• 275552454 1027299954801352 3440785021579282691 n Nadia Minniti, the owner of Gusto Napoletano, never expected to leave Segra Stadium last week with funding for a food truck, but she did.

    Minniti was one out of eight women who pitched their ideas to the Women's Business Center of Fayetteville at the Center for Economic Empowerment and Development and the City of Fayetteville for a chance to win up to $10,000 in grant funding. The eight competitors presented their businesses and ideas to a group of judges at Segra Stadium last Thursday in an event called #HERPitch.

    #HERPitch was one out of five themed events throughout the week that helped celebrate, recognize and support local women business owners and employees.

    Minniti said this theme of supporting each other continued throughout the competition.

    "You think that eight women competing for this money, the atmosphere is going to be like we are going to be at each other's throats. I was so surprised. We were supporting one another. Helping adjust each other's crown," Minniti said. "We were giving each other advice and helping each other out. Yes, we were all there competing, but you didn't feel the competitiveness of us competing with one another."

    Three women total were awarded checks. Evolv Dezigns won a check for $2,500 and Joy in Learning Discovery Center was awarded a check for $1,000.

    Minniti won the biggest prize, a $7,500 check. Her plan for that money is to buy a food truck with a customized wood-fire oven in the back to make authentic Neapolitan pizza, the only food truck in North Carolina, to Minniti's knowledge, that would do so.

    "I am very grateful and happy that CEED is there for us women because this is still a man's world - especially in the restaurant industry and the pizza world. There are very few women in the pizza world still. I am one of the few women in the world that is certified to make Neapolitan pizza."

    Minniti opened Gusto Napoletano in Sept. of 2019. She said she only survived the pandemic because she started small with a small staff and a limited menu. While that has helped her survive, she wants to get more recognition in town and have more people eat good pizza.

    "There's no food truck that has good pizza in Fayetteville. The market is there," Minniti explained. "Well if we want to increase our sales and continue to grow, getting a food truck is the cheapest way to do that. It will also increase my exposure out into the community."

    With the grant from CEED and the City of Fayetteville, Minniti believes she could have this food truck up and running in a year.

    Minniti said she would be excited to see this type of event happen again in the future to help support other women in the community.

    “There are a lot of women who have great ideas and sometimes they need a sounding board to bounce this idea off and maybe get funded for them.
    There are a lot of valuable businesses that can positively contribute to society, especially in Fayetteville. CEED and these types of events are a great asset to this community,”
    Minniti said.

  • 16FTCCVetsIf you are a service member exiting the military, you may find yourself asking where the next chapter in your life is going to take you and what it entails. Have you been contemplating what your next move is going to be and how you will utilize the experience gained in the military? Have you wondered what type of career you will choose and if it will be your lifetime career? Have you asked yourself if you can live a comfortable life and be financially sustained without obtaining a degree? Stop asking so many questions! The answer is simple: go back to school and get a degree. If you are a veteran or dependent of a veteran and determined to make the best of your future, the All American Veterans Center at FTCC is here to help you get started. 

    The FTCC All American Veterans Center is proud to serve military veterans and dependents as they pursue educational goals. The center was created to honor veterans and to provide a location where veterans can gather, find assistance, and receive the support necessary to ensure success at FTCC and beyond. The center is operated by a team of veterans and dependents from all branches of the military who have a passion to serve their fellow veterans. The team answers questions, guides and assists in taking the first step and helps make a smooth transition into college. Staff members are available to provide educational benefits information needed to make the right decision. Even the work study staff members are veterans and can help alleviate “new student” concerns and anxiety. They make the enrollment process easy, and some work-study staff members have worked in the Veterans Center since their first semester. All are important in the success of the Veterans Center and serving veteran students. 

    The All American Veterans Center offers a relaxed atmosphere where veterans have an opportunity to engage in conversation with other veterans. It offers currently enrolled veteran students a place to relax and have a cup of coffee before and in between classes. The Center also offers students the opportunity to use computers to complete homework or to study with fellow veterans. 

    While the primary focus of the Veterans Center is to provide students the tools they need to be successful in accomplishing their educational goals, the staff makes every effort in obtaining information on other resources the veteran is in need of. Volunteers from Patriot Outreach are faithfully at the center to offer veterans informational assistance and resources. 

    Bring your list of questions, and let us help you get moving. The All American Veterans Center is located inside the General Classroom Building at the Fayetteville campus of FTCC. Visit soon and put your educational benefits to work for you — at FTCC. 

  • beach music fesitval 2The Fayetteville Beach Music Festival is returning after being on a hiatus for several years. The day-long festival will be bringing beach music and family fun later this month.

    The festival is a fundraiser for the Karen Chandler Trust - a local non-profit charity that started over 20 years ago. KCT helps support local cancer patients that are currently undergoing treatment. That support ranges from helping with car rides to treatments and doctor's appointments to paying off utility bills, car payments, mortgages and rents.

    "We have given over one million dollars away to cancer patients," Mike Chandler, a founding member of KCT, said. "99.9% of all the funds raised go to cancer patients."

    Chandler helped form the Karen Chandler Trust in honor of his late sister. Karen Chandler, a mother of two and a local musician, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Local musicians held a benefit concert to raise money to help pay off medical bills while she was fighting against cancer. After she passed away in 1999 at age 44, the leftover money was used to form the KCT.

    In 2021, the KCT raised and distributed close to $150,000 to Cumberland County cancer patients.

    The benefit concerts were a tradition for many years and helped continue to raise money, but they were phased out a few years ago. Mike Chandler decided it was time to bring back the music component to fundraise, and he wants to make sure it sticks this time.

    "We are going to try and do this as an annual event. I tried to bring it back down to a local level. I wanted to bring that back," Chandler said.

    All proceeds from the festival go directly to KCT and that money will be distributed to people in the community who need it.

    To qualify to receive help from the KCT, a cancer patient must be a resident of Cumberland County and have a letter from a social worker or a medical provider confirming cancer treatment.

    The festival will take place at Dirtbag Ales Brewery & Taproom. Chandler says he is excited to have the music festival at Dirtbag Ales as they offer plenty of parking, space, and shade, allowing everyone to pull a lawn chair up and enjoy the day.

    For Shannon Loper, the operations manager and event and marketing coordinator at Dirtbag Ales Brewery, supporting KCT as the venue for the Beach Music Festival was a no-brainer for Dirtbag Ales. The non-profit helped Loper's parents when their neighborhood put in a new sewer system, and they received an unexpected bill for a $5,000 connection fee.

    "My dad was in stage four pancreatic cancer, and obviously, cancer ruins your credit if you're not fortunate. And they did not have the money," Loper said. "PWC began repossession proceedings on my parent's house, and the Karen Chandler Trust came in and paid their $5,000 utility bill."

    All festival performers have a personal connection with the KCT, and all are local musicians. Rivermist will kick off the festival at 1 p.m. Classic Soul takes the stage at 2:15 p.m. The Martin Davis Band featuring a founding member of The Embers, Jackie Gore, will begin their performance at 3:45 p.m. Finally, the Chairmen of the Board will close out the fundraiser with their performance starting at 5:30 p.m.

    The festival will be a family-friendly affair with games, sponsor tables and bounce houses for kids. Food will also be available for purchase. The food trucks currently confirmed for the festival are Smokey's BBQ, R Burger, Ragin Rooster and 32 Degrees Ice Cream.

    "People can bring their kids, their dogs, their lawn chairs and come on out and enjoy it," Chandler told Up & Coming Weekly.

    Chandler's goal is to have anywhere from two thousand to four thousand people attend the festival.

    "Our goal is to raise $40,000," Chandler said.

    The event is being sponsored in part by Cape Fear Valley Hospital and Dragon's Lair Comics.

    The festival will take place on March 27. Gates will open at noon, and the music will start at 1 p.m. The Beach Music Festival will run until 7 p.m. General Admission to the festival is $20, and children under 12 get in for free.
    Tickets can be purchased at

    For more information about the Karen Chandler Trust, whether to donate or volunteer, call 910-578-3382 or visit their website, karenchandlertrust.com.

  • 20FTCCDentalThe Dental Assisting curriculum at Fayetteville Technical Community College prepares individuals to assist a dentist and to to function as integral members of the dental team while performing chair-side, office and laboratory procedures. Students receive up-to-date training in the dental field from a CODA-accredited program. This means students who graduate from FTCC are considered DA II’s in the state of North Carolina and are eligible to perform some expanded functions in this state without paying for further training or certification. 

    Dental assisting is an exciting career that gives students a variety of options upon graduation. Those options include working in general dentistry or in a specialty field such as orthodontics, oral surgery or pediatrics, etc. Work is also available in administrative roles and through opportunities to work with dental vendors. Students who receive training in dental assisting receive the knowledge and flexibility to advance in the dental field. FTCC’s program covers instruments (general and specialty) and their functions, infection control policies and procedures, dental radiography, dental materials, dental sciences, anatomy and practice management. Students train on campus as well as through clinical rotations at dental offices in Fayetteville and the surrounding area. Rotation sites include general dentistry and specialty areas. The broad range of exposure also allows students to map out their career paths by finding their areas of interest. It also allows students the opportunity to experience different areas to facilitate mapping out their career paths and find their areas of interest. 

    As students move through their semesters at FTCC, they also prepare for the National Board examinations. Students have the option to take their exams in three sections: Infection Control, Radiation Health and Safety, and General Chairside, or students can opt to take all three exam components in one sitting. Once students pass all components, they are considered Certified Dental Assistants or CDAs, which is a national recognition. 

    Training to become a dental assistant is a one-year program that begins in the fall semester, with program completion the following summer. Most graduates have secured jobs before graduation and gained valuable hands-on experience from their clinical rotation sites. The job outlook for dental assisting shows that there will be growth in the field through at least 2024. The average salary for a North Carolina dental assistant is $38,720. Students who have advanced certification and training are more likely to have the best job prospects, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

    Students interested in dental assisting are encouraged to call 910-678-8574 or email walkers@faytechcc.edu. The application process for all health programs is open from Nov. 1 through Jan. 30. Financial aid is available for qualifying students. Students will need to apply to the college first and have all academic transcripts sent to FTCC for processing. We at FTCC are excited to help get you started on the path to your new career! We look forward to having you become part of the FTCC dental family. 

  • St Avold A bond that began to form in the early 1980s and solidified in the early 1990s is finding life again nearly four decades after making the first connections. The Lafayette Society has handed the reins of Fayetteville's International Sister City over to a new organization, the Fayetteville Saint Avold Friendship Alliance (FSAFA).

    Saint Avold is situated in the Lorraine region of northeast France and is just seventeen miles from the border of Germany. The town is just south of the largest World War II cemetery, the Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial. This location is considered American soil, and the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) oversees its operations. ABMC, created by executive order in 1923, is an agency of the federal government's executive branch. On this land, an ocean and many miles away, a son of Fayetteville is buried, a man who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country, Pfc. William M. Shaw, Jr. Shaw was killed in action overseas on September 12, 1944. His sister Gillie Revelle, who is nearing 90 years old, is still in Fayetteville, explained FSAFA President Kris Johnson. Johnson sits at a large wooden desk in Town Historian Bruce Daws' office at the Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum. On the desk in front of her is a vintage diplomat-style briefcase circa possibly the early 1990s full of display board photos from Saint Avold events and displays in the past. This briefcase symbolizes the passing of the baton for the Sister City Program to FSAFA. Former Lafayette Society President Hank Parfitt passed these items on to Johnson when she stepped up to reinvigorate the connection between Fayetteville and Saint Avold.
    Johnson has quite a tale about the long-standing relationship between the two cities.

    The program began with the late Martha Duell, former Lafayette Society president and described by Johnson as "a true ambassador" for Fayetteville. Duell caught wind of a repair needed for a statue of the Marquis de Lafayette in Lorraine in 1981 and offered support. This act of support on Duell's part sowed the seeds of connection. When a delegation of bicyclists from the Lorraine region began to plan a trip to cycle from Washington D.C. to Fayetteville in 1986, it was recommended they reach out to Duell. In addition to the cycle trip, the group contacted the Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial for help identifying a North Carolina soldier buried there, one they might be able to honor during their trip. The cemetery superintendent gave them Shaw's name. With approval from the cemetery, they collected soil from Shaw's grave. The bicyclists mixed this soil with sand from Omaha Beach in Normandy. When they arrived in Fayetteville, with Shaw's family in attendance, they spread the soil and sand at the marker in Cross Creek Cemetery that honors Fayetteville's "sons who never returned home from the war," explained Johnson.

    This act of kindness and connection was Duell's inspiration to connect Fayetteville and Saint Avold. On September 27, 1993, former Fayetteville Mayor J.L. Dawkins and the City Council signed a resolution uniting the two International Sister Cities. In 1994, Saint Avold renamed the street in front of the Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial, Avenue de Fayetteville. Over the years, groups of people from both cities have visited in delegations to maintain the relationship and uphold cultural exchange.

    Students in Cumberland County Schools have participated in pen pal programs with Saint Avold. And in 1997, signs were posted along Interstate-95 declaring the cities' sisterhood.

    Johnson feels the time has come to reconnect and reinvigorate the program.

    The first event for the newly founded group was a trip to see an Alphonse Mucha exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, followed by a lunch at French restaurant La Coquette. FSAFA is not stopping there. It has many more events in the planning stages for the upcoming year.

    The group, which is a nonprofit working to gain their 501(c) designation, uses funds for two functions, education and administration. Sales from a published book of Shaw's letters home during WWII, "Letter's to Home, a Soldier's Story," helps support FSAFA's educational pursuits. Proceeds from an upcoming yard sale will support their administration costs.

    This yard sale has been dubbed the first annual Great French-American Yard Sale and is scheduled for March 12. It will be held at 121 Devane St. from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. The yard sale will have a variety of furniture, housewares, kitchen and cookware, home décor and much more.

    In addition to the Great French-American Yard Sale, plans are in the works for a French cheese and wine tasting event and a possible French cookery and baking class at Fayetteville Technical Community College.

    FSAFA membership for this first year is free, and dues will be a nominal fee moving forward.

    Memberships will include discounted group rates for events and outings. Interested parties are encouraged to reach out to the group by emailing faync_saintavold@yahoo.com or like the Facebook page, Fayetteville – Saint Avold Friendship Alliance.

  • 13WorkInjuriesHave you been injured at work?  Well, you are not alone.  

    In 2015, there were 2.9 million work-related injuries in our country with almost 70,000 reported work-related injuries in North Carolina.  For ten years, I worked at the North Carolina Industrial Commission, our state’s “court system” for workers’ compensation cases. Over those ten years, I found that people with work-related injuries face the most serious situation in their lives — they are sick, unable to work and are having financial difficulties. 

    When you are injured at work, there are a few things you should do. 

    1. Inform your employer about your injury immediately and in writing. 

    2. If you do not report your injury within thirty days of the injury, you could lose your rights to benefits.  Many employers have a form for you to complete.

    3. Seek medical treatment as soon as possible.  Your employer may send you to the doctor.  If not, use your health insurance to get medical treatment.

    4. Take care in how you describe your injury.  Not all work-related injuries are covered by workers’ compensation. 

    5. File your claim, or Form 18, with the Industrial Commission within two years.

    6. Consult an attorney for help.  

    7. You can also call the Industrial Commission Information Specialists at 1-800-688-8349 for information.  

    Workers’ compensation is complicated.  Follow these steps to avoid making a mistake which can cause a problem later in your claim.

  •     Click the Image for UCW's Online Edition!

         Did you hear the one about the tap dancing biochemist? No?
    Actually, it’s no joke … On March 21 at Methodist University’s Reeves Auditorium there will be a tap dancing biochemist hoofing across the stage, along with a molecular geneticist, a software engineer and a second-grade teacher. This seemingly disparate group of professionals make up the Footnotes Tap Ensemble, a nonprofit, Research Triangle-based professional tap company dedicated to bringing tap to the masses.
         {mosimage} Co-founder Mimi Benjamin — who works as a physician when she’s not treading the boards along with the other members of Footnotes — says everyone in the troupe holds down a “day” job, though their real passion is the dance.
    “All of our dancers work regular jobs,” said Benjamin, who founded Footnotes in 2005 with former dance school classmate Robin Vail, “but they find time to put their careers on the backburner to entertain and educate people about tap dancing.”
         Benjamin says dance fans that show up at Methodist on March 21 will be treated to a display of old-fashioned tap done in the style of some of the legends, including a tribute to Bill “Bojangles” Robinson.
         “We will perform three different types of tap,” said Benjamin. “We’ve worked hard to preserve the old historic dances. Among the ones we’ll be doing is ‘New Lowdown,’ made famous by Mr. Bojangles, himself.
         “We’ll also be doing ‘The Walkaround’ that was previously performed by the great Henry Robinson,” said Benjamin. “We also have dances we’ve commissioned from contemporary choreographers Dorothy Wasserman and Lane Alexander, as well as our own compositions. People are usually very surprised at the variety of what makes up tap dancing.”
         In addition to bringing some of their own dance creations with them, Footnotes will also bring its own band, consisting of a pianist, bassist, drummer, singer, banjoist and sax player/flautist.
         And while Footnotes will certainly bring the noise, Methodist brings a little something special itself that will contribute mightily to the performance: “The floor on that stage (Reeves Auditorium) is just legendary,” said Benjamin. “It’s got a great reputation as being an extraordinary wood stage.”
         In addition to a widespread reputation for its dancing abilities, Footnotes is also well known for its educational programs, bringing tap classes and workshops into communities across the region — workshops and classes that attract a broad spectrum of participants.
         “There are so many different styles of tap that can be performed in conjunction with so many different types of music,” said Benjamin. “I mean, when we hit the stage we have to appeal to all ages, from 4 to 80. And a lot of these folks get into dance after seeing us perform or attending one of our workshops.”
         The show is scheduled for March 21, 8 p.m., at Reeves Auditorium is entitled “Live Rhythms,” and if you want more information about how you can catch it “live,” call (919) 475-5444 to purchase tickets; tickets are $10 — $5 for students, seniors and NCDA members.
         You can also check out the Footnotes Web site, www.footnotestapensemble.org, for more information about the organization as well as a schedule.

  • TechNet2 The annual TechNet Symposium is returning to Fort Bragg with the intent to help build solutions and share best practices that promote valuable results to technology challenges the military faces today.

    The symposium is hosted by the North Carolina chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA). They are a non-profit volunteer association of technology professionals that promotes technology in the military community. The local North Carolina chapter hosts monthly luncheons, golf tournaments, professional development classes, college scholarships, STEM grants to local schools and the annual TechNet Fort Bragg conference.

    The president of the local chapter, Marv Gordner, says this has been the biggest exposition in the Fayetteville and Fort Bragg area every year for the past 12 years. In 2020, the conference was canceled due to COVID-19 and last year, it had to be held off base.

    “This year, we are back at Fort Bragg and right where and when we need to be,” Gordner said.

    The two-day military technology conference will be held at the Iron Mike Conference Center. TechNet Fort Bragg offers an opportunity for experts and leaders from across the Army and Fort Bragg community to address various sides of the challenging, controversial issues facing the U.S. Army Forces Command, U.S. Special Operations Command, Joint Special Operations Command and U.S. Army Special Operations Command communities.

    The topics covered during the conference will address hard-hitting issues facing the military technology community over the next 12 to 18 months.

    Attendees can pick a specific topic they would like to focus on during the symposium and go to those breakout sessions. Those tracks include Artificial Intelligence, Cloud, Cyber, Data, Small Business and Other.
    Gordner says there are three main things people can take away from the exposition: Networking, Education and Giving to a good cause. The AFCEA will use the money raised at the conference for local charity efforts such as local teaching STEM grants, scholarships for high school seniors, and ROTC cadets in college.

    The keynote speaker will be Brig. Gen. Jeth B. Rey. He is the Director of the Network Cross-Functional Team within Army Futures Command. He is responsible for the continuous improvement of network, command, control, communications and intelligence to enable mission command across the tactical network. On Wednesday, April 6, he will be speaking about how the Army is modernizing the tactical network and increasing integration with the strategic network through the Army Unified Network Plan to deliver data-centric capabilities in support of Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) and Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2).

    “Everyone is welcome from E1 to people with stars on their shoulders. You will make good contacts. You can always learn something,” Gordner said. “You can always get that one percent or five percent better every day.”

    Gordner told Up & Coming Weekly that he hopes for at least 700 to 800 people to attend.

    The conference will take place on Tuesday, April 5 and Wednesday, April 6.

    Military and Government attendees can attend for free, while retired military and non-government attendees can attend for $175.

    Tickets are available at https://www.technetfortbragg.com/Register. People can also register at the door.

  • history to go box The Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex is offering history kits for kids every first Tuesday of the month. The kits, called History To-Go boxes, are full of interactive activities for children and their families. History To-Go boxes are designed for kids ages 6 to 12. The kits invite participants to enjoy and learn about the greater Cape Fear region.

    Each month, the themed boxes have worksheets, writing prompts and crafts. February’s theme was the Underground Railroad. The kit included crafts and helped kids locate the North Star in the Little Dipper using a cardboard tube and a flashlight. In March, the boxes were centered around the American Revolution and contained decoding activities. April’s theme is textiles.

    “’Textiles’ is going to have a little cardboard loom that comes prestrung with yarn, so the kids learn how to weave,” said Sarah Stubbs, museum administrative assistant.

    The box is also going to delve into the history of mill villages. These villages were created by the mill owners close to their textile mills. Textile mills required running water from streams and rivers, and these often were in rural settings, meaning workers needed to either travel from larger towns or live nearby. Setting up the villages for their workers gave the mill owners a way to keep staff around and keep an eye on their workers.

    “There’s a worksheet that we call ‘mill village math,’ and that plays off of an oral history interview that is included (in the box),” said Stubbs. “What is unique about that time period is that we do have audio-recorded oral history interviews. I took a transcription of one of those about two people, a married couple, who worked at a mill when they were children, roughly the same age as the kids who will get the boxes. Using the information we got out of that oral history interview, the kids have to learn how much money they would’ve been making as kids and the cost of living at that time.”

    The Museum launched History To-Go boxes in the summer of 2021. The museum holds a yearly summer camp for kids, but with the uncertainty of COVID-19 restrictions, the museum decided to make summer camp mobile.

    “They (the boxes) were so popular; we decided to bring them back on a monthly basis,” Stubbs said.

    Boxes are available for pick up beginning on the first Tuesday of every month. Currently, families are limited to two boxes per family.

    “We have a section on our website where every month we put PDFs of what we have in the box, including a list of materials that you would need to do your own hands-on-activity, so if you have other children or if you are a large homeschool group and you want to replicate the boxes yourself, you can do that from our website,” Stubbs said.

    The Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex is located at 801 Arsenal Ave. in Fayetteville and is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

  • Ukraine Demonstration This past week, March 24, marked one month since renewed aggression in Ukraine in the ongoing Russo-Ukraine War. Beginning in 2014 and resulting in the Russian annexation of Crimea and unrest in the Donbas region, the war has culminated in a full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces. While the war may seem very far away for many in Cumberland County, it is hitting home for some.

    Dmitry and Alena, whose last names are being withheld at their request because Dmitry is in the U.S. Army Special Forces, are from and grew up near Kyiv. The couple immigrated to the U.S. from Ukraine. Dmitry joined the U.S. Army in 2009 and graduated from the Special Forces Qualification Course in 2014. He currently serves on active duty and is stationed locally at Fort Bragg.

    While Dimitry and Alena now live in the U.S., their families are still in Ukraine. This includes brothers and sisters and their children, aunts, uncles and cousins. Dmitry's nephew and brother-in-law are currently fighting in Kyiv along with thousands more throughout Ukraine who have vowed to defend their homeland.

    Shortly after the invasion, Dmitry put out a call through his personal network and via social media for support and medical supplies to be donated and sent to Ukraine. Just one day after the invasion began, Dmitry posted.

    "If you [are] not too far away from me: Fayetteville NC, we've got some request[s] from Ukraine," Dmitry said in his post.

    He was requesting medical supplies to send home. And the community answered.

    "Russian and Belorussian terrorists are still attacking my home country, and I am still looking for equipment to send to Ukraine. We successfully shipped off today 22 40-gallon boxes of amazing medical equipment worth $98,000," Dmitry said in early March.

    In support of his call for help, the Special Forces Foundation, a nonprofit with the mission of supporting Green Berets and their families, helped Dmitry and Alena establish a fund supporting their cause.

    "The Green Beret Humanitarian Fund (GBHF) was created to support humanitarian efforts in which Green Berets coordinate, work with or otherwise support outside of their line of duty. The fund was created in the first days of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine when a fellow Green Beret and his wife reached out for assistance in helping their former countrymen," the Special Forces Foundation said in a statement. "Dmitry and

    Alena have actively been gaining support within their community in the form of monetary and material donations and physical help in preparing those donations for delivery to Ukrainians in dire need. The GBHF has been set up so that they, along with other advocates, can actively raise funds to aid in the expenses accrued when shipping donated items to Ukraine."

    Since the creation of the GBHF, a Facebook page, UkrainianEfforts has been created, demonstrations in Fayetteville have been organized, and Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom and Dirty Whiskey Craft Cocktail Bar have scheduled an event in support of Dmitry and Alena. The brewery is accepting donations by collecting Meals Ready to Eat, dry freeze foods, blankets, water filtration systems, socks and undergarments and medical supplies.

    The efforts to support the GBHF will culminate in an event from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 3.

    For information on how to help the GBHF visit the Facebook UkrainianEfforts, and to make a donation, you can text GBHF to 41444 and follow the link provided.

  • DSC 0113Fayetteville Technical Community College Foundation is hosting the second annual Trojan Fit 5K Color Run/Walk on Saturday, April 30.

    FTCC Foundation partners with donors to support Fayetteville Technical Community College by raising awareness and financial resources to provide college access for students to attain their educational and career goals.

    The mission of FTCC Foundation is to foster and promote the growth, progress, and general welfare of FTCC, provide supplementary financial support to the College and its students, and advance and enrich the services provided for students, the community, alumni, faculty, and staff. FTCC Foundation manages more than 200 scholarship endowments and other funds.

    The FTCC Trojan Fit 5K Color Run/Walk will be a fun event for serious runners and casual walkers. Run or walk across FTCC’s beautiful campus and explore the Camellia Trails, fountains and the Rose Garden. The optional rainbow color powder adds extra fun and happiness. There will be two routes available – a 5K run and a fun walk, appropriate for families with strollers. Proceeds from the Trojan Fit Color Run benefit the Health and Fitness Scholarship and other scholarships at FTCC.

    “Now, more than ever, health and fitness are a priority for many people. The health and fitness industry is growing fast with an increased demand for trainers and industry workers,” said Joseph Davis, health and fitness instructor at FTCC and Trojan Fit committee member. “Our goal with the Health and Fitness Scholarship is to ease the financial burden of our students and help them to achieve their academic and career goals.”

    Registration is limited to the first 400 participants. T-shirt and race bib pickup will take place on the Thursday and Friday before the event. Check-in on race day will begin at 8 a.m. The warm-up begins at 8:45 a.m., and the run starts at 9 a.m. After the run, participants are invited to enjoy music and food and check out health and fitness vendors.

    Many volunteers are needed to manage the Color Run to staff the water and color stations and provide route guidance. This will be a safe and fun volunteer opportunity for individuals and groups.

    “We are so excited to be able to host another Trojan Fit Color Run here at the FTCC campus. This event brings people together in the community and offers a great volunteer experience as well,” said Vinessa Jones, health and fitness instructor at FTCC and volunteer coordinator for the event. “Volunteer hours are a great way to be involved in the community. Students get to add experience to their college and work applications.

    Whether you want to be a participant, a volunteer or simply come out to encourage those running, we hope to see you there.”

    Individual registration is $35 per person. For more information and to register to run or volunteer, visit https://www.faytechcc.edu/trojan5k or call 910-678-8441.

  • 3283081The All American Races include the All American Half Marathon and a 5K, which are now open to the public for participation.

    "This is a virtual event, and our runners are able to run at any time between now up until Tuesday, May 31," said Jennifer Fayson, Fort Bragg MWR special events office. "Now that it has gone virtual, they will be able to run on their own and select the location of their choosing, and we would like for runners to know that the new Liberty Park is available for them to use."

    The event is a morale booster and community event. While it is usually an in-person race, due to the current 82nd Airborne Division's Immediate Response Force Deployments to Europe, virtual, seemed the way to go for race planners.

    "The purpose of the event is to bring some morale to our families, soldiers, veterans and members of our community," Fayson said. "Recently, it was supposed to be an in-person event with a half marathon and 5K; however, due to various events going on, we transitioned it to a virtual event."

    The virtual event allows runners freedom of venue and includes mail-out swag.

    "Winners now have an opportunity to run a 5K or a half marathon at a place of their choosing, and they will submit the results to us, and we will mail them an event shirt, half marathon or 5K medal, and a commemorative event bib," Fayson said.

    The All American Races, formally known as the All American Marathon, held its inaugural event in 2014. The marathon was a collaboration between the City of Fayetteville and Fort Bragg. It began as a marathon, half marathon, and 5k.

    In previous years, the marathon and the half marathon started in downtown Fayetteville, and runners ran the All American Freeway onto the installation and crossed the finish line at the Main Post Parade Field.

    "After the race going virtual in 2020 and 2021 due to the ongoing pandemic, we felt this would be a good time to make some changes," said Fayson.

    "The transition to a loop course that started and finished at the new Liberty Park was one of the changes that we were most excited about, and we are looking forward to a return to the in-person event in 2023."

    Previously, the half marathon was nicknamed "Mike to Mike."

    At that time, the run started at the iconic Iron Mike statue in front of the Airborne & Special Operations Museum in historic downtown Fayetteville and passed the Iron Mike statue on Fort Bragg located near the finish line at the Main Post Parade Field.

    These virtual marathons are non-competitive with no age group or overall awards. Participation costs $40 per race.

    Registration is going on now and will run until May 31. Visit www.zippyreg.com/online_reg/?e=1610, to register, or call, 910-908-5977.

  • EE smithLegacy: a word that best describes Doctor Ezekiel Ezra Smith. A free man born in 1853, E.E. Smith was an educator, a soldier, a pastor and a diplomat. The Fayetteville History Museum will celebrate this legacy with an open house at Smith's Fayetteville home, March 25, from noon to 3 p.m.

    The house, built in 1902, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014. It is on Blount and Chase Streets in downtown Fayetteville, an area that was once a prominent African American neighborhood.

    "A lot of people are surprised when they see the house and step foot in here. This was a man of wealth. That's not a story that is told that there were upper-middle-class, affluent African Americans. That is a Fayetteville story," said Heidi Bleazey, historic properties manager, Fayetteville History Museum.

    Smith was not from a wealthy family originally. He was born on a farm in Duplin County, where his father worked. While his mother's family had been free for a couple of generations, his father was the first of his family to be emancipated. As a young black child, Smith was not allowed an education in the formal sense. After the Civil War, however, he was able to attend a school in Wilmington, where he also began his teaching career at the age of 17. Smith applied to Shaw University and graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1878. He would later return to Shaw University and receive a doctorate.

    Smith became the principal of a school in Goldsboro, where he was approached with an opportunity to become the head of the Fayetteville State Normal School, now Fayetteville State University. Smith worked hard to continue to improve the school and is credited as being instrumental in obtaining the land FSU currently sits on.

    In addition to his legacy within FSU, Smith's name is also used for a local high school. E. E. Smith High School produces many graduates who then continue to FSU, becoming educators themselves.

    "About 90% of the high school graduates from E.E. Smith from the 50s and 60s went directly to FSU, and the majority of them are teachers," said Melinda Dancy, museum assistant.
    Dancy's two daughters graduated from E.E. Smith following their father's footsteps. She said she brought them to the house to experience the man their school was named after.

    "E.E. Smith alumni go really strong; they have such a sense of school pride. So it's been cool to have alumni come here and have even more meaning associated with their school pride. I think that would make E.E. Smith proud, to see how prideful his graduates are," said Catherine Linton, museum specialist.

    The parlor of the E.E. Smith House will be decorated with period-appropriate furniture pieces, books and photos. Further into the house, an exhibit gallery space has been set up with panels talking about Smith's extraordinary life.

    Smith served in the North Carolina National Guard through the Spanish American War. He was an ordained Baptist Minister and became president of the Baptist State Convention. In 1888, President Grover Cleveland appointed him as resident minister and general consul to the Republic of Liberia. Smith was also a businessman, heading insurance companies and real estate holdings and editor of multiple newspapers.

    The museum staff were permitted to peruse FSU's archives. They found the certificate from Cleveland appointing Smith as resident minister and general consul to the Republic of Liberia and his Third North Carolina Regiment appointment letter. Copies of both will be on display for visitors to see.

    "We are constantly learning about him, constantly seeing new aspects. We bought a celebratory edition of the Fayetteville Observer from 1967, and there was a little snippet about him saying that he developed a newspaper here in Fayetteville that was short-lived, and we were like, 'what didn't he do?'," said Bleazey.

    This will be the second open house for the E.E. Smith property. The first one, held in February, was seen as a great success, with many older community members coming in and sharing memories of the space.
    Linton mentioned how hard the community worked to rehabilitate the space, which had fallen into disrepair. She credited support from city staff, building maintenance, city custodians, grounds people and Cumberland County Parks and Recreation.

    "People have really shown interest in getting back into this house, seeing it brought back to life, and becoming that gathering space and community center," said Linton.

    Emma Freeman, marketing and social media manager for the museum, agreed.

    "It was really cool to talk to some people at our first open house who grew up in this neighborhood. What this house symbolized for them, this was a hub for them," said Freeman. "As kids, they would come and hang on the porch and talk and play. They knew what this house stood for and who E.E. Smith was, and they loved being here."

    The open house on March 25 is free and open to the public.

  • in her shoesThe Rape Crisis of Cumberland County at the Phoenix Center has set a date for their 10th annual Walk Awhile in Their Shoes event, Friday, March 25 at 7 p.m., in front of the Encore Academy Building on Hay Street in downtown Fayetteville.

    “The event originally started as a fundraiser, but it has really grown into an awareness event as well as a fundraiser about sexual assault in our community,” said Deanne Gerdes, executive director of Rape Crisis of Cumberland County, at the Phoenix Center. “We will stroll down to Segra Stadium, and that is where we will be having our after party.”

    The Rape Crisis of Cumberland County at the Phoenix Center supports sexual and domestic violence victims in multiple ways.

    “Last year, we had 412 victims of sexual violence and 398 victims of domestic violence in Cumberland County, and we provide services from a crisis hotline, responding to the emergency room, responding to law enforcement and going to court,” said Gerdes. “Last year, domestic violence cases were different, but the numbers were not necessarily up because of COVID-19.”

    Gerdes added that last year schools were closed, many worked from home or were unemployed and much domestic violence was contained to the home. Many victims did not feel comfortable reaching out or leaving their homes for help for many reasons.

    These conditions have impacted federal funding for the center.

    “We had closed shelters whether it was due to staffing, COVID-19 outbreak or just closed, and we all took a big hit in federal funding,” said Gerdes. “The services that used to be prior to COVID-19 were not there, and coming out of COVID-19, we are still feeling those effects.”

    She added, “For domestic violence, we are focusing on really trying to get victims to a safe place which is more than likely outside of Cumberland County.”

    Walk Awhile in Their Shoes event will see men walk four blocks down Hay Street wearing high heels; the walk will end at Segra Stadium.
    The traditional red heels have been challenging to source this year, so event planners welcome the support regardless of footwear.

    “Originally, it was red high heels, but we just can’t find enough red high heels to be honest with you,” said Gerdes. “Some men don’t wear red high heels for the walk, so they wear red shoes, black flats or their tennis shoes, and we are okay with that. We have some seasoned, older gentlemen that may have hip or knee problems but want to come out and support, and they do, and we are so grateful for that.”

    Plans for the Phoenix Center involve working to return to where they were before COVID-19, building back up their volunteer advocates, a pilot program to support the need for sexual assault nurse examiners, advocating for a bill in Raleigh and using funds to rehab their building.

    “One of the most amazing things about this walk is that we have victims, their family members and husbands that come to this walk, and they walk the walk,” said Gerdes. “It is so incredible to see these victims in awe of seeing these people supporting them, not knowing who they are.”

    Registration begins at 6 p.m. on the day of the event, and the cost is $25, $15 with a student ID; for more information, call 910-485-7273.

  • vietnamWith 2.7 million Americans having served in Vietnam from 1964 to 1975, the Vietnam War impacted and defined over a decade of American History. March 29, Vietnam Veterans Day was established by former President Barrack Obama in 2012 and made official in 2017 with The Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017 signed into law by former President Donald J. Trump.

    With 58,318 killed, 61% being under 21, and over 75,000 severely injured, the war impacted the entire country. According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, 1584 Americans remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, 1062 individual's remains have been repatriated since the beginning of 1973.

    Memorializing these losses in Washington, D.C., the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, dedicated in 1982, reflects the names of those killed during the conflict.

    The Moving Wall has toured the U.S for 30 years, a half-size replica of the Memorial in Washinton, D.C. The Moving Wall was inspired during Vietnam veteran John Devitt's attendance at the commemoration of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. A small group of Vietnam veterans built The Moving Wall to "share that experience with those who did not have the opportunity to go to Washington," according to movingwall.org.

    The Moving Wall is making its third visit to Fayetteville as part of the Airborne and Special Operations four-day community-wide remembrance event "Vietnam War: Reflections of Courage." The Moving Wall will be on display on the ASOM parade field and will be accessible to visitors 24 hours a day during the event.

    There will be a directory available for those who may want to make a rubbing of a loved one's name.

    The four-day event will mark the 49th anniversary of the end of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam on March 29.

    And while the Moving Wall will be the centerpiece of the event, the event will offer so much more to attendees; organizers are anticipating a large turnout in the thousands.

    "Many veterans' groups and military organizations will be drawn to The Moving Wall as it represents honor, respect, healing and closure for so many men and women who served during the Vietnam War and their families. With Cumberland County and North Carolina having one of the highest populations of Vietnam Veterans in the U.S., this exhibit in Fayetteville will give many people in our community and beyond an opportunity to honor and respect those who made the ultimate sacrifice through remembrance and education," said Jim Bartlinski, museum director, ASOM.

    An opening Remembrance Ceremony begins at 4 p.m. on March 25 at the Yarborough Bank Theater and will be followed by a pinning ceremony. Speaking at the ceremony are two local Vietnam Veterans with community ties. Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmie Spencer, an ASOM volunteer and member of their Military Advisory Committee, will be speaking. During the war, Spencer served with the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) (Airborne) and with the Military Advisory Command.

    Ron Matthews will also speak at the event. Matthews is a local who served in the Republic of Vietnam from 1969 to 1970 with the 1st Infantry Division and the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment.

    Their stories are unique, and their connection to the local community is invaluable. Speaking about Mathews, ASOM Foundation Executive Director, Renee Lane, explained his story is unique, and as a community leader, it is important for people to hear his story.

    "He has a really good story about his service there [the Republic of Vietnam]," said Lane. "He's a community leader here, and everybody knows him, and I think it would be important for people to hear his story."

    Following the speakers and ceremony, visiting Vietnam veterans can be pinned. The pins are only for living veterans who served in the U.S. Armed Forces, but there is a unique pin for those who served from November 1, 1955, to May 15, 1975. The Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pin holds deep significance for those who wear it. Many Vietnam veterans said they are glad they served, 91%, and many say they would serve again, 74%. There is a great deal of pride regarding their service among Vietnam

    "I have a number of medals pinned on in my day … even though it might just be a lapel pin to a lot of people, this is like a medal to the Vietnam veterans," said retired Col. Michael Brazelton, U.S. Air Force, in a pamphlet from the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration. Brazelton is a former Vietnam War POW and was awarded the Silver Star four times.

    The pinning program is offered by ASOM all year. Still, they expect to have an opportunity to pin many additional veterans who will be visiting during "Vietnam War: Reflections of Courage."
    On March 26, retired Lt. Col Jack Kelley will speak about his book "Bonded in Battle." Kelley served with the 173rd Airborne Brigade.

    His book details the true account of Sgt. Charles Morris, who received the Medal of Honor for his leadership and bravery in Vietnam in June of 1966. Following the book discussion, ASOM will be hosting a screening of the documentary "My Father's Brothers" by Kelley's son, Shawn Kelley.

    The following day, March 27, the documentary "The Wall That Heals" will be shown. The documentary focuses on the stories of North Carolinians who served in Vietnam.The documentary is slated to air on FOX 50, WRAL-TV and PBS-North Carolina.

    Event organizers expect a "full house for these events and highly recommend attendees register for the events. To register for the Remembrance Ceremony visit, https://bit.ly/remceremony, for the March 26 event visit, https://bit.ly/326vietnam and for the March 27 event visit, https://bit.ly/327vietnam.
    In addition to the Moving Wall and guest speakers, ASOM encourages visitors to take some time and walk through the museum's gallery.

    "I would encourage people to go into our gallery because we have the exhibit on the 173rd with the Huey. That highlights Lawrence Joel, the medic, and Chaplain Watters. And of course, the POW Nick Rowe exhibit that we have, and of course the Red Hats [Military Assistance Command Vietnam] exhibit," Bartlinski said.

    In addition, there will be unique Vietnam-era artwork and artifacts on display throughout the museum lobby.

    "This is a great way to educate the public on Vietnam. And it's not just the Wall, but inside the museum in the lobby here, we have a lot of artifacts that have never been on display before from the Vietnam era. And I think that it's important for people to see the artifacts and understand the meaning behind them. And certainly, come away more educated about what happened than when they walked in the door," said Lane.

    The artifacts are a mixture of Airborne, Special Forces and even some Montagnard artifacts.

  • Citys Mural By the time Jermaine "JP" Powell finishes a state-of-the-art mural where the I-295 Overpass crosses North Ramsey Street, motorists traveling into and outside the Fayetteville city limits will admire the attractive scenic design on both sides of the underpass.

    Without words, the mural will speak to ways in which the City of Fayetteville recognizes and supports the ways in which the arts can enrich a community. People may wonder why it took so long to have such an attractive mural painted. That's where my inside story begins.

    If you take time to drive past the early phases of the mural being painted, you will be able to see the stages that take place to create a very large mural titled We Are Fayetteville: Legacy and Future.

    So why is it important to know the process as the artist begins working – you can drive by and enjoy it when it's completed? In short, you will see why the mural looks the way it does; and you may be surprised at the logistics of a project of this scale.

    Factors include but are not limited to finding sources to support the project, planning, leadership knowledgeable about the arts, countless hours of coordinating with individuals, committees, agencies and groups, and of course, finding the right artist for the task.

    The I-295 and Ramsey Street Corridor Project started in 2017/2018 when the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County (Arts Council) applied for and received partial funding from the National Endowments for the Arts.

    Over the next few years, the project was paused several times due to budgetary concerns and the ability to receive approval for the work. COVID restrictions and people working remotely further delayed coordination with organizations.

    In early 2020, Michelle Horn and I were contracted to coordinate the mural project. Michelle and I had worked together coordinating the Veterans Park Project, we work well together, and both bring varied expertise and strengths.

    Bob Pinson, interim president/CEO of the Arts Council, and his staff worked closely with us to carry out many of the administrative details, interfacing with Michael Gibson and Tim Johnson with the Fayetteville/Cumberland Parks and Recreation Department (and too many others to list), NC DOT representatives and suppliers.

    So, the planning begins. Before launching the project with a nationwide "request for proposals (RFP)," an advisory board of individuals in the visual arts/architecture was created. Coordinators met with members of the City's Revitalization Committee to determine themes. Finally, the coordinators and Pinson met with a group of citizens to discuss themes they believed best represented the north side of Fayetteville.
    Now the RFP could be published, initializing a national search for submissions by artists. Artists sent their resumes and examples of mural designs using themes from the meetings: "diversity, agricultural past, forward-thinking, a pleasant and fun place to live and work and the colors of green and gold... since Methodist University and Pine Forest High School anchor this area."

    North Carolina Department of Transportation owns the bridge and the concrete surface on each side of the abutment that will be painted. If the design was going to be approved, the process first had to meet the detailed guidelines of the NCDOT Aesthetics Committee from planning to pre-approved paint for the project.

    The preliminary guidelines had been met: (1) a good location for a mural and a design that is not distracting, (2) the coordinators provided the engagement and expertise required, (3) the community was engaged early in the process, (4) a five-step process of selecting an artist was used, and (5), the RFP went to as many national websites as possible for the search to be inclusive and diverse regardless of race, color, national origin, sex or age."

    After the June 2020 deadline for artists to submit their ideas, the coordinators selected the top three artists based on resume, design and if they were suited for such a large project. The members of the Advisory Committee chose the artist in a blind selection process (blind selection means the committee did not see the names of artists or where they lived – only viewed prior murals by an artist and ideations for this project).

    Two of the finalists included an Italian artist creating murals in the US and a muralist living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Through the blind selection process, the advisory committee selected a third artist: Jermaine "JP" Powell, an artist living in Fuquay Varina, North Carolina!

    The decision was overwhelmingly unanimous. Powell, a mixed-media fine artist and mural artist living in North Carolina, is originally from Cleveland, Ohio, and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute, located in Brooklyn, New York. He was selected for the project due to his strong design skills, creative use of patterns and textures, and his uplifting and positive approach to subjects in prior murals and content.

    By August 2020, Powell, the coordinators and Pinson had met with residents, and they discussed the piece's themes with the artist. Residents shared what they valued in their part of the community.

    Over the next few months, the artist worked with coordinators and advisory committee members, revising and presenting his drafts for approval.

    By March 2021, the design was approved by the city's Public Art Committee, Revitalization and Corridor Committee and Fayetteville City Council.

    A year later, this month, after many COVID-related delays, the project is starting. Unexpected delays included the length of time it took for two NC DOT Aesthetic Committees to review the approved design and paint being used, COVID and Zoom meetings, approved paints on backorder finally arriving and weather preventing priming of the walls. Finally, Powell has begun laying the foundation of the design on the walls.

    During the delays, meetings on the project continued with the coordinators, Powell, Arts Council staff, and staff from Fayetteville City Parks and Recreation. Discussions included logistics of the site, equipment and supplies. A small team of volunteer assistants was selected, met and were briefed on safety standards at the location and the practice of working with the artist.

    Everyone who has participated in the project is excited to have Powell as the artist and share a mural we know the community will find pleasing and attractive.
    The mural, like other public art projects, will add enormous value to the cultural, aesthetic and economic vitality of our community. State-of-the-art projects contribute to our identity as a community, foster community pride, and enhance the quality of life for the residents.

    The entire mural process has been documented and archived at the Arts Council as a resource for future projects. The Arts Council marketing team is creating a video to share when the mural is complete. Visit http://www.wearethearts.com/295mural for more information.

    Photo Credit: Location for a new mural at the intersection of I-295 and north Ramsey Street. Depending on weather conditions, the murals are expected to be completed by the end of June. Photo courtesy of the City of Fayetteville.

  • BotanicalG The Fort Bragg Area Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. is holding their "Party With A Purpose" on March 19. This event is their twelfth annual Big Hat Brunch and will be held at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

    "Put on your biggest, classiest and most elegant hat as we enjoy brunch and a cup of tea with those Ft. Bragg Deltas," reads the organization's invitation of welcome.
    Founded in 1913, "Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to provide assistance and support through established programs in local communities throughout the world," as stated by their website.

    Introduced in 2010, The Big Hat Brunch has been a popular annual fundraising event. Attendance in years past has numbered in the hundreds, with tickets selling out well before the event day. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, however, seating will be limited this year.

    Making a move in venue from the Iron Mike Conference Center on Fort Bragg, the site of this event for the past 11 years, The Big Hat Brunch 2022 will make its first appearance at The Cape Fear Botanical Garden.

    Attendees of this year's brunch can enjoy the early spring with good food and fellowship while taking in the natural beauty of an 80-acre "urban oasis" located mere minutes from the bustle of downtown Fayetteville.

    The Big Hat Brunch's primary fund-raising goal is to provide scholarship opportunities for graduating high school seniors planning to attend Fayetteville State University.

    According to their Facebook page, "Since the first Big Hat Brunch in 2010, the Fort Bragg Area Alumnae Chapter has awarded over $50,000 in scholarships to high school seniors and college students attending FSU."

    Proceeds from this event directly fund the 2nd Lt. Lisa Nicole Bryant Memorial Scholarship.

    Lisa Bryant, born in 1979, was a 2nd Lt. in the United States Army and a graduate of Princeton University. Bryant was murdered in the early morning hours of July 10, 1993, in a residence hall on Fort Bragg; she was 21 years old.

    Through the fundraising efforts of The Big Hat Brunch, the Fort Bragg Area Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority seeks to keep Lisa Bryant's spirit, legacy and devotion to academic excellence alive with the dedication of this scholarship to meritable students in the Fort Bragg community.

