and Muslim of Futa Toro, the region Omar Ibn Said grew up in, living in New York and preparing to return to Africa. Eventually, the manuscript of the autobiography was lost. It was found in a collection in Virginia in the 1990s and sold at auction. The current owner has allowed it to be examined by scholars and displayed in museums.

    Lamine Kebe passed the manuscript of the autobiography to Theodore Dwight, a founder of the American Ethnological Society professional traveler, writer and abolitionist. Dwight made it available to Alexander Cotheal, a linguist who was fluent in Arabic. Cotheal produced the first English translation of the work in 1848. A second translation was later done by Reverend Isac Beard, a founder of the Syrian Protestant Mission in Beirut (later American University Beirut).

    “I think the autobiography is something he wrote in 1831,” said Reid. “It is in his handwriting, it has been missing for a while and has come to light, so it is exciting to get the attention brought to Omar. He is an interesting fi gure from our history that people aren’t aware of — I think it will generate a lot of attention and interest.

    ”In addition, Davidson College is loaning a copy of the Lord’s Prayer translated into Arabic by Omar Ibn Said to the Museum of the Cape Fear.

    “The Owen family donated some artifacts to Davidson back in the 1870s or so,” said Reid. “They were staunch Presbyterians and knew of Davidson and trusted them to preserve it.”

    The Museum of the Cape Fear is located at 801 Arsenal Ave. They are open 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from 1-5 p.m. on Sundays. Call 486-1330 for more info.

  • Fayetteville Technical Community College (FTCC) provides education and workforce training to Cumberland County residents. In 2004, FTCC opened a campus in the town of Spring Lake to better serve the growing educational needs of the Spring Lake area and Fort Bragg. The warm and inviting atmosphere of the Spring Lake Campus leads to a calm environment, which allows the students to relax and learn in a peaceful setting.11-23-11-ftcc-logo.jpg

    Located adjacent to Fort Bragg and Pope Army Air Field, the campus has a significant enrollment of military dependents, veterans and active military personnel. The Spring Lake Campus serves approximately 4,000 students each year, about 35 percent of whom are military dependents, active duty military, reservists or veterans.

    The Spring Lake Campus continues to grow in its role as a strong community partner and good neighbor in the greater Spring Lake and Fort Bragg area by offering a number of pro-grams, hosting community events and expanding its program offerings to address emerging needs. The campus offers a num-ber of curriculum and continuing education programs including Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET), Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Registered Medical Assistant (RMA), phle-botomy certification online courses, adult basic education and GED, Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Emergency Medical Services (EMS), and various college-transfer opportunities. Plans are underway to expand its program offerings by adding a social-media program and Homeland Security/Emergency Management and Defense Analysis and Global Securities Studies Programs.

    Some of the resources that are available at the campus include an “I Persist, I Achieve, I Study, I Succeed” (I-PASS) Center, Spring Lake Campus Library Resource Center (located inside the Spring Lake Branch of the Cumberland County Public Library) and a physical fitness center. Plans are underway to add a walking/jogging trail and an athletic field for classes in flag football, volleyball, jog-ging and walking.

    Since its opening in 2004, the Spring Lake Campus has seen dramatic changes in the surrounding community. A new apartment complex, Village by the Lake, has been constructed directly across the street from campus. A number of new busi-nesses have set up shop in the town of Spring Lake as it is evolving into a regional commercial hub that serves northwestern Cumberland County and southwestern Harnett County. In the past few years, the town’s commercial development has soared into the millions of dollars, thereby creating hundreds of jobs and increas-ing the town’s tax base. To help develop a vision for the town’s future growth and development, the Spring Lake Campus served as the site for first “Spring Lake Community Summit.” The theme of the summit was “Connect, Create, and Collaborate.” The town leaders invited representatives from various national, state, county and local government offices, as well as leaders from FTCC and Fort Bragg, to serve as panelists.

    FTCC recognizes that it must take a collaborative approach with the school system and the community to ensure that stu-dents are prepared for post-secondary education. To that end, the Spring Lake Campus sponsors the children of Koala Day Care Center, located just behind the campus, for Harvest Fest/Halloween and Christmas events. For Harvest Fest/Halloween, the children are treated with a story time presented by the staff as well as bags of treats with candy and FTCC information. At Christmas, a special visit from Santa is enjoyed by all who attend.

    The campus is also developing the Spring Lake Campus Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Summer Academy in col-laboration with Fayetteville area schools, military groups and the non-profit organi-zation, Project L.I.F.T (Lift Initiative for Teens). The STEM Summer Academy is a five-week program that provides 3,000 hours of student-centered learning oppor-tunities for 30 middle and high school students in Spring Lake. Scholarships will be provided to most families to cover part of the $100 enrollment fee. Instruction will provide age- and grade-appropriate hands-on activities in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and computer sciences. To support the program, retired veterans, educators, active-duty military and military spouses will volunteer to serve as teachers, guest speakers and mentors.

    Through activities such as these, the Spring Lake Campus of Fayetteville Technical Community College is proving to be a good neighbor and community partner.

  • 07In the next few weeks, Cumberland County District Attorney Billy West will hold informational sessions for people who think they may qualify to be lawfully expunged. An expungement clinic will be held in the Spring of 2022 where local attorneys, the public defender’s office, and Legal Aid of NC will assist individuals in having their records expunged. So, what in the world is expungement? To “expunge” is to “erase or remove completely.” In the law, “expungement” is the process by which a record of criminal conviction is destroyed or sealed from state or federal records.

    An expungement order directs the court to treat a criminal conviction as if it had never occurred, essentially removing it from a defendant’s criminal record as well as, ideally, the public record. It is important to clarify that expungement is not “forgiveness” for committing a crime — that is a legal pardon. Likewise, pardons are not expungements and do not require removal of a conviction from a criminal record. When a criminal record is expunged, the public record of the arrest, charge, or conviction is deleted.

    Notice is also sent to a range of government entities, such as the sheriff’s office or police department that made the arrest and the division of motor vehicles. These agencies are directed to purge their records relating to the arrest, charge, or conviction. For most purposes, it’s like the legal proceeding never happened. However, confidential records are retained after expungement. These records are available under very limited circumstances, such as when a judge considering an expungement application wants to know whether the applicant has been granted an expungement in the past.

    Who should be expunged?

    "It's someone whose license has been suspended for at least 5 years due to unpaid fees on a minor traffic offense that has already been adjudicated such as a stop sign offense, speeding ticket, expired registration," West said.

    Fayetteville criminal justice activist Demetria Murphy said the economic treadmill is exactly what stops people from getting their licenses again.

    "Someone who goes from making $8 or $9 who now can go and work for a distribution center and have their regular driver's license back...puts them in a position to actually win," Murphy said.

    Under North Carolina law, a person whose record has been expunged generally does not have to disclose the arrest, charge or conviction on job applications, applications for housing, and in other settings where a criminal conviction may have a negative impact. Prospective employers and educational institutions can’t require applicants to disclose expunged entries. In fact, North Carolina law specifically protects people with expunged criminal records from perjury and similar charges relating to failure to disclose an expunged record. Employers who violate this law can be fined.

    North Carolina law provides for expungement of a wide variety of arrests, charges and convictions. In some cases, expungement is available only to people who were under a certain age at the time of the crime. Other expungements are available regardless of age. The best source of information about whether your arrest, charge, or conviction may be eligible for expungement is an experienced Fayetteville criminal defense attorney. For more information, contact the District Attorney’s Office at (910) 475-3010 or at Cumberland.DAExpugements@nccourts.org.

  • 06The Council on Criminal Justice issued a report earlier this year that shows the number of homicides in the U.S. during the first half of 2021 increased by 16% compared to the same period last year. The number of homicides in 2020 compared to 2019 rose by 25%, according to an FBI preliminary report. It was the largest increase since the FBI began releasing annual homicide figures in the 1960s. The spike in violent crime came as the Covid-19 pandemic swept across the country.

    This year’s murder rate in Fayetteville is unprecedented. As of Nov. 17, 43 people were killed by others. Arrests have been made in 33 of the cases. That exceeds the highest annual homicide number by 12.

    “There is no one answer to what’s going on,” Police Chief Gina Hawkins told Up & Coming Weekly. “There are so many guns in our community.”

    She says that people are impatient having been locked away in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hawkins said that unlike previous years, homicides here are city-wide.

    “In Fayetteville, the number one reason for murder was drug-related robberies,” Hawkins said, noting that murder is almost impossible to prevent.

  • 112515_red-apple-run.pngNot everyone has access to appropriate healthcare. Recognizing the gap between needs and services, Better Health has worked since 1958 to give Cumberland County residents the health services that they need. The non-profit organization focuses on diabetes management and education, childhood obesity prevention and education, loans for medical equipment and financial assistance for emergency medical needs. 

    “Several of our programs are preventative and/or disease management, so results come over time. Our most immediately gratifying program is our Direct Aid program. Clients can come to our office in need of help purchasing an emergency medication, having a tooth extracted, travel assistance to a medical appointment in Chapel Hill, etc.,” Amy Navejas M.D., executive director of the organization, explained. “We verify their income information and can assist them the same day. With these clients, we are able to see the impact immediately. Many come to us in tears and leave with a sense of relief that their needs are being met.” 

    In order to support its programs, Better Health relies on the community. One annual fundraiser is The Red Apple Run, which is set for Nov. 21. 

    “Direct Aid, Diabetes Management and Childhood Obesity Prevention are funded through this run. Thanks to operational support from the United Way, the funds raised at the Red Apple Run can go directly towards helping our clients,” said Navejas.

    For Navejas, the organization’s diabetes prevention program has a personal connection. “My father has Type I diabetes,” she explains, “While Better Health does much more than diabetes management, the cause hits close to home for me. I grew up having been taught about a healthy diet, the signs and symptoms of low and high blood sugar and what to tell EMS if I had to call 911 for my father. Working with Better Health allows me the chance to see others learn to manage their diabetes effectively and live their life to the fullest despite the complexities of the disease. It is very gratifying to see clients gain knowledge and confidence that they can manage this!” 

    Though this is only the third year of the Red Apple Run the community support has been tremendous. Last year more than 400 runners participated in the event. 

    Though diabetes education and prevention is the focus for the Red Apple Run, Better Health provides all kinds of healthcare programs and assistance. The organization offers free exercise classes, child obesity prevention and healthy cooking demonstrations to name just a few programs.

    The Red Apple Run for Diabetes is on Nov. 21. The 10K starts at 8:30 a.m. and the 5K starts at 8:45 a.m. Registration is $25 at www.active.com/fayetteville-nc/running/distance-running-races/red-apple-run-for-diabetes-10k-and-5k-run-walk-2015. The races will begin at 101 Robeson St. For more information, visit www.betterhealthcc.org or call 910.483-7534.

  • 04Cumberland County school bus drivers will share in additional system-wide bonuses being provided by the board of education. The school board decided on Nov. 17 to give the school district’s 6,000 full-time employees $1,000 bonuses in December and again in May. Local bus drivers have been demanding better pay and have staged protests recently. More than 100 buses were idled two weeks ago because of a "sick-out" staged by drivers.

    Starting pay for bus drivers in the school district is $12.21 an hour. A new state budget proposal includes a provision that the minimum hourly wage for non-certified school employees be raised to $13 this year and to $15 in the 2022-23 fiscal year. The state sets the baseline for pay in public schools, and some counties “supplement” those wages.
    The Cumberland County school district used to have a competitive supplemental package, but education officials say they are falling behind.

    "Determining the full cost (local, state and federal) of adjusting our minimum hourly salary to $13 or $15... is extremely complicated and if conducted internally could take an inordinate amount of time that we do not have given the state of the labor market," a memorandum released by the board said.

    Drivers say they are frustrated over a stalemate between the Cumberland County Board of Education and the county commissioners. The Board of Education develops the budget, but county commissioners provide the funding.

    "If you raise the pay for just one group, then you have many other groups within the district that did not get that same consideration," said Clyde Locklear, associate superintendent of business

    Many North Carolina school districts are struggling to hire and retain workers because of low wages and working conditions many complain about. More than a third of Cumberland County Schools, 50,000 students, depend on bus services to get to school.

  • 03President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden traveled to Fort Bragg, Nov. 22, to hand out Thanksgiving meals to service members and their families.

    Service members and families spent the afternoon getting COVID-19 tests and onboarding buses at Pike Field. From there, they were bused to a hangar by the Pope Army Airfield. The hangar had several activities for kids and families set up, including coloring books and games provided by the USO. The hangar was open, showing a panoramic view of the newly refinished flight line, so when Air Force One landed shortly before 5:30 p.m., all the service members and their families could see the iconic plane land and slowly pull past the hangar.

    Shortly after arrival, the Bidens disembarked from Air Force One. Before serving a meal to service members and their families, they each spoke to the crowd about the struggles military families face. Both Bidens talked about when Joe Biden's son, Beau Biden, served in the U.S. Army in Iraq and Kosovo. Beau Biden passed away in 2015 from cancer.

    "I know what it feels like for all of your families here because you won't be home for the holidays. I know what it's like to see that empty seat at the table and just feel how hard it is for the families," Jill Biden said. "I just wanted to thank all of you. That's why we came to have dinner with you."The First Lady then passed the microphone to President Biden, who spoke about how proud he was of being the Commander in Chief.

    "You do so much. Your families give so much. I really mean it," President Biden said in his speech to the troops. "You're the finest military that the world has ever seen. That's not hyperbole. You literally are. You're the finest the world has ever seen."

    The Bidens, Gov. Roy Cooper, Kristin Cooper, and Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin helped serve 250 service members and military families. The President served stuffing, and the First Lady served mashed potatoes.

    The Robert Irvine Foundation prepared and supplied the food. The non-profit foundation focuses on supporting service members and veterans through relief grants, scholarships and hearty meals. The founder, Chef Robert Irvine, is the host of Food Network's Restaurant Impossible.

    After dinner, the President and the First Lady walked along the hangar to take photos with and talk to service members.

    image0Attending family members and the service members were chosen by their commands, and representatives from each command at Fort Bragg were present.

    One of the families in attendance, the Ryan Family, Natalie Ryan and her two children, 10-year-old Mikayla and 8-year-old Tommy, have been at Fort Bragg for two years. Natalie's husband, Tommy Ryan Sr., who has 15 years of Army service under his belt, is deployed. She received the invitation to the dinner only the day before.

    "It's definitely an honor. Once in a lifetime kind of opportunity," Natalie Ryan said. The visit is part of the Joining Forces initiative — a White House effort to support military service members, military-affiliated families and veterans. The initiative, spearheaded by First Lady Jill Biden, began during her tenure as the Second Lady.

    "I think that Dr. Biden is incredible. I always appreciated it since she was the Second Lady. Especially her work getting military spouses’ employment and reducing the barriers to military spouse employment," Ryan said. "It's incredible and wonderful."

  • 05 FOrt Bragg signPresident Joe Biden and his wife, First Lady Jill Biden, are visiting Fort Bragg Monday evening as part of the Joining Forces Initiative. They will be celebrating Thanksgiving early with service members and military families.

    North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and his wife, Kristen Cooper, will be joining the President during his visit.

    The president is expected to leave from Joint Base Andrews in Maryland around 4:20 p.m. and then arrive at Fort Bragg about an hour later. The White House's "Friendsgiving" dinner is expected to start around 6 p.m.

    Joining Forces is a White House initiative to support military families, which includes families of service members, veterans, caregivers and survivors. Last week, Jill Biden spoke at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and pleaded with business owners to hire and train spouses of active members of the military — just as businesses have been doing in successful efforts to hire veterans.

    Up & Coming Weekly will be at the event. We will update our Facebook and Instagram pages throughout the day.

  • 08The Fayetteville Public Works Commission has issued $94.79 million of revenue bonds at an interest rate of 2.278%, the lowest public rate ever achieved by PWC. Citigroup Global Markets Inc. bought the bond series. PWC issued the bonds to fund improvements to its electricity, water and wastewater utilities, including $22 million to retrofit utilities in the City of Fayetteville’s Phase V annexation area.

    “The low cost of borrowing helps PWC maintain highly-reliable utility services and demonstrates the strength of Fayetteville’s utility system,” said PWC General Manager, Elaina Ball.

    Fitch Ratings has assigned and affirmed an “AA” rating to bonds issued by Fayetteville’s Public Works Commission.

    The rating reflects PWC's very strong financial performance characterized by very low leverage, strong operating cash flow and healthy liquidity, Fitch Ratings said.

  • 07The Fort Bragg Religious Support Office organized a Thanksgiving Build-A-Meal Campaign on post to help support soldiers and family members who are in need. With the help of 71 volunteers earlier this month at the All American Chapel, the RSO helped build 1,631 Thanksgiving food bags and is giving out 1,269 $25 commissary gift cards.

    Included in the bags of food are stuffing, yams, green beans, potatoes and cranberry sauce.

    “The Thanksgiving meal bags are to provide meals for those soldiers and families who are in great need this year,” Col. Julie Rowan, Fort Bragg garrison chaplain, said. “These meals were accessible through the Unit Ministry Teams here at Fort Bragg.”

    The bags of food will be distributed to soldiers and their families on Nov. 19.

  • 06Cumberland County Social Services Director Brenda Reid Jackson is retiring at the end of the year. The Social Services Board of Directors has hired Heather L. Skeens to succeed Jackson beginning on Dec. 6.

    “Brenda Jackson has worked tirelessly for our county’s most vulnerable citizens over the last 13 years, and we are grateful for the impact her service has had across the county,” said County Manager Amy Cannon.

    Skeens is currently Guilford County’s Health and Human Services Director but previously served in Cumberland County as DSS Deputy Director. She will oversee the administration of one of the largest social services agencies in North Carolina. Cumberland County DSS has more than 700 employees and a fiduciary budget of over $600 million.

  • 05It's not often that law enforcement agencies give up investigations. But the death of Spc. Enrique Roman-Martinez, 21, of Fort Bragg’s 82nd Airborne Division “is in a cold case status,” according to Jeffrey Castro, an Army Criminal Investigation Division spokesman.

    Martinez was reported missing on May 23, 2020, at North Carolina’s Cape Lookout National Seashore. Roman-Martinez’s severed head washed ashore six days later.

    “After exhausting hundreds of leads and thousands of hours of investigation, there are no more credible investigative leads remaining at this time,” Castro added.

    Roman-Martinez’s family has expressed concerns that the apparent murder of their family member may never be resolved. U.S. House Rep. Norma Torres has been in touch with the family since his death.

    “I think that we owe our personnel at the very least and their families the respect of giving them answers,” Torres wrote in a letter to the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General. “I’m not satisfied that the Army CID has done everything in their power to solve this case.”

  • 04The Cumberland County school system is among several school districts dealing with school bus drivers who want higher pay. The numbers vary day-to-day, but on a typical morning this month, a school district spokesman said 315 buses picked up children. Normally, 438 buses operate morning routes.

    Last Tuesday, more than 100 school bus drivers called in sick and did not show up for their shift in protest. Some drivers from other schools were able to assist schools without drivers. School buses usually take as many as 17,000 students to school each morning. The current starting pay for all bus drivers is $12.21. Superintendent Marvin Connelly Jr. said that there will need to be an annual $6 million budget they can set aside before drivers can receive a raise.

    The Cumberland County Board of Education will be holding an emergency meeting on Nov. 17 at 8:30 a.m. to discuss "recent employee compensation and working condition concerns and to address additional recruitment and retention employee bonuses and to update the 2017 Compensation Study." That meeting will be live-streamed on their YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/user/CumberlandCoSch/videos

  • 03Redistricting of congressional and legislative seats has created a political opportunity for former Fayetteville Mayor Nat Robertson. He announced on Facebook that he will run for Congress in the newly drawn 4th Congressional District. Robertson served three terms as mayor from 2013 to 2019. The new district includes all of Cumberland, Sampson and Johnston counties, as well as portions of Harnett and Wayne counties. Robertson is running as a Republican candidate.

    “There is no current incumbent running in this district, and hopefully no one else from Cumberland County will file,” Robertson said.

    He is a businessman and currently works for Cintas, an Ohio-based services company that provides uniforms, cleaning supplies and safety equipment. As mayor, Robertson oversaw Fayetteville’s efforts to build a minor league baseball stadium and secure funding for the I-295 freeway.

  • 02Efforts are underway by Fayetteville City Council to replace District 3 council member Tisha Waddell. She resigned suddenly last week citing “egregious actions” of misconduct by Mayor Mitch Colvin and some of her council colleagues. Waddell issued a lengthy five-page open letter outlining her allegation that Colvin has engaged in conflicts of interest and lack of transparency.

    She charged that the mayor regularly “ignored council policy and used his position to influence and subvert” procedures established by the council.

    “I am disappointed that Former Councilwoman Waddell has chosen to resign while making baseless accusations against her former colleagues on City Council and private citizens on her way out the door. It’s campaign time so I guess here comes the smear campaign,” Colvin said in a Facebook statement. He has since updated and edited that statement.

    “The City of Fayetteville is saddened by the abrupt resignation of one of our city council members. We thank her for the time she has dedicated to her district and our wonderful city. The City Council wishes her the very best in all of her future endeavors and we are looking forward to working with the new representative as we put Fayetteville first!”

    During their years working together, Waddell was regularly critical of Colvin. Five of the nine council members — Mayor Pro Tem Kathy Jensen, Chris Davis, Johnny Dawkins, D.J. Haire, and Larry Wright — have been generally supportive of the mayor. Waddell wrote of “multiple closed sessions” held by the City Council, one of which included a representative of a private equity firm, Bernard Capital Partners, and Fayetteville Public Works Commissioners on BCP’s proposal to invest nearly $1 billion to operate the city's utilities for the next 30 years.

    PWC eventually declined the offer. Closed meetings of public bodies are governed by state statutes that limit participation and topics of discussion.

    Some of the allegations Waddell made include: Colvin destroyed public records by having his cell phone wiped clean; Colvin was involved in communication with BCP representatives about City Matters without City Council approval and did not state to City Council about the conflict of interest; Members of City Council were contacted by and had discussions with Attorney Johnathan Charleston regarding Dismass Charities before a Special Use Permit was brought before the City Council – which could violate sunshine state law.

    Waddell urged the City Council to conduct an independent review of her allegations and that if they fail to do so, “the citizens of this city should begin calling for an investigation of their own regarding corruption of members of the Fayetteville City Council.” She went so far as to suggest that the State Bureau of Investigation of the FBI probe BCP involvement with Mayor Colvin.

    In a follow up interview with RUD:E Podcast, Waddell said that it is up to the council and the public to follow-up on the allegations.

    “I have every expectation that the members of this community will do their due diligence and that they will call me out if the need is there and I'm willing to answer to any accusation made of me. I'm willing to submit to any investigation. I am willing to move forward as a part of whatever this city and this governing body feels is the appropriate course of action,” Waddell said. “I said what I said, and now you take what I said, and you do what you're going to do with it. And if this body chooses to ignore this information, that says a lot about this body."
    Waddell said she was honored to have served the city.

    As of Nov. 16, the City of Fayetteville Ethics Commission told Up & Coming Weekly that they have "no such investigation related to those allegations, at this time."

    An application form is currently available on the city website for anyone interested in filling the seat. Applications are due on Nov. 26. Anyone can apply for the position as long as they are a registered voter, live in District 3, over the age of 21 and is a Fayetteville citizen.

    The application form can be found here: https://www.fayettevillenc.gov/Home/Components/Form/Form/900e59e85aba4d1b9207af0d0722a146/4126

    A City Council Special Meeting is scheduled for Dec. 6 where the council will appoint the next District 3 representative.

    This person would serve in the role until the next election. People who have already declared that they will be campaigning for the district seat in the upcoming election include John Zimmerman, Johnny Gordon and Mario Benavente. The primary election will be on March 8.

