This month, U.S. Army Special Forces candidates are participating in the annual Robin Sage training exercise held across south-central North Carolina as the final test of their qualification course training. The exercise is scheduled to continue through Sept. 12. Robin Sage is a two-week field maneuver. Participants are students of Fort Bragg’s John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School. The exercise spans 21 counties, including Hoke, Lee, Harnett and Moore. Candidates occupy the fictional country of Pineland in an environment of political instability characterized by armed conflict, forcing soldiers to analyze and solve problems to meet the challenges of real-world training. Throughout the exercise, Special Forces candidates and Robin Sage role-players not only conduct training missions such as controlled assaults and key-leader engagements, but they also live, eat and sleep in civilian areas. Military and civilian support personnel, as well as community volunteers, participate in and provide support each year. Robin Sage movements and events have been coordinated with local public safety officials in the communities hosting the training in hopes of ensuring there is no risk to persons or property. Residents will hear blank gunfire and see occasional flares.

Early voting ending

One-Stop Voting for the open 9th Congressional District seat wraps up Sept. 6. Early voting takes place at the Cumberland County Board of Elections office downtown and the East Regional Branch Library. Remaining early voting dates and hours are:

Board of Elections, 227 Fountainhead Ln., Sept. 3-6, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

East Regional Branch Library 4809 Clinton Rd., Sept. 3-6, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The 9th Congressional District covers most of eastern and southern Cumberland County. It extends from Bladen County in the east to Charlotte in the west. Earlier this year, the State Board of Elections voted unanimously to order a new election for the 9th Congressional District after determining that election irregularities occurred to such an extent that they tainted the results of the outcome and cast doubt as to its fairness.

Downtown bridge repairs completed

A new bridge has reopened Ann Street downtown to traffic. It was closed for six years while the city of Fayetteville figured out how to pay to rebuild it. City spokesman Nathan Walls said the cost of the project was $1.6 million. The old bridge was on the Historic Bridges Registry, being nearly 100 years old. That likely will no longer be the case since a completely new structure replaced the previous bridge, which was built in 1923. It carries Ann Street over Big Cross Creek and connects Grove Street with Bow Street, providing direct access to First Presbyterian Church and Heritage Place Assisted Living.  The bridge was damaged by fire in August 2012, and a subsequent fire a year later, making the bridge structurally deficient. Authorities determined street people living beneath the bridge started the fires. The city said it began reconstruction in May 2018, but delays prevented it from reopening until this month. 

Free school supplies for teachers

Nearly 150 beginning Cumberland County school teachers took advantage of a free shopping fair for classroom supplies. The first-year teachers had vouchers to select 10 free items at the Cumberland County Schools Beginner Teacher Store. A steady flow of freshman teachers with less than six-months experience stopped by the store at the school system’s Driver Education Building. They chose from bulletin board borders, cut-outs, storage bins, math manipulatives and more. 

“Shopping at the store was a wonderful experience,” said General McJimson III, an American History teacher at Seventy-First High School. 

Teacher Support Coordinator Kari Grates said dozens of others echoed McJimson’s comments about the store. They were “excited, thrilled and appreciative for items to get their classrooms ready,” said Grates. “The first days of school and preparation for students is daunting, even for veteran teachers.” 

 A store providing classroom supplies gets teachers better prepared, she added.

State road map now available

Road maps have almost become a thing of the past, given the availability of digital navigation capability on smartphones. But the new 2019-20 North Carolina State Transportation Map is now available to the public free of charge. The map is funded and produced by the North Carolina Department of Transportation and is distributed by VisitNC, a unit of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina. The cover of the new map features North Carolina’s seasonal scenery, including a canopy of trees at the top of the mountains in the fall and waves crashing on the beach near Surf City. The map can be ordered online at or by calling 1-800-847-4862. They are also available at welcome centers, rest areas and NCDOT offices across the state. North Carolina has one of the largest highway systems in the nation, and the new map details the more than 106,975 miles of public roads that span the state. A full-size PDF of the map is also available online.

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