    According to their webpage, "This scholarship will be awarded to a deserving undergraduate military family member attending FSU who exemplifies a commitment to education while majoring in sociology, psychology or education."

    While no dress code is expressly stated, it's clear at least one item is an absolute must!

    Tickets are $50 and the event will be held at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden, located at 536 N. Eastern Blvd.

    Those interested in attending can find additional information and tickets for The Annual Big Hat Brunch at www.eventbrite.com/e/annual-big-hat-brunch-2022-tickets-173147909057?ref=eios&fbclid=IwAR2dRGxldO7QRGzJwDsTvk6TYtSxqfef5dC9oEbWDKdmpPitdLOx7GLxBg0

  • Clue Social Media Posts 9Jennifer Newman, Marc de la Concha and Jock Brocki sit around a plain table at Cape Fear Regional Theatre. They talk like they are involved in a rapid-fire improv. The jokes fly back and forth, and the three actors seem to build off one another's comments, moving through the quips as if they were planned. In just a couple of days, the trio will brave a dark and stormy night, a moving stage and a murder. They will come as Miss Scarlet,

    Wadsworth and Mr. Boddy, respectively. They are just three of the actors in the upcoming musical "Clue: On Stage."

    "As soon as I heard they were doing 'Clue,' I immediately started researching everything I possibly could on Miss Scarlett. I thought if I could get this, I would cry," Newman said.

    "We missed the crying part," Brocki quickly quipped. The three actors immediately laughed. The rapport they have with each other is palpable and engaging.

    The play is an adaptation of the 1985 movie "Clue," directed by Jonathan Lynn and starring Tim Curry.

    Newman said she loved the movie and, of course, the "confident, sexy" Miss Scarlet. While she idolized the confidence that Miss Scarlet had and went into the audition with the goal of landing the part, every actor has to take their roles in a "different direction."

    "I feel like you have to give at least some nods to the classics … I don't think anyone could be the exact character they saw in the movie. It's important to give an audience a new take on all these characters," Newman said.

    Newman and De la Concha are local actors, and Brocki is a self-proclaimed, semi-retired actor living in the Triangle area. De la Concha is also the Director of Education for Cape Fear Regional Theatre.
    Brocki jokes that De la Concha didn't even need to audition for Wadsworth.

    "I had to do a little bit of an audition," De la Concha said.

    Brocki laughed and gave a playful eye roll. Picking up on his humor, and having a naturally happy-go-lucky demeanor, De la Concha added, "I knew just a little bit before."

    De la Concha plays Wadsworth, the same role played by Curry in "Clue," the motion picture. When De la Concha speaks about Curry, he remarks on the iconic nature of his depiction of the character and a sort of mixture of both excitement and intimidation about playing this part.

    "I'm no Tim Curry. He's amazing, but you want to pay respect to something that is so iconic but bring a new take to it," he said.
    Something the three actors can agree on without hesitation, the true magic and finesse of the play, is the fast-paced conversation that takes place between the ten actors in the production and quick movements requiring precision.

    "You can't mess up the details. The characters go over everything with a fine-tooth comb so you can't mess it up," De la Concha said.

    "No pressure," Newman said while laughing.

    The stage and set for this production are multi-layered; Brocki helped with the construction. It will have many hidden doors and rooms, and, according to Brocki, the set itself will have a lot of movement — not just the actors.

    "For an audience, there's a lot of eye candy," Brocki said.

    The show's director, Mary Catherine Burke, wants the audience to feel like they are a part of the board game. The actors will be almost surrounded on three sides by their audience at many points.

    "Things are sliding and moving … the audience will feel like they are in the game with us," De la Concha said.

    With all the movement, the actors admit that because the show is a murder mystery, they have to make sure the movements are precise. The audience is supposed to want to figure out the murder alongside the characters, so the recreation of scenes and details matters. The finer details, Newman said, are the hardest part.

    "It's hard to make sure you are where you need to be when you need to be there," she paused before continuing, "in heels."

    "I don't have heels," Brocki laughed.

    "I guess I could if it was part of the costume," De la Concha said.

    The three performers stop for a second, look at one another then share another giggle.
    The music for the show will be original to this production. There will be a lot of sound cues for the actors, and the music, the actors promise, will be a large part of the show and its mounting suspense. The theater hired Los Angeles producer David Abbinant to create the music and sound cues for the play.

    "There's an entire scene with no lines. It's basically like a dance number in a play," Newman said.

    "Clue: On Stage" will be made up of 11 actors. It will be about 90 minutes in length and offer no intermission. Within five minutes of the start of the show, the audience will be able to see all the actors on stage together.

    The key to the performance was keeping it going at a fast pace, just like the original movie.

    "The cast is together most of the evening. They are so suspicious of one another they want to stay together, so they don't get murdered," De la Concha said.

    De la Concha said this show will not be a run of the mill one direction show. The actors will be surrounded on three sides by the audience — an intentional involvement that differs from regular plays at the theatre.

    "We say you are in the game. You are in it with us," he said.

    The actors share a few laughs about the start of rehearsal, including De la Concha telling his fellow cast members that they would all have to play his Golden Girls' version of the Clue board game at some point.
    During the first rehearsal, they recalled, Burke asked each of them to talk about their favorite games growing up. Brocki said marbles. De la Concha said Nintendo. Newman loved Monopoly. She's competitive, she said.

    "I like Monopoly, Risk … anything that requires complete domination," Newman laughed.

    "Okay, Miss Scarlett," De la Concha chuckled.

    "That's why she was cast," Brocki added.

    The quick jokes and back-forth of their conversation is just a little peek into the chemistry that the crowd can expect on the stage during "Clue: On Stage." This sort of chemistry and connection is what De la Concha said was the easiest part of putting this particular play together. The play requires its actors to have fun and be involved in a lot of conversation and physical comedy.

    "We did this play merely because it's fun. It's engaging. It takes your mind off of what happened that day. All you can think about is who did it," said Ashley Owen, Marketing Director for Cape Fear Regional Theatre.

    "Clue: On Stage" will run from March 24 through April 10. Tickets are $15 to $25. Military and educator discounts are available during special Military Appreciation and Educator Appreciation nights.
    The show is rated PG for parental guidance. It contains mild and comedic themes of violence and adult humor.

  • IMG 5216 1 Sweet Tea Shakespeare, Fayetteville's traveling theater company, will be presenting an impromptu performance of the magical and whimsy musical "Into the Woods."

    Stephen Sondheim's "Into the Woods" has won three Tony Awards and was made into a full-length Disney film in 2014. The story follows several well-known fairytale characters — Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood and a Baker and his wife. All have wishes and hope a witch will grant them, bringing the old adage "be careful of what you wish" to mind as their actions return to haunt them later with disastrous results.

    Artistic Director Jeremy Fiebig said this performance promises to be an evening full of magic and fairytales. However, the idea for the musical to be performed came very late into the game.

    "We signed paperwork to do 'Into the Woods' in January," Fiebig said.

    The idea came to Sweet Tea Shakespeare after the new owners of Fayetteville Pie Company, Kerry and Jen Washburn, approached Sweet Tea Shakespeare after their annual Christmas concerts. The new Fayetteville Pie Company owners heard about the theater company's 2019 performance of "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" at the restaurant and how successful it was. They wanted to do it again.

    Shortly after that meeting, the idea of doing another Sondheim classic came about. Sweet Tea Shakespeare rose to the challenge and ambitiously put this musical performance together in under three months.

    However, Fiebig says it's been easy to do with the support from Fayetteville Pie Company.

    "They have been so extremely supportive. It was the case for Sweeney Todd, and it's the case now," Fiebig said.

    The tickets at the Fayetteville Pie Company will include a themed dinner with live music an hour before the show starts. Then attendees can make their way downstairs to see the small performance.

    "That's one thing unique about the Fayetteville Pie Company experience is that there are less than 50 seats a night, so you get that experience of seeing a play in your living room," Fiebig said. "What's different between Sweet Tea and anywhere else is how familiar, and close and interactive the performances are. It feels like we are doing a production in your living room. It's that intimate. It involves you that much."

    With having a small "stage," there's not much room for a large set — which for Fiebig is another thing he loves about their performances.

    "One of the things that excite me about this performance is all of the ways we find to create that magic with little, everyday household items."

    One big difference with this performance behind-the-scenes is that there will be two entirely separate casts for all the actors.

    "When we were planning this, it was still in the height of the omicron surge. We knew from our experiences from the last few months; we needed to have a cover plan for actors," Fiebig explained. "Every person in this play has a cover. We have this whole team of folks to essentially come to rehearsals, watch, step in occasionally, and they will get a small handful of performances of their own."

    The run of "Into the Woods" will kick off on March 17 and will run through April 10 at the Fayetteville Pie Company. The production will move and continue at the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church from April 21 through May 8.

    The ticket price for the Fayetteville Pie Company show includes a savory pie, a sweet pie and a soft drink or tea.

    Beer and wine will be available for purchase. The total price is $47.50 per ticket.

    At the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church shows, tickets range from $10 to $30. The performances will take place outside unless it rains.

    Tickets for the performances can be bought at sweetteashakespeare.com/into-the-woods-fayetteville-nc-events/.

  • BLBBC 2021 ST paddys Spring has arrived. It is time to bid a fond farewell to the gray days of winter and welcome the tease of summer, which is just around the corner. The longer days and warmer weather invite a sense of fun, and Bright Light Brewing Company has plans to help Fayetteville kickoff springtime in the "Can-Do City."

    BLBC, a fixture on the downtown scene over the past five years, is hosting its annual St. Paddy's Day at Bright Light on March 19 from 4 to 11 p.m.
    Considered a "nano-brewery," BLBC is veteran-owned and opened its taproom doors on Russell St. in 2017. The company has now expanded to include a brewhouse located at 304 Williams St., a mere two blocks away.

    St. Paddy's Day at Bright Light boasts no shortage of games, good food and fun. Rainbows, shamrocks and likely more than a few shenanigans as any non-believers in attendance try not to get pinched. There will be a little something for everyone.

    "It's going to be so much fun," Oliva Caughey, event manager at BLBC, said, struggling to explain a game ominously called the "Shamrock Shuffle" without laughing.
    BLBC's St. Paddy's event will have a curated list of activities tailored to its patrons and community, from the whimsical to the more daring.

    Feel like channeling your St. Paddy's Day free spirit with a bit of body art? BLBC has got you covered. Free face painting will be available on-site from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. After that time, patrons are welcome to have their faces painted, but at their own cost.

    Attendees can also try their hand at some ax-throwing hosted by Axes and X's, another local company.

    From 4 to 9 p.m., guests can enjoy the savory comfort of the Rollin' Rust Belt Food Truck. Their Great Lakes-inspired menu "will definitely fill you up, and it goes really well with a pint or two," according to their website.

    A "pint or two" won't be an issue at BLBC. With an impressive rotation of in-house beer and at least fifteen on tap, festivalgoers can look forward to a St. Patrick's Day celebration staple- green beer, at $4 a pint.
    Fayetteville musician Crow Kozak, popular at the taproom, will entertain the merry crowd from 7 to 10 p.m. "We try to do as many local musicians in rotation as possible," Caughey said, expressing the company's dedication to supporting local talent and businesses.

    And ultimately, Caughey explains, that's what this event is all about.
    It's about appreciation and the collective uplifting of an industry hard-hit by events of the last two years.

    "We want to bring the community together and support small businesses," Caughey continued. "Especially during the pandemic, it's more important than ever."

    St. Paddy's at Bright Light will be held at the BLBC taproom at 444 W. Russell St.
    For more information, visit brighlightbrew.com/events.

  • 3-19-14-methodist.gifJazz music is a national treasure. Along with musical theater, it is one of the rare true American art forms with roots dating back to the early 20th century. Its impact has shaped the modern world of music and has influenced a myriad of musicians to pick up instruments and learn to play the wonderful art that is music. With music legends like John Coltrane, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and the great Duke Ellington, it is easy to see the mark that jazz music has made not only on our country, but the world over.

    Join Methodist University as it hosts its annual Jazz Festival. This free event is scheduled for March 22, at the Huff Auditorium on the campus of Methodist University. To make it as convenient as possible for the general public, it will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with a break for lunch. The point of this festival is to share jazz with those who may have an interest, a curiosity or who may have never considered it before. It is also a time to focus and exhibit the talents of musicians who are already proficient in the discipline of jazz music.

    The day will begin with Methodist University instructor Skip Walker conducting a workshop entitled “Thinking Jazz” in which he will discuss what it takes to think and play improvised music. A number of classes including those involving performance-based discussion are scheduled, too. Following lunch, the Methodist University Jazz Orchestra, with guest performer Mike Wallace will perform.

    Methodist University’s Director of Band, Dr. Daniel McCloud says that this festival is important because the art of jazz music is dissipating in American culture. He discussed why he believes this to be so.

    “I think that the single biggest factor for jazz losing its appeal is that jazz musicians simply don’t make as much as they used to. Maybe it’s because people are afraid of improvising music or playing with someone who has more experience,” he said.

    McCloud went on to say that he feels North Carolina has a special relationship with jazz music given artists like North Carolina native John Coltrane. In addition, Branford Marsalis was an instructor at North Carolina Central University. McCloud also stated that fewer and fewer public high schools in the state offer classes in jazz.

    Having received his bachelor’s and doctorate degree from Ball State University as well as master’s from University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Dr. McCloud is a percussionist with 14 years of experience in higher education. He comes to Fayetteville to serve Methodist University with professional experience in music. Join Methodist University in this free event to promote awareness of jazz music. With a half day of amazing performers and classes, the Jazz Festival is a great opportunity to begin a new hobby and learn about a true American art form. For more information, call Dr. Daniel McCloud at 910.630.7673.

    Photo: Join Methodist University as it hosts the annual Jazz Festival.

  • Fay Eats Header 1 The Fayetteville Marksmen hockey organization will be holding a food festival on March 19 at the Crown Coliseum. The festival, which will showcase both local and chain restaurant vendors, will take place the afternoon before the Marksmen face the Birmingham Bulls.

    According to Zach Ruettgers, an intern working with the Marksmen, 18 vendors are currently lined up to provide food for the event, including but not limited to Dorothy's Catering, Carrabbas Italian Grill, Gaston Brewing Company and El Cazador Mexican Restaurant.

    "This is our first year putting on an event like this. Fayetteville Eats is designed to marry two of the most exciting elements of the Fayetteville community: its wonderful cuisine and Marksmen hockey," he said.

    The vendors will be setting up sampling tables, and participants can roam the vendor's offerings and enjoy sample size bites of their food. The idea behind the festival was to create the "ultimate tailgate experience," and to help create that atmosphere, organizers will have games set up for attendees, and drinks will be available throughout the event.

    Fayetteville Eats is open to all ages. Admission to the game is included in the price of a ticket to the festival.

    The Marksmen are offering two different ticket packages for the festival. The "general admission" package costs $30 in advance, $35 on the day of, and includes entry to the festival beginning at 3:30 p.m. Ticket holders have access to unlimited sampling with the vendors. With the general admission package, festival-goers will receive an endzone ticket to the Marksman game starting at 6:30 p.m.

    In addition to the unlimited food sampling, VIP ticket holders will be able to take advantage of complimentary soft drinks and water during the festival. The VIP package allows for early access into the festival at 3 p.m. and costs $45 in advance, $50 on the day of the event. VIPs will receive a center ice ticket for the game and a Marksman shot glass.

    "This is a food festival featuring some of the best food and drinks that Fayetteville has to offer, followed by a Marksman hockey game," said Ruettgers.
    The event will also feature music by a local performer. Michael Daughtry, a North Carolina singer and songwriter, will perform during the festival. Daughtry has opened for acts like Jimmy Buffet, and is a local Fayetteville favorite.

    Tickets can be found at https://marksmenhockey.com/fayettevilleeats/.

  • IMG 0854The Gilbert Theater, "Theater with a Pulse," brings "Othello," a tale of love, envy, betrayal and race to its stage from March 25 to April 10.

    The Gilbert is an award-winning community theater located in the heart of downtown Fayetteville, founded in 1994 by Lynn Pryer. Now in its 28th season, the theater prides itself on bringing a diverse selection of topics, tastes and artistic styles to the stage.

    "Othello" tells the story of Venetian general Othello, a nobleman of Black Moorish descent. Othello struggles to hold on to his reputation, his secret marriage to Desdemona and his military career at the hands of Iago, a scheming, lower-ranked soldier driven by jealousy.

    Written around 1604, Othello tackles themes that co-directors Lawrence Carlisle III and Montgomery Sutton believe still resonates with audiences today.

    "This play is about something that at its heart is universal," said Carlisle, who is also artistic director at the Gilbert Theater.

    While the idea of Shakespeare may seem intimidating for some, Sutton's adaptation is designed to be accessible, bridging the gulf between classical works like Shakespeare and modern-day audiences.
    The production will be modern, with the characters dressed in everyday clothing. Sutton wants the characters to be "incredibly recognizable" to the people in the audience.
    The play will unfold as a "psychological thriller," with the run time cut to 90 minutes and one intermission.

    "We've taken fine-grit sandpaper to this play and made it smooth and aerodynamic."

    "The goal," Sutton explains, "is to tell a story simply and clearly," Carlisle echoes the sentiment, expressing his deep appreciation for this play. He feels it is one of Shakespeare's "most focused and straightforward works."

    "We've trimmed a lot of fat off the language," Sutton explains. "It's still rich; it's still heightened; it's still Shakespeare, but with nothing extraneous."

    Ultimately, Carlisle and Sutton want theatergoers to feel connected. Engagement is a word that comes up a lot when speaking about the play's production and their hopes for the audience.

    "I want people to walk away really connecting with questions the play asks about human nature, what it means to be a villain, and what culpability we have for our actions," Sutton said. "Come ready to have your assumptions challenged."

    Carlisle invites the audience to come and truly experience theater, stating that "live theater is a much more visceral experience than other forms of entertainment."

    "I want people to come to enjoy live theater, enjoy the show, and come away with more appreciation for Shakespeare," Carlisle said. “If you don't like Shakespeare or feel you don't understand Shakespeare — this is the show to see."

    While online ticket purchases are recommended, the box office will be open one and a half hours prior to the show's start.

    General admission tickets are $18; discount tickets for first responders, military, students, and seniors are also available. Tickets can be purchased at www.gilberttheater.com. For more information, call 910- 678-7186.

  • 5158487 04 gobs of guns banquet for the f 640The Cape Fear Friends of NRA will celebrate their 30th anniversary with their Annual Banquet and Auction next week.

    Cape Fear Friends of NRA connects with the national Friends of NRA program which has raised over one billion dollars for the National Rifle Association of America Foundation. That foundation has funded over 56,000 grants in connection to the support of shooting sports. Each year, the local non-profit organization uses 100% of the money raised at the Annual Banquet and Auction event to support local shooting sports and award grants for firearm safety programs.

    Tony Forte, the Chairmen of the CFFNRA committee, said their organization has helped several local organizations, and one of their significant commitments is gun safety and gun education programs.
    Those programs include 4-H, the scouts, sharpshooter clubs and Fayetteville's Operation Ceasefire.

    "The firearms community is growing fast. Over 13 million guns were sold in the United States last year; five million of them are new shooters. That's part of the audience we're trying to reach out to," Forte said. "Education safety is key."

    The Friends of NRA national organization has raised over a billion dollars for education, specifically for kids. $150,000 has been raised locally over the past six years.

    The banquet event is a family-friendly affair with some educational programs, but mainly it's for people to come together and learn about what the Cape Fear Friends of NRA does. They will also be hosting raffles and auctions. The auction items will include firearms, sporting goods, equipment, ammunition and artwork.

    Forte says that they expect well over 200 people to be at the event. He says this may be the best year so far. He hopes to raise at least $25,000 by the end of the event.

    "Our next real milestone would be to double that. We're going to try to do it incrementally," Forte said. 'So $25,000, that's where we've been comfortable in good times and bad."

    Looking towards the future, Forte says they would like to plan an event or help co-sponsor a women's target event in the fall.

    "Women are dominating the shooting sports now," Forte said. "There's no reason anyone has an advantage over another person other than something they have: vision, motor coordination and motor skills. Men and women are equal on the playing field in shooting sports. As women discovered, shooting sports today are really changing our world, and it's really exciting to see."

    The Annual Banquet and Auction will be held on March 24 at Paradise Acres of Grays Creek, located at 1965 John McMillan Road, in Hope Mills. The banquet will kick off at 6 p.m. Ticket prices are $45 for singles and $80 for doubles. Tickets can be purchased online at www.friendsofnra.org/eventtickets/Events/Details/34?eventId=58633.

  • 01 Cover

  • labour2017Residents in Fayetteville and the region have the unique opportunity to experience an uncommon type of artform by visual artist Marcela Casals — a performance work titled in-bitween. Casals, who lived in Fayetteville for many years and now resides in the New York City area, was invited to participate in the 2021-2022 Fine Art Series at Fayetteville State University in the Department of Performing and Fine Arts.

    Before Marcela Casals decided to complete a degree in sculpture and ceramics at FSU, she was a well-known actor and director at the Gilbert Theatre in Fayetteville. By 2017 Casals had completed the visual art degree in sculpture and ceramics at FSU, a Post Baccalaureate degree at the Maryland Institute College of Art, and a Master of Fine Arts at the School of Arts in New York. After graduation, she remained in New York as a performance artist.

    Casals has created an immersive sculpture installation in Rosenthal Gallery to perform in-bitween on two different days: March 18th and 19th. The event is free and a reception to meet the artist will follow the March 19th performance from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Ellington White Contemporary Gallery on Gillespie Street in downtown Fayetteville.

    Before leaving Fayetteville, Casals was invited to create a sculpture installation in the west gallery at the Arts Council of Fayetteville in 2013. The paper and fabric used in the installation titled woodforeststream became her signature materials. From descending sculptural forms to sculptural projections, Casals utilizes neutral and/or black/white paper or fabric to express content. Using easily accessible materials Casals inspires meaning from a minimal approach in her performances and accumulation as mass in her sculptures.

    in-bitween, reveals Casals’ underlying preoccupation with the characteristics of opposites: restraint and gravity, limitation and abundance, weight and weightlessness, culture and nonculture, lastly, language and the voiceless. After the performance, the immersive sculpture installation remains in place until April 8, 2022, for visitors to Rosenthal Gallery to experience — the video recording of in-bitween will play on a large monitor.

    In talking about the content for in-bitween Casals shared her experiences with language as “innate and foreign, a bridge and a barrier. After arriving with my parents in NYC from Buenos Aires at the age of nine, not speaking a word of English … in a years’ time I spoke it fluently. Time passed and I only spoke Spanish with my parents. By the time of my adulthood, my parents returned to Argentina and visited me regularly in the United States. Visiting them regularly, I noticed my mother language was stunted. When my parents passed and not having spoken Spanish for two years, I came to experience a sense of loss. I was no longer from my birthplace and not 100% from where I grew up…my experience with language, that everyday sound defines this middle space I inhabit: not from there, not from here, in-bitween.”

    Visitors to in-bitween performance do not need to know Casals' idea behind the sculpture and performance, they can experience whatever their sensibilities respond to during the event. Knowing the artist’s intent before visiting the gallery could give visitors insight and perhaps influence a new and surprisingly pleasing experience.

    Visitors do not have to stay the entire time of the performance; they can quietly come and go during either of the performances. The five-hour March 19th performance is durational. Instead of performing for the complete five hours, the artist will take short breaks, then re-enter the performance.

    A master class is scheduled for the art students — the public is welcome to attend. The artist will briefly talk about the history of performance art and how theatre and being a trained studio artist has influenced her style.

    Instead of the master class, visitors can go to this YouTube link prior to coming to the gallery for in-bitween: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsO9K3twk3E

    As an actor, Casals has a long list of memorable theater performances over the years. Since becoming a visual artist, her list of achievements continues to grow. While an art student in 2011, Casals was one of the artists who participated in the “500 Hands” North Carolina Veterans Park, in Fayetteville, NC. Like the other artists, Casals was assigned and traveled to 12 counties in North Carolina to cast the hands of veterans and their supporters for Veterans Park.

    Some of her installations and performances includes the following: “Intrusion” Installation, Projecto áce, Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2013; “Is That A Gun In Your Pocket” Studio 10, Brooklyn NY Performance, 2017; “Labour” Performance/Installation — SVA Open Studios, 2017; and 2020 “Parabola-Parable” Language-Mother Tongue, The Immigrant Artists Biennial, NYC Performance.

  • pagan games Arnette Park will play host to the second Fayetteville Pagan Games, held March 12 and beginning at 11 a.m. The Pagan Games celebrate the Pagan communities in Fayetteville, Fort Bragg and the surrounding areas. This year, the games are Norse-themed, with different events focused on Norse mythology.

    “There is a large Norse Pagan community here in Fayetteville and Fort Bragg, and I knew this theme would drum up a bit more attention. It’s not Norse Pagan exclusive; anyone can jump in,” said Danny Hirajeta, the organizer of the event.

    Hirajeta explains that the Pagan Games is a way for different groups to come together. Hirajeta has been a practicing Pagan for over 20 years, but when he came to Fayetteville, he felt a disconnect between the different Pagan groups.

    “I used to have to drive up to three hours toward the coast because that was the only way I was going to be able to interact with pagans, and I thought, we should have something like [the Games] in Fayetteville,” he said.

    The first Fayetteville Pagan Games held in 2020 were Greek-themed, and Hirajeta enjoyed hosting the festivities. Initially, the idea was to center the games around the Pagan holiday Imbolc, traditionally in February. Imbolc is the celebration of the return of spring, a time when people begin to focus on new plans and a time when the earth starts to warm back up. However, the weather last time didn’t quite cooperate. The event will be held a month later than the holiday this year to ensure warmer weather.

    “We decided to push the games forward because last time it was incredibly cold and incredibly wet and a little miserable. People were falling in the mud, and everyone did think it was hilarious, but it was pretty cold. So, we decided to push it out almost a month to hopefully not have it be that way,” said Hirajeta.

    The games are a mix of physical challenges, luck-based games, skills and relays. The day will begin with an opening ceremony followed by a game called “Well of Mimir.” Runes will be placed in the bottom of a water-filled tub, and participants will be shown a rune symbol they’ll have to look for in the bottom of the tub.

    The poetry contest is a highlight of the Pagan Games along with a relay race conducted in cardboard Viking longboats. The day finishes with “Blind Archery,” based on the story of Baldr, a god thought to be indestructible. Baldr met his end when killed by Loki, an archer named Hodr the Blind and an arrow with mistletoe. Participants will blindly shoot three arrows at targets with Baldr’s image at the center. A spotter will play the part of Loki and help the blind archers find the target.

    “All of the games represent Norse mythology or stories or history. It gives the game meaning, so we aren’t just doing whatever. We have something to attach it to,” said Hirajeta.
    The general public is invited to watch the Pagan Games. Those who wish to participate can find tickets and game information at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/fayetteville-pagan-games-2022-tickets-220298226927.

    Tickets to participate cost $8 in advance and $10 at the event. There will be three prize bundles and an overall champion prize bundle, with items donated from local Fayetteville stores, including Pressed NC, Garnet Skull, and Moon Garden Apothecary. The event is for anyone 18 and over.

  • Dirtbag St Paddys Before you get after your green beer, you can get your workout in on Saturday, March 12, at Dirtbag Ales. Rogue Alpha Athletics is co-hosting the third, not consecutive, because of the pandemic, St. Paddy’s Day Beer Mile and Keg Toss.

    “Participants can run, jog, walk, crawl the one mile-ish course and enjoy four ten-ounce beer straight from Dirtbag Ales onsite brewery,” according to event organizers.

    Organizers ask that all participants be sure they are checked in at noon, as the event kicks off at 12:15 p.m. Sign up is $40 plus a nominal processing fee. The event is costume and dog friendly, and there will be prizes. To purchase tickets, visit runsignup.com/Race/NC/HopeMills/UglySweaterBeerMileDirtbagAles.

    If running a mile is not your forte, fear not, Dirtbag has got you covered for the entire day. After the Beer Mile, at 12:30 p.m., music for the day will begin with a live performance by the Stone Dolls, a Southern Pines-based band.

    “They’re a fantastic trio that comes out here and plays,” explained Shannon Loper, operations manager and event and marketing coordinator for Dirtbag Ales.

    The Stone Dolls will finish their set around 4:30 p.m. At 6 p.m., the ’80s Unleashed will be on the scene and playing until 10 p.m. At this time, a Raleigh DJ, Chris Domingo, will be onsite for the Dirty Whiskey Craft Cocktail Bar will take over for the St. Paddy’s after-party.

    Need some green beer? Not to worry, Dirtbag’s Weiner Smash will be all dressed in green, but the green Weiner Smash will be a one-day-only opportunity; the brewery dresses its pints in green to order. The event will mark the annual release of Dirtbag Ales El Dorado Red, a red India pale ale, and a special small-batch brew in the Erin Go Bragh spirit, Dropkick Stout.

    As described by Loper, Weiner Smash is a Belgian blonde, “single-malt, single-hop, super basic and very light in color.” However, Weiner Smash will be markedly green for this occasion. Dirty Whiskey Craft Cocktail Bar will also be sporting a special St. Paddy’s cocktail menu with the ever-popular Irish Car Bomb made using Dirtbag Ales Cold-Brew Mocha Porter.

    Food options onsite for the event will be showing up strong as well. Napkins will be offering an Irish feature to compliment the festivities; resident food truck the Redneck BBQ Lab will be on site. In addition to the Dirtbag Ales fixtures, R Burger – Up & Coming Weekly’s 2021 Best of Fayetteville Best Food Truck — the Grazing Buffalo, Baja Dogs, Alamo Snow and from Raleigh, Beefy Buns, will all be on hand to feed the crowd. Daytime festivities are, like most Dirtbag Ales events, family-oriented. There will be face painting on offer.

    Loper said that the people make the event stand out for her each year.

    “I love the energy of the crowd. I love how everybody is excited to be out here. Everybody is here just to have a good time. I enjoy the atmosphere. The energy that comes from people that are just excited to be out here for St. Patrick’s Day,” Loper said.

  • FSO BR Is this just fantasy, or is the Fayetteville Symphony playing Queen? One of the most anticipated concerts of the year is back with the FSO's "Bohemian Rhapsody" concert.

    Anna Meyer, community engagement manager for the FSO, told Up & Coming Weekly that this performance's theme has been in the works for a while. She explained that this program was initially scheduled for the 2019-2020 season, but COVID-19 canceled it.

    "We've really been waiting for this," Meyer said. "We like to have concerts that incorporate popular music that people recognize and can kind of sing-along. I think we like to do that just so people feel a little bit more involved in a concert they know."

    The FSO will be performing four classical pieces that break the stereotype of symphony music. These pieces were created with the idea that you dance and enjoy yourself. And as the title of the concert suggests, the performance of FSO's symphonic rendition of "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen will be included.

    The principal cellist during this event is local cellist Nathan Leyland. He will help conclude the evening with a performance of Antonin Dvorak's "Cello Concerto." This concerto is often noted as one of Dvorak's greatest concertos of all time. The concerto highlights a mix of folk music with the classical range of the cello.

    For Leyland, this concerto has a special place in his heart. The first symphony concert he attended was the Lynchburg Symphony Orchestra in Virginia. During that concert, Steven Honigberg, a cellist and member of the National Symphony Orchestra, performed the "Cello Concerto."

    "I was in fifth grade and had just started playing the cello. I was selected to perform in a masterclass with Mr. Honigberg, and the next day we were invited to watch him play with the orchestra," Leyland said. "It's pretty wild to think that 36 years later, I am getting ready to perform this great work with my friends and colleagues in FSO."

    The symphony will be returning to the Seabrook Auditorium at Fayetteville State University for the first time since the pandemic started. The bigger auditorium means that more people will be able to attend this concert. The previous concerts for the 2022 season have been performed for around 100 people. Because of the location, this concert will be able to entertain an audience of more than 700.

    Meyer says that they have sold more tickets for this performance as well.

    The concert will take place at 7:30 p.m. on March 12. Tickets can be purchased online at https://ci.ovationtix.com/36404/production/1075555 or over the phone at 910-433-3690. The ticket price ranges from $5 to $25. The total concert run time will be an hour and 20 minutes.


  • 12 01 NakeyraMcAllisterNakeyra McAllister

    Seventy-First • Basketball • Junior

    McAllister has a 4.0 grade point average. She is active in the Student Government Association and the concert band.



    12 02 AyannaAyannna Williams

    Seventy-First • Basketball/volleyball • Sophomore

    Williams has a 4.1 grade point average. She averaged 10.9 points and 6.6 rebounds. She made 31 3-point field goals and helped the Falcons to a 19-9 record last season.

  • 09 01 The DinerIt’s said in comedy, timing is everything. It’s also important in the restaurant business, and Glenn Garner has run into a challenging timing problem in Hope Mills as he tries to relocate his popular downtown eatery, The Diner, to a more spacious location.

    For the last three months, Garner, who goes by the professional name of Chef Glenn, has been looking to move his South Main Street business in the old Becky’s Cafe to the recently-vacated Buckhead Steakhouse on Camden Road.

    Garner plans to keep the old location, closing it temporarily once he completes the move to the new location and later reopening it with a different theme.
    10 diner interior
    But the arrival of COVID-19 and all the headaches it has created has slowed his plans for getting things started at the new home of The Diner.

    “We are still pushing for that April 6 date,’’ he said, referring to when he had originally planned to roll out his new business location. As of the writing of this article, North Carolina restaurants were shuttered by order of the governor save for takeout business.

    Garner, who operates two food trucks through his other business, A Catered Affair, has both trucks currently in operation, one at the original location of The Diner and the other at the new location. The kitchen at the original location is also open for takeout orders only.

    Garner said it’s looking more and more like the planned April 6 opening won’t take place, so he’ll continue with the takeout options via the food trucks and the kitchen at the Main Street business. He won’t start takeout at the new location, preferring to roll out the new business with its 1950s decor, only when he can open to regular customers.
    The main reason he decided to relocate The Diner was to grow the business, he said. The old building had room for only 32 customers. At the new location, he’s got 200 seats and will have ABC permits that allow him to stay open as late as 10 or 11 p.m. and serve a full line of adult beverages.

    While the current location of The Diner emphasizes what Garner calls Southern comfort food, the menu at the new place will be expanded.

    “I can do steak,’’ he said. “I can do pasta dishes. I can do French-style cooking, a lot of sauces, upscale dining at a fair price.’’

    Like many small, local businesses, the current pandemic is hurting him and his small staff of employees in the pocketbook. “I’ve got employees that need to work and they’ve got families they need to feed,’’ Garner said.

    That’s why he’s cranked up the food trucks to daily business for now. He’s open from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. at both his locations, but he’ll stay as late as he’s got customers. At the Camden Road location they recently were still serving as late as 9 p.m. he said.

    “I love the community and I appreciate everything they’ve done to support me and help me get to this point,’’ he said. “I hope they continue to support me.’’

  • CCKVN0417001

  • In the midst of the ongoing bad news 2020 has generated during the battle with the COVID-19 virus, basketball coaches Dee Hardy of the E.E. Smith girls and George Stackhouse of the Westover boys got a bit of good news recently when the North Carolina Basketball Coaches Association announced its All-State teams.

    Hardy and Smith got a double dose of recognition as she was named the NCBCA’s girls basketball coach of the year while freshman Miya Giles-Jones made the All-State third team chosen by the coaches.

    For Stackhouse, the news was that Westover junior D’Marco Dunn was picked to the All-State second team for the boys.

    Hardy led the Smith girls to a 31-1 record and a still pending state 3-A championship game matchup with Southeast Guilford.

    The Westover boys are a perfect 30-0 and are also on hold as the North Carolina High School Athletic Association has suspended all sports competition until mid-May because of COVID-19, with Westover awaiting a championship matchup against Morganton Freedom for the 3-A title.

    Neither Hardy nor Stackhouse were surprised that their players were chosen for All-State recognition by their fellow coaches.

    A 5-foot-10 guard, Giles-Jones was a versatile player for the Smith girls, averaging 13.4 points and 10.3 rebounds. Dunn, a 6-foot-4 junior guard, was the leading scorer among boys from the Cumberland County Schools with 20.8 points per game and 7.3 rebounds. He also led in 3-point baskets with 70.

    Hardy said Giles-Jones had several double-doubles during the season and was able to do anything on the court that Hardy asked her to do. “She rebounds well and is strong, puts it back up,’’ Hardy said. “She could also handle the ball well.

    “We could take her and move her to face the basket as well as post her up, depending on who was guarding her.’’

    Stackhouse said Dunn was an efficient player, adding that his scoring and rebounding totals didn’t tell the full story about his ability. “He put up a lot of those numbers in three quarters,’’ Stackhouse said, noting that Dunn frequently went to the bench in the fourth quarter of games the Wolverines had already wrapped up.

    “I think he had 38 points in one game this year and only put up 15 or 16 shots,’’ Stackhouse said. “He shot maybe 50% from three-point in conference games. He just did a lot of things to help us win. To be that good, he had to put in a lot of work.’’

    The last few weeks have been difficult ones for Hardy, Stackhouse and their players. It has been some weeks since the NCHSAA announced this year’s state basketball championship games would be placed on hold as the entire country is dealing with the fallout from COVID-19.

    Both Hardy and Stackhouse are hopeful that the championship games will eventually be played, but the prospects are looking grimmer as the days pass.

    Last week, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced that the state’s public schools would remain closed at least until May 15. Shortly after that announcement, NCHSAA commissioner Que Tucker said the association would extend its hold on all high school athletic competition and practice by its member schools until at least May 18. She added that it was becoming increasingly unlikely that the NCHSAA will be able to hold spring sports this year.

    In an earlier teleconference with statewide media, Tucker said that the NCHSAA would not extend the spring sports season into the summer months because of commitments many high school athletes had with summer sports camps and other obligations.

    The state championship basketball games that Westover and Smith are hoping to play are an entirely different matter. Tucker indicated that the state would be able to play those in a much shorter period of time, possibly allowing the competing teams five days or so to return to practice, then finding them a venue where they could play.
    But as much as they’d like to play a title game, both Hardy and Stackhouse had doubts what kind of title game it would be with only five days to prepare.

    “I don’t know how realistic it is to take such a long time off and then come back in five days,’’ Stackhouse said. “That kind of feels like disrespect for your game. That would be like having a championship game after the first week of practice. The level of play and the level of conditioning wouldn’t be the same.’’

    Hardy said her present focus has had little to do with thinking about playing a championship game and more about concern for the safety of her players, making sure they are avoiding becoming infected by COVID-19 and making sure they have enough to eat during the shutdown.

    “It makes everything else seem so small as far as facing adversity,’’ she said. “It’s hard to keep that focus and that intensity.’’

    Although she’s had contact with her players, Hardy said she doesn’t know if they are exercising or what they may be doing to stay in anything close to
    game shape.

    She said she had made phone calls to her players, but the subject was academics, not basketball. “I don’t want them to lose anything as far as the academic piece,’’ she said. “For me it’s a little bigger than athletics. My concern was are they going to complete their packets, their online work, for school.’’

    While the teams left to play in the finals of the basketball titles have won Eastern and Western titles this season, no decision has been made on what they’ll awarded if the title game isn’t played.

    There was a time when the NCHSAA ended state playoffs in football with Eastern and Western winners. If the title game can’t be played this year, Hardy knows what she would prefer.

    “I’d rather see it as co-champions,’’ she said.

  • 08 jackie warnerHope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner said the town remains open for business for the most part, but like everyone else, she is adjusting to the safety restrictions put in place statewide and nationwide in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    All official town commission and committee meetings have been canceled through April 6, including the next scheduled meeting of the Board of Commissioners. Essential personnel of the town remain on duty at Town Hall and the police, fire and pubic works departments, but with some limitations to prevent direct interaction with too many people.

    Except for the front door, Town Hall is closed, and when people enter the building, they will interact with town staff from behind a glass enclosure.

    The front office is open at the police department for people who have to go inside.

    One of Warner’s biggest concerns during the pandemic is the large number of local restaurants that are closed to everything but takeout service to prevent the spread of COVID-19. She’s particularly concerned for restaurants that traditionally don’t do takeout service, adding she’s noted a serious decline in their business even though they are advertising that they’re open for takeout only.

    “The lights are on but I see very few cars,’’ she said, referring to one such business. She noted some businesses are trying to stay viable by using social media to advertise they are open. The problem, she thinks, is many Hope Mills residents don’t have access to social media for whatever reason.

    One local concern is that, initially, too many people were congregating at Hope Mills Lake when the shutdown for COVID-19 first began. Warner said there are still a lot of people going to the lake, and she is hopeful most of them are observing social distancing. The one popular business located on lake property, Big T’s, has barred customers from using the picnic tables beneath its shelter and is now allowing customers to come and order but not stay on the grounds.

    Warner hopes the community will continue to support charitable causes locally that benefit the area’s disadvantaged, especially the elderly and school children, the latter having lost access to school lunches since all schools are closed for the foreseeable future.

    She is especially concerned about ongoing donations to the ALMS HOUSE in Hope Mills, which supports a program that provides regular lunches for children in need of food.

    “The people that make donations to them aren’t in church,’’ Warner said. “They are also missing the churches that collect at the church and take it to the ALMS HOUSE.’’
    Warner also expressed concern for senior citizens who are in local retirement and assisted living facilities who are currently denied visitors because of the lockdown.
    “You need to take stuff to the door and drop it off,’’ she said.

    Warner said the biggest item on the town agenda moving forward is preparation of the budget for the new fiscal year. It would normally be presented to the community in early June.

    Work is continuing on the budget, she said, with some members of town staff involved able to work from home. She said the town may need to figure a way it can present the budget to the community either by a live Facebook feed or by recording the meeting as usual and posting it online as soon as possible.

    Warner said citizens can keep up with the most current info at the town website, www.townofhopemills.com, the Facebook page at Town of Hope Mills Administration or by calling Town Hall at 910-424-4555.

  • WVMarch2017 cover

  • 20 01 Nyla CooperHere are the Patriot Athletic All-Conference basketball teams for boys and girls as chosen by the league’s head coaches:
    Player of the year
    Faith Francis, Westover
    Coach of the year
    Michael Ferguson, Westover
    First team
    Montasia Jones, Pine Forest
    Dai’ja Robinson, Douglas Byrd
    Mia Ayres, South ViewMiya Giles-Jones, E.E. Smith
    Ni’jaa Wells, Gray’s Creek
    Second t20 02 Kaya Goldsbyeam
    Skylar White, Cape Fear
    Ke’Onna Bryant, E.E. Smith
    Harmony Martin, Westover
    Morgan Brady, Gray’s Creek
    Maaika Dones, Overhills
    Kendall Macauley, E.E. Smith
    Honorable mention
    E.E. Smith - Amiah Savage, Tamia Morris
    South View - Tashyria McNeill
    Westover - 20 03 Langston DavisMaria Wiley
    Cape Fear - Ania McLaughlin
    Douglas Byrd - Sierra Glover, Tamia Brantley

     Player of the year
     D’Marco Dunn, Westover
     Coach of the year
     George 20 04 Quiones ClaytonStackhouse, Westover
     First team
    Treymane Parker, Cape Fear
    Traymond Willis-Shaw, Westover
    Davis Molnar, Terry Sanford
    Marquail James, Cape Fear
    Isaiah Washington, Pine Forest
    Second team
    Marquis Eskew, Pine Forest
    Zachary Lowery, Overhills
    Darius Jewel, Westover
    Jase Ford, Overhills
    Tristan Harkins, Pine Forest
    Yates Johnson, Terry Sanford
    Hon20 06 traymond willis shaworable mention
    South View - Cedavion Wimbley, Aiden McLaurin
    Westover - Isaiah Bridges
    Cape Fear - R.J. McDonald
    Terry Sanford - Ky’Ron Kelly
    E.E. Smith - Jayden Siermons
    Douglas Byrd - Donnell Melvin, Shawn Jones.

    Here are the Sandhills Athletic All-Conference basketball teams for girls and boys as chosen by the league’s head coaches:

    GIRL20 07 Faith FrancisS
    Player of the year
    Kylie Chavis, Purnell Swett
    Coach of the year
    Nattlie McArthur, Jack Britt
    First team
    Nyla Cooper, Jack Britt
    Kaya Goldsby, Jack Britt
    Ashara Hayes, Jack Britt
    Amore Kirkland, Seventy-First
    Nyielah Nick, Seventy-First
    Natalie Evington, Purnell Swett
    Jada Coward, Purnell Swett
    Keayna McLaughlin, Pinecrest
    Keionnna Love, Richmond Senior
    August Smith, Lumberton
    Asjah Swindell, Scotland
    Wynashia Bratcher, Hoke County
    Jayla McDougald, Richmond Senior
    Ayonn20 08 Miya Giles Jonesa Williams, Seventy-First
    Amber Nealy, Jack Britt
    Player of the year
    Jordan McNeil, Lumberton
    Coach of the year
    Ben Snyder, Pinecrest
    First team
    Bradley Haskell, Pinecrest
    J.J. Goins, Pinecrest
    Jadrion Chatman, Lumberton
    Charlie Miller, Lumberton
    Nygie Stroman, Richmond Senior
    Patrick McLaughlin, Richmond Senior
    Mandrell Johnson, Scotland
    Quinones Clayton, Seventy-First
    Xavice Jones, Purnell Swett
    Ervin Everett, Hoke
    Langston Davis, Jack Britt
    Michael Todd, Lumberton
    Dillon Drennon, Pinecrest
    Garrett McRae, Scotland
    Bruce Wall, Scotland
    Pictured from top to bottom: Nyla Cooper, Kaya Goldsby, Langston Davis, Quiones Clayton, D'Marco Dunn, Traymond Willis-Shaw, Faith Francis, Miya Giles-Jones. Photo of Miya Giles-Jones by Matthew Plyler/MaxPreps
  • 17 yackalackyStephanie Bentley likes the direction Hope Mills is heading in and wants to be a part of the good things going on in the community. That’s a big part of the reason she and her husband Josh are kicking off a new business, Yakalacky Outfitters NC.

    “I have a great passion in making things happen,’’ Bentley said. “I’ve done it before in past businesses. I’m very resourceful and creative. This is going to be a fun thing for the community.’’

    The business she is putting together will roll out over a period of weeks, starting first with a kayak rental business that will be based in a mobile format to take the kayaks down to Hope Mills Lake.

    Her physical business address, which likely won’t be open until mid-April at the earliest, will be just around the corner from the lake, literally, at 5552 Trade Street in a former paint store.

    The building she plans to occupy has been vacant for nearly two years. She’s in the process of cleaning the building inside and out. Once that’s done, she’ll be able to devote full time to installing kayak racks on the trailer she plans to bring her rental kayaks down to Hope Mills Lake.

    She has set a tentative date of March 28th to have some travel writers and photographers visit the new business and take a tour of the lake. That event is on hold as the current COVID-19 situation may limit the ability of the writers to travel to Hope Mills until a later time.

    But she does plan to crank up the kayak rentals soon, advertising and taking reservations on her company’s Facebook page.

    She is working on pricing plans that will make the rental affordable for people who have no experience using kayaks and just want to try it out. She’s also going to have longer rental times for veteran kayakers at a higher price.

    “It’s definitely going to be affordable,’’ Bentley said. “I want everybody to be able to afford it.’’

    She is hoping to make the Trade Street building more than just a typical store. She wants it to become a place where people can visit, shop and enjoy some time relaxing and socializing.

    “We’ll sell bait, fishing tackle and sundries,’’ she said. “We’ll probably have apparel down the road.’’

    To save money, and prevent the need to keep the building constantly stocked with kayaks she’s purchased to sell, Bentley plans to work out contracts with different distributors of various water sports products and have them come in on a rotating basis to do demonstrations of their products.

    She’s currently negotiating with a company in Texas that makes a unique paddle board with pontoons.

    Bentley also plans to offer loaner rods and reels for fishermen and eventually hopes to be able to sell fishing licenses at the store.

    She hopes to do some landscaping in the store’s back yard and turn it into a place where people can come and relax in the shade during the summer months, possibly even constructing a small pond with koi or goldfish.

    Her primary goal is to offer items that people will want and need when they visit Hope Mills Lake, either as fishermen or kayakers.

    While she’s starting with kayaks, eventually she hopes to offer different types of water craft, including canoes, rowboats and possibly even pedal boats.
    “The pedal boats are very expensive,’’ she said. “When we get that ball rolling the town is going to let us keep them on the water.’’

    Eventually, Bentley hopes to have some kind of storage facility at the lake so she can keep the kayaks there as well and not have to move them back and forth.
    She also plans to offer kayak owners the chance to bring their kayaks to her and let her sell them at the store.

