05NewsDigestThe Military Times has ranked Fayetteville a disappointing 44th in the nation among medium-sized cities as best places for veterans to live. The paper used data from numerous sources to compare locations in three broad categories: veteran and military culture and services, economic indicators — some veteran-specific and some not — and livability factors such as crime, health, school quality and traffic.

Specific factors considered were cost of living, employment, health and school ratings and proximity to top-ranked colleges and companies. “The issues in the piece are schools, jobs and health care … all of which are not status quo,” John Meroski, CEO of the Fayetteville Convention and Visitors Bureau, said. His agency has worked hard over the years to raise the military’s profile in Fayetteville.

Like Fayetteville,  many of the cities on the “Best Places” list have veteran representation in local government, which gives the veteran community an opportunity to weigh in on local government decisions. Six of Fayetteville’s 10 city council members are veterans. “I tend to take ratings with a grain of salt as a lot of the writers don’t bother talking with the community or the industries represented, so data is flawed or inaccurate,” Meroski added. 

Best Universities

U.S. News & World Report has named Princeton University the top college in the land, but North Carolina colleges have plenty to brag about in the magazine’s latest listing. The 2018 “Best Colleges” ranking comes as high school seniors start the process of applying to college. The ranking doesn’t change much from year to year. Among large national universities, Princeton has won the No. 1 position for seven straight years. Duke University again was in the top 10. UNC-Chapel Hill ranked 30th nationally, but fifth among public universities for the 17th consecutive year. NC State University had a significant jump, moving up 11 spots on the national list.

Other schools moved up or down a few spots. The magazine rates universities based on hundreds of data points and what it says are 15 measures of academic quality. It compares the schools in several categories to be fair. U.S. News breaks down universities and colleges based on mission or regional focus, best financial value or certain academic disciplines. The best regional universities in the South are the schools that offer undergraduate and master’s programs. Few of them have doctoral offerings. Elon University was first in the South; Campbell University 27th; Methodist University 85th; UNC Pembroke 102nd. The rankings have been criticized by some for fueling a competition that puts too much emphasis on elite colleges in the United States.

PWC to the Rescue

Fayetteville’s Public Works Commission is among hundreds of power companies in Florida working to restore electricity to millions of Floridians. PWC is part of statewide and national mutual aid networks, which depend on each other in time of need. Fayetteville benefited from mutual aid in the wake of Hurricane Matthew when crews came from Wilson to help with local power restoration. Also in Florida is ElectriCities coordinator Steve Blanchard, a retired PWC CEO.

Two PWC six-man utility crews with three trucks each marshaled at Fort Meade, Florida, according to PWC representative Carolyn Justice-Hinson. A contract tree trimming crew accompanied them. Over 20,000 municipal power line workers are expected in Florida. Among them are municipal electricity agencies from Greenville and New Bern. 

Walkability Lacking in Fayetteville

Unlike other large cities in North Carolina, Fayetteville has grown out, not up. It’s called urban sprawl by the experts. Fayetteville lacks skyscrapers but is the state’s second-largest city in land area with 148 square miles. Mayor Nat Robertson notes that’s one reason the city doesn’t have the sidewalks some say it should.

A new study by WalkScore, a consultant commissioned by the city, concludes Fayetteville is ranked last in America for walkability. The study noted that for every 5 miles of roadway, there is only 1 mile of sidewalk in Fayetteville.

Fayetteville’s population growth to nearly 205,000 residents resulted from the annexation of 50,000 people 10 years ago. Those suburban areas lacked sidewalks then, and still do. City council is considering a plan that would identify concentrated areas of pedestrian traffic to prioritize sidewalk construction going forward.

Domestic Violence Awareness Vigil

The last three homicide victims in Fayetteville died during violent domestic arguments. A candlelight vigil to raise awareness of domestic violence will be held Sept. 22 at 5:30 p.m. on the steps of the Cumberland County Courthouse, 117 Dick St.

Cumberland County Family Court, the CARE Center Family Violence Program, U.S. Army Family Advocacy Program, Fayetteville Police, Hope Mills Police and the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office are among the agencies co-sponsoring the “Remember My Name” vigil in memory of victims of domestic violence homicides. The names of victims of family violence over the past year in North Carolina will be read aloud at the vigil. The event will also serve to highlight community resources for domestic violence victims.

Fire/Smoke Alarms Free to All

Residential smoke alarms are still available from the Fayetteville fire department. And the local Red Cross is also offering them. Officials say smoke alarms should be positioned outside each bedroom. The Red Cross says a representative will come to your home and install new ones for free.

More information is available at (910) 867-8151, ext. 27. Neighborhood Fayetteville fire stations also install smoke alarms at no cost. Anyone wishing to have their smoke alarm checked or to have one installed is encouraged to call the Fire Prevention Office at (910) 433-1730. “It is our determination that everyone within the city should have some form of detection and warning device,” said Fire Marshall Michael Martin.

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