07fluIt’s been called one of the deadliest flu seasons by doctors across the country. So far, in North Carolina, upward of 70 people have died from the flu. We’ve been fortunate in Cumberland County thus far.

“We have not seen a large number of absences because of influenza reported to the Health Services Office,” said Cumberland County Schools Health Services Director Shirley Bolden. “Our hope is that none of our students get the flu; however, our Cumberland County schools are being proactive in educating parents, staff and students on ways to reduce their risk.”

Officials say students should go to school so long as they are not sick and do not exhibit any symptoms.

Meanwhile, Cape Fear Valley Medical Center is restricting children under age 12 from visiting the hospital. “Our Emergency Department is limiting visitors to one per patient,” the hospital said in a statement. Cape Fear Valley treated 619 flu cases in January. Doctors are concerned not just by the number, but by the severity of the cases. Physicians say children, the elderly and people with existing health problems are at greatest risk. Doctors say shortness of breath, dizziness and severe localized pain are red flags.

Another fatal fire

A Fayetteville house fire Jan. 28 was the second fatal residential fire this year. Officials said units from Fire Station Four responded to the alarm in the Cumberland Heights neighborhood.

They found smoke billowing from a home in the 900 block of McKimmon Road and dispatched additional units. Neighbors told first responders they feared someone was still in the house. Rescue crews entered the home and located an occupant who was quickly removed and treated by firefighters.

The victim of the fire, identified as Louis Esteban Rivera, 65, was dead on arrival at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, fire department spokesman Jamie Averitte said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation. It does not appear suspicious at this time.

Court reviews former inmate records

Cumberland County District Attorney Billy West says one in five people in North Carolina has a criminal record, which often prevents them from getting good jobs. West credits state Rep. Elmer Floyd, D-Cumberland, with championing changes in the law designed to assist individuals who previously were ineligible for relief.

District attorney West and Cumberland County Commissioner Charles Evans briefed faith-based leaders at a breakfast at the Cumberland County Courthouse. West explained the process by which an individual can have his or her record expunged. Evans explained his Project Fresh Start, which is designed to aid individuals who may not qualify for expungements. Legal Aid of North Carolina has agreed to provide free legal services to those individuals who qualify for invitations to attend court clinics.

Cumberland County Animal Shelter repairs

A Cumberland County Animal Control Shelter contractor started resurfacing shelter floors Feb. 5. A spokesman for the Animal Control Shelter, located at 4704 Corporation Dr., said adoptable dogs will be housed in other areas of the facility while the work is underway. Once all those areas are full, as many as 20 overflow dogs will be housed at the Fayetteville Pet Resort, 2102 Strickland Bridge Rd.

Animal Control will share a designated building with a separate entrance and parking lot at Fayetteville Pet Resort. This will allow for public access to the area after the pet resort’s normal operating hours.

“The floors in the shelter area must be sealed with epoxy to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and to maintain their integrity as waterresistant floors,” said shelter manager Jennifer Hutchinson-Tracy.

This is the first time since the shelter opened 12 years ago that the floors have had to be resurfaced. The work is expected to take at least two weeks to complete. Cats at the facility will not be affected by the work.

Operation Inasmuch fundraiser

This month’s Fourth Friday will support the ministry of Fayetteville Area Operation Inasmuch. The 11th annual Bread ‘n Bowls meals will be served Feb. 23 at Hay Street United Methodist Church, 320 Hay St. Chicken corn chowder or chili will be served in the choice of handmade North Carolina pottery bowls or freshly baked bread bowls. A cookie, tea and coffee will also be available. Advance tickets are available online at faoiam.org.

FTCC now has a futuristic website

Fayetteville Technical Community College has launched a new website in conjunction with Walk West, a digital marketing and strategic communications agency based in Raleigh. The new digital web platform, www.faytechcc.edu, is considered more user-friendly than previous sites. It features artificial intelligence technology that recognizes the type of user to match relevant content and improved navigation plus updates based on the specific user.

“Walk West has truly transformed our digital properties and brought an unmatched experience to our educational community,” said FTCC President Dr. J. Larry Keen.

“We have thrown away the old playbook for how to put together a website for higher education and created a radically new platform for growth for Fayetteville Tech,” said Brian Onorio, founder of Walk West.

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