06The Champions Eastover Central Elementary School of Arts 1The U.S. Department of Education has named Eastover-Central Elementary School of Arts a 2018 National Blue-Ribbon School. The honor is reserved for exemplary high-performing schools whose students are among the state’s highest achievers. 

“I’m pleased to celebrate with you as your school is named a National Blue-Ribbon School,” saidU.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in a video message to the honorees. “We recognize and honor your important work in preparing students for successful careers.” 

Eastover-Central was one of only eight schools sanctioned in North Carolina and 349 schools ac- knowledge across the country. “This national honor recognizes the tremendous work being done at East- over-Central to help each student achieve success in the classroom and beyond,” said Dr. Marvin Connelly Jr., Cumberland County Schools superintendent. 

School honorees will be formally recognized at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C., Nov. 7-8. 

Fayetteville murder rate on par 

At least one city council member claims the city’s murder rate has skyrocketed since Police Chief Gina Hawkins took over. Police command staff members said they haven’t heard that. 

Hawkins’ first day on the job was Aug.15, 2017. During the13 1/2 months since then, there have been 32 homicides in Fayetteville, according to FPD spokesman Lt.Gary Womble. So far this year, the FPD has investigated 18 murder cases. 

Police records indicate that the annual murder rate trend over the last 10 years has been in the mid to upper 20s. Fayetteville’s all-time-record of 31 homicides was set in 2016 before Hawkins came to Fayetteville. 

Mosquito control 

Favorable weather conditions have been helpful as mosquito control efforts got underway locally. Cumberland County’s mosquito control contractor trucks have sprayed most sections of the county over the past week-and-a-half. The spraying is done overnight. The product being sprayed is EcoVia, a botanical insecticide with low toxicity to humans and pets. Beekeepers registered with DriftWatch.org were notified of the spraying by the Health Department’s environmental health division. 

“The (mosquito control) vendor has GPS, which allows these locations to be plugged in and avoided while they are spraying,” said Rod Jenkins, deputy health director. 

Mosquito dunks have been distributed to residents upon request. A Mosquito dunk looks like a small donut, which floats on standing water. As the dunk slowly dissolves, it releases a bacterium that is toxic to all species of mosquito larvae. Mosquito experts say floodwaters can cause eggs that would have otherwise laid dormant to hatch. The mosquitoes plaguing the Carolinas are called “Gallinippers,” according to entomologist Michael Waldvogel of North Carolina State University. 

Thousands of military veterans affected by Hurricane Florence 

Hurricane Florence dumped dozens of inches of rain on southeastern North Carolina, causing Veterans Affairs clinics to close. Appointments were cancelled, and untold numbers of veterans’ homes were ravaged from Fayetteville to the coast. Fayetteville VA officials continue to play catch-up with thousands of rescheduled appointments. 

VA Secretary Robert Wilkie, who grew up in Fayetteville, toured VA facilities here and in Wilmington. He also met with emergency VA employees who responded to Fayetteville from across the country and who continue to work to help local officials cope with the storm’s affects. 

“I could not be prouder of VA,” Wilkie said. “I could not be prouder of my hometown.” 

Wilkie said local officials will have the resources they need to recover from the storm. “This is my home. This is my wife’s family’s home,” he said. 

The Fayetteville VA covers communities around Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune. It is among the fastest growing regions in the VA, Wilkie said, with 2,000 veterans added each month. Close to 17,000 appointments were canceled because of the storm, officials said. 

The VA Medical Center on Ramsey Street remained open during the hurricane, despite being located along the Cape Fear River. 

Food stamps for Hurricane Victims 

Thousands of residents of 27 North Carolina counties impacted by Hurricane Florence got help buying food through the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services received federal authority to implement the program. Cumberland, Harnett, Hoke, Bladen, Moore, Robe- son and Sampson counties are among those that were eligible for supplemental food stamps. 

“For North Carolinians working to get back on their feet after Hurricane Florence, help feeding their families will make a tremendous difference,” Gov. Cooper said. 

This program helped people who suffered losses buy food for their families. Most application sites were local social services offices. Wait times were long because of the volume of people who applied. 

New downtown Fayetteville official 

The Cool Spring Downtown District has hireda new marketing official. Melissa Purvines joined the team Sept. 17 as the marketing and communications manager. She brings with her 15 years of experience in advertising, marketing and sponsorship sales. Purvines holds a Bachelor of Arts from Texas Tech University. 

Originally from Amarillo, Texas, Melissa moved to Fayetteville in early 2018 to join her husband, Scott, who is stationed at Fort Bragg. Their son, Connor, is a seventh-grader at the Capitol Encore Academy in downtown Fayetteville. 

“I am excited to call Fayetteville my home and look forward to helping the Cool Spring Downtown District continue growing as the vibrant center of artistic, cultural, civic and commercial activity,” she said. 

Former mayor Tony Chavonne has been named interim president & CEO of the organization. 

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