    She’d also like to sell items made by local artists and craftsmen. “I want to give them an outlet inside the store,’’ she said, “help them and help me.’’

  • 03-04-15-elton-john.gifIf royalty has ever visited our fair city, other than the Marquis de LaFayette, for whom the city is named after, we can’t find a record of it. So, it is with great excitement that Cumberland County residents are set to welcome not only a member of the British royalty, but also a member of rock-n-roll royalty: Sir Elton John.

    John is well known, if you don’t know his face, you at least know and probably love at least one of his songs. He is one of the most highly acclaimed artists of all time holding five Grammys, a Grammy Legend Award, a Tony, an Oscar, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriter Hall of Fame, a knighthood from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain and he holds the record for best-selling single of all time — just to name a few of his accomplishments. He has permanently and globally left his mark on music and he is coming to Fayetteville on March 11.

    Sir Elton (as the international press have deemed him) was born in 1947 in Middlesex, England under the name Reginald Kenneth Dwight. He changed his name to Eton Hercules John in 1967. He demonstrated skill on the piano at the incredibly early age of 3 by picking out a popular song by ear. By 11, he had a junior scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music. His childhood was often restrictive, but with the support of his mother and stepfather, he began his music career at 15, playing piano at a local pub on the weekends. This gave him an outlet to play not only popular songs, but also those that he composed himself. His music caught the ear of people in the recording industry, and became a staff writer for Liberty records, routinely composing music for the lyrics written by Bernie Taupin. The pairing of John and Taupin created a beautiful partnership that still produces incredible music.

    John’s first hit that rocketed him into success was “Your Song,” which was released in 1970 on the B-side of “Take Me to the Pilot.” It was extremely popular in the United States and in the United Kingdom, and in 1998, was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Since that very first hit, he has remained in the public’s eye — and ears. Just a few of his other popular works include “Can you Feel the Love Tonight” from The Lion King, Billy Elliot the Musical, ”Candle in the Wind” and “The Road to Eldorado.”

    The March 11 concert is part of the All the Hits Tour. John and his band will perform classic and well-loved album tracks from throughout his career. The band includes incredible musicians familiar to Elton John fans: Davey Johnstone on guitars, mandolin, banjo and vocals. Matt Bissonette on bass guitar and vocals. Kim Bullard is on keyboards. John Mahon is on percussion, drums and vocals. Nigel Olsson is on drums and vocals. This concert is the perfect opportunity for longtime fans to experience all of their favorites and for new fans to experience the height of his entire five-decade career in a single evening.

    Elton John will perform at the Crown Coliseum, located at 1960 Coliseum Dr., on March 11 at 8 p.m. Ticket prices vary, with tickets ranging from $50 to several hundred dollars. Tickets are available at ticketmaster.com or by phone at 800-745-3000 or at the Crown Box Office. The limit is 8 tickets per customer.

    For more information visit http://crowncomplexnc.com/events/elton-john/ or call 910-438-4100.

    Photo: Ever flamboyant, the talented singer/songwriter Sir Elton John is making a stop at the Crown Coliseum on March 11.

  • 19 PittmanMen who coached with him called the late Nathan Pittman one of the smartest people they ever knew, and an assistant football coach who was impossible to fool.
    Pittman, who was part of four championship football teams in Fayetteville, died recently and was recognized during a celebration of life
    service on March 15 at Rogers and Breece Funeral Home.

    A native of Florida, Pittman came to Fayetteville as a young man and held assistant coaching jobs at a variety of local high schools. But it was at Seventy-First and South View high schools where he saw his greatest success in his role as defensive coordinator. He helped lead the 1970 Seventy-First team to the Eastern 3-A title, which was as far as schools could go in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association playoffs at the time.

    He was a part of three state championship teams under head coach Bobby Poss, two at Seventy-First in the 1980s and a third at South View High School in the 1990s.
    After Poss left South View, Pittman ended his coaching career with stops at Terry Sanford and Gray’s Creek high schools.

    Greg Killingsworth played for Pittman his first year at Seventy-First and later hired him to coach at Terry Sanford when Killingsworth was athletic director there.
    “If you were playing Trivial Pursuit, you wanted him on your team,’’ Killingsworth said. “He was the smartest man I ever met.’’

    As for his skills as a football coach, Killingsworth said Pittman was way ahead of the game as a defensive coordinator. “He studied what people did and predicted exactly what they were going to do,’’ Killingsworth said. “You could move the football from the 20 to the 20, but when the field got smaller, his defense always rose to the occasion.’’
    Bernie Poole, who became head basketball coach at Seventy-First, came to the school in 1984 and worked with Pittman as an assistant football coach.

    “He made great adjustments when he watched films,’’ Poole said. “He never wanted to be a head coach. He liked who he worked for and that’s what kept him going.’’
    Poss, who has won more NCHSAA football championships at different schools than any coach in state history, called Pittman a big part of any success he had while coaching at Seventy-First and South View.

    “He was intelligent and he wasn’t one to get snookered,’’ Poss said. “You weren’t going to pull the wool over his eyes, whether you were the backup linebacker or the head coach.’’

    Former Terry Sanford and Gray’s Creek head coach Bill Yeager took Pittman with him when he started the football program at Gray’s Creek.

    “He was as knowledgeable as any football coach I’ve been around, I don’t care what level,’’ Yeager said. “I didn’t have to worry about the defense at all. He ran the defense, from top to bottom.’’

    But Yeager said there was more than Xs and Os with Pittman. “He cared about the young men as far as being good people,’’ Yeager said. “The kids knew he cared about them. That was why they played so hard for him.’’

  • 16 town hallIn response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the town of Hope Mills took swift action to limit the exposure of its citizens to possible infection with the virus.
    At the top of the list of actions was the declaration of a state of emergency by Mayor Jackie Warner that took effect on Monday, March 16.

    The action gave the Hope Mills Police Department authority to deny access to any areas in the town that may be necessary to keep the spread of the virus under control.
    Anyone attempting to gain access to any area that is blocked by the police would be considered guilty of a misdemeanor.

    The town also announced cancellation of all appointed boards, commissions, committees and upcoming special events through Monday, April 6.

    Specific events are listed below:

    All town facility rentals from March 16-April 6 are canceled. No additional reservations will be scheduled during that time period.

    Easter in Hope Mills and Breakfast with the Eastern Bunny on Saturday, April 4, and the free Easter Egg Hunt are canceled.

    Ag Day on Saturday, April 4 is canceled.

    Effective Monday, March 16, the Hope Mills Recreation Center closed for an indefinite period.

    All scheduled Parks and Recreation programs, athletics, activities, trips and open gym times are suspended through April 6. Registration and payment for future programs and activities can be done online at https://secure.rec1.com/NC/hope-mills-N.C.

    Hope Mills Municipal Park, Golfview Greenway and Hope Mills Park open spaces will remain accessible for public use.

    Town Hall and the police department lobby will not be closed. Residents are asked to limit visits to both facilities. Use online forms where possible and mail checks for permits. Those who must come to Town Hall or the police station are asked to call ahead and make an appointment to make sure someone is available to assist you.
    Call 910-424-4555 for Town Hall or 910-425-4103 for the police department.

    Visit http://www.townofhopemills.com/directory.aspx  to find alist of direct extensions.

  • 031815abg_11.gifWith hits like “You Should Be Dancing,” “Jive Talkin’,” “Stayin’ Alive,” “How to Mend a Broken Heart,” and “To Love Somebody,” the Bee Gees dominated the music charts in the 1970s. The group, inducted in to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in 1997, has sold more than 220 million records ranking them among top musical performers of all time, including the Beatles, Elvis and Michael Jackson.

    The Bee Gees, comprised of Australian-born brothers Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb reached a pinnacle with their contributions to Saturday Night Live’s musical score; however, they had a long string of hits prior to that break-out recording. With the death of Maurice, followed by his twin Robin, the group ceased as a performing entity, but their legacy lives on in their music and through the performances of the Bee Gees tribute show, The Australian Bee Gees Show, which comes to the Crown on March 25.

    The second to last performance in the Community Concerts 2014-2015 season, The Australian Bee Gees Show promises a multimedia theatrical experience that celebrates the legacy the Bee Gees left behind and showcases the four decades of the infectious music written by the Gibb brothers. The unsurpassed and state-of-the-art sound, live camera images and vivid graphics will have the audience dancin’ in the aisles.  

    From early favorites like “Massachusetts,” “New York Mining Disaster 1941” and  “To Love Somebody” to later classics like “Stayin’ Alive” and “You Should Be Dancin’,” this show offers a walk down memory lane for Bee Gees fans and a peek in to one of music’s most popular bands.
    Matt Baldoni plays Barry Gibb. He’s been with The Australian Bee Gees show for about three years.

    “When I auditioned for The Australian Bee Gees, I was touring as a sideman with other artists like Melissa Manchester and Taylor Dane. I was in the pit for a lot of shows, too, like Spamalot,” said Baldoni. “Playing Barry Gibb is different from that. It is very challenging. I have grown to be a huge fan of the Bee Gees. I respect them and their contributions to music. It is amazing to be a part of this group. We work hard to nail the authenticity.”

    A musician since the age of 8, Baldoni realized at a young age that to make a living as a musician he would need to be able to do more than play the guitar. So he learned to sing and read music, too.

    “When I was young I thought I would just join a band like Eddie Van Halen and tour the world and play music and write songs and be famous,” Baldoni said. “But for me, the magic is in performing.”

    Since 1935, Community Concerts has delivered the finest in entertainment to Fayetteville. Each year, the all-volunteer organization brings diverse and interesting shows to the community. The big name entertainment is great, but the organization contributes to the community in other ways, too.

    Community Concerts awards college scholarships to promising musicians each year. To date, 24 young students have benefited from this program. Community Concerts also showcases local musicians and performers by providing opportunities for them to open for many of the main acts. Since 2008, the Fayetteville Music Hall of Fame has been a part of the Community Concerts program, honoring people in the community who have brought musical distinction to the area. In 2014, the 82nd Airborne Division’s All American Chorus was inducted into the Fayetteville Music Hall of Fame.

    For tickets and information about The Australian Bee Gees Show, visit  www.community-concerts.com or http://crowncomplexnc.com/events/australian-gee-bees-show. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and takes place in the Crown Theatre.

  • 18 que tuckerFacing some of the most challenging decisions the North Carolina High School Athletic Association has ever had to cope with, Commissioner Que Tucker stressed a positive attitude moving forward as she spoke to statewide media recently about her organization’s reaction to the pandemic caused by COVID-19.

    Despite that upbeat mood, the initial announcements from the NCHSAA office in Chapel Hill were grim for coaches, athletes and high school sports fans.

    Tucker was forced to announce that the state high school basketball championships, which saw Fayetteville’s Westover boys and E.E. Smith girls advance to the state 3-A finals, were postponed indefinitely.

    The entire spring sports season was also put on hold, as were all practices and off-season skill development sessions until at least Monday,
    April 6.

    However, Tucker stressed the April 6 date was flexible and that her staff and members of the NCHSAA Board of Directors would continue to assess the situation in hopes it might be possible to play both the basketball championships and as much of the spring sports season as possible.

    Tucker said the NCHSAA will study the calendar in hopes the situation with COVID-19 improves and see how much of a spring season with championships can be played.
    She said that the spring season will not be extended into the summer months if play can resume in time because playing that late would conflict with graduation exercises and commitments some students may have with college camps.

    If the spring season can be played, Tucker said the NCHSAA would have to work with conferences on coming up with some kind of formula to determine conference champions since all of the games likely could not be played in the time available.

    She suggested they might use a percentage of conference games won, which is how conference standings are determined. She added the MaxPreps national and state rankings, which are used to seed NCHSAA playoff sports, may not be used in this situation.

    As for the basketball championship games, if they are played there are many variables to deal with.

    One would be allowing the teams that qualified for the finals sufficient time to practice and get into shape before playing the games if they can be scheduled. Another problem could be finding venues to play them. Reynolds Coliseum at N.C. State and the Smith Center at the University of North Carolina were supposed to host the championships.
    If those arenas aren’t available, Tucker said the NCHSAA would first turn to other college venues then look at civic arenas.

    It is possible if the games aren’t played that the NCHSAA could declare cochampions or do something it did in football years ago and have Eastern and Western champs with no outright state winner.

    “I always like to lean toward the positive,’’ Tucker said. “I’m going to be hopeful and prayerful that by the time we get to April 6, as we get closer and closer, this situation will be different and maybe we will have some opportunity to look at resuming spring sports.’’

  • 15 01 trade streetAs mayor of Hope Mills, Jackie Warner is always looking for opportunities to spark economic development and downtown revitalization. That’s why she and town finance director Drew Holland recently attended the 40th annual North Carolina Main Street Conference in New Bern.

    The conference was geared toward communities roughly the same size as Hope Mills and looked at creative ways various towns had used to promote interest on the part of visitors that didn’t involve huge expenditures of money.

    15 02 slideWarner and Holland split up during their time at the conference so each could come back with different ideas on revitalization.

    With the news that the historic Trade Street property in Hope Mills has been put up for sale, Warner was particularly interested in things that the town can do to preserve the history there and possibly renovate some of the buildings along the street.

    “We had already brought in somebody that explained you can get tax credits for historical preservation and renovating the building,’’ Warner said of a recent presentation that was put on by the town.

    One of the most interesting presentations Warner attended involved something Hope Mills has already started doing, the addition of art to the downtown

    Ironically, before the presentation started, Warner saw pictures displayed from a town art display in nearby Laurinburg that was the inspiration for Hope Mills’ initial foray into municipal art.

    Warner’s son, Teddy, worked with the town of Laurinburg when it started the idea of buying a lot, clearing it and setting up sculptures. “They were featured in one talk about how that helped economic development,’’ Warner said of the Laurinburg project.

    Hope Mills established an agreement with Adam Walls, who lives in Hope Mills and is an art instructor at UNC-Pembroke, to have his art students provide the town with sculptures.

    Warner noted that the presentation highlighted the success of art in other small North Carolina towns.

    She mentioned the whirligig park in downtown Wilson, which features a variety of tall, colorful wind-driven sculptures.

    Lexington, which is famous for its barbecue, features an assortment of pink pig statues.

    The nearby town of Sanford has become famous for local murals that tell the story of the town.

    “We could use those murals to show what Trade Street was like years ago,’’ Warner said.

    Warner would especially like to do something to bring back the memories of the days when there was a train depot in Hope Mills and trains made regular stops in the town, instead of whizzing through over the downtown bridge as they do today.

    Her desire is to get some kind of grant assistance to create a mural on Trade Street near where the old depot once stood. “We’ve got pictures tied to the railroad when it ran through town behind the old mill,’’ she said.

    There are many other things Warner saw that could bring back an old-time feel to Hope Mills while at the same time bringing the town into the 21st century.

    One thing she saw at the gathering were solar-powered street lights that have a retro look from the 1900s. “Solar lights are very cost effective, and you don’t know it’s a solar light,’’ Warner said.

    She also saw some things in a tour of two New Bern churches that could be used at the Thomas Campbell Oakman Memorial Chapel downtown.

    “They have times of the day when they are open for prayer,’’ Warner said. “I looked at a garden they had done beside one of them. “They also had a hidden restroom facility that we could easily do by our church. It was cost-effective and served a good purpose.’’

    She looked at pavers, bricks and different types of sidewalks. There were also park benches and playgrounds.

    Warner hopes to visit Sanford to take a look at the murals there. She would also like for the Hope Mills Creative Arts Council to visit Washington, N.C., a small North Carolina town that has raised significant money for the arts through various partnerships. “Because we’re a tier one county, there is money available if we go the right route to apply for it, to do some of the things we may want to do,’’ she said.

  • 031815uac031815001.gif From their first princess dress, to their prom dress to their wedding dress, most little girls take delight in dressing up and having a moment in the spotlight. For the past seven years, girls in Cumberland County have had the opportunity to do more than dress up, they have had the opportunity to take a walk down the runway during the American Girl Fashion Show.

    Of course, these girls are getting more than a moment in the spotlight, they are taking the opportunity to help children who have suffered abuse by supporting the work of the Child Advocacy Center. This annual fundraiser for the organization is unique in that each of the models chosen to participate in the fashion show has to help raise money for the organization, so the fashion show actually becomes a lesson in civic participation.

    One, which many of the girls continue throughout their lives.

    Julia Adkins has been working with the American Girl Fashion Show since its inception. Adkins, and her co-chairs, Cindy Williams and Carol Wheeler, were members of the Junior League. The Child Advocacy Center came to the Junior League looking for a grant to help put the show together. The idea intrigued them. The Junior League not only gave them the grant, but the three ladies volunteered to help with the first show. For the past seven years, they have organized the entire event.

    Adkins explained that all three had daughters who were of the age to have American Girl Dolls and to participate in the show. As their daughters aged out of the show, they continued to support it because of the need in the community that the Child Advocacy Center fills.

    Adkins, whose daughter is a freshman at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said that most girls who participate return as long as they can. She noted her daughter was in the show until she was too old to walk the runway, and then she became a commentator.

    “Even now, she is very involved,” said Adkins. “She will call home and ask me what the show schedule is and if we have fittings or anything, she will come home to participate. She will be commenting again this year. A lot of the girls who participate in the show take child abuse and prevention on as a personal platform throughout their lives.”

    But for the little girls who love American Girl Dolls, the fashion show isn’t a serious event. Instead it is a magical afternoon filled with everything they love: their dolls and their families. It’s an elegant afternoon of tea and party food. As in years past, girls are encouraged to bring their dolls with them to the show and shop at the American Girl store for more outfits or maybe let their dolls have a spa day at the beauty parlor.

    And while they marvel at the excitement that surrounds them, they will support children much less fortunate. Last year the show raised $64,000 to help fund the work of the Child Advocacy Center.

    Show times are at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on March 21 and 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. on March 22. Tickets may be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com or in person at the Crown Center Box Office. VIP tickets with seating close to the stage are available. For more information, please visit the CAC website at www.childadvocacycenter.com or call 910-486-9700.

  • 21 01 kevin brewingtonKevin Brewington

    South View • Football/wrestling/track • Senior

    Brewington has a 3.6 grade point average. He recently signed to play college football for Western Carolina University. He was the winner of the 138-pound weight class in this year’s Patriot Athletic Conference wrestling tournament.


    21 02 nyjara stephensNyjara Stephens

    South View• Track • Senior

    Stephens has a 3.9 grade point average. She is a member of Health Occupations Students of America, Key Club, Student Government Association and Tigers for Christ.

  • 17 DrDue to the spread of COVID-19, this event will be rescheduled for a future date.

    Dr. Tremaine Canteen thinks 2020 is a significant year to celebrate the importance of voting rights in this country and is seeking to do it through an oratorical contest for high school students.

    Canteen, in conjunction with the Hope Mills chapter of the Zeta Phi Beta sorority, originally planned to the contest on Feb. 29 at the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Center. Because of a lack of participants, the event was postponed.

    A new date has now been set for Saturday, April 25, still at the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Center. The contest will begin at 1 p.m.

    The contest was originally meant to coincide with Black History Month, but Canteen said the significance of the topic makes the date of the contest a bit more flexible, although she’s encouraging anyone interested to sign up as quickly as possible.

    The contest is open to all high school students from grades 9-12. They do not have to be residents of Cumberland County.

    The topic for the speeches is “Her Story: African-Americans and the vote.”

    Canteen feels 2020 is an excellent year to hold a contest like this for several reasons.

    “This is the centennial for the 19th amendment that deals with the right to vote regardless of sex,’’ she said.

    She added it’s the 150th anniversary of the 15th amendment, which deals with having the right to vote regardless of race.

    She feels it’s important to hear from teen-age voices on the subject.

    “I think this is a good year to celebrate change, but to bring awareness to where we are in society right now,’’ she said. “Who better to hear it from than children?”

    Canteen feels teenagers have powerful things to say on the subject and bring a different perspective to the topic.

    Each speech will be limited to three to five minutes, and the speakers will be timed during their presentations. The judges will be listening for creativity and content.

    One reason Canteen is encouraging young people to sign up for the competition as quickly as possible is so members of the Zeta Phi Beta sorority can work with them prior to the competition to help them with basic speaking skills.

    For details on how to sign up for the contest, contact Canteen at drtremainecanteen@gmail.com.

    Trophies and three cash prizes will be awarded, $150 for first place, $75 for second an $50 for third.“I see this as a way to prepare kids for life,’’ Canteen said. “In any career you’re successful in, there is going to be an element of public speaking. This is a topic that’s never going to die.’’

    Visit https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSd21fkHXJ5JDb7LhomyfpmybaVp4LojZOmw8Wd0jDH284z4wA/viewform to apply online.

  • 20 01 Jared KaiserFew first-year coaches have a tougher act to follow than Terry Sanford girls’ soccer coach Jared Kaiser.

    After serving as an assistant with former head coach Karl Molnar, Kaiser steps into the head coaching job this year with an high bar to clear.

    For each of the last four seasons, the Terry Sanford girls won at least 20 matches per year while never suffering more than a single loss, all of those defeats coming in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association state playoffs.

    No one appreciates that challenge more than Kaiser. But the good news is last year’s graduation didn’t leave the Terry Sanford cupboard short on experience for Kaiser’s first season in charge.

    “We’ve got a lot of returners, so that’s going to help out a lot,’’ he said.

    20 02 Maiya ParrousBut there will be some adjustments, for Kaiser and his players. Even though he worked with Molnar for multiple years and the two have similar coaching philosophies, some things will be different this season.

    “Little changes here and there,’’ he said. “The girls are getting used to it and we’re trying to keep the momentum going. Getting through this year with them and building for next year, too, is going to be a challenge.’’

    The key to success for Terry Sanford this year will be a solid base of about eight veteran players returning from last year’s team. The biggest returnees in terms of offensive productions are Maiya Parrous and Corrine Shovlain.

    Shovlain led all Cumberland County Schools soccer players with 111 points last season on a county-best 43 goals and 25 assists. Parrous 20 03 Corrine Shovlainwas third in the county in both categories with 34 goals and 19 assists for 87 points. 

    The top holes Kaiser has to fill are at goalkeeper, center midfielder and outside backs. He calls finding the replacements for those positions his top priority.

    The key to success, he feels, will be developing team chemistry as quickly as possible. In past years, he feels the Terry Sanford girls have been a cohesive unit. He hopes to keep that same personality for this season.

    Parrous agreed with Kaiser that team chemistry will be important for the Bulldogs. “Getting the freshmen used to all the new players, getting in our new positions,’’ she said. Parrous said the new players will be filling some key positions created by graduation losses.

    “The biggest part of the game is getting along with your teammates and being able to work well, which I think we will.’’

    Parrous thinks the Bulldogs have the potential to repeat their performance of recent years. “This is my last year playing high school soccer and I want us to do well,’’ she said. “I want it to be fun playing with these girls I’ve played with my whole life.’’

    Shovlain doesn’t feel Kaiser is making any changes of a major nature, and feels that’s helping with the transition.

    “I’m looking to score more goals and have more assists,’’ Shovlain said. “I think with the team behind me, we’ve got this as a team.’’

    There will be one big change for the team that everyone has to adjust to this season. Because work is still continuing on the Terry Sanford football stadium where the soccer team usually plays, it will be playing all of its home matches at John Daskal Stadium at Reid Ross Classical High School on Ramsey Street.

    “We’ve played there in the past and we know what we’re getting into,’’ Shovlain said. “The first couple of games we’ll have to figure it out, if the ball moves faster or slower.’’

    The biggest physical different between the Terry Sanford field and the one at Ross, according to Shovlain, is the Reid Ross field is a little narrower. Shovlain thinks the only phase of the game that will directly impact is corner kicks, making them shorter.

    Looking at the rest of the Patriot Athletic Conference, Kaiser said he’s expecting to get a challenge from Gray’s Creek. Last season the Bears tied Pine Forest for second in the league, both with 13-3 conference records. Overall the Bears were 16-4-1, losing in overtime to Clayton in the second round of the NCHSAA 3-A playoffs.

    “I’m definitely expecting something from Gray’s Creek,’’ Kaiser said. “They only lost two seniors last year.’’

    Pine Forest, which shared second with the Bears, finished 13-6 overall. The Trojans qualified for the NCHSAA 4-A playoffs and got a first-round bye as the top-finishing 4-A team in split Patriot Conference. They were eliminated in the second round of the state playoffs by Fuquay-Varina.

    Kaiser said the Trojans always provide decent competition. “From camp we saw quite a few younger players practicing for their team,’’ he said. “I’m looking forward to running into them more than anything.’’

    One problem that Molnar was unable to address and that Kaiser was unable to fix either was making Terry Sanford’s regular-season soccer schedule a bit tougher.

    The Bulldogs play 16 of their regular-season games against Patriot Athletic Conference opponents. Their only games against teams either outside the conference or Cumberland County are with Northwood and Union Pines. Northwood was 16-7-1 last season while Union Pines was 17-3-1.

    Photos from top to bottom: Jared Kaiser, Maiya Parrous, Corrine Shovlain

  • Due to the spread of COVID-19, as a precaution, the delivery of the smoke alarms has been postponed. The new date is to be determined. 16 Smoke Alarm

    Free home smoke alarms are coming to Hope Mills, courtesy of the American Red Cross.

    Phil Harris, executive director of the Sandhills Chapter of the Red Cross, is looking for community volunteers to make up teams that will be headed for Hope Mills on Saturday, April 25, to areas in town that have been identified as being at higher risk for home fires or lacking smoke detectors.

    The Red Cross has been involved in installing smoke alarms since 2014, and the program has now gone national, Harris said.

    “We do it throughout the year, but we want to make a push in April,’’ he said.

    Harris said the Red Cross knows that working smoke alarms save lives. He said since the Red Cross began installing the free smoke alarms nationwide, 715 lives have been saved by alarms that were placed in homes.

    “We know people don’t think it will ever happen to them,’’ he said of a home fire. “If we get that extra alert, we remind them they only have two minutes to get out,’’ he said.

    In addition to installing the smoke detectors, the Red Cross provides the people they visit with basic fire safety information.“Do they know how to crawl below the smoke?” Harris said. “Do they know to get out and stay out?’’

    Harris said the Red Cross also stresses the importance for families to have a plan on how to get out of the house and where to go when they have left the home.

    In addition to having at least two routes planned to escape their home in a fire, Harris said it’s important for families to have a central meeting place where everyone should rendezvous when they’ve left the house.

    “You need to have a meeting spot so the firemen don’t go in and think somebody is still in there,’’ he said. “Everybody is accounted for. All of those things come into play with saving a life.’’

    Harris said the Red Cross is able to provide free smoke detectors thanks to some grants and the support of major sponsors like Lowe’s and Delta Airlines. He said the Sandhills chapter continues to seek more local businesses to sponsor the program in this area.

    The Red Cross also has a home fire campaign that can provide direct financial assistance to families who have been displaced by a fire.

    Previously they’ve helped 166 families deal with the aftermath of a fire.

    The alarms the Red Cross installs are what Harris referred to as 10-year alarms. “We found these are great for seniors who can’t change a battery periodically,’’ Harris said. 

    Harris said the Red Cross cooperated with the Hope Mills Fire Department to identify high-risk areas in the town most in need of smoke detectors.

    Now they need approximately 125 volunteers to fan out in teams on April 25 and install the smoke detectors.

    Each team will be composed of four people, Harris said. There’s the actual installer, one member who will record the number of people in each home, one to educate the family on basic fire safety and one to introduce the team to each household and explain its purpose.

    People can volunteer as late as the day of the event, but early signup is preferred. They can sign up at soundthealarm.org or call the local chapter at 910-867-8151.Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner applauds the Red Cross for bringing the free smoke detectors to Hope Mills. “It’s going to improve safety,’’ she said. “I was glad they targeted Hope Mills. This is the first time they’ve entertained coming here.’’


  • 19 NC STATEThe late United States Senator Bobby Kennedy made a speech in the 1960s that popularized what some claim is an ancient Chinese curse, although the real source of the phrase has been disputed over the years.

    The words Kennedy used were, “May you live in interesting times.’’

    Regardless of where the phrase came from, it certainly applies to the current situation in state and local high school athletics resulting from fears over the continuing spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19 as it’s officially known.

    Over what seemed like a matter of hours, concerns over the spread of the virus led to some sweeping decisions at the state level that left the high school sports world, locally and statewide, at a standstill.

    The first pronouncements came from the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.

    The organization initially decided to restrict access to its state basketball championship games at North Carolina State’s Reynolds Coliseum and North Carolina’s Dean Smith Center to official team personnel and a small group of parents from the competing schools.

    Then they followed that with word that the championships had been postponed, with no guarantee they would even be played.

    Of course, this leaves the boys from Westover and the girls from E.E. Smith, who had qualified for the state 3-A basketball championship games at Reynolds this year, in limbo waiting to find out if they would ever get to fulfill every high school athlete’s dream of chasing a state title.

    More bad news from the NCHSAA followed. The entire spring sports season was suspended effective at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, March 13. The ruling stated that not only competition would cease, but so would any workouts, practice or skill development sessions.

    The North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association followed suit shortly after that, announcing the suspension of all interscholastic games, scrimmages or contests on the same date as the NCHSAA. The NCISAA did leave the option of holding practices at the discretion of its member coaches.

    I am not a doctor. I don’t pretend to understand everything that’s been written and spoken about the coronavirus. But one thing I have heard loud and clear is that it’s critical to stop the spread of what I’ve seen described as a disease with a lot of unknowns that there is currently no vaccine for nor any medication that has been truly effective at knocking it out.

    I respect the frustration of coaches in Cumberland County, where as of this writing there are no reported cases of the virus, as they try to understand why their teams can’t play.

    All I can say is this decision to close schools is much like when there’s a forecast of snow. Sometimes, the forecast is wrong, but officials have to make a decision based on what’s best for everyone’s safety. That is what is happening here, only the stakes are far higher than having a car skid into a ditch and get stuck.

     I am confident we will get through this, as long as we all take common sense precautions and do everything we can to prevent the disease from spreading. At the same time, let’s not spread rumors. Listen to the professionals and stay safe.

    Photo credit: N.C. State

  • 15 01 Candace WilliamsonThe health of members in our community is important. Due to the spread of the coronavirus, as a precaution, several events have been cancelled throughout the community. Please call to confirm events.

    It’s been four years since Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner created the Hope Mills Mayor’s Youth Coalition. It is composed of students from Gray’s Creek, South View and Jack Britt high schools and seeks to better inform the community’s young people on the business of the town.Since it was started, Warner has been impressed with the talents of the young people who have served on the coalition and how involved they were with their schools.

    Initially, she recruited students who were active in the Student Government Association at each of the three schools. But as time passed, she learned there was a problem with that.

    The SGA students as a group were extremely busy at their respective schools and often involved in multiple projects. So this year, Warner 15 02 jackie warner copyincreased the pool of students involved in the coalition. She sent an email to the principals of each of the three schools. She asked them to nominate two members from their SGA as usual, but also extended an invitation to members of the Key Club and students involved in JROTC.

    “We’ve found that Key Club members volunteer a lot,’’ Warner said. “I’ve also been really impressed with the JROTC programs.’’

    The result this year is the largest group of coalition students the town has ever had, and they are tackling a project called Hope Mills Beautiful as they work together to coordinate a litter sweep of the town on April 18.

    “It’s neat the way all three high schools have worked together,’’ Warner said of the current group. “I think the benefit is building unity among the youth (and) how they relate to each other. Bringing them to the table, it’s interesting to watch them work well together.

    “We hope to get the majority of them involved in our Citizens Academy.’’

    The chairman of this year’s coalition is Candace Williamson from South View. She is a member of the JROTC at her school.

    Vice-chairs are Christopher Vanderpool of the South View Key Club and Melissa Medina of the Jack Britt Key Club. The secretaries are Hunter Stewart of Gray’s Creek SGA and Briana Jackson of the South View SGA.

    In addition to their work on the litter sweep, this year’s coalition has composed a letter endorsing the town’s work on Heritage Park. Down the road, they may be looking at finding ways to improve conditions in Hope Mills for people with disabilities.

    Williamson, who is a senior at South View, initially didn’t want to be involved in JROTC but decided to join in order to carry on a family tradition.

    “I realized we are all a big family and we all have different stories,’’ she said. “We all came together. It taught me leadership skills and stuff I can carry on after high school.’’

    Williamson’s JROTC advisor at South View, Sgt. Maj. Ruby Murray, said Williamson reminds her of a butterfly. “She didn’t let her light shine,’’ Murray said. “She’d sit in class and keep quiet, but she’s always gotten her work done.’’

    As years passed, Murray said Williamson displayed more and more leadership ability, eventually rising to the role of battalion commander at South View.

    “She started showing more leadership ability, taking charge,’’ Murray said. “She became the eyes and ears her second year. When the mayor sent out that email (requesting nominations for the Mayor’s Youth Coalition), I knew I had to put the right person in charge.’’

    Williamson said being a member of the coalition is helping her learn how to better herself and hopefully avoid repeating some of the mistakes her elders have made.

    She said being part of the coalition has helped her understand everyone has their own voice. She feels she and her fellow members of the coalition are trying to use their various voices in harmony so they can come to agreement on decisions. 

    She feels the mission of this year’s coalition, as shown by their involvement in the Hope Mills Beautiful project, is to make the town better.

    She said the students from the three different high schools bring a variety of perspectives to the table. “I think that’s a good idea,’’ Williamson said, “sitting at the table with different leaders.’’

    Pictured from top to bottom: Candace Williamson, Jackie Warner

  • cover

  • 18 Shot ClockThe calendar has turned to March, which in the world of high school sports can only mean one thing — basketball. It is time for state tournaments, March Madness and, yes, the annual rhetoric about the merits of the shot clock. 

    For the almost one million boys and girls who participate in high school basketball, there is nothing quite like the state tournament. Although there are great memories from the one-class days, led by Carr Creek’s almost upset of powerhouse Ashland in Kentucky in 1928 and Milan’s Cinderella victory in Indiana in 1954, today, basketball provides more opportunities for girls and boys teams to be crowned state champion than any other sport.

    This month, about 450 girls and boys teams will earn state basketball titles in championships conducted by NFHS member state associations. Multiple team champions are crowned for both boys and girls in all states but two, with the majority of states sponsoring tournaments in 4-6 classifications for each and four states conducting state championships in seven classes.

    That is truly March Madness, which is appropriate since the term was first used in connection with high school basketball. Although the tag line became familiar to millions on a national scale in relation to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, the NCAA shares a dual-use trademark with the Illinois High School Association (IHSA), thanks to H. V. Porter, the first full-time executive director of the NFHS. 

    In his final year as IHSA executive director in 1939, Porter published his “March Madness” essay in reference to the mania surrounding the IHSA’s annual state basketball tournament. Eight years later, in a 1947 Associated Press article, Porter said, “Naturally, we think basketball has done a lot for high school kids, but it’s done something for the older people, too. It has made community life in general a lot more fun each winter.”

    While many things have changed in the past 73 years, the value of high school sports — and especially state basketball tournaments  — remains as strong as ever today. In some states, seemingly the entire community will travel to the site of the state tournament in support of the high school team. 

    As a footnote to the use of March Madness, Scott Johnson, recently retired assistant executive director of the IHSA in his book “Association Work,” discovered through research that the first recorded mention of March Madness in relation to basketball occurred in 1931 by Bob Stranahan, sports editor of the New Castle Courier-Times in Indiana. 

    While the sport remains strong and March Madness is set to begin in earnest across the nation, there is a belief by some that the addition of a shot clock would make the game even better.

    Although there are some arguments for implementing the shot clock, the NFHS Basketball Rules Committee, similar to the other 14 NFHS rules committees, must make decisions based on what is best for the masses — the small schools with less than 100 students as well as large urban schools with 3,000-plus students. Rule changes will always be made with considerations for minimizing risks, containing costs and developing rules that are best for high school athletes. 

    Nine of our member state associations have elected to use a shot clock in their states, which certainly adds to the clamor for its implementation nationally. And, we at the NFHS have read the headlines, seen the social media posts and received the phone calls advocating for the shot clock’s adoption. However, the Basketball Rules Committee will continue to assess the shot clock based on the aforementioned considerations, as well its members representing all areas of the country.

    We encourage everyone to support their local high school teams by attending this year’s exciting state basketball tournaments.

    Photo credit: NFHS.

  • 14 Theodore SchwammGray’s Creek High School senior Theodore Schwamm recently joined an elite group of high school students in the United States. He’s one of  15,000 national finalists for the elite National Merit scholarship.

    Shana Matthews, who counsels the academically and intellectually gifted students at the schools, said Schwamm is the first National Merit finalist from Gray’s Creek in her four years at the school.

    “The scholarship is a nice incentive, a nice bonus, for someone like Theodore who has put in a lot of effort and devoted a lot of time,’’ Matthews said.

    A Fayetteville native, Schwamm said his primary interests are vocal music and theater. He plays the piano and is also a handbell player in his church choir.

    Even if he’s not ultimately named a winner in the National Merit competition, just being a finalist makes him a potential candidate for other college scholarship offers.

    Schwamm said a number of colleges have already offered him full scholarships, but he’s currently not considering those because they are from schools he doesn’t consider a good fit for his interests.

    He’s officially applied to four colleges. They include his top two picks, Williams in Massachusetts and Kenyon in Ohio. Others he has applied to are Roanoke in Virginia and the University of Chicago.

    Of the four, he’s already been accepted at Roanoke and is expecting word back soon from the other three.

    Schwamm said the main draw for him at all four schools was their liberal arts atmosphere and the flexibility and interdisciplinary approach they take to education.

    As far as what he plans to study is concerned, Schwamm isn’t sure if he’ll continue with music and theater or turn his attention to physics and mathematics. “I may combine them in some way,’’ he said.

    He’s interested in the connection between the arts and sciences and why they have so much in common. “Einstein would often say he’d play the violin while working through physics problems,’’ Schwamm said. “A lot of scientists say if they were not professional scientists, they would be artists.’’

    Schwamm is currently involved with the Gray’s Creek High School production of the Broadway musical "Newsies." Performances are scheduled March 20-21 at 7 p.m., with a matinee on March 22 at 4 p.m. Admission is $10.

    In recent years, Schwamm has changed his philosophy about his education and realizes balance is an important part of the process.

    “Certainly I could spend time endlessly looking at calculus problems,’’ he said. “There comes a time you need to recognize moving away from it and doing something else will ultimately be more valuable.’’

    Toward that end, he plans to spend his final summer before college at home with family.

    “I plan to sleep without an alarm many days and do a lot of reading,’’ he said.

  • 17 01 MarshaunDemarshaun Worley

    Gray’s Creek • Basketball/track • Senior

    Worley has a 4.25 grade point average. He’s an analyst for the Bears Sports Network. He is active in the New Light Church youth group. He has been a competitor and winner in his church’s oratorical contest. He is also a crew member at a local fast food restaurant.

    17 02 ChassieChassie Jacops

    Gray’s Creek • Volleyball/swimming • Junior

    Jacops has a 3.91 grade point average. She is a member of the Student Government Association, National Honor Society, Future Business Leaders of America and works at a local sandwich shop.

  • 13 McCrayDr. Kenjuana McCray made history when she became the first African-American woman elected to the Hope Mills Board of Commissioners last November.

    But it was a page from national history that helped inspire her to run for office, and make a promise to herself to keep that history alive in her own memories.

    Recently McCray made her second consecutive trip to Selma, Alabama, to revisit some of the most prominent sites connected with the American Civil Rights movement and the passage of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act. The act, which was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson, prohibited racial discrimination in voting.

    The event McCray participated in is called the Bridge Crossing Jubilee. It marked the 55th anniversary of Civil Rights marchers crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge during a march in support of voting rights in 1965. During that crossing, now referred to as “Bloody Sunday," many of the marchers were brutally beaten by law enforcement officers.
    McCray not only visited the bridge, but also museums and other historic sites in the Selma, Tuskegee and Montgomery, Alabama, areas during her visit.

    She was most moved by the personal accounts of people who were invited back to speak who took part in the marches 55 years ago. “They bring in people that were foot soldiers in the movement,’’ McCray said. “You get to hear one-on-one stories about actual events that happened, things you don’t read in the history books.’’

    She also attended a special event at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Selma, the site of a famous meeting held by the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to conduct a planning session for the 1965 march.

    McCray said that after she attended the conference for the first time in 2019, she made up her mind to again run for public office in Hope Mills. “It was one of the things that helped me make my decision I was going to run again,’’ she said. She noted that people of different races were involved in that march 55 years ago, and that people of different races lost their lives in the struggle for civil rights in this country.

    “I have to continue to advocate for people to exercise their right to vote and how powerful that vote is,’’ McCray said. “It’s something I will continue to advocate while I’m in office and when I’m not in office. This trip helps remind me and puts everything into perspective.’’

    One important lesson she has learned from her visits to the Selma area is the power of people working together for a common cause. She noted names like King and Congressman John Lewis, along with many others who were at the forefront of the Civil Rights movement.

    “It was a collective group of people who helped do this,’’ she said. “It’s that whole idea of the power of what you can do if you work together and do things together.
    “There were a lot of people who worked together to make this thing happen.’’



    The Greatest Show On Earth





    Step right up! Its almost time… the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey will present their big top family production  that has been touring the nation for more than 100 years. And on Thursday, Feb. 28, the Crown Coliseum will come alive when the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus, “the Greatest Show on Earth,” comes to Fayetteville.Starting out as a small circus, in no way distinct from a throng of small shows that traveled regionally by wagon, the seven Ringling brothers quickly transformed their traveling act into one of the largest and best-run circuses in the country. With John and Charles at the helm, they gave their tour the official title: “Ringling Brothers United Monster Shows,Great Double Circus, Royal European Menagerie, Museum, Caravan, and Congress of Trained Animals.” The Ringling Brothers distinguished their circus from the others by being honest and fair in their attitude toward the public; never allowing ticket sellers to short change customers or gambling on their lots. Their success resulted from a reputation of clean dealing and good value. It wasn’t long before they were able to begin touring the country by railroad.In 1907 the brothers purchased the Barnum & Bailey circus and ran the two circuses separately until they merged them into one unit in 1919 when they also moved the winter quarters to Bridgeport, Conn. Today the circus travels around the world bringing joy to the faces of children of all ages. When the circus makes its stop in Fayetteville, it will bring its Gold Show to the stage. This intimate, interactive event brings you so up-close and personal to the live action that you’ll experience a day at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey you never imagined possible! Audiences are just a few feet away from six white Bengal tigers. The aerialists walk, fl y and jump through the air on a high wire, while the Wheel of Steel act leaves you questioning the forces of gravity. The circus also offers an all access pre-show to meet the animals and performers, teach circus tricks and give audience members a taste of the circus before the show even starts! Join the circus for a special opening night performance on Thursday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. Tickets for the pre-show are $12.50. This price is not valid on VIP fl oor seats and cannot be combined with any other offer. Tickets to the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus are on sale now and can be purchased at www. ticketmaster.com. The Crown Center box offi ce also offers tickets by phone at 223-2900. For fl oor seats, tickets are $33.50, lower bowl tickets are $19.50 and upper bowl seats are $15.50. On opening night, Feb. 28 all tickets (except VIP fl oor seats) to the 7 p.m. performance are $12.50 at the door. There will be a 7 p.m. show on Friday, Feb. 29; a 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. show on Saturday, Mar. 1; and a 2 p.m. show on Sunday as well.

  • 16 01 Jackson deaverTerry Sanford’s baseball team has won three consecutive conference titles and hasn’t lost a conference game for the last two seasons.

    But veteran head coach Sam Guy is looking at a much different landscape as he prepares his team for the 2020 season.

    Gone are most of the pitching stars from his 2019 team, including pitcher D.J. Herz, who was chosen by the Chicago Cubs in the Major League Baseball draft and is now pitching in the minor leagues.

    16 02 Sam GuyA core group of four seniors including Jackson Deaver, Dorian Clark, Tommy Cooney and Jack Cooney will form the nucleus of this year’s Bulldog team. After that, Guy said Terry Sanford will be counting on some inexperienced faces.

    “We will have a carousel of lineups depending on who is pitching,’’ Guy said. “We’re going to be really young on the mound.’’

    He said it’s likely instead of having a starter go five or six innings and a reliever taking the mound to wrap things up, many games will see the Bulldogs use as many as three pitchers.

    “There’s going to be a lot more trying to manufacture runs, trying to find the best nine that play the best together to carry us through,’’ he said.

    Guy’s biggest concern during the preseason has been the way the team is hitting the ball. “We’ve been missing too many fastballs and we can’t do that,’’ he said.
    That is why he’s counting heavily on Deaver to help lead an inexperienced lineup of hitters. Last season, Deaver was one of five .400 hitters for Terry Sanford, ending the season with a .418 batting average. He was second among players from Cumberland County Schools in RBI’s with 27. He had eight doubles and a triple.

    “He was a big run producer last year,’’ Guy said. Guy will use Deaver at three positions in the field, catcher, first base or third base, depending on who is pitching for Terry Sanford.

    Deaver, who was the defensive Player of the Year on last fall’s Patriot Athletic Conference All-Conference football team, said the weight training he does for football carries over to help him in baseball.

    “I definitely thinks that helps with my swing and my explosiveness,’’ he said. He also said the quickness football helps him develop are assets on defense, especially when he’s playing catcher or third base.

    While the Bulldog pitching staff will be young, Deaver thinks there is a lot of potential there.

    Cruise Herz is the younger brother of the departed D.J. Herz. Joining him will be Brady Gore, Cason Puczylowski and Tommy Cooney.

    “They are not going to throw 94 or 95 miles per hour like D.J.,  but they are going to get you the ground ball outs, the pop fly outs,’’ Deaver said. “They are more than capable of getting the strikeouts that we need.’’

    Deaver said the goals for both himself and the team are the same: win the regular season, the Bulldog Easter tournament and the state title.
    Terry Sanford’s annual Easter baseball tournament will be held April 11, 13-14.

    Competing teams in this year’s tournament in addition to the Bulldogs are Triton, Hobbton, Pittsboro Northwood, Apex Middle Creek, Western Harnett, East Bladen and Richmond Senior.

  • 12 Hope Mills Police DepartmentMoving consistently ranks as one of the most traumatizing experiences people have to negotiate. But if relocating to a new residence is a giant headache, imagine the challenges of going from one location to another while temporarily keeping both open for business.

    That is the chore Hope Mills police chief Joel Acciardo and his staff will be tackling in the weeks ahead as they vacate their home of some 30 years on Rockfish Road and relocate to temporary headquarters on South Main Street.

    This is part of the process to build the new public safety building on the current Rockfish Road property, which will eventually house both the police and fire departments when it’s done.

    The new building was going to be placed in front of the existing police and fire departments during the early planning  stages, but when Rockfish Road was expanded, that idea was ruled out as it had to be moved further back from the widened road.

    The fire department will lose some of its parking area but will still be able to function at its current location. The police department is headed for the former Ace Hardware building, where it expects to be located for as long as 24 months while the new building is under construction.

    Acciardo said the challenge for him and his staff is to complete the move in an orderly manner while still providing services to the town of Hope Mills without any gaps.
    Work on the interior of the temporary police headquarters is progressing, and the goal is for the entire department to be fully relocated by the end of March.

    “It’s going to be a phased move,’’ Acciardo said. “The first thing we are going to be shutting down is the front of the police department, where reception and records and all that stuff is.

    “That way, we can officially close this building and still have a location where the public can come, get reports and meet with officers.’’

    After that move is done, the most complicated part of the move will take place, transporting evidence to the new location. “You have to maintain complete control and a chain of custody,’’ Acciardo said.

    Because of security concerns, there will be no publicity as to when the actual evidence is being moved. Armed officers will accompany the evidence when it is moved. “It’s a little bit more complicated than having a moving company come in and load up some desks and filing cabinets,’’ Acciardo said. “It has to stay with the officers.’’

    Once the evidence is moved, the next stage will be to move the investigative division, followed by the administrative offices.

    Acciardo stressed the public will see no disruption in field services since those officers were hired to work outside the building in police cars.

    A moving company has been contracted to help with large items like desks and file cabinets, but all of the smaller things will be taken care of by Acciardo and his staff.
    The plan is to shut down the police headquarters as usual one Friday afternoon and conduct the initial move of the front office area over the course of the weekend, opening the portion of the temporary building where staff interacts with the public the following Monday.

    It’s during the process when the department is between buildings that problems are most likely to arise. Acciardo said it won’t be much different from moving to a new house and realizing when you arrive that something you need is still in a box at your former residence. “As with any move, there will be tweaking during the process to make it work right,’’ he said. Acciardo said measures are in place to address glitches.

    Just prior to the start of the move, Acciardo said a ceremony will be held to officially close the current police headquarters. “This facility served the public in Hope Mills for 30 years,’’ he said. “I think everyone got their money’s worth out of it.’’

