07News digestOfficials of the Cumberland County Public Library and Information Center are reconsidering sponsoring a debate on gun violence. “The topic came up during a library management meeting,” said library spokeswoman Kellie Tomita. “We were hoping to have a balanced forum with differing views.”

Library officials were unable to identify appropriate participants and decided initially to change the format to an informational program. Then “it became apparent that, due to the complexity of the subject matter and the rapidity of developments in the news, that the program would need to be reconsidered,” Tomita said.

Stores stop selling military-style weapons

Walmart has joined Dick’s Sporting Goods and Field & Stream in a decision to more strictly regulate the sale of guns and ammunition. “We are raising the age restriction for purchase of firearms and ammunition to 21 years of age,” a Walmart statement said. “We are also removing items from our website resembling assault-style rifles, including nonlethal airsoft guns and toys,” Walmart added.

Walmart stopped selling many long guns in 2015. Dick’s Sporting Goods, the nation’s largest sporting goods retailer, said it also has stopped selling weapons like the one used in the Parkland, Florida, high school shooting. It also raised the age of sale of all firearms to 21 as did its retail affiliate Field & Stream.

Dick’s recently relocated its Fayetteville store to the new Freedom Town Center at Skibo and Cliffdale Roads. The company also opened a Field & Stream adjacent to the Dick’s property. The corporate decisions came amid a broad public push to tighten gun regulations in the wake of the mass shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school Feb. 14 that left 17 people dead. Gun regulation advocates said they hope the decision would prompt other major retailers to follow suit.

Street crosswalks for the visually impaired

Crossing busy streets can be a challenge for people with good vision. For blind people, it is a perilous activity. American cities are generally poorly equipped to deal with blind pedestrians, but technology has made it possible in recent years to remedy that situation. Fayetteville is among the smaller cities that are beginning to equip traffic signals with what are called “chirping birds,” audio versions of green and red lights.

Two street crossings in Fayetteville have been equipped to make life for blind community members safer.

City traffic engineer Lee Jernigan said the expense of upgrading intersections for the visually impaired limits his capacity. Four years ago, the city put in special equipment for the blind at Hay Street and Woodside Avenue in Haymount. Last month, the intersection of Cain Road and Rogers Drive was upgraded. That project cost $40,000.

“We chose that intersection because the city just completed the installation of sidewalks along Cain Road,” Jernigan said. Posts with buttons that have audible beepers are positioned at the “Walk/Don’t Walk” signal poles. When the traffic light changes from green to red, the audible device signals to blind pedestrians that it’s safe to cross. Motorists are alerted to the intersection via marked zebra crosswalks that feature a series of thick white hash mark bands.

Fayetteville welcomes new industry

Cambridge-Lee Industries of Reading, Pennsylvania, has chosen Cumberland County for a facility to manufacture line sets of copper tubing that are assembled into various forms and shipped to customers. The Fayetteville/Cumberland County Economic Development Corporation says the project will result in the creation of 19 full-time jobs. The company said the jobs will be manufacturing positions offering a competitive wage and comprehensive benefits packages. No specifics were provided. The plant will be in the former Cape Fear Distribution Center on Tom Starling Road.

“Fayetteville provides us with an improved reach to our customers as well as an improved ability to streamline and grow our operations,” said Dave Spadafora, vice president of Global Supply Chain for Cambridge-Lee.

“The new jobs and investment this facility will bring are prime examples of how our business climate and aggressive approach to economic development are creating growth,” said County Chairman Larry Lancaster. Cambridge-Lee Industries said it plans to add more full-time and part-time employees in the coming year.

Council approves communication tower

Fayetteville City Council spent 45 minutes debating whether to allow South River Electric Membership Co-op to build a 190-foot radio tower on its property on Ramsey Street in North Fayetteville.

The utility sought a special use permit. After a move by Councilwoman Kathy Jensen to deny the request failed, council voted 8-2 to approve the measure.

Jensen was concerned about the aesthetics of the mast. The company said the tower would be constructed several hundred feet off Ramsey Street at the rear of its 10-acre property. The facility will provide point-to-point microwave radio communications between South River’s local office and its headquarters in Dunn.

Mirror Lake Dam open house

It’s taken a year and a half, but the city of Fayetteville hopes to begin construction of a new Mirror Lake Drive dam this summer. It was washed away by Hurricane Matthew Oct. 8, 2016. The city has determined that rebuilding the dam and repairing Mirror Lake Drive, which runs over the dam, will cost $1.9 million. FEMA approved the funding, according to city spokesman Nathan Walls.

An open house will be held Thursday, March 15, at Van Story Hills Elementary School from 6-8 p.m. Preliminary design plans will be shown to the public for comment. This is the second time the city-owned dam was destroyed by a storm. It was also washed away during Hurricane Fran in September 1996.

Police/citizen workshop set for March

The U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs and Community Relations Service has developed a new community-based workshop focused on strengthening the partnership between local law enforcement and the community. A Greater Fayetteville United workshop is designed to bring together local law enforcement officers and community members for an open dialogue about community engagement.

The Office of Justice Programs Diagnostic Center will facilitate the 90-minute workshop with members of the Fayetteville Police Department during an in-person, scenario-based session. It will be held Tuesday, March 20, at the Kiwanis Recreation Center at 352 Devers St.

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