  • Tisha WaddellEfforts are underway by Fayetteville City Council to replace District 3 council member Tisha Waddell. She resigned suddenly this past Tuesday citing “egregious actions” of misconduct by Mayor Mitch Colvin and some of her council colleagues. Waddell issued a lengthy five-page open letter outlining her allegation that Colvin has engaged in conflicts of interest and lack of transparency. She charged that the mayor regularly “ignored council policy and used his position to influence and subvert” procedures established by council.

    "I am disappointed that former Councilmember Waddell has chosen to resign and make baseless accusations against a substantial number of her former City Council colleagues and private citizens on her way out the door," Colvin said in a statement.

    During their years working together, Waddell was regularly critical of Colvin. Five of the nine council members -- Mayor Pro Tem Kathy Jensen, Chris Davis, Johnny Dawkins, D.J. Haire, and Larry Wright -- have been generally supportive of the mayor.

    Waddell wrote of “multiple closed sessions” held by city council, one of which included a representative of a private equity firm, Bernard Capitol Partners, and Fayetteville Public Works commissioners on BCP’s proposal to invest nearly $1 billion to operate the city's utilities for the next 30 years. PWC eventually declined the offer. Closed meetings of public bodies are governed by state statutes that limit participation and topics of discussion.

    Waddell urged city council to conduct an independent review of her allegations and that if they fail to do so, “the citizens of this city should begin calling for an investigation of their own regarding corruption of members of the Fayetteville City Council.” She went so far as to suggest that the State Bureau of Investigation of the FBI probe Bernhard Capitol Partners involvement with the mayor.

    Waddell asked that City Attorney Karen MacDonald “guide the council” in selecting her District 3 successor by November 30. She said she was honored to have served the city. “I believe I have done so ethically, legally and according to the community’s expectations.”


    City Manager, City Attorney and Members of the City Council,

    This letter is to serve as notice of my immediate official resignation from the Fayetteville City Council. City Manager Hewett, my badqe, city tablet, and cell phone are at City Hall for retrieval on your desk. Would you please advise if I need to do anything else to out process? City Attorney McDonald, per Council Policy 175·11, please guide the City Council according to N-C·G·S· § 160A-63 "the City Council shall make the selection within 30 days of the event mandating the replacement".

    I hope that in the interest of the Citizens of District 3, Council will promptly adhere to the policy as outlined and appoint someone to represent the District no later than November 30th, 2021.

    I have been honored to serve in this capacity· I believe I have done so ethically, legally, and according to the community's expectations. This decision was not easy to make as I
    have taken my role as a representative of the people, for the people, and by the people very seriously. Multiple factors have made it necessary for this to be my designated
    course of action· While the following explanation is not exhaustive, it highlights the most egregious actions that have led to my resignation.

    Per the Council's Code of Ethics, the only agents that can hold any member of this body accountable for violating policy or procedure are the members of this body. Unfortunately, many times, both publicly and privately, members of this board have not taken action, even when faced with evidence of the need.

    I submit the following to this board and to the public who will read this document, as it is a matter of public record:

    Bernhard Capital Partners was initially brought to the City of Fayetteville through an introduction by then 1st term Mayor Mitch Colvin. Members of the Council and
    members of PWC's board were present for this initial meeting. There was no further mention of Bernhard Capital Partners during the remainder of Mitch Colvin's 1st term as Mayor. Recently, the possible effects of this agreement and the lack of transparency surrounding this conversation have been a vast topic of concern in the community·

    Shifting ahead to the inauguration of the 2019-2021 Fayetteville City Council, Mayor Steve Benjamin swore in Mayor Colvin. On the surface, this may seem inconsequential. However, when considered part of the big picture, it is an integral part of this discussion· On March 10th, 2020, Mayor Benjamin was announced as an addition to the Charleston Group ( owned by Attorney Johnathan Charleston) to their Public Finance practice.

    He is also associated with Bernhard Capital Partners since at least 2015 https://dipresa.com.py/cmr36yx/3c6290-bernhard-capital-partners and at their 2020 annual meeting (https://www·bcp-2020-com) was a featured guest speaker. On page 8 of Institutional investing in Infrastructure (A Special Report published in conjunction with Bernhard Capital Partners), November 2020 Issue, Mayor Benjamin is also featured commenting regarding municipal revenues and public-private partnerships.

    My priority on Council has been increasing the investment we were making in our infrastructure (stormwater, street resurfacing, and sidewalk installation.)

    During my second term, I began getting calls about a "private equity firm" that may be looking into an arrangement with the City regarding the fund transfer dollars from PWC. Eventually, it came out that the Mayor had been in communication with BCP without the involvement of the Council and without; direction to engage them (inconsistent with Council Policy).

    Once the concession agreement dialogue came before the Council, a few members of the body were clear that we expected equitable access to the information discussed regarding the agreement. During multiple closed sessions regarding the matter, a few other Council members and I continued to express concerns for the lack of clear communication across the Council. We could never gain the consensus of the collective Council to bring it under control·

    Eventually, there was a closed session meeting with Bernhard Capital Partners, PWC's board, and the City Council to have some more detailed discussions. Allegedly Johnathan Charleston was present at the start of the meeting but left before the closed session discussion. This seems to present; a conflict, of interest, as Mr. Charleston serves as the Bond Council for the City of Fayetteville and Public Works Commission, Mr. Benjamin's employer, and Mayor Colvin's attorney. The overlap seems, at minimum, to present a conflict.

    Mr. Charleston also allegedly hosted a fundraiser for Mayor Mitch Colvin recently. Allegedly members of Bernhard Capital Partners were present.

    Currently, the Council stalled in the appointment of a PWC commissioner, which is relevant because, without the agreement of PWC, the City cannot arbitrarily accept Berhard Capital Partners concession agreement. The community should question the seeming allegiance to Mayor Colvin's agenda by Mayor ProTem Jensen, Councilman Haire,
    Councilman Dawkins, Councilman Davis, and Councilman Wright.

    Allegedly members of this Council are being lobbied by Johnathan Charleston for one of the applicants. This applicant was asked about a relationship with any member of the Council that could be considered a conflict of interest on his application and during an in-person interview. He denied any existed, however allegedly he has both a close relationship with Mr. Charleston (PWC's Bond Council) and an almost familial relationship with Councilman Chris Davis, who also serves as the liaison, appointed by the Mayor, between PWC and the City of Fayetteville.

    Allegedly, the six members of the Council listed above have close communication with Mr· Charleston both professionally and personally. Mr. Charleston has provided legal counsel for at least three of the above. I have not heard allegations of influential familiarity with Attorney Charleston regarding Councilman Dawkins or Councilman Haire. They appear to have different motives that influence their synchronization with the Mayor's efforts.

    Of note, the City has pending litigation regarding Dismass Charities, a transaction involving Attorney Charleston. The influence of Mr. Charleston on this body may help make the confusion surrounding this conversation make more sense·

    Lastly, the Mayor has been accused of using his position and his influence to subvert the process established by the Fayetteville City Council. Some examples include:

    • Having his cell phone wiped of information by City Staff during the timeframe then-Councilman Tyrone Williams was accused of inappropriate usage of his position. If this allegation is found, it demonstrates using City Staff to destroy public records.
    • Encouraging members of the body to ignore concerns about and not report potential exposure to what is considered one of our time's most contagious virus (COVID-19)
    • Building permits and certificate of appropriateness being handled in a manner inconsistent with the policy by City Staff regarding his property on Hay Street (Kress Building)
    • An attempt to coerce elected members of the Council to follow unestablished policies including "attendance policies" without following the protocol set forth.

    The Fayetteville City Council should call for an immediate investigation into:

    • The allegation that Mayor Mitch Colvin destroyed public records by having his cell phone wiped clean (phone number 910.987.0590) and any involvement of any member of City Staff
    • The involvement of Johnathan Charleston regarding any business with Bernhard Capital Partners or their representatives
    • The involvement of Mayor Mitch Colvin regarding any business with Bernhard Capital Partners or any of their representatives - to include Mayor Steve Benjamin
    • Members of Council contacted by or having discussions with Attorney Johnathan Charleston or any of his representatives regarding Dismass Charities before, during, or after the initial Special Use Permit was brought to us for consideration? If this happened, it would be a direct violation of the law/policy regarding Special Use Permits.

    The City Council should move forward IMMEDIATELY with an independent review or these allegations and should require that Mayor Mitch Colvin and Councilman Chris Davis abstain from any vote regarding PWC's appointment or Bernhard Capital Partners, as there is the appearance there could be a conflict of interest or something to be gained financially.

    In the case that the Council does not immediately investigate, the citizens of this City should begin calling (or an investigation on their own regarding corruption of members of the Fayetteville City Council by the State Bureau of lnvesti9ations (S.B.I.) or Federal Bureau od Investigations (F.B.I.), specifically regarding the Bernhard Capital Partners involvement in Fayetteville with the Mayor, Mitch Colvin, and the City and PWC's Bond Council, Johnathan Charleston as well as the alleged  destruction of public records by mayor Mitch Colvin.

    Remember that Fayetteville is a Council/Manager form or government which means the Mayor only has one vote and does not determine the direction of the body. There should be more communication, more outward-facing transparency, and less blind compliance or members or the overall body. I am very disappointed in Mayor Colvin, Mayor ProTem Jensen, Councilman Wright, and   Councilman Davis because they have been dismissive of the process, critical of anything that seemingly opposed the Mayor's agenda and has refused to submit to a process review, choosing instead to ostracize those who believed it to be important. While the step I am taking to resign may seem drastic, it is imperative at this time.

    Lastly, this Council should appoint someone to succeed me within 30 days or my resignation. Hold them to it.In the meantime, I am still just a phone call away and will continue to serve this community in whatever way God requires.

    With respect,

    Council Member Tisha S. Waddell

    EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a developing story. For the most updated information, pick up our next issue of Up & Coming Weekly at our newsstands on November 17.

  • 18 ALMS HOUSEForgive Grilley Mitchell if he’s been preoccupied the last few weeks. He’s preparing to have several friends over for Thanksgiving dinner again, as many as 60 or 70 to be exact.

    This will make the 10th year that Mitchell, program coordinator at the ALMS HOUSE in Hope Mills, has helped coordinate the annual free Thanksgiving dinner for the town’s underprivileged. It’s held each year on Thanksgiving Day at the ALMS HOUSE building on Ellison Street downtown near the historic Trade Street district.

    Mitchell, who is retired from the military, is a native of Vidalia, Georgia, and has called Hope Mills home since moving there in 2004. He first got involved in activities at the ALMS HOUSE in 2009.

    Mitchell said he usually tries to start getting things organized for the big meal the first of November, but he’s a little behind this year because of his involvement in the recent Hope Mills municipal election.

    The biggest challenge, as always, is collecting all the food that will be needed for the big event, and Mitchell and the volunteers at the ALMS HOUSE cut no corners when it comes to providing everything that’s part of the Thanksgiving eating tradition.

    The tentative menu for this year includes turkey, ham, dressing or stuffing, potato salad, macaroni and cheese, green beans or greens, sweet potatoes or yams, gravy, cranberry sauce, dinner rolls and assorted desserts and beverages.

    The food is provided by ALMS HOUSE volunteers and people in the community who step up to help out.

    ALMS HOUSE stands for Associated Local Ministries in Service, Helping Others in Unfortunate Situations and Experiences.The mission of the ALMS HOUSE is to assist with utilities, medicine, food, clothing, household items, school supplies and Bibles.

    The ALMS HOUSE regularly provides free lunches to the underprivileged of the Hope Mills area and makes every effort to avoid turning anyone away.

    Some people bring the food unprepared to the ALMS HOUSE building, but Mitchell encourages them to wait the day of the luncheon and bring it already cooked and ready to serve around 11 a.m. The luncheon begins at noon.

    If people want to donate uncooked turkey or ham, Mitchell tries to get them to stop by on Monday or Tuesday the week of Thanksgiving so he can find someone to cook and prepare them in time for the big meal.

    This year, to avoid excess and duplication, Mitchell sent out a list to a number of people in the community specifying amounts of many of the items to insure there will be enough to handle the expected crowd.

    Mitchell said there has been a recent influx of entire families who have taken part of the services offered by the ALMS HOUSE.

    In some cases, he said, families with as many as six to nine members have come by for help.

    Based on attendance at meals served during at the ALMS HOUSE during the summer months, Mitchell is anticipating a crowd of anywhere from 60 to 70 this year. At past Thanksgiving lunches the numbers have come closer to 100.

    The biggest problem for some of the folks who need to take advantage of the free meal is getting there. The ALMS HOUSE is unable to provide transportation or deliver the food, so the folks who want to come to the Thanksgiving lunch have to find a way to get to the Ellison Street location in order to eat.

    “We’re seeing a lot of new faces we haven’t seen,’’ Mitchell said of the people coming to the ALMS HOUSE. “You have your homeless populations and they are transient. They tend to move around.’’

    Mitchell said food will be served until they run out on Thanksgiving Day, but normally they are usually finished and packed up before 2 p.m.

    There is often food left after the luncheon. Unprepared nonperishable food can be saved for Christmas, Mitchell said.

    In past years, when the ALMS HOUSE had too much prepared food on hand, Mitchell and the volunteers delivered the excess to the Salvation Army in Fayetteville.

    He’s hopeful the specific requests he’s made regarding the amount of food needed this year will help avoid to many leftovers.

    “It’s the love and the compassion of the community coming together,’’ Mitchell said of the event. “We feed anyone that comes in. We don’t discriminate. If you’re hungry, we’ll feed you. We do it out of love.’’

    For any questions about the Thanksgiving meal or other events at ALMS HOUSE call 910-425-0902.
  • 14 moonshineMoonshine has come to my rescue.

    I am always trying to find ways to make North Carolina No. 1 in something important.

    Thanks to University of North Carolina at Asheville Professor Daniel Pierce, we have a substantial claim to be No. 1. In his new book, “Tar Heel Lightnin’: How Secret Stills and Fast Cars Made North Carolina the Moonshine Capital of the World,” he asserts that our state is tops in moonshine. He writes, “Indeed, if North Carolina has ever held the distinction of being number one nationally in anything, it is in moonshine production.”

    Then, in about 275 pages, showing the long and rich history of the making, sale and consumption of illegal liquor, he shows why and how North Carolina developed its No. 1 connection with what we call moonshine, also known by other names, such as corn liquor, white lighting, blockade, home brew and a host of other terms.

    “From the earliest colonial times, farmers, using techniques their families had learned in the British Isles, distilled their corn and fruit into whisky and brandy.”

    Until Civil War times, no government restrictions prevented them from making alcoholic beverages to trade or sell. In 1862, the national government passed an excise tax on liquor. After the Civil War, most farmers and other small producers ignored the tax, continued their production and made themselves petty criminals. Federal tax collectors tried to catch these moonshiners and put them out of business and into jail.

    The high cost of tax-paid liquor made the production of untaxed moonshine more profitable and more prevalent in every part of North Carolina.

    The prohibition movement was growing. In 1909, the state implemented statewide prohibition. Then in 1920, national prohibition went into effect.

    Pierce says, “Prohibition only increased the market for moonshine in the state and kept the state in the forefront of illegal liquor production nationally through the 1960s.”

    As legal liquor became more available, this shine on moonshine dimmed.

    Pierce’s great storytelling gifts make his thorough study of moonshine a fun read.

    For instance, he gathers short articles on legendary personalities into a hypothetical “North Carolina Moonshine Hall of Fame (and Shame).”

    My favorite of Pierce’s Hall of Famers is Percy Flowers. He was born in 1903 and grew up in Johnston County on a farm near the community of Archer Lodge. He left home at 16 to get away from an abusive father. He learned the liquor making craft from an African American expert and parlayed that expertise into a multi-million dollar enterprise. He was an organizer, hiring others to make the moonshine while he managed the distribution.

    I first heard of Flowers from Lynwood Parker, owner of the White Swan Bar-B-Que near Smithfield. Flowers once owned the building where White Swan is today. Ever since, I have been eager to learn more about Flowers. Pierce has obliged.

    Flowers entered the business about the time the 18th Amendment’s national prohibition began in 1920. He told people he made more money during those prohibition years than any other period of his life.

    Pierce writes, “He was successful not only in making a fortune, producing and selling illegal liquor but also, especially given his high profile, in evading law enforcement.”

    Flowers is joined in the Hall by famous figures such as Junior Johnson, the legendary race car driver who learned his trade driving moonshine in cars fast enough to evade the revenuers. Others include Rhoda Lowry, the widow of Lumbee hero Henry Berry Lowry and modern media figures, Popcorn Sutton and Jim Tom Hedrick, who had brands of “legal moonshine” named after them.

    There is more, so much more. So if you are looking for a Christmas present for a hard-to-give friend or family member, “Tar Heel Lightnin’” could be a good option.

  • 05 SPP on CCC stage 1The Carolina Civic Center Historic Theater, located in downtown Lumberton, continues to present virtual concerts that have been pre-taped on its stage while the theater is closed to in-person audiences due to COVID-19 social gathering restrictions.

    The next concert is by the all-female bluegrass group Sweet Potato Pie and premieres Thanksgiving evening, Nov. 26 at 7 p.m. The concert can be viewed on the theater’s Facebook page.

    It is conducted in partnership with the Robeson County Arts Council as part of its annual Bluegrass on the Blackwater series. This performance was filmed on the stage at the Carolina Civic Center Historic Theater.

    These performances were originally scheduled as part of its 2020-21 season, and continue the theater’s commitment to programming during the ongoing pandemic and its related audience restrictions for performance centers.

    These virtual performances are premiering on the theater’s Facebook page at “Carolina Civic Center Historic Theater” and subsequently are shared on its web site at www.carolinaciviccenter.com.

    The theater’s previous “Spotlight on Local Talent” Performance Series (eight installments) also can be viewed on its web site. This performance is partially underwritten by a grant from the Robeson County Arts Council and the North Carolina Arts Council.

    Sweet Potato Pie has been entertaining audiences for nearly two decades with their classy blend of Americana, bluegrass, country and gospel music mixed together in a style they call “sweetgrass.”

    Radio and TV are well acquainted with their “angelic” vocals from appearances on PBS, the Food Network and worldwide radio broadcasts. Hailed as the “Lennon Sisters of Bluegrass,” their show revolves around their beautiful three-part harmonies, hard driving instrumentals and down home humor. With classic songs from Patsy Cline, Bill Monroe, The Judds and many more along with their chart topping original songs, the audience is in for a sensational night of family entertainment.

    The group includes co-founding and last original member Sonya Stead, guitar; Crystal Richardson, banjo; Sandy Whitley, bass; Katie Springer, fiddle; Tori Jones, fiddle; and Madeleine Baucom, guitar. All of the women are from North Carolina.

    For more information of the group visit www.sweet-potato-pie.com/

    While the concert is free, a donation link will be available to help support artist fees and production costs.

    To view the concert visit www.facebook.com/Carolina-Civic-Center-Historic-Theater-166667200079609

    Pictured: Sweet Potato Pie will perform on stage at the Carolina Civic Center Historic Theater on Nov. 26. The show is part of an on-going series of virtual concerts from the 2020-21 season adapted in response to COVID-19 restrictions.

  • 15 01 MccrayOn Dec. 2, a new era of government for the town of Hope Mills begins with the swearing in of its new Board of Commissioners.

    In the recent general election on Nov. 5, the town’s voters returned sitting commissioners Jessie Bellflowers, Jerry Legge and Pat Edwards to the board, brought back former commissioner Bryan Marley and made history with the election of Dr. Kenjuana McCray, the leading vote-getter of all the candidates and the first African-American woman elected to a position on the Board of Commissioners.

    The commissioners are listed below in the order of most votes received by each.

    Dr. Kenjuana McCray

    McCray, the only person elected to the board this time who is a complete neophyte to the job, thinks the town has a number of projects on the table right now but also doesn’t think the funding is readily available to complete all of them.
    One item that’s at the top of McCray’s to-do list is the completion of Heritage Park in the vicinity of the Hope Mills dam.

    15 02 bryan MarleyThe previous board put a lot of effort into getting a greenway and walking trail open at the former Hope Mills golf course property, but McCray thinks it’s time to focus attention elsewhere.

    “Whatever we do at Heritage Park, there needs to be a clear plan on what we are going to do with the golf course,’’ she said. “I don’t think we need to do one project without knowing the direction of the other projects.’’

    McCray thinks time needs to be devoted to public transportation and the pending issue of the Interstate 295 outer loop. She wants to learn what the Department of Transportation has in mind for Hope Mills that could aid the town’s ongoing problem with traffic.

    McCray has lived in Hope Mills for 13 years and serves as lead coordinator for social sciences and humanities at Fayetteville Technical Community College. She takes both her community and her new role as a commissioner very seriously.

    “I know everybody is watching,’’ she said. “I have no doubt I’m going to make the people of Hope Mills proud."

    15 03 Pat EdwardsBryan Marley

    Marley said it was a good feeling to return to the board after a two-year hiatus following his loss in the 2017 election.

    A longtime employee of the town of Hope Mills as a firefighter, Marley is currently the Fire marshal and emergency management director for neighboring Hoke County.

    “I’m from here and have lived here my whole life,’’ Marley said. “I’m glad the citizens saw fit to give me another chance.’’

    Marley said the new board needs to be more unified than its predecessor. “The town is a business and it’s got to be run like a business,’’ he said. “You can’t let personal stuff get in the way of handling business.’’
    Marley thinks one of the first things the new board should do is restore some of the powers of office to Mayor Jackie Warner that the previous board took away.

    He feels clear lines of communication between members are crucial. “I feel this new board is going to get it together, and we’ll start moving the town forward,’’ he said.

    Pat Edwards

    Edwards returns to the Board of Commissioners hopeful that this new group will be far more harmonious than the board of the last two years.

    She agreed with her fellow incoming commissioners that there are some big projects on the table that need immediate attention.

    15 04 jerry leggeAll of them are going to require funding. Edwards thinks the town staff can help build partnerships with businesses. “They know all the grants that are available,’’ she said. “We can save a lot of money.
    “Let people talk to us and negotiate,’’ she said.

    Jerry Legge

    Legge hopes the new board is ready to put conflict aside and unite for what’s best for the town.

    With the exception of McCray, Legge said he has previous working relationships with all the members of the new board. He feels McCray brings excellent skills to the job that will help her to quickly become a good commissioner.
    Like many of the other board members, Legge lists completing the Heritage Park project along with the Episcopal Church and parish house projects as important, along with the development of the golf course.

    He also thinks time needs to be devoted to the Interstate 295 outer loop.

    “I think it’s very important we establish what we see out there, although we can’t control all of that,’’ he said.

    “I really do look forward to the challenge of being able to sit down and work with these people,’’ he said of the new board.

    15 05 Jessie BellflowersJessie Bellflowers

    Bellflowers first congratulated the members of the incoming board, calling it an exciting group. “We’ve got some challenges and opportunities ahead of us,’’ he said.

    A major focus for the next two years will be ongoing projects like Heritage Park, development of the golf course and the construction of the new public safety complex for the police and fire departments.
    He also called the Interstate 295 outer loop a huge project for the town.

    He sees all of those items as topics the board needs to focus attention on during its first 60 to 90 days in office.

    He’s hopeful the new board will approach all of the challenges facing the town from a team perspective.

    ”I’m hoping that’s how we get started, because it’s going to take a team effort of everybody rowing the boat in the same direction with these challenges and opportunities we have the next two years,’’ he said.

    At a projected cost of $16 million, Bellflowers said the public safety facility gives him a reason for pause.

