06 news digest Sgt. James Slape Before the death of a North Carolina Army National Guard Explosive Ordnance Detachment technician, his unit had repeatedly requested better equipment and training but were denied because of a lack of funds, according to documents obtained by The New York Times. Sgt. James Slape, 24, a soldier with the North Carolina Guard’s 430th Ordnance Company, died Oct. 4 in Helmand province, Afghanistan, from an improvised explosive device.

In a statement to the media, the Guard said the unit was “trained and ready” for its deployment when the unit mobilized in April. The 430th also “received all required pre-mobilization training in addition to specialized training the unit requested before going on Title 10 Active Duty,” the Guard statement said.

The National Guard has since initiated an investigation “into the training and equipping of the 430th EOD Company for their … deployment,” said Lt. Col. Wes Parmer, a Guard spokesman. “As the investigation is ongoing, no additional details can be provided at this time,” he added.

Fugitive apprehended during cooperative arrest

Fayetteville Police Officer Ariel Aponte captured a wanted accused murderer last week when the man was observed speeding on Ramsey Street.

Aponte approached a white Ford pickup truck with an extended cab and noticed the truck was missing its tailgate. The vehicle matched the description of a pickup detailed in an all-points bulletin issued by the Cumberland County Sheriff’s office following a homicide that had occurred a few days earlier.

Aponte called for backup and pulled the pickup over. Officers “detained the driver and the passenger of the vehicle,” said Police Lt. Gary Womble. They notified the sheriff’s office, and, according to Sheriffs’ Lt. Sean Swain, homicide detectives responded to the scene and took possession of the truck and the driver, Markez Jaquan Mcgriff, 21.

“A handgun was found in the vehicle … the same type of weapon used in the homicide,” Womble said.

Mcgriff, who lives on McArther Landing Circle, was arrested for the murder of Thailia Christina Thomas and the wounding of a second woman Dec. 5. He is being held without bond in the Cumberland County Detention Center.

Airline service reduction at Fayetteville’s airport

Fayetteville Regional Airport has been dealt a setback with an announcement from United Airlines that it is ending service to Washington Dulles International Airport, effective March 7. “As we continuously monitor the demand for travel in every market we serve, we have determined that our current service to Fayetteville, North Carolina, didn’t meet our expectations and is no longer sustainable,” United said in its notification to the Airport Manager.

The carrier has provided flight services at Fayetteville Regional Airport for the past five years, joining American Airlines and Delta Airlines in February 2013.

“We are disappointed with United’s decision,” said Airport Director Bradley Whited. “We thank all our customers who used United Airlines … and we will use this time to look for new opportunities in the market.”

Whited has engaged a consultant to investigate the feasibility of increased airline service to current and new destinations. He and Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin agree the airport’s future is up for discussion at next month’s city council work session.

An amazing act of character

At the Dec. 11 Cumberland County Board of Education meeting, Grays Creek Middle School sixth-grade counselor Lori Leigh told the story of a remarkable young girl who won a special award from the board. The youngster’s name is Delphane Lewis. She recently stepped up in an emergency to provide much-needed comfort to a student at her school with a special skill she possessed.

Leigh said another student was having “some sort of seizure and could not talk.” The student was moving her hands in a way that suggested she was using sign language.

An adult in the area brought Lewis to the student so she could interpret what the girl was saying. Lewis was able to understand the student and respond with sign language.

“This situation called for a skill that no other person in the building besides Delphane had,” said Leigh. “She replied in an unflustered manner and helped the other student remain calm until … medical help was available.”

The Amazing Acts of Character Committee selects winners monthly based on school nominations. This month, Lewis received a trophy and certificate of special recognition.

Fayetteville PWC winter weather advice

Having your heat pump ready for the cold weather is critical. Without proper maintenance, a heat pump will use much more energy than a well-maintained one, resulting in higher energy bills. And a poorly maintained heat pump is also more likely to experience problems when you need it most.

This season, consider swapping out old incandescent string Christmas lights for bright, energy efficient LED lights. LED lights use 96 percent less energy than conventional incandescent strands and can last up to 10 times longer. Check out PWC’s seasonal light program to find out how to earn a bill credit by using LED decorative lights this holiday season.

Photo: Sgt. James Slape

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