    The current building is actually sitting in what will become the construction zone for the new building, so it will have to be demolished.

    “It’s a complicated move but it’s one we will get done,’’ Acciardo said. “The goal is not to disrupt any service the citizens are currently enjoying. That’s what we are all striving for.’’

  •     Click the Image for UCW's Online Edition!

         Fayetteville is looking for a few good men — and women — who are truly interested in making a difference in the community. And on Saturday, March 28, county leaders are hoping those folks will join them at the Crown Coliseum to participate in Greater Fayetteville Futures II, a community action plan.
         Greater Fayetteville Futures II is an offshoot of a 2001 project that bore the same name. Greater Fayetteville Futures was, according to Fayetteville Mayor Tony Chavonne, the “first honest assessment of our community.”
         “That’s when we acknowledged that we didn’t have the economy to create the jobs we needed to build our economy,” he said. “It was recognition that we were not where we needed to be.”
    {mosimage} At that time, the group tackled three major goals: image, a unified vision for economic opportunities, and leveraging the military’s presence in the community for greater economic opportunities. From that project came a unified economic development presence in the form of the Chamber, the development of the History, Heroes and a Hometown feeling slogan and a closer examination of economic opportunities tied to the military that are not service-related.
    Key to the success of the first Fayetteville Futures was the involvement in the process by a wide segment of the community. It is, in fact, an action plan for the future. When the group convenes this month, it will focus on 10 objectives that will help the community reach its 2020 Vision: Greater Fayetteville will be recognized as a top 10 place to live in the Southeastern United States for all with safe neighborhoods, cultural opportunities, a model education system, well-connected and a strong, vibrant local economy.
         The 10 objectives are:
         VO 1: Create a model education system that supports and networks workforce readiness and sustainable innovations.
         VO 2: Effectively implement the community’s economic development strategy.
         VO 3: Ensure safety and security for all.
         VO 4: Expand and develop services that lead to a better living environment.
         VO 5: Leverage the region’s defense technology assets.
         VO 6: Increase/improve traditional and non-traditional connectivity infrastructure (transportation and information technology.)
         VO 7: Improve and sustain health services and wellness
         VO 8: Grow and sustain a “green” community.
         VO 9: Communicate our community story.
         VO 10: Sustain and grow cultural and recreational opportunities.
         Over the past several years, several studies have been conducted throughout the community to help guide the direction and firm up the 2020 vision. Chavonne said the community has the information it needs to meet the vision, now it’s time for people to “roll up their sleeves” and do the work to get the community where it needs to go.
         To do that, community leaders pulled up the original Fayetteville Futures model and put it back on the table. According to Chavonne the reason the first project was so successful was that it was “inclusive.”
         “It’s an action place, not a white-paper exercise,” he noted. “We already have the benefit of the reports. We know what we need to do, and now we need to energize the community on these action items.
         Kirk deViere is helping facilitate the process. He explained that during the meeting at the Crown, citizens will get an overview of the objectives and the mission, and then they will have the opportunity to break down into smaller groups and explore objectives in a more depth. “Citizens will get a chance to plug into two objectives,” said deViere. “They will then discuss a series of initiatives and create project teams with definite, measurable goals. Each initiative has a one-year time for completion.”
         That’s when the ball is squarely in the hands of the community. Once the project teams are created, they become responsible for setting their meetings, creating their plans and working to meet their targets.
         “This is a completely action focused, action-based project,” said deViere. “The community has the direction, the resources have been spent and a blue print is in place. It now becomes a community playbook.”
         He noted that there is a wide spectrum of the community involved from large stakeholders in the education, healthcare, governmental and other agencies, to individual citizens. “People who make up the community are represented at the table to put the final shape on what we are going to do,” he said.
         Chavonne said that cross-segment of the community will help to look at the bigger picture and seeing how issues are not one dimensional. “Crime rates aren’t just an issue with the city,” said Chavonne. “They impact across the community in a number of ways. If we all work in a collaborative way we can find an answer.”
         He was adamant in that this is not a “study to study” our community. “Through this process we will have specific steps to move our community forward,” he said.
         deViere said at the end of the year, a community scorecard will be issued letting the citizens see what has been accomplished. “This is a very open process. We will use a variety of means to keep the community informed so that they can gauge how we are doing,” he said.
         But, both men pointed out that it begins with the community. The meeting is open to the public and the process is community driven. “We need people to be energized about the process, roll up their sleeves and make a difference in our community,” said Chavonne. “We want to find people who will engage and move forward.”
         The event begins sat 9:30 a.m. at the Crown and runs through noon. For more information, visit the organization Web site at www.GreaterFayettevilleFutures.org .

  • The last time Cape Fear didn’t win its conference regular-season title in softball was 2013.

    But since joining the 3-A Patriot Athletic Conference in 2018, the Colts have had a new rival nipping at their heels, Gray’s Creek.

    In that first season together, the only losses Gray’s Creek suffered in conference play were to the Colts. Last season, the teams split their regular-season meetings and shared the regular-season conference championship.

    But with Cape Fear losing 16 seniors over the past two years and Gray’s Creek returning some key veteran players, the Bears appear ready to contest the Colts’ string of league titles this spring.Here’s a closer look at both teams:

    Cape Fear

    Colt coach Jeff McPhail said his team is in a rebuilding mode after so many graduation losses over the last two seasons. “It’s going to be a learning experience for us this year,’’ he said. “The graduating thing caught up with us. We’re all eager to see what we can do this year with these young kids.’’

    Toni Blackwell is the most experienced Cape Fear pitcher returning. She was 3-0 last season with a 2.33 earned run average, striking out 38 batters in 21 innings.
    McPhail expects the leader of the pitching staff to be freshman Alexza Glemaker. “She’s been doing a good job throughout the fall and winter,’’ McPhail said of Glemaker, who transferred to Cape Fear from the South View district.

    The infield will also be dominated by youth, with freshmen scheduled to start at nearly every position.

    One of the most experienced players on the team is outfielder Morgan Nunnery, who has been with the Colts four years. She was around as a freshman the last time Cape Fear made the finals of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association softball playoffs.

    “She keeps everything together,’’ McPhail said of Nunnery. “She’s done a really good job in the classroom and the softball program.’’

    Nunnery, a slap hitter, batted a whopping .671 last season for Cape Fear. She led Cumberland County Schools with 55 hits, including nine doubles and one home run. She scored a county-best 49 runs and drove in 31.

    Nunnery said the rich tradition of softball at Cape Fear helps push each year’s players to do their best. “We’ve always been pretty big competitors in our conference,’’ she said. “We are here to represent. You have to play to the standard of Cape Fear softball.

    “It means a lot to wear the jersey, having the community behind you.’’

    With all the youth on this year’s team, Nunnery said it will be important to develop chemistry early and get to know each other.

    McPhail agrees. “For us to be competitive, we’ve got to know each other,’’ he said.

    Gray’s Creek

    With a veteran lineup returning, Bears’ head coach Stuart Gilmer hopes his team will be able to compete head-to-head with Cape Fear again this season.
    Heading the returners for the Bears is one of the best players in the county, Patriot Athletic Conference Player of the Year Jaden Pone.

    Pone led all hitters from Cumberland County Schools last season with a .700 batting average. She had seven doubles, six triples and six home runs while driving in a county-best 45 runs.

    Also back are Kylie Aldridge who hit .583, Morgan Brady who hit .489, Courtney Cygan who hit .446 and Becca Collins who batted .385. Collins, who plays first base, is the younger sister of former South View star Whitney Sirois Maxwell.

    Returning to lead the pitching corps is Madi Bagley, who was 6-2 last season with a 1.03 earned run average. She threw 54 innings and recorded 57 strikeouts.

    “Madi has a good fastball and likes to mix in some movement and a changeup now and then,’’ Gilmer said. “She does a good job of hitting
    her spots.’’

    Gilmer thinks offense is going to be critical for Gray’s Creek to win this season. “Hopefully, our bats can get us in positions early in games where we can get up and help us relax on defense,’’ he said. “We’ve got to be defensively sound. I tell them at practice every day, little things make big things happen. If we take care of little things defensively, big things could happen for us.’’

    While the Bears have experience on the field, there are only three seniors on the roster. One of them is Collins at first base.

    She thinks the team comes into the 2020 season with a positive attitude and a strong bond as teammates.

    Her top goal personally is to improve her reaction to different game situations. “They don’t always go as planned,’’ she said. “How we react to them sets the tone for the next play.’’

    While Cape Fear may be the team to beat for conference honors, Collins plans to respect every opponent on the schedule. “We need to think everyone is going to give us a run for our money,’’ she said.

    Gilmer is expecting plenty of competition from the traditional powers in the conference. “Cape Fear, South View, Pine Forest and Overhills should all give us a run for our money,’’ he said.
  • 14 01 teen cert gradsIt’s taken Melode Dickerson nearly 14 months to get a Teen Community Emergency Response Team going in Cumberland County, but once things fell into place, the idea took off like a ballistic missile.

    Dickerson, who has been active for years in the Cumberland Emergency Response Teamm program locally in Hope Mills, first trotted out the idea of involving teenagers in their own CERT program around December of 2018. For whatever reason, response was slow to the idea and Dickerson was never able to get it launched successfully.
    Undaunted, she continued to promote the overall mission of CERT, which is devoted to training citizen volunteers in disaster preparedness and helping people in crisis situations. She continued her dream of introducing teenagers to the program. “We go everywhere,’’ she said of her mission to educate Cumberland County on what CERT is all about.

    14 02 Fire StationThe Teen CERT idea got a huge boost when Dickerson was contacted by Moisbiell Alvarez, deputy chief of community preparedness for the Fayetteville Fire Department. Like Dickerson, Alvarez was interested in getting a Teen CERT program  organized.

    “We had done a lot of stuff with them and they wanted to be involved,’’ Dickerson said of the Fayetteville Fire Department.

    Dickerson was glad to welcome the assistance. “Cumberland County Emergency Management is still our sponsor,’’ Dickerson said, “but we are supported by the Fayetteville Fire Department.’’

    This past weekend, the first class of teen volunteers for the CERT program underwent training during a weekendlong series of classes held at Fayetteville Fire Station 12 at 307 Hope Mills Road.

    Only 24 people can attend a class because of space limitations at the station. Originally, Dickerson had a full complement of 24 students, but only 21 were able to attend the initial weekend of classes. The class sessions were from 6-10 p.m. on Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

    Dickerson said the basic message of the classes is how to be prepared and how to help lend assistance to victims in a variety of disaster situations.

    “They learn basic medical and how to put out a small fire,’’ Dickerson said. They got hands-on training in the firefighting role by putting out small controlled fires set in the fire station parking lot.

    The training goes far behind first aid and firefighting, Dickerson said. There are sections on dealing with basic terrorism. A new session includes how to react to reports of an active shooter. There is also basic search and rescue training.

    In addition to getting valuable training that they can use as a life skill, Dickerson said taking part in Teen CERT training can help the students earn volunteer hours for any number of projects that may be required by various school-related clubs and other organizations.

    Once they complete the training, students receive a certificate recognizing what they’ve accomplished. The state of North Carolina keeps a record of the number of volunteers trained, Dickerson said.

    Marc Baker Jr., a freshman at Pine Forest High School, was one of the participants in the first Teen CERT graduating class.

    A member of the band at Pine Forest, Baker said he decided to get involved with Teen CERT because he wanted to do something to benefit the community.
    “First aid is something I want to get into,’’ Baker said. “I feel it’s important because we need future doctors, future first responders.

    “I feel like this class could really put us on the course for that.’’

    Currently, Dickerson said she’s recruiting students in grades 9-12 for work with Teen CERT. She already has a class scheduled for a group of Girl Scouts.

    The next open training session for Teen CERT is scheduled for June 12-14. There is already a waiting list for that class. Dickerson suggests any teens that are interested should apply as quickly as possible to capefearcert@gmail.com.

    Students themselves can submit the application but parents are also invited to make applications for their children if they are interested in
    the program.

    The email should include the applicant’s name, address and phone number, so they can be registered.

    For people who can’t commit to coming to training sessions on a Saturday and Sunday, Dickerson said she could work with interested groups of teen volunteers and work out an alternate date for the class if there is a large enough group interested in attending. Contact Dickerson at the same email address if interested.

    Dickerson said she welcomes contact from churches or adults as well as teens to hold special class sessions for CERT or Teen CERT if enough people are interested.
    She also does presentations on the basic mission of CERT, but since the Teen CERT program has taken off her time has been monopolized in coordinating the sessions associated with that program.

    “We do have a presentation we can show that we have put together,’’ she said. “Maybe after this class, things will be a little slower.’’

  • PG19001

  • 17 01 Amari TaylorAmari Taylor

    Pine Forest • Indoor track • Junior

    Taylor has a 4.32 grade point average. History is her favorite subject. She loves R&B and jazz, enjoys movies and hanging out with friends. Her dream college is the University of Miami, where she would like to major in premed.


    17 02 Marquis eskewMarquis Eskew

    Pine Forest • Basketball • Senior

    Eskew has a grade point average of 3.8. English is his favorite subject. He plans to attend college and major in business entrepreneurship. He has been accepted at East Carolina and North Carolina A&T. He wants to own his own accounting business. He likes listening to rap music and R&B.

  • 13 01 Becca CollinsNo one can accuse the officers of the Gray’s Creek chapter of the National Honor Society of cutting corners when it comes to community service projects. Just ask Becca Collins, a Gray’s Creek senior.

    Each year, when they apply for membership in the National Honor Society, Gray’s Creek students are required by club sponsor and faculty member Melissa Bishop to submit a detailed plan for their senior project.

    Bishop said the plan must include a timeline, a budget and resources among other things. “When they are chosen, they get members of other National Honor Society Members together and pull off the project,’’ Bishop said.

    For her project, Collins is following in the footsteps of her former Gray’s Creek softball teammate and fellow National Honor Society member Drew Menscer.
    Last year, Menscer took on the project of organizing a fund-raising golf tournament for Rick’s Place.

    Rick’s Place is located on 50 acres of land in the western part of Cumberland County. It is named in memory of the late Sgt. Richard J. Herrema, a Fort Bragg soldier who was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Defense Meritorious Service Medal.

    He died in combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2006.

    Bishop said the mission of Rick’s Place is to host family events for soldiers and support them before, during and after deployments.
    “Becca wanted to carry on the golf tournament that Drew did last year,’’ Bishop said.

    Bishop said Gray’s Creek originally chose Rick’s Place as a beneficiary of their charity work after they spent a couple of days on the property. “We love their mission and what they stand for,’’ Bishop said.

    Collins, like Bishop, has a strong feeling for the mission of Rick’s Place. “It’s one of the only military places in Fayetteville that really does a lot of hands-on things with military people,’’ she said. “People can bond with their kids. I really feel the golf tournament can be a big thing to help them.’’

    Last year’s event raised $5,000 for Rick’s Place. Collins hopes to equal or increase the amount raised at this year’s event. It is scheduled for Saturday, March 21, at Cypress Lakes Golf Course.

    For those who don’t play golf, hole sponsorships are available at $100 per hole. If anyone wants to make a donation in support of the tournament, those can be dropped off for either Collins or Bishop at the front office of Gray’s Creek High School during regular business hours. “We need a lot of help from the community,’’ Collins said.

    Bishop said getting people to undertake sponsorship of a golf tournament is a huge undertaking for a high school student, but she’s confident that Collins can make it happen.

    “Becca has a wonderful supporting family,’’ Bishop said. “I know her mom (Dawn Collins) has helped her reach out to businesses and make fliers. Becca has been doing a lot on the creative side.’’

    Bishop said Becca and her family have been part of the Gray’s Creek community for many years. “I know the community is pitching in around them,’’ she said. “A lot of the community is small business owners. They love to donate to charities that benefit our soldiers right here in Fayetteville.’’

    The work of promoting the golf tournament will provide valuable experience to Becca and the members of the committee that will be working with her Bishop said.
    “They are often making cold calls to local businesses,’’ Bishop said of the students. “They have to have their pitch for why this is so important and why it would benefit companies to donate. They are learning a lot of real life business and marketing tactics and just how to talk to people in the community.’’

    Check-in time for the tournament is at 7:30 a.m., and the tournament will begin with a shotgun start at 8:30 a.m.

    There is no limit on how many teams can sign up for the event. The entry fee is $65 per person or $260 for a foursome. The format of the tournament is captain’s choice.

    The entry fee includes lunch and a golf cart.

    Early bird registration is underway by emailing either Collins or Bishop. Their addresses are rebcol3577@student.ccs.k12.nc.us or melissabishop@ccs.k12.nc.us.

  • 16 pine forestPine Forest High School baseball coach Tom Willoughby was looking for something different to jumpstart fundraising efforts for this year’s Trojan baseball team.He found it in a scene from a hit baseball film that is 31 years old. The film, "Major League," told the story of a struggling Cleveland Indians baseball team that used an odd combination of aging veterans and untested rookies to put together a successful season.

    An iconic scene from the film showed team members in their own American Express commercial. Willoughby made a few changes to the script from the movie and got his team together on the Pine Forest baseball field to do the Trojan version of the commercial.

    One of the biggest challenges was to get all the players in dress similar to the coats and ties the pretend Cleveland Indians in the movie wore.

    He told the players to watch the YouTube video of the original scene from the movie so they could see the whole thing and also watch how their respective characters said their lines in the commercial. Speaking parts went to Jared Collier, Isaac Gonzalez, Justin Clark, Greg Washington, Justin Honeycutt, Willoughby and Keyshawn Taylor.

    Taylor had the highlight scene in the commercial, reprising the role of actor Wesley Snipes who played the role of team speedster Willie Mays Hays in the movie.
    In the commercial scene, Hays slides in to home plate at the end of the commercial holding up an American Express card.

    The biggest distraction Willoughby had to deal with in making the video was creating the character of the manager of the Indians team in the movie, Lou Brown, played by the late character actor James Gammon.

    A feature of Gammon’s character in the film was a bushy mustache. Prior to the start of practice, Willoughby had grown a full beard, but the day of the filming of the video, he shaved it all off save the mustache.

    “When I showed up with the Lou Brown mustache the guys started laughing,’’ said Willoughby. As soon as the video had been shot, he went to his truck and shaved the mustache off, “just so I could focus with my guys,’’ he said.

    Seniors Justin Honeycutt and Jared Collier were among the handful of players on the Pine Forest team that had actually viewed the film. Honeycutt is a pitcher who plays outfield when he’s not on the mound. Collier has been a catcher throughout his career at Pine Forest.

    “I thought it was a great idea,’’ Honeycutt said, even though the filming took some time and presented a few challenges. One of the players with a speaking part had a difficult time getting his lines right, but Honeycutt said they came up with a simple solution. “We had to tape his lines on the back of the guy in front of him,’’ Honeycutt said.

    Collier said he enjoyed doing something different to kick off the season and try and convince people to support the program financially. “It was something to have a good time with,’’ he said. “We want to get Pine Forest baseball back on track after a tough season.’’

    Willoughby said the goal of recreating the scene was to reach out beyond the immediate Pine Forest baseball community of family and friends of the players and draw some interest from a wider audience to get financial support.

    “We were trying to have some fun with it,’’ Willoughby said. “We wanted to see if we could get something going on Twitter and Facebook.’’

    As of last Tuesday afternoon, the video was up to 694 views on YouTube. To see the video on SnapRaise and make a donation go to https://www.snap-raise.com/v2/fundraisers/111922?fundraiser_id=111922#/.

    As of last Tuesday afternoon, the video had raised $3,794 of the $5,000 goal Willoughby set for this year. Willoughby is hopeful the team will raise enough money to purchase a new net for the team’s batting cage and new tarps to protect the field from wet weather.

    “The batting cage is a safety thing,’’ Willoughby said. “It’s not safe to be around if it starts getting torn and there are holes in the net. The tarp is about keeping the field playable so we can get in more practice time
    and games.’’
    The video has been a critical success, at least on campus. “When I showed it to one of our teachers, she said ‘I’m definitely donating,’" Honeycutt said.

    For their part, Honeycutt thinks the Trojan team truly has a chance to contend for a  championship this season, not unlike the Cleveland Indians team did in "Major League."
    “We’ve got nine seniors on the team,’’ Honeycutt said. “We’ve got the talent and this is the year  to do something.’’

    Honeycutt thinks the key to success for the team will be attitudes, keeping them right and playing each game one at time.

    Collier thinks the approach to each game is important. “We need everybody to play like they’re never going to be here again,’’ he said.

  •   In April 2008, the Cape Fear Regional Theatre staged a Southern tour d’force, as Good ‘Ol Girls hit the stage. The play, written by Jill McCorkle and Lee Smith, brought rave reviews from local audiences and drew the attention of UNC-TV.
      On Friday, March 6, the CFRT will host a red carpet premier of the play, which UNC-TV filmed. The television broadcast of the play is scheduled for April 22.
    The premier party is open to the public, and will feature a wine tasting and hors d’oeuvres from 6:30-8 p.m., with a screening of the production at 8 p.m. The authors will be on hand to celebrate this important event in the life of the theatre.
      {mosimage}The musical’s title tells you what the play is all about. To quote the play, good ‘ol girls “know that big hair and a big heart do not mean a small mind.” They also love to go to Myrtle Beach with the girls and have been saved more than once.
      The show, which featured Pamela Bob, Kendra Goehring, Libby Seymour, Gina Stewart, Cassandra Vallery and Liza Vann, tells the story of a group of Southern women from birth to the grave. It’s told in vignettes, with music interspersed throughout.
      According to Bo Thorp, the artistic director of the theatre, “This is a play about women. It tackles women’s issues at various times in their lives — particulalry Good ‘Ol Girls who you can find anywhere in the South.”
      The stories were written by Smith and McCorkle, and most of them are rooted in reality. Many of these vignettes were written before the two first ladies of Southern literature collaborated on the play.
      Smith and McCorkle are both noted N.C. authors. Smith and McCorkle have a passion for storytelling. The kind of laugh-out-loud storytelling that is rooted in the uniqueness of the South.
      The songs were written by Marshall Chapman and Matraca Berg, both noted songwriters.
      Officials from UNC-TV were intrigued when they heard about the play and made a visit to the theatre to see the play on stage. They were won over, and brought a film crew in to film the play before it closed.
      What the rest of the state will see on television, many local residents saw first hand, and to celebrate the achievement, the theatre hopes they’ll return for the premier.
      Tickets for the premier party are $30, and can be purchased by calling the CFRT box office at  (910) 323-4233. 
  • 15 Wrestlers groupBack in the late 1960s, veteran character Walter Brennan starred in a short-lived television Western series called “The Sons of Will Sonnet.’’

    Though the show lasted only two seasons, Brennan uttered a line describing his talents with a gun that has lingered through the years. It was only four words:
    "No brag, just fact.’’

    In wrapping up the high school wrestling accomplishments of himself and his Cape Fear teammates the last four seasons, three-time state champion Heath Wilson uttered a statement that borrowed from Brennan’s line, and is hard to argue with.

    “We’ve been the most successful athletic program at Cape Fear, even in Cumberland County, since I got to Cape Fear,’’ Wilson said.

    He pointed to the last four years that saw the Colts bring home at least two individual state wrestling champions each of those years. Three of the eight state titles Cape Fear won were his, the last one coming just over a week ago when he dominated the 3-A 145-pound weight class in the state tournament in Greensboro to win his title.

    He was not alone and teammate Nick Minacapelli had a similarly dominating effort en route to taking the 220-pound championship, erasing the disappointment of finishing third the season before.

    For Wilson, one of the biggest obstacles he had to deal with all season was the pressure of chasing a third state title after winning as a sophomore and junior. But Wilson said the pressure to win the second straight championship last year was tougher than the pressure he faced this season.

    “Butterflies are normally a routine for me,’’ Dallas said. “Don’t get me wrong, they were there. I knew what I had to do, and I got the job done.’’

    Heath Wilson, Dallas’ father and head coach, said the seeds for his son’s string of titles were sown during Dallas’ freshman year, when he came up short in his first bid for a state championship.

    Heath scored a lopsided win earlier in the season over the wrestler who would win the state title in his weight class. But he eventually suffered from what his dad calls “sticker shock."
    “They get in there, look at the lights, look up in the stands,’’ Heath said. “There’s not a whole lot that don’t get wide-eyed.’’ He finished third in the 4-A East Regional tournament that year and lost in the quarterfinals of the state tournament, failing to place in the top six in his weight class that year.

    That experience was all Dallas needed to correct the problem. “He blames it on his mental toughness,’’ Heath said. “After that, he decided he was going to fix it.’’
    Dallas said he would lie in bed at night and convince himself that no matter who stepped on the mat to face him, he was going to win.

    His final record for this season was 48-2, but those two losses were not against any living opponent. After he felt a sharp pain in his knee during a late-season tournament, he elected not to compete, to save himself for the upcoming run to the state finals.

    It got him two losses via injury default. “I was being safe and I took the right path,’’ he said.

    It showed in his dominance in the state tournament. None of his four matches went the distance. He defeated two of his opponents by pin. The other two, including his state finals match, were by technical fall, both matches stopped because he had gotten so far ahead in total points.

    Now that his high school career is over, Dallas is pointing to college, where he has yet to make a final decision. He’s got an official visit to North Carolina State coming up. The University of North Carolina talked to him after the semifinals of the state tournament, and he also has Campbell University on his mind.

    “Everything is still up in the air,’’ he said. “I want to take my time.’’

    So does his teammate, Minacapelli, who has scholarship offers in both football and wrestling.

    Like Dallas, Minacapelli was motivated to do better this year after a disappointing finish last season.

    “It definitely inspired me to work way harder,’’ he said after a third-place finish in 2019. “I felt like I didn’t leave it all on the mat last year. I had to prove myself. I had a chip on my shoulder.’’

    He made up for it by wrestling more aggressively this season, taking more shots and no longer relying on defense to win matches. “Now I rely on offense,’’ he said. “I could definitely see improvement.’’

    It clearly showed in the state finals. Of his four wins, three were by pin, one in just 32 seconds and only one of his three wins by pin extending to the third period. The fourth win was a major decision, 16-8.

    He said he was “super nervous” going into his finals match and could hear his heart beating in his chest. He quickly overcame that problem by scoring five points in the first period and taking command of an opponent he would eventually pin for the title.

    “Everything went away and I knew I had the win,’’ he said.

    It was not only a win for Minacapelli, it was the final high school wrestling match as coach for Heath Wilson, who told his team before the season that he was going to step down after 15 years at Cape Fear as both an assistant and head coach. A wrestler himself at the school, Heath Wilson was also a Cape Fear state champion.

    “We had some great kids at Cape Fear,’’ Wilson said. “To read a kid and be able to figure out how he’s motivated is a passion of mine. You’ve got to really figure out what buttons to push and what buttons not to push because you’ll run them out of the room.’’

    But the biggest thrill, obviously, was getting to coach his son to three state titles.

    “It was the best of both worlds, as father and coach,’’ Heath said. “Both the good and the bad, that experience is indescribable.’’

  • Match Dot Con
      A woman wrote me on an online dating site. Her profile said she was 42. I’m 37, which isn’t a big age difference, so we went out. We had a blast and were planning to go out again when she e-mailed and confessed she’ll be 49 in August. She seemed really cool, had a great sense of humor, and looked older than 42, but was definitely still cute. Should I be worried she might have other surprises in store?  
    — Numbers Racket

      A seasoned shopper on an online dating site doesn’t just wonder if everybody’s lying, he expects it. People will tell you right in their profile that honesty is extremely important to them — then sandwich that claim between more fudge than you can buy in one of those candy stores you see in the mall. And, because men and women have different hard-wired preferences for what they seek in a partner, they lie about different things. Men tend to lie about their height and income. Women are likely to lie about their age and weight.
     {mosimage} Deception has always played a big part in romantic marketing. Mascara is a lie. Wearing a slimming color is a lie. Frankly, deodorant is a lie, but let’s hope the masses continue to embrace olfactory dishonesty. Online, people can get away with much more. When they create their dating profile, they aren’t lying to somebody’s face, they’re lying on a resume they’re sending off into the ether. And, they aren’t doing it as themselves, but as GolfBeast or ChocolateLuvr89. So, you see “Husky dude with most of his hair and a quirky sense of adventure...” — instead of “Male-pattern-balding, out-of-shape weirdo, teetering between thoughts of suicide and mass murder, seeks model.”
      Many of these hyperbolists seem to forget that there’s going to be some point of reckoning. Or, they keep telling themselves they’re planning on losing the weight or rolling off the couch and looking for a job.
      As for Miss 42-and-counting, try to have a little compassion. Guys tend to go for younger or much-younger women, and guys on dating sites do searches with an age cutoff, which means she never gets the chance to be judged for her looks instead of her age. Regarding your worry that she might have “other surprises” in store, consider it a good sign that she confessed her real age after the first date. If you don’t think she’s too old for you, keep dating her, and see whether she seems inclined toward convenient dishonesty. There’s a good chance you’ve heard the worst of it.
      (c)2008, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved.
  • 03-04-15-abs.gifWhen it comes to making a difference, solving community problems and being an agent of positive change, Dr. Doreen Hilton, a professor at Fayetteville State University’s Department of Psychology takes a committed but somewhat unconventional approach.

    Since the 1980s Hilton has been a member of the Association of Social and Behavioral Scientists. The organization is hosting its 80th Annual Conference at the Embassy Suites at 4760 Lake Valley Dr. on March 19-21. The conference is open to the public and will cover a broad range of topics.

    “The Association of Social and Behavioral Scientists was founded at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte,” said Hilton. “The conference has a long history — the association, too — of addressing issues that impact the lives of blacks. The association is an embracing organization committed to making a difference. That has always been a highlight for me.”

    What makes the conference significant is that scholars in a wide array of disciplines come together and exchange ideas. They generate and discuss theories and practical applied solutions. The scholars come together at the meeting every year and it is at this conference that they share those ideas and research. Many go back to their home institutions and home agencies and continue the work that was shared and inspired at the conference.

    “Every year that I have gone, I have come back with new information and ideas and new energy to infuse into the teaching and work I do with students here,” said Hilton. “It is also an excellent opportunity for networking with scholars from across the country.”

    As President Elect and Program Chair, Hilton knew Fayetteville would be a great fit for the conference.

    “We have many universities in North Carolina, we also have a large military presence here. This is a good place to bring scholars together to highlight the work that goes on in this area of our country that fits with the mission of our organization,” she said.

    Concurrent breakout sessions are planned throughout the course of the conference. The topics of discussion deal with everything from mental health of veterans to HIV AIDS prevention to educational challenges, which Hilton noted is important with budget cuts at public schools and higher education. Some of the education sessions will deal with retention and the high school dropout rates across the country. Health issues like diabetes and cancer are on the agenda as well.

    “All of these health issues are far too prevalent in the African-American community,” said Hilton. “This conference gives us the opportunity to address some of the issues and go back to our communities and implement programs and research that will improve our communities. There are many in our area affiliated with military: active duty, veterans and family members. They have experiences that are very different from the general population and it is important for us to address those and take a look at what we can do to make a difference there, too.”

    The Association of Social and Behavioral Scientists 80th Annual Conference is open to the public but registration is required. The cost is $260 and includes the W.E.B. DuBois Luncheon. Tickets for the W.E.B. DuBois Luncheon on Friday, March 20 are $35. To register for the conference and/or purchase tickets to the W.E.B. DuBois Luncheon, call 910-551-6761 or email ASBSConference2015@gmail.com.

    Photo: Dr. Doreen Hilton is the President-Elect and Program Chair for the 80th Annual Conference of the Association of Social and Behav-ioral Scientists, which will be in Fayetteville March 19-21.

  • 01 01 12004710 10156267691740107 1215836511497132668 nAndrew and Gail Morfesis are very active in the community. The prominent power couple’s contributions continue to provide services and entertainment to the citizens of Fayetteville.

    Andrew is a medical doctor and his wife, Gail, holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in Voice. He has a clinic, Owen Drive Surgical Clinic, where he performs surgery under local anesthesia.

    “He still sees people for medical issues and surgery which is a great benefit to the community because things that can be safely done in the office is much cheaper for people,” said Gail Morfesis. “Even if you have insurance you still have to pay a co-pay and sometimes it is cost prohibitive to have things done, so people just try not to have them done even if it is painful or unpleasant.”

    She added that two days a week her husband works for North Carolina Hyperbarics where they treat individuals with ulcers on their arms and legs.

    Gail took an early retirement from UNC Pembroke in 2007, and since then she has been doing what she loves doing the most — directing and producing shows.

    “I was contacted by the Crown Theatre last year to write an interactive murder mystery for them,” said Morfesis. “It was the first show I ever wrote and the play is based around songs because that is my background.”

    The play is entitled “Love Letters/Sleight of Hand” and the plot of the play is quite intriguing. Gail shares, “It starts out with a karaoke theme and I am the main actress in the show. I am the older actress who starts an agency called “It’s All About You Agency” to promote young artists. During the years that I am doing this, I meet my husband who was performing at a club. I hired him to become part of the agency and then we get married. The plot of this is that he tries to take over the agency from me which is really a stable of young women singers. Of course due to his philandering, we never know which of the ladies that are in the cast of characters has actually killed him. At the end of the first act he is actually electrocuted by the karaoke machine, but anyone in the cast could have manipulated that. During the course of the story all of his interactions with different women comes out. It’s just a really fun show.”

    The cast includes Gail, five female singers/actresses, and two police officer characters. At the end of the show it is revealed who committed the murder.

    “The play is interactive so the audience gets to asks questions of the cast,” said Morfesis.

    “We usually have a foreman at each table that gets to ask the question and during their dessert time they get to talk about why they think different characters may have done it as well as ask one question of one character.”

    She added, “Each table will get to vote on who they think committed the murder and the tables that guess the correct character will win some kind of prize.”

    Up & Coming Weekly is sponsoring the play. The performances are Friday, April 9 and Saturday, April 10 at 7 p.m. at Gates Four Golf & Country Club.

    When not putting on shows, Gail works with many organizations in the community.

    “I was asked by Hank Parfitt, president of the Lafayette Society of Fayetteville, to start doing a concert for them every year of French music to supplement Lafayette’s birthday weekend,” said Morfesis. “I have been doing a concert for them for the last 12 years and I do involve local artists in town and people that work for the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra.”

    “Because of the Lafayette Society, I worked a good bit at Methodist University because Methodist houses the Lafayette Collection of artifacts and initially for the first ten years we did our concert and our artifacts display on the same night,” said Morfesis.

    “It is kind of funny because I never really worked for Methodist but most people thought I did because I did those concerts there
    every year.”

    Gail has also worked with Dr. Marvin Curtis at Fayetteville State University performing lead roles for three years in the summer opera as well as directing shows for UNC Pembroke and the Gilbert Theater.

    “I have sung with the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra in the past and at the Gilbert I directed and produced about five to six different shows there,” said Morfesis.

    “I also worked with Fayetteville Technical Community College as their music director for some of their shows and also directed their choir two years ago when they were between instructors.”

    She added, “I do a lot of work with civic organizations and I feel like you need to give back to your community so I have done work with Heritage Square. They were unable to do their annual Christmas Tour of Homes in December 2020, so I was the emcee for their one-hour video of the homes here in Fayetteville. I was called by The Care Clinic to help them with their upcoming wine and silent auction that will take place in May of this year. The Crown has contacted me to write another play for the fall of this year.”

    So, what’s next on the horizon for Gail?

    “I would like to start a company for up and coming theater people that I would like to call 'Femme Fatale' which means the deadly woman,” said Morfesis. “There’s a lot of talented women who have written shows and are really great actresses and I would like to continue seeing the work that I have done.”

    “I try to work with as many organizations as I can to better the life of the people in the community,” said Morfesis. “If you really reach out and do something for people you will become a part of the community and you can do great things.”

    Tickets for the Fayetteville Diner Theatre can be purchased at www.fayettevilledinnertheatre.com.

  • 06 HarmoneyMother, finance professional, and now an author — Crystal McLean is changing the scene by introducing a children’s book that talks about finances. Inspired by her daughter, she is here to change the “generational cycle” of children growing up not understanding finances.

    City Center Gallery & Books will host a virtual meet and greet on their Facebook page with McLean March 25 at 6:15 p.m. to discuss her book
    “Harmoney & the Empty Piggy Bank.” On March 27 at 1 p.m., there will be an in-person, socially-distanced book signing at the store on Hay Street in Fayetteville.

    McLean is a graduate of Fayetteville State University. Starting off as a University of North Carolina at Pembroke student, she took some time off and worked in the finance industry. When she went back to school at FSU they had launched a new program in banking and finance, which was something McLean was passionate about. Now, having published a children’s books on finances, she is here to normalize the topic in a child-friendly way.

    Growing up, McLean said she had very little knowledge about the subject of finances. “Growing up, finance was a very taboo topic. If you have it, you talk about it, but if you didn’t have it, you didn’t talk about it,” McLean said.

    The frustrating part to her was in school the subject was not taught.

    “It’s inevitable to have to pay bills, taxes, etc. If it’s not taught it sets them up for financial failure,” she said.

    McLean decided to do something about it by publishing the book, “Harmoney & the Empty Piggy Bank.” The children’s book explains the principles of money, saving versus investing, budgeting, and more on a level that children can grasp. She wrote this because when she took her daughter, who was about seven at the time, to pick out finance books, there were none.

    This book will provide parents an opportunity to bring up the topic of finances with their children. It explains money in a child-friendly story with pictures and with a language that kids will understand. McLean said she was inspired by two books: “Amber’s Magical Savings Box” by Rachel Hanible and “Wesley Learns to Invest” by
    Prince Dykes.

    McLean hopes that reading “Harmoney & the Empty Piggy Bank” will invite parents to bring up the topic with their kids. She wants readers to know that the next generation is watching what we are doing now, with everything, including the way we handle our finances. McLean wants parents to know that she would love for them to reach out about any questions they may have when exploring the world of finance with their children.

    McLean wants people to know she is a woman on a mission to make a difference. Her book is available on Amazon and her website. For more information about the author and her book please visit her website, https://www.authorcrystalmclean.com/ or email, hello@authorcrystalmclean.com.

  • 030216jeff5.jpg

    The business people of Fayetteville’s Haymont, or is it Haymount, community are making another effort to organize themselves much like downtown merchants have.  “We all call it Haymont,” says Elle Williams, general manager of the Runner’s Spot at 1221 Hay Street. The epicenter of the business section is at the top of Haymont Hill where Hay Street, Highland Avenue, Oakridge Avenue, Fort Bragg Road and Morganton Road converge. 

    Bobby Wiggs and his parents are natives of the community. The elder Mr. Wiggs is 87 now, and Bobby Jr. is pretty much the unofficial mayor of Haymont. He owns Haymont Auto Repair at the corner of Morganton Road and Broadfoot Avenue. The community is a cluster of “unique little family owned businesses,” Wiggs said. He and about 30 other business owners are trying to put together a small business alliance similar to the merchants group downtown. “They’ve got some traction,” he noted.

    Williams described the area as “a hidden gem.” She says a main objective of an organization is to cross promote and raise public awareness. Parking is an issue everyone has to deal with, she added. Williams told Up & Coming Weekly that her business agreeably shares a small parking lot with Latitude 35 Bar & Grill. 

    Haymont is loosely defined as the region of the city bounded by Bragg Boulevard, Woodrow Street, Glenville Avenue, Pinecrest Drive, McGilvary Street and Turnpike Road. It’s one of the oldest areas of Fayetteville marked by nearly four dozen antebellum houses, upper-middle class homes, an historic civil war arsenal site and state-owned museum and the Cape Fear Regional Theatre. The Haymont Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. (Portions of the content of this article were adapted from a copy of the original nomination documents. Adaptation copyright © 2011, The Gombach Group.)

    A recent brouhaha over the future of the Fair Oaks mansion at the Fort Bragg Road crossover brought out Haymont’s wealthy home owners who persuaded the Fayetteville Zoning Commission not to allow a prospective owner to turn the mansion into a private school. They prevailed in a 4-0 vote of the commission.

    When it was developing in the early nineteenth century, Haymont bordered but was situated outside of the city limits. It was not until approximately 1910 that lower Haymont residences on Hale Street, Brandt’s Lane, Hillside Avenue, Athens Avenue and Hay Street up to Fountainhead Lane were incorporated into the city. Haymont is one of Fayetteville’s oldest and most cohesive neighborhoods. 


    But there is another side of Haymont. From Broadfoot Avenue, on the other side of Arsenal Avenue, over to Turnpike Road, are small, low income houses. It’s a very poor area separated from well kempt homes along Valley Road by a large privacy fence. It was once drug-infested, especially along Branson Street. But twenty years ago, Highland Presbyterian Church built a community center at the end of Davis Street. Local residents got involved and police cracked down. Today, while that area of Haymont remains impoverished, it’s safer than before. 

  • 26 rendering don kempBy age 90, most people are settling into their twilight years resting, relaxing and enjoying time free from work commitments. Donald Kemp is not most people. Kemp keeps busy with writing projects, a passion that began more than five decades ago.

    A Fayetteville resident for 40 years, Kemp is originally from Michigan. His serious writing began in 1968 with a series of articles in a Rochester City newspaper about his own heart bypass surgery. The articles lead to his first published book “I Live With A Mended Heart.” At the time of his surgery, Cleveland Clinic was the only place to get have the procedure. Kemp’s book was inspired by his own procedure and his life in recovery.

    Kemp has also produced other works such as articles for magazines and newspapers during his time living in Michigan. As well as writing, Kemp explored his story-telling ability by directing plays in California, which he describes as “an explosion of emotion to see what is in your mind come to life on a stage.”

    His first full-length novel, “Rendering,” is a mystery thriller published in 2016. The inspiration behind this novel was a newspaper article about three inches high. The book took Kemp seven years to write. The book developed over time while he was participating in a writing group that met every two weeks. The group would “toss chapters over the hot coals,” Kemp recalls as a way of challenging authors. Since that experience, Kemp said he chooses to stick to shorter books and writing projects.

    His next book “Senior Touring Society,” was published in 2018. It is a comedy about elders going to and from a stage play.
    Kemp has also written three children’s books, specifically for his grandchildren. He wrote them each year that his military son was stationed at Fort Bragg so that he could read them to his grandchildren at Christmas.

    With two books waiting to be published, Kemp doesn’t plan to slow down any time soon. He said he has a bunch of stories and ideas that he keeps organized on little slips of paper around his office.

    Kemp offers one steadfast rule for aspiring authors: make time to write every day. “Even if it is one hour, or just writing notes, writing every day will get your ideas down on paper.”

    Kemp also offers a tip he learned from reading one of his writing inspirations, Ernest Hemingway. Known for his economic prose, Hemmingway’s writing is minimalist with few adverbs or adjectives. Hemmingway made a special effort to write in simple and direct language. Kemp said he tries to follow that philosophy too.

    Kemp’s book are available online in e-book and soft cover formats. For more information visit https://donkempauthor.com/

    Editor April Olsen contributed to this article.

  • 16 Even as we breathe book coverCherokee is in the news again this month. For North Carolinians, the Cherokee term brings up a whole special set of complex thoughts, especially ones regarding the Cherokee people living in far western North Carolina.

    The big news about this group of Cherokees is “Even As We Breathe,” the debut novel of Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle. It is the first novel ever published by an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

    Appropriately, the book deals with the special challenges Cherokee people face dealing with the non-Indian people who surround them. Set in 1942, during World War II, the lead character, 19-year-old Cowney Sequoyah, lives a hardscrabble life with his grandmother Lishie, whom he loves deeply. His Uncle Bud lives nearby. Bud works Cowney hard and treats him badly. Bud’s brother, Cowney’s father, died overseas at the end of World War I. Now it is 1942 and World War II is raging, but Cowney’s deformed leg means he will not fight.

    When a groundskeeping job at Asheville’s Grove Park Inn opens up, Cowney takes it. The Army is using the Grove Park to confine quarantined enemy officials and their families.

    Joining him in his family’s Model T for the two-hour drive from Cherokee to Asheville is Essie, a beautiful young Cherokee woman who is anxious to break away from the Cherokee community.

    Cowney and Essie become good friends. He wishes for more, but she develops interest in one of the foreign detainees. On this situation Clapsaddle builds a poignant part of the book’s plot.

    When Lishie dies, Cowney’s world collapses.

    Clapsaddle describes the scents he notices as the Cherokee family and friends gather to grieve:
    Fresh dirt
    Pine sap
    She repeats this refrain over and over again to bring the reader into Cowney’s sadness.

    A white man drops by to pay respects. He had served with Bud and Cowney’s dad in World War I. Bud pushes him away, but not before the man gives Cowney his card and tells him to call if he ever needs help.

    Later, back at the Grove Park, when Cowney is accused in connection with the disappearance of the young daughter of one of the foreign internees, that card and its owner become keys to finding the truth.

    Other characters and places fill the novel and enrich Cowney’s story.

    An ancient Cherokee man, Tsa Tsi, owns a monkey that wanders freely through the forests. Preacherman appears at funerals to blend Cherokee culture with the religion of the white man. Lishie wakes Cowney by singing “Amazing Grace” in Cherokee: “U ne la nv i u we tsi.” Forest fires break out near Lishie’s cabin, and the smoke provides an eerie cover for the gloomy parts of the story. The region’s lovely waterfalls give Cowney places to find peace.

    Clapsaddle brings all these, and much more, together for a lovely story that engages its readers and gives them a vivid experience in Cherokee culture.

    Of course, there are reminders of the unfair and discriminatory treatment suffered by the Cherokee at the hands of the whites who populate historic Cherokee lands. Near the book’s end, Cowney’s grounds crew boss takes him to dinner and a movie. At the movie box office the clerk initially refused to sell a ticket. “Don’t serve Indians here,” she snarled.

    Cowney and his boss quietly go to the balcony and see Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator.”

    Cowney is moved by Chaplin’s final speech against intolerance and hatred, an underlying theme of Clapsaddle’s book.

    Citing the Bible’s book of Luke, Chaplin said, “The Kingdom of God is within man, not one man, nor a group of men, but in all men, in you.”

  • 05 Craig LeHoullierThe Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Association of Cumberland County will host its 2021 Master Gardner Spring Symposium virtually on March 20 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

    The purpose of the horticultural event is to help educate local residents in “state and research approved horticultural practices,” and raise money for education. With this event, two $1,500 dollar scholarships will be awarded to FTCC horticulture students, as well as a $500 grant for a horticulture professor teaching hands-on horticulture education.

    Participants will not only be helping those students and professors with an educational opportunity, they will also be helping Master Gardeners to go out to provide physical and financial assistance to surrounding area gardens. These area gardens include Cape Fear Botanical Garden, the Wounded Warrior Garden at Fort. Bragg, the Second Harvest Food Bank and Garden, and more.

    Guest speakers at this year’s symposium will be Kirk Brown, who is a nationally known horticulturist. His presentation, “A Gardeners Guide to 200 Years of Growing America,” will speak to the importance of “sowing, growing and owning green in our lives.” During the presentation, Brown will be talking about travels in America and how to recognize the design and art within gardening. In a second presentation, “If I had an Apple,” Brown which will discuss what the digital generation knows that older gardeners may have forgotten and how social media, crowdsourcing, etc., can actually work for people who work hard in the dirt for their gardens. This presentation will show different examples of gardens that he calls “American Edens.”

    Another guest speaker will be Craig LeHoullier, also known as the North Carolina “Tomato Man.” LeHoullier will discuss how those who garden in the 2020s are the most fortunate and will use history to explain why. He will also talk about how his 15-year-old dwarf tomato breeding project has now landed him with 135 new varieties. LeHoullier will also explain his techniques in producing such a great garden and compare how the different living zones contributed.

    Registering for the symposium will allow Master Gardeners to provide assistance to the community as well as educate locals and help them to get their gardens up and blooming this spring/summer season. This event will be include door-prizes, a virtual auction and a virtual tomato sale of LeHoullier’s variety of tomatoes. The registration link, action link and tomato sale link are provided below. This event is one you will not want to miss and provides a “once in a lifetime learning experience” from professional gardeners.

    Judy Dewar, chairperson for this event said, “We hope to improve all of our quality of lives by providing educational opportunities for residents to learn how to be good stewards of our environment while also being sustainable. And just because life is short, we hope our participants will have a ‘fun time’ while they are with us.”

    Registration for this “one in a gardening lifetime event” can be made on Eventbrite on the following link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/cumberland-county-master-gardener-virtual-symposium-2021-tickets-13508558

    To bid on items in the auction – with items ranging from artwork, handmade quilts to live plants – visit https://www.32auctions.com/CCEMGVA . The tomato sale link is https://www.32auctions.com/Tomatoes. The tomato plants offered for sale are dwarf tomatoes that are part of the “Dwarf Tomato Project.”

