Former Fayetteville Mayor Tony Chavonne broke ground on Fayetteville’s new transit center four years ago in the last month of his administration. But construction didn’t begin until months later. The opening of the gleaming new terminal came a year-and-a-half late, 19 months after the construction contract completion date. The center features 16 bays to accommodate FAST buses and Greyhound coaches. Megabus has a reserved spot on Russell Street. Buses will arrive at the terminal from West Russell Street and will depart onto Robeson Street.
The building itself has modern customer ticket counters and waiting rooms. It will be open 24 hours a day to accommodate Greyhound’s schedule. Greyhound Lines is sharing in the day-to-day cost of operating the facility. On-premises security will be enforced 24/7. Police surveillance cameras installed inside and outside of the building will be monitored at all times. The federal government contributed most of the $13 million cost of construction. Smaller amounts were provided by the state and city.
Retired Army general arraigned on rape charges
A retired two-star general has been arraigned in Virginia on six courtmartial specifications related to the alleged continuous rape of a minor while on active duty. Maj. Gen. James Grazioplene spent some of that time at Fort Bragg as a battalion commander with the 82nd Airborne Division. He deferred entering a plea during a hearing this month at Fort Belvoir. Grazioplene was not placed in custody, and no date has been set for the next proceeding in his court-martial.
At least one military court of criminal appeals has affirmed that retirement is a change in duty status. Those who retire from active duty and receive retired pay remain subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The Army said he faces a maximum sentence of forfeiture of pay and allowances as well as confinement for life.
During an Article 32 preliminary hearing in August, the victim, who is now 46, described in detail Grazioplene’s alleged escalating abuse starting at age 3 and continuing until she turned 18. Military prosecutors charged that Grazioplene assaulted the girl at or near each of his duty stations from 1983 to 1990, including Fort Bragg. As a lieutenant colonel, he served as commander of the 3rd Battalion, 73rd Armor and 82nd Airborne Division during some of that time.
The alleged victim testified in August that she revealed different portions of the ongoing abuse to different people over the years, depending on how much she trusted each of them. The government prosecutor, Lt. Col. Carol Brewer, said at the August hearing that some problems with the woman’s recollection were due to Grazioplene’s “depraved acts.” The general has not been recalled to active duty. He continues to draw retirement pay and benefits, but for purposes of adjudicating the charges is attached to Headquarters, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Virginia. According to court documents, the rapes Grazioplene is accused of occurred at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Amberg, Germany; Bindlach, Germany; and Woodbridge, Virginia. The identity of the victim was redacted from the records.
In 1986, a three-year statute of limitations on rape charges was removed from the Uniform Code of Military Justice. No statute of limitations on rape exists in the military now. The U.S. Army has only court-martialed four generals since the Truman administration. Grazioplene is a 68-year-old resident of Gainesville, Virginia. He is a West Point graduate who entered the Army in 1972 and retired in 2005.
Investigation of Fort Bragg Green Berets’ murder continues
The U.S. mission in Niger is the largest in West Africa, and the incident that left four Fort Bragg special operators dead is calling into question the extent to which military officials have been transparent with Congress and the public about the full scope of undercover missions. The Army’s investigation into the deadly Oct. 4 ambush in Niger is likely to extend into January 2018, the Pentagon said. Maj. Gen. Roger Cloutier Jr., chief of staff of U.S. Africa Command, is leading the investigation into a 12-man Fort Bragg special forces team and 30 Nigerien troops who were ambushed by fighters believed to be associated with the Islamic State.
Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson and Sgt. La David Johnson, all assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group, died in the attack. It resulted in the U.S. military increasing its defensive posture in the area and Niger requesting the military to operate armed drones above it. Its aftermath has generated political controversy in the U.S. A fifth Green Beret was murdered in neighboring Mali at about the same time, and two Navy SEALs are suspects in that case. Families were informed that the investigation team has begun to visit locations in the U.S., Africa and Europe to gather information related to the investigation, the Pentagon said in a prepared statement.
University president to retire
One of Methodist University’s most effective fund raisers is stepping down. Ben Hancock, Methodist’s fourth president, said he will retire in May. He’s 65.
“With my current contract coming to an end in 2018, it seemed to be an appropriate time for Debbie and me to consider our future and that of the university,” Hancock said. Mac Healy, chairman of the university’s board of trustees, is expected to announce search plans for Hancock’s successor soon, according to a statement from the university. Hancock had an impressive fundraising background when appointed in 2011. During his tenure, the university conducted its largest-ever fundraising campaign, generating nearly $42 million for new buildings, programs and the school’s endowment.
Police training academy opens
Fayetteville Technical Community College has dedicated its new Law Enforcement and Emergency Management Center adjacent to its Spring Lake campus on McKenzie Road. The center houses the Basic Law Enforcement Training Academy for individuals wishing to become law enforcement officers and the training facility for sworn officers who need to maintain their certifications. The BLET curriculum prepares entry-level cadets with the skills needed to become certified North Carolina law enforcement officers. The center contains six classrooms, a state-of-the-art driving simulator, a shooting simulator and a mock courtroom with a holding cell. Currently, 33 cadets are enrolled in the day and night academies. The course of study conforms with guidelines established by the North Carolina Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission. It mandates a 616-hour, 16- week course, which concludes with a comprehensive written exam, skills testing and certification.