Local News

Traumatic brain injury program comes to Cumberland County

07Alliance logo for headerSome individuals in Cumberland County with traumatic brain injury, also known as TBI, could be getting some assistance. A TBI is classified as an injury to the brain that has been caused by an external force. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, “Effects of TBI can include impaired thinking or memory, movement, sensation (e.g., vision or hearing), or emotional functioning (e.g., personality changes, depression).”

The CDC estimates the prevalence rate of TBI to be 2 percent of the population, which is approximately 200,000 North Carolinians. 

Last November, the Joint Legislative Committee on Health and Human Services introduced an Adult and Pediatric Traumatic Brain Injury Pilot Program (S.L. 2017-57, Section 11F.9; Senate Bill 582). According to a document prepared by Dave Richard and Mark Benton of the Department of Health and Human Services, “The purpose is to increase compliance with internationally approved evidence-based treatment guidelines. The goals include reduction in patient mortality, improve patient level of recovery and reduce longterm care costs.”

The General Assembly, last fall, approved $450,000 in funding to allow between three and five hospitals to participate in a TBI pilot program. Senate Bill 582 indicates that $150,000 was committed for the program in the 2017-18 state budget with $300,000 committed to the 2018-19 state budget. The funding was appropriated to the North Carolina Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse.

Alliance Behavioral Healthcare was selected by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services to administer the pilot waiver for TBI in its four-county service region. Cumberland County is one of the four counties. The other counties Alliance serves are Durham, Johnston and Wake. Medicare and Medicaid Services recently approved the waiver for implementation in late summer 2018. 

“This waiver is an important milestone in North Carolina’s commitment to improving the life and well-being of individuals who experience a traumatic brain injury,” said DHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D. “The waiver includes rehabilitation services such as supported employment, life skills training, cognitive rehabilitation and day supports.”

The TBI waiver program is designed to provide community-based rehabilitative services and support to help TBI patients with recovery. TBI patients will need to meet certain eligibility criteria to participate. The TBI will have to have happened on or after their 22nd birthday. They need to have cognitive, behavioral and physical support needs. 

The TBI patients will also need to meet certain financial eligibility requirements. A news release from NCDHHS states, “To qualify, the adults must require the level of care for a nursing facility or specialty rehabilitation hospital.” This pilot will last three years. In the first year, the waiver will include 49 individuals participating, increasing each year to 107 participants by year three. The TBI pilot program will launch in late summer 2018.

If you have questions about eligibility, call Alliance’s 24-hour Access and Information line at 800-510-9132. Alliance is asking that callers please specifically ask for information on the TBI waiver when they call. Callers should expect to experience a brief crisis screening initially.

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Substandard housing threatens lives

06Substandard houseLife is getting back to near normal at Fayetteville’s Mobile Manor mobile home park in Bonnie Doone. Electrical power will likely have been fully restored to all occupied trailers by week’s end. Many of the homes were hooked up late last week, and the only garbage dumpster serving the park was emptied. It was overflowing when code enforcement officers responded to an anonymous tip about dangerous electricity problems at a dozen trailers late last month. 

They found what officials described as “an imminent threat to life and property.” Duke Energy disconnected power at the single electricity meter that serves as the point of delivery at the park. City officials said inspectors found about a dozen instances of life-threatening hazards at occupied trailers after getting an anonymous tip April 24. 

Assistant City Manager Jay Reinstein said 37 families occupy the 45 trailers in the park. City police hand-delivered letters to residents the night before the power was turned off. “The information process should have started much earlier,” said Fayetteville City Councilwoman Tisha Waddell. She added that residents could have been alerted at the same time trailer park managers were told in April that they had to fix the problem or their power would be turned off.

“We’ve been dealing with concerns out there for a long time,” said District 4 Councilman D. J. Haire. City manager Doug Hewett noted that code enforcement violations, which he called “deplorable,” had been levied against property manager Sheila Monsour previously. He said emergency vehicles would be unable to negotiate a bumpy, virtually impassable dirt road that winds through the property. 

Hewett said Monsour was warned three times earlier this month about electrical hazards throughout the park. Issues ranged from exposed electrical conductors on individual meters to exposed energized terminals, according to Michael Martin, the city’s assistant development director

The main meter is located on the lot of Army veteran Dewey McLamb. He showed a receipt book where he had paid his $150 monthly lot rent two months in advance. McLamb has lived at Mobile Manor mobile home park for nine years and subsists on a VA disability benefit and Social Security. 

“Our code enforcement staff has limited knowledge of the electrical code, so we sent an electrical inspector out with our code enforcement staff to follow up on the complaint,” Martin said. He added that electrical hookups are not checked routinely when the city conducts sweeps of the city’s 17 mobile home parks.

Absentee owner Portia Covington of Glen Allen, Virginia, said she and her sister, Valerea Russ of Fayetteville, took ownership of the property last year. Since then, Covington said, she has tried repeatedly to get Monsour to make property improvements. Monsour has the management lease on the trailer park and has for years. 

City records indicate that Mobile Manor has been cited 219 times for code violations since 2010. Four fines of $200 each were levied since March of this year.