    “We desperately need the building, but how are we going to pay for the building?’’ he asked. “That’s a lot of money. It may take two or three years for economic development to develop and be sustainable.’’
    Pictured from top to bottom: Dr. Kenjuana McCray, Bryan Marley, Pat Edwards, Jerry Legge, Jessie Bellflowers. 
  • 10 feaste18Oye! Oye! Methodist University’s Renaissance-themed Yuletide Feaste is returning this Christmas season Dec. 6 and 7 for its ninth year of spreading holiday merriment and mirth to the Fayetteville area.

    Not an ordinary dinner theater, the Methodist University Chorale takes patrons on a trip back in time to the court of Queen Elizabeth I of England, as members of the choir, bedecked in their fifteenth-century finery, celebrate the joy of the season as members of the Queen’s court. The show features a variety of traditional and period carols, sung by the University Choir, as well as special holiday pieces presented by MU’s elite Chamber Singers. The show culminates in a moving rendition of “Silent Night” sung by candlelight, as guests are invited to reflect upon the deeper meaning of the season. The show is full of warmth and heart, as it offers not only lighthearted entertainment for guests, but invites everyone, performers and patrons alike, to experience the comfort and joy of the Christmas spirit.

    As the name suggests, Yuletide Feaste offers its patrons top-notch entertainment, but it also provides guests with a sumptuous spread inspired by the holiday feasts held by the royal courts of 15th-century Europe. The four-course meal includes dishes such as butternut squash soup, stuffed chicken with smoked Gouda, wild rice pilaf and much more. There are also vegetarian options available for those who prefer to forego meat. Finally, the meal concludes with a spectacular dessert — figgy pudding, doused in brandy and then set aflame, as the dish has traditionally been served for hundreds of years.

    The Yuletide Feaste was the brainchild of Dr. Michael Martin, the director of University Choirs at MU. Inspired by similar holiday shows put on at Kent State University, where he was a student, Martin brought the idea to the MU Chorale and organized Fayetteville’s first Feaste in 2011. As MU Chorale members will tell you, Feaste is as much a delight for the students to put on as it is for patrons to watch. This year, the president of the MU Chorale, Mrs. Jordan Dues, will portray Queen Elizabeth I. Dues, a senior, shared her sentiments: “Feaste has not only become a tradition for the Chorale, but also for the community. It’s a night filled with good food, good company and good entertainment. I’ve enjoyed being a part of the Chorale for these past four years and cannot imagine how I will feel next year when I can no longer be a part of this great family.”

    Dues said that she will, however, continue to participate in the event after she graduates, albeit from the other side of the curtain. “I will come back as often as I can to watch the Queen’s court and the companionship that is exhibited.”

    Yuletide Feaste will be held at Haymount United Methodist Church on Fort Bragg Road Dec. 6 and 7. Tickets are $45 each and benefit the MU Chorale, helping them travel to perform in various locations throughout the country and around the world. Tickets must be reserved by Nov. 25 and can be purchased online at https://www.methodist.edu/music/yuletide-feaste/ or by mailing a physical copy of the registration form with a check or credit card number to Linda Volman Lane at the MU music department.
  • 14 Jackie Warner and husbandMoving forward. Those are the marching orders Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner has adopted for herself following her re-election to office.

    During the short time since her re-election on Nov. 5 and the swearing in of the new Board of Commissioners on Dec. 2, Warner will follow a game plan that has worked for her after previous elections.  
    She hopes to set up meetings with the new commissioners before the swearing in ceremony is held.

    The purpose of the meetings, she said, is to let the new board know that what is passed is passed and her goal is to move forward and build new relationships.

    “I just want us to clear the air,’’ Warner said.

    Warner also plans to include town manager Melissa Adams and town clerk Jane Starling in the meetings to help make all the board members aware of the current limits of the town budget and to share instruction on basic protocols of the Board of Commissioners.

    As soon as everyone is sworn in, Warner hopes to schedule a mini retreat for herself, the commissioners and key town department heads to discuss everyone’s role. She’d like to get someone other than herself to facilitate that meeting.
    Warner would like the retreat to cover understanding town rules and procedures, planning for ethics training and building relationships, so the work on planning for the town can begin.

    Once that’s done, Warner said she’d like to return as soon as possible to conducting town business the way it was done prior to changes enacted by the previous board.

    For one thing, she’d like to see more order to the process of requesting items to be placed on the agenda of business that comes before the commissioners.

    The procedure that used to be in place called for a form to be submitted to the town manager and discussed before coming to the board for a vote. “You don’t have this pushing things through without having some discussion and opportunity for input,’’ she said.

    “Sometimes it’s emergency things but for the most part, we want to get back to the process that was in place that seemed to work very well.’’

    As the board moves into 2020, major concerns are a number of high dollar projects in the works, headed by the new public safety facility for the police and fire departments.

    The goal is to break ground on the building in 2020, and Warner said some tough decisions await the board because of the expense connected with the new building.

    The board also has tough decisions on completing the work at the lake park, something Warner considers very important.

    Heritage Park, another project that has been long delayed, is part of the overall lake park project.

    “We’re going to have to come up with funding,’’ she said. “That’s going to be important. How much funding we can garner from grants and other places without having to do any type of raising of taxes.’’

    She agrees with members of the incoming board that another big project on the horizon is the development of the Interstate 295 outer loop and the impact it will have on the town.

    Warner thinks the town needs to get a handle on projects other big developers may be working on for Hope Mills.

    “I don’t want to limit any commercial development, but we need more diverse types of commercial development,’’ Warner said.

    As for the town’s continuing problem with traffic congestion in the downtown area, Warner thinks the board may be forced to wait and see what the Department of Transportation will be able to do on its own schedule.
    “I think the end product is going to be a new traffic pattern for us,’’ Warner said.

    One area where Warner has strong feelings about the future of the town is cementing partnerships with local businesses.

    She wants to renew efforts to work with the local YMCA on projects of mutual benefit between them and the town.

    As an example of a successful partnership between the town and local businesses, Warner pointed to the successful food truck rodeos the town holds at Municipal Park.

    The town has also partnered with other organizations to secure grants for a number of new sidewalk projects that are still in the works.

    “Because of our growth and our needs, we’re going to have to start looking at the private sector to help us do some of the things we want to do,’’ Warner said.

    Pictured: Mayor Jackie Warner and husband Alex during early voting for her successful 2019 campaign as mayor of Hope Mills.
  • 18 town hallFrom now through Dec. 15, citizens of Hope Mills who would like to be more involved in the goings on in their town are invited to apply for membership on any of several official town committees.

    Anyone interested in applying for committee membership who has never served must fill out an application that can be picked up from the clerk’s office at Town Hall on Rockfish Road. Anyone who has applied in the last 12 months does not have to submit a new form.

    Members who are currently serving on a committee and wish to continue do need to contact the town and make it known they’d like to serve again.

    In addition to getting applications at Town Hall, they are also available on the town website, www.townofhopemills.com. Any questions should be directed to town clerk Jane Starling at 910-426-4113 or by email at jstarling@townofhopemills.com.

    The town reloads its committees every two years in line with the town election cycle.

    Once all the names of candidates have been received next month, a nominating committee will go over them and make assignments to the various committees. A full list of all the committees can be found at the town website as well, along with current members of the committees.

    Hope Mills mayor Jackie Warner said the committees are like advisory boards for the town.

    “When special interests or special projects are brought to the town, they go to whichever committee they would apply to,’’ she said.

    Each committee also has a member of the town’s Board of Commissioners that serves as a liaison between the committee and the board.

    “That member reports back to the board what took place in the meeting,’’ Warner said. “Sometimes they make recommendations for things they’d like to see and for concerns they’ve heard.’’

    One body that’s a little different from the others is the town’s Historical Commission.

    Town commissions can have a budget and spend money. They can also make decisions that don’t require approval of the full Board of Commissioners.

    There are also certain criteria for members of a commission that require the members have specific expertise in the field the commission works, not just a personal interest.

    If more people ask to be on a committee than spots are available, the nominating committee uses a ranking system based on which people submitted their request to be on a committee first, so it’s important to apply as soon as possible before the Dec. 15 deadline.

    Warner said there have been discussions of limiting the amount of time someone can serve on a committee or rotating people between various committees. Neither idea has been approved.

    Warner said it’s feared that any limits placed on serving could cut the number of people interested in volunteering.

    “We get what we hope is a good representation of the community, so we are getting their opinions,’’ Warner said. “It keeps us informed and gives us the opportunity to have input on the decisions we make.’’

  • Since its founding in April of 1988 the Fayetteville Area Habitat for Humanity has built more than 48 houses in Cumberland County. Habitat's mission is to eliminate poverty housing from the world. They believe that every human has a right to decent housin g and work to provide the disadvantaged with places to live.

    Currently, Habitat Village is where much of their good work is being done. Homes are being built on land deeded to Fayetteville Area Habitat for Humanity by the City of Fayetteville. While the organization is known on a national level, funds are raised locally and are kept in the community to help citizens in Fayetteville.On Dec. 5, Kings Grant Golf and Country Club and Methodist University are hosting a fundraiser for Habitat for Humanity - the Cumberland Christmas Classic.

    "It is a new concept and the mission is to give back to the community," said Rob Pilewski, head golf pro at Kings Grant Golf and County Club. "The overall goal is to raise funds for a house for Habitat. We can say ‘Hey, this is for the good of the community - and we can see it right there. We built it.'"

    This is just the beginning of what Pilewski and other sponsors hope will become an annual event that folks all over town look forward to and participate in.

    "We felt like we wanted to benefit the community, Kings Grant is involved with Methodist University and part of those things is giving back to the community. It is in our mission statements," said Pilewski.
    "This is a perfect way to do it. If I could look into the future and could say how I see it down the road, I think it would be great if we could get enough money and if we could get everybody involved from all the community building a house. How great would that be?" he continued.

    It currently costs almost $45,000 to build a Habitat for Humanity home, not to mention all the volunteer hours required. That's a pretty penny no matter how worthy the cause. Pilewski is confident that it can be done, and he is willing to work toward that end, even if it takes a while.

    "Are we going to get there in one year? Maybe not," said Pilewski. "But if we keep banking our funds we will get there - and you've got to start somewhere. I feel like it doesn't matter where you start, it is where you end up. It would be a win-win for everybody. That is our goal and we are excited about it."

    The tournament format is an elimination scramble. Pilewski described it in a nutshell as a game where everybody drives, everybody putts and you eliminate a person in between. Along with the interesting format, he also mentioned that there have been several improvements to the course that should make it a great experience for the players. There will also be a silent auction with items like an autographed picture of Peyton Manning, a football from N.C. State, an item or two from the Charlotte Bobcats as well as some national-level donations from various sports teams. Christmas ornaments are a part of the effort too, and can be purchased at Kings Grant Golf & Country Club.

    Now through Dec. 5 the course is offering a special on greens fees which will return a portion of the fee to Habitat for Humanity so even if you can't make the tournament, you can still help. While the Christmas Classic officially supports Habitat for Humanity, Pilewski noted that the top three teams will have the option of donating their funds to a local charity of their choice.
    Registration is currently open, the fee per golfer is $100, and includes greens fees, cart fees, practice balls, lunch, on-course refreshments and prizes. Sponsorships are still available. The tournament has a 10 a.m. shotgun start.  For more information or to register, call Rob Pilewski at 630-1111.

  • 17 Putt Putt 1 With all the competition for family entertainment in greater Fayetteville, Michael Edwards said it’s good for a business like Putt-Putt Fun Center in Hope Mills to get special recognition.

    The Hope Mills business was recently recognized by the Greater Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce as its small business of the month.

    Next year, Putt-Putt will mark its 10th anniversary in Hope Mills. The business is located at 3311 Footbridge Ln., not far from the Millstone Shopping Center.

    “The competition in the area is hard,’’ Edwards, the assistant general manager at the Putt-Putt Fun Center said. “I think it’s awesome we were recognized and we were able to stand out among (our competitors).’’

    Edwards said the secret of success to the Hope Mills location is simple: offer good customer service and a clean facility and try to stay current with the best games available to the public.

    And there’s one other important element he said, affordable prices for the customers.

    While the business continues in the tradition of the Putt-Putt franchise that was created by the late Don Clayton years ago, the hallmark of the Hope Mills location is a variety of family entertainment options.

    In addition to the two 18-hole Putt-Putt courses, the Hope Mills Putt-Putt offers a go-kart track, bumper boats, bumper cars, a two-story laser tag facility and up to 30 video games in an indoor arcade.

    The bumper boats are currently closed for the season and typically won’t re-open until March.

    Hours of operation vary with the seasons of the year. For now, Putt-Putt is open Sunday through Thursday from noon until 9 p.m., Friday from noon to 11 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 11 p.m.

    Summer hours extend from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to midnight on the weekends.

    In the event of bad weather, including heavy rain or lightning, the outdoor attractions close, but the indoor ones remain open.

    Parties are a big part of what Putt-Putt offers, with package deals ranging from $160 to $240.

    A typical party pack covers a guest of honor and seven guests. It includes two large pizzas and two large pitchers of drinks. The special guest gets a $10 game card and the others get a $5 game card.
    The number of guests can be increased with add-ons. The larger party packs offer more attractions than the smaller ones.

    Putt-Putt also offers fundraisers. For $15 per person, a group can get two-hour unlimited use of the park for each person that buys a ticket.

    The organization doing the fundraiser is required to get everyone planning to come committed prior to the event, then they are given $5 back for every person that pays.
    Group prices are also available for groups of 15 or more.

    Pictured from L-R: Mayor Jackie Warner, Michael Knight, general manager;  Michael Edwards, assistant. gemeral manager; Tammy Thurman, member of chamber of commerce board, board of trustees of Greater Fayetteville Chamber and member military affairs council.

  • 16 01 south view 2From the 30-year stretch starting in the late 1980s and continuing until 2010, the South View High School marching band consistently ranked among Cumberland County’s biggest and best units.
    A huge part of its success rested squarely on the shoulders of former band director Jay Bolder.

    Bolder was recently recognized for his years of work at South View as he was nominated to be considered for induction into the North Carolina Bandmasters Association Hall of Fame.
    “It’s definitely an honor, without a doubt,’’ said Bolder, who is now retired and lives in Indian Trail, near Charlotte, not far from his native Monroe.

    A graduate of Wingate College, Bolder’s first teaching job offer came from Cumberland County, where he worked at Armstrong Middle School.

    From there he went to South View Middle School then moved to South View High School in 1985. After one year as codirector of the band, he assumed full leadership responsibilities in 1986.
    During his tenure, participation in the South View band swelled, peaking at some 225 members in the 1990s.

    “I guess people wanted to be part of it,’’ he said. “They pushed one another to excellence. It was exciting to play at halftime.’’

    Part of the excitement came from the tremendous success of the South View football program during the band’s peak years, including a state 4-A championship in the 1991 season.
    16 02 bolder“When they won the state championship, it was exciting football game after exciting football game,’’ Bolder said. “We supported the football team and they supported us.’’

    Bolder’s bands traveled frequently for competitions, going all over the southeast as far as South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Virginia.
    They also traveled to Philadelphia and California and even took a cruise to the Bahamas.

    During his career at South View, Bolder’s bands earned 41 superior ratings in competitions.

    He sent 40 of his former band members off to college as music majors, with some of them also becoming band directors in their own right.

    Bolder was awarded North Carolina’s highest civilian honor, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, and he was recognized with Jay Bolder Day in his adopted home town of Hope Mills.
    In addition to the many awards he has won, Bolder is a composer, arranger and adjudicator.

    He has held membership in a variety of organizations, including the Cumberland County Band Directors Association, the Southeastern District Band Association, South Central District Band Directors Association and he’s a member of the American School Band Directors Association.

    As a performer he’s been in musicals, community bands, symphony orchestras, top 40 groups and jazz groups. He was also involved in casting and choreography for scenes in the movie "Bolden."

    Bolder’s South View bands featured the corps style of performance, which puts emphasis on structure and musical performance, while at the same time offering the band members the chance to have some fun.
    Off the field in the classroom, Bolder was also responsible for the teaching side of the band that gave the members their fundamentals in music.

    “We had to start teaching them general music,’’ Bolder said. “They start in middle school in the sixth and seventh grade and work to the point where they get to high school and do a lot more performing.’’
    In some parts of the country, art and music education are on the wane as local and state government officials direct money to other areas of education.

    Bolder thinks it’s important to keep the role of art and music for students in perspective.

    “I would personally invite someone who felt that way to go through the program for a couple of days, follow the band leaders around for two days and have a chance to see how we do things and                                                                     what we do,’’ Bolder said.

    Whatever Bolder did during his years at South View, it was definitely successful and the results were visible to everyone.

    Picture 1: The success of the South View High School marching band can largely be credited to former band director Jay Bolder. Photo credit: South View Safari Staff

    Picture 2: Jay Bolder. Photo credit: Bobby Wiliford

  • 08No means no. Rape is a serious crime and one-in-six women in the United States have experienced completed or attempted rape in their lifetime.

    “We have been talking about renaming our agency for 13 years and the legal name is Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County,” said Deanne Gerdes, executive director, Phoenix Center.

    “A couple of years ago we dropped the word volunteers because it just did not sound professional according to a General on Fort Bragg.” She added, “Rape and crisis really does identify victims so that anytime a victim had to say they were going to the Rape Crisis Center to a boss, family member or friend, it automatically outs them and not all victims are in a crisis.”

    The background story behind the name change involves Gerdes being at a human trafficking trial where she had a conversation with the mother of one of the victims.

    Most sex traffickers brand their victims with some kind of tattoo using a symbol, initial, name, etc. This trafficker had tattooed his name in Roman numerals on this victim’s back. So, when the victim went through the program, one of the things they immediately do is to remove the tattoo. The victim had a phoenix to put in the place of the old tattoo to cover it up. The mom of the victim explained that the phoenix is a mythical bird that rises from the ashes.

    “So when she was telling me the story I knew we needed to be renamed the Phoenix Center,” said Gerdes. “We had a board meeting two days later and they were for the name change so we have renamed the building, not the agency, the Phoenix Center.”

    The Phoenix Center also provides services to victims of other crimes, not just sexual violence. They offer services for domestic violence, human trafficking and help family members of homicide victims.

    “We have expanded our services and we just don’t say no to anyone who comes in our doors, needs help and we certainly know the resources in town and can help them get them,” Gerdes said.

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, sexual assault statistics went down.

    “It could be that people are not out as much as they used to be and it is not back to the way it was before the pandemic,” explained Gerdes.

    Gerdes added that unfortunately the domestic violence statistics are higher and it has been a weird switch for them. The domestic violence cases were much more violent during COVID-19.

    “People were stuck inside of their homes together with children, their jobs were crazy and things just got much more violent,” Gerdes said.

    The annual Walk Awhile in Her Shoes fundraiser event is scheduled for March 25, 2022.

    Volunteers are needed. For more information call the 24-hour local hotline , 910-485-7273, visit https://www.rapecrisisonline.org/ or the National Sexual Assault Hotline, 800-656-4673.

  • 15 01 Dirtbag AlesThe annual Hope Mills Chili Cookoff is expanding this year to include a fall festival that will offer a variety of events for the entire family. The event is scheduled Saturday, Nov. 9, from 1-5 p.m. at Dirtbag Ales.

    For the second straight year, the chili cookoff will be held at Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom at 5435 Corporation Drive just off Interstate 95.

    The chili cookoff used to be held in conjunction with Ole Mills Days. This is the second year it’s been hosted by Dirtbag Ales and the first since the relatively new Hope Mills business has completed construction at its new location.

    Kelly Spell of the Hope Mills Area Chamber of Commerce said the chamber decided to make the event more family-friendly by adding a variety of carnival-style activities to the agenda.

    There will be face paining, cornhole boards, potato sack races and music from a live band.

    Other activities include a hula hoop contest, a candy apple station and a hot chocolate bar.

    Some of the event sponsors will also offer other games.

    But the centerpiece of the activities will be the chili cookoff itself.

    15 02 ChiliSpell said entries are still being sought for the competition. The fee is $20 per entry, and each entrant needs to bring a prepared crockpot of chili containing at least five quarts.

    To enter into the competition, go to hopemillsareachamber.com and click on the menu option for Event Ticket.

    The cookoff also welcomes vendors who would like to purchase a table to promote their business for $100 per table.

    There are two categories of chili cookoff competition — mild and spicy. Three cash prizes will be awarded in each category.

    There will also be a people’s choice award presented.

    All those entered in the chili cookoff need to arrive no later than 12:30 p.m. to allow time to set up all the tables for the entries.

    Both the judges and public involved in the people’s choice award will taste-test each chili without knowing who made which batch.

    The deadline for submitting an entry in the chili cookoff is Friday, Nov. 8, to allow chamber officials time to determine how many tables will be needed for the competition.

    All contestants need to make sure to label their chili mild or spicy so it is entered in the correct competition.

    For further information, call Kelly Spell at the chamber office Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The phone number is 910-423-4314. You can also email her at hmacc@hopemillschamber.org.

  • SGT Calvin RockwardA soldier died Oct. 27 after a sudden and unexpected medical event during physical fitness training at Fort Bragg, according to U.S. Army officials.

    Sgt. 1st Class Calvin T. Rockward was attending the Special Forces Warrant Officer Technical and Tactical Certification Course when he passed away.

    Rockward enlisted in the Army in 2004 as a Special Forces candidate. He has deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan.

    After his deployments, he was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne).

    “Sgt. 1st Class Rockward was a warrior,” Col. Ryan Ehrler, commander of 1st SFG (A), said. “An accomplished, respected, and loved Special Forces soldier and teammate, Cal was also kind-hearted and cared deeply about his family,” Ehrler added. “He always put a smile on the face of every person he encountered. We collectively mourn the loss of our brother and honor his service to the nation, and our deepest condolences go to Sgt. 1st Class Rockward’s family.”

    Rockward's awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal and the Korean Defense Service Medal.

    Rockward is survived by his wife and daughter.

  • 14 veterans memorialA special appearance by the United States Army’s Golden Knights parachute team highlights this year’s observance of Heroes Homecoming in Hope Mills.

    Scheduled on Monday, Nov. 11, the Hope Mills observance will be held at and in the vicinity of the Hope Mills Town Hall complex on Rockfish Road.

    Jim Morris, secretary for the Veterans Affairs Committee of the town of Hope Mills, said the ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. at the bell tower near Town Hall.

    The end of World War I will be remembered there with a ringing of the bell.

    From there, events will move to the Veterans Memorial Park nearby, where various members of the Veterans Affairs Committee will mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion at Normandy on June 6, 1944, by reading the names of North Carolina residents who took part in the landings in France.

    Morris said committee members will take turns reading the names.

    Small American flags will be planted around the memorial park as part of the ceremony.

    Following the ceremonies at the 11 a.m. hour, there will be a break until 3 p.m. when the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10630 holds its annual Veterans Day ceremony.

    Weather permitting, the Golden Knights will jump in at the Brower Park baseball field across the street from the Town Hall Complex.

    They will bring with them a wreath that will be used during the VFW ceremony.

    Morris said the jump will recall major airborne operations of World War II, including the jumps at Normandy and later in the war in Operation Market Garden.

    Morris said that now more than ever, it is important for Americans to pause on Veterans Day and appreciate the sacrifices the military has made on behalf of the average citizen during this country’s long history.

    “We are involved in some of the longest wars America has ever been involved in,’’ he said, noting the extended conflict in Afghanistan as part of the war on global terror.

    Morris noted that since the 9/11 terror attacks on the United States, there have been some tremendous sacrifices by America’s active duty military.

    “Some of these guys have done seven, eight, nine year-long rotations,’’ he said. “They are just flat worn out, their families are worn out, the caregivers that take care of them are worn out.’’

