Once again, city of Fayetteville and county of Cumberland officials have been unable to resolve a mutually important issue. Several months ago, they agreed to work out significant differences over the future distribution of sales tax revenues within a twoyear period. Virtually no progress has been made. Now, the city and county have called off negotiations on the projected shared cost of building a multi-million- dollar 911 emergency call center. Newly elected Mayor Mitch Colvin and County Commission Chairman Larry Lancaster issued a joint statement saying in part, “We have jointly decided that more time is needed to create an agreement that best serves the citizens and creates a better overall project.” They added, “Key elements in the interlocal agreement remain unresolved to the satisfaction of both parties.”
A mid-December deadline for applying to the state for a $15 million matching grant could not be met. “The city and county will continue to work toward an agreement with the goal of applying during a future funding cycle,” the statement concluded.
GenX public forum draws hundreds
“There’s a lot of unknowns here...the state is doing the best it can right now. There are so many unknowns.” These are the words of North Carolina Rep. John Szoka, R-Cumberland, at a forum on GenX. GenX is a chemical compound used by the Chemours company to manufacture non-stick coatings used in cookware. It’s produced at the former Dupont plant in neighboring Bladen County.
An estimated 350 people turned out for the forum at Grays Creek High School to hear representatives of state regulatory agencies. Area residents are frustrated because little is known about the feared toxic effects of the compound on humans. GenX is unregulated by state or federal agencies. Nothing new was learned during the forum. GenX has been detected in more than a hundred private water wells in the vicinity of the Chemours plant on the Cumberland County line. Cumberland County Commissioners asked the state regulators to host the public forum. According to the Department of Environmental Quality, 115 homeowners are getting bottled water from Chemours because of GenX in their water. Not all wells tested had any GenX. It was originally detected in the Cape Fear River near Wilmington.
More growth on Fort Bragg
Fort Bragg will be headquarters for one of six new highly specialized units created to assist combat teams on deployment. A Security Force Assistance Brigade will be activated next month. Officials had said the brigade would likely be located on Pope Army Airfield property, which the former 440th Airlift Wing occupied. Officials have said the SFABs will allow other brigades to focus on their primary missions. The Army plans to have all six SFABs in place by 2022.
Each unit will consist of about 800 senior field grade and noncommissioned officers “who have proven expertise in training and advising foreign security forces,” the Army said. The soldiers will be among the top tactical leaders in the Army. To join an SFAB, soldiers will be screened based on qualifications and experience.
“The unit will receive the best, most advanced military equipment available,” the Army said in a statement, adding that “SFAB soldiers will receive special training through the Military Advisor Training Academy to include languages and foreign weapons.”
Shawcroft Road repairs
It will be some time yet before permanent repairs are made to Shawcroft Road in the Kings Grant subdivision. But, the city has finally come to a decision on the huge ditch that was temporarily repaired this past summer. The road collapsed during Hurricane Matthew in October of last year. The stream beneath the road had come out of its banks. According to Fayetteville Public Services Director Rob Stone, city engineer Giselle Rodriguez has recommended to management that a new culvert be installed to carry the stream beneath the road. The city had considered building a bridge across the stream. Stone said there would be a cost savings of $200,000 to install a large, concrete culvert. City council will eventually have to approve the project, whose cost is covered by Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursements.
Fort Bragg serial killer’s appeal rejected
Former Army Spec. Ronald Gray has lost his final appeal to stop his execution. The U.S. Armed Forces Court of Appeals denied Gray’s request for extraordinary relief in a 30-year court battle to save his life. Gray was convicted of a series of rapes and murders in Fayetteville and on Fort Bragg in the mid- 1980s. He killed cab driver Kimberly Ann Ruggles, Army Pvt. Laura Lee Vickery-Clay, Campbell University student Linda Jean Coats and Fayetteville resident Tammy Wilson, who was a soldier’s wife.
Gray also raped several other women. A Fort Bragg court sentenced him to death in 1988 after convicting him of the rape and murder of two women and the rape and attempted murder of a third woman, among other offenses. Previously, a civilian court sentenced him to eight life terms, including three to be served consecutively, after he was found guilty of two counts of seconddegree murder, five counts of rape and additional offenses all related to different victims.
Gray is the only soldier on death row at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. President George W. Bush approved Gray’s execution in 2008, but a federal court issued a stay of execution.
“Appellant has exhausted all of his remedies in the military justice system,” according to the opinion handed down this month.