05military pay raise   Since 2007, the federal debt has more than doubled in relation to the size of the economy, and it will keep growing significantly if annual budget deficits projected under current law come to pass. The Congressional Budget Office periodically issues suggestions of policy options that could reduce the deficit.

The latest CBO report, issued last month, presents 121 options that would decrease federal spending and/or increase federal revenues over the next 10 years. Twenty of those proposals would affect the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, including holding the line on the base pay of military service members.

Basic pay is the largest component of service members’ cash compensation, accounting for about 60 percent of the total. This option would cap basic pay raises for service members at 0.5 percentage points below the increase in the Employment Compensation Index for five years starting in 2020 and then return them to the ECI benchmark in 2025. The CBO estimates that this would reduce the discretionary budget by nearly $18 billion from 2020 through 2028.

“Fatal Vision” update

Jeffrey MacDonald is a name with deep connections to Fort Bragg. He was convicted 40 years ago of the February 1970 murders of his pregnant wife and two young daughters in the Corregidor Court housing area on post. The military was unsuccessful in prosecuting MacDonald, and he received an honorable discharge from the Army in late 1970.

Years of subsequent allegations and judicial appeals ended when the U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear his case. His trial was held in U.S. District Court in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1979. Since his conviction, MacDonald has continued to maintain his innocence.

Last month, on Dec. 21, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, refused to grant the former Army officer a new trial. The three-judge panel declined to overturn a federal judge’s 2014 ruling. The appeals court agreed with the lower-court ruling that MacDonald failed to show that new evidence, if presented to a jury, would likely change the outcome of his conviction.

FOCCAS an abbreviation worth remembering

Friends of the Cumberland County Animal Shelter made Christmas special for about 100 dogs and 50 cats at the compound. The dogs and cats enjoyed animal-friendly holiday meals at the shelter. The animals also received stockings filled with treats an  toys. FOCCAS is also collecting cold-weather dog houses, blankets and food for outdoor dogs.

“Ideally, dogs should be brought indoors during cold weather, but we understand there are some pets that will remain outside,” said Shelly Bryant, FOCCAS president. “For these cases, we want to ensure pet owners have adequate shelter for their pets.” FOCCAS is a 501c3 nonprofit that promotes animal welfare initiatives and responsible pet ownership through education, community outreach, and animal enrichment programs.

Fayetteville Technical Community College names new senior vice president

FTCC has announced the appointment of Dr. Mark Sorrells as its new senior vice president for academic and student services. Sorrells comes to FTCC from the Golden LEAF Foundation where he was senior vice president and its longest-serving staff member. Sorrells earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of Tennessee – Knoxville and completed his doctorate in education at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina.

In July, FTCC announced that then-Senior Vice President for Academic and Student Services David Brand was leaving, and that President Larry Keen would assume his duties. The college did not say at the time why Brand left abruptly. Later, the college issued a statement saying Brand was on leave recovering from shoulder surgery and would retire Nov. 1.

Grinding of the Greens recycles trees

Grinding of the Greens encourages Fayetteville residents to recycle their live Christmas trees and has kept thousands of pounds of recyclable material out of our landfills. The long-standing partnership between Fayetteville Public Works Commission, Cumberland-Fayetteville Parks & Recreation and Duke Energy Progress turns live Christmas trees into mulch for the Fayetteville Community Garden and

other local parks.

Employees from Cumberland-Fayetteville Parks and Recreation will collect the trees from Fayetteville city residents in a special tree pickup beginning the morning of Monday, Jan. 7. Pickups are separate from yard waste, trash or recycle pickups. All lights, stands and trimmings should be removed from the tree.

Residents who live outside the city or miss the pickup may drop off trees at the Fayetteville Community Garden, located at the corner of Van Story and Mann Street just off Old Wilmington Road, any day before Jan. 12. PWC and DEP volunteers will grind them into mulch at the Community Garden on Jan. 12, following a ceremonial start at 8:30 a.m.

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