    Morris said with the rise of suicides by some in the military, the psychological effects of all those years of strain are becoming evident.

    “I believe it’s important to thank them and have a separate day of remembrance when we just look at all the blood, sweat and tears they’ve given for our country,’’ he said.

  • 07Mayor Mitch Colvin announced last week that he will be ending the Fayetteville mask mandate. Colvin issued a Sixth Amendment to the State of Emergency for the City of Fayetteville that ends the indoor mask mandate within city limits starting on Nov. 1. The mask mandate has been in place in the city of Fayetteville since Aug. 18.

    Colvin cites in the ammendment that the mask mandate lift comes as vaccination rates in Cumberland County have risen to 57%

    "I am grateful today to announce the rescinding of the city's mask mandates," Colvin said. "This is the result of the reductions we have experienced in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. We are very thankful and appreciative to all of you for your cooperation, patience and most of all for getting vaccinated. Let's continue this positive trend and keep each other safe as we work through this challenging time."

    Colvin says in the amendment that the City of Fayetteville "withdraws any consent, explicit or implied, to be included” in the county’s indoor mask order.

    However, the Cumberland County mask mandate and the Cumberland County Schools mask mandate are still in place, which does override the Fayetteville orders.

    Cumberland County Public Health Director Dr. Jennifer Green sent out a statement shortly after Colvin signed the amendment, stating that the Public Health Abatement Order remains in place - requiring masks inside in all municipalities in Cumberland County, including Fayetteville.

    “While trends are improving, Cumberland County remains in high transmission,” Green said.

  • 13 fitness roomThe fitness room at the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Center is getting a complete makeover and should be ready for use again when the new year rolls around in 2020.

    Kasey Ivey, who has been with the parks and recreation department for six years, said the existing facilities date back roughly a dozen years and the time has come to upgrade them.

    Ivey said conversations about both upgrading the equipment and relocating the workout room to a different part of the parks and recreation building have been going on for about two years.

    The discussion was partly prompted by the age of some of the equipment. “Just like anything, things run their cycle, new models come out, things become more difficult to repair and replace parts,’’ Ivey said.

    There had been some minor modifications made to the room in recent years, Ivey said. The existing space was long and narrow and had no windows, so mirrors were installed to add the illusion of more space and openness.

    The available equipment in the room included two treadmills, two elliptical machines, two recumbent bicycles, four pieces of circuit equipment for weight training, a biceps and triceps machine, a leg extension machine and a lat pull down and chest press.

    Soon after the parks and recreation center reopened after repairs to damage caused by Hurricane Florence were completed, Ivey began to get estimates on what it would cost to replace equipment in the room and expand it elsewhere in the building.

    The new fitness room will move to an area formerly used as a game room where a foosball table, pool table and some other game equipment was housed.

    Most recently the new room had been used for meeting space and as a conference room.

    Starting Oct. 12, the current workout room was closed to begin work on relocating everything to the new space in the building, or in some cases permanently moving it out.

    The new equipment for the upgraded room will not arrive until sometime in December. The current fitness room will transition into a multipurpose room and meeting space.

    The upgraded fitness room will have mirrored walls along with two smart televisions.

    In addition to a new location in the building, the new room will include some new equipment.

    One of the new pieces will be a seated elliptical machine. There will also be a section for free-weight training with medicine balls, dumbbells and kettle bells. There will be no plated free weights, Ivey said, just dumbbells.
    There will also be a TRX machine that allows a variety of workouts for the user.

    Mats will also be available for people to do various types of floor and stretching exercises.

    A small bench will be provided for people to sit and do bicep curls or whatever they like. There won’t be a bench press, but there will be a circuit piece that offers a chest press.

    Ivey estimates the new fitness room will be at least twice as big as the current one. Another benefit, she said, is it’s located on a corner of the building that has windows and will allow natural light into the room.
    People will still access the fitness room via the main lobby at the parks and recreation room. It will be available during normal hours of operation, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. and Saturdays from
    9 a.m. until 5 p.m.

    To use the equipment, people will still have to fill out the parks and recreation department’s registration form required of anyone who uses the building’s services.

    Ivey is also working on a set of fitness room guidelines.

    “A lot of it is no-brainer stuff about wearing the proper footwear, no food or drinks other than water, things you see in most workout and fitness room facilities,’’ she said.

    Ivey said the guidelines will be posted in the room once it opens and also on the town website.

    “Part of our goal and purpose is to be the hub of wellness for the community,’’ Ivey said, “not just physical fitness, but all the different things collectively that we offer.’’

    Once the room is ready for use, Ivey said plans are developing to hold an orientation to help people get acquainted with the new equipment to make sure that it’s being used safely and properly.
    If the equipment arrives early enough, Ivey said the room could be ready to use before Dec. 31. People can check on the progress of the room at the recreation department’s Facebook page or on the town’s website.

    “We want a place that gives everyone an opportunity to workout inside,’’ Ivey said.
  • 11-03-10-veterans-parade.gifAccording to GlobalSecurity.org, Fort Bragg is the largest Army installation in the world by population, and is home to almost 10 percent of the Army’s active component forces. Approximately 43,000 military and 8,000 civilian personnel work at Fort Bragg.”

    That’s a lot of service, sacrifi ce and selfl essness on our behalf.

    Veterans Day is right around the corner, and with it comes the opportunity to say thanks and to show appreciation for those who offer up their lives and who fi ght to defend our freedom every day. On Nov. 6 Fayetteville will celebrate our heroes at the Veterans Day Parade. It starts 11 a.m. at the corner of Hay Street and Bragg Boulevard and will end at Robeson Street.

    Don Talbot, the event organizer and a veteran, has been organizing this event for the past 13 years. He’s excited about the size and scope of this year’s event.

    “This is a long and interesting and never boring parade of military, ex-military and loyal supporters,” said Talbot. “A typical year has anywhere from 1,000 to 1,400 people in the parade. This year because the majority of the troops are back at Fort Bragg, they are sending me an entire brigade to march in review. That’s 1,200 soldiers from the 3/73 Cavalry of the 82nd Airborne Divison. That one entry doubled the size of our parade. I would guess there are about 2,800 people in the parade this year.”

    Check out America’s future leaders as the local high school ROTC units march by the grand stand. Talbot is expecting anywhere from 80 to 250 cadets. A few of the high schools will also send their drill teams to impress the crowds with their rifl e-spinning skills.

    Restored military vehicles from by-gone eras will be rolling through the streets of downtown as well.

    “In the past we’ve had armored personnel carriers, jeeps and trucks o11-03-10-american-flag.giff various descriptions, as well as artillery pieces,” said Talbot. “We always include heritage organizations, too, such as the Arsenal Camp which is commemorating the Confederacy.

    ”What is a parade without a band? Look for the 82nd All American Band along with several of the local high school bands to entertain the spectators

    .Talbot has arranged for a C-130 fl y-over as part of the event as well.

    With the right coordination and ground control, he likes to have theplanes overhead as the Air Force is passing in review.Come and see what other groups and displays Talbot has in store.

    “The whole parade is dedicated to vets and their service, so everyone in it is somehow connected to the military,” said Talbot. “The theme this year is to honor recipients of the Purple Heart Medal for combat wounds. We are asking everyone that has a Purple Heart to wear it — even if you aren’t in the parade.”

    Take the opportunity to say thanks to the men and women who have proudly served our nation, and enjoy the sights and sounds of freedom.

  • 06The Fayetteville Police Department is having to deal with a 14% officer vacancy rate. A 10% rate has been common in recent years.

    “We have 59 vacant sworn full-time officer positions,” police spokesman Sgt. Jeremy Glass said.

    The FPD’s authorized strength is 433 officers. A new pay scale for the police may help the recruiting process. The starting wage has been increased to $41,000 from $34,000.

    An education incentive of $3,000 is available to officers with bachelor’s degrees. Hiring incentives are also helping. Certified officers from other agencies who join the FPD receive $10,000 lateral entry bonuses.

    “Our recruiting unit is working diligently to recruit quality applicants for our upcoming December BLET [Basic Law Eenforcement Training] academy,” Glass added.

    The shortage of street cops hasn’t reduced service.

    “Our response times are within our goal, so we have not seen any significant reduction in our quality-of-service times.”

    Police Chief Gina Hawkins instituted 12-hour patrol shifts which keeps more officers on duty to offset the personal shortage.

  • 11172010tagsale.gifA recent walk-through of the Fayetteville Museum of Art revealed empty walls with no exhibits on display. Instead, walls and floors were lined with stacks and stacks of items for sale. These artifacts, treasures and office supplies that were once used daily at the Fayetteville Museum of Art are grouped, priced and ready to make themselves useful at a different home — possibly yours.

    On Saturday, Nov. 20, from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. the doors of the Fayetteville Museum of Art will be open once again. Only this time it’s not for a new exhibit, but for a tag sale. They are looking to sell most everything in the building. There will be art, art supplies, appliances, offIce supplies, office furniture, computers, electronics, tools, paint, kitchen supplies, books, cultural artifacts, educational toys and plenty of unique odds and ends.

    “We really have some treasures here,” said Meredith Player Stiehl, of the Fayetteville Museum of Art Board of Trustees. “Everyone from the small business owner looking for offIce equipment and supplies to homeschoolers looking for resources, to teachers, parents, art collectors — you name it, they can find something here.”

    Items are priced to sell. The museum store has Andy Warhol items that normally sell for $15 marked down to $2. Art desks that have been well used and well loved but that still have plenty of useful life left in them are going for $25. Grab a chair to go with it, they are $3 - $5. 11172010desks.gif

    Don’t come expecting to haggle over the price of office supplies, although there will be some wiggle room in price when it comes to the pieces of art that are being sold.

    “We’ll have our curator here for the tag sale,” said Stiehl. “She will be able to answer any questions that people have about the art work we are selling.”

    The offerings range in scope, size and tastes. There are a few pieces by a Disney illustrator, works by students who attended art classes at the museum and pieces that were donated over the years for safe keeping.

    Although it is difficult to watch so much of their inventory go out the door, Stiehl realizes that it is for all the right reasons. The board of directors is keeping the museum’s private collection, library materials and a few other resources and plans to use them again when the museum opens its doors at some point in the future, and hopefully that will be sooner rather than later.

    “We are currently waiting to hear back from a consultant about plans for the future of the museum,” Stiehl said. “We are going to store the few things we aren’t selling at the tag sale, and hopefully we will find a space that we can use to reestablish the museum and make these resources available to the public once again.”

    If you are coming to the tag sale at 839 Stamper Rd., to take advantage of the great bargains, bring cash, as checks and credit cards will not be accepted. Visit www. fayettevillemuseumart.org for more information.

  • 05Details of a Fayetteville home invasion in which the intruders were killed are still lacking. Police found two young men had been shot to death at a home on Brookstone Lane. Investigators identified one of the teens as Hunter Markham, 19. The other was a 17-year-old whose name was not released because of his age.

    The preliminary investigation indicated the teens were shot after forcing entry into the home. A third person was shot but he apparently lived in the home.

    His wound was minor. The person who did the shooting, evidently the homeowner, was not identified by police.

    Police would not say whether it was a random act or if anyone else was involved.

  • 04Cumberland County’s Health Department is administering Pfizer booster shots for approved groups but not earlier than six months after second doses have been given.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people who have compromised immune systems receive booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

    “We want all eligible citizens to get fully vaccinated before the Thanksgiving holiday,” said Dr. Jennifer Green, Cumberland County, public health director.

    “We will offer Pfizer boosters at all of our vaccination locations.”

    The Health Department also provides free at-home COVID-19 rapid antigen testing kits.

    A list of approved groups and appointment applications can be found at cumberlandcountync.gov/covid19/vaccination.

    An online application form allows individuals to choose their appointment dates and times for the first, second or third doses.

  • 03North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said the sheriff of neighboring Hoke County was a man who “worked diligently to protect the people of his county in addition to making a significant difference for good in public safety throughout our state.”

    Hubert Peterkin, who had been sheriff of Hoke County since 2002, died Oct. 23 during a surgical procedure. It was reported that he had cancer.

    Peterkin was a law enforcement officer for more than 30 years, serving with the Fayetteville Police Department before joining the sheriff's office.

    He received his bachelor's degree from Liberty University and held a master's degree in public administration and a doctorate in management, according to his bio on the sheriff's office website.

    In 2015, Peterkin was elected president of the N.C. Sheriff's Association and was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine which recognizes those who have made significant contributions to the state.

    Football 01I’ve told this story before because it’s a Thanksgiving favorite of mine. Forgive me if you’ve heard it. 

    My interest in writing began to develop in high school. One of the things that fostered it was finding out you could actually win money and prizes doing it.

    When I was a junior at West Rowan, I entered a statewide essay contest sponsored by the Rural Electrification Administration. First prize was a week-long visit to Washington, D.C., with high school students from across the state to visit the sights there.

    Obviously, it included a trip to the White House with other essay winners from across the country. We were on the South Lawn listening to a short speech from Secretary of Agriculture Clifford Hardin when to our surprise President Richard Nixon appeared and spoke to us.

    As I was trying to shake his hand, a man stepped from the crowd and asked me to join him. Frightened at first that I had done something wrong, I followed.

    His name was John Nidecker, a deputy special assistant to the president. He escorted me and few other students from the group into the West Wing. We were taken on a short tour of the White House and went to the press room where we were interviewed by a reporter about our experience.

    After it was over, Nidecker told us he had intended to take us to the Oval Office and meet with Nixon himself. Unfortunately, the president had an impromptu meeting with some top aides and we had to be bumped from the schedule. 

    About a year or so later, President Nixon had the experience of pardoning the annual Thanksgiving turkey. Of course, this was the time of Watergate, and when Nixon pardoned the turkey, he was subjected to some negative press on the subject. 

    Not wishing to have it happen again, he passed on the job of turkey pardoning to his wife, Pat.

    As reported some years ago by television news commentator Keith Olbermann, Mrs. Nixon did it just once, and the job was passed on again, to none other than John Nidecker, the guy who greeted me during my White House visit.

    So as I like to tell folks, I was the first turkey Nidecker officially greeted at the White House. Happy Thanksgiving to all, and let’s hope I don’t turn into a turkey again with this week’s predictions.
    The record: 71-22
    I had a miserable effort in the second round of the state playoffs last week, going 2-2 to push the season total to 71-22, 76.3 percent.
    Things don’t get easier this week as we have only three games and tougher calls.
    Gray’s Creek at New Hanover - The Bears are the surprise team of this year’s North Carolina High School Athletic Association football playoffs. At a No. 14 seed, they are the lowest-seeded team left in any classification as we head to the third round and one of only four double-digit seeds in all eight brackets.

    They rallied from an early two-touchdown deficit last Friday night to take out last year’s Western 3-AA state champion Southeast Guilford on the road, coming from behind in the final two minutes.

    Now they head to Wilmington Friday night to battle New Hanover at Legion Stadium.

    There’s no magic to what the Bears are doing. Through 12 games, Jerry Garcia Jr. is Cumberland County’s No. 2 rusher with 2,001 yards and 23 rushing touchdowns.

    But the key cog to the equation for the Bears may be veteran quarterback Ben Lovette, who is finally healthy after a bout with injury mid-season. He doesn’t have record offensive statistics, but he’s running the tricky Gray’s Creek Wing-T offense smoothly enough for them to have won five straight games, two of them road playoff nail-biters against teams with much better seeds.

    It’s that Wing-T offense that is the real key for the Bears I think. I ran into another Cumberland County football coach this week and we talked about what Gray’s Creek is doing in the playoffs.

    The coach made the observation that the Wing-T is tough enough to prepare for in a one-game situation like Friday when a school doesn’t see it that often. Add to that the fact that Bear Coach David Lovette isn’t staying vanilla with it and is adding a few tweaks and twists to further confuse the situation, and you can see why that makes it even more of a headache for the opposition.

    One other thing. New Hanover only has one loss on its schedule this year, and that was to another Cumberland County team that came to Wilmington and beat them, Jack Britt. 

    Call me crazy, but I think Gray’s Creek has a chance to be the second one Friday night. 

    Gray’s Creek 28, New Hanover 27.
    Scotland at South View - This is one of my favorite parts of the playoffs when two marquee programs from the Cape Fear region get a chance to collide and send one of them on to a deeper run in the state football playoffs. 

    Rodney Brewington has resurrected the once struggling Tiger program, trying to bring back memories of the Bobby Poss years when he was a member of the historic 1991 South View state championship football team.

    For Scotland coach Richard Bailey, this is just more of the same. After surviving the annual meat grinder that is the Sandhills Athletic Conference, Bailey’s Scots are now lining up against schools closer to them in size and have a much better chance of showing their best.

    I think those countless years of postseason experience going back to Bailey’s days at Jack Britt will serve him and the Scots well tonight. South View’s Matthew Pemberton is a versatile talent, and the Tiger defense has been tough all year, but if anyone can figure out where to put all the chess pieces to get a postseason win tonight, it’s Bailey.

    Scotland 22, South View 21. 
    Terry Sanford at Southern Nash - I don’t think Terry Sanford coach Bruce McClelland has gotten enough credit for the outstanding job he’s done since taking over as head football coach at Terry Sanford. Despite a number of personnel changes, especially at the position of quarterback, McClelland has had Terry Sanford in contention for a conference title each of the last three years, consistently earning the Bulldogs either a title, a top seed in the postseason, or both. 

    After opening this year’s playoffs with two fairly comfortable home wins, the Bulldogs bite off a major challenge Friday night, hitting the road for the ride up Interstate 95 to take on unbeaten Southern Nash. 

    Defense and turnovers will be huge for Terry Sanford Friday night. 

    The Bulldogs will need one of their best defensive efforts of the year to at least slow the Southern Nash offense. Handing them turnovers that lead to any easy points will be fatal.

    I’d like to take a chance on this one, but the only time Terry Sanford has lost this year was when it wasn’t playing at its adopted home of John Daskal Stadium at Reid Ross Classical High School. I think that will be the result this week.

    Southern Nash 28, Terry Sanford 24. 
  • 02No day is the same for a principal of a school. One day can be filled with meetings with teachers, staff, parents and district officials. Another could be helping in the cafeteria or working with the I.T. department to make sure the Wi-Fi is working. A principal’s job at times can seem never ending.

    But helping teachers and students succeed is what gives Joy Williams — the principal at Luther "Nick" Jeralds Middle School — the confidence she needs to keep going.

    Williams started out in the education field almost by accident. She initially got her bachelor's degree at Fayetteville State University in literature, but had a hard time figuring out what to do after she graduated. Her friend recommended that she become a teacher.

    “I started half-way through a school year replacing a teacher, and fell in love,” Williams said. “While it was not initially my first choice, it later became my only choice.”

    While working as a teacher, Williams started to see how schools work from the inside and how important administrators were to a school’s overall wellbeing. She also became involved in mentorship programs and was able to develop relationships with students outside the classroom. This gave her the perspective of what support students really needed from school officials.

    She worked to obtain certifications and received her Master of School Administration from FSU. She worked as an assistant principal at Luther "Nick" Jeralds Middle School before becoming a principal in 2012 at Howard Health & Life Science High School. A few years later she transferred back to the middle school, this time as the principal.
    In October, Williams was named 2022 Principal of the Year for Cumberland County.

    “It is exhilarating, humbling, exciting, stunning all at the same time,” Williams told Up & Coming Weekly. “I am very excited not just for myself, but for my school, for my teachers and for my students.”
    Luther "Nick" Jeralds Middle School has about 620 students that attend the school across three grade levels and approximately 50 teachers. Including teacher assistants, custodial staff and cafeteria staff, that number goes up to 75 people total.

    She attributes her success to having established relationships with her staff, having a warm and inviting climate, creating a culture of collaboration and making sure teachers have good morale and extend grace.

    “Everyone needs understanding. Without that, I don't understand how any organization is successful,” Williams said.

    Williams is a principal of a Title I school. These schools typically have students that come from low-income families and she admits that getting students engaged is harder at these schools. Williams doest see that as a problem. Rather it’s just another reason to be inventive. By being more engaged with teachers, she is able to help provide them with what they need to engage these students in different ways.

    “Knowing how much work these teachers have to prepare for their lessons, we make sure to celebrate those teachers,” Williams said. “We make sure to also celebrate teacher attendance. Without teachers, students aren't going to be successful.”

    As part of the prize for the principal of the year, Williams earned $2,000 to be used at her middle school.

    “For me, this award, this award is for the faculty, staff and students at Luther Middle School. I'm excited to win this award so my teachers can be proud of where they work every day,” Williams said. “I love our school and I'm just very honored to serve in the capacity of the principal.”

  • 20 01 jaysiah leachJaysiah Leach

    Seventy-First • Football • Junior

    Leach has a grade point average of 3.6. In addition to football, he enjoys working out and spending time with his family.



    20 02 Grafton WhiteGrafton White

    Seventy-First• Soccer/wrestling• Sophomore

    White has a grade point average of 3.5. He was a defender for the Falcon soccer team and is gearing up for wrestling competition which begins for the Falcons on Dec. 4 at Overhills.

  • 19 01 dee hardyThe basketball court at E.E. Smith High School is named in honor of the school’s veteran girls basketball coach, Dee Hardy, for a reason.

    Her Smith girls have been frequent visitors to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association state 4-A playoffs.

    Last year, led by current Wake Forest University freshman Alex Scruggs, they made one of the deepest runs in Smith history.

    With Scruggs leading the way, Smith went 30-2, falling only to North Raleigh Christian in the John Wall Invitational and Southeast Guilford in the 3-A Eastern Regional finals.
    Southeast went on to win the state 3-A championship, beating Cuthbertson 56-49 in the title game.

    The bad news for Hardy is the bulk of the talent on that team came from her seniors who are now departed. Along with Scruggs, the losses include players like Daireanna McIntyre, Danielle Tripp and Trinity Dixon.

    Scruggs departed E.E. Smith as one of the most decorated players in school history.

    She was the Sandhills Athletic Conference Player of the Year for the 2018-19 season.

    19 02 Kendall MacauleyShe led Cumberland County Schools in scoring with 26.2 points per game. She was also its top rebounder at 12.8 rebounds per contest.

    While three-point shooting wasn’t her specialty, she still finished fourth in the county in that category with 45 made shots for the season.

    She also contributed 3.2 assists per contest.

    McIntyre was the team’s No. 2 rebounder behind Scruggs with 6.1 per contest.

    But the cupboard won’t be completely bare for Smith. First-team All-Patriot Athletic Conference guard Kendall Macauley is back for Smith, along with honorable mention all-conference swing player Keonna Bryant.

    Macauley is the leading returning scoring for the Smith girls, averaging 9.3 points per game last season. Bryant is the No. 2 scorer back from last year’s team with an average of 7.8 points per contest.

    “We are looking for big things from them as far as leadership and direction on the court,’’ Hardy said.

    Macauley feels she let the seniors down last year, falling just short of making the state title game.

    She doesn’t think this year’s team is feeling pressure to duplicate the record of a year ago.

    “If we do what we’re supposed to do in practice and execute in games, we’ll be fine,’’ Macauley said.
    Macauley said her focus will be to bring energy to the team and play a mentoring role to the younger players.
    “I want to make sure I put them in the right direction,’’ Macauley said.

    Filling the huge void left by Scruggs will be a challenge, Hardy said. Scruggs, the conference player of the year, led all Cumberland County Schools scorers with 26.2 points per game and a county-best 12.8 points per game.

    The job of replacing those points and rebounds will have to be done by a process Hardy describes as by committee.

    “We won’t depend on one person to pick up the load,’’ Hardy said. “It’s going to have to be done as a team. We have some young players coming in who have a lot on their shoulders.’’
    Hardy said they won’t have the luxury of veterans playing in front of them to allow them time to take advantage of a learning experience.