    Pictured above Craig LeHoullier

  • The difference between entertainment and art is that art strives to teach us something about human nature.03-27-13-gilbert.gifThis statement holds true across all mediums of self-expression, though art and entertainment are not mutually exclusive.

    Art may still be entertaining and entertainment may still be emotionally touching or jarring; but a work is only truly art when it illuminates a truth about humanity. The play The Effect of Gamma Rays on The Man-In-the-Moon Marigolds is art. It is on stage at the Gilbert Theater from April 4-21.

    The play was written in 1964 by Paul Zindel. Zindel, a science teacher, received the Pulitzer prize in 1971 for the play. The story, set in the ‘60s, centers around the dysfunctional Hunsdorfer family.

    Matilda “Tillie” is the protagonist of the story and the youngest of the family. Throughout the story she struggles against the darkness in her life and serves as a symbol of an individual who can rise above their circumstances.

    Ruth is the oldest sister, and unlike Tillie she cannot defy her controlling and abusive mother. Beatrice is the main antagonist of the story, and the mother of the family. She is a single mother who is overwhelmed with the abuse and destruction she rains upon both herself and those around her.

    It is obvious that the story is a dark one, but it is often by exploring the darkness in ourselves that the beauty and strength we hold internally is revealed.

    Amanda Brooks Learner, who plays Beatrice in the show, says that the play “is a compelling story. It is suspenseful, and the audience should expect to be taken on a trip. It is full of painful, beautiful and painfully beautiful moments. There are horrible moments and the story will force the audience to ask questions such as ‘what is the meaning of life and how can we take this circumstance and find hope?’

    “Throughout the play, the audience sees true cruelty and the affects of alcoholism. Most people have been affected by alcoholism in some way, be it a family member or relative, and in this story we see the affects of truly hopeless alcoholism, abuse and cruelty on children. We see that some can rise above it and some can’t,” she said.

    The antagonist is often an under-rated character. Without the evils in the world there could be no good, the same principle holds true within this play. Without Beatrice, Tillies amazing story of perseverance would not be as powerful as it is. Learner expresses this sentiment in her excitement to portray the character.

    Learner says, “I (Beatrice) can help to tell her story and bring humanity to Beatrice so that the audience can relate to a poor, struggling woman in a time period where divorce is unheard of. I can speak to the audience and help them to identify with the pain of being lonely. I live through them and this is an opportunity to journey into myself and explore the darkness within myself. The darkness scares me, but through it I am able to support the light.”

    The Gilbert Theater is located at 116 Green St. For more information or to order tickets, contact the theatre at 678-7186 or at www.gilberttheatre.com

  •   As the Crape Myrtles begin to bloom, thoughts turn toward spring and the great outdoors. Every spring, I try to learn a new sport, from canoeing to rock wall climbing, I have tried everything and this year will be no different. This year, I have decided to tackle the somewhat illusive sport of golf. I will do this with the help of the PGA Golf Professionals at Stryker and Ryder Golf Courses.
      {mosimage}Golf has been a favorite past-time in America for years and its not surprising that it is a multibillion dollar a year business. Golf is a fun way to network, socialize and simply enjoy a great day outside. My husband has been golfing for a good portion of his life. He enjoys it immensely but for me it just seems so impossible to learn. This year I have two great mentors and their staff willing to help me overcome my fear of looking stupid — hopefully without tearing up the greens in the process. The PGA Golf Professionals at Stryker and Ryder Golf courses are working hard this year at the Spring Golf Clinics to train everyone from amateurs, like myself, to more advanced skill levels, the wonderful game of golf.
      With the help of the Spring Golf Clinics I will finally be able to grasp the game of golf. The clinics are available to all military and government identification cardholders 18 and older, both men and women, The clinics include unlimited range balls and instruction by a PGA golf professional and a knowledgeable staff. Classes are small and fill up fast, so early registration is encouraged.
      Robert Taylor is the golf pro at Ryder which is a beautiful golf course set among tall Carolina pines and rolling hills. Ryder has several water holes, which come into play. The greens are small and undulating. The fairways are tree-lined and hilly. The bunkers are well positioned and, at times, deep. While not long in length, Ryder is very challenging for all skill levels. Jeff Johnson is the PGA professional for Stryker, which was designed by Donald Ross and features a large clubhouse, a well-stocked golf shop and new locker rooms. This state of the art facility is sure to please even the biggest critics of golf.   Both facilities offer a pro shop and a very knowledgeable staff answer all of your questions.
      The main reason I go to Stryker and Ryder is the staff. The staff does everything they can to make me feel comfortable when I visit. They take time to break things down into terms I will understand. That’s why Stryker and Ryder Golf Courses are my (and my husband’s) “First Choice.”

  • 03-12-14-fireantz-pic.gifYour Fayetteville FireAntz Hockey Team begins the last month of the regular season in the hunt for a playoff spot. It has been an exciting season on the ice and off, thanks to the different promotions that the FireAntz have had at each of their games. It looks to get even better in March.

    Friday, March 14, it is the FireAntz vs. the Louisiana Ice Gators. The FireAntz meet the Ice Gators for the fourth time this season and continue their late-season push toward the playoffs. It’s Faith and Family night with the FireAntz. There are group rates available at the FireAntz office, if you have a large group that you would like to bring to the game.

    On Saturday, March 15, the FireAntz take on the Louisiana Ice Gators. The FireAntz host Louisiana for the second game of a weekend doubleheader. It’s Ray Price of Fayetteville Bike Night. Everyone who rides a motorcycle to the game will get one free ticket, per bike, courtesy of Ray Price of Fayetteville. Also, the FireAntz will wear specialty jerseys that will be auctioned to fans after the game. Be sure to get there early.

    Tuesday, March 18 the team plays the Knoxville Ice Bears: This game is to make up for the one originally scheduled on Feb. 11. Fans may use tickets for the Feb. 11 game at the Box Office and they will be accepted. The game is brought to you by ERA Strother Real Estate. There will also be a live performance by Nashville recording artist, Trae Edwards, brought to you by Cape Fear Heroes. Go to any local Kangaroo gas station and get a voucher for a $2 ticket at the Crown Box Office, courtesy of Coca Cola.

    Friday, March 21 the FireAntz face the Peoria RiverMen: This is the second to last home game of the season and you won’t want to miss it. The FireAntz will battle hard for a playoff spot and the action will be intense. Check the FireAntz website for more information on special pricing and details.

    Saturday, March 22 the team plays the Peoria RiverMen: Don’t miss the last game of the regular season. There is a lot going on at this FireAntz game. It’s Race Night featuring the local dirt track and drag racers and their vehicles. There will be a display of local race cars in the parking lot for fans to see, up close and personal. It’s also Scout Night. Scouts who come in their Class “A” uniforms will get a scout patch and free admission to the game! Group rates for the game are available, in advance.

    It’s an exciting final month of the regular season for the FireAntz. Find out more about the FireAntz and purchased tickets at 321-0123 or www.fireantzhockey.com.

    Photo: Forward #7 John Clewlow

    Photo Courtesy Carter/ Groves Photography

  • Bible As we head toward Easter, you’re bound to see a big-production movie (or at least a listing) that seems remarkably like a story you heard. Maybe you heard it in Sunday School or heard it told during one of the countless sermons preached about when God parted the Red Sea to allow the people of Israel to escape the Egyptians who had long enslaved them.

    On-screen or off, the imagery is striking and worthy of all the mentions we can give it; God’s faithfulness to his people is amazing!

    But why were the Israelites enslaved in the first place? You can trace that throughout Israel’s history leading to that parting of that sea, but more specifically to Joseph – as in the ‘coat of many colors’ son of Jacob, whose name God eventually changed to Israel.

    Joseph is the one who was thrown into a pit and then sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, and the one whose trials, tribulations and rise to a place of prominence in Egypt are all told within the pages of the very first book of the Bible: Genesis.

    The book details how Joseph trusted God through his enslavement, betrayal and situations that would leave most of us in utter despair. It details how in a wild turn of events, he becomes the very one who saves his father and the descendants of his 11 brothers when Joseph’s homeland is dying during a devastating famine.

    Even after all they did to him, Joseph helps his brothers and their enormous tribes, which leads them all to relocate to Egypt. They flourish and become productive, growing in both stature and number, and eventually, there’s a change of power in Egypt. The new king wasn’t fond of foreigners thriving in his kingdom, so he enslaved the Israelites – this continued and worsened over more than 400 years.

    So yes, God parting the waters to allow them to march out unharmed under the leadership of Moses (that’s another story) is a big deal and worthy of every telling.

    But there are so many points worth making along the way.

    The Bible is rich with stories of pain and struggle, forgiveness and redemption, and when we study it all in context, we begin to understand God’s love for us in all-new ways.

    From the table of contents in the front to the maps in the back, reading and gleaning truth from the Bible is worth your while. And just like this story about the Israelites marching out of a 430-year captivity through a sea which parted to allow them to cross on dry land, and then comes crashing in on the army chasing them, there are many pieces to every story.

    So, take time to study the Bible.

    Don’t miss a moment. Don’t look past a hero or a healing because if you miss a piece, you just might miss the point.

  • In my last column, I wrote about the Mediterranean diet. Nutrition trends are popular and frequently discussed topics. There are as many opinions on the best diet as there are a variety of diets. The industry has taken an active approach in marketing to us to impact the way we eat. Marketed products come in the form of vitamins, powders, planned meals and drinks. Specialized diets have become so popular that it is not unusual to see diet-related options on restaurant menus. In the long run, proper nutrition depends on individual consumption and how our bodies respond to nutrition interventions. Lifestyle, current health, and genetics also significantly impact how we react to a diet. Two people of the same age, sex, height and weight will respond differently to the amount of weight loss in the same period and see weight loss in different areas of their bodies.

    I am not suggesting that you go on the Paleo diet, but it is an interesting subject. Enthusiasts of the Paleo diet believe it is the healthiest way to eat because it works with your genetics, resulting in more energy and keeping you lean and strong. The Paleo diet has a heavy focus on protein consumption. It is considered a caveman diet or a stone-age diet consisting of foods thought to be eaten by humans in the Paleolithic era, dating approximately 2.5 million to ten thousand years ago. The significant difference in eating during this time was the food was obtained by hunting, gathering fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds. When farming emerged, foods that became part of our diets included dairy products and legumes. Advocates of the diet believed that the addition of legumes and dairy products resulted in obesity and heart problems.

    Preferred Paleo foods are vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, wild game, grass-fed lean meat, fish rich in Omega 3 fatty acids and olive and walnut oils. People on the Paleo diet are advised to drink lots of water, black coffee or green tea. Foods to avoid are grains, legumes, dairy products, sugar, salt and potatoes. Some examples of a Paleo menu: Breakfast — smoothies with a combination of kale or spinach, banana, apple and almond milk or scrambled eggs with sauteed spinach, grilled tomatoes and pumpkin seeds. Lunch — mixed salad greens, fried sea bass, pumpkin seeds and olive oil dressing or roasted chicken with mixed greens, tomatoes and olive oil dressing. Dinner — roasted chicken stuffed with carrots and fresh rosemary or baked salmon with roasted asparagus.

    The Paleo diet emphasizes fruit, vegetables, animal proteins, nuts and olive oil. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes fruit, vegetables, whole grain products, nuts, seeds, olive oil, fish and less consumption of meat products.

    A safe approach to weight loss involves losing one to two pounds per week. Fad diets that cause a large amount of weight loss in a short time are not sustainable.

    A healthy approach to dieting includes a combination of diet and exercise. While going on a quick-fix diet for a special occasion or trying a friend’s diet can be tempting, the bottom line is that a sustainable lifestyle with good eating habits will result in a healthier you. Avoid processed foods, sugary drinks, saturated fats and sweets.

    Take your time selecting a diet and educating yourself or see a qualified nutritionist for meal plans. Live, love life with health and diet.

  • 03-04-15-fireantz-1.gifFireAntz right winger Kyle McNeil, is in his fourth professional season in Fayetteville where he has recorded 17 points on 10 goals and 7 assists through 42 games. The Cambridge, Ontario native has spent his entire professional career in Fayetteville and says that he “really appreciates the fans, the city, and the FireAntz organization.” During his time here in Fayetteville, McNeil has enjoyed the opportunity to give back to the community through the Heart of Carolina Food Drive every year.

    Growing up, McNeil looked up to legends like Wayne Gretzky and Wendell Clark, who inspired him to pursue a career in professional hockey. On game day, McNeil enjoys lunch from Fazoli’s after a morning skate followed by 2-3 hours of sleep. On the way to the rink, McNeil makes his routine pit stop at Starbucks. Just like most, McNeil dresses one foot at a time, but he is a bit superstitious when gearing up pregame, dressing from left to right for every game. Once he is finished playing, McNeil hopes to pursue a career in coaching while also becoming certified in03-04-15-firenatz-2.gif Crossfit.

    This season, McNeil’s roommate is rookie Austin Daae who is also a race car legend. McNeil says something that the public may not know about Daae is “he enjoys cartoon movies.” In the off season, McNeil spends time in Canada with family, but also makes it back down to Fayetteville and Myrtle Beach, where he enjoys the golf courses as well as a good steak from none other than Texas Roadhouse.

    Favorite Song: Talladega by Eric Church

    Favorite Movie: Goodfellas/Breakfast Club

    Favorite Alcoholic Beverage:  Bud Light

    Favorite Sports Team: Toronto Maple Leafs

    What would you do for a Klondike bar? “I would go 0-100 real quick.”

    Photo:  Kyle McNeil, FireAntz right winger

  • We Americans take great pride in our Constitutional right to free speech. It is, after all, the very first amendment we made to our Constitution in our clarifying Bill of Rights in 1791. The First Amendment protects us from government restrictions on our speech, but it is widely interpreted as a right to voice our thoughts in public. We cherish it, in part, because other nations do not have such a guarantee for their people, a sad reality on full display during Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

    So, it is not surprising that a recent editorial in the New York Times with the headline America has a free speech problem" caught my attention. The Times' editorial board describes our problem this way. "For all the tolerance and enlightenment that modern society claims, Americans are losing hold of a fundamental right as citizens of a free country: the right to speak their minds and voice their opinions in public without fear of being shamed or shunned... the old lesson of 'think before you speak' has given way to the new lesson of 'speak at your peril.'"

    The Times lays much of the blame for this dangerous situation on the vicious ideological war between the right and left of our political system, with one side pretending "cancel culture" does not exist and the other side attacking rapid societal change with laws banning books and censoring some discussions in schools and colleges.

    What's more, the newspaper has teamed with Siena College to poll on this issue. Here are some of its questions … be honest with yourself as you read them!

    • Over the past year, have you held your tongue because you were concerned about retaliation or harsh criticism?
    • Over the past year, have you retaliated against or harshly criticized another person because of something he or she said?
    • How much of a problem is it that some Americans do not exercise their freedom of speech in everyday situations out of fear of retaliation or harsh criticism?

    No matter how you responded personally, 55% of those polled said they had indeed held their tongues, more women than men and slightly more Republicans than Democrats. Fewer, 22%, reported that they had done the retaliating, more younger folks and more liberals than conservatives.

    And, not surprisingly, fully 84% believe fear of retaliation for expressing one's opinions is a "very serious" or "somewhat serious" problem. Nearly half said they feel less free to talk about politics now than they did ten years ago.

    Millions of us are worried about this, and with good reason.

    Living in a free society requires respectful communication, not the free-flowing, often incorrect and false and/or unattributed vitriol on various social media platforms. Large numbers of us read, believe and disseminate misinformation, and disinformation is damaging our nation.

    We cannot communicate with — much less understand — each other if we do not respect each other's right to express our opinions, no matter how much we might disagree with those opinions. If we are honest with ourselves, most of us identify with one political side.

    At this time in our nation's history, few of us actually have open minds. Conversion is not the point.

    The point, the concern, the danger is that we have lost the will and the ability to communicate respectfully when we disagree with each other. We see each other not as fellow Americans with differing points of view but as enemies.

    If that is true, we have squandered our precious right to free speech.

    Therefore, we have canceled each other and our precious First Amendment right.

  • 031815misbehavin.gifSunday afternoon matinees at the Cape Fear Regional Theatre are usually fairly sedate. The audience, usually filled with those over the age 60, claps politely, laughs politely and exits politely. That was not the case for the performance of Ain’t Misbehavin’ that I took in on Sunday.

    The crowd, and yes, there was a crowd, filled the theatre. Prior to the show’s beginning, they chatted and laughed. It was an animated bunch that came out to enjoy great music and have a good time. People were discussing the music, the play, the theatre. The energy in the lobby was high and the performance on stage only took it higher.

    Ain’t Misbehavin’ is a collection of music by Fats Waller. Waller was the trend setter in jazz music during the Harlem Renaissance. He was a talented jazz musician who tickled the ivories on the piano, as well as the organ. He composed his own music, sang it and presented it in a comedic way. He was also an innovator, developing the Harlem stride style of playing, which laid the foundation for modern jazz. To do justice to a musical revue of Waller’s music, it was imperative that the Cape Fear Regional Theatre pull together a talented cast, and they succeeded in doing just that.

    The backbone to the cast was, in my opinion, the music, which was directed by Fayetteville native Brian Whitted. Whitted is a nationally recognized entertainer who got his start on the CFRT stage as a child, and returns from time to time to do shows that appeal to him. This show was perfect for Whitted. Without him on the piano, it would not have had the impact nor the appeal. Kudos for bringing such an amazing talent to the CFRT show.

    While the entire cast played well off of each other, the heavy lifters were David LaMarr, Tony Perry and
    Gigi Ritchey.

    Ritchey, also from Fayetteville has a deep, rich voice that reaches all the way down to her toes and comes back out of her mouth as pure gold. Ritchie also has a sense of fun and joy that comes from within her when she sings.

    LaMarr and Perry, both national performers, brought comedy, as well as rich voices to the stage. The duo got the audience into the act with their performance of  “Fat and Greasy” and LaMarr stole the show with “The
    Viper’s Drag.”

    When LaMarr and Perry launched into “Fat and Greasy,” the audience was clapping, and hold on to your hats, singing along.
    If you see one show this year at the CFRT, make it Ain’t Misbehavin’, you’ll never have as much fun being bad, as you will at this performance. You have one weekend left, so visit www.cfrt.org to purchase your tickets.

  • Hotels Very few people know that my first career out of the Army, in 1970, was in the hospitality industry. My degree, earned in the Army's Project Transition Program, was in hotel/motel management. And fortunately, my first job was with Pinehurst, Inc. I was a hotel management intern at their elegant and historic Carolina Hotel in the village of Pinehurst. I worked under and with the industry's most experienced and dedicated hospitality professionals. From bell hopping to the front desk to housekeeping, night auditing and food and beverage, I learned from the best. At twenty-one years old, I was eager to learn the craft and even keener to immerse myself in a satisfying career dedicated to making people feel welcomed, comfortable and happy.

    It's a colossal transition from hotel management and hospitality to newspaper publishing, and there were several other experiences and careers in-between. However, I learned one thing for sure, the rules and principles they taught me in the hospitality industry apply to every aspect of work and life I have experienced since then. This is why I have dedicated the past 26 years to showcasing and accentuating the Fayetteville community.
    When I created the Up & Coming Weekly newspaper in 1996, the Fayetteville community had no shortage of warm and welcoming residents, arts and culture, dedicated and involved business professionals or municipal leadership. What the Fayetteville community did lack was somewhat of an enigma to me, and that was an advocate for the city. In the absence of sufficient media, a dedicated local TV and radio station, the marketing and promotion of the uniquely friendly nature of our diverse Fayetteville community was lost. Filling that void became our mantra and, ultimately, our business philosophy. The rest is history. So, you may be asking what all this information has to do with apartments and hotels. Much.

    It is commendable that Jordan Jones of Prince Charles Holdings LLC and the city have agreed to build over 200 apartments above the $17 million-plus Hay Street Parking deck. The deck without the elevator! Residential apartments may seem like a good alternative after the Hyatt hotel, and office building didn't materialize. I do not think it is the best alternative because of all the hard work the Arts Council, Cool Spring Downtown District, Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Alliance and many others are doing to enhance historic downtown Fayetteville. Everyone wants to make downtown Fayetteville a thriving destination and a successful environment for local businesses, organizations and guests. With a background in the hospitality industry and after spending decades traveling for business, I can say, without a doubt, a first-class 3.5 or 4-star property located downtown would create a tourist and economical tour de force for Fayetteville and the downtown business community. The Exit 49, Skibo Road and Cross Creek Mall areas have good businesses; however, they are not in downtown Fayetteville. People wanting to experience the heart of our city want to stay in the heart of our city. Visitors, guests and travelers spending the night on the city's perimeter are reluctant to venture downtown and instead seek out more convenient restaurants or entertainment venues. However, if they stayed in the heart of historic downtown Fayetteville, the entire city would become their dining, entertainment and fun destination. I'm convinced that quality properties like Hyatt, Courtyard, Fairfield, Hilton or Hampton Inns would do exceptionally well while drawing travelers off I-95 and providing guests and visitors a favorable and hospitable impression of our community. Local downtown businesses and city and county agencies would support such a venture because a quality hotel would provide lodging and meeting space convenient to both city and county offices. A quality downtown hotel would be a win-win for the local downtown businesses, the city and the county government, the Airborne and Special Operations Museum, the Woodpeckers, the Arts Council and citizens. The apartments are good, but a quality downtown hotel would make historic downtown Fayetteville even better.

    I'll close by sharing this: On July 29, seven Harley Davidson motorcycle riders (and one BMW) will be leaving Fayetteville and traveling to Sturgis, South Dakota, a distance of 1850 miles. Our itinerary includes spending the night in hotels in downtown Charleston, West Virginia, downtown Cleveland, Ohio, downtown Ludington, Michigan, downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin and downtown Deadwood, South Dakota. We are not the exception to the rule of travel enjoyment. Without a quality hotel, downtown Fayetteville deprives itself of a substantial economic opportunity by neglecting to provide the facility and amenities this market

    In closing, if you know of any local hotel or business entrepreneurs who agree with this assessment, have them contact me. After I retire from the newspaper business, I will gladly come and manage their hotel for them. Full disclosure, I was never very good at housekeeping!

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • pub penThere are two new attractions at the zoo where we display all the critters and culprits in North Carolina state and local politics. The two latest arrivals to our political zoo are the Fayetteville Observer (FO)/Opinion Editor Myron Pitts and the Public Policy Polling (PPP). The Fayetteville Observer recently asked the few readers they have left what their thoughts were on Gov. Roy Cooper’s surprise endorsement of former Democratic City Councilmember Val Applewhite over current District 19 Sen. Kirk deViere. The Public Policy Polling (PPP) joins the FO/Pitts for hastily rushing out a survey showing Applewhite with a substantial double-digit lead over deViere in the Senate District 19 Democratic Party primary. It’s all happening at the zoo!

    The FO has seldom asked a question to which they didn’t already have the answer; their response is usually already set and ready to go to press. Some of their news coverage and editorial writings are so outlandish that Gannett (owner of FO) has begun putting disclaimers on their editorials:

    OPINION. This piece expresses the views of its author(s), separate from those of this publication.

    What? How can this be when the newspaper publication itself employs the writer? It may be that declining FO revenue, loss of subscriptions and reader pushback could have warranted and precipitated Gannett’s action. CYA.

    Next, to earn their spot at the zoo, the PPP is a Democratic organization operating out of Raleigh. PPP has used questions, in this writer's opinion, designed to sway and influence public opinion. The recent poll produced by PPP for Applewhite's campaign deserves an “F” and has been deemed “very much worthless” by a local political commentator.
    Cooper and his celebrated-fifteen-minutes-of-fame endorsement of Applewhite have unnerved and embarrassed his party. Even prominent members of the Democratic Party are asking, “… What was he thinking?”

    Cooper has exposed just how nasty, retaliatory, impulsive and mindless the Democratic Party is when someone doesn’t tow the Democratic line.

    On May 17, the Democratic primary will be the ultimate answer to whether Cooper impacted the election outcome beyond demeaning the integrity of North Carolina politics in general. Even though District 19 is a three-way race between Applewhite, deViere, and retired Judge Ed Donaldson, all eyes will be on Applewhite and deViere. No one can predict the outcome at this point. However, we know this: As a former Councilmember, Applewhite’s vexed and argumentative personality did little for the City of Fayetteville citizens and even less for her community and constituents. And, she indeed did nothing to bring $413 million to Fayetteville and Cumberland County to enhance our quality of life.

    We urge our readers to become “election intelligent.” Know the candidates and what they stand for, and vote in every election.

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

    OPINION. This piece expresses the views of its author, not separate from those of the publisher.




    Plan to spend plenty of time this Fourth Friday at The Arts Council of {mosimage}Fayetteville/CumberlandCounty, 301 Hay St., as it partners with Cape Fear Valley’s Heart & Vascular Center on February 22 from 6:30-9 p.m. Health experts from Cape Fear Valley’s Cardiac Diagnostics, Cardiac Cath Lab and Cardiac Rehab will be on hand to talk about maintaining a healthy heart through brief seminars, educational booths and interactive displays. Just outside the building will be tours of an emergency medical services vehicle. Along with free refreshments at the Arts Council, enjoy the sounds of the faculty jazz ensemble from Fayetteville State University and the continuation of Perspectives. An art exhibition featuring the works of four local artists,Perspectiveswill be on display through March 15. Just across the street in the Rainbow Room at 223 Hay St., the Heart and Vascular Center will also be offering free blood pressure, blood sugar and sleep apnea screenings. They will also make available baseline EKG readings by LifeLink and coupons for cholesterol testing. This month’s Fourth Friday is an excellent opportunity to enjoy great art, music, and food while at the same time learning more about the importance of taking care of your heart. As always, the rest of downtown Fayetteville welcomes art lovers of all kinds with their own special presentations.

    February Fourth Friday Venues

    1. Art & Soul – View the latest works of artist Becky Lee. Lee, a painter and teacher, has been at the forefront of the Fayetteville art scene for a number of years. Her recent works will be on display at Art & Soul, including landscapes she has completed. Refreshments will be served

    2. Cape Fear Studios – The collective works of talented local artist Leslie Pearson will be on disply. Pearson, a former soldier and art teacher, has had a number of shows in Fayetteville in recent months. Her work focuses on women’s issues and their search for freedom.

    3. The Cotton Exchange – Live jazz music on the indoor stage. Refreshments.

    4. Cumberland County Headquarters Library – Celebrate Black History Month with the music of the Heritage Restoration Chorale, an ecumenical group of singers from the Fayetteville-Cumberland County area. They have received critical acclaim for their love of music and dedication to the preservation of the Negro Spiritual and other music of the Black experience. Refreshments.

    5. Fayetteville Area Transportation Museum. Exhibits and artifacts of transportation from days gone by. 7-9 p.m.

    6. Fascinate-U – Make Crazy Birds using construction paper, feathers, and wiggly eyes. All materials are provided Refreshments will be served.

    7. Loafi ng Artist Studio – View the display of new “Musselflies,” hand painted and crafted by Harold Grace

    8. Market House Exhibit – View an exhibit honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    9. Olde Town Gallery – See the works of John Furches, a watercolorist from Elkin, NC. Join us for a demonstration of an etching. 6:00-9:00 pm

    10. Rude Awakening – View the metalwork of David McCune.

    11. sfL+a Architects – Art by Carla Rokes - Color & Design. Music by Jeremy Gilchrist. Refreshments.

    12. White Trash – Pretty Little Things by Sally Jean Alexander. The Arts Council’s grants, programs and services are funded in part by contributions from businesses and individuals, and through grants from the City of Fayetteville, Cumberland County and the North Carolina Arts Council, with funding from the State of North Carolina.


  • pittWhat's in a name? Would a Viking by any other name smell as sweet? This is the musical question America is asking itself right now. Well lucky you, my two gentle readers, today's assault on world literature will answer that question as we look at my favorite Viking, the inimitable Ivar the Boneless. What? You say you have never heard of Ivar the Boneless? For shame. Allow me to correct that gap in your knowledge of Norsemen.

    Ivar was a real person. His full name was Ivar Ragnarsson, but his buddies called him Ivar the Boneless. He strode the Earth in the middle of the 9th Century, raising heck wherever he went. His daddy was King Ragnar Lodbrok. Like many Kings, Ragnar had issues. On Ragnar's wedding night, his bride Aslaug told him that their son would be born boneless unless he waited three nights to consummate their marriage. Ragnar, being hot to trot, chose not to wait.

    Living up to Asluag's prophecy, legend says Ivar was born without bones. Scientists guess that Ivar might have had osteogenesis imperfecta, a terrible condition of brittle bones that break frequently. Some Norse experts think that Ivar's nickname was a Viking joke. They propose that Ivar was actually a giant. His buddies called him Boneless like calling a 300-pound man "Tiny." The actual truth is lost in the fog of time. In any event, history has called him Ivar the Boneless forevermore.

    Ivar's daddy, King Ragnar, came to a bad end. After losing a battle to King Aella of North Umbria, Ragnar got tossed into a pit of poisonous snakes, dying a venomous death. His death did not sit well with Ivar and his brothers, who then invaded Britain to kick some Northumbrian backside in 865 A.D.

    As the story goes, Ivar the Boneless was carried into battles on a shield smiting his enemies with his sword or piercing them with arrows from his longbow. After winning a battle, Viking warlords enjoyed being carried around on the shields of the defeated enemy just to rub it in. The same phenomenon occurred when Tar Heel fans went to Franklin Street to celebrate the recent defeat of Dook at Coach K's last home game and beatification. That loss caused Coach K to emulate Lesley Gore's great song, "It's my party, and I'll cry if I want to." But I digress, back to Ivar.

    Ivar was a wild man in battle. He got to be known as a Berserker. Berserkers were Viking warriors who went absolutely bananas when the blood lust was lusting. Historians say the term came from the Vikings' habit of wearing a bearskin into battle. "Ber" means bear, and "Serker" means coat in Viking talk. Watch out; you just learned something new that was old. After Ivar whipped King Aella in battle, he subjected him to a gooey and painful death called the "blood eagle." As this is a family newspaper, I shall spare you the gruesome details of the "blood eagle," but you can look it up on Mr. Google if you are curious. Ivar apparently died about 873 A.D. of a "sudden and horrible disease," according to Irish records. An English researcher claims that the bones of a nine-foot-tall Viking found in Ireland might be the remains of Ivar. If Ivar were nine feet tall, that could explain his silly nickname. At this point, we say goodbye to Ivar but continue to consider some colorful Viking names.

    The Vikings' twisted sense of humor shows up in many of their names. When they weren't robbing monasteries or despoiling virgins, Vikings spent a lot of time like the former guy making up nicknames. Shakespeare may have stolen his lines from Ivar's berserking band of brothers when he had Henry V say: "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers/ For he today that sheds his blood with me/ Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile."

    Ponder the names of Ivar's buddies: Eric Bloodaxe, Gunnstein Berserk-Killer, Olaf the Witch Breaker, Harald Wartooth, Thoriir the Troll Buster, Sigurd Snake in the Eye, Sweyn Forkbeard, Asbjorn Muscle of Orastead, Hilf the Castrator of Horses, Sigurd the Stout, Ljot the Unwashed, Tryggvi the Pretender and last but not least Eystein Foul-Fart. Who would want to meet any of this vile group in hand-to-hand combat?

    Being duly sensitive to today's current woke culture, one can only imagine the humiliation and smell shaming visited upon poor old Eystein Foul-Fart. Eystein was probably suffering from some gastrointestinal disorder that caused him to become socially isolated and sustain great mental anguish. The sorrow and the pity. I can only liken his suffering to that of a worker named Leon. I was once in a restaurant restroom and noticed a defacing of the sign that says, "Employees must wash their hands after every visit."

    Some insensitive lout had singled out poor Leon on said sign. The lout had written in ink below the printed "Employees must wash their hands" "Especially Leon."

    Eystein and Leon were brothers who suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. The horror. The horror. Can't we all just get along?

  • pexels ella olsson 1640777 1Weight loss is often a primary reason people join a fitness center or start exercising. A healthy weight loss goal is to lose one-to-two pounds per week for long-term sustainability. A drastic weight loss approach with a caloric intake of four hundred to eight hundred calories per day can be non-sustainable. With this type of approach, you will likely regain weight within six months or less. A good diet with exercise can help you lose weight and maintain your weight loss goals.

    Anyone can slash their caloric intake and lose weight, but is this weight loss a plan you will continue to follow? Educating yourself about nutrition-related dieting options empowers you to make good decisions about food consumption for health and wellness. Choosing a weight loss plan can be overwhelming with all the available commercial programs and apps because no one diet fits all. Take your time to research a plan or app that will work for you. Two diets surface when I read health and fitness articles: the Mediterranean and Paleo diet.

    The Mediterranean diet emphasizes fruit, vegetables, seafood, and grains -in moderation. The Paleo diet features an abundance of meat, seafood, poultry with fresh vegetables and fruit. While I am not suggesting that you try either of these diets, I think the Mediterranean diet is an interesting read for this column. It became popular in the fifties and sixties when Ancel Keys and his colleagues studied relationships between diet and coronary heart disease in Greece, Spain, Italy, Finland, Japan and South Africa.They found that the diets in Italy and Greece had the lowest risk of developing heart disease. In general, people in these countries enjoy long lives with low rates of chronic disease.

    The lifestyle in these countries also embraces regular physical activity and leisurely meals with friends and family. The question is, why is this diet so effective?

    The Mediterranean diet encompasses many fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fish, olive oil, nuts and seeds. It is a heart-healthy eating plan that incorporates cooking methods and flavors of the region. The diet is rich in fiber, protein, and Omega -3 fats and allows for a modest amount of carbs. The preferred beverages on this diet are coffee, tea, water and an occasional red wine. It encourages fewer eggs, red meat, white meat, sweets, refined grains, processed foods, sweetened beverages and unhealthy oils.

    Research has shown that this type of diet can reduce your risk of diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, metabolic syndrome and heart disease. People in these countries enjoy long lives with low rates of chronic disease. The reason is that the diet has fewer foods high in fat, salt and sugar. The result is weight loss, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and less inflammation in the body. Studies also suggest that this diet promotes good gut health and healthy aging. Below are menu choices for breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack. Breakfast: Grilled tomatoes on whole-wheat toast, yogurt with fruit or kale and butternut squash frittata. Lunch: Mixed green salad with olives and cherry tomatoes (oil and vinegar dressing) or whole-grain sandwich with hummus, vegetables, or chickpea salad. Dinner: Whole–grain pizza with grilled vegetables or broiled salmon with brown rice and vegetables. Snack: Hummus with red bell peppers. Look for my next column, which will feature details on the Paleo diet. Live, love life with healthy eating and exercise.

  • Jeremy Camp 88888357 5056 BF65 D602525ABDE67D9A 88d3c098 5056 bf65 d61e46a6dfe9bb3c We often sing along with songs we hear on the radio (or our favorite digital platform) without much thought of the road down which they were written.

    Other times, though, we hear a song and just know there's a story tucked away in the lyrics.

    The latter would likely be the case with contemporary Christian singer-songwriter Jeremy Camp's "I Still Believe."

    A popular single from his first major-label full-length album in 2003, Camp wrote the song after the death of his first wife, Melissa.

    The song helped propel Jeremy Camp's career, whose name is now well-known to Christian music fans.

    At the very beginning of the pandemic, a full-length movie based on the story behind the song was due to release on March 13, 2020, only to find there were few to no theaters open to the public — seemingly derailing the plans for the impact of "I Still Believe the Movie."

    Undeterred, the film was released immediately on digital and streaming platforms to great acclaim.

    And nearly two decades into his musical career, fans were quickly able to connect with the man behind the artistry and the story of God's faithfulness to the singer.

    Camp's career highlights now include over 30 number one Christian radio hits, American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers songwriter awards, and back-to-back Gospel Music Association Dove Awards for Best Male Vocalist.

    Fayetteville will get all of that and much more when the "I Still Believe Tour" lands in the Crown Theatre on Saturday, March 19th.

    Appropriately named, the "I Still Believe Tour" features Riley Clemmons, a young Christian songstress whose infectious pop singles have earned her the respect, admiration and tens of millions of plays on radio and digital platforms since her 2018 debut.

    Canada-native Jordan St. Cyr rounds out the lineup for the evening, which promises to be one of the best Christian music shows of the year.

    Longtime fans of Jeremy Camp know they can count on an evening that is both high energy and reflective.

    Jeremy has a solid foundation as an artist and is an adept storyteller whose songs quickly point to God and the truth of his strength.

    With a twenty-year string of hits songs under his hat, the evening will be filled with exciting surprises for some and sing-along memories for others.

    Without a doubt, everyone will leave knowing they have been both encouraged and entertained.

    Doors open at 6 p.m., and the concert begins at 7 p.m. at Fayetteville's Crown Theatre on Saturday, March 19th. To purchase tickets, visit crowncomplexnc.com.


  • Market House The Market House in downtown Fayetteville has been a focus of local dissension long before any of us reading this column drew breath, and sometimes the buzz has been louder than at other times. Since the 2020 unrest following the murder of Fayetteville native George Floyd in Minneapolis, the buzz has accelerated to the point that an arsonist tried to set the building afire. However, he managed to burn only his clothes. Calls to demolish the Market House reached Fayetteville City Council and resulted in the Council deciding to “repurpose” the building, but it is unclear what that means at this point.

    The Market House was constructed following the great fire of 1831, which consumed its predecessor, the State House, where North Carolina ratified the US Constitution and chartered the nation’s first public university, the University of North Carolina. It was what its name implies for most of its existence, a community market for local goods and produce with town hall facilities on the upper floor. In more recent years, the market function fell away, and the second story has been used as a library, an art museum, a history museum and offices for various organizations. Over time, it became an official symbol of the city of Fayetteville, a logo of sorts. It is one of 40 National Historic Landmarks in North Carolina and the only one in Cumberland County.

    It is also a place where enslaved human beings were sold as chattel.

    Stop for a moment. Let that historical reality sink in.

    It is also a place where enslaved human beings were sold as chattel.

    In downtown Fayetteville in an open arcaded building, a place near which many residents now enjoy an outdoor meal, a visit to nearby parks, attend church or take in a movie at an art-house theater, human beings were sold to the highest bidder.

    Families were likely parted, perhaps for eternity. A plaque to honor and in memory of those enslaved people was authorized by Fayetteville City Council in 1989 now resides permanently on the ground level of the Market House. It acknowledges the building’s excruciating history but can do nothing to change it.

    So the question looms on and large. What is the fate of the Market House in the 21st century?

    Presumably, the Council’s decision to repurpose the building means it will not be demolished. Still, calls for its destruction continue, and as with any elected body responsive to public sentiment, that decision can be changed. It should not be.

    Tearing down a building because atrocities occurred there does not erase them. It may even make such acts more difficult to remember if the place where they happened exists only in memory.

    This is why Germany retained its horrendous concentration camps — so people will never forget what happened in them.

    That said, what should the Market House be? Should it stand in place or be moved, if that is even possible? How should it be used, if used at all?

    These are the complex and emotional questions facing Fayetteville's City Council.

    I do not envy its members this decision, but the timing has landed it squarely in their laps.

    Americans from coast to coast and elsewhere are grappling with our nation’s history of and, sadly, continuing racism. Millions of individuals and thousands of communities are struggling with our collective pasts and painful presents. We are looking into personal and national mirrors and must reckon with what we see.

    Whatever the fate of the nearly 200-year-old Market House is to be, it should be decided now. As difficult as this decision will be, Fayetteville City Council must not be allowed, as politicians say, to “kick this can down the road.”

    The decision is this Council’s, and the time is now.

  • dg martinGoing blind. Is there any way it could be a good thing?

    Frank Bruni asks this question in his new book, “The Beauty of Dusk.”

    Bruni, one of the great writers to move to North Carolina recently, is an opinion writer for The New York Times, author of bestselling books, and is now a professor of public policy at Duke University.

    One day in 2017, Bruni woke up to find something wrong with an eye. He could barely see anything in that eye. Reading and driving became problematic. Doctors told him a stroke had destroyed the nerves that connected the eye and the brain.

    The damage was permanent, and there was a 40 percent chance something similar would happen to the other eye. If it did, he would be, for all practical purposes, totally blind.

    How Bruni dealt with life afterwards, is the story of his book.

    He sought out people who have been similarly handicapped: blind, deaf, injured limbs, crippling diseases. He found that many have learned to live with their situations and have refused to be defeated.

    As he told me recently, “I decided to put on my journalist hat and interviewed to try to learn from people who had been confronted with serious physical and medical challenges” and learn “how they navigated those, and what they learned from them.”

    He wanted to avail himself of that wisdom. So, he said, “That's the story of the book.”

    The stories he collected are impressive and inspirational.

    He wrote about an English travel writer, James Holman, who notwithstanding his blindness, Bruni told me, “was perhaps the most famous travel writer of his day.”

    “When he wrote about the places, to the extent that he described them visually, it was through other people's accounts.

    “But, there was still so much available to him, the smells of a place, the sounds of a place, the legends of a place. And it's a really interesting lesson in how much is still available to us when a portion of our lives is taken away. There are still many portions of our lives, many, many perspectives and aspects left.”

    Bruni writes about David Tatel, a blind U.S. Court of Appeals judge who, rather than focusing on all the negatives of his blindness, celebrates his luck at having gone blind “at a point in human progress when technology was so sophisticated and could come to the rescue in many situations.”

    When Bruni told the judge that he was impressed with him and “our species’ unfathomable nimbleness,” the judge “smiled and with his whole face, then said something that echoed in my thoughts for the rest of that evening and echoes there still. ‘Starfish can regrow limbs,’ he said. ‘But that’s nothing compared to what human beings can do.’”

    Bruni was inspired by others, such as a blind dancer, a blind painter, a blind gallerist, a blind architect, all showing the powerful ability of humans to adapt even better than the starfish.

    From these many other people facing up to lost physical abilities Bruni learned that there were upsides to these downsides and the struggles that go with them.

    Instead of asking, “Why me?” Bruni asks, “Why not me?”

    “Why should any of us be spared struggle, when struggle is a condition more universal than comfort, than satiation, than peace, maybe than love? Should we even be calling or thinking of it as struggle, which connotes an exertion beyond the usual, a deviation from the norm?”

    He told me that we are dealt a set of cards in this life. Some are really good, some not.

    “You have no control over what that hand of cards is going to be, but you have enormous control over how you play them. That's a lesson that was really hammered home to me as I dealt with vision loss.”

    That lesson, Bruni thinks, is one all of us should learn.

  • Whoever said "politics is a circus" wasn't far from wrong. And every circus has a ringmaster and a lion tamer that shout and crack their whips demanding compliance from those they dominate. North Carolina's Governor Roy Cooper indeed fills both these positions in Raleigh's political circus. Cooper's recent, unprecedented and outlandish endorsement of former Fayetteville City Councilwoman Val Applewhite to challenge and unseat District 19 Democrat Senator Kirk deViere shocked both Republican and Democratic citizens. But, it's Cooper's circus. He is the ringmaster, and he calls all the shots.

    There is little doubt that Cooper's action is retaliation toward deViere for working across the political aisles with Republicans on local and statewide policies and initiatives. Initiatives and policies that ultimately would benefit his District 19 constituents and all the residents of North Carolina. In other words, deViere was doing his job. He was doing what the people of District 19 elected him to do. From these tasks and principles, he did not waver. Ringmaster Cooper punished deViere for not adhering to strict Democratic Party mandates, policies and philosophies. Cooper's actions are a near-perfect example of just how ruthless, corrupt and unforgiving the game of politics can be at all levels.

    Sen. deViere and the Cumberland County delegation, Sen. Ben Clark, State Reps. John Szoka, Diane Wheatley, Billy Richardson, and Marvin Lucus all worked diligently and "across the aisle" to do everything they could for the citizens of Fayetteville and Cumberland County. The result was an unprecedented $413 million infusion into our community to enhance our quality of life and positively impact our community for decades to come.
    In a recent phone conversation with Sen. deViere, I reminded him that "no good deed goes unpunished." In this writer's opinion, Cooper's endorsement of Applewhite indicates his circus may be on the verge of transforming into a zoo. This being the case, every citizen of Fayetteville and Cumberland County needs to be aware of the situation and know who's who in the zoo.

    I urge you to do your due diligence on each candidate. Learn who the candidates are, what they stand for, what they have accomplished or what they plan to accomplish if elected. One of the main reasons quality leadership has diminished in Fayetteville and Cumberland County during the last decade is because candidates have figured out how to be elected, but they have no knowledge of the office they are elected to or what is expected of them.

    Their lack of knowledge and experience has created a significant deficit in our planning and future vision for the entire community.
    Over the years, Senator deViere and I have disagreed on many issues, but never has it been personal. I have always admired people with a solid work ethic who are not afraid to stand up and fight for their principles regardless of political affiliations. Hardcore and complex politics often make this difficult.

    Gov. Cooper and Val Applewhite have done very little for Fayetteville and Cumberland County citizens. Neither Cooper nor Applewhite contributed to bringing $413 million to our community. The upcoming elections will be vital to the ultimate success of Fayetteville and Cumberland County. During this election period, everyone needs to be aware of who's who in the zoo. Our community has great potential, and collectively, we have identified faltering leadership in the mayor's office, city council and the county commission. We are the only ones who can change this, and we do not want to elect more of the same. Vote. But vote from a position of knowledge. Vote on the candidates based on their ability to serve our community with dignity, honor and integrity. Fayetteville and Cumberland County are wonderful communities with tremendous potential. We must

    elect honest and talented leaders who will take advantage of our assets and will not abuse the positions entrusted to them. I'll leave you with this.
    It's all up to us and not hard to do,
    Run the circus out of town,
    And you will disassemble the zoo!
    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.
    (My apologies to Dr. Seuss.)

  •   Over the past year, controversy has swirled over the Myrtle Beach Spring Rally. The City of Myrtle Beach has enacted new laws and regulations that seek to limit the activities of the bikers including a new helmet law. The city has made it plain that they do not welcome the idea of the Spring Rally, but its voice seems to be falling on deaf ears.
      Last week the Carolina’s Harley Davidson Dealers Association announced that it will hold its spring rally May 15-16 in New Bern.
      “This new venue will allow us to get back to basics and offer our existing and new customers a rally experience they will appreciate without restrictions and with the ability to enjoy the freedom of riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle,” said Mark Cox, the association president.
      {mosimage}With all eyes focused on New Bern, the city’s officials have thrown a warning flag.
      Tom Bayliss III, the mayor of New Bern, said that he was told the dealer rally will draw less than 4,000 “older people” and their families to the historic port city. The current plan calls for the rally to be set up outside the city limits at the fairgrounds. Bayliss said that an influx of thousands of bikers, the number that usually hit the Grand Strand during Bike Week, would not be welcome or easily accommodated in the smaller locale.
      “We couldn’t handle it. There’s no way in the world,” said Bayliss, who is also a rider.
      He pointed out that the city lacks the sheer number of hotels needed to accomodate the influx and the entertainment venues needed to enterain the attendees. Unlike Myrtle Beach, which is a resort town geared toward providing entertainment to its guest, New Bern is more of a sleepy coastal town. It’s historic streets are not known for the wildness that usually ensues at bike week.
      It is that rowdiness that has led to the restrictions by the Myrtle Beach government. Last year a Coastal Carolina University student was killed during one of the many rallies that occurred at the beach in a dispute over a parking space.
      While many of the Carolina’s bike enthusiasts are still planning on making the trek to Myrtle Beach, city officials breathed a sigh of relief following the announcement by the association.
      “The issue for the city has been that we’ve had two or three … back to back motorcycle events that occupied 20 straight days and that’s too much. So, we’re not going to be in the rally business in May,” Mark Kruea, a city spokesman said.
      Earlier this year, the city and its chamber of commerce lauched a Web site stating that bike rallies were over in the city. It remains to be seen whether bikers will honor the city’s wishes or not. The question to be answered locally is: When May rolls around, where will you be?
      Please send your comments and feedback on the issue to editor@upandcomingweekly.com
  • Walter E Dellinger III The tributes that rolled in when North Carolina lawyer Walter Dellinger died Feb. 16 were testimony that he was one of the nation’s great lawyers of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. He was 80.

    In an Associated Press article, North Carolina native Jonathan Drew wrote that Dellinger’s career “marked him as one of the legal giants of our era. Many remembered — and justly celebrated — him as a brilliant and prolific scholar, a titan of the Supreme Court bar, an inspiring teacher and mentor to generations of bright proteges now in elected office, federal and state government, and on the bench.

    “He was also a government lawyer whose advice was important to both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Key officials in the Biden White House sought his advice almost literally until the day he died.”

