07ConstructionThe North Carolina Department of Transportation this month awarded a nearly $130 million contract for construction of a six-mile segment of the Outer Loop between Camden Road and Interstate 95 in Robeson County. DOT selected Balfour Beatty Infrastructure, Inc., Branch Civil and STV Group, Inc., to design and build the project. They will begin finalizing design plans in January with land acquisition and construction to follow. Construction is expected to be completed by July 2021.

The 39-mile freeway is being built in phases in Cumberland and Robeson counties. The Outer Loop is open between I-95 north of Fayetteville and the All American Freeway in Fayetteville. When complete, it will be known as Interstate 295. A segment from the All American Freeway to Cliffdale Road now under construction is expected to open in October 2018.

Army NCO died a hero in Niger

Army Sgt. La David T. Johnson died in a hail of gunfire after fleeing militants who had just killed three comrades in an October ambush in Niger, The Associated Press has learned. Johnson wore a maroon beret but was not stationed at Fort Bragg, according to an 82nd Airborne Division spokesman. A military investigation concluded that Johnson, 25, of Miami Gardens, Florida, was killed by enemy rifle and machine-gun fire from members of an Islamic State offshoot.

The Oct. 4 ambush took place about 120 miles north of Niamey, the African nation’s capital. Johnson’s body was recovered two days later.

U.S. officials familiar with the findings spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity to describe details of an investigation that has not been finalized or publicly released. A 12-member Army special forces unit from Fort Bragg was accompanying 30 Nigerien forces when they were attacked in a densely wooded area by as many as 50 militants traveling by vehicle and carrying small arms and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. Johnson was struck as many as 18 times from a distance by a volley of machine-gun fire, according to the U.S. officials, who said he was firing back as he and two Nigerien soldiers tried to escape. All told, four U.S. soldiers and four Nigerien troops were killed in the ambush. Two U.S. and eight Nigerien troops were wounded.

Revitalized computers for less fortunate students

Cumberland County Schools’ Fifth Annual Computer Refurbishment Day is being hailed a huge success. Cumberland County Schools Executive Director of Technology Kevin Coleman said 156 students from the Academies of Information Technology at Gray’s Creek and Pine Forest High Schools refurbished nearly 500 computers for families of students who can’t afford them. The information technology students worked alongside technology staffers. Using 1,000 discarded computers, half of them were cannibalized for parts to refurbish the others. “This effort truly demonstrates the dedication of CCS’ staff and students to help those less fortunate in our community,” said Cumberland County School Interim Superintendent Tim Kinlaw. According to organizers, plans are already in the works for next year’s computer refurbishment event.

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