06Wesley MeredithNorth Carolina legislative redistricting maps proposed by third-party expert Nathaniel Persily would revert a local senate district to be similar to a map it looked like before Republican Wesley Meredith was elected. It’s one of two Republican Senate seats and four state House seats that would become more balanced as envisioned by Persily, a Stanford professor who was hired by federal judges to propose alternative maps. Persily just released his proposal.

The News & Observer of Raleigh’s “Under the Dome” columnist Colin Campbell analyzed election results from last year’s governor’s race to determine how current district maps approved by the GOP legislature compared to those released by Persily for judicial review. One of the significant differences is Meredith’s Senate district. It voted about 53 percent for Republican Pat McCrory last year. But under Persily’s map, Meredith’s new district is nearly evenly split between the parties, which if approved, could cost Meredith his seat in the next election.

Evans bows out as County Chairman nominee

Cumberland County Commission Vice Chairman Charles Evans was in line to become chairman of the board next year. “I have decided not to seek the nomination for the chairmanship of the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners, and I have notified the board of my decision,” he said in a statement. Evans added that “this was a difficult decision for me because I have always strived to work on behalf of our citizens by serving with enthusiasm and excitement.”

He did not give specific reasons for his decision. Evans offered only a vague reason for not wanting to serve. “I believe timing is the key, and although now is not the right time for me to serve as the chairman, that does not mean I will not seek the position in the future.” The seven-member board decides among themselves who becomes the presiding officer. Traditionally, the vice chair ascends to the chairmanship. Rarely, if ever in recent years, has the honor been rejected.

 

Photo: Sen. Wesley Meredith, R-NC

Trump thanks paratroopers for their service

President Donald Trump thanked U.S. troops for their service on Thanksgiving Day, assuring them “we’re really winning” against America’s foes. Trump told deployed Fort Bragg paratroopers via a video conference that they’ve achieved more progress in Afghanistan and against the Islamic State group on his watch than had been made in years under previous administrations.

“Everybody’s talking about the progress you’ve made in the last few months since I opened it up,” he told the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division. It’s conducting operations in Kandahar, Afghanistan. “We’re really winning. We know how to win ... they weren’t letting you win before,” Trump said of previous administrations. “You’ve turned it around over the last three to four months like nobody’s seen,” he added.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling was offended. “You’re talking to soldiers and military personnel around the world who have been in this fight for 17 years,” Hertling said on CNN. “And to suddenly be told they’re winning now and weren’t winning before is somewhat insulting.” Trump’s words “would not have rung very well with me had I been a deployed soldier,” Hertling added. He has served as a military analyst since his retirement.

The U.S. has 8,892 forces in Iraq, 15,298 troops in Afghanistan and 1,720 in Syria, for a total of 25,910 troops serving in the three war zones.

The was in Afghanistan

More U.S. troops will be sent to the Afghan battlefield in 2018, said Gen. John Nicholson, the American commander in Afghanistan and previous commanding general of the 82nd Airborne Division. Nicholson’s revamped strategy is designed to “turn the corner” on the 16-year war against the Taliban, Nicholson said last week. U.S. troops will accompany Afghan units at the Kandak level next year, placing them closer to the front lines than most American soldiers have operated in recent years.

A Kandak is the Afghan Army’s equivalent of an American battalion, or about 800 to 1,000 soldiers. It will put U.S. troops in a better position to provide Afghan commanders advice during the fight as well as increasing their ability to call for American support such as air power, artillery or medical evacuation, Nicholson said. “Yes, there will be greater risk, absolutely,” he told reporters from Kabul. He said as many as 1,000 American troops would likely be conducting patrols and missions with Afghan forces at any given time once the fighting season begins in the spring.

Chrsitmastime is upon us

Fort Bragg has launched the Greater Fayetteville area’s holiday season with the lighting of its official Christmas tree.

The annual Christmas tree lighting event took place, as it always does, on the Main Post Parade Field directly across from the chapel.

“The lighting of the Fort Bragg Christmas tree marks the beginning of Fort Bragg’s holiday season,” said Adam Luther, Fort Bragg spokesman. “It is a time-honored tradition to ring in the season and celebrate the service and sacrifices service members and their families make each and every day.” Santa and Mrs. Claus were on hand. Light refreshments were served and there was plenty of holiday entertainment. Miss North Carolina, Victoria Huggins, was a special guest.

County employees' food drive

For the 25th consecutive year, Cumberland County government employees are taking part in their annual holiday food drive. Residents are encouraged to join in. Non-perishable food items are being collected at county buildings through Dec. 13 and will be given to the Fayetteville Urban Ministry and Salvation Army for distribution to local families. Donations can be placed in the marked green plastic bins inside the entrances of the courthouse, libraries and other county buildings. Suggested food items include canned meats, vegetables and fruit as well as sturdy bags or boxes of rice, pasta, dried beans, sugar, flour, coffee and grits. Plastic jars of peanut butter and jellies are also good choices. Glass jars will not be accepted. For more information, call (910) 321-7108.

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