    His son, Hampton, recently confirmed by the U.S. Senate as an assistant attorney general in the Biden administration’s Justice Department, gave this tribute to his dad, “Walter lived a wonderful and extraordinary life. He had many loves, first among them his wife Anne but also the State and University of North Carolina, the law and the rule of law, and American democracy.”

    Several years ago I talked to Dellinger for a short North Carolina Bookwatch program recorded at Carolina Meadows in Chapel Hill, where he was living. He was working on a chapter of a memoir to be titled “Balcony Reserved for White Spectators.”
    He explained his early awareness of the unfairness of the social system in his hometown Charlotte. In the late 1950s he was working on a construction site “where only whites could be carpenters and the black men were all laborers paid $1 an hour. As I was a temporary kid, I was assigned as a laborer. I was like the token white labor on this crew.

    “What was interesting and dramatic for me was that the best carpenter by far was one of the African American men who was a laborer. He got paid as a laborer no matter what he was doing. So whenever there was a very difficult challenge to the carpentry, the on-site supervisor would ask David to take on the challenge.

    “But if anybody from company headquarters arrived on the scene, I was sometimes a lookout, David had to put down his carpentry tools. He could be an expert but couldn't be caught breaking the rigid rules. That gives you a sense of how rigid the system was.”

    Dellinger remembered his love of Black music and listening to WGIV, the Black radio station in Charlotte. “I listened to the gospel hour faithfully. They had a contest to see who could first identify a gospel song, and I knew immediately from the first three bars it was ‘Ride on King Jesus.’

    “The prize was a one-year subscription to Ebony magazine, which in the segregated South was a whole different world, particularly the advertisements where no people of color were ever in mainstream media.”
    Dellinger’s love of music led him to try to attend the Black concerts and dances at Park Center in downtown Charlotte. There is where he encountered the sign.

    He explained, “In Charlotte dances that were for African Americans [they]had a balcony reserved for white spectators, so it's sort of both literal and metaphorical the notion that I was only a spectator from the balcony on what was happening with race in the South, watching what was happening in the Black community.”

    After four years at UNC-Chapel Hill, three years at Yale Law School, and two years teaching at the University of Mississippi Law School, Dellinger was never “only a spectator” again.

    He lived and died in the middle of our country’s struggle to eliminate the unfairness the carpenter David experienced and the legacy of the customs that put Dellinger in the balcony at Park Center dances.

  • faith Beginning on Wednesday evening, March 16 and continuing until nightfall on March 17 is the Jewish holiday of Purim. (For religious purposes, Jewish days run from sunset to sundown.) Purim is the celebration of the survival of the Jews in ancient Persia, from the wicked plot of Haman, as described in the biblical “Book of Esther.”

    Perhaps the most unusual thing about this book is that it is in the Hebrew Bible of the Jews (as well as in the Old Testament of Christian scriptures) despite the fact that God is never mentioned. The book does seem to allude to God, or at least cosmic forces, acting behind the scenes, but God is never mentioned explicitly. Indeed, the rabbis in antiquity who determined which writings were sacred enough to be included officially in the Hebrew Bible they were formalizing vigorously debated the issue of its inclusion before deciding it should make the cut.

    Perhaps the reason it ultimately prevailed is precisely because God is only found there implicitly. Understandably, we would like to have obvious, incontrovertible and palpable proof of the existence of God and what God wants from us. A burning bush or the splitting of a sea might be nice. It would definitely help make our lives more certain and assured. But that’s not the nature of the daily experience for most of us.

    Faith is the recognition that there is more to our lives and the world around us than we can access directly. And this truth is found beyond the sphere of religion. How do you feel – not just infer, but feel - the care, concern or love of another human being? How do actors sense the energy of an audience in a silent, dark theater with bright stage lights in their eyes? How do we know when a sound or a sight is beautiful? How do we recognize, if we are truly honest with ourselves, whether we have acted morally or not?

    None of these are merely part of the realm of our ordinary five senses. They are not within the empirical processes with which we analyze and incorporate overt information. And yet, we all know with certainty that those intangible experiences are real. Even the ultra-rational skeptics among us live their lives, as a practical matter, as if they are genuine realities. As my doctoral studies in religious philosophy would acknowledge, there are ways to account for all of this in formal ways. But that’s not what’s important for our daily lives.

    What matters is that we open ourselves up to what is greater than ourselves and beyond what is overtly apparent to us. Our lives can be enriched by recognizing, like the “Book of Esther,” there is always much more present in our lives, contributing to them than simply the superficial. Whether in the realm of the Divine, cosmos or humanity, let us appreciate the powerful omnipresence that is just beyond the veil of our senses.

  • Pitt Congratulations, gentle readers, you have survived the Rona. You have lived long enough to see the return of that most wonderful time of the year: America's favorite event, your stomach's highlight of the year, the social event that welcomes sweet springtime: The Annual Cape Fear Kiwanis Pancake Festival.

    Yes, friends and neighbors, once again, it's time to put on a happy face, plus the old feed bag and come on down to Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church conveniently located at 614 Oakridge Ave. in historic Haymount.

    This is the 48th Annual Pancake Festival put on by the Cape Fear Kiwanis. For a mere $6, you can shake off the demons of winter and the isolation of quarantines to indulge in all the pancakes and sausage that you dare to eat. All proceeds go right back into our community for various civic groups and activities. You can eat all the pancakes you like without guilt, knowing you are contributing to Cumberland County's good causes.

    During last year's bout with the Rona, the Pancake Festival only had to do drive-through orders. However, as the Rona seems to be receding into the rear-view mirror, the Pancake Festival returns to dine in and carry out.

    Dine-in and have breakfast with your friends, neighbors and total strangers who are all in excellent moods due to a collective sugar high. As we are unable to keep them out and frankly welcome their money, you will get to see local politicians of all stripes working the crowd. It is a sight to see, not to be missed.

    Here is a listing of some of the local beneficiaries of past Pancake Festivals. Bringing Up Grades, Better Health of Cumberland County, Boys & Girls Club of Cumberland County, Cape Fear Valley NICU, The Care Clinic, Catholic Charities, Dolly Parton Imagination Library, EE Smith High School Mentoring Program, Child Advocacy Center, Friends of the Cumberland County Library, Habitat for Humanity, Homeworks, five local high school Key Clubs, Lewis Chapel Builders Club, New Parent Support Diaper Program at Fort Bragg, Operation Inasmuch, Police Activity League, Safe Kids, Salvation Army, College Scholarships to four local students annually, Second Harvest Food Bank, Urban Ministry, USO, Vision Resource Center and the Westminster Church Eyeglass Program have all received grants from the Cape Fear Kiwanis Club.

    At about this time, you are probably asking yourself, "Self, what is the origin story of pancakes and some pancake factoids to dazzle my friends?" Funny, you should ask that question as the rest of the column will deal with pancakes' back story.

    Mr. Google knows the answer. None other than Ms. Betty Crocker has a history of the pancake out on the interwebs. According to Ms. Crocker, the first mention of pancakes shows up in about 600 B.C. when a Greek poet named Cratinus mentioned pancakes in a poem. In case you are in Greece and want pancakes for breakfast, ask for 'Tiganites.' You will get them with honey and walnuts. During the Middle Ages, the first three pancakes in the batch had religious significance. The three were marked with a cross and not eaten to ward off evil spirits. Evil spirits could be scared by pancakes back then. Not sure that pancakes would work now against Putin in Ukraine, but it might be worth a try.

    William Shakespeare liked pancakes as he wrote about them in his play As You Like It when Touchstone said: "a certain knight that swore by his honor they were good pancakes and swore by his honor that the mustard was naught, Now I'll stand to it, the pancakes were naught, and the mustard was good."

    The Kiwanis guarantee their pancakes will be good and totally without mustard unless you bring your own yellow condiment. Why anyone would want to put mustard on their pancakes is beyond the scope of this column. As the King of Siam once said: "It is a puzzlement."

    Some other pancake factoids: Maple syrup which graces many pancakes, was originally discovered by the Algonquin Indians. The world's biggest pancake, cooked in 1994, was 49.3 feet in diameter and estimated to contain two million calories.

    The National Geographic reports that an analysis of starch grains on grinding tools from 30,000 years ago meant that Stone Age cuisine may have included pancakes made from cattails and ferns.

    The most flips of a pancake in two minutes were 349 times by a cook named Dean Gould in England in 1995. Southerners eat the most pancakes of any group of Americans. We proudly consume 32.5% of all of America's pancakes. If you have ever driven through Myrtle Beach, you know that Highway 17 is awash with more Pancake Houses than you can shake a stick at if you were so inclined to shake such a stick at that particular type of building.

    Allow me to end with the Kiwanis' motto: "Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to improving the world, one child and one community at a time."

    It is your civic duty to come out, buy and eat some patriotic pancakes. If you come hungry, you will leave happy.

    The annual Kiwanis Pancake Festival returns on March 11, from 7 a.m. to noon.

  • pub pen 3 9 Finally, we are scheduled to have a primary election on May 17. Candidate filings have faced inconvenient delays because of lawsuits over the establishment of congressional districts. These districts are also used in county and municipal elections and were redrawn using information from the 2020 Census. So, let the games (primaries) begin!

    It's been a long time since this community has seen so much activity and enthusiasm toward local elections. The many residents who have filed to serve public offices in Fayetteville and Cumberland County reflect this enthusiasm. Every one of them should be commended for their willingness to step up and be a public servant. This enthusiastic participation speaks volumes about what residents think of the City of Fayetteville and Cumberland County's leadership. And, by the candidates' turnout, these folks are not giving our current public servants very high marks in leadership. Just the opposite. Citizens are frustrated and discouraged by the way our local governments are run. Dissatisfaction runs the gamut. Our local governments lack transparency in handling the allegations of incompetence and mismanagement leveled against Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins. And the reluctance of the City Council to call for an independent external investigation of former councilwoman Tisha Waddell's allegations against the mayor and several sitting council members. Suppose there is, in fact, no truth to these allegations, as Mayor Mitch Colvin contends. Then why resist the call for an independent external investigation? An independent external inquiry into Waddell's allegations would provide proof, reassurance and closure for the citizens of Fayetteville. Residents are not happy with the way current leadership is running this community, and they are losing trust and confidence in them every day and for a good reason.

    The citizens of Fayetteville and Cumberland County love and care about this community, and they witness daily what our collective elected officials choose to ignore.

    The downtown encampments filled with people without homes are seen daily by city and county elected officials, staff members and employees without acknowledgment. People are homesteading under trees in our center city and camping out in our downtown parking lots using our trees and fence posts to hang their laundry and trash bags.

    In addition, we have a homicide rate that makes us competitive for the title of murder capital of North Carolina and one of the deadliest cities in the country. But, we boast a lower rate of petty crimes. The amount of trash and litter on our streets is beginning to speak volumes about people's lack of respect for our community.

    Yes, the election period is short. Yes, candidates seeking office must work fast and hard to raise money and name recognition. And, yes, most of the incumbents have a huge advantage. I doubt any challengers will displace Mitch Colvin or many of the other city and county officials.

    However, the sheer number of candidates running for office indicates that people are not happy with the current leadership. And, those new folks who manage to win have the opportunity to provide a new and fresh leadership style that could help assure honest governance to city and county residents.

    Review the candidates carefully and do your due diligence. Because, ultimately, in the end, we will end up with the kind of leadership we deserve.

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • Anyone who has been to downtown Fayetteville recently already knows that it is the place to go for great food, fun shopping, unique art and local entertainment. There are no chain stores to be found. Instead, unique shops, galleries and eateries offer experiences that you just can’t find anywhere else in town.

    If you haven’t been recently, this is a great reason to check out downtown: March 11-13, the Downtown Alliance and The Downtown Restaurant Association invite you to come taste all of the delicious downtown restaurants in the Spring Edition of the Small Plate Crawl. Local restaurants are eager to offer up their tastiest dishes and show the community that downtown really is a destination with a lot to offer. So get your passport for the Small Plate Crawl and check out the many flavors of downtown.

    “We did the first small plate crawl last fall and had a great turn out,” said Anthony Jackson, owner of Circa and event spokesperson. “We had close to 2,000 people come and it was the perfect way for the local restaurants to showcase our specialties to the public and to let them see what all we have to offer.”

    The answer to that is plenty. Participating restaurants include Blue Moon Cafe, Circa 1800, First Date Coffee Shop, Happiness Is Bakery & Sweets, Huske Hardware House, Marquis Market, Off the Hook Taco Emporium, Pierro’s Italian Bistro, Sherefe, Sweet Palette, Taste of West Africa, The Coffee Cup, The Wine Cafe and The Tap House. Truly, the offerings are vast and varied with something for everyone.

    How to participate:03-04-15-cover-story.gif

    1. Pick up your FREE Passport at any participating location downtown or from a participating restaurant during the event.

    2. Crawlers travel from restaurant to restaurant, purchasing plates over the three day event. Price of plates are from $5 to $10.

    3. If anyone in a group purchases a plate, everyone in the group gets the Food Passport validated. Validation is simply the initials of your server with the date of your visit.

    4. Those wishing to enter prize drawings will present a Food Passport for validation when paying at each restaurant. Food Passports must be validated at three or more restaurants to be eligible for the prize drawing. Anything over three validations will give participants an extra entry into drawing.

    5. Qualifying restaurants are indicated on the Food Passport.

    6. Crawlers leave their Food Passport at the last restaurant they visit during the crawl. Participant passports are collected from restaurants throughout the weekend.

    7. Each qualifying Food Passport is entered into a drawing on March 16. Winners are notified by email.

    Prizes include a one night stay for two at the Doubletree including a couple’s massage, facial and pedicure and $50 gift certificate towards dinner (a $500 value). Lu Mil Vineyard is donating a one night stay in a deluxe cabin and a wine tasting for two. Other great prizes include a movie date night from The Cameo with tickets for two, cooking class for two at Sherefe’s and wine class for two at The Wine Café.

    “One of the great things about being a restaurant owner downtown is that we are each original.” said Jackson. “It is easy to work as a team to put together something fun like this when we each have different flavors and dishes to offer. We have the restaurants that participated last year, and some new ones, too. So every plate won’t be appetizers, there are dessert plates and coffee, too. That will add a new aspect to the plate crawl that I think participants will enjoy.”

    Jackson credits the hard work of the downtown community with making it such a fun place and this is one more event to engage the community and share all that downtown has to offer.

    “With things like the Dogwood Festival, the International Folk Festival and 4th Fridays, it seems like there are more people coming to see what downtown is all about,” he said. “We are seeing a much more diverse crowd these days, and that is very exciting. We love seeing more military families and young people coming downtown.

    “Incredible, things are coming together. Our hope is that downtown is a destination for going out to eat, going shopping — for pretty much everything. Anything you can do at a chain you can do here and it will support local business owners, their families and the community,” he concluded.

    Find out more about the Small Plate Crawl at www.visitdowntownfayetteville.com/event/small-plate-crawl-4.

  • faith 3 2 There are only a handful of contacts on my phone I’ve added photos to. And when Jeff’s picture popped up on a recent Saturday evening, I was excited to get the call.

    We became quick friends after meeting nearly 20 years ago and have shared meals, prayers and conversations through some of the highest and lowest points of life during that time. I have several friends who attend the church Jeff pastors just outside town, about 30-miles from my home on the other side of town, and though he’s a good teacher and leader, the drive has always been enough to keep me in a church a little closer to home.

    I can honestly say I don’t remember why Jeff called that night. Like any good friend, the conversations typically go down several roads, and we’re more likely to stop when one of us reaches home, work or the checkout line than arrive at the end of the conversation. One thing we share is a particular affection for contemporary Christian music. Not just what’s out today; we often cite bands, songs and artists who found a place in the collective heart of Christian culture across several decades.

    On this recent Saturday night, when Jeff called, I had just finished listening to a YouTube recording of an album that took me back to a time shortly after I began my journey with Christ. It was a live album from the group Mylon LeFevre & Broken Heart – a ‘too-many-guitars-to-count’ Christian rock band from the 1980s. At the time, the music drew me in; as a new Christian, rock music spoke to me from a place I understood. But there was something else about the live recording. Somewhere near the end of the concert, the band fell into this simple groove, and Mylon began to speak. In his slow, southern drawl, he talked about the importance of opening and reading the Bible. He continued talking about his relationship with God – a God with whom he had frequent conversations. I may not have realized it at the time, but this would become instrumental in my walk of faith. I had listened to that album – and Mylon’s message – so many times back then that the thought of knowing and becoming so familiar with God by reading His word, praying and listening became a foundation in my life.

    As I unfolded that memory for Pastor Jeff in our phone call, I said, “…that’s why it’s so important to tell our story. There’s always someone listening that understands the language.” Not missing a beat, Jeff told me he was getting the men in his church to be more engaged with one another and invited me to speak at an upcoming breakfast.

    When the morning came, I left early enough that the sun was in my eyes nearly the whole way. I grew agitated as I squinted to see traffic lights and lane markings, but then, as I turned north and the sun was off to the side, there was a line from a song stuck in my head from church a few days earlier: “Your mercies are new … as surely as the morning comes.” My agitation quickly faded into thankfulness in that moment. God’s goodness and faithfulness have carried me through good and bad times, and it’s still that familiarity I learned when Mylon shared his story in a language I understood, which led me to and keeps me in a place of trusting God through all of it. The transformation continues daily. This is the story I’ll tell.

  • Fitness There are two tests that fitness professionals often use to check the state of exertion in a group class setting or when personal training. The two tests are the Talk Test and the Borg Rating RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion). Both tests are easy to learn and helpful when determining your level of exercise intensity.

    Have you ever heard a fitness instructor or personal trainer ask how you are doing? If you have heard that question, the trainer or instructor is looking for an audible response showing your exercise level. The basis of this measure is that the harder you work, the more breathless you become. The technical term is Ventilatory Threshold or (VT1). If you are exercising at a light-to-moderate intensity and can talk comfortably, you are below VT1 intensity. As you increase exercise, your breathing frequency rises, your blood lactate accumulates faster and talking becomes increasingly limited. Test results range from VT1, moderate intensity, to VT2, the highest exercise intensity.

    The average person exercising is not looking for VT2 sustainability and can recognize when they have reached their maximum output and decrease their intensity. Being aware of how you are breathing is a good sign. An example would be walking or jogging while talking with a friend. Your conversation flows at a comfortable pace. Your terrain begins to change slightly, and now you are approaching a small hill or incline. Talking becomes a little more challenging, but you are not taxed to complete sentences. The slope you are on has become a tough hill or picked up your pace. Your small talk at this point becomes more difficult, and your conversation is becoming limited to a few, one or no words.

    If you are working out by yourself and you know you can sing along with the song you are listening to, you are at a moderate or lower pace. That song gets harder to sing as you progress, and your level intensifies. You are at your max when you can only listen and cannot sing along.

    It does not take the direction of an exercise professional to know when you are reaching your maximum. Another scale for monitoring a level of exercise intensity is the Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE). The scale level rates from 0 to 10, with 0 at nothing and 10 at intense exertion. A person exercising at a level 3 or 4 would be considered a moderate-intensity rate. A seven on the scale would be just above your VT1 and considered strong. It is a subjective way to quantify your overall feelings and sensations while exercising. As you exercise, you may begin to sweat or feel a difference in your breathing, and as intensity increases, you may start to experience fatigue.

    A doctor may recommend that you use the RPE versus your heart rate because certain medications can cause functional and structural changes in the cardiorespiratory system and could affect a person’s maximum heart rate. Being aware of how your body reacts to exercise is essential to know what feels good and what does not and can help avoid injuries. As you become familiar with both scales, it will help you assess your intensity levels. Knowing when to increase and decrease your level of intensity will be a valuable tool in improving your overall fitness. Live, love life with health and movement.

  • Something ominous and ugly is active in our nation once again, and it is vicious.

    It is not new. In fact, it was birthed before we were a nation and stems from our nation’s original sin, slavery. It is something we have been loath to talk about publicly for nearly half a century. However, events and personalities in recent years have loosened tongues, and now some among us are once again showcasing America’s hideous underbelly. They are demonstrating — and in some instances with great pride — American racism.

    Some people — we know not who—have kicked off 2022 by making bomb threats to historically black colleges and universities in at least 11 states and Washington, DC. Just last month, both Fayetteville State and Winston-Salem State Universities received bomb threats on the same day. No explosive devices were found on either campus, though FSU did suspend operations while officers from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies investigated. It is important to remember that these colleges and universities operate to educate students with the same purpose as all other institutions of higher learning.

    Bomb threats against HBCUs are hardly the only racist behaviors currently directed at minorities in the United States. Hate crimes against Black people have increased by 40% since 2019, according to FBI data and by a horrifying 70% against people of Asian heritage over the same period. Anti-Semitic hate crimes have also risen, though not as dramatically; such offenses account for nearly 60% of religiously motivated hate crimes. If this is not shocking enough, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland says that many hate crimes are never reported at all, so hate crimes are under-counted.

    Historians have yet to define this hateful period in our history. Still, chances are they will eventually write about segments of the American population that fear change from life as they have known it.
    After the American Civil War, elements against change expressed themselves through the Ku Klux Klan and other fear-mongering organizations, through Jim Crow laws intended to disenfranchise African Americans, and, more recently, through private schools known as segregation academies and the John Birch Society and other such organizations. Such groups promote a highly sanitized version of American history in which our darker behaviors and beliefs were and are rarely mentioned. If some aspect of our past or current reality does not jive with their worldview, it did not exist.
    We live in a pluralistic society with a highly mobile population, which is not going to change. Like all history, it will continue to evolve, whether some of us like it or not. The America that some people idealize never really existed, so there is nothing to which to return. We can only move forward.

    When FSU shut down for the bomb scare, leaving its men’s and women’s basketball teams adrift with nowhere to play their visiting Claflin University opponents that evening on Senior Night, FSU Chancellor Darrell Allison reached out to Methodist University. Within hours, the Broncos and their visitors and fans of both teams were in the MU arena playing ball and cheering on the teams. Said Allison to those in the arena, “If the motive [of the bomb threat] was to send a message of hate based on race, those responsible lost, they lost in a big way. What evil and hatred would like to do to cause division only made us stronger in greater unity.”

  • The Fayetteville Public Works Commission has decided to treat Town of Hope Mills utility customers the same way it does City of Fayetteville customers. Hope Mills residents will enjoy so-called ‘in city’ water and sewer rates thanks to a decision last week by the PWC Board. 

    PWC purchased the Hope Mills water and sewer system 18 years ago. Officials recently determined that language in the purchase agreement was ambiguous. PWC spokesperson Carolyn Justice-Hinson said the discrepancy had just recently come to the utility’s attention. 

    “A couple of neighbors were comparing their bills and wondered why they were different,” said PWC Chairman Darsweil Rogers. 

    Public Works Commissioners decided language regarding rates had been interpreted in different ways resulting in rates for Hope Mills residents that were not being applied consistently. 

    “The PWC Board wanted to resolve the confusion related to this agreement and ensure rates are applied in a fair and consistent manner,” said Rogers. “We value our customers and are happy that we have been able to work with Mayor (Jackie) Warner and other Hope Mills officials to work out a resolution for our customers,” he concluded.

    From now on, customers located inside the town limits who have been billed outside-the-city rates will be changed over to the lower in-city rates. Not only that, they’ll be refunded the difference they have paid for water and sewer services, presumably retroactively to 1998. 

    “PWC is very responsive to Hope Mills, and I appreciate the cooperation and concern they have shown by looking into this matter and making this decision that benefits our citizens,” said Mayor Warner. 

    PWC officials say they will work with Hope Mills town officials to identify customers affected by the change who are eligible for refunds. 

     A joint committee will identify current and past Hope Mills residents who will receive in-city utility rates. Those customers will be individually notified about pending changes and the refunds to which they’re entitled. Because the Hope Mills town limits have changed over time the review is expected to take several months to identify the customers who will receive refunds. 

  • 127 HOURS (Rated R) 4 Stars03-02-11-127-hours.gif

    So, allow me a moment to make a Public Service Announcement. Yes, The King’s Speech is all kinds of classy, and way more sophisticated than watching a dude cut off pieces of his body. But just because you are retired and walk with a cane and want to see the classy movie, you still have the wait your turn in line behind those of us there to watch James Franco cut pieces off of himself. In other words: the person behind the counter opened up that extra line for those of us who had been waiting … they did not see you walk in the door and think, wow, older people need a special line. Please apply this rule to the line for getting into Aspen Creek, depositing money into the bank, and checking out at the grocery store as well.

    The Internet Movie Database manages to sum up 127 Hours (94 minutes) pretty quickly: “A mountain climber becomes trapped under a boulder while canyoneering alone near Moab, Utah and resorts to desperate measures in order to survive.” Now I ask you — how can I possibly write 500 words when that is literally all that happens? Luckily for the readers, I know a bit of background, and when I run out of interesting historical details I can always make fun of James Franco for his guest role on General Hospital.

    Danny Boyle knows what he is doing as a screenwriter and behind a camera. I mean, if he can turn five minutes of a little boy swimming in crap into two hours of Oscar Gold (his 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire), he’s doing something right. It took him four years to translate the true story of climber Aron Ralston into the big screen, and he made very few alterations to do so. In fact, the only major change occurs in the beginning of the narrative.

    Ralston (Franco) prepares for his midnight drive into the canyons of Utah by listening to some pretty killer high energy techno-pop … carefully chosen/crafted/arranged by previous Boyle collaborator A.R. Rahman. The high energy introduction allows for periodic breaks that give the audience a sense of Ralston’s ability to pause and appreciate life, only to jump immediately back into action. The frenetic early action is especially intense when compared to the later moments of forced inaction … although even when pinned under boulders Boyle and Franco manage to inject the scenes with purposeful motion.

    After the techno drive, followed by starlit camping, it is time for techno bike-riding and then techno running. Which is interrupted by lost, hot, girls (Amber Tamblyn and Kate Mara). Who are hot both appearance-wise and because it is the middle of the day and they are hiking in the desert. Here is where the dramatic narrative veers off a bit … in real life Ralston showed them some climbing moves. In the movie, he manages to convince them that following a scruffy dude into the middle of nowhere is a great life choice. And that there is nothing wrong with following him into a situation he is deliberately vague about. And when he jumps off a cliff, you should totally jump off the cliff after him.

    So after his love of life utterly charms them, they invite him to a Scooby Doo party and he runs off. Because he is full of life! And, why walk when you can run? Once he is on his own he does some nifty canyoneering moves. Unfortunately, about 30 minutes into the film, just as he is well into the outdoorsy spirit, his nifty moves turn a rock into a projectile, projected at him. So, prepare to spend the next hour or so watching Ralston get progressively nuttier, wishing you had lots of water to drink, and, if you’re me, laughing at the other people in the theater who are closing their eyes for all the best scenes. Or, possibly laughing at all the best scenes. Because I find humor in people drinking their own pee to survive. Is that wrong? No. No it is not.

  • Unknown (Rated PG-13)      3 STARS 

    Unknown (113 minutes) is an entertaining drive through the spy genre even if the plot holes are big enough to drive a finely made German taxicab through. This particular version of a well-tread story is based on a French novel, but Director Jaume Collet-Serra doesn’t do a whole lot to distinguish his material from any other mysterious man films.

    Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) and his daughter Elizabeth (January Jones) arrive in Berlin for a biotechnology summit. He gets a little handsy with her during the taxi ride over, which might explain her overall shirtiness when dealing with the hotel staff. That’s no way to love your daughter, Dr. Harris!

    While his daughter checks them into a fancy suite, he realizes he left his briefcase with all his secret spy papers and espionage stuff at the airport so he runs to get it. He ends up in Gina’s (Diane Kruger) cab, and then Gina’s cab ends up in the river. In the first of many, “Gosh, should I save him? Yes, Yes I will save him” moments, Gina pulls an unconscious Harris from the river, and he is taken to a hospital.

    During his coma he has many inappropriate flashbacks about his daughter — whoops, my bad, apparently that’s his trophy wife — and then wakes up to find that he has been in a coma. Since patients recently woken from a coma with no identification or any way of proving who they are get to do whatever they want in German hospitals, he checks himself out.

    He manages to get back to the hotel he left from only to find another man macking on his wife and claiming to be Dr. Martin Harris (Aiden Quinn). Since secret agents have absolutely no survival instincts to draw on when they find themselves in bizarre situations, the man with no proof of his identity proceeds to raise a ruckus and draw lots of attention to himself. When that doesn’t work in his favor, he gathers his wits and tricks hotel security into getting him a cab back to the hospital, then tricks the cabdriver into letting him out immediately. Very tricky, this guy.

    He draws on the apparently limitless funds he was carrying (while leaving all his important paperwork in a briefcase that he totally left at the airport) to blunder around Berlin for most of a day, never thinking to check in at the embassy. Because of the conspiracy? Or something? Eventually he decides that he is, in fact, as crazy as all the conspirators keep telling him he is, so he heads back to the hospital and stays safely out of the way until the end of the movie. Just kidding! A dude totally kills like, a million important people, and tries to assassinate him thus revealing that all is not as it seems. Duh. All in all, it’s not an awful movie.

    Why the three stars? Well, when 58-year-old January Jones (or Kruger, for that matter) gets to run around with a 33-yearold James Franco, then we’ll start talking about an extra star. I would LOVE to provide a simpler example … but the male actors who are 25 years younger than January Jones are all currently starring on the Suite Life of Zack and Cody. So the only film where they work as romantic leads is the Lifetime Movie Network’s The Mary Kay Letourneau Story. And I don’t think January Jones has the chops for that. Because she can’t act. And while we’re on the subject, Maggie Grace, who played Neeson’s daughter in Taken is only five years younger than January Jones. Yeah. Think about that.

    Wow. What a shame that busting on Unknown is so easy … it’s really not such a bad little movie. True, Liam Neeson has pretty much played out his “man with certain skills” range, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable to watch him drive around crashing into things.

  •   Mark your calendar for Friday, March 20, if you’re in the market for love.
      Or rather, Love, Sweet Love.
      The play Love, Sweet Love — produced and directed by Cassandra Vallery — will be at Highland Country Club and marks the 12th Annual Evening at the Theater … the chief fundraiser for Cumberland County-based nonprofit healthcare provider Better Health.
      “We’ve been receiving a good number of donations despite the poor economy,” said Judy Klinck, executive director for Better Health. “But there is still an urgent need for funds to help us provide our services for the community.”
      Better Health was founded in 1958 by a group of citizens who were concerned that the indigent could not afford their medications. From that simple starting point Better Health has bridged the gap in healthcare for 50 years.
      Better Health became a United Way agency in 1959 and was incorporated in 1991 as a nonprofit organization under federal law 501(c)3. The agency expanded to become a full time, full service agency governed by a volunteer board of directors.
      Among the many service sit provides:
    •Prescription medications;
    •Vision exams/eyeglasses;
    •Emergency dental extractions;
    •Orthotics & prosthetics;
    •Medical supplies;
    •Medical equipment;
    •Gas assistance to out-of-town medical appointments;
    •Diabetes monitoring clinics with education session;
    •Glucometer training;
    •Exercise classes for diabetics;
    •Diabetes and blood pressure screening;
    •Diabetes supplies;
    •Foot care clinics;
    •Vision screening for eye disease.
      “We were founded in 1958 to help the poor who left the hospitals and couldn’t afford follow-up care or medical supplies,” said Klinck. “Unfortunately, there’s still a great need for our services here in Cumberland County.”
      Klinck says the production of Love, Sweet Love was a resounding success last year, drawing about 250 theater-goers. This year’s show, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m., will include hors d’oeuvres, spirits and “festive sweets,” as well as some familiar faces.
      “The same local cast has performed Love, Sweet Love the past several years,” said Klinck. “They’re very talented and very enthusiastic and do a great job.”
      For more information about the 12th Annual Evening at the Theater, call 483-7534, or check out the Web site, www.betterhealthcc.org.

  •      The Fisher House is a home-away-from-home for the families of injured soldiers in military hospitals all over the world.
         At Fort Bragg, the Fisher House is located at the corner of Normandy Drive and Reilly Street. The house, which is overseen by Paula Gallero, provides a comfortable, welcoming environment for families who travel to Fort Bragg to help take care of or visit their loved ones who are in the hospital.
         {mosimage}On Saturday, April 4, The Vietnam Vets Motorcycle Club will host Patriot Run VII to benefit The Fisher House. With a theme of “Never Forget,” the run will begin promptly at 10 a.m. at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #9103 located at 14258 Hwy. 210 S.
         The route will take riders through the countryside to the N.C. Capitol building in Raleigh for the POW/MIA ceremony at noon. On the first Saturday of each month a ceremony is held on the state capital grounds in Raleigh to memorialize those missing from the Tar Heel State.
         Following the ceremony, riders will head out again and wind their way back to the American Legion Post 382 in Sanford, where they will fellowship and enjoy entertainment.
         There is a $15 donation per person to participate in the ride. The fee includes the meal, door prizes, a T-shirt and entertainment. All checks should be made payable to The Fisher House.
         The Vietnam Vets Motorcycle Club USA is an international organization with members in Europe, Canada, Australia and the United States. The club has members in all 50 states including Alaska and Hawaii. It is made up of two highly compatible groups of former U.S. military men: Those who served in the country of Vietnam and earned the Vietnam service ribbon and those who served honorably in the military during the Vietnam war and earned the National Defense ribbon.
         The club devotes its time, energy and resources to help build a better future for all vets and their families. Their main focus is on bringing home POW/MIAs and getting a full accounting of each and every one of the missing men.
         For more information, visit the Web site at www.vnvmc.nc.org. For information about the Fort Bragg Fisher House, visit www.fisherhouse.org/theHouses/northCarolina.shtml.
  • 01 UAC031120001

  • 09Tia FullerFayetteville State University’s Department of Performing and Fine Arts presents its FSU Jazz Day Festival for middle school and high school jazz bands and jazz combos Saturday, April 6, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. 

    A concert featuring the Tia Fuller Jazz Quartet will take place at 7:30 p.m. at Seabrook Auditorium, which is located on the campus of the university. 

    “The jazz festival started last year to basically help students in our region in the jazz field — to help develop jazz programs and to help develop more appreciation for jazz itself,” said Ronald Carter, coordinator of the jazz festival and distinguished professor in the Department of Performing and Fine Arts at FSU. “This year, I am bringing in Grammy-nominated Tia Fuller, who is a performing saxophonist for Beyoncé. She still plays and records around the world with different people.” 

    The festival will include workshops, clinics and performances. “At 1:15 p.m., we will have jazz clinics presented by FSU’s jazz faculty and by Tia Fuller’s jazz group,” said Carter. “The workshops will be about how to use instruments to play jazz, how to develop the concepts, tone and language of jazz, how to play within the jazz ensemble and more.” 

    Carter added the clinics will feature drums, saxophone, piano, clarinet, flute, trumpet, trombone and other jazz instruments. 

    The first band will play at 8:30 a.m. “We will have high schools from South Carolina and North Carolina and two college groups playing,” said Carter. “We have Shaw University’s jazz band. Benedict College’s jazz band from Columbia, South Carolina, will play too.” 

    Carter added that next year the jazz festival will be bigger and that he aims to eventually start having a historically black college jazz festival. 

    “This event is educational and motivational — (it’s) a great mentorship opportunity and allows participants to meet the students (and) the jazz professors and music professors at Fayetteville State as well,” said Carter. “It is community outreach for the colleges that are coming in and also for the students that are coming in from other states as well as Raleigh and the surrounding areas.” 

    All events before 5 p.m. will be free. The clinics are open to the public. The registration fee is $200 for each participating school. General admission for the Tia Fuller Jazz Quartet concert is $5 for students and $10 for adults. For more information, to register or obtain ticket information, email Carter at rcarter11@uncfsu.edu. Tickets can be purchased at www.etix.com. 

    Photo: Tia Fuller

  • uac033011001.jpg Fayetteville City Councilman Bobby Hurst talks a lot of trash. But not in a bad way. Hurst, the chairman of the Fayetteville Beautiful Committee, is always ready to talk about his drive to make the community a better place by cleaning it up and getting rid of all the trash.

    These days Hurst is particularly busy as the organization gears up for its annual Fayetteville Beautiful Citywide Clean-up that is scheduled for April 16. The day-long event brings people from all walks of life together to work toward one goal: beautifying our community by eliminating the rubbish that makes its ways to our city’s streets, side roads and fields.

    Founded several years ago by Hurst and like-minded citizens, Fayetteville Beautiful’s goal is to encourage others to take greater responsibility for improving their environment.

    The group looks at why people litter and where they litter. According to Hurst, people littler because:

    • They don’t feel a sense of ownership;

    • They believe someone else will pick it up; and

    • They litter in areas where litter has already accumulated

    Hurst believes the key to a long-term sustainable solution for a more beautiful Fayetteville is its success at changing individual behavior and attitudes about litter.

    In order to change those attitudes, Hurst sees sweat equity as a big piece of the puzzle. The volunteers who come out each year for the cleanup themselves into the project. They go into areas where the litter index is the highest and walk the roads picking up the trash. The trademark orange bags dotting the roadside are a sign of the clean-up’s success.

    Each year in the weeks prior to the clean-up, Hurst and several other key city leade03-30-11-cover-story-11.jpgrs go out into the community to create the litter index. The index is a measurement tool that is essential to identifying and understanding the extent of the litter problem in Fayetteville. Designed by Keep America Beautiful for local communities, the index helps defi ne problem areas and then drive discussions about solutions.

    Last year, the solution included the pick-up of 20,075 pounds of litter by more than 800 volunteers. Over the course of the past six years, almost 6,000 volunteers have banded together to make Fayetteville more beautiful one road at a time. Those volunteers have picked up 72 tons of litter spread across more than 250 miles of road.

    03-30-11-cover-story-3.jpgBut there is still more work to be done. Each year school groups, community groups and individuals come together for this campaign. This year, the call for volunteers is being sounded again. If you would like to be a part of this campaign to make Fayetteville Beautiful, you can register to volunteer by calling Lynn Hughes at 910-433-1587 or by completing the volunteer form at www.fayettevillebeautiful.com or signing up at the Fayetteville Beautiful page on Facebook.

    Once a list of volunteers is generated, groups will be assigned a specific section of road. The assignments help to focus the clean-up in the most critical areas, rather than groups randomly picking spots to clean. This also allows the trucks to come by and pick up the trash once it is collected.

    On the day of the event, volunteers should report to the kick-off at the entrance to the Martin Luther King Expressway on Ramsey Street. There, volunteers will receive, gloves, vests and trash bags, as well as receive encouragement from local leaders and thanks for their participation.

    Fayetteville Beautiful is an affi liate of Keep America Beautiful.

    (Photo, top right); Bobby Hurst, chairman of Fayetteville Beautiful, encourages volunteers at last year’s kick-off.

  • 09 4 fridayEvery 4th Friday, downtown Fayetteville hosts a plethora of experiences and activities. Friday, March 22, folks can expect the charm of Fayetteville’s historic downtown mixed with the celebration of local businesses and entertainment. At 4th Friday, attendees can celebrate the community and learn about groups in the area and what they do. One such organization, the Arts Council of Fayetteville/ Cumberland County, says on its website, “Businesses in the four and a half block of historic downtown Fayetteville join the action and become artistic venues on 4th Friday, featuring the arts in all forms, for all ages.”

    Walk Awhile in Her Shoes is an annual event occurring on March’s 4th Friday this year that encourages local men to support sexual assault victims, advocate for justice and call for an end to sexual violence. For $30 plus shoe rental, men don red shoes of all kinds — pumps, flats and sandals, satin, sequined and leather — and walk from Hay Street to Bright Light Brewing Company. Proceeds go to the Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County. Registration includes a Tshirt, water and desserts. Search the event on Facebook or Eventbrite or email walkawhilefay@gmail.com for more information.

    The Arts Council supports individual creativity, cultural preservation, economic development and lifelong learning for all ages. The nonprofit treats 4th Friday as an opportunity to share and display art exhibitions and more. Opening 4th Friday at the council’s Arts Center, 301 Hay St., is “Picturing America’s Pastime Exhibition with Presenting Partner Fayetteville Woodpeckers: A Snapshot of the Photography Collection at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.” The exhibition will be on display through May 11. To learn more, visit the Arts Council website at www.theartscouncil.com.

    The Ellington-White Gallery, at 113 Gillespie St., will also be open to the public for 4th Friday. According to its website, the Ellington-White Gallery works to “generate and support high quality diverse cultural experiences in all of the arts and art-related disciplines.”

    4th Friday offers other experiences from local organizations ranging from museums nonprofits. The Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum hosts a variety of exhibitions for a variety of interests. Its newest exhibit, “Baseball in Fayetteville,” showcases Fayetteville’s love of baseball. The exhibit will be open throughout the year. Call 910- 433-1457 for more information.

    Fascinate-U Children’s Museum keeps children and families entertained for hours. The museum is open from 7-9 p.m. on 4th Friday, offering free admission and a craft. The craft for March is a Minion magnet. Call 910-829-9171 for details.

    City Center Gallery & Books keeps its doors open until 9 p.m. for 4th Friday, and Cape Fear Studios invites attendees to “stop in to see our newest exhibit, meet our artists and check out the new works during each 4th Friday opening.”

    To top off the festivities, the Cool Spring Downtown District will sponsor the “Clue’ville Downtown Mystery.” The event starts Friday, March 22, from 6-9 p.m., and continues Saturday, March 23, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. CSDD’s website says, “Your favorite board game comes to life in Downtown again this year. Move from business to business, gather clues, solve the crime. Watch the culprit’s arrest at a Press Conference. Right or wrong you have a chance to win prizes. This event is FREE, and fun for the whole family!”

    The maps for these games are available at local downtown businesses as well as for download. Check the Cool Spring Downtown District Facebook Event Page for updates or call 910-223-1089.

  • 13CarolinasWhy would anybody want to spend months walking from the South Carolina coast up through the Piedmont to present-day Charlotte and then back east to the North Carolina tidewater?

    There are two good reasons, one from more than 300 years ago and the other from modern times.

    First, in 1700, a newcomer to North America named John Lawson made this long trip to explore and learn about unfamiliar lands. He made the trip on foot because there was no better way to travel through the endless forests of backcountry Carolinas. Setting off from Charleston, he was accompanied by several Englishmen and Indian guides. The notes he took became the basis of a book, “A New Voyage to Carolina,” first published in 1709 and still a classic for its rich descriptions of flora and fauna and the conditions of the native peoples who populated the areas he visited.

    The more recent traveler, writer Scott Huler, made the long walk because he wanted to follow in Lawson’s footsteps. He said he looked for a modern book that explained where Lawson went and compared it to what is there today. When he found that it had not been done and that no one had even retraced Lawson’s journey, he thought, “That’s for me!”

    Of course, Huler could have made the trip of several hundred miles in a day or two in a car on modern roads. But he wanted to go slow, seeing today’s landscapes and peoples at the pace Lawson traveled.

    He shares his travels in a new book, “A Delicious Country: Rediscovering the Carolinas along the Route of John Lawson’s 1700 Expedition.” It was released by UNC Press March 4.

    Like most other readers of Lawson, Huler is impressed with Lawson’s descriptions of and attitude about the native populations. Lawson visited Sewee, Santee, Sugeree, Wateree, Catawba, Waxhaw, Occaneechi and Tuscarora Indians. Huler writes, “He (Lawson) stayed in their wigwams, ate their food, trusted their guides. And he emerged with their stories, for some of which he is the only source in the world.”

    Lawson, Huler continues, “documented native communities, buildings, agriculture, hunting, dance, trade, and culture through eyes clear, thorough, and respectful. Lawson depicts the natives as fully human—not some subspecies perceived only in comparison to European settlers.”

    Lawson’s words were, “They are really better to us than we are to them.”

    But Lawson found the native populations to be in a precarious situation. “The Small-Pox and Rum have made such a Destruction amongst them, that, on good grounds, I do believe, there is not the sixth Savage living within two hundred Miles of all our Settlements, as there were fifty Years ago. These poor Creatures have so many Enemies to destroy them, that it’s a wonder one of them is left alive near us.”

    Traveling Lawson’s route through the rural Carolinas, Huler found a surprising and discouraging similarity. The rural and small-town landscapes are littered with empty manufacturing plants, corporate farms and forests, empty main streets and deserted houses. Three centuries after Lawson, Huler found that “our world would teeter: a way of life dying in the countryside, implacable new forces once again balancing an entire civilization on a knife edge.”

    Setting aside this discouraging report, Huler’s adventures and misadventures on the road entertain and inform. He is the best type of tour guide, one who is well-informed but not at all pompous. His wry, self-deprecating sense of humor helps his serious medicine go down smoothly.

    For Lawson, his explorations and the reports about them opened the door to prominence and high positions in the young colony. That success came to a sudden end in 1711 when he was captured and executed by the Indians he had so greatly admired and praised.

  • 09TrumboCape Fear Regional Theatre’s production of “Trumbo,” running through March 17, is not an easy play to review. The show’s program contains two pages of historical context and another two-page glossary to help orient theatergoers. There is no stage, no script and no action. To understand what plot there is, it helps to be a student of American political history. That said, “Trumbo” is a compelling drama.

    Spanning the period from 1947-1960, during which time capitalism and communism were locked in a pitched battle for global ideological dominance, the play tells the story of Dalton Trumbo, a highly successful, award-winning Hollywood screenwriter who ran afoul of the U.S. House Un-American Activities Committee.

    Written by Christopher Trumbo, Dalton’s son, and ably directed by CFRT Artistic Director Mary Kate Burke, much of the show’s dialogue is taken straight from Dalton’s prolific correspondence between friend and foe alike. The juxtaposition in those letters between the noble and the mundane is both brilliant and spellbinding.

    We meet Dalton for the first time as he defiantly takes on his HUAC interrogator only to watch his defiance dissolve into irritability as he pens a longwinded complaint to the phone company.

    The audience is held rapt during the reading of a high-minded moral defense — with implications for our current political climate — only to dissolve in laughter minutes later as Dalton writes his college-bound son a hilariously ribald piece of fatherly advice.

    The role of Dalton is played by Larry Pine, whose screen credits include “Bull,” “House of Cards,” “Madame Secretary” and “The Good Wife,” among many others. Pine plays Trumbo as an unfailingly erudite curmudgeon who manages to hold onto his sense of humor as the world shifts beneath his feet and he plunges from fame and fortune to impecunious infamy, dragging his family along with him.

    That Dalton’s family unfailingly supported him is made evident by the role of his son Christopher in the play, who acts as the glue that holds the entire performance together. Played with endearing diffidence by Michael Tisdale, whose credits include “Law & Order” and “Third Watch,” Christopher provides the context for his father’s story and helps the audience see beyond the bluster to the man he loved.

    The play ends with an unflinching, yet humorous, summing up of the cost of hewing to one’s convictions.

    Whether Dalton was a martyr or a menace depends upon one’s political persuasion. But politics is a pendulum that swings both ways — which should make respect for First Amendment rights a matter of universal concern. That this has not always been so is what makes “Trumbo” an important piece of theater. Burke and CFRT are to be commended for bringing it to town.

    Showtimes and ticket information are available from the CFRT box office at 910-323-4233. The box office is open Tuesday-Friday from 1-6 p.m. and one hour before showtimes. Learn more at www.cfrt.org.

    Photo:  “Trumbo,” starring Larry Pine (right) and Michael Tisdale (left), is at CFRT through March 17.

  • 05A Hometown FeelingAs your congressman, I have the honor of hosting the Congressional Art Competition in our district to recognize the artistic talents of students in our community. I’m excited to announce my office is now accepting entries from local high school students. Since this nationwide competition began in 1982, more than 650,000 high school students have been involved — including hundreds from our district alone.

    Every year, I am amazed by the incredible talent and creativity of young artists in our district. And one of the best parts about hosting the competition is getting to meet and speak with students one-onone about their artwork at the reception I host to recognize participants and announce the winner.

    Admittedly, this year’s competition is bittersweet. I am holding the competition in honor and remembrance of my good friend and legendary NASCAR artist Sam Bass, who passed away last week. 

    Sam, a Concord, North Carolina, resident, was a pillar in our community and a big part of NASCAR’s history. He was the first officially licensed NASCAR artist and created notable works ranging from car designs to program covers. He designed the iconic “Rainbow Warrior” scheme on Jeff Gordon’s car, and countless others, out of his studio in Concord. In addition, he was awarded the Smith Family Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018 by the Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau for his incredible contributions and impact on our community.

    He was beloved not just by our community but by NASCAR fans across the world. I got to know Sam through NASCAR. He even hosted the art competition one year at his gallery. I admired him not just for his talent but also for his incredible kindness. We continue to pray for his wife, Denise, and the entire Bass family as they go through this difficult time.

    This year, I hope all local high school students will join me in paying tribute to Sam by participating in the art competition.