    “They are going to get it right in the face while they are on the court,’’ Hardy said. “That pressure will be on them.’’

    One returning player Hardy is counting on is 6-foot junior center Jordan Everett. Everett is rehabbing from a knee injury suffered last year and hopes to return sometime close to the December holiday break.

    Smith could use her sooner rather than later because Smith will already be playing conference basketball games Friday, Nov. 22 when it faces old rival Terry Sanford.
    “We’re not going to have a lot of time once the season cranks up,’’ she said. “We’ll get hit with everything and put them out there and see what happens.’’

    Hardy isn’t sure what to expect from the rest of the Patriot Athletic Conference this season.

    She knows Pine Forest lost star Kendal Moore, now a freshman at North Carolina State.

    Hardy said she’s always wary of South View and its veteran coach, Brent Barker. “I know everybody has been working hard and it’s going to be a coin toss to see what happens,’’ she said.

    She feels Smith has the potential to be in the championship mix but knows that means nothing if the potential isn’t developed.

    “Because we’re so young, it’s just talk,’’ she said. “Our key is going to be our chemistry. Of course with every team, defense is an emphasis.’’

    Lacking height, Hardy said this Smith team will have to defend, box out and rebound to compete. “We need to get to know each other and trust each other so we’re able to play,’’ Hardy said.

    Macauley said the Smith team has much to learn, but Hardy will be a great teacher. “As long as we have her staying on top of us we’ll be fine for the rest of the season,’’ she said.

    Picture 1: The basketball court at E.E. Smith is named after Dee Hardy, pictured above.

    Picture 2: Kendall Macauley

  • footballpsdFive Cumberland County schools survived last week’s first round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association football playoffs. 

    The pairing of Jack Britt at South View this week assures us at least one team will make the third round next week, which means somebody gets to celebrate the traditional marker of a good season, still practicing on Thanksgiving Day.

    The big question this week is will it be more than one team from the county that gets to enjoy that experience, or will the postseason ride end for the rest of the crowd.

    Let’s hope the majority of our teams will have to be adjusting schedules next Thursday to get in practice time before that big meal with the family. 
    The record: 69-20
    I had a good showing in the first round last week, going 6-1. The season total is 69-20, 77.5 percent, heading into this week’s second round.
    Seventy-First at New Bern - I’ve made a few trips to New Bern over the years for state playoff games. Most of the time the ride back wasn’t too pleasant because it was on a dark road late at night and the Fayetteville team I was covering lost.

    I think Seventy-First has regrouped from a rough stretch during the regular season, and I think the tough conference schedule the Falcons had to deal with is going to be a big help to them at New Bern Friday night.
    Seventy-First 20, New Bern 18.
    Jack Britt at South View - These two began the year facing each other at South View, with Britt winning what was then considered an upset in overtime.
    Now they meet again, and the season will end for one of them.

    Britt has only one win in its last three games, a 21-20 victory against Knightdale in the first round of the state playoffs last week.

    South View had a bye last week and has had time to let some wounds heal and put in extra preparation for the Buccaneers.
    I don’t think Britt will be as fortunate this trip to South View as it was the first time.
    South View 22, Jack Britt 20.
    Rocky Mount at Terry Sanford - These two have faced each other so much in the playoffs over the years it almost seems like it’s a scheduled game.
    Just last year Terry Sanford rolled to a 30-0 win.

    Revenge will be a powerful motive for Rocky Mount, but the Bulldogs have won six of seven coming into Friday night. Terry Sanford has yet to lose a game at their adopted home field, Reid Ross Classical High School’s John Daskal Stadium, this season.

    I think that streak will continue.
    Terry Sanford 24, Rocky Mount 21. 
    Gray’s Creek at Southeast Guilford - The Bears got a huge road win in the opening round of the state playoffs and go for their second Friday at Southeast Guilford.

    Jerry Garcia Jr. has had a tremendous year running the football for Gray’s Creek and will need to be at the top of his game again for the Bears to have a shot in this one.

    I think the score will be close, but I’m going to go with the home team. 
    Southeast Guilford 28, Gray’s Creek 22.
  • 01 01 Coventry Carolers Perform at the Jubilee 2018 4The season of gratitude and giving is upon us. It is dark by dinner, there is a chill in the air (some days), and downtown shops are announcing their events for holiday shoppers. We’ve all had to adjust to a “new normal” in 2020 — we accepted a scaled-down version of a ‘Dickens Holiday,’ and didn’t make too much of a fuss about the cancelled Rotary Christmas Parade. 

    There is still one vestige of “life before COVID” that we can take advantage of in Fayetteville. We can celebrate the Christmas season with Victorian flair at the annual Holiday Jubilee at the 1897 Poe House on Dec. 6 from 1-4 p.m.

    The Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex invites the public to attend this holiday event featuring a concert by Fayetteville’s own Coventry Carolers.

    The Coventry Carolers perform seasonal Victorian Christmas songs in realistic period costumes. The members have more than 150 years combined choral experience in the U.S. and abroad.

    The Coventry Carolers will perform at 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. The Christmas concert takes place on the front porch of the Poe House and each set lasts approximately 30 minutes. Visitors are asked to bring their own chair, wear a mask and social distance. Seating will not be provided. Admission to the concert is free.

    The 1897 Poe House will be open for the Holiday Jubilee from 1-4 p.m. and decorated for a Victorian Christmas providing a beautiful backdrop for this festive event. Visitors may view the first floor only, which includes the parlor, sitting room and dining room, for a small donation of $2 per adult and $1 per child ages 5-12. For the Jubilee, occupancy will be limited to 15 people in the house at one time, masks are required and social distancing guidelines will be enforced.

    The 1897 Poe House, part of the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex, reopened for guided tours in November with tours offered at 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday. On these days, visitors must check in at the Museum of the Cape Fear lobby to sign up for the tour. Tours are limited, masks are required and social distancing guidelines will be enforced.

    The 1897 Poe House will be decorated for Christmas from Nov. 28 through Jan. 9, 2021. Although the Poe House and Museum of the Cape Fear will be closed for Thanksgiving Nov. 26-27, they will reopen on Nov. 28.

    This project is supported by the Arts Council and contributions from businesses and individuals, and through grants from the City of Fayetteville, Cumberland County and the North Carolina Arts Council, an agency of the Department of Cultural Resources.

    Matching funds are being provided by the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex Foundation, Inc.

    The Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex, located on the corner of Bradford and Arsenal avenues is currently open Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The museum operates under the Division of State History Museums, Office of Archives and History, within the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. Admission to the museum is free.

    For more information about the museum, the Poe House or the Holiday Jubilee visit https://museumofthecapefear.ncdcr.gov/

  • 19 01 paige cameronPaige Cameron

    Cape Fear • Tennis• Senior

    Cameron has a grade point average of 4.63. She is active in the Harvard Model Congress, Health Occupations Students of America, the Science Olympiad and the Environmental Club. She is a volunteer at the hospital, pet daycare, the Cape Fear Botanical Garden and at the Cape Fear tennis camp.


    Toni Blackwell

    Cape Fear• Golf/softball• Senior

    19 02 Toni BlackwellBlackwell has a 4.57 grade point average. She finished third in this year’s North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A golf tournament. She’s active in the Student Government Association, Fayetteville Technical Community College High School Connections and the school mentor program. She’s a member of the National Honor Society and a graduation marshal. She’s also active in her church.

  • 02 thank you letters on flagThe All American Patriot Association will host its first Patriotic and Veterans Day Celebration on Nov. 14 from noon until 11 p.m. at Bryan Honda on Raeford Road in Fayetteville

    “We will open with a flag raising ceremony, pledge of allegiance, national anthem, jumpers jumping in,” said Franco Webb, CEO and president of AAPA. The event is all about fun for veterans, their families and the community.

    “The main purpose of the event is to bring everybody together, to have a good time, it’s about being Americans, about being patriotic, and celebrating our veterans,” Webb said.

    The celebration will feature different speakers discussing patriotic themes, a class teaching children and adults how to raise and lower a flag, and properly fold the flag. Members of local Veterans of Foreign Wars posts will be teaching the proper disposal of a flag.

    The family friendly event will have children's activities, a bounce house and food trucks on site. There will be live performances by bands such as Harley & Big Country, 80's Unleashed, Sabor A Rumba, Ronnie Hymes. The headliner will be RIVERMIST.

    “It's going to be an awesome night to come out, dance and have a good time,” Webb said.

    Attendees will have the opportunity to win prizes throughout the day. Speakers will be randomly selecting people and asking them patriotic questions, and the winners will win a prize, he said.

    Raffle tickets will be available for purchase, and there will be gift baskets set up on tables. Some of the things being raffled include gift cards from Best Buy and a custom ‘Big Dog’ motorcycle.

    “Items that will be up for a silent auction will include an American flag flown over the U.S. Capitol with a certificate of authenticity, scholarships for kids to attend a summer horse camp in Texas, and a metal fireplace,” Webb said.

    We have had a lot of positive responses, with people and sponsors, Webb said. Some sponsors of the event include Bryan Honda, Piedmont Natural Gas, Kraken Skulls, Phoenix Global Support, Webb Security and more.

    Webb said that he began organizing the event as a way to celebrate patriotism in the community. “It’s an event that is needed and it comes at a time when everyone’s been holed up and it’s a good reason to get everyone together,” Webb said.

    For more details about the Patriots Day and Veterans Day Celebration, visit https://fb.me/e/gWJHnb3yD

  • 18 01 carlos villarealHere is the Patriot Athletic All-Conference team as chosen by the league’s head coaches:

    Coach of the year
    Bryan Pagan, Gray’s Creek

    Offensive player of the year
    Carlos Villarreal, Pine Forest

    Goalkeeper of the year
    Davin Schmidt, South View

    Defender of the year
    Davis Molnar, Terry Sanford

    First team
    18 02 davin SchmidtGray’s Creek - Eric Chavez, Vancy Ruiz
    Cape Fear - Nick Aime, Ian Wenger, Tyler Britt
    Overhills - Noah Maynor
    Pine Forest - Alex Hinton, Christian Qually
    Terry Sanford - Ever Aguero
    South View - Ryan Delaney
    Douglas Byrd - Gabriel Graces

    Second team
    Terry Sanford - Bailey Morrison, Graham MacLeod, Arjuna Gephart
    Gray’s Creek - James Faatz, Connor Boyle, Yancii Johnson, Ryan Dukes
    Overhills - Marvin Vilacrese
    South View - Zack Jones
    Pine Forest - Jarod Collier
    Cape Fear - Walker Brittain
    18 03 davis molnarHonorable mention
    Overhills - Bryson Robinson
    Terry Sanford - Pierre Young, Alex Foxx
    Pine Forest - Christian Ferlage, Eric Benitez
    Cape Fear - Hayden Willaford, Mason Smith
    Gray’s Creek - Hunter Smith, Seth Wallace
    South View - Ricardo Demister
    Pictured from top to bottom: Carlos Villarreal, Davin Schmidt, Davis Molnar
  • 11-05-14-mamma-mia.gifThis November the Givens Performing Arts Center brings the ninth longest running show in Broadway history to the community. It was also the most successful movie musical of all time and the international tour has visited more than 35 countries. For one night only, Mamma Mia!, the musical phenomenon that has been sweeping the world, is on stage.

    The music for this performance features the songs of ABBA. The infectious and lively nature of the songs are clearly reflected by the exciting musical performance. It is impossible to sit in the audience and not sing along.

    “The music is what captivates audiences along with the story,” said Chad Locklear, GPAC’s director of marketing. “Fans of ABBA are going to enjoy it for sure because it features all of their greatest hits. Even those who aren’t ABBA fans will still recognize some of the songs.”

    Inspired by the ABBA songs, the story of Mamma Mia!is that of a single day of chaos, love and hope on a lovely Greek island. Sophia, raised by her single and independent mother, is about to get married and all she wants is for her absent father to walk her down the aisle. She invites three men from her mother’s past in an effort to discover the truth about her father and in the process discovers much about love and herself. Sophia’s mother, surprised by the arrival of these men, struggles with understanding but also finds new love. Though Sophia and her mother face some large challenges in their adventure, the overall tone is cheery and energetic making for a consistently high-energy performance.

    “It makes for a really fun and entertaining evening at the theatre. Lots of singing, dancing and a fun story. There’s a reason why it’s been on Broadway now for more than 10 years. It’s a great show that people love. It’s a feel good musical, “ said Locklear.

    Though Mamma Mia! is only showing for one night, the GPAC season is full of many different incredible shows. There is a show for everyone in this star-studded and varied season. GPAC is where the community can come to enjoy Broadway-quality shows without the price tag that typically accompanies them.

    “GPAC brings a variety of quality cultural arts events to the community at a very affordable price. The center recently received national attention as one of the 25 best university performing arts centers in the country,” Locklear said.

    Another great addition to GPAC is its Act 1 Diner Club. Prior to every performance, the club is open for dinner in the Chancellor’s Dining Room. Dinner includes a wine and cheese reception at 6 p.m. and dinner at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 per person and reservations are required. For Mamma Mia! the menu includes a chopped fall vegetable salad, beef tenderloin Bolognese, wild rice, fresh cut green beans and tiramisu.

    Tickets range from $21 to $46 and are available online at www.uncp.edu/gpactickets or by calling 910-521-6361. Act 1 Diner tickets can also be purchased online. Mamma Mia! is on stage Nov. 13 at 7:30 p.m. GPAC is located at 1 University Dr. in Pembroke. For more information visit www.uncp.edu/student-life/involvement-opportunities/givens-performing-arts-center.

    Photo: Mamma Mia! is on stage at the GPAC for one night only, Nov. 13.

  • 17 01 garden boxThe Master Gardeners Virtual Gardening Symposium promises fresh ideas from gardening experts, a bounty of information and some fun for viewers. The event is packed with presentations, raffles and friendly faces.

    The Nov. 7 event, scheduled 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., is sponsored by the Cumberland County Master Gardener Volunteer Association.

    The event features guest speakers Joe Lamp’l, creator, executive producer and host of the Emmy-award-winning national PBS series “Growing a Greener World;” Kerry Ann Mendez, an award-winning garden educator, author and design consultant whose international gardening webinars are enjoyed by thousands; and Jason Weathington, NC State/Cumberland County Extension urban horticulture agent and landscape architect.

    Lamp'l will share behind-the-scenes tips from 9 seasons of his show. Mendez will present "The Right Size Flower Garden." Weathington will present “The Outdoor Room.”

    “The focus of my talk will give people the confidence to go out and create an amazing space, which I think everyone desires to have but very few know how to create,” said Weathington. “It’s important to go back to basic landscape elements and how you can use them to our advantage. Most of us need to learn some of the basics.

    The event is a fundraiser to support local horticulture efforts and scholarships for Fayetteville Technical Community College horticulture students.

    “We give two scholarships at $1,500,” said Cumberland County Master Gardener Symposium Chairperson Judy Dewar.

    “We also offer grants to teachers who offer horticulture classes. And we strive to find ways to educate our county residents.”

    Dewar added that this event is for every level of gardener.

    “There is something from the most adept gardener to the one who has never planted a seed.”

    To register, visit www.eventbrite.com/ and search “Cumberland County” and select the event.

    Participants can also click the link https://www.eventbrite.com/e/cumberland-county-master-gardener-rescheduled-gardening-symposium-2020-tickets-120442509789?aff=ebdssbeac&fbclid=IwAR2DyFB-H_1yshgyTpP7WL22TdzJd63dJaOpA2HTMmBSyD0S1pLiqOCpjiU

    17 02 hydrangeas









    Pictured: The Master Gardener Virtual Gardening Symposium offers presentations from experts, raffles and fresh ideas. The symposium is scheduled 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Nov. 7.


  • 17 01 alvin freemanComing off a 26-4 season that included a deep run in the state 4-A basketball tournament, Seventy-First boys coach David Simmons knows he’s got a tough act to follow as the 2019-20 season begins this week.

    “It was a bittersweet end in Raleigh last year,’’ he said, referring to Seventy-First’s advance to the fourth round of the state playoffs with an 80-71 loss to top East seed and perennial power Raleigh Millbrook.

    Two of the top players from last year’s squad graduated, Brion McLaurin and Xzavier Howard.

    McLaurin was a two-year starter who led the team in both scoring and rebounding both years.

    Howard came on strong at the end of the season.

    But Simmons is optimistic about a crop of young frontcourt players arriving who he hopes will quickly mesh with some experienced backcourt players returning.

    The key cog in the Falcon program this year appears to be 6-foot senior swingman Alvin Freeman, along with point guard Quiones Clayton. “Alvin is going to be a senior leader along with Quiones,’’ Simmons said. Clayton is the leading returner in assists with 2.0 per game.

    17 02 david simmons“Both those guys are going to help get our young frontcourt up to date,’’ Simmons said.

    Two freshmen and a sophomore give the Falcons solid height in the low post.

    Freshman Derrick Green, who stands 6-feet-7 and weights 275 pounds, is slated to occupy the post position.

    He’ll be joined down low by 6-foot-7, 290-pound sophomore Kaleb Siler and 6-foot-5, 190-pound freshman Cameron Shelton.

    Green is the most promising of the trio and has already gotten some college interest Simmons said.

    Another promising player in the backcourt who is returning to the Falcon roster following a knee injury two years ago is 5-foot-11, 170 pound senior Isaiah Oratokhai.

    “He played as a ninth grader,’’ Simmons said.

    Looking at the whole county, Simmons thinks Seventy-First will be like many other teams this season as local basketball has hit a cycle where a new crop of players is arriving at multiple schools.

    “You want to have some veterans,’’ Simmons said. “I’m hoping and praying our backcourt and their leadership will help our young guys. If the young guys follow the leadership of Alvin and the rest of the seniors we should be okay.’’
    Freeman said he and fellow senior Clayton both enter the season hungry after failing to reach the state 4-A championship game last season.

    He agrees with Simmons that rapid development of the big but young frontcourt will be key for the Falcons.

    “I want to be a vocal leader on and off the court,’’ he said, “make some shots and get my team more involved.’’

    With all that size down low, Freeman thinks the Falcons will take a different approach on offense this season.

    “Last year we were fast-paced,’’ Freeman said. “This year we’ll grind it out on defense, grind it out on rebounds and pound it inside.’’

    Freeman expects the Falcons will find some challenges again within the Sandhills Athletic Conference.

    “Richmond Senior has a couple of good players they’re waiting on to come out from football,’’ he said. “Jack Britt has a good team and Pinecrest has the same guards.
    “It will probably be the same kind of conference. I think we just need to try to feed the paint and make some more shots.’’

    Pictured from top to bottom: Alvin Freeman, David Simmons

  • uac111914001.gif The holiday season is a truly special time of year — even more so in the greater Fayetteville area because there are so many wonderful events and traditions to celebrate the season. This year marks the 15th anniversary of one of the most well-loved and well-known local traditions: the Dickens Holiday.

    Every year, on the day after Thanksgiving, the streets of downtown Fayetteville are transformed into a bustling Victorian village complete with wandering carolers, horse-drawn carriages, Father Christmas, gingerbread, spiced cider, vendors and characters straight out of the Dickens masterpiece A Christmas Carol. The event runs from 1-9 p.m. and is packed with interesting characters, activities and locations. One of the highlights of the day is the candlelight procession from the Arts Council to the Market House. This year the event has a few additional treats to enjoy.

    In addition to Scrooge, Marley and the other characters from A Christmas Carol, actors portraying people who actually knew Queen Victoria will join the festivities. The queen has been quite popular at the event in past years and this will let the crowd peek into her world.

    “Our favorite characters like Scrooge will still be there but we are adding a whole new layer of characters to enrich this experience — all of whom have a connection to Queen Victoria and her court.” said Mary Kinney, marketing director for the Arts Council Fayetteville/Cumberland County. “We are looking to add some depth to the Dickens experience and to be more diverse and educational. We really want to offer a deeper educational experience. Everything we do is an opportunity for lifelong learning. It isn’t about the performance. It is about what you learn from it. I hope people take something beyond the performance and it is perfect timing — our 15th year. What better year to celebrate than by adding the next layer to programming?”

    Meet Sara Forbes Bonetta. Played by local actress Kaity Parson, Bonetta is known as Queen Victoria’s goddaughter. Bonetta was originally from what is now west Nigeria and was brought to England as a child.

    “Kaity is doing a lot of research into Sara’s life and will give a monologue at the Dickens Hol11-19-14-dickens-holiday.gifiday,” said Kinney. “If you are not familiar with Sara Forbes Bonetta’s story, it is worth researching.”

    Local actor Sonny Kelly portrays Ira Aldridge, an African-American Shakespearean actor from New York City who made his way to London. He performed not just for Queen Victoria but all over Europe, including Russia and Austria. He was known by many as “African Roscius.” Don’t miss Kelly’s monologue where he will share some of Aldridge’s adventures.

    Visit Annie’s Ale House, another new addition to the popular event.

    “Annie’s Ale House is a food court and performance area behind the Arts Council,” said Kinney. “We’ll have beer and wine. Annie’s Ale House is open from 1-9 p.m., but programming in that area really picks up after the fireworks during Dickens After Dark. In Annie’s Ale House we will have the Belfast Boys. It is rich music that is very upbeat. It includes instruments like mandolins and has a very toe-tapping kind of beat. That will be an exciting spot to be after the fireworks.” 

    This year Habitat for Humanity and H&H Homes join the festivities as sponsors of the gingerbread village.

    “People from our own community will create buildings that make the village. It can be police stations, hospitals, houses — pretty much anything that you would find in a community. People are signing up now to participate. There are forms at the Habitat for Humanity Restore. The opportunity during Dickens is to come and see the finished community of hope. There is no charge to enter,” explained Kinney.

    Most events run continuously throughout the day, and there is much to experience. Ride through the streets of downtown in a horse-drawn carriage. Have a photo taken with Father Christmas. Sample hot cider, gingerbread and more. Shop the many vendors and businesses. Visit Annie’s Ale House for a bite to eat. Chat with historical figures and literary characters. Don’t miss one of the highlights of the day, Fayetteville’s biggest candlelight procession from the Arts Council to11-19-14-dickens-holiday-2.gif the Market House.

    “While most things happen throughout the day, enjoy the one thing that happens at a certain time — the procession,” said Kinney. “Everyone gathers in front of the Arts Council at 5:30 p.m., where you can get a free candle — while supplies last. Then we all proceed to the Market House together. It is the city’s largest procession and the fireworks are beautiful.”

    The event doesn’t end once the fireworks are over. “There is so much going on that people will want to stay,” said Kinney.

    A Dickens Holiday is a collaborative effort between the Arts Council Fayetteville/Cumberland County and the Downtown Alliance. It runs from 1-9 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 28 and encompasses the heart of downtown. Find out more at www.theartscouncil.com or by calling 323-1776.

    Photo:  Join the festivities as downtown turns Victorian at A Dickens Holiday on Friday, Nov. 28.

  • 16 lake rim parkFayetteville-Cumberland Parks and Recreation offers a variety of locations around town to enjoy the outdoors. Lake Rim Park on Tar Kiln Drive offers an assortment of amenities including picnic areas, horseshoe pits, walking trails, tennis courts, sand volleyball courts, athletic fields, natural areas and children’s playgrounds.

    In addition to park facilities, a number of tours and activities are offered in November and December.

    Tar Kiln Tour — Nov. 10, 2 to 4 p.m., free, ages 10+
    Participants can take a behind-the-scenes look at a historical treasure located at Lake Rim Park. Join a park ranger to view the remnants of the Weed’s Lightwood Plant, a century-old turpentine factory. Learn about the importance of the naval stores industry in North Carolina and find out why we are known as “The Tar Heel State.” Call to register, space is limited.