    All entries must be an original in concept, design and execution and may not be larger than 26” x 26” x 4” — including the frame. Interested students should submit entries to my Concord or Fayetteville District offices by 5 p.m., Friday, April 26, with a completed 2019 Congressional Art Competition Student Information and Release Form. A full list of rules and the release form can be found on my website at https://hudson.house.gov/art-competition.

    The winner will be selected by an Arts Advisory Committee made up of artists from the district and will be announced at a reception hosted in Concord. The winner and one guest will have the opportunity to visit Washington, D.C., to participate in the national ceremony with other winners from congressional districts across the country, and winning artwork will be displayed for one year in the U.S. Capitol. Second place artwork will be displayed in my Washington, D.C., office, and third place artwork will be displayed in my Concord office.

    For more information, visit my website at hudson.house.gov or call my Concord office at 704-786-1612. Our district is home to incredibly gifted students, and I look forward to seeing this year’s entries.

  • 12EtafRumDo you remember the important North Carolina connection to “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” one of America’s most loved novels?

    The book was written in North Carolina. Although its author, Betty Smith, based the novel on her experience growing up in Brooklyn, New York, she wrote the book in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. As a struggling divorced woman with two children, she found work at the university until Harper & Brothers published her bestselling book in 1943.

    It usually happens the other way, with the Southern writer moving to New York to write. So you would have to think that this Brooklyn to North Carolina story is something special, one not likely to happen again.

    Surprise! It happened again Tuesday, March 5, when Smith’s publisher, now HarperCollins, released “A Woman Is No Man,” Etaf Rum’s debut novel. 

    Like Smith, Rum based her novel on her life growing up in Brooklyn. Like Smith, the divorced Rum moved to North Carolina. Like Smith, she had two children. Like Smith, she found work in higher education — in Rum’s case, community colleges near where she lives in Rocky Mount.

    Rum’s Palestinian immigrant family and neighbors in Brooklyn in the 1990s and 2000s are not the same as Smith’s families, whose roots were in western Europe.

    Still, both books deal with women’s struggles to make their ways in families and communities dominated by men.

    The central character in the first pages of Rum’s book is Isra, a 17-yearold Palestinian girl whose family forces her into marriage with an older man, Adam. He owns a deli and lives with his parents and siblings in Brooklyn. Adam and Isra move into the family’s basement. Isra becomes a virtual servant to Adam’s mother, Fareeda, who pushes the couple to have children. She wants males who can make money and build the family’s reputation and influence. When Isra produces only four children, all girls, she is dishonored by Fareeda. Adam beats her regularly. The central character of the second part of the book is Deya, Isra and Adam’s oldest daughter. Because Adam and Isra have died, Fareeda raises the children. Following the community’s customs, when Deya is a high school senior, Fareeda looks for a Palestinian man for her to marry. Deya wants to go to college, but she is afraid to bolt her family and the community’s customs. She knows of women who have stood up against male domination and then faced beatings and even death.

    “A Woman Is No Man” is fiction, but it is clearly autobiographical. As such, Rum explains, the book “meant challenging many long-held beliefs in my community and violating our code of silence.”

    “Growing up,” she writes, “there were limits to what women could do in society. Whenever I expressed a desire to step outside the prescribed path of marriage and motherhood, I was reminded over and over again: a woman is no man.”

    She writes that “what I hope people from both inside and outside my community see when they read this novel are the strength and resiliency of our women.”

    “A Woman Is No Man” will stir readers for other reasons, too.

    Its themes of conflict between a drive for individual fulfillment and the demands of community and family loyalty are universal. Readers who have given up some life ambition because it conflicted with a family or community expectation will identify with Isra and Deya. So will those who have lost family ties when they breached community norms.

    The author’s well-turned and beautiful writing makes reading a pleasure.

    Finally, her careful, fair-minded, sympathetic descriptions of complicated and interesting characters give the story a classic richness.

    Whether or not “A Woman Is No Man” becomes a best-seller and attains the beloved status of “A Tree Grows In Brooklyn,” it will, in the view of this reader, surely be a widely appreciated treasure.

    Photo: Etaf Rum

  • Ad Nothing says the start of Summer like free music, food, a cold drink and an opportunity for fun and entertainment on a Friday night. On April 1, the Gates Four Summer Concert Series will kick off with the Throwback Collaboration Band.

    This will be the second year the Gates Four Summer Concert Series will be held. Bill Bowman, the publisher of Up & Coming Weekly and sponsor of the Gates Four Summer Concert Series, says he is very excited to bring this event back to the community, especially in the Hope
    Mills area.

    "It was very successful last year as a first-time event, and this year we're actually extending it for one month. So we're going to add a concert. And it's going to run from April through September," Bowman said.

    The Summer Concert Series will present all concerts outdoors at the Gates Four Golf and Country Club Pavilion. The Concert Series includes a variety of musical acts, from a Lynyrd Skynyrd cover band to R&B.

    The first concert features headliners, the Throwback Collaboration Band (TCB). This seven-person band has been performing together since 2016, and they are all local to Fayetteville. The band members consist of A.D. Thomas, Mark “Duce” Thomas, Michael Counts, Larry Ludgood, Moshe Haire, Richard Bradford and Sybil Pinkney. Their music group shares a strong passion for playing R&B and smooth jazz. According to the band, their goal is to help keep the old-school funk alive.

    The next concert on June 26 will be the Heart Breaker, which will present a Heart-Led Zeppelin Tribute. June 3 picks up with Mostley Crue, a Motley Crue tribute band. On July 1, the concert series will host the versatile and local musicians Rivermist. The concert on August 5 will promise an all-female tribute to the rock band AC/DC. Shoot To Thrill is based out of Raleigh and tours all along the East Coast.

    The grand finale of the Summer Concert Series on September 2 is set to showcase the ultimate tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd. Tuesday's Gone, a band formed in 2005 in Raleigh, has dedicated itself to reproducing the original sound of what they call "one of the greatest and most legendary bands of all time."

    For the premiere of the concert series, Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner, as well as other local political names such as Rep. Diane Wheatly and Rep. John Szoka, will be at Gates Four on April 1 to help officially kick off the Summer Concert Series in Hope Mills by doing a red ribbon cutting.

    The gates open at 5 p.m. Starting at 6 p.m., a pre-entertainment show will start with local acoustic musician Judah Marshall.

    The concert will officially kick off at 7:30 p.m. with TCB. Individuals and families are invited to bring their chairs and blankets to enjoy the outdoor show.

    An afterparty will kick off at 10 p.m. The afterparty will take place at Sand Trap Sports Lounge, in Fayetteville on Purdue Street, and is free to attend. The afterparty will feature raffles, door prizes and more. Proceeds will support the Kidsville News Literacy and Education Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit whose mission is to improve literacy, education and character development among America's young children by supporting various early literacy and learning-based initiatives nationwide.

    Unlike last year, this year's concert series is free to attend. Food and beverages will be available for purchase and provided by Gates Four. There is an opportunity to buy VIP tickets and tables. VIP Concert Tickets are $65 per person, and each ticket entitles you to the concert, table seating inside the Pavilion and includes food, beer, wine and other beverages.

    VIP Tickets can be bought at https://www.fayettevilledinnertheatre.com/tickets/ or by calling 910-391-3859.

  • 11GPACGivens Performing Arts Center delivers high-quality entertainment, bringing diverse offerings season after season. The month of March promises to be especially exciting, with shows that range from ballet to bagpipes to an “On Stage for Youth” production of the story of Emmet Till.

    Monday, March 11, the Russian National Ballet performs “Sleeping Beauty” at 7:30 p.m. “Dar He: The Story of Emmet Till” is set for Monday, March 18, at 10 a.m. Rock ’n’ roll bagpipe band the Red Hot Chili Pipers take the stage Wednesday, March 20, at 7:30 p.m.

    The Russian National Ballet’s “Sleeping Beauty”

    Based on the Brothers Grimm tale, more than 50 dancers come together to tell this classic story.

    At the celebration of her birth, a princess is cursed to a 100-year sleep when she pierces her finger on a needle. In this version, the princess’ parents survive the sleep and get to see their daughter marry the prince.

    The enchanting score is by Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. It debuted in 1890 at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia. Marius Petipa choreographed the original production.

    “The Russian Ballet performed ‘Swan Lake’ at GPAC two years ago,” said James Bass, executive director of GPAC. “They are well liked, and they put on an amazing performance.

    “The Russian Ballet is widely respected around the world. We’re gracious to be able to present such a quality piece of art for our patrons.” The Russian National Ballet’s “Sleeping Beauty” is one of several performances held in conjunction with the Act I Diner’s Club. These themed meals are available for an extra charge and will be served in the University Dining Room before performances in GPAC. Call the GPAC box office at 910-521-6361 for information.

    “Dar He: The Story of Emmet Till”

    GPAC’s “On Stage for Youth” series provides educational programs that bring the classroom to the stage.

    “Dar He: The Story of Emmet Till” tells the story of young Emmet. In 1955, the 14-year-old black teen from Chicago, Illinois, visited Mississippi. Instead of making memories with his extended family, he was murdered for flirting with a white woman.

    The play covers Till’s murder, the trial of the men accused of killing him and their unbelievable confession.

    This performance is suggested for middle- to high-school-aged students. Tickets cost $10 for adults and $5 for children. Visit www.uncp.edu/resources/ gpac/stage-youth-series to download the study guide. Showtime is 10 a.m.

    “The Red Hot Chili Pipers” 

    The Red Hot Chili Pipers are a bagpipe band with attitude. The group’s setlist mixes traditional Scottish songs with standards like “Amazing Grace” as well as with covers of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” and dance hits of the ’90s.

    With a social media following of more than 360,000, this Scottish bagpipe band plays more than 200 shows each year.

    “They are a fun band,” said James Bass, executive director of GPAC. “They do some really great covers of songs everyone knows, songs from multiple generations. It’s going to be high energy.

    “Go out on YouTube and find one of their videos … see what they do … but trust me when I say seeing them live is a hundred times more fun.”

    The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost between $10 and $31. Visit www. uncp.edu/gpac or call 910-521-6361 for tickets and information.

  • 10TrumboCape Fear Regional Theatre brings “Trumbo” to Fayetteville March 5-17. In today’s politically charged climate, the story of Dalton Trumbo, a prolific and talented Hollywood screenwriter whose work spans seven decades of the 20th century, serves as quite a cautionary tale about the lack of due process run wild.

    Before Trumbo was named as a member of the Communist Party — which was not illegal — and subsequently blacklisted and prohibited from working in films or any other entertainment medium, he was one of the highest-paid screenwriters in Hollywood. His films were routinely nominated for Academy Awards.

    In 1947, Trumbo, citing freedom of speech, refused to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee or to give the committee the names of others in Hollywood with Communist sympathies. He was convicted of contempt of Congress and served 11 months in jail. Thus began the Hollywood blacklist, which extended to Broadway, radio and television.

    Before the blacklist came to an end in the 1960s, an appallingly long list of entertainment personalities were deprived of their livelihoods.

    Hard evidence of Communist infiltration or subversion of the entertainment industry was never uncovered, yet hundreds of people’s lives were ruined without due process and by finger pointing alone.

    Larry Pine plays Trumbo in CFRT’s production of the same name. He’s acted in “All My Children,” “As the World Turns,” “Grand Budapest Hotel” and “House of Cards” among many other television and film credits. 

    “Trumbo” was written by Trumbo’s son, Christopher, and is directed by CFRT Artistic Director Mary Kate Burke.

     Despite the serious backdrop of Trumbo’s professional life, the play is warm and witty, told through personal letters. “Trumbo was such a magnificent writer,” said Burke. “His use of language and his wit make ‘Trumbo’ a very funny... and irreverent play, and Larry is an actor who is able to put the language across.

    “Trumbo is a role that actors who have a substantial body of work behind them are excited to take on.”

    One example of Trumbo’s legendary wit was his response to his contempt of Congress conviction.

    “As far as I was concerned,” Trumbo is famously quoted as saying, “it was a completely just verdict. I had contempt for that Congress and have had contempt for several since.

    “And on the basis of guilt or innocence, I could never really complain very much. That this was a crime or misdemeanor was the complaint, my complaint.”

    Michael Tisdale plays Trumbo’s son, Chris. He also voices the narrator and all other characters as they appear in the script.

    Andy Nicks is designing the costumes. There will be no set for “Trumbo.”

    “This show is going to be staged as ‘Disgraced’ was last year,” said Burke. “We use risers so that the audience surrounds the actors on three sides in what is known as thrust theater. There was such positive audience reaction to the staging of ‘Disgraced’ that we decided to use this more intimate staging again for ‘Trumbo.’”

    “Trumbo” promises to be a relevant and entertaining evening. For performance dates and ticket information, contact the CFRT box office at 910-323-4233 or visit www.cfrt.org. Box office hours are 1-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and one hour before the show on Saturdays and Sundays.

    Photo: Larry Pine

  • IMG 1995 Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 670 have scheduled a new event. Their Spring Fling with The Embers featuring Craig Woolard will be held on March 20, from 4 to 7 p.m. at VFW Post 670.
    The Embers were formed in 1958 by Bobby Tomlinson and Jackie Gore.

    "[The Embers] were one of the first integrated bands that had a Black saxophone player," said Craig Woolard, lead singer and featured artist of The Embers. "They recorded their first album live from the North Carolina State University student union."

    Being in the group was an excellent experience for Woolard.

    "The band opened a nightclub in Raleigh, opened a nightclub in Atlantic Beach, drove nice Cadillacs and it was big time for me," Woolard said.
    Woolard dreamed of performing early on in life.

    "I am from... Washington, North Carolina, and we would go to Atlantic Beach, and that is when I first heard about The Embers," said Woolard. "I was a musician, and I would look at the stage and wish that one day I could be on the stage performing too."

    The Embers laid the foundation for Beach Music in the Carolinas, Virginia, the Gulf Coast region and the beaches. The current band members are Gerald Davis, bass player; Jody Bundy, keyboards; Wayne Free, drummer; Jeff Grimes, guitar; Bob Nantz, trombone; Stephen Pachuta, trumpet; and Craig Woolard, lead vocals. They are supported by sound, lights and setup crew members Julio Eubanks and Bob Blair.
    Woolard feels his bandmates are very talented and enjoys performing with them.

    "Gerald [on bass] and I joined The Embers the same day in November of 1976," said Woolard. "He is easily one of those influential musicians in my life."
    The Embers have recorded numerous albums and single releases that span decades. Some of their greatest hits include "Far Away Places," "I Love Beach Music," "Solitaire," "What You Do To Me" and "Cool Me Out," to name a few.

    Woolard has also had independent success as well.

    "I have had several hits that include 'Love Don't Come No Stronger Than Yours and Mine' and 'I've Got A Feeling We'll Be Seeing Each Other Again,'" said Woolard.

    The Embers' awards and accomplishments include induction into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame, the South Carolina Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame, the South Carolina Beach Music Hall of Fame, the honor of carrying the moniker of North Carolina's Official Ambassadors of Music, military coins of excellence for their distinguished service, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award and the Group of the Year Award.

    "I have won Male Vocalist of the Year at the Carolina Beach Music Awards and Entertainer of the Year many times, so much so that I retired myself from it," said Woolard. "When you win the first few times, everybody applauds, but when you win 15 times, you might get some boos, so I figured I needed to quit while I was ahead."

    Some of the band's most significant accomplishments include playing at former President Bill Clinton's Inaugural Party, playing for an ambassador at his home in Ottawa, Canada, and being sponsored by Anheuser-Busch.

    "It was a big deal to get sponsored by the national company, Anheuser-Busch, in the 80s, and they picked up our song "I Love Beach Music" and turned it into "I Love Budweiser," so people all over the country were getting to hear that," said Woolard. "They would fly us to different places to play at their conventions in New York City, Chicago, Palm Springs and Hawaii."

    Touring is one of the band's favorite things to do, and they have traveled the world extensively, averaging 250 shows a year.

    "When COVID-19 hit, everything was shut down," said Woolard. "Everybody sat around and adjusted as best as we could. I was fortunate because, in January 2020, the owner of a radio station asked me if I would be interested in doing radio, so I gave it a try and every Sunday night from 6 to 11 p.m. was the Craig Woolard Show."

    The radio position helped Woolard through the pandemic.

    "I got the radio job because the Lord knew what was going to happen, so he looked out for me and carried me through," said Woolard.

    The Embers hold an annual cruise during the Christmas holidays, and about 300 of their fans show up to the party.

    "It is called the 'Making Waves Cruise,' and it is something that I started during my time away from The Embers," said Woolard. "I had my own band, The Craig Woolard Band, and I started the Making Waves Cruise, and when those guys who were in charge called me back, it became the 'Making Waves Cruise' with The Embers."

    He added, "We have been doing this cruise for at least 15 years until the pandemic hit."

    "Right now we are working on a destination instead of a cruise because of the pandemic and you just don't know what is going to happen," said Woolard.

    Future projects for the group involve recording an album.

    "Every Christmas, we release a Christmas album to go along with the Christmas show because we do the show the whole month of December all the way up to Christmas Eve," said Woolard.

    "I am happy to be able to do what I am doing, and I don't have a problem keeping my spirits up," said Woolard. "If I have got to sing the same songs every night, then I have to find a way to make that interesting, and the way that I do it is to listen and see how well I can sing that song a little better than I did the last time."

    The Embers are looking forward to playing good music at the Spring Fling.

    "The audience can expect the most entertaining and professional performance that we can possibly muster," said Woolard. "You cannot rest on your laurels, and you have to make people a believer every time that you play."

    The Spring Fling will feature food trucks, vendors, music and more in addition to The Embers.

    The Spring Fling is free from noon to 4 p.m. and the concert is open to the public.

    After 4 p.m., tickets cost is $10 to $15 and can be purchased at the door and online at https://theticketing.co/events/theembersatvfwpost670.
    Sponsors, food trucks and vendors are still needed.

    Interested trucks and vendors are asked to call/text 910-779-8425 or email agoraproductionsmc@gmail.com.

  • 01coverUAC030619001Jerome Najee Rasheed, known in the music business simply as Najee, is set to perform at Fayetteville State University’s J.W. Seabrook Auditorium the evening of Saturday, March 16. Najee is a musical pioneer; he released many of his jazz and R&B hits before smooth jazz was solidified as its own genre. “Smooth jazz didn’t exist until the (19)90s,” he said. “When I came out in ’86, they created a separate billboard chart. There was a billboard jazz chart and a contemporary jazz chart, and I charted on both.”

    Najee has been immersed in music his entire life. “My first exposure was through my mother,” he said. “She was an avid jazz listener. It was just part of the household musical experience — she listened to everything from R&B to jazz to Latin music to classical music.”

    Najee’s childhood interest in music transitioned into a career shortly after he graduated high school. He went on tour with his brother Fareed in the band Area Code at the age of 18. “We toured all over the world with the USO for about a year,” he said. “Then my mother told me that I had to go to school and get a job.”

    Najee’s early experience prepared him for success later on. After attending the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, Najee began performing with more big names in the industry. “When I couldn’t afford to go to the conservatory, my daughter and I went to New York (City) and got hired by Chaka Khan,” he said. “We toured for a year playing with her, and I signed in 1986 to Capitol Records.

    “Since that time, I’ve worked with people like Prince and Quincy Jones.”

    Najee released his first album, “Najee’s Theme,” in 1986. An immediate success, it received a Grammy Award nomination for best jazz album.

    That trend of success continues. “Of my first four albums, the first two went platinum, the two after that were certified gold,” he said. “After that, it was actually Prince who convinced me not to sign to a label.”

    Najee has collaborated with a handful of major artists, including Stevie Wonder, Freddie Jackson, Al Jarreau and George Duke. “The beautiful thing about all of that is I was fortunate enough to see the human side of it,” he commented.

    “When you’re around it, they’re just like everyone else — they like to laugh, they like to have fun,” Najee said, specifically speaking about performing for President Jerry Rawlings of the Republic of Ghana at the White House during the Bill Clinton administration.

    Najee hesitates to pick favorites when it comes to his performances, but he does admit to a few shows being particularly memorable. “I have many of those,” he said. “When Nelson Mandela was president of South Africa, he remarried and sponsored three concerts in South Africa. I was a guest along with Stevie Wonder and Chaka Khan; we did this major, beautiful concert on his (Mandela’s) behalf.”

    Though that event was nearly 21 years ago, Najee still remembers Mandela fondly. “What he did was a gift to the nation,” he said. “The highlight of it all was to have lunch with him in the presidential residence. He was such a nice and gracious man; you felt like you were sitting there with your father or grandfather.”

    After 23 years in the music industry, Najee still tours the world and releases new content. “We’ve been on the road since last year: Europe, Africa, the United States,” he said of himself and his band. “We are touring now — I’m on a smooth jazz cruise with all the major artists.

    “Fortunately, at this stage in my career, I choosem what I do. I’m having fun now.”

    Najee’s 17th album, “Poetry in Motion,” is a tribute to his collaboration with two outstanding artists: Al Jarreau and Prince. Najee recalls his time with these and other artists as positive learning experiences.

    “Les Brown once said that people grow through people and projects, and for me that’s been certainlytrue,” Najee said of his evolution as an artist. “Every situation I’ve been blessed to go into, I’ve been fortunate to take something from that experience.”

    Despite his success in the industry, Najee is humble and thankful for what he does. “No two daysare alike,” he said. “My life is just not that bad, trust me — I have nothing to complain about, and I’m very grateful to be doing what I do.”

    Aaron Singleton, personal relations representative for the Seabrook Performance Series at FSU, talked about the excitement Najee is bringing to the community. “We are so pleased to bring an artist at the caliber of Najee to Fayetteville,” he said. “(His) appearance is creating a lot of buzz around town.”

    Najee said the audience can look forward to a wonderful and diverse experience. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been to Fayetteville,” he said. “I’m looking forward to meeting some new people, some students on campus that are musicians. We do that (bring people on stage). I don’t know who’s available as of yet, but I have friends around town who might surprise you.”

    For the setlist, Najee plans on incorporating a variety of songs. “We perform things that I’ve recorded over the years... and we toss in the newer stuff as well,” he said.

    Steve Mack, budget director at FSU, is thrilled to welcome Najee back to North Carolina. “I’m certainly looking forward to it. I’ve seen the great Najee many times — I take advantage of every opportunity I get,” he said.

    Najee performs March 16 from 7:30-9:30 p.m. at FSU’s J.W. Seabrook Auditorium, located at 1200 Murchison Rd. For tickets, and to learn more, visit www.uncfsu.edu/najee.

  • 03-13-13-parchman-hour.gifThe Parchman Hour, on stage at the Cape Fear Regional Theatre, may be the most socially relevant and important theatre to be staged this year in Cumberland County. Now, having said that, I realize it might sound pompous or may even make you want to run screaming from the idea of seeing the play — but don’t let it. This is the must see of the season.

    Written and directed by Mike Wiley, the show doesn’t just entertain; it challenges you to look inside, to do a reality check on your own ideals. As uncomfortable as that sounds, I would be remiss not to say that while it is a sanity check, it is also outstanding theatre. It entertains as well as illuminates the human condition, while visiting a dark era in our nation’s history.

    The show chronicles the hot summer of 1961 and the Freedom Rides to integrate the segregated bus lines of the South. Historically accurate, the show focuses mainly on the tribulations of nine of the students/activists who traveled South during this turbulent summer. The cast, comprised of just 16 individuals, is required to play the role of a number of characters that cross both gender and racial lines. As a whole, the cast was without equal.

    Wiley, who knows the material intimately, reworked the script for the staging of the show at the CFRT. Having drawn rave reviews across the nation, it was its opening at the Playmakers Repertoire in Chapel Hill, N.C., that drew the attention of the CFRT Artistic Director Tom Quaintance. In the notes for the show, Quaintance wrote:

    “Sometime in the middle of the first act, I started to shake,” wrote Quaintance, who is the son of an Alabama Civil Rights lawyer who was intimate with the Freedom Riders.“

    I grew up in a household where the Civil Rights movement was central to our identity, yet I knew very little about the Freedom Riders and their amazing story.”

    After seeing The Parchman Hour, Quaintance knew it was a project that he had to bring to the CFRT stage.

    “It was one of those ‘This is why I do what I do’ moments. This is why I became a theatre artist. This is why I moved my family across the country, so I could be in the position to support a production like this in a community like Fayetteville.”

    Quaintance believed it was a show that the community would embrace, and from what I saw, he was right. To talk about a show like The Parchman Hour, you have to be honest. So, I am honest in saying that as much as we as a community tout our diversity, we remain a fairly divided community. Those who are regular patrons at the theatre will, if they are honest, acknowledge that the audience at most of the shows is fairly white. That wasn’t the case with this show. This show brought our community together to talk about one of the most divisive times in our nation; I believe that common ground was found.

    You cannot see this show without having your biases, even if you don’t admit that you have them challenged — and that goes to people of all races. While the content is heavy and will leave you on the edge of your seat, you will feel uplifted at the ability of the human spirit to overcome hate and ignorance. The story is told through short vignettes that are interspersed with music; music that will uplift your spirit, even while it chronicles the sorrow of others. It was in music that the students and activists who were imprisoned in Parchman found their salvation and it is where we find it in the telling of this story as well.

    While the story and Wiley’s telling of it is the ultimate star of this production, the performances by cast makes it shine.

    Tim Cain, who portrayed Jim Farmer, the director of the Congress of Racial Equality (the group who organized the Freedom Rides), showed strength, wisdom and above all faith in the face of unadulterated hatred. What I particularly liked about Cain’s performance was the degree of humility that he brought to the role, rather than coming off as an extremist, he played the role of an elder statesman, who in the end, had to confront his own weaknesses. Sonny Kelly, a local minister who works with Fayetteville Urban Ministry and Christ Gospel Church, was a stand out. Kelly, who played the role of Stokely Carmichael, brought a passion to the role that shone through in his singing and dancing.

    Joy Ducree Gregory has a beautiful singing voice that can make you see heaven even in the face of hell. Her mastery was matched by Hazel Edmond. Quickly becoming a favorite on the CFRT stage, Samantha Fabiani wowed with her vocal prowess. Lack of space prohibits me from mentioning everyone, but the performances by the cast as whole were stellar.

    The show runs through March 24. To get your tickets, visit www.cfrt.org.

    Photo: The Parchman Hour chronicles the hot summer of 1961 and the Freedom Rides to integrate the segregated bus lines of the South.

  • Cruise the Main Drag on memory lane — a whiff of suntan lotion and hair spray … hot summer days and hotter nights, with cool music that stirs the soul.03-27-13-embers.gif

    Carolina beach music is more than a lifestyle … it is a genre. Its roots go back to the 1940s. The music captures tunes from blues, rhythm and blues and southern soul and has been heard in the pavilions and beach clubs along the beaches of North Carolina and South Carolina for at least six decades. The thin beach strand of these two states is the place where true beach music originated. And for those who must move to the beat and the songs that speak to youth and love, the Shag was born.

    So forget fighting the traffic across the bridge at Wilmington, finding a place to park on Ocean Drive or worrying about the weather. The beach is coming to Fayetteville. It is Spring Break and the fun is rolling into Hay Street.

    The Headquarters Library will begin the festivities with a program on the rich cultural legacy of music that is also our Carolina history. John Hook, an author of eight books on beach music and one of the people who lived the times as a radio personality in Myrtle Beach will immerse us in memories of bands like The Embers, The Drifters, the Tams and the Chairmen of the Board

    .The evening begins with Warren McDonald and Classic Soul taking us to the audio “fountain of youth” with songs like “Carolina Girls,” “My Girl” and “I Love Beach Music.” Our own Fayetteville shaggers will demonstrate the dance.

    The music and shag begins in the Pate Room at 6:45 p.m. for audience enjoyment. Hook will speak to the times and remembrances with a special announcement of Fayetteville’s special link to beach music — The history of beach music: A Fayetteville first.

    Friday afternoon, March 30, the “beach crawl” begins along Hay Street. Downtown merchants will offer beach “specials.” Find sandals, wine, books, picnic goodies, cute fashions and other goodies to prepare for the coming summer. Sample food and special drinks (i.e. “Sex on the beach” at Huske Hardware) while shopping or taking a break from dancing.

    Classic Soul, our own sidewalk beach band, will play beach music starting at 3 p.m. in front of the Parkview Offices on the 320 block of Hay St. Wear your shag shoes because the Fayetteville Shag Association will be giving shag lessons.

    The classic cult movie, Shag, is scheduled to be shown at the Cameo at 3 p.m. and at the Gilbert Theatre at 7 p.m. for donations only. So bring the family for this feel-good film that shows the Myrtle Beach culture of the ‘60s along with crinoline slips, tailfin convertibles, beach parties and beach music with the some of the original groups.

    The evening will culminate with a “fun” raiser for the Cameo Theatre. Classic Soul will open the concert and shag dance (of course) with The Embers.

    Curtiss Carpenter, the “voice of beach music” will emcee the evening. Mellow Mushroom will offer a cash bar for wine, beer and soft drinks … and pizza!

    Tickets are $25 and are limited. So buy early. Tickets include a chance to win a free weekend at Myrtle Beach. Tickets can be bought at the Cameo Box Offi ce (910-486-6633) or Up & Coming Weekly (910-484-6200).

    This event, like the original efforts to buy the digital cameras for the Cameo, started with a small committee of people committed to saving our art theatre; a “grassroots” movement that grew out of love for our downtown. So come down and enjoy. It is Spring and time to “Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy”—no matter how old you are.

    Photo: The Embers

  • Monster Truckz Crown Thumbnail ea5e6f03f8Truckz! Truckz! And more Truckz are headed to Fayetteville's Crown Complex Arena from March 25 to March 27.

    "This is a thrill-show featuring highly trained professionals, so first and foremost, we want to tell people: do not try this at home," said Ariel Valeires, on-site manager for Monster Truckz Extreme.

    The show offers a variety of "gravity-defying" acts to shock and amaze, emphasizing a "high-octane" experience.

    "Most people have heard of monster trucks, but we have so much more than that. We have a human cannonball. Our show is very fast, high speed, high energy and high risk," Valeires said.

    This event aims to bring spectacle and awe to its audience, focusing on fun that's appropriate for all ages.

    "We want to offer our audience a good time with their family, the whole family, which is entertainment that's hard to come by nowadays. We want to entertain people aged 0-110," Valeires said.

    The show will be packed with opportunities for kids to learn, engage and play with the gigantic machines right there on site.
    The Monster Truckz Pit Party is a free pre-show at the Monster Truckz event where kids can take pictures and snag the drivers' autographs. Additionally, attendees can learn about the physics and mechanics behind the incredible vehicles before seeing them in action.

    Visitors are encouraged to arrive early, as "The Pit" takes place two hours before the show. During this time, young attendees can visit the "Kids Zone," an area complete with rides on a real monster truck, a gigantic slide, face-painting and a bounce house.

    The show runs from February to December each year and performs in a different city each week with no weeks off. It's an incredible commitment for the drivers, performers and support staff.
    But for Valeires, the long weeks on the road are worth it.

    "For me, the best part of the show is to see the same look of excitement on thousands of faces all at the same time," Valeires said. "Most people have only ever seen monster trucks on TV, so they're not prepared for just how loud it is. Seeing all those faces when the engines start is hard to describe. You have to see it to believe it."

    The event will be held outdoors, and Valeires has some advice for attendees.

    "Honestly, this is an outdoor performance where we perform rain or shine. So check the weather before you come and dress accordingly. If it might rain—bring an umbrella. Be prepared for a very loud show. You're about to experience something you've never seen before."

    Showtimes are Friday, March 25, at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 26, at 2 and 7 p.m., and Sunday, March 27, at 2 p.m.

    The Crown Complex Arena is located at 1960 Coliseum Dr. For more information and tickets, visit: www.monstertruckz.com.

  • Imagine you are in a car wreck. You are trapped and injured. In the distance, you hear sirens coming. Who do you hope is in that ambulance? If you are lucky, it is one of the men and women of the Cumberland County EMS of Cape Fear Valley. The paramedics who man the rescue vehicles that respond to homes and accidents all across Cumberland County are among the best of the best in the nation, as recently demonstrated when a team from Cumberland County took fi rst place in the 9th Annual Journal of Emergency Medicine Games in Baltimore, Md.

    The annual competition draws teams from all over the United States and from around the world. This year 14 teams competed, including a team from the world-class New York City Fire Department.

    “These are really the best of the best, and we won the competition,” said Brian Pearce, a member of the team and the director of Emergency Medical Services/Lifeline.

    The team, comprised of Pearce, Lee Westbrook, Larry Smith and Joe Crowder, had to complete two separate timed events involving care of patients. The team was graded not only on their time, but on how well they treated their patients.

    The first test was an obstacle course. The team was required to complete six stations, all while moving and treating a “patient.” The obstacle course started at the ambulance. The team then had to climb through a window with their gear to reach the patient, stabilize the patient who had a compromised airway, and then move the patient to safety. This required the team to carry the patient and all of their equipment up a set of stairs, across a small platform and then back down the stairs. During the transport, the patient gets sicker, and the team has to treat them again and again, until they make it back to the ambulance.

    At each juncture, the professionals of the Cumberland County EMS were called on to treat the patient to a certain set of medical standards. The patient, a mannequin that is designed for training, tracks the level of care that the paramedics are providing and reacts to that care, either getting better or getting sicker.

    In the second round, the team is randomly assigned a scenario and then asked to react to it. This year, the scenario was familiar to the paramedics. A tornado had just hit a town, and they had to set up and man a shelter to treat the wounded and the displaced. Westbrook, was among one of the first paramedics to respond to the Yadkin/Reilly Road area last spring when a tornado devastated parts of Fayetteville.

    “We had seen this before,” said Westbrook. “We knew what to do.”

    During the competition, the team had 20 minutes to treat as many people as possible. People entering the shelter had a wide range of injuries from shrapnel, electrical injuries and injuries sustained during building collapses — not to mention people who were simply in shock.

    The team was graded on how appropriate their treatment was. In one scenario, a total of 62 points was available, with the Cumberland County EMS team earning 61. Pearce explained that the patient would have lived if you had treated 30 points, but that the level of care of the Cumberland County team was exceptional. Overall, the Cumberland County team garnered 349 points, with the second place team receiving only 209 points and the third place team earning only 190 points.

    “The first year we competed, we were a little intimidated going up against guys from places like the NYFD,” said Pearce. “But now, we go in expecting to win. We know that the care03-21-12-ems.jpg we give the people in Cumberland County is as good as, if not better than the care given anywhere else. All of our paramedics pride themselves on that.”

    Smith added that while there are only four people on the team, every paramedic on the Cumberland County Service has the same level of education and skill.

    Pearce noted that winning this prestigious competition goes a long way toward validating the high-level of skill and dedication of the men and women of the Cumberland County EMS. The competition also allows the paramedics to attend world-class medical lectures where they learn the latest and greatest in progressive treatments. This year, the team brought home $20,000 in prizes that will be used in training and on the street.

    Photo: The team from Cumberland County EMS of Cape Fear Valley, comprised of Larry Smith, Brian Pearce, Lee Westbrook and Joe Crowder earned top honors during the 9th Annual JEMS Games in Baltimore, Md. 

  • Artists for Austism April is Autism Awareness Month, and “Jammin’” Jon Kiebon knows what Fayetteville needs to kick it off in high style. The first annual Artists for Autism Awareness benefit concert will take place at the Fayetteville Bakery and Cafe on Saturday, April 3, from 12 to 5 p.m.

    Formerly called Jammin’ Jon’s Rocking for Autism Awareness, the event was conceived in 2012 on the boardwalk of Rockaway Beach in New York and inspired by his daughter, Gail, who was diagnosed on the spectrum before age two.

    Kiebon, a New York musician heavily inspired by the work of Frank Zappa, saw a concert as an opportunity to bring more visibility to people on the spectrum and fundraise for important causes.

    “The autism community can be so fragmented, and people are so leery of one another. This event is about raising awareness for autism, available resources to those on the spectrum, and bringing the community together.”

    In search of affordable housing amidst the uncertainty of the pandemic, Jammin’ Jon found his way to Fayetteville by chance, then quickly found his tribe in business owner Franco Webb and local spoken-word artist “Little Niecie.”

    What began as a discussion between sets at the open-mic nights hosted by Webb’s Fayetteville Bakery and Cafe would eventually become the blueprint for April’s concert.

    Little Niecie, who also has a child on the spectrum, is incredibly passionate about this project, taking on the co-coordinator role.

    At her suggestion, the concert will keep its origins as a fundraising event, with 100% of its proceeds going to Cumberland County special education teachers.

    “Special-Ed teachers go through so much and pay for so much out of pocket. So we’ve teamed up with School Tools,” another business based in Fayetteville, “to ensure these teachers get what they need.”

    Niecie’s involvement also stems from a place a bit closer to home. Like Jon, she wants to be an agent of awareness regarding autism.

    “People tend to think of autism in one scope; this event is an opportunity to educate the community about what autism is and what it can be. We also want people to have fun at an awesome family event.”

    In that vein, Artists for Autism Awareness has plenty to offer.

    The 1-hour open mic stage will give local artists, many of whom are on the spectrum themselves, an opportunity to shine. In addition, performers can look forward to an awards ceremony at the end of the set, presented by “Little Niecie” herself.

    Attendees can pursue various vendor booths selling everything from woodcraft, wreaths, and jewelry to children’s books and poetry.

    Information booths for veterans and those with disabilities will be on-site to offer more information on available resources in the community.

    Complete with food trucks, a raffle, and plenty of activities for kids in attendance, the Artists for Autism Awareness is an event for anyone and everyone.

    Not forgetting its roots as a musical festival, the main stage has quite a show for those in attendance.

    Several local musicians, such as Fat Freddy’s Cat and Kevin Taylor, to name just a few, will be there to rock the crowd.

    By no means a local, but proud to now call Fayetteville his home, Jammin’ Jon will also take the stage to give back to a community for which he is so grateful.

    “This is surreal,” Jon says reflectively of the event, “this is much bigger than what I did in Rockaway; I never had anything like this.”

  • Meetings 

    For details about all meetings and activities, including location where not listed, call Town Clerk Jane Starling at 910-426-4113. 

    Festival CommitteeMonday, April 1, 6 p.m., Town Hall 

    Board of CommissionersMonday, April 1, 7 p.m., Luther Board Room, Town Hall 

    Citizens Academy ProgramTuesday, April 9, 6 p.m., Town Hall 

    Historic Preservation CommissionWednesday, April 10, 5 p.m., Parks and Recreation Building 


    Food Truck RodeoThursday, April 4, 5-8 p.m., Town Hall rear parking lot. Enjoy music, an assortment of food trucks, bouncy house and games for kids, and presentations by various public service vendors. 

    Breakfast with the Easter Bunny/Easter egg huntSaturday, April 6, 8:30 a.m-11 a.m. and 11:15 a.m., Hope Mills Recreation Center. Tickets are $6. Final day to purchase tickets is Monday, April 1. Call 910-426-4109 to reserve your spot. Easter egg hunt follows Breakfast with the Easter Bunny and is free. 

    Hope Mills Area Kiwanis Clubat Sammio’s, second Tuesdays at noon and fourth Tuesdays at 6 p.m. For details, call 910-237-1240. 

    Promote yourself 

    Email hopemills@upandcomingweekly.com. 

  • 13Aneisha McMillanIt was about 15 years ago when Aneisha McMillan had an idea for a product she wanted to launch and needed a public relations firm to give her plan a boost. The problem was, she couldn’t afford to hire someone. So, she did the next best thing. She taught herself how to do it. 

    That self-training launched a new career for the Michigan-born McMillan, and now she’s bringing her business to a new storefront location on Trade Street in Hope Mills. 

    Her business, Oink Agency, will share space with her husband, Shaun McMillan’s, Drama Lab, a video audition business geared toward aspiring actors. Shaun, a retired Army ranger, is an actor with multiple film and TV credits on his resume. 

    Aneisha said her career in public relations snowballed after she was able to land products she was promoting on “Good Morning America” and other outlets. 

    “I started getting calls from other entrepreneurs who said, ‘Hey, how did you do that?’ she said. “They started asking, ‘can you do it for me?’ It turned into an actual career.’’ 

    The flying pig logo that adorns the door of her new location on Trade Street is a symbol of McMillan’s attitude toward life. 

    “My entire family has an affinity for flying pigs,’’ she said. “For us, the meaning is anything imaginable is possible if you believe in yourself, believe in your dreams. The flying pig is the embodiment of that notion. Impossible things happen every day.’’ 

    McMillan said her favorite clients are what she calls mom and pop shops. “They are fiercely driven and so passionate,’’ she said. 

    Her biggest client for now is the Halloween and Costume Association, a group of merchants who specialize in Halloween-related products including costumes and candy. 

    Last fall, McMillan collaborated with the HCA on a promotion with supermodel Heidi Klum, who was proclaimed the queen of Halloween. 

    McMillan also helped promote a national push of a petition on change.org to get people to support a permanent move of the celebration of Halloween annually to the final Saturday in October. 

    McMillan lives in the Gray’s Creek area and decided to open a storefront for her business in Hope Mills. “I love Hope Mills and love the lake,’’ she said. “I’m really excited it’s back in action. 

    “This area is amazing, and Trade Street is very nostalgic. The history behind it is pretty rich. The building itself is a great building, over 100 years old.’’ 

    Married with six children, the 44-year-old said she found solitude at home something tough to come by, so she came up with the idea of opening an office to get a little privacy. 

    “It’s definitely hard to grow as a one-person show,’’ she said. “Here, I hope I can expand, bring on some more clients and some employees.’’ 

    McMillan said the basic offerings of her business are public relations and marketing. “I’m the person to come to for big ideas,’’ she said. 

    Even companies with in-house public relations staff have called on her, she said, looking for bigger ideas or things they’ve never thought of. 

    “My kids say I make folks famous for a living,’’ she said. “I don’t know if that’s quite true, but it’s a pretty good explanation of what it is, marketing to put together multi-faceted campaigns to help people get the message out about their product via social media or direct to the media.’’ 

    To find out specifics about what McMillan’s business has to offer, visit www.oinkagency.com. 

    McMillan said while she will have an office open to the public at her new place of business, it won’t have 9-to-5 operating hours. 

    “We’re not a traditional retail storefront,’’ she said. She will use the space as needed to meet clients in person, and her husband will also use it for videotaping auditions for his Drama Lab business. 

    “Clients that want to talk should shoot me an email or call,’’ McMillan said. 

    Her email address is aneisha@oinkagency.com. Her phone number is 910-849-9003. 

    Photo: Aneisha McMillan

  • 12FarmersThe town of Hope Mills is preparing to roll out its first farmers market in hopes of uniting consumers and area and regional farmers for the benefit of both. 

    Town manager Melissa Adams said that about a year ago she established a staff committee to see if the town could expand its successful venture with the food truck rodeo. The initial plan was to look into various areas where the town could branch out into the fields of art and culture. One of the ideas that sprung from those committee meetings was a farmers market. 

    Adams said the intent was not to compete with any existing enterprise of that nature in the Hope Mills area, but to bring an added value to the town. 

    The plan is to hold the farmers market in the areas near the municipal ball fields at the Town Hall and Parks and Recreation building complex. 

    “We’ve got the grounds we can use and we’ve got the parking,’’ Adams said. “We can try to get something off the ground and see if it can be successful.’’ 

    The initial plan is to start the farmers market the first Saturday of the month, beginning in May and running through October. 

    “If it grows and is wildly successful and our vendors say, ‘I want to come every Saturday or every other Saturday,’ we’ll look at that,” Adams said. “We don’t want to bite off more than we can chew. If it grows, great.’’ 

    Tiffany Gillstedt, deputy town clerk, has been researching farmers markets operated by other municipalities to get a better understanding of rules and regulations in place that have made them successful. 

    Adams said the Hope Mills farmers market will be governed by a mixture of rules that the town decided to adopt, along with good practices borrowed from other communities doing the same kind of thing. These rules and regulations will be posted on the town of Hope Mills website, www.townofhopemills.com, and also shared via social media, Gillstedt said. 

    Initially, all vendors will be invited from within a 100-mile radius of Hope Mills, with the additional requirement they live in North Carolina. 

    More information about how to apply to be a vendor is listed on the town website. At some point, Adams said, the town may screen vendors from outside the area and allow them to take part in the farmers market. 

    The guidelines for vendors include a detailed list of the items that can be sold at the farmers market; that list is dominated by homegrown and homemade items. All items vendors plan to sell must be submitted to the town’s Art and Culture Committee for approval. 

    No animals can be sold or given away at the market. 

    Each vendor will pay a fee of $50 that will allow that vendor to sell items at all six of the scheduled farmers markets. For a fee of $20, a vendor can attend a single farmers market and can specify on the application which month they’d like to take part. 

    Adams said the town is starting out modestly with the fee it will charge in hopes of increasing participation over time. 

    The town is also considering linking participation in the farmers market with participation at the town’s annual Ole Mill Days celebration. 

    Adams said she has been working with staff to increase the number of handmade items available at Ole Mill Days and become less dependent on manufactured items, while still allowing those types of goods to be sold. 

    The tentative plan is to give vendors who come to the farmers market a discounted fee to be a vendor at Ole Mill Days. “I would really like to see it become more of an arts and crafts festival,’’ Adams said of Ole Mill Days. “I think it would draw in a whole other group of people hungry for that type of event, something different for our citizens that brings more value to living here in Hope Mills.’’ 

    The initial farmers market will coincide with the annual Hope Mills spring cleanup and shredding event in the Town Hall area. Adams is hoping that will draw additional foot and vehicle traffic to the first farmers market. 

    The June farmers market will be held in conjunction with the town’s annual Pet Fest, which will also hopefully boost attendance. 

    Initially, the farmers market will be under the leadership of Chancer McLaughlin, the town’s development and planning administrator. 

    The hours for each farmers market will be from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. 

    Adams stressed that the farmers market program will be a work in progress and subject to any changes that the town feels will make it work better. 

    Anyone with questions about the first farmers market, what to bring or how to apply can check www.townofhopemills.com or contact McLaughlin at cmclaughlin@townofhopemills.com. 

  • Meetings

    For details about all meetings and activities, including location where not listed, call Town Clerk Jane Starling at 910-426-4113.

    Aquatics Feasibility Committee Wednesday, March 20, 6:30 p.m., Luther Board Room, Town Hall. This meeting will be held for the purpose of exploring potential partnership opportunities for an aquatics center.

    Appearance Commission Tuesday, March 26, 6:30 p.m., Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Center.

    Festival Committee Monday, April 1, 6 p.m., Town Hall, front conference room.


    Operation Medicine Drop Saturday, March 23, 9 a.m.-2 p.m., Hope Mills Fire Department. Drop off outdated or unused prescription medication.

    Food Truck Rodeo Thursday, April 4, 5-8 p.m., Town Hall rear parking lot. Enjoy music, an assortment of food trucks, bouncy house and games for kids, and presentations by various public service vendors.

    Breakfast with the Easter Bunny/Easter egg hunt Saturday, April 6, 8:30 a.m-11 a.m. and 11:15 a.m., Hope Mills Recreation Center. Tickets are $6. Final day to purchase tickets is Monday, April 1. Call 910-426-4109 to reserve your spot. Easter egg hunt follows Breakfast with the Easter Bunny and is free.

    Hope Mills Area Kiwanis Club at Sammio’s, second Tuesdays at noon and fourth Tuesdays at 6 p.m. For details, call 910-237-1240.

    Promote yourself

    Email hopemills@upandcomingweekly.com.

  • uac031214001.gif On March 22, Community Concerts closes out its 78th season of stellar entertainment with a bang as Joan Rivers takes the stage. A world-renowned comedienne, Emmy-award-winning television talk-show host, Tony-award-nominated actress, bestselling author, playwright, screenwriter, film director, columnist, lecturer, syndicated radio host, jewelry designer, cosmetic-company entrepreneur and red-carpet fashion laureate, Rivers is the perfect choice for ending this season on a high note. Joan Rivers is a high-energy entertainer and a great option for grown-ups looking for a fun night out. “I do want to caution that it is an adult show,” said Michael Fleishman, attractions director for Community Concerts. “She uses adult language, but most people know who she is and the kind of show she puts on. She is hilarious. She is 80 and has more energy than two 40 year olds.”

    Finding and bringing great shows to Fayetteville is a fun job and something the all-volunteer organization does with enthusiasm each year. While the Joan Rivers show is sure to be a ꀀrecracker of an evening filled with humor and spunk, overall the season was well balanced and offered a variety of entertainment choices.

    The season opened in October with Earth, Wind and Fire. It was a celebration of the group’s versatility and showcased many fan favorites in genres like soul, funk, gospel, blues, jazz, rock and dance music.

    Mannheim Steamroller kicked off the holiday season with a Christmas concert in November with the one-of-a-kind sound that audiences look forward to each holiday season.

    In December, Honor Flight celebrated the Greatest Generation with a tribute to World War II vets. Governor Pat McCrory attended the event. Local residents Ginny and Dean Russell donated a check to The Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery to upgrade the committal structure at the facility. The state matched the contribution, which brought the Friends of the Sandhills State Veteran’s Cemetery closer to the $350,000 goal that will fund the entire project.

    “The high point of the season was Honor Flight. This was a show we were especially proud of, along with the Music Hall of Fame induction,” said Fleischman. “We were glad to be able to say a big thank you to our military.”

    Kenny Loggins cut loose at the Crown on Feb. 4, and entertained the crowd with more than four decades worth of his creative works. The rock-n-roll icon is known across generations for his talent as a performer, and he did not disappoint at this concert. “Kenny Loggins was a big success. Everyone loved that show,” said Fleishman. “He was fantastic. This has just been an excellent season,” said Fleishman. “Earth, Wind and Fire was a smash hit. Mannheim Steamroller was a classic that drew an enormous crowd and the Honor Flight program was new and different and special.”

    While Community Concerts is all about “bringing the finest in top-notch entertainment to Fayetteville,” the organization has a much broader reach than some might realize. The Fayetteville Music Hall of Fame was founded in 2008 and honors citizens who have brought musical distinction to the community. This year, the 82nd Airborne All American Chorus was inducted into the Fayetteville Music Hall of Fame at the Kenny Loggins Concert. “This was the first group we have inducted,” said Fleishman. “The 82nd Airborne All American Chorus has done a lot for Fayetteville. They are good-will ambassadors for Fayetteville and the country. We wanted to honor them and this seemed like the perfect way to do that. They performed several songs and the audience loved it.”

    The chorus is an a cappella group that performs at events, sometimes as often as 500 times a year. It is composed of 26 paratroopers and represents all the units in the 82nd Airborne Division.

    Community Concerts brings amazing talent to Fayetteville each year, but the organization is also03-12-14-joan-rivers.gifserious about showcasing local talent. Voices of the Heart, students from Linda Kinlaw’s School of Dance and the 82nd Airborne All American Chorus have opened for Community Concerts performers in the past.

    The organization also offers college music scholarships to local high school graduates. The program was established in 2004. Since then, Community Concerts has awarded more than 22 scholarships.

    Because not everyone can afford tickets to local music-related events, Community Concerts provides opportunities for groups ranging from kids to seniors to attend music events. The Vision Resource Center, Fayetteville Urban Ministry, the Sunshine Center, high school students, military members and local police and fire departments have all benefited from the generosity of Community Concerts.

    “We are always looking for new ways to keep this fresh and different — and new ways to put the community into Community Concerts,” said Fleishman. “We have done a lot to do that in the last couple of years. We gave away more than 1,000 tickets to kids in the community to attend Honor Flight for free. We also featured the Cumberland County Schools All County Band as part of the performance. We do the Hall of Fame and give tickets to groups and seniors. We do a lot more for the community than just host concerts.”

    While Community Concerts audiences beneꀀt from the groups commitment to low ticket prices and reinvesting time, talent and energy in the community, throughout the year, the dedication of the volunteers is commendable. “Putting on shows is an enormous undertaking,” said Fleishman. “It takes about 10,000 man hours and it is a year-long process to plan and host a Community Concerts season.”

    It’s not too late to get tickets to see Joan Rivers. Visit www.community-concerts.com to learn more about Community Concerts and to purchase tickets.

    Photo: Joan Rivers is set to close out the Community Concerts season at the Crown on March 22. 

  • 03-06-2013race.jpgEducation is more important than ever in the current age. In the fast-paced science- and math-driven world, a sound basic education enables children to face their higher education goals with a head start. It is never too early to give a child a great education or an advantage for the future. St. Patrick Catholic School is one institution known for the quality education it has provided local residents over the past 75 years.

    The school has educated thousands of students, but it had humble beginnings.

    “St. Patrick Catholic School opened in 1937 as a parish ministry of St. Patrick Catholic Church at 811 Hay St., with an enrollment of 33 students. Four Sisters of Providence staffed the two-story building, which held three classrooms and a library on the first floor and provided living quarters for the sisters on the second floor,” according to school officials. “The backyard was used for recess and games. By the end of the first year, the school had grown to 50 students with one each in sixth, seventh and eighth grades.”

    From there school moved to its new location on Fort Bragg Road where enrollment peaked at 295. In 1986, it relocated to a new building near Village Drive, and current enrollment is 225.

    In order to celebrate its 75th anniversary and the growth and development of the school, St. Patrick Catholic School will host many events including a Fun Run. This is a 5k run/walk that will help fund the improvements in its technologies, Beth O’Leary, the coordinator of Family Life Ministry at the school explained. The event is scheduled for March 16.

    Increasingly schools are turning to technology to supplement educational practices. It is often far more interactive and a very engaging form of education for the students — and an engaged student is a student that learns more effectively. Unfortunately, these technologies can be incredibly expensive, but proceeds from the registrations for the fun run will help to offset the cost of improvements. There is no better way to celebrate years of success than to raise money for more improvements.

    “This is just a fun run in which anyone who likes to run or has a goal to run a 5K can participate. People can walk the route too,” O’Leary says.

    There are no requirements to participate in the race, and everyone is welcome regardless of whether or not they are affiliated with the school.

    Improving the education of the youth of the area is a great investment for the community. Well-educated citizens improve a community, so supporting the education of the next generation of leaders is an event where everyone can contribute. The event also celebrates the success of a longstanding and well-respected institution in Fayetteville.

    Race day registrations is $25, with registration opening at 7:30 a.m. The race will start at 9 a.m. at St. Patrick Catholic School, which is located at 1620 Marlborough Road off Village Drive. Register online at active.com or at the school.

  • 12 Food TruckEDITOR'S NOTE: Cold Stone Creamery was added as the tenth truck for May’s Hope Mills Food Truck Rodeo after the print deadline for this week's issue.

    Get ready, Hope Mills. The food trucks are coming back. Beginning Thursday, April 4, and continuing through November, the food trucks will be back the first Thursday of each month. The event will again be held in the rear parking lot of Hope Mills Town Hall, 5770 Rockfish Rd.

    Chancer McLaughlin, development and planning administrator for the town of Hope Mills, said the setup will be basically the same as last year, with each of the events starting at 5 p.m. and ending at 8 p.m.

    A live DJ will provide music for the first rodeo. When summer arrives, McLaughlin said the town will offer live bands.

    There will also be activities for children, including a bouncy house and a variety of free games. In addition, the town will have vendors on hand who will share information with the community about their various services.

    Among the vendors lined up for the first rodeo in April are the Hope Mills Community Emergency Response Team, iSign sign language and The CARE Clinic.

    “The vendors provide a service to the community,” McLaughlin said. “We are giving them the ability to share awareness about their program and the service they offer in the community.’’

    At all of the food truck rodeos, the town encourages people to bring nonperishable food items to donate to the ALMSHOUSE, a Hope Mills-based nonprofit that focuses on helping families get back on their feet and become selfsufficient, and its Kid’s Assistance Program.

    “We always do the ALMSHOUSE food drive,’’ McLaughlin said.

    Among the scheduled food trucks for the first event are A Catered Affair by Chef Glenn, Big T’s Snow on the Go, California Taco Truck, Kona Ice and Nancy Manby’s Famous Food Truck.

    McLaughlin said he strives at each food truck rodeo to have a variety of trucks so that no two trucks are competing directly with each other with the same food or specialty offerings.

    McLaughlin said the food truck events took a serious hit from bad weather last year as he had to cancel or postpone the monthly gatherings four times as two hurricanes hit Hope Mills in the fall.

    He tries to watch the weather as closely as possible and call them off or reschedule them at least a week in advance if needed.

    He said the biggest thing he learned from last year’s rodeos is that the people of Hope Mills love the food trucks, and the truck owners are appreciative. “We charge no fees for food trucks,’’ he said. “The main goal is we are trying to support the food truck community.’’

    He said the people appreciate the events because it gives them a break from preparing meals at home on a week night. “It’s a relaxing event for a school night,’’ McLaughlin said. “We provide the  a backdrop.’’

    McLaughlin said he gets his list of food trucks from the trucks that have been approved by the county health department. “I switch the trucks out every month, and we book about a month in advance,’’ he said. “We try to make sure we have at least six trucks for a variety.’’

    McLaughlin can be reached at 919-478-9023 or cmclaughlin@townofhopemills.com with questions about the rodeos or how to get a food truck involved.



  • 11 Hope Mills artSculptures created by students at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke that have been on public display in Hope Mills for about a year are disappearing from the landscape because of a breakdown in communication between town officials and UNC-Pembroke instructors.

    Adam Walls, associate professor of art at UNCPembroke, is a Hope Mills resident. About a year ago, he worked out a plan with Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner for students to create sculptures that would be put on display around the town of Hope Mills.

    The plan was for the town to get new works of art to show on an annual basis, with the only cost to the town being money to purchase the supplies the students needed to create the art. But when Walls tried to communicate with the town this year about renewing the agreement, his attempts were unsuccessful. 

    “They never would return my phone calls or my emails about how we were going to go about funding the new pieces,’’ he said.

    Last year, Walls wrote a grant for the town that secured the money to construct the concrete pads on which the sculptures were displayed. This year  he said he was prepared to write a similar grant to get money for the materials to build the sculptures. That cost the town about $3,000 last year. 

    While there was an apparent breakdown in communication, possibly caused by the fact officials with the town’s Parks and Recreation Department were displaced and without phones for a good part of the year as a result of damage to the recreation center, Walls said he heard there may have been another reason for the difficulty.

    “My understanding is the board (of commissioners) was not always in favor of what the previous board might have okayed,’’ Walls said. “Because somebody else has previously agreed to it, they were probably going to shoot it down.’’

    Walls is in the process of retrieving the sculptures and returning them to their creators. He said this year’s class of students, several of them from Hope Mills, is disappointed at losing a chance for public display of their works.

    “My students from Hope Mills are really brokenhearted they don’t get to show anything in their hometown,’’ Walls said. “But there was just no funding available to us. I wanted to help write the grant to make this happen, but they weren’t forthcoming.’’

    Walls said public display of a young artist’s work is an important step in his or her career.

    “It helps them start thinking of their work as professional,’’ he said. “When you put it in a public realm like that, you are going to have thousands of people seeing your work. They may not all be art enthusiasts, but just imagine. They are going to recognize there is a value in what they’re doing.

    “Not having this exhibition opportunity kind of takes some of the value away from the students, especially the students who are from that area.’’

    Even if the town does change its mind and would like to have art return, Walls said because of his personal schedule it would be at least a year from now before new sculptures could be created to replace the ones the town is losing. “We hope it will happen in the future,’’ he said.

    Warner said she was personally disappointed the town wasn’t able to continue displaying the sculptures. She had first seen the work of UNC-Pembroke students at a similar display in Laurinburg and thought it would work in Hope Mills as well.

    “I think it added to (Municipal Park),’’ Warner said. “I can’t tell you how many people have taken pictures with them (the sculptures).’’

    Walls also said whenever he went to the park with his children this past year, he heard numerous positive comments from others there about the sculptures.

    Warner is hopeful that the town can work with Walls to bring the art back in 2020.

    “As a town, we dropped the ball,’’ she said. “Had I known it had gone so far, I would have made the effort myself.’’


  • Meetings

    For details about all meetings and activities, including location where not listed, call Town Clerk Jane Starling at 910-426-4113.

    Fayetteville-Cumberland County Human Relations Commission Thursday, March 14, 5:30 p.m., Luther Board Room, Town Hall

    Board of Commissioners Monday, March 18, 7 p.m., Luther Board Room, Town Hall

    Mayor’s Youth Leadership Committee Monday, March 18, 6 p.m., front conference room, Town Hall

    Lake Advisory Committee Tuesday, March 19, 6 p.m., Parks and Rec Center

    Aquatics Feasibility Committee Wednesday, March 20, 6:30 p.m., Luther Board Room, Town Hall. This meeting will be held for the purpose of exploring potential partnership opportunities for an aquatics center.


    • Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Senior programs at the Parks and Recreation Center. The Senior programs for people ages 55 and older who are residents of Cumberland County have resumed. The rec center was closed in mid-September after Hurricane Florence. Various activities are now back and are scheduled Monday through Friday throughout the day. For details on times and days, check the schedule at www.townofhopemills.com, call the rec center at 910-426-4109, or email Kasey Ivey at kivey@townofhopemills.com.

    Hope Mills Area Kiwanis Club at Sammio’s, second Tuesdays at noon and fourth Tuesdays at 6 p.m. For details, call 910-237-1240.

    Promote yourself

    Email hopemills@upandcomingweekly.com.

  • 16Gregory DickersonGregory Dickerson spent 21 years in the United States Air Force learning about firefighting and fire inspection. Now, he’s bringing some of that knowledge to Hope Mills as local volunteer.

    Dickerson was recently honored by the town as its Volunteer of the Month for a variety of activities, including work with the Hope Mills Community Emergency Rescue Team, serving meals at Hope House, working with neighborhood community watch groups and helping out at the local nursing home.

    Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner praised the work of Dickerson and volunteers like him, saying they provide countless hours of work in the community on a regular basis.

    “We are so fortunate to have volunteers that donate their time and expertise,’’ Warner said. “Recognizing the Volunteer of the Month is our way of thanking them publicly. Our volunteers share their Hope Mills pride in the work they do.’’

    Dickerson feels the most important thing he brought with him from his years in the Air Force was the ability to help people in need, whether they were involved in a vehicle accident or a house fire. “You’re helping people get better or try to limit the damage if they do have a fire,’’ he said.

    With both a background in firefighting and a degree in emergency management, Dickerson has used his military experience to lead basic training classes for the Hope Mills community emergency response team. He provides expertise in disaster preparedness, firefighting and rescue techniques.

    “It was my way of taking the knowledge I have received over the last 30 years and putting it to use in a small community,’’ Dickerson said. “Every little bit volunteers can do alleviates the town from having to pay extra money, whether it’s having police officers to work overtime or things like traffic control at Hope Mills Lake.’’

    At last year’s lake celebrations, Dickerson and other volunteers worked with a Hope Mills police officer to provide traffic control. The volunteers saved the town the extra cost of putting additional police officers to work. “That’s one of the ways we can give back,’’ Dickerson said.

    Another benefit of volunteer work, Dickerson said, is the volunteer can set his or her own pace and doesn’t have to cope with the stress that can come from having to show up daily for the same job. “The stress level is very minimal as a volunteer,’’ he said. “I don’t have to do it today if I don’t feel like it, but if there’s a need, I do it.’’

    Another area where Dickerson’s expertise is valuable is in his work with the Red Cross to inspect and install smoke alarms in private homes.

    “We work hand-in-hand with the Red Cross in Hope Mills,’’ he said.

    A major push is coming in the months ahead to install smoke alarms in neighborhoods that show a history of fire risk. May 4, Dickerson and other volunteers working with the Red Cross will install some 1,000 alarms in Lafayette Village off Hope Mills Road.

    Fire prevention and safety aren’t Dickerson’s only volunteer activities. As a lifetime member of the local chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Dickerson regularly spends time at local nursing homes.

    “One day I may be in that nursing home,’’ Dickerson said. “I want someone to come and see me. I don’t want to be left alone.’’

    He sees the nursing home visits, as well as working with neighborhood watch groups and serving meals at Hope House, as different ways of giving back to the community.

    He views the watch groups as a way to stop trouble before it gets a chance to start. “We try to help each other out and be good neighbors,’’ he said.

    Dickerson estimates he volunteered about 303 hours total last year. He’d like to get some younger people involved in the volunteer program in Hope Mills.

    “It helps you through your high school days, maybe even (in) getting scholarships for college,’’ he said.

    He’d like to see the volunteer program in Hope Mills grow and resemble one in Plymouth, a small town in the northeastern part of the state that he visited recently for the annual North Carolina Community Emergency Response Team Conference.

    Dickerson said Plymouth has about 4,000 citizens and they seem to almost work as a unit when it comes to volunteering. “When they need something, they work together,’’ he said. “You see a sense of achievement. It was made better by the amount of people that put effort into it.’’

    Dickerson has found a simple goal in volunteering that works for him and that he suggests others try. “Enjoy what you’re doing, whether you’re paid or unpaid,’’ he said. “Try to get satisfied doing it.’’

    Photo: Gregory Dickerson estimates he volunteered about 303 hours total last year.

  • 15EasterThe Easter Bunny will pay an early visit to Hope Mills this year. Local families will get the opportunity to enjoy breakfast with him, and it won’t be rabbit food on the menu.

    The Hope Mills Parks & Recreation Department will offer Breakfast with the Easter Bunny on Saturday, April 6, at the recreation center’s main building on Rockfish Road.

    The event is similar to the Breakfast with Santa held last December, but now that the recreation center has been repaired following hurricane damage last fall, the event will move back to the recreation center after being temporarily held at the main Hope Mills fire station.

    Meghan Freeman, special events programs assistant director for the town, said Breakfast with the Easter Bunny in Hope Mills dates back 10 years or more.

    Freeman said the event is another of the town’s efforts to give families with children a chance to enjoy fun quality time together. Last December’s Breakfast with Santa was a big success, and Freeman is hoping for similar results with Breakfast with the Easter Bunny.

    There is one small difference between the two events. While Breakfast with Santa offered a meal and a chance to meet with Santa Claus, Breakfast with the Easter Bunny will be followed by an Easter egg hunt at the Hope Mills Municipal Park fields 1 and 2.

    While tickets to the breakfast are $6, the egg hunt is free. Anyone can come to the hunt, but attendance at the breakfast will be capped at the first 200 tickets sold.

    The breakfast runs from 8:30-11 a.m. and has a menu that includes pancakes, eggs, sausage, bacon and juice.

    The Easter egg hunt, following the breakfast, has an age limit from 1 to 10, Freeman said. When the hunt begins, she said, the youngsters will be divided up in three different age groups.

    Children ages 1-3 will begin hunting for the eggs at 11:15 a.m. The 4-6 age group will start at 11:30 a.m. Children ages 7-10 will hunt beginning at 11:45 a.m.

    The children ages 1-3 will begin hunting on Field 1, with the children ages 4-6 going on Field 2. After the first group has finished, additional eggs will be hidden and the final group of children ages 7-10 will hunt on Field 1.

    Freeman said plastic eggs will be used that will contain either candy or, in some cases, small prizes.

    In the event of rain, the egg hunt will be moved indoors to the recreation center gymnasium.

    “I’m looking forward to seeing how many people are going to come out,’’ Freeman said. “At a lot of events recently, our numbers have increased. Hopefully, we’ll continue the trend.

    “I think it brings the whole community together. It’s a great plus for us. You can’t beat it.’’

    Reservations and advanced payment for tickets are required for the breakfast. The deadline to sign up and pay is Monday, April 1. Children ages three and under will be admitted to the breakfast free of charge but must still be registered.

    For further information about Breakfast with the Easter Bunny or the Easter egg hunt, contact the recreation department at 910-426-4109.

  • Meetings

    For details about all meetings and activities, including location where not listed, call Town Clerk Jane Starling at 910-426-4113.

    Board of Commissioners Saturday, March 9, 8 a.m., Camp Rockfish Retreat Center (Budget workshop for fiscal year 2019-20)

    Fayetteville-Cumberland County Human Relations Commission Thursday, March 14, 5:30 p.m., Luther Board Room, Town Hall


    Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Senior programs at the Parks and Recreation Center. The Senior programs for people ages 55-plus who are residents of Cumberland County have resumed. The rec center was closed in mid-September after Hurricane Florence. Various activities are now back and are scheduled Monday through Friday throughout the day. For details on times and days, check the schedule at www.townofhopemills.com, call the rec center at 910-426-4109, or email Kasey Ivey at kivey@townofhopemills.com.

    Hope Mills Area Kiwanis Club at Sammio’s, second Tuesdays at noon and fourth Tuesdays at 6 p.m. For details, call 910-237-1240.

    Promote yourself

    Email hopemills@upandcomingweekly.com.

  • 15Cotton truck 2Work is in progress on a new multipurpose fire truck for Cotton Volunteer Fire Station on Calico Street in Hope Mills. It will be a welcome addition to the vehicles currently in use.

    Hank Harris is deputy chief of the Cotton station, a position he’s held for nearly 35 years. He said the new truck, which is scheduled to be delivered by May, will replace an aging 2003 truck made by American LaFrance, which went out of business in 2014.

    The old truck was capable of a variety of roles, including vehicle extrication and water rescue. It could also handle support roles at various emergency scenes, Harris said.

    Since American LaFrance is out of business, it’s become harder to find replacement parts for the old truck, he added. But that’s only part of the problem. Times have changed, and the Cotton fire station finds itself called on to perform different kinds of jobs. Harris said the fire station has advanced from a medium to a heavy rescue unit. As a result, the station has had to add more equipment, some of which doesn’t fit on the old truck.

    That means in some situations, the equipment has to be stored on two trucks instead of one. When two trucks need to be dispatched to a call to make sure all the needed equipment for the situation is available, that’s a problem.

    The new truck is being made by a Wisconsin-based company called Pierce Manufacturing. A contract was signed to start work on the new truck in April of last year.

    The new vehicle is not a firefighting truck per se; it’s more of a support vehicle, Harris said. “It has no hoses or anything like that, but it has all the hand tools and equipment required that gives us our ratings,’’ Harris said. The truck can be dispatched to certain rescue situations by itself without a firefighting truck being present.

    One of the biggest differences between the two vehicles is the number of people the new one will hold. Where the old truck could only handle four passengers, the new one will allow seven.

    Harris said the new truck will have a walk-in body that allows firemen access to a climate-controlled area where they can take a break and rehab during fire situations.

    “They can get out of the heat, cold or whatever they’re in,’’ Harris said. “(They can) get in a better state of mind.’’

    The new truck will also solve the problem of splitting equipment between two trucks. It has extra space available to carry an assortment of tools for vehicle extrication or road rescue.

    Equipment the truck carries includes axes, pike poles and ladders.

    With the recent increase in flooding situations in the Hope Mills area, the new truck will provide a needed benefit. “We can actually put an inflatable boat on top of the truck,’’ Harris said. “It will increase our water rescue capability.’’

    Harris said firefighters won’t need additional training when the new truck arrives as all of the Cotton firefighters are already schooled in taking advantage of the truck’s various capabilities.

    Since Cotton Fire Station serves not just Hope Mills but a good portion of the southern end of Cumberland County, the new truck will be a benefit to many, Harris said, in a variety of situations. “We can put more manpower on that truck,’’ he said.

  • 14MarciMarci’s Cakes and Bakes has done a lot to support the town of Hope Mills. Now the town is returning the favor.

    Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner said the Trade Street business, operated by Marci Mang for the last three years, is the latest winner of the Hope Mills Small Business of the Month Award.

    Mang will be officially recognized at a meeting of the Hope Mills Board of Commissioners in a few weeks. Of Mang, Warner said, “She has brought new life to an old building, redecorating and repurposing (it) for her own bakery.’’

    Warner especially praised Mang for helping to revitalize Trade Street, which is off the beaten path in Hope Mills.

    “I’m so proud of the beautiful cakes she designs and the wonderful baked goods,’’ Warner said, “but more importantly, I’m proud of all she contributes to all of our community.’’

    Warner thanked Mang for her imagination and creativity and “for making Hope Mills sweet.’’ Mang said she tries to give back to the community in different ways. She is currently offering cake pop and cupcake classes for anyone interested, with the latest class starting Saturday, March 9.

    Mang said she puts out a schedule on Facebook and Instagram (@marciscakesandbakes) when a new class is offered. She asks everyone interested to register by calling 910-425-6377. Each class is limited to a maximum of 20 people.

    “They learn how to make the cake pops and what kind of chocolate to use to dip the cake pops,’’ Mang said. “They’ll leave the bakery with cake pops in hand.’’

    Mang also opens the doors of her business to local pastors. “We held a Bible study meeting in the bakery,’’ she said. “A group of pastors will be meeting there to talk about Easter services in the area.’’

    One of Mang’s most unique initiatives is a mentoring program for young women who may be struggling at school or dealing with personal issues in their home lives. Those who have an interest in baking can come to the store and get training in making and decorating cakes and cake pops.

    “I think any kind of specialized skill like that is something you can always use in the future,’’ Mang said. “It gives you confidence to find something you are passionate about and that puts your hands to work.’’

    Mang said she’s seen good results from most of the women who have taken part in the program.

    It’s all part of a passion Mang developed for baking that started when she was a girl, growing up two doors down from a bakery. She used to love going to the bakery and seeing the things that were in the window and in the shop.

    That love continues today in her own business. “I love seeing kids’ faces when they come in,’’ she said. “I try to keep items affordable. Families come in and enjoy something together. (My products are) not processed. Not mass produced.’’

    She brings the same passion to the job of designing special-order buttercream cakes for any occasion, and she takes the role she plays in designing and making those cakes seriously.

    She’s open to any ideas customers have for a cake and doesn’t shy away when the client begins by saying, “You’re going to think I’m crazy,’’ she said.

    “You want a teddy bear dressed in leather, we can work it out,’’ she said. “This week I did a spider with a Minecraft character on its back.’’

    She had a child who was a big fan of zombies; she turned out a zombie-themed birthday cake.

    “I love when people pick up cakes, and I know I’m part of their special day,’’ she said.

    Mang’s outreach to Hope Mills extends beyond people who leave her shop with purchases. She regularly donates leftover baked goods to various local charities like churches, the Boy Scouts, fire stations, the ALMSHOUSE and the senior citizens center.

    “I try to rotate them,’’ she said. “We always try to get them someplace in Hope Mills that can utilize what we have.’’

    Marci’s Cakes and Bakes is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. at 5474 Trade St. in Hope Mills.

    For more information, visit the Facebook page, Marci’s Cakes and Bakes, or call 910-425-6377.

  • 03-05-14-ftcc-logo.gifIt’s unlikely that anyone would argue the value that Fayetteville Technical Community College brings to the community. From general education credits to continuing education programs and certìcations, FTCC plays a huge role in making sure that the local workforce is educated and well-trained for whatever challenges they face. After a recent economic impact analysis, FTCC can attach numbers and dollar amounts to the ways that the institution positively impacts the community.

    The economic analysis measured the impact of college operations, the impact of the spending of students who relocated to the county and then the impact of the increased productivity of former students that were employed in the regional workforce during the time of the study.

    The analysis is for the 2012-2013 ̀scal Year, and found that during that time the college employed 973 full-time and part-time faculty and staff, 87 percent of whom lived in Cumberland County. The total payroll at FTCC was $58.5 million. Much of this was spent in Cumberland County on things like groceries, dining, clothing and other household expenses. As a consumer, FTCC spent $44.5 million on goods and services to cover its expenses for professional services, facilities and supplies. Just from its day-to-day operations, FTCC generated $75.7 million.

    A little more than 10 percent of FTCC’s students relocated to Cumberland County to attend college during the 2012-2013 ̀scal year. If FTCC did not exist, these are students that would not have moved to Cumberland County. Out-of-county students spent $34.1 million while attending FTCC. They spent this money on groceries, rent for accommodations and transportation, resulting in $13.8 million in income for the local community.

    Once students leave FTCC, the community really starts to benèt from the education and training of local residents. Thousands of students have passed through the halls of FTCC and left with newly acquired skills that they used to further themselves and the community. Thousands of them still reside and are employed in Cumberland County. As students put their new skills to use they are typically rewarded with higher incomes. Their efforts and skills add value to local businesses and increase productivity, which results in higher pròts for local enterprises. These higher incomes and increased pròts are spent locally, which benèts the community. For the 2012-2013 ̀scal year, FTCC’s students currently employed in Cumberland County added $440.8 million to the local economy.“

    Approximately 88 percent of FTCC’s students remain in North Carolina upon completing their educational goals,” said Dr. Larry Keen, FTCC President. “As our students earn more, they and their employers pay higher taxes through increased output and spending. Over the students working lives, state and local government in North Carolina will collect a present value of $234.2 million in the form of higher tax receipts. Additionally, as our students earn more because of the skills and qualìcations they acquire at FTCC, employers will earn more as their businesses become more productive. Over their working lives, the FTCC student population will generate present value of $2.5 billion in added income in the state of North Carolina. For every dollar that state and local tax payers spend on FTCC, society as a whole in North Carolina will receive a cumulative value of $41.90 in benèts for as long as our students remain active in the state work force.”

    To find out more about the FTCC 201-2013 regional economic impact analysis, call 910.678.8373.

  •   I thought it would be somewhat comical to send our regular movie reviewer Heather Griffiths to review the Jonas Brothers movie. But, as Heather is more at home with slasher flicks than boy bands, I started to rethink my plan. Then, as I thought back to the terror she had at merely being in the same multiplex with all of the die hard Hannah Montana fans, I decided it would probably not only be cruel, but downright mean to ask her to review this movie.
     {mosimage} So, since my 8-year-old son thinks he is one of the Jonas Brothers, and since their latest CD now holds slot number 5 in my car’s CD changer and since I will admit it I can now sing along with the CD, I decided to take one for the team (and get cool points with my son) and take in the flick.
      I’ll be up front. If you are over the age of 13, you’re going to want to run screaming into the night after the first five minutes of the movie. If you are between the ages of 8 and 13, you are going to be in a state of bliss that can only be compared to an ice-cream induced coma. If you’re in that target age group, you’re gonna love this movie. (Parents: You’re going to have to endure it. I suggest meditating before going.)
      The Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience is exactly what the title says. It’s outtakes of the brothers’ latest concert tour. You see them getting their 4 a.m. wake-up call, and being kept in line by their bodyguard/rapper. You see Joe, the cute Jonas Brother, and also the player of the three, chatting up the chicks and inciting little girls to frantic screams. (Hey Joe Jonas, I’m still mad because you dumped Taylor Swift via a text message. Swift, by the way has a cameo in the movie.)
      You see Nick and Kevin (the curley-haired Jonas Brothers) hitting some hot licks on their guitars. And, there’s even some 3D effects. You would think with the movie being made by Disney the effects would be awesome. Think again. There’s only so many times a guitar pick can be shot at you before it becomes old. But hey, the kids loved it.
      The movie wasn’t made with cynical adults, looking for deep storylines or intricate characters. It was made for the kids who have sent these three guys zooming to the top of the pop charts. It is in the same vein as the recent Myley Cyrus movie and even the High School Musical machine.
      For the adults though, some of you may take exception to the movie’s awkward attempt to put the brothers in the same light as the Beatles. You’ll see what I’m talking about if you watch the movie (or even look at the movie poster), but they’re just kids. Don’t run out and protest or burn their records.
      It’s innocent. It’s harmless, and the brothers try to set a good example by sporting their abstinence rings and by being very up front about their views on teen sex. (This earns them some hard knocks from comedians, but I say good for you Jonas Brothers.)
      So for those reasons, I would sit through the movie again, and yes, when it comes out on DVD, I’ll probably be coerced into buying it. There are worse things I could do.
  • The Camellia is an incredible plant, so much so that it has been celebrated for nearly 70 years at the Fayetteville Camellia Festival by the Fayetteville Camellia Club. For the unaware, it is natural to wonder why so much attention is given to this specific flower.03-04-15-camellia.gif

    “Due to the different types of camellias available, the season of bloom is quite long. Many gardeners in this area grow and love them, so it’s a natural fit. It makes sense to have a group devoted to the propagation, showing and education of this iconic flower. The festival seeks to expand the appreciation and knowledge of camellias to all who may want to learn more,” said Adriana Quiñones, Cape Fear Botanical Garden Director of Horticulture & Education.

    “There are 267 species of camellia spread throughout the world. None are native to North America, but they have been here so long that they are iconic and synonymous with great southern gardens,” she continued. “At the Cape Fear Botanical Garden, we have more than 250 different camellias. Most are the Japonica and Sasanqua types along with some of the hybrids.”

    The Festival is held March 7 -8 at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden, and brings with it ample opportunity for lovers of flora to spend time in their favorite habitat. There will be a tremendous amount to do at this year’s Camellia Festival, which has been expanded to two days. Of utmost importance is the ever-anticipated Camellia Show. This is an opportunity for camellia cultivators from the area to show off their skills and for observers to witness a nearly perfect camellia specimen.

    This year, Cathy McCamish, the president of the Fayetteville Camellia Club, expects there to be around 1,000 blooms on display. She also explained that judges are certified by the American Camellia Society, judging on four criteria: form, color, size and condition.

    In order to participate in the show, gardeners must deliver their blooms to the garden between 7 and 10 a.m. on Saturday. The show will officially open for the public at 1p.m.

    In addition to the Camellia Show there are several speakers through out the weekend. At 10:30 a.m. on March 7 and 8, Hal Broadfoot will present “Talk and Walk Among the Camellias While Birds Sing & Fly.” Saturday afternoon, Pam Beck will speak on “Hanging Out with Shady Characters.” Later that same day, Brie Arthur will present “Cover the World in Camellias,” which deals with propagation. On Sunday afternoon, Roger Mercer, who has 30 years of growing experience, will host a question and answer session.

    The speaker sessions and Camellia Show are just the tip of the iceberg. This may seem overwhelming, but to get the most out of this festival Quiñones advises,

    “Check out our website for information of what is happening and what educational events are available and plan on spending the day at the garden learning about the culture and care of camellias. Visit the vendors and information booths, go on a tour of the McLaurin Camellia Garden and ask questions of the experts on hand, look at the displays of blooms and check out the awards that are given for the different divisions.”

    The Festival is March 7 and 8 at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday in the Cape Fear Botanical Garden Orangery. The garden is located at 536 N. Eastern Blvd. The festival is free to garden members and for visitors who pay garden admission, which is $10. For more information, visit www.fayettevillecamelliaclub.org/Camellia-Show.html or call 486-0221.

    Photo: The Cape Fear Botanical Garden will host the Camellia Festival March 7-8.

  • Firmly ensconced on the music charts since his debut with “Austin” in 2001, Blake Shelton has spent the last 10 years 03-02-11-blake_shelton1.gifrecording hit after hit for his fans. On Friday, March 11, Shelton is performing at the Crown Coliseum. Tickets have been on sale for awhile, so don’t miss your chance to see this big music star.

    Born in Ada, Okla., in 1976, Shelton wrote songs as a teenager and played in honky-tonk bars. When he was 17, Shelton met Mae Boren Axton at an event honoring her contributions to music. Axton is most famous for her role in co-writing “Heartbreak Hotel,” Elvis Prestley’s first single with RCA. Shelton was in the entertainment line up at the event. Axton heard Shelton sing and told him that she believed he would find success as an entertainer, but to do it he would have to move to Nashville. Shelton had been out of high school only two weeks when he decided to pack up and move to the country music capital.

    It wasn’t long until Shelton was pumping out hit after hit and had made a name for himself on the country music charts. His tunes are catchy and easy to relate to. His series of chart-busting hits can attest to that.

    Rik Knopp, the director of Marketing and Sales at the Crown Center, had this to say, “We couldn’t be more excited about the upcoming Blake Shelton show. To get such a high caliber performer at a time when he is one of the hottest acts touring is a big win for this community.”

    With 17 singles on the country charts in the past decade, Shelton has seen seven of his songs race to the number one spot; “Austin” (2001), “The Baby” (2003), “Some Beach” (2004–2005), “Home” (2008), “She Wouldn’t Be Gone” (2009), “Hillbilly Bone” (2010), a duet with Trace Adkins, and “All About Tonight” (2010). Additionally, three more of his singles have reached Top Ten: a cover version of Conway Twitty’s “Goodbye Time”, “Nobody but Me” and “I’ll Just Hold On.”

    Shelton’s latest release LOADED: The Best of Blake Shelton debuted on the country charts in the top 10 placing him in the unique position of being one of the few artists who have charted three records in one year. Garth Brooks, Kenny Chesney and Alan Jackson are also in this group.

    Shelton was recently nominated for his first Grammy award for “Best Country Collaboration with Vocals” for his single “Hillbilly Bone” which has won an award at every major Country award show this year — the ACA’s for “Music Video of the Year” and “Music Video: Male,” the ACM Award for “Vocal Event of the Year,” CMA Award for “Musical Event of the Year” and CMT Award for “Collaborative Video of the Year.”

    Knopp added that “A Grammy nominated winner of two American Country Awards and the Country Music Awards Male Vocalist of the Year, not to mention that just this week he hit number one on the Billboard charts for the third time in 10 months and eighth time overall — this is a homerun for us. Just check Ticketmaster’s fan reviews if you’re sitting on the fence about coming – fan’s are raving about his live performance and opening acts — they give him a 4.8 out of 5 stars. While you’re checking those out go ahead and buy your tickets and make March 11th a night to remember.”

    Tickets are $49.50, $37.50, $32.50 and are available at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling the Crown box office at 438-4100.

    PHOTO: Country music star Blake Shelton will perform at the Crown on March 11.

  • Always a huge production, Winter Jam is set to be bigger and better than ever this year. It’s Christian music’s largest annual tour and breaks attendance records every year. Produced by Premier Productions and presented by Holt International, the tour will feature the most artists and dates in its 16-year history. The concert is on March 19, at the Crown. 03-09-11-winterjam.gif

    The concert will be hosted by GRAMMY nominated performers Newsong. NewSong’s 28 years in ministry have yielded 17 albums, 20 #1 singles, a Dove Award, and a GRAMMY(r) Award nomination, among numerous other achievements. The band’s latest recording, Give Yourself Away, released last fall.

    Newsboys; David Crowder Band; Kutless; Francesca Battistelli; RED; KJ-52 and guest speaker Tony Nolan will be featured too. In addition, the show includes a Pre-Jam Party presented by the American Bible Society with Sidewalk Prophets, Chris August and Chris Sligh.

    “This year’s tour will be unlike any other Winter Jam in history,” says Roy Morgan, owner, Premier Productions, producer of Winter Jam. “Winter Jam 2011 will have tons of surprises that no one is expecting. You will not want to miss this. Also, if someone has never experienced a Winter Jam event before, then this is the year to come.”

    Winter Jam was the number one tour in America for the first quarter of the year. It landed at number 2 in pollsters 2010 Worldwide Ticket Sales “Top 100 Tours” chart with a showing of more than 400,000 people in attendance.03-09-11-winterjam-photo.gif

    Approximately 74,000 people made decisions for Christ in 2010. More than 10,000 sponsorships to Holt International were garnered through Winter Jam 2010 too. Holt International helps to meet the needs of orphaned children around the world.

    “It’s amazing and humbling to see how God has continued to bless the Winter Jam Tour over all these years,” says NewSong’s Eddie Carswell. “We specifically created and designed this tour to impact the lives of others for the sake of the Gospel. Our prayer is that God will continue to use Winter Jam for His glory and honor.”

    The show starts at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door. Call the Crown box office at 438-4100 for tickets.

    PHOTO: NewSong will host the 2011 Winter Jam.


  • Imagine being selected as one of the best two players of all time in a major university athletic program that has existed more than 100 years.
    That is the honor bestowed upon Fayetteville’s Chris Cammack. The Fayetteville High School graduate and retired local businessman joins college roommate Mike Caldwell and their coach, Sam Esposito, in comprising the inaugural class of the brand-new N.C. State Baseball Hall of Fame.
    {mosimage}The trio was recognized at halftime of the Florida State-N.C. State football game at Carter-Finley Stadium in October. Induction ceremonies will be held prior to a Wolfpack home baseball game later this season. Plaques of Cammack, Caldwell and Esposito will be mounted at the main gate to Doak Field, home of the Pack baseball team.
    “I’m obviously flattered,” Cammack said of his Hall of Fame selection, “especially being one of only two players in the first class. Going in with Mike … well, that’s just the best. That is really special.”
    Cammack and Caldwell roomed together all four of their years at N.C. State, and they were coached all four years by Esposito, who had a 10-year career as a major leaguer. As freshmen, Cammack and Caldwell led the 1968 Wolfpack to its only College World Series appearance in school history.
    “That season is my fondest memory,” Cammack said. “Nothing has ever surpassed that year. It was magical. We weren’t expected to do much; talent-wise, we were about the fourth-best team in the Atlantic Coast Conference. We had to win the regular-season conference championship to go to the regionals, and we did that on the last day of the season. We ended up coming in third in the World Series.”
    Cammack, a third baseman, batted .351 and drove in 19 runs as a freshman. For an encore, he set a State record which still stands by hitting .429 as he led the ACC in batting and with a .500 on-base percentage. He was named the ACC Player of the Year for his efforts.
    A career .362 hitter, he was a four-time All-ACC first-team selection, one of only four players in conference history to be accorded that honor. Making it more meaningful is the fact that, in those days, voting for the all-conference baseball team was done by the league’s players. Being chosen by one’s peers is the ultimate honor.
    Cammack was named an All-American his first two years and should have been selected as a senior, when he batted an ACC-leading .381 with four home runs and 20 runs batted in, both career highs. He felt it was his best all-around season, one in which he finished second in ACC Player of the Year voting to Caldwell, his roomie.
    The two remain extremely close.
    “He has been my best friend all these years,” Cammack said. “Actually, most of us from that 1968 team are close. We stay in touch with e-mails and phone calls. We had a 40-year reunion at State last year, and all but two players from the team w“Mike and I have talked about this (the HOF induction), and it means more to us than anything. It’s not just the Hall of Fame, but being the first two players chosen. (Current State baseball coach) Elliott Avent told us the vote of the committee was unanimous. They took a lot of time and looked at the statistics of players from way back.”
    Surprisingly, Cammack never played professional baseball. He was drafted by the Washington Senators out of high school, was picked by the Philadelphia Phillies in the winter draft during his junior year at N.C. State and was taken by the Baltimore Orioles in the spring draft following his junior season.
    “I was not going to sign early,” he said. “I had told my parents that I would finish college. I went to college to get my degree, and I got my degree. That’s what people did back then.
    “After I graduated, I was ready to sign. I talked with Washington again, and they had me over a barrel. I had no bargaining power. Their offer was not what I thought it should be, not after the year I had just had for State. So I didn’t sign.
    “I had always wanted to play major league baseball, but when it was over, it was over. I have no regrets. I have had a good life. I am blessed.”
    Cammack made his mark in basketball at Fayetteville High School. He scored 23 points in the North Carolina 4-A championship game in 1966, helping the Bulldogs and Coach Len Maness to their second straight state title. He was inducted into the Fayetteville Sports Club Hall of Fame in 2007.
    A retired independent insurance agent, Cammack operated his own business the last 15 years of his career. He still lives in Fayetteville.

  •      There is a bumper sticker that reads “Army Wife – Toughest Job in the Military.” I do not think there is much doubt in anyone’s mind that being a military spouse is an extremely challenging role to fill, but where does being a military child rank? As we celebrate the Month of the Military Child in April, we need to reflect on what it truly means to be a military child. {mosimage}
         For those on the outside looking in, it means mom and/or dad is fighting a war in Iraq or Afghanistan. It means having to live without their soldier for six, nine, 12, maybe even 15 months. It means not having their soldier home for holidays and birthdays. It means constantly moving. It means facing numerous challenges on a regular basis.
         To the civilian world, this is often what is thought of in regards to military children. I do not know about you, but to me, this is not what being a military child is about. Yes, much of this is true, but it is not the essence of our children. 
         So, let me ask the question again. What does it mean to be a military child? It means the chance to live in foreign countries and several different states. It means the opportunity to visit places others only read about in books or see on television. It means understanding at a very young age that there is a whole world out there beyond your street, school and city. It means having “best friends” all over the world. 
         It means having brothers and sisters born in different states, maybe even different countries than you. It means having a bond with your family that is stronger than many; after all, they are with you no matter where the Army sends you. It means swelling up with pride when you hear the National Anthem. Above all else, it means the ability to say, “My mom and/or dad is a United States soldier!” 
         If you ask five children what it means to be a military child, you will likely get five very different answers.    Being a military child is challenging, exciting, rewarding and unique. They are a special group who begin to make sacrifices at an age so young they do not even know what the word sacrifice means. Children growing up on or near a base with a soldier for a parent rarely realize the extraordinary lives they lead.
         Being a military child may indeed be one of the toughest jobs in the Army. These kids are definitely worth celebrating this month, and all year long.
  • 17Abby CarsonAbigail Carson 

    Terry Sanford • Indoor and outdoor track • Junior 

    Carson has a 4.13 grade point average. She is a three-year starter and a member of National Honor Society. She currently holds the girls record at Terry Sanford in the shot put for both the indoor and outdoor teams. She also volunteers with her travel track team around the community. 

    18Jasmine GiacomucciJasmine Giacomucci 

    Terry Sanford • Outdoor track • Junior 

    Giacomucci has a 3.58 grade point average. She is a three-year starter. She has served as a cheerleader and with the marching band for the past three years. She is also a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and works with the GEMS of Delta Sigma Theta volunteering in the community. 

  • 16swimmingHere are the top award-winners from Patriot Athletic Conference swimming this season. 

    Most points: 

    Boys — Brandon Chhoeung, Pine Forest; Zizhou Lu, Gray’s Creek 

    Girls — Sarah Morden, E.E. Smith; Amelia Shook, Cape Fear 

    Coach of the year: 

    Boys —Rick Kaiser, Gray’s Creek 

    Girls — Amey Shook, Cape Fear 

    Coaches Award: 

    Boys — Zizhou Lu, Gray’s Creek 

    Girls — Sarah Morden 

    Photo: L-R: Sarah Morden, Amelia Shook 


  • 03-16-11-ftcc-mentoring.gifThe Mighty Male Mentoring Program (3MP) is a goal-oriented program designed to support the educational and professional aspirations of minority males (also known as mentees) at Fayetteville Technical Community College (FTCC). The 3MP seeks to increase completion of developmental and curriculum courses, retention, graduation rates, and transfer to a UNC four-year institution. To accomplish this, the program increases exposure to academic and financial aid advising and to educational, professional, and civic opportunities.

    It’s uncontroverted that minority males face many personal challenges and obstacles when it comes to college education-program admittance, financial resources, job skills, job placement, stereotypes, low grade point averages, low Accuplacer test scores, and a sense of future direction, to name a few. This is where the 3M Program steps in with mentors and academic advising.

    Advising students in the Mighty Male Mentoring Program at FTCC involves developing a more personal relationship between student and advisor/mentor. Regular contact (at least twice a month) allows the student to bond and identify with his mentor.

    Larry Vick, a 3MP mentor/criminal justice instructor, notes that “As college faculty and staff members, we’re often called upon to lend our time, effort, and expertise to various projects. These projects are often worthwhile, but sometimes we’re left to wonder if our investments have achieved the sought-after results. For those involved with the Mighty Male Mentoring Program, or 3M, as it’s called, the answer is clear. The 3M Program is more than just worthwhile – it’s a game changer. That’s because its benefits are permanent. By matching students who have demonstrated a desire to succeed with dedicated faculty and staff members who serve as mentors, relationships are forged that create win-win situations. Not only do the mentees reap tremendous rewards, but the mentors benefit greatly.”

    The process begins with potential mentees filling out an application that memorializes their commitment to improve both as students and as male members of their communities. Upon acceptance, the mentees complete a contract with their mentors wherein they attest to a plan of action. Mentors are pre-screened to identify their areas of expertise and level of commitment. To ensure program participants stay motivated, twice monthly plenary meetings are scheduled to augment any individual meetings between mentor and mentee. In addition, there are numerous activities available that reinforce the program’s mission, purpose, and expectations.

    FTCC’s 3M Program is still in its infancy, but significant strides have been made under the leadership of Theodore Thomas, James Steadman, and Bryant Youngblood. Their efforts have been supported by a group of dedicated volunteer mentors. Equally encouraging has been the caliber of the mentees who have been participating.

    Recently, there have been trips planned to Tarboro and Winston-Salem to engage in 3M leadership conferences and mentor training. Mentees are also scheduled to participate in such hands-on activities as mentoring eighth graders from the Ramsey Street Alternative School as part of the Future Seekers Career Exploration Project.

    Please take the time to speak with members of the 3M Program when you see them in your neighborhoods performing community service. They’ll be the young men with looks of determination and purpose, as well as a smile.

    PHOTO: The Mighty Male Mentoring Program (3MP) is a goaloriented program designed to support the educational and professional aspirations of minority males.


  • 15wrestlingHere is the Patriot Athletic All-Conference wrestling team based on results of the conference tournament and selections by the coaches. 

    Coach of the Year:Heath Wilson, Cape Fear; Brian Olson, Overhills 

    Wrestler of the Year:Dallas Wilson, Cape Fear 

    106 — First team:Max Brewster, South View 

    Second team:Jabrial Crudup, Douglas Byrd 

    113 — First team:Ryan Delaney, South View 

    Second team:Dylan Ramer, Gray’s Creek 

    120 — First team:Pierre Young, Terry Sanford 

    Second team:William Talbert, Westover 

    126 — First team:Tristen Chapman, Cape F