    Kayak Tours — Nov. 14, 9:30 to 11 a.m., $15, $5 w/own boat, adults and ages 10+
    Lake tours are perfect for those trying kayaking for the first time and seasoned paddlers looking to relax on the water. All the equipment and basic instruction for beginners will be provided. We recommend beginners participate in a lake tour before going on a kayak trip. Tours are dependent on the weather. Call to register, space is limited. Participants under 16 must be accompanied by a participating adult.

    Color Hunt — Nov. 18, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., free, all ages
    Conduct experiments to observe a rainbow of colors, discover why colors change in the fall and then search the park for an array of colors on a scavenger hunt. Call to register, space is limited.

    Archery Clinic — Dec. 5, noon to 3 p.m., $5, Ages 8+
    This class is designed to introduce the sport of archery to beginners. Participants will use compound bows as they learn the basics of archery to include safety, proper stance and follow through. Adults are welcome too. Registration begins Nov. 23, space is limited.

    All facilities are open to the public on a first come, first serve basis unless they are reserved. Contact the park office at 910-433-1018 to reserve facilities or register for events. Office hours are Mon. — Fri. 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    Visit https://www.fcpr.us/parks-trails/parks/lake-rim-park for more information.

  • 16 DeaverFormer South View High School defensive coordinator Melvin Braswell used to say the best measure of the value of a defensive player to his team was how far he was from the player with the ball at the end of a play.
    Bruce McClelland, head coach at Terry Sanford, hasn’t handed out those kind of grades for his defense, but if he did, the marks for middle linebacker Jackson Deaver would be high.

    “He’s one of the guys in the biggest games who always makes plays,’’ McClelland said of Deaver.

    Deaver recently earned a name for himself in the school’s record book by breaking the career record for tackles held by his former teammate, Dante Bowlding.

    Through the final regular season game with Pine Forest, Deaver’s career total is 439 tackles.

    He has 125 tackles for his senior campaign. That includes 12 tackles for loss and two sacks.

    He’s also had a pair of interceptions, caused four fumbles and recovered two.

    Deaver’s performance hasn’t gone unnoticed by others. He’s a team captain for the second year in a row and has twice been named to the Patriot Athletic All-Conference football team.

    This is Deaver’s fourth year in the Bulldog football program. Early in his career, when Terry Sanford was awash with good linebackers, he was briefly moved to defensive line, but he’s spent the last three seasons anchoring the defense from the middle linebacker spot.

    “He’s obviously a great athlete and great player,’’ McClelland said. But that’s not the only reason Deaver has been so successful on the football field.

    “The biggest thing is preparation,’’ McClelland said. “He’s second to none with any player I’ve ever coached on the defensive side.’’ McClelland puts Deaver in the same company with former Bulldog greats Mark Gilbert and Isaiah Stallings.

    “This guy does a ton of film prep,’’ McClelland said. “He can tell you every position we are lining up in, what our defense is before our coaching staff does. His ability to get everybody else on defense on the same page is remarkable.’’
    Playing defense is a challenge for a lot of players today because of the growing concerns about keeping head contact out of the game. There was a time in football years ago when defenders would use their helmet as a weapon and try to make contact with it when tackling opponents. The concerns that that contact leads to concussions, which some studies show is linked to the possible of permanent brain injury or disease, has caused football coaches to change the way they teach tackling to their players.

    McClelland thinks it’s been a change for the good, seeing new tackling techniques focusing not just on taking the head out of the game, but on getting players to wrap an opponent up and make a more sure tackle. “The biggest thing I see is an improvement in the tackling of defenses week to week,’’ McClelland said.

    Deaver, who began playing youth football at the age of eight, said all the instruction he’s received since being in high school has focused on eliminating head tackling. “Even though there have been a lot of changes to tackling, the grand scheme of things is to get the guy down on the ground,’’ Deaver said.

    Deaver feels he and the rest of the Bulldog defenders have done a good job of that this year.

    As this story is being written, Deaver and Terry Sanford were preparing for their state 3-A playoff opener against Wilson Fike on Thursday, Nov. 14, at John Daskal Stadium at Reid Ross Classical School. “Defensively I could not be happier with our guys,’’ Deaver said. “Our run defense is phenomenal. I think if we keep doing what we’re doing and stay focused, we should make a good run.’’

    Deaver is hopeful that when his Terry Sanford career ends, he’ll be playing at the college level, but he’s not sure if it will be football or baseball.

    He’s talented in both, and he’s already courting football interest from UNC-Pembroke, Wofford and Limestone. “They may put a little more weight on him and put him at middle linebacker,’’ McClelland said of Deaver’s college future.
    Currently Deaver said he’s about 6-feet tall and weighs 225. “I’m not leaning toward anyone,’’ Deaver said. “I’m looking for somewhere I can call home for the next four years, somewhere I’ll feel happy and like I’m part of a family.’’

    Pictured: Jackson Deaver

  • 11-23-11-better-health.jpgThe American Diabetes Association tells us that there are nearly 26 million Americans living with diabetes and there are another 79 million at risk for developing Type 2 Diabetes.

    Every 17 seconds, someone is diagnosed with diabetes. This disease kills more people each year than breast cancer and AIDS combined. Recent estimates project that as many as 1 in 3 American adults will have diabetes in 2050 unless steps are taken to stop diabetes.

    Melissa Brady, health education coordinator for Better Health of Cumberland County, is familiar with these numbers. She works every day to help educate the public about diabetes and to teach people with diabetes how to live with and manage it.

    Better Health offers classes and events year round, but because November is American Diabetes Month, there is a lot more going on in the way of education and activities to raise awareness

    .“Let’s face it, we know how to eat right, we just choose not to,” said Brady.

    And those small choices made each day over time can lead to serious complications.

    She adds. “There are many, many people in Cumberland County who have diabetes and even more with prediabetes. We are here to educate them and give them tools and resources to better manage their health.”

    There are still a couple weeks left in November and Better Health, sponsored by United Way, is using them to the fullest to promote, well, better health. There is an Oral Health and Diabetes clinic scheduled from 8 a.m.to 12 p.m. on Nov. 22 and a cooking class on Nov. 28 at 8:30 a.m. These clinics are all in addition to the regularly scheduled diabetes-related events that are ongoing throughout the year.

    Brady also noted that this is the perfect time to register for the next “Take Charge of Diabetes” class, which will be held in January. This is a seven-week comprehensive diabetes management course. While the class is free, students who are able are asked to contribute a donation to “pay it forward” for the next class. Preregistration is required.

    In addition to the events above, Better Health sponsors ongoing and continuous classes and clinics related to diabetes management:

    • Diabetes clinics are held on Tuesdays from 8 to 11:30 a.m. at the Better Health Office. Individual glucometer instruction is available.

    • Diabetes clinics are held on Thursdays 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the Better Health Offi ce• Exercise classes for people with diabetes are on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 to 10:30 a.m. for experienced students; 11 a.m. for beginners. All classes are offered at the Better Health Offi ce. Exercise regimens include yoga, aerobics, chair-yoga and chair-aerobics. Blood glucose testing is required pre and post class. Supplies are provided.

    • Diabetes Clinic is on a walk-in basis at Gray’s Creek Recreation Center on Wednesday from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Individual education is available at the clinic.

    • Eat Smart, Move More Healthy Lifestyle Series can be scheduled at your church or civic group at your request. Call 483-7534 to plan an event.

    For more information, visit the Better Health website at www.betterhealthcc.org or give them a call at 483-7534.

  • 13 01 big image chess makingThe Fayetteville Technical Community College Foundation presents their Foundation Weekend events Nov. 4-8.

    “The purpose of the event is to raise money for student scholarships and aid, programs and services at Fayetteville Technical Community College,” said Sandy Ammons, executive director of FTCC Foundation. “The foundation is the fundraising arm of the college and in the past we have raised over $50,000 so we are hoping this year despite the circumstances to sur
    pass that.”

    The Foundation Weekend consists of one event with three different parts: the FTCC Foundation Golf Tournament, the Bluegrass & BBQ at Home dinner and the Online Silent Auction.

    The Golf Tournament will be held at Gates Four Golf and Country Club Nov. 6.

    “The golf tournament goes back at least 20 years and has evolved throughout the years,” said Ammons. “It was scheduled for April and May of this year and because of COVID-19 we had to postpone it.”
    Ammons added that they had to look at it with a different spin on how they could continue with the golf tournament under the new circumstances. The Golf Tournament is currently full and sold out.

    The Online Silent Auction will take place Nov. 4- 8.

    “In the past the silent auction was part of the dinner and you would come to the dinner and there would be an auction in the same room,” said Ammons. “We’ve had the Bluegrass theme for several years which is fun and we had live entertainment, a Western theme and people would come dressed in Western attire and it was an in-person event.”

    Ammons added that this year the silent auction is online and it is open to everyone to bid on the auction items. There is no fee or ticket to purchase.

    “We have really tried to tap into wonderful local businesses and artists who give back to the community who are helping us pull off this event with a new twist,” she said.

    The public can view items up for auction by visiting the Online Silent Auction site at https://www.charityauctionstoday.com/auctions/ftccfoundation-15436.

    “We have got some wonderful auction items that are made by FTCC faculty such as cakes from our Culinary Department, a beautiful hand-milled chess set, exotic plants, tons of gift certificates to local businesses, artwork, original paintings, photography prints, fine jewelry from Hinkamp Jewelers, a BBQ package, a pet package, a garden package and much more,” said Ammons.

    “You can do your Christmas shopping through our auction because we have something for everybody and we add packages daily as we receive them.”

    The Bluegrass & BBQ at Home dinner will take place on Nov. 7.

    “We are going to have a fantastic dinner catered by Southern Coals and it will be chicken, BBQ, macaroni and cheese, broccoli salad and banana pudding,” said Ammons.

    “It will be complete with flowers from the Downtown Market, wine glasses from FTCC, and the meal will be delivered to your home hot and ready to serve or you can pick it up at Southern Coals.”

    Ammons added it will come with beverages from Bright Light Brewing Company or red wine from Healy Wholesale.

    “This event would normally have live entertainment so we are going to have a private live concert at 7 p.m. by the Guy Unger Band streamed to the homes of the guests who buy tickets,” said Ammons. “They will get the link to view the live concert during the dinner.”

    The Fayetteville Technical Community College Foundation has been in existence since 1985 and it is the foundation arm of the college.

    “A big part of what we do is scholarships so we work with donors to bring in money for scholarships for students as well as work to match the students to the right scholarship,” said Ammons.

    “We really try to do everything we can to keep our students on track and in school to graduate and to start their careers.”

    The foundation also manages the Alumni Network. “We work with our students as they are getting ready to graduate and we make sure they stay connected to the college, help with networking and work with them so they can stay with their program after they leave college,” said Ammons. “We work with alumni, retired faculty and staff and current faculty and staff so we are kind of the link between the community and the college.”

    For more information or to purchase tickets visit https://www.faytechcc.edu/foundation-events/ or call 910-678-8441.

    Pictured: (Above) A hand-milled chess set made by FTCC faculty Kevin Henry and students will be available during the Foundation Online Silent Auction event. (Below) The pieces are made from brass and aluminum.

    13 02 big image chess pieces

  • FootballIt didn’t take long for what was already a rugged work week to become next to impossible.

    Things started tough on Tuesday when I spent nearly two hours in a dental chair with a patient hygienist who tackled my messy molars.
    To make matters worse, I was facing a stack of early deadlines for Up & Coming Weekly caused by the rapidly-approaching Thanksgiving holiday.

    Then Mother Nature threw us all a curve with a nasty weather forecast for the first Friday of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s football playoffs. 

    As of this writing on Wednesday afternoon, three local schools have switched nights. E.E. Smith at Southern Nash, Wilson Fike at Terry Sanford and Durham Riverside at Seventy-First will play tonight, Thursday, at 7:30 p.m.

    Of the remaining games, only the Knightdale at Jack Britt game is unlikely to move from Friday according to a statement from athletic director Michael Lindsay.

    As for the rest, as of this writing, they are still scheduled Friday at 7:30 p.m. Follow me on Twitter @EarlVaughanJr for the latest updates on the status of all of this week’s county playoff contests.
    The record: 63-19
    The last week of the regular season was a cold cup of water in the face. I struggled to barely break .500, going 4-3. The good news was I got to 60 wins before I got to 20 losses for the year, putting my season count at 63-19, 76.83 percent. Here’s to a much better effort in the playoff openers this week.
    • E.E. Smith at Southern Nash - They’re still glowing at E.E. Smith after that shocking 43-0 rout of Cape Fear that likely gave Smith the final push needed to make the state playoffs.
    But I think the glow will be short-lived when the Golden Bulls arrive in Bailey for their game with the Firebirds.
    To say Southern Nash is loaded is an understatement. The Firebirds are 11-0 and ranked No. 6 in the MaxPreps 3-A state rankings.
    I hope the magic continues for Smith, but don’t count on it. 
    Southern Nash 31, E.E. Smith 7.
    • Wilson Fike at Terry Sanford - Terry Sanford did a quick rebound from its loss to South View, topping Pine Forest.

    Wilson Fike, a team with a rich if not recent tradition in North Carolina high school football, makes the trip down I-95 to visit the Bulldogs in their temporary home at John Daskal Stadium at Reid Ross Classical High School on Ramsey Street.

    You’re not supposed to compare scores of common opponents but who can keep from doing it, especially at this time of year? 

    Terry Sanford and Fike both played Rolesville and both lost. But the Bulldogs were on the short end of a 34-28 score that went down to the last minute. Fike dropped a 34-13 decision in late August.
    I think the Bulldogs are a safe pick this week.
    Terry Sanford 32, Wilson Fike 8.
    • Cape Fear at Cleveland - Cape Fear appeared to be peaking for a good run in this year’s state playoffs until last week’s debacle against E.E. Smith. I don’t recall getting so many calls after a game from people who wanted to know what in the world happened to the Colts.

    From all that I heard, it was a perfect storm of Smith playing at the top of its game and everything falling apart for Cape Fear.

    If that happens again this week it could be more of the same for Cape Fear. Cleveland is a solid team with only a loss to always tough Cardinal Gibbons.
    Cape Fear will have its hands full traveling there.
    Cleveland 29, Cape Fear 12.
    • Gray’s Creek at Southern Durham - Southern Durham hasn’t lost since a season-opening 26-13 defeat to once-beaten Cleveland. Southern also got a 21-18 win at Seventy-First.
    I don’t think the Bears are going to have an enjoyable visit.
    Southern Durham 27, Gray’s Creek 12.
    • Pine Forest at Heritage - Heritage was riding a five-game winning streak until it ran into powerful Wake Forest and fell 52-26 on the road last week.
    I think they’ll bounce back this week against a Pine Forest team that hasn’t been able to sort out its defensive problems all season.
    Heritage 34, Pine Forest 8.
    • Durham Riverside at Seventy-First - Seventy-First came back from an inconsistent stretch much of the season to get a big conference win over Jack Britt.
    If the Falcons can continue that momentum tonight, the home field edge should give them a boost against visiting Riverside.
    Seventy-First 21, Durham Riverside 14.
    • Knightdale at Jack Britt - This could be the closest matchup of the night on paper as both teams bring a lot of similar numbers into the game.

    My biggest worry for Britt is if they can shake off whatever was bugging them last week against Seventy-First that resulted in a season-ending defeat.
    Home field counts for a lot at playoff time, especially on a night when bad weather may come into play.

    Here’s hoping all of that works in Britt’s favor.
    Jack Britt 28, Knightdale 21.
    • Bye - South View. The Tigers, the No. 2 seed in the 4-A East, will host the Knightdale-Jack Britt winner on Friday, Nov. 22, at 7:30 p.m.
  • 12 02 DSC 0958The Airborne & Special Operations Museum is again open to the public and offers two exhibits. The 13th Annual Field of Honor exhibit went up Oct. 3 and will be up for display until Nov 30., and the GWOT Memorial Flag exhibit opened Oct 13., and will run until Dec. 6.

    The Field of Honor exhibit, in partnership with Cool Springs Downtown District, showcases 500 flags on display at the ASOM field, said Abbie Cashel, donor relations and event coordinator for ASOM Foundation.

    “Each flag comes with a story, each dedicated to someone whether it be a service member, a veteran and this year we actually opened it up to personal heroes, people that made a positive experience during COVID-19 or just in general,” she said. The tag on each flag identifies who the flag represents and honoree  information.

    “We are really excited that we sold out this year, all 500 flags, that was incredible, all the great community support,” Cashel said.

    The flags sold out for $35 each which will may motivate the museum to have more slots available next year.

    “A lot of people come from all over to view their loved ones’ flags, it acts as a memorial for people and they also use it to honor their loved ones and their service and that's what makes it really special in the community,” she said. “It’s just a really peaceful, respectful place to view a hero.”

    The Global War on Terror Memorial Flag is 28 feet wide and 6 feet tall and designed by Veterans Athletes United. The design symbolizes the shape of a flag when draped on a fallen service member’s casket.
    About 7,000 dog tags form the flag, belonging to those killed in the War on Terror. The 50 gold stars on the flag represent all Gold Star families across the nation. Displayed in front of the flag is a battlefield cross sculpted from mahogany wood by female veteran artist Alicia Dietz.

    The tags are in alphabetical order ranging from Sept. 11, 2001 to Dec. 31, 2019, the tags are in chronological order of the date the service member was killed in action.

    “It’s a really cool piece that we have had up before and a lot of people came, it’s just another exhibit that allows people to honor and remember their loved ones,” Cashel said.

    The GWOT exhibit is free to the public but the museum welcomes a $5 donation.

    The museum is preparing for its next feature, the Ghost Army Exhibit :The Combat Con Artists of World War II , which will open to the public Dec. 15 and be on display until April 25, 2021.

    The exhibit will highlight the story of the 23rd Headquarters Special Group, the first mobile, multimedia, tactical deception unit in U.S. Army history.

    The top secret, unique “Ghost Army” was composed of 82 officers and 1,023 men and was activated Jan. 20, 1944, under the command of Colonel Harry L. Reeder.

    The group was successfully capable of simulating two whole divisions, approximately 30,000 men by using visual, sonic and radio deception to fool German forces during the final year of World War II.

    For more information on the exhibit visit https://www.asomf.org/event/ghost-army-the-combat-con-artists-of-world-war-ii/

    The museum is open Tuesday to Friday, from 10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. The ASOM is using a reservation system that helps keep capacity level in accordance with COVID-19 guidelines, but people can walk in and sign in at the front desk,
    Cashel said.

    ASOM first opened its doors in 2000, and celebrates its 20th year anniversary this year, although many of the planned events were postponed due to COVID-19 and will hopefully be rescheduled for next year, she said.

    “It's really a place for people to come and learn about Airborne and Special Operations and their history,” Cashel said. “Entry is free, so pretty much everyone in the community does have a chance to come and look and learn and engage with the history of past soldiers that paved the way for modern day soldiers.”

    Visit https://www.asomf.org for more information about the museum.

    Pictured: (Above) The 13th Annual Field of Honor will be on display until Nov. 30. (Below) The GWOT Memorial Flag is made of about 7,000 dog tags identifying those killed in service  (Photos by Dylan Hooker)

    12 01 DSC 0024

  • 23 01 Shawn HealeyShawn Healey
    Jack Britt • Football/wrestling/lacrosse • Senior
    Healey has a weighted grade point average of 4.22. He is the starting center for the football team. He is active in the Information Systems Technology Academy and enjoys doing volunteer work in the community.






    23 02 Alyssa Norton Alyssa Norton
    Jack Britt • Volleyball/softball• Junior
    Norton has a 3.8 grade point average. As a freshman she was a starter in the outfield for Jack Britt’s state 4-A champion fastpitch softball team. She’s a member of the Key Club and the honor guard. When not involved in sports she enjoys spending time with her family. She plans to enter college and then pursue a career in the military.

  • 22 01 Ashton fieldsHere is the Sandhills Athletic All-Conference volleyball team as chosen by the league’s head coaches:

    Player of the year

    Lauren Shephard, Pinecrest

    Coach of the year

    Mallory Wheeler, Scotland

    22 02 Sydney ConklinPinecrest - Sophi Gaiford, Vivian Champlain, Madi Ringley, Chloe Modlin, Lexi Allen, Sydney Karjala
    Scotland - Carleigh Carter, Kamdyn Morgan, Abigail Quick
    Richmond Senior - Jadyn Johnson, Jakarta Covington, Layne Maultsby, Carley Lambeth, Georgia Grace Anderson
    Jack Britt - Sydney Conklin, Kaiah Parker, Ashton Fields
    Lumberton - Teyha Bullard, Katelyn Culbreth, Hailey Werrell
    Purnell Swett - Kaitlyn Locklear
    Seventy-First - Jewel Pitt
    Hoke County - Tyshawna Willis-McPhatter
    22 03 Kaiah Parker
    22 04 Jewel Pitt
    Pictured from top to bottom: Ashton Fields, Sydney Conklin, Kaiah Parker, Jewel Pitt
  • 21 rexperryIf there was such a thing as a hall of fame for being a caring person who reached out to all fellow human beings, Rex Perry would be a unanimous choice for induction.

    Perry, 58, a friend to many and a familiar figure in Fayetteville and Cumberland County athletic circles, died on Oct. 25 at the Hock Family Pavilion in Durham after a lengthy illness.

    An athlete at Pine Forest High School, he played on the highly successful football teams of the late Trojan head coach Gary Whitman.

    Since 2006, he was employed at Fayetteville Technical Community College as the coordinator in the student activities office. In 2017, he added the role of Student Activities Technician.

    One of his coworkers at FTCC is Billy Gaskins, the school’s head baseball coach for the past two seasons.

    Gaskins had known Perry on and off since 2006 when he got involved in coaching high school baseball locally.

    “He was one of the nicest guys I ever met,’’ Gaskins said. “He was always willing to help, even during his struggle the last couple of years. He was the type of person who led by example.’’

    Gaskins said even at the height of his poor health, Perry would continue to try and show up for work as often as possible. He was always enthusiastic and helpful, regardless of how he felt, Gaskins said.
    Whenever Gaskins brought baseball recruits to the FTCC campus, he’d always stop by Perry’s office in the Tony Rand Center and introduce them to Perry.

    “He stood up, shook their hand and had a conversation with them,’’ Gaskins said. “He had a little pep in his step when I walked in with a recruit.’’
    In addition to his work at FTCC, Perry was also an athletic official, working for the Southeastern Athletic Officials Association in sports like football and softball.

    “Rex was just a likable guy,’’ said Neil Buie, regional supervisor of football and baseball officials for the SAOA. “There was never a nicer person, a guy that was easier to get along with. Truly a good human being.’’
    Ronnie Luck was one of Perry’s first coaches, instructing him in football when the two were together at Spring Lake Junior High in the mid-1970s. “He was a good kid,’’ Luck said. “Never caused any trouble. Easy-going, soft-spoken. He always gave you the best he had.’’

    Luck said Perry had an incredible memory for people, places and things and could recount detailed stories about things that happened years ago.

    Shortly before Perry passed away, he and Luck spoke briefly and Perry told Luck he was okay. “He touched my life,’’ Luck said. “I hope I did some positive for him in his younger years. But as a man, he certainly touched mine.’’
    Luck said Perry was respected by his peers, both in the athletic and professional arenas. “He was very selective in what he said and when he said it,’’ Luck said. “He was one of the good guys.’’

    Pictured: Rex Perry

  • 20 kylie aldridgeHere is the Patriot Athletic All-Conference volleyball team as chosen by the league’s head coaches:

    Player of the year
    Kylie Aldridge, Gray’s Creek
    Coach of the year
        Gray's Creek - Jalesty Washington
    First Team
        Terry Sanford - Kara Walker, Natalie Jernigan
    South View - Sierra Gosselin, Katelynn Swain
    Pine Forest - Chayse Daniels
    Gray’s Creek - Kelsie Rouse, Hailey Pait
    Cape Fear - Taylor Melvin, Marlie Horne
    20 2 Jalesty WashingtonSecond Team
    Gray’s Creek - Morgan Brady, Cassie Jacops, Hannah Sterling, Aliyah Brown
    E.E. Smith - Jada Priebe, Serenity Lunnermon, Ja’Nya Lunnermon
    Terry Sanford - Ally Danaher
    Honorable Mention
    Douglas Byrd - Ashanti Smith
    E.E. Smith - Ke’onna Bryant
    Gray’s Creek - Summer Powell
    Overhills - Jade Butcher
    Cape Fear - Megan Eaker
    Pine Forest - Alicia Hairston
    Terry Sanford - Mya Jensen
    South View - Triniti Miles
    Westover - Tia Johnson
    Picture 1:Kylie Aldridge, Gray's Creek, is the player of the year.                       Picture 2: Jalesty Washington, Gray's Creek, is the coach of the year.
  • 19 James FaatzThe months of sacrificing time off during the summer to devote to off-season practice is showing dividends for the Gray’s Creek soccer team.

    This year the Bears swept the regular season and tournament titles in the Patriot Athletic Conference, and opened play in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A state playoffs with a 4-2 overtime win against Asheboro.
    At this writing, Coach Bryan Pagan’s team, 19-5, is waiting to find out who it will play in the second round of the NCHSAA playoffs, either Wilson Fike or Pittsboro Northwood, in a game that was tentatively scheduled for last Saturday.
    Pagan thinks, as far as chemistry is concerned, the Bears have reached their stride offensively. He feels the strength of this year’s team is being able to possess the ball.

    “We pass really well,’’ he said. “Our Achilles heel the whole year has been finishing. For whatever reason things are starting to click. Guys are moving in the right positions, staying onside.’’

    The Bears have struggled with a variety of injuries during the season, but some of the ailing players have healed, and Pagan has been able to plug in less experienced players in key positions who have stepped up, like sophomores Connor Boyle and Vancy Ruiz.

    19 02 Seth WallaceAnother key performer is veteran goalkeeper Ryan Dukes, a senior. Through Nov. 2 according to the statistics at NCPrepSports.net, he had recorded 94 saves while allowing 16 goals. “He’s done an amazing job for us as well,’’ Pagan said.

    Offensively, Pagan feels a strength of his team is it doesn’t rely on one player to score all the goals. Eric Chavez is the team leader in goals through Nov. 2 with 16.

    “It really takes a lot of the pressure off,’’ Pagan said of being versatile scoring. “People take a little more ownership when they know it’s collective rather than one or two individuals.’’

    Two players who play a critical role in helping distribute the ball for the Bears are James Faatz and Seth Wallace.

    Pagan describes Faatz, a center-midfielder, as a player crucial to maintaining possession of the ball.

    “If it gets to him he knows where to get it to,’’ Pagan said. “He’s calm on the ball, makes good decisions for us and is kind of a catalyst. Anything we need to bail out or need somebody to facilitate the middle he’s a great option for us.’’
    The other key performer is Seth Wallace, who plays on the wing. “He’s done a great job winning stuff on the outside and serving stuff into the box in dangerous areas,’’ Pagan said.
    “He’s inspiring, super, super athletic and you’re not going to beat him off the dribble. He’s a strong kid.’’
    Faatz agrees with Pagan that chemistry is a strong point of this Gray’s Creek team, with communication and good passing also being key.

    He thinks the key to success in the postseason is intensity. “I think if we come in hot in the first half, the first ten minutes, and pop a few goals in we can be dangerous against any school in the playoffs,’’ he said. “We can show that Cumberland County has some pretty good soccer schools.’’

    While Cumberland County doesn’t have a public high school with a rich state playoff tradition in soccer, Wallace thinks the Bears have the potential to make some noise.

    ”A Gray’s Creek team like this could surprise some people and have some future upsets,’’ Wallace said. ”We were kind of rocky at the beginning of the year with our finishing. We’ve definitely had some people step up and other people growing into roles because of injuries.

    “We’re not a one-man team. Everyone has a role.’’

    Looking to the remainder of the state playoffs, Pagan said he’s learned the postseason has a lot to do with seeding and tackling each matchup.

    “I like our chances this year because we are more well-balanced than we’ve been in the past,’’ he said. “I feel like we can hold teams to low scores and score when we need to.

    “Our strength is in the middle of the field and in our possession. That gives us a fighting chance to match up against anybody. If we stay uninjured we have a chance to make it pretty deep in the playoffs.’’

    Picture 1: James Faatz 

    Picture 2: Seth Wallace


  • earlThe final pieces of the football puzzle fall into place Friday night as the regular season comes to an end for teams in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.

    Saturday around lunchtime, coaches and fans will be sitting in front of smartphones, iPads and laptops hitting refresh over and over as they wait for the NCHSAA to post this year’s state playoff brackets so they can get their first certain look at what the path to a state football championship will look like.

    I both love and hate this weekend — love it for the excitement of finding out where everybody is paired and hate it for the annual agony of incorrect information that causes seedings to have to be recalculated and brackets redrawn.

    Here’s hoping everyone pays attention to the data when they report their final records to the NCHSAA so we can all get back to business as usual Saturday afternoon.
    The record: 59-16
    I had another perfect week last Friday, going 7-0, to improve the score for the season to 59-16, 78.7 percent.

    This will be the last week of anything that comes close to easy predictions. Once the state playoffs begin next Friday it gets a lot more complicated.
    E.E. Smith at Cape Fear - The red-hot Colts are looking for a piece of the conference title and hoping for some help to allow them to move up higher in the playoff seedings.
    Cape Fear 28, E.E. Smith 14.
    Westover at Gray’s Creek - Gray’s Creek should wrap up the regular season with its third win in a row against a struggling Wolverine team.
    Gray’s Creek 30, Westover 17.
    Jack Britt at Seventy-First - Both teams are looking to rebound from losses. I like Jack Britt’s chances better.
    Jack Britt 24, Seventy-First 18.
    Pine Forest at Terry Sanford - Reminder to Bulldog fans, this game will be played at Fayetteville State’s Jeralds Stadium as Terry Sanford celebrates Senior Night.
    It’s a big game for both teams but even bigger for Terry Sanford as it seeks to wrap up a piece of the Patriot Conference title and the No. 1 3-A seed from the conference in the state playoffs.
    Terry Sanford 30, Pine Forest 22.
    South View at Overhills - The Tigers are looking to seal the No. 1 4-A playoff spot and a share of the Patriot Conference title. I think they’ll get it. 
    South View 32, Overhills 12.
    Douglas Byrd at Fairmont - The Eagles try to end a difficult season with a win.
    Fairmont 21, Douglas Byrd 14.
    Other games: Trinity Christian 31, Southlake Christian 16.
  • 19 01 Carlos CallenderCarlos Callender

    E.E. Smith • Football, indoor and outdoor track • Senior

    Callender has a grade point average of 4.20. He is a member of the National Honor Society, Student Government Association, Distributive Education Clubs of America, Future Business Leaders of America, Science Olympiad, Campus Life, Fayetteville Technical Community College Honor Society and the Academy of Scholars.

    MiKayla Staten

    E.E. Smith • Cheerleading • Senior

    Staten has a grade point average of 3.68. She’s the captain of the cheerleading squad. In addition, she’s a member of the Academy of Scholars, the National Honor Society, Bulls for Christ, Campus 19 02 mikaylaLife, Student 2 Student, Student Government Association, Academically and Intellectually Gifted, Junior Volunteer for Cape Fear Valley Hospital and Project Uplift at the University of North Carolina.

  • 112515_snyder.png

    The congregation at Snyder Memorial Baptist Church will offer its Singing Christmas Tree for six performances this year. There will be 7:30 p.m. daily showings Dec. 3-6 with additional matinee performances at 4 p.m. on Dec 5 and 6.

    The musical production features 250 singers from the children’s, youth and adult choirs, as well as a hand-bell choir and a 40-piece orchestra. 

    When the church began the event in 1980, they planned to continue the performance for a few years. “It was such a big hit with the community, we kept doing it,” said Sara Barefoot, the music and worship ministry assistant. “It’s become a church-wide mission with hundreds involved either performing or behind the scenes.”

    Barefoot herself has been involved for 34 years. Through the years it became a family event as her children also took part in different aspects.

    The Snyder congregation takes a similar approach with other families contributing and taking part as performers, ushers, or helping to collect canned food. Attendees are asked to bring a canned food item to the performance to be donated to local food banks.

    “We have some performers who have been involved since the beginning, performing as children, then in the youth and now in the adult choir,” Barefoot said.

    While the event is a local tradition for the performance itself, Barefoot said it also gives community members a look into Snyder Memorial Baptist Church and what it offers. 

    “The overall goal is to spread the message of Christmas,” Barefoot said. “If anyone who attends hasn’t heard the message, they can and we hope they start to ask questions. We are always available to follow-up with them.”

    While tickets for all performances have been given out, you can still get on the wait list for returned tickets by calling the church. Doors open one hour prior to each performance. Tickets are honored until 30 minutes before performance time. After that point, viewers are admitted with or without a ticket.

    Snyder Memorial Baptist Church is located at 701 Westmont Drive. For more information call 484-3191 or visit www.SnyderMBC.com.

  • 18 Octavious SmithOctavious Smith is only in his second season running cross country for the E.E. Smith Golden Bulls.

    Based on his performance so far, there’s a pretty high ceiling awaiting him in the years he’s got left as to what he can accomplish on the high school level.

    “He is a pure distance runner,’’ said Roz Major-Williams, one of Smith's cross country coaches, when asked to describe how good he is. “He has so much ability. He does not even know his own ability.’’

    Smith, a sophomore, dominated the field in the recent Patriot Athletic Conference cross country meet at South View High School.

    He won with a time of 16:09.10. Coming in second and third behind him were a pair of Cape Fear runners, Jonathan Piland at 17:04.40 and Julius Ferguson at 17:05.20.

    Cape Fear coach Matthew Hanes wasn’t surprised at Smith’s winning margin.

    “I really didn’t think anybody would touch Octavius,’’ Hanes said. “He wasn’t going to be a factor in the team scores, but individually I knew we couldn’t touch him.’’

    Smith said he’s run about five times on the South View course and felt comfortable with it coming into the conference meet. “It was a mental race,’’ he said as he found himself in the lead nearly the whole way.

    “I would just think he was right behind me at all times,’’ Smith said of his competition.

    Major-Williams said Smith’s cross country talent is natural, and the challenge so far has been getting him to open up and go full throttle instead of trying to hold back too much when he races. “Every time he finished he said I could have run faster,’’ Major-Williams said.

    That showed during the regular season this year as Smith consistently placed among the top ten runners during the regular season meets but rarely came home with an individual win.

    “He was trying to save it for the end,’’ Major-Williams said. “We finally got him to the point to just go all out and see what he has at the end.’’

    In the conference meet, Major-Williams decided to give Smith a time of 15:59 to aim for, which he came within about 10 seconds of achieving.

    “He took off and still had energy left when he finished,’’ Major-Williams said. She’s convinced he can break the 15-minute barrier for a 5K run.

    He’s shooting to qualify for the state cross country meet for a second year in a row.

    He’ll have to survive this year’s regional meet first, which was held prior to the publication of this article on Saturday, Nov. 2, at Northwood High School in Pittsboro.

    “I think he has an excellent shot of getting back this year,’’ Major-Williams said of the state meet, which is scheduled Saturday, Nov. 9, at Ivey M. Redmon Park in Kernersville.

    “If he will just run his race and not be afraid, lay it out on the line, he should make it to the states,’’ Major-Williams said. “I think he has a pretty good head on his shoulders. He listens well and tries to follow direction.’’

    Smith thinks the key to victory at the regional and state levels is simple. “Don’t get stuck in the middle,’’ he said, referring to the pack of runners.

    Both the regional and state meet courses have more hills than the South View course, but Smith doesn’t think that’s a problem.

    “I believe the hilly courses are my strong suit if that makes sense,’’ he said.

    That and his raw talent for the sport. “It just comes naturally,’’ Major-Williams said.

  • 17 01 AmberAmber LeComte is finishing her first year coaching girls cross country at Terry Sanford High School, and she’s already given herself a higher bar to clear next season.

    LeComte, who had no previous experience coaching the sport when she took over at her alma mater this season, guided the Bulldogs to victory in the Patriot Athletic Conference cross country meet and saw sophomore Rainger Pratt take home the individual championship.

    A softball player during her days at Terry Sanford, LeComte said the biggest challenge she faced taking over cross country was learning how to train the team to succeed in competitive running.

    She reached out to other coaches for advice and also got input from the runners on her team, including Pratt.

    Pratt, a sophomore who has been running cross country since the age of seven, said the team was a little bit concerned about LeComte’s lack of coaching experience but felt she was open to working with them.
    “We kind of taught her ways that made us better runners,’’ Pratt said. “We definitely worked together and meshed more as we got closer.’’

    Although Terry Sanford did well in the regular season, winning all three in-season conference meets while also competing in a variety of invitationals, LeComte still wasn’t feeling terribly confident when it came time for the conference meet.

    “I did not feel like the favorite,’’ she said. “South View has a very large team, a lot of people. The more people you have running in these meets, the more likely you are to get points based on performance.’’
    17 02 updated terry sanfordTerry Sanford only had six runners competing in the conference meet.

    “We needed at least four or five of our girls to finish in the top 20 to get the points,’’ LeComte said.

    Pratt won with a time of 20:21.90 to edge second-place Iris Terwilliger of Cape Fear.

    Emma Morgan placed 10th for the Bulldogs with a time of 22:20.60. The Bulldogs then swept the final three spots in the top 20 with Brinlee Risenmay, Marissa Morris and Kaitlyn Wayne crossing the finish line in order at 18th, 19th and 20th.

    The Bulldogs actually tied Pine Forest in team points with 65 each, but the Bulldogs got the championship when their sixth runner, Jasmin Singh, edged the next Pine Forest runner by less than seven seconds to clinch the victory.
    LeComte knew Pratt was going to take the individual title when she saw the look on her face as the came around the track on the South View football field near the end of the race.

    “I knew she was going to blow them out of the water,’’ LeComte said.

    Pratt ran the South View course a lot during her freshman season with the Bulldogs and felt comfortable with it.

    “There’s a woods part and some short downhills,’’ Pratt said. “I used that and the curves to my advantage.’’

    Pratt qualified for the state meet last year and feels she’s got a good chance again this season. To get to the state meet, she had to place high enough in the regionals, which were held prior to the publication of this article on Saturday, Nov. 2, at Northwood High School near Pittsboro.

    The state meet is on Saturday, Nov. 9, at Ivey M. Redmon Park in Kernersville.

    “I usually run really well at regionals,’’ Pratt said. “As a team, I think we can do really well."

    Picture 1: Amber LeComte

    Picture 2: from L-R, Brinlee Risenmay, Emma Morgan, Evan Mason (head boys coach), Rainger Pratt, Kaitlyn Wayne, Jasmin Singh

  • 16 Cape FearWatching South View win a conference title in boys cross country had become routine for Cape Fear’s Matthew Hanes. In his 16th year at Cape Fear High School, his 14th coaching boys cross country, Hanes was all too familiar with the Tigers’ 21-year dominance of the sport locally.

    But from the earliest days of summer practice this year, Hanes told his team that this season would mark the best window of opportunity the Colts ever had of taking the trophy away from South View.

    “At the end of last season, we were as close as we ever were to taking them down,’’ he said. “I said the opportunity is here for the taking if you want it bad enough.’’

    Apparently, the Colts did, as they finally ended the South View victory streak and captured the Patriot Athletic Conference cross country meet on South View’s own course last month.

    Building a successful cross country program at Cape Fear has been anything but easy for Hanes. His first season he had a total of nine runners, boys and girls, competing. “It’s hard to get children to run that many miles when it’s 100 degrees outside,’’ he said. “You have to tell them the truth.’’

    When the Colts won every regular-season duel with South View this season, it gave Hanes confidence. But he still had doubts as South View sought to make it 22 straight titles while running on its homes course.

    Hanes counted on a strong showing by his top runner, Jonathan Piland, and he got it as the veteran placed second with a time of 17:04.40.

    The key piece of the championship puzzle for Cape Fear was newcomer Julius Ferguson. He placed third while Juan Alvarado ran fifth to give Cape Fear its third runner in the top five.

    Other Colts in the top 20 were Collin Gaddy 10th, Alden Bostic 13th and Colton Danks 20th.

    Piland said the South View course offered extra challenges in the meet.

    “With the rain, it made quite a muddy experience,’’ Piland said. “Otherwise it was an excellent course. They’ve always done a good job of designing it and keeping it well maintained.’’

    Cape Fear’s team strategy of sticking together and staying ahead of the South View pack worked. “Our top seven runners made all-conference,’’ Piland said. “I would say that was a pretty big accomplishment.’’
    The Colts are optimistic about qualifying for the Nov. 9 state meet at Ivey M. Redmon Park in Kernersville.

    “We have so many that are committed runners,’’ Piland said. “We’ve won invitational meets and meets that in previous years we never figured to place in. I think we have a great shot at states this year.’’

    From L-R: Tariq Hussein, Collin Gaddy, Alden Bostic, Jonathan Piland, Caleb Knudsen, Colton Danks, Seth Thomas, Mr. Brian Edkins.
    Front: Coach Matthew Hanes, Julius Ferguson, Juan Alvarado. Missing from the picture is Noah Lucas.

  • 11-19-14-tour-of-homes.gifDon’t you just love the sights and sounds of Christmas: lights, Christmas trees, presents, mistletoe and The Temptations singing “Silent Night” on the radio? Adding to the magic of the season, The Woman’s Club of Fayetteville presents its Christmas Tour of Homes on Sunday, Dec. 7 from 1-6 p.m.

    “This is our largest fundraiser of the year for the Woman’s Club, and the funds are used to preserve the three historic homes of Heritage Square,” said Betty Muncy, organizer of the Christmas Tour of Homes. “Martha Duell and I started this Christmas home tour in 2002, and it continues to be a huge success with the support of these homeowners.”

    The historic homes of Heritage Square are the Sandford House, the Oval Ballroom and the Baker-Haigh-Nimocks House. They are owned by the Woman’s Club of Fayetteville.

    “Contributions from the Colonial Dames and friends have helped maintain the buildings of Heritage Square,” said Muncy. “We are fortunate to have the support of the community as we try to preserve these historic homes of Heritage Square for the future generation.”

    Members of the community generously contribute year after year, opening their homes to the community and sharing a bit of holiday cheer with those who take the tour. It is a chance to appreciate the generosity and decorating skills of the hosts and help a worthy cause. While the addresses may vary from year to year, one thing that remains constant is the sense of hospitality of the hosts. Take a peek inside some of Fayetteville’s most festive homes and spend a Sunday afternoon settling in to the Christmas spirit.

    The tour will showcase six homes at the following addresses:

    • Dr. Daniel & Ashley Culliton, 517 Oak Ridge Avenue

    • Jack & Judy Dawar, 714 Murry Hill Road

    • Patsy Politowicz, 1825 Myrtle Hill Lane

    • Alvin Smith & Dennis Williams, 306 McAllister Street

    • Brian & Rhonda Kent, 300 Forest Creek Drive, (across the street from MacPherson Presbyterian Church on Cliffdale Road)

    • Fayetteville Regional Chamber, 1019 Hay Street.

    “The Woman’s Club is grateful for the families that showcase their homes each year for us,” said Muncy. “Our club works as a team and this is a great way for us to get to know each other better.”

    Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at The Pilgrim in Westwood Shopping Center, from Woman’s Club members and at the homes on the day of the tour. Donations are needed and accepted throughout the year to maintain the historic homes in Heritage Square. For more information, call 485-1555 or 483-6009.

    Photo: Fayetteville residents will open their doors for The Christmas Tour of Homes sponsored by The Woman’s Club of Fayetteville. The annual event helps maintain three historic homes in Heritage Square, including The Sandford House pictured above.

  • nov18-a-christmas-carol-w-borderfinal.jpgDon’t panic. Christmas is still a few weeks away, but the signs of the season have started to emerge. One of the most prominent is the performance of the Charles Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol, at the Gilbert Theater.

    “[A Christmas Carol] is Charles Dickens most popular novel,” said Lynn Pryer, director.

    Dickens wrote 37 books, but this was his most well known. He wrote it in October of 1843, during a time when he was having fi nancial trouble. Although he was already famous at the time, his most recent books weren’t doing well. According to Pryer, Dickens got the idea for this story, and he wrote it in just six weeks. His usual publisher wouldn’t publish it, so Dickens had to publish it privately, and it was a huge success from that very fi rst Christmas.

    “We have taken this play, this novel, and adapted it ourselves, but this is just a long, long line of adaptations,” said Pryer.

    Even though the book came out in December 1843, the fi rst play came out in February 1844, it was that appealing.

    “This play lends itself beautifully to theatrical format, and there have been just so many movies and adaptations,” said Pryer.

    “He went on to write a Christmas book every year, a total of fi ve, but this was his most enduring one. I think this is because it’s a story at Christmas time, a story of redemption which is a recurrence in our lives, and it’s very appealing to people…we like to see people change for the better,” explained Pryer.

    Pryer, the founder of this award-winning theater, said that his goal is to make the audience “feel extremely taken care of, warmly and thoughtfully taken care of” as they watch this Christmas classic in one of the theater’s 99 seats. He also noted, “There’s not a bad seat in the house.” Performances of A Christmas Carol will start appropriately as Fayetteville celebrates a Dickens Holiday on Nov. 27 and will run through Dec. 13.

    Throughout the day during the Dickens Holiday, you will fi nd the cast roaming the streets bringing their characters to life. As you pass through downtown and enjoy the sites and the sounds of the season, don’t be surprised to encounter Ebeneezer Scrooge, or perhaps the Ghost of Marley. Participation by Gilbert’s actors brings a touch of realism to the day, as well as adds excitment for the production.

    Performances are on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 2 p.m., and 8 p.m., as well as Sundays at 2 p.m. There will be no performance on December 10, and on Dec. 5, the 8 p.m. show is already sold out. Tickets are $10, and can be paid in cash or checks only. Reservations are highly recommended.

    To reserve seats you can e-mail the theater at gilberttheater@ aol.com or call 910-678-7186. Large group discounts are available, and groups over 10 are asked to prepay reservation tickets. Gilbert Theater is above Fascinate-U museum at 116 Green Street.

  • When you think of theater, you don’t automatically think about Fayetteville State University. But that’s where you make a mistake.

    FSU has a growing theater department that is committed to bringing a wide variety of plays to the community each year. Its most recent offering, Fences, will be on stage Nov. 18-20.

    Directed by Dr. Harmon Watson, chair of the Performing and Fine Arts Department, Fences, written in 1983 is authored by African-11-10-10-fences.gifAmerican playwright August Wilson. Set in the 1950s, it is the sixth play in Wilson’s 10-part Pittsburgh Cycle. Like all of the Pittsburgh plays, Fences explores the evolving African-American experience and examines race relations, among other themes.

    The production won a Tony Award for Best Play, Best Actor in a Play for James Earl Jones, Best Direction of a Play, as well as the Drama Desk Award, Outstanding New Play, Outstanding Actor in a Play (Jones) and Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play (Mary Alice). This year the Broadway revival of the production won Tony Awards for Best Revival Play, Best Actor in a Play for Denzel Washington and Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play for Viola Davis.

    The play begins on payday, with Troy Maxson and Jim Bono drinking and talking. Troy has made a formal complaint to his bosses that only white men are permitted to drive the garbage trucks for the waste disposal company at which both men work. The two men finish their discussion of work, and Bono asks Troy about a woman, Alberta, he suspects Troy of seeing. Troy denies that he would risk losing his wife, Rose, but Bono does not give up so easily and reminds Troy that he has been seen at Alberta’s house when he said he was elsewhere.

    The conversation is interrupted when Troy’s son Lyons who arrives to ask his father for money. Troy gives his son a hard time, but eventually gives him the $10 requested. Eventually, it is revealed that Troy has been having an affair with Alberta, whom the audience never sees throughout the play. Alberta gets pregnant and dies giving birth to Raynell, the daughter conceived from their affair. Troy’s wife Rose accepts the duty of being Raynell’s mother when Alberta dies in childbirth. Troy and Rose have another son, Cory, who against his father’s wishes, plays football and temporarily leaves his job during the football season. This infuriates Troy, who eventually kicks Cory out of the Maxson home. During the fi nal act of the play, Troy dies. His daughter Raynell is seen as a happy 7-year-old; his son Cory comes home from war, and initially refuses to go to his father’s funeral due to long-standing resentment. However, Rose convinces him to pay his respects to his father — the man who, though hard-headed and often poor at demonstrating affection, loved his son.

    The curtain raises at the Butler Theater at 7:30 p.m.

    For more information, call 672-1006 or visit the FSU Theatre website www.uncfsu.edu/theatre/fsu_drama_guild.htm. For reservations contact FSU’s Ticket Manager, Antoinette Fairley, at 672-1724.

  •     There is nothing more priceless than the look on a child’s face on Christmas morning; however, some children wake up on this much anticipated day only to receive nothing.  Methodist University and Samaritan’s Purse are making a concerted effort to make sure that every child around the globe receives a shoe box filled with goodies in order to have a wonderful Christmas.
        {mosimage}“We have had the wonderful opportunity to be a part of this event for several years,” said Michael Safley, vice president for university relations and campus ministry. “We are the regional collection site for Operation Christmas Child.”
        National Collection week is Monday, Nov. 17 through Monday, Nov. 24 from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Gift-filled shoe boxes can be dropped off in front of Reeves Auditorium on the campus of Methodist University. Tractor trailers will be on site to receive the shoe boxes. The boxes will be transported to the distribution site in Charlotte to be shipped all over the world. 
        The directions for packing the shoe box are fairly straightforward. First you have to decide whether the gift will be for a boy or a girl. The label can be downloaded and printed by visiting the Web site www.samaritanspurse.com. Next, select the age group of the child which includes: 2-4-years-old, 5-9-years-old or 10-14-years-old. The box should be filled with gifts that will bring joy to the child of that particular age group. Some gift ideas are school supplies, toy cars, hygiene items, dolls, stuffed animals, hard candy, lollipops, yo-yo’s, T-shirts, socks, coloring books, educational toys, crayons and other items. Do not pack toy guns, knives, chocolate, food, liquids, lotions, perishable or breakable items. Donate $7 to help cover shipping overseas and other project costs. Place a rubber band around the shoe box before dropping it off to the collection site at Methodist University.  {mosimage}
        Since 1993, more than 61 million shoe boxes have been packed with gifts for children and shipped around the globe. Last year 7.6 million shoe boxes were collected and more than 100,000 volunteers helped inspect and prepare boxes for shipment. Samaritan’s Purse is an international Christian relief and evangelism organization that provides spiritual and physical aid to victims of war, poverty, disease and natural disaster. 
    “We expect to collect thousands of shoe boxes this year,” said Safley. “It feels good knowing that children will have something to open for the Christmas holidays.”
        For more information call 630-7043 or visit www.samaritanspurse.com.  

  •     Dear EarthTalk: I understand that Toyota is planning to sell a plug-in Prius that will greatly improve the car’s already impressive fuel efficiency.  Will I be able to convert my older (2006) Prius to make it a plug-in hybrid vehicle?         
    — Albert D. Rich, Kamuela, HI

        Toyota is readying a limited run of a plug-in Prius, which can average 100 miles-per-gallon, for use in government and commercial fleets starting in 2009. Toyota will monitor how these cars, which will have high-efficiency lithium ion batteries that haven’t been fully tested yet, will hold up under everyday use.
        Essentially, a plug-in version of the Prius reverses the roles of the two motors under the hood. The regular Prius relies more on its gas engine, switching to (or combining) use of the electric motor in slow traffic, to maintain cruising speed, and when idling or backing up. The car doesn’t need to plug in because its battery stays charged by the gas motor and by the motion of the wheels and brakes. The plug-in will primarily use its electric motor, allowing commuters to go to and from work every day fully on the electric charge, saving the gas engine for longer trips that exceed the distance the car can go on electricity alone.
        {mosimage}Toyota has made no announcement yet as to when consumers will be able to buy a plug-in; that depends largely on the results of the field test of the fleet version. But owners of a current or past model don’t need to wait. Those with automotive mechanical skills can convert their Priuses to plug-ins themselves.
        “The conversion is an easy DIY [do-it-yourself] project that you can do for about $4,000, if you choose to use sealed lead acid batteries,” says Houston-based Jim Philippi, who converted his Prius last year, using instructions he downloaded for free from the Electric Auto Association’s PriusPlus.org Web site. Philippi recommends that DIYers consult Google’s RechargeIT.org as well for useful background information.
        For those less inclined to a DIY, several companies now sell readymade kits (some also have kits for converting Ford Escape Hybrid SUVs). Ontario-based Hymotion sells plug-in kits for Prius model years 2004-2008 for around $10,000 via contracted distributors/installers in San Francisco, Seattle and elsewhere. Other providers include Plug-In Conversions Corp., Plug-In Supply, EDrive Systems, Energy Control Systems Engineering Inc. and OEMtek. All typically work with select garages that specialize.
        One potential worry about conversions is whether or not Toyota will honor the warranty that came with the original vehicle. The California Cars Initiative (CCI), which has converted several hybrids to plug-ins for research and demonstration purposes (sorry, they’re not for sale), says the carmaker needs to clarify the matter, since hybrid cars typically have four or five separate warranties. There is legal precedent, CCI says, that modifications cannot completely void warranties — only the part(s) affected by a retrofit.
        If you’re looking to convert, keep in mind that such a move is not about cost-savings, as it will take some time for fuel savings to justify the upfront cost of even a DIY. Most people interested in such a conversion are doing it for the sake of the environment, not their pocketbooks.
        CONTACTS: PriusPlus,www.priusplus.org; Plug-In Conversions Corp.,www.pluginconversions.com; Plug-In Supply, www.pluginsupply.com; EDrive Systems, www.edrivesystems.com; Energy Control Systems Engineering, www.energycs.com; OEMtek,  www.oemtek.com; CCI, www.calcars.org.
        GOT AN ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTION? Send it to: EarthTalk, c/o E/The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; submit it at: www.emagazine.com/earthtalk/thisweek/, or e-mail:  earthtalk@emagazine.com. Read past columns at: www.emagazine.com/earthtalk/archives.php.
  • uac110911001.jpg The Heart of Christmas Show has grown quite a bit since its inception in 1999. Anyone who spends more than a minute with Laura Stevens, the director, can tell you that she is passionate about this show in the same way that mothers are passionate about their newborn babies. She looks forward to the performances with the magical anticipation of a 6-year-old waiting for Santa to come down the chimney.

    This year’s performances are on Saturday, Nov. 26 at 7 p.m. and Sunday Nov. 27 at 3 p.m., and Stevens is giddy with excitement about it.

    “There are just so many wonderful elements to the show,” said Stevens. “Every year I look forward to fi nding new ways to make it even better.”

    That’s a tall order since there are so many people in the community who tell Stevens about their favorite segments and plead with her to keep them in the line-up. Still, she’s always searching for the next skit, the next number, the next dance that will take the show to a higher level of glamorous excellence — because for her it is about more than putting on a great performance.

    “The show is absolutely about giving the audience something to remember and putting them in the Christmas spirit,” said Stevens. “But it is also about all the hard work and dedication that the performers put into it. These kids and their families eat, sleep and breathe this show for several months each year and seeing the smiles on their faces and the joy in their eyes when the audience applauds at the end of each number is incredible. They work so hard to be able to deliver an amazing performance for the audience.”

    The performers, who are all between the ages of 6 and 19, work hard to deliver perfect performances, and Stevens works just as hard to make sure that each and every segment touches the audience in some way, whether it means laughing out loud, bringing them to tears or evoking reverent silence.11-09-11-voh-1.jpg

    Voices of the Heart, an all-girl, teen Christian vocal group is a huge part of the performance every year. This year Katelyn Godbold, Hannah Godbold, Mandi Hawley, Rachel Crenshaw and Hannah Pritchard bring the group to new heights.

    “Each year Voices of the Heart is amazing,” said Stevens. “This year’s group is just phenomenal. It is like having five Mariah Careys up on the stage when they perform. Part of what makes this show so incredible is that the performers are all children and young adults. The fact that they deliver such a high-quality performance every year really says something about their talent and dedication.”

    The show starts off each year with a fun and light-hearted look at Christmas through the eyes of children. It explores the joy and sense of anticipation that makes the Christmas season such a magical time for the young-at-heart.

    The second half of the show is more about the Christmas story and the birth of Jesus. It’s a testament to the talented performers that the audience is left in awe-struck silence following the manger scene.

    11-09-11-voh-2.jpgThe performers are clearly dedicated to the show, and it has paid off as year after year people come form further and further away just to see The Heart of Christmas Show.

    “We’ve had people tell us that they’ve come from Florida to see the show and that they look forward to the trip up here to experience it every year. Other people have said that our show is as good as anything they’ve seen in Branson, Mo.” said Stevens. “Last year I met a lady who told me that this is the show that puts her in the Christmas spirit. She leaves the show and goes right home to bake Christmas cookies.”

    And it all started as a way to bring something more to the community. From the very fi rst performance, Stevens has made sure that all proceeds from the ticket sales are put right back into the community. Generous sponsors cover the costs of production each year, providing an opportunity to help Fayetteville’s youngest and most vulnerable citizens, its children. So far, more than $300,000 dollars has been donated to Friends of Children, The Child Advocacy Program, the Autism Society and Falcon’s Children’s Home.

    Stevens is quick to thank the long list of sponsors who make it all possible. “The support we have from the local business community is amazing, but as much as we appreciate the support they give us, what means the most is when I see our sponsors bringing their friends and families to the show every year.”11-09-11-voh-3.jpg

    Tickets are available now and can be purchased at Hawley’s Bicycle World, The Crown Center box office, by calling 978-1118 and at ticketmaster outlets. Adults and Children tickets are $12.00 in advance, $18.00 at the door. Group rates $10.00 per ticket are available for groups of 15 or more.

    Photo top right: The talented teens in Voices of the Heart are one of the reasons the show is so successful each year. The girls are joined by other performers and dancers to make the show a hit.

  • uac110310001.gif For more than 100 years the Falcon Children’s Home has been taking in children, caring for them and providing not only for their physical needs, but for their emotional, spiritual and mental health, too. That is no small task in any day and age. Not only is the emotional task daunting, the nuts and bolts of feeding and clothing their charges can be overwhelming, too.

    Hence the Harvest Train, a 61-year-old tradition that has allowed the surrounding community to bless the Falcon Children’s Home by filling in the gaps and meeting the needs of the children who reside there.

    This year, the Harvest Train takes place on Nov. 23 and you are invited to attend, participate or contribute in whatever way suits you.

    “It originally started back in the 1940s. They (the Falcon Children’s Home) were having a diffi cult time meeting their budget and having enough food and clothes to last throughout the year,” said Joey Leggett, Falcon Children’s Home CEO. “So the women’s ministry groups from some of the churches here in North Carolina said ‘Let’s start something called the Santa Claus Train’ — that is what it was called to start with.”

    The churches came together to collect things and raise money throughout the year. They would meet up in Dunn, which is eight miles from Falcon, and then would make a caravan and drive down I-95 to the Falcon exit. The children from the home would line the street and the folks in the parade would throw them candy and then everyone went to the auditorium where the children would do a program as a way of saying thanks.

    “I don’t think the home would have made it back then if it had not been for the Santa Claus Train,” said Leggett. “I feel certain they would have had to close their doors.”

    Back then, there was not state funding to lean on, and the proceeds from the parade made up about three quarters of the annual budget, according to Leggett.

    Today, it still makes up a little more than a quarter of the budget. Although the home currently receives funding for some of the children that reside there, they never turn a youngster away and there are several in their care who do not have state or federal fi nancial support and whose families are unable to help cover the cost of car-ing for them.

    The parade doesn’t start in Dunn anymore, but at the Culbreth Memorial Church in Falcon. Folks bring their donations, be it school supplies, canned goods, cleaning supplies, paper products, toiletries or diapers and infant-care items for the babies of the resident teen mothers and walk to the children’s home (and yes, they still throw candy to the kids as the come in).

    “Last year the parade was about a mile long,” said Leggett. “We’ve added a lot more to it this year, too. Pope Air Force11-03-10-ward-children.gif Base will have a lot of their Airmen and equipment in the parade. It still winds up at the auditorium and then the children still do a program as a way of saying thank you to everybody.”

    Leggett estimates that 90 percent of the residents at Falcon Children’s Home come from Cumberland County, and while they do get a lot of support from organizations like the Fayetteville Area Hospitality Association, there are still many needs that have to be met, and unfortunately, the funds to do that are not always readily available. That is why the Harvest Train is so important to the Falcon Children’s Home.

    “We are definitely grateful for all of the support that we get from the commu-nity,” said Leggett. “We touch so many lives here. There is no greater feeling than knowing that you have touched a child’s life and been able to help them turn them-selves around and be successful.”

    Supporting the Harvest Train is just one easy way to help the Falcon Children’s Home in their mission to change the lives of the future citizens, and hopefully leaders, of our community.

    To find out how you can help, visit www.falconchildrenshome.com or call the home at 980-1065

  • 13BCPE Christmastime is near, and to help bring in the spirit, Cape Fear Regional Theatre presents the play “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.” The play has been a tradition of CFRT, bringing cheer to many, for 28 years. The show opens Dec. 6 and runs through the 22nd. It involves three casts of local children and plenty of hijinks, too.

    According to the play director, Brian Adam Kline, the show is based on six “misfits” who help depict an unconventional version of the Christmas story. The transformation the children undergo in the process is both heartwarming and hilarious.

    “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” was originally written as a book by Barbara Robinson in 1971. It focuses on the Herdman family, which includes six rebellious, obnoxious and hard-headed children ranging from 8-13 years old. They are known for their deviant and bullying behavior.

    In the play, Grace Bradley is tasked with directing the church Christmas pageant. The Herdman children shock their peers by volunteering for the play. Accommodating the Herdman family proves to be more than Bradley, or the other children in the pageant, bargained for.

    Imogene Herdman portrays Mary, and her brother Ralph is Joseph. It astonishes and dismays the others when they learn that the two leads have never heard of the Christmas story. The community members’ preconceived assumptions about the Herdman children exemplify our own prejudices and bias toward others.

    The play sheds some light on faulty human thinking, like how people will often judge others based on their appearance, cultural background and more. In so doing this, we fail to look deeper into the heart of the individual and what motivates them. One important message the play depicts is to keep hope in humanity.

    The play also serves as a reminder that redemption can be found in the most unexpected places and that often, the underdog has something positive to contribute to society. Although the Herdman children are rambunctious, deviant pranksters from a poverty-stricken home, they begin to learn comradeship and how to contribute to their community.

    Kline has worked diligently on developing the performance according to what the local community enjoys, and it goes without saying that the entire show from beginning to end creates a sense of harmony and brings about an element of cheer.

    Tickets cost $15 for adults and $10 for children under 18. The play is family-friendly, Christmas themed and appropriate for all ages. There are performances Dec. 6-9, Dec. 13-16 and Dec. 19-22. Military Appreciation Nights are Dec. 6-7 at the 7 p.m. performances. For tickets and information, call the box office at 910-323-4233 or visit www.cfrt.org.

  • 09Behold “Behold: A Folk Christmas Cantata” is Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s artistic contribution to Fayetteville’s Christmas season. “Behold” takes the familiar Christmas story and sets it to what STS describes as “glorious, mostly new music that quickly feels familiar.” It’s a Christmas concert that tells the nativity story from beginning to end through music, and it takes place Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Dec. 6-15, at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.

    This is STS’ fourth year performing “Behold.” The performance is 100 percent music and features three acoustic guitars (played by one player), an electric guitar, mandolin and banjo (played by another person), a bass guitar, an accordion, a piano, two violins, one cello and a percussionist — and plenty of singers, too. And while it is a Christmas concert, don’t expect to hear songs like “Jingle Bells” or “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”

    “We try to tell the real story of the nativity,” said Marie Lowe, STS associate director, and for this production, singer and cellist. “One of the songs begins, ‘It was not a silent night...’ and it goes on to remind us about how scared Mary and Joseph must have been. They were people, just like us. So, there are somber and reflective moments, but the overall mood is joyful — it’s Christmas, and we’re together, and we’re glad and grateful.”

    Jacob French is Master of Note at Sweet Tea Shakespeare (think “resident music director”) as well as an assistant artistic director and board member for the company. For this production, he’s the music director and plays the guitar and sings as well. He’s excited that “Behold” is becoming a holiday staple for so many. “We want to be one of the things that folks around town think about and look forward to when Christmas rolls around,” he said.

    “The piece is mainly based upon a show called ‘Behold the Lamb of God’ by Andrew Peterson. Our artistic director, Jeremy Fiebig, knew of the show and music from his days prior to Sweet Tea Shakespeare. Once the company reached a place where we could do it justice, we thought it would be a natural fit. We supplement the original show with a few other songs that we think fit the message and feel as well.”

    French added, “I think ‘Behold’ is a niche that isn’t (or wasn’t) filled until now in town. The story of the virgin birth is one of the biggest stories every told, and (it) is cram-packed full of love — Mary, Joseph, Jesus, God himself — love coming out your ears. The music does a great job of telling the story, and when we play it, I can feel the love in the room. … There are funny moments, serious ones, contemplative ones, ones that could make you cry, and ones that will make you clap along and dance. If I had to choose one word to describe the feeling, I think I’d choose ‘reflective.’”

    In addition to the concert, STS will have traditional front-of-house activities accompanying the show. There will be beverages (adult and non) for purchase, merchandise for sale, preconcert entertainment and, French promises, “a warm holiday spirit.” 

    The show starts at 7 p.m. each night. Tickets are free but require a reservation. To purchase tickets, or to learn more, call 910-420-4383, visit www.sweetteashakespeare.com or search the group’s Facebook page.

  • 01coverUAC112818001 Not many local events can claim a legacy that spans 40-plus years. The North Carolina State Ballet’s presentation of “The Nutcracker” is one such treasured tradition. “The Nutcracker” invites audience members to immerse themselves in Christmas spirit with the beauty of classical ballet performed to Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s iconic score. Performance dates are Dec. 8 and 9 at the Crown Complex Theatre.

    This production proudly calls

    Fayetteville its home thanks to Charlotte Blume. In the 1960s, the NC State Ballet was based in Raleigh, and Blume was its prima donna. When the director stepped down, Blume took over — and took the company with her to her home in Fayetteville, where she owned the Charlotte Blume School of Dance. Her studio, nestled in downtown Fayetteville, became home for the NC State Ballet.

    Blume oversaw production on “The Nutcracker” every year from 1975 until she passed away two and- a half-years ago.

    Dina Lewis, NC State Ballet board member and vice president of the company for the past three years, attended Terry Sanford High School with Blume and shared a close friendship with her. Lewis said Blume’s passion was to bring the arts to Fayetteville and to give everyone the opportunity to see a classical ballet.

    “Ms. Blume’s last words were to keep (“The Nutcracker”) produced and to keep, every year, something fresh,” Lewis said. “And every year since her passing, we have had something fresh going on, whether a set change or costume change. The only thing that’s remained untouched is her core choreography.”

    “The Nutcracker” ballet, which first debuted in 1892, is a dreamy, wonder-filled story that has both evergreen appeal and plenty of room for the yearly innovation Blume encouraged. Originally choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, the ballet is based on E. T. A. Hoffmann’s story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King,” which was written in 1816. The ballet follows a young girl, Clara, whose Uncle Drosselmeyer — a magician — on Christmas Eve gifts her a nutcracker carved as a toy soldier. That night, Clara’s dreams transport her to a world where she meets enchanted characters like the Nutcracker Prince, the evil Mouse King, the Sugar Plum Fairy and Mother Ginger. She also, as goes dream logic, visits Spain, Russia and China.

    This year, Lewis said, it’s the Mother Ginger scene that boasts that “something fresh” Blume wanted — an all-new costume made by one of the dance moms, Rhonda Drewery. “We also added probably an additional 12 cast members to (that scene) this year,” Lewis said. “We’re really excited about that. I kind of think it’s going to steal the show.”

    Fifty-seven dancers ages 7-18 comprise this year’s cast. They’ve been rehearsing for almost five months. “The majority of them have been (dancing) with us since they were babies,” Lewis said. “They’re all our homegrown students.”

    Lewis said she’s impressed by the level of work ethic and multifaceted talent she sees in the dancers, specifically naming Marissa Morris, Evelyn Hairr and Ella Lewis as shining examples.

    “These are people who are varsity cheerleaders, participate in Student Government Association, cross country. … They’re in Honor Society. They’re in Key Club. It’s amazing that they still come to the studio on time, and they stay late and get the job done.”

    Hairr shares the role of Grown Clara with Hannah Reeder; Novalee English and Haebin Drewery play Little Clara. Jacqueline Sullivan and Isabella Rogers share the role of Fritz, Clara’s younger brother. Ella Lewis and Morris both portray the Snow Queen and Jewel, and Lewis also portrays Sugar Plum along with guest artist Deprecia Simpson.

    Adam Chavis and Sheila Mitchell served as primary choreographers.

    Morris, Hairr and Ella Lewis are also three of several advanced Charlotte Blume School of Dance students who were selected to dance minor roles with the Moscow Ballet’s Fayetteville stop on its traveling tour for “Great Russian Nutcracker.”

    “So, this whole time, they’ve not only rehearsed for our production of ‘The Nutcracker,’ but they’re also rehearsing for Moscow’s production, which is totally different choreography,” Lewis said. “These are professional Russian ballerinas and ballet masters. It’s a very big honor and opportunity.” That performance takes place at the Crown Theatre Dec. 10. Learn more about it at www.crowncomplexnc.com.

    In the midst of striving for excellence for their own performance, Lewis said, a family atmosphere remains important and emphasized. Dancers focus on how they can help others get better rather than how they can outdo each other. It helps that the dancers’ parents have a strong presence in the production, whether that’s in a behind-the-scenes role like costuming or whether that’s onstage. “The Mouse King this year is a teenager, and her dad is in the party scene,” Lewis said.

    “It’s this wholesome tradition. … It takes you to a place where you remember your childhood. It’s a story of this little girl who has this beautiful fantasy dream and it all comes to life. I think that’s what growing up is all about. You have these dreams and hopes, and you should always shoot for it all. If you don’t try, you’re going to miss out. I think the story of Clara really brings that all into focus.”

    See “The Nutcracker” Dec. 8 and 9 at the Crown Complex Theatre at 3 p.m. Tickets cost $20 for adults; $10 for children 12 and under; and are free for children under 5. Call 910-484-3466 to purchase tickets. Learn more about the Charlotte Blume School of Dance at www.charlotteblumeschoolofdance.com.