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Elementary school lockdown

05Gallberry Farm Elementary copyOn Tuesday, May 15, at 8:16 a.m., Gallberry Farm Elementary School in Hope Mills went under lock down. A man who was seen wandering the school had not checked in with the school’s office. Cumberland County Schools Chief Communication Officer Renarta Moyd said, “An unidentified man walked into the school cafeteria looking for his child and was acting strangely. As a precaution, the school went into code red lockdown. Cumberland County Sheriff’s deputies responded and took him into custody.”

Lt. Sean Swain, the Cumberland County Sheriff’s spokesman, explained, “The School Resource Officer from Grey’s Creek responded and had the unidentified man in custody at 8:26 a.m. When our K-9 officer arrived, the suspect was already in handcuffs.” 

The man, identified as 33-year-old Pierre Kevon Miller of Fayetteville, was charged with trespassing, damage to property, resisting arrest and assaulting an officer. He did not have a weapon. No one was harmed, and there was no further incident. Sheriff deputies investigated why the man was in the school. Lt. Swain added, “The school’s prep plan took place like it was supposed to.”

Will term limits increase?

Some members of Fayetteville City Council are contemplating a change to council members’ term limits from two to four years. The idea was discussed during a council work session on May 7. Councilman Larry Wright said he thinks it makes sense to give the elected official time to do policy. 

Councilman Jim Arp is against the idea. He said, “After what we’ve just gone through,” referring to the recent controversy with former Councilman Tyrone Williams, that it’s not fair to the citizens to not give them new options at the two-year point. 

Councilwoman Kathy Jensen expressed that voter turnout would be boosted in the years that the mayor would run. And she noted that the district where the mayor lives would see higher turnout

Mayor Pro Tem Ted Mohn mentioned the council previously considered four-year terms but the vote was deadlocked at 5-5.

May 28, City Council will hold a public hearing on its desire to extend members terms of office from two years to four years. If the city code is changed, the members’ four-year terms would likely be staggered, although that provision is not included in the resolution. The proposed changes would take place following the next municipal election in November 2019.

Opioid Use Disorder 

The use and abuse of opioids is now considered a chronic issue. The North Carolina League of Women Voters says nearly half the people with Opioid Use Disorder have no health insurance coverage. They cannot be accepted into rehab programs, pay for medications or receive longterm care. 

NC House Bill 662, dubbed Carolina Cares, proposes an affordable insurance-like program for working North Carolinians who are not eligible for Medicaid. Unintentional opioid overdose deaths have risen dramatically over the last 16 years, according to the NCLWV. Heroin, fentanyl and other synthetic drugs are outpacing prescription medications as the principal cause of overdoses.

The LWV urges the state legislature to conduct a hearing on the Carolina Cares proposal during the legislative session now underway.

Animal shelter pet adoption hours change

The Cumberland County Animal Control Shelter, located at 4704 Corporation Dr., has temporarily adjusted its weekday hours for adoption services. The shelter now opens at 11 a.m. and closes at 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and is open Saturday from 1-5 p.m. Drop-off and owner claim hours remain unchanged. 

The change in adoption hours results from staffing changes at the shelter. The new schedule ensures adequate staff is available in the afternoons, which is the shelter’s busiest time. 

“The change in hours should have minimal-tono-impact on adoptions,” said Shelter Manager Jennifer Hutchinson-Tracy. “We would never do anything that would make it more difficult for an animal to be adopted or reclaimed.”

Shelter attendants will be better able to focus on caring for the animals and cleaning and preparing the animal housing areas. 

Learn & Burn Longleaf Pine Workshop

Private landowners are invited to an Evening Learn & Burn Longleaf Pine Workshop. The workshop will be held Thursday, May 31, from 5:30-8:30 p.m., at 535 Speight Rd., West End, North Carolina. Dinner will be included.

Grant funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (http://nfwf.org) makes this a no-cost event for attendees. There will be discussions and demonstrations (weather permitting) about the opportunities for prescribed burning during the growing season. Attendees will learn best management practices for pinestraw raking as well as converting from loblolly to longleaf. Beetle prevention will also be discussed. RSVP to Jesse Wimberley, Sandhills Area Land Trust, by calling 910-603-1052 or emailing jesse@sandhillslandtrust.org.

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Positive impact through focus on the human voice

13Human voiceMay is Better Hearing and Speech Month.Speech-Language professionals around the globe work hard to influence in a positive way the most powerful tool offered to mankind, the human voice. Communication disorders are among the most common treatable childhood conditions. Program faculty encourage parents to take time this month to assess their children’s communication skills and take action. In the words of James Earl Jones, “One of the hardest things in life is having words and being unable to utter them.”

Fayetteville Technical Community College is proud to be one of two schools in North Carolina that continues to offer a Speech-Language Pathology Assistant program. Courses provide instruction on the roles and responsibilities of SLPAs as outlined by the North Carolina Board of Examiners for Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology.Students who complete the program graduate with an associate degree in applied science in speech-language pathology.

FTCC SLPA students continue to make historic strides. This year, Jasmine McKoy, former FTCC SLPA student, presented at the American Speech-Language and Hearing Annual Convention, while Latoya Comer presented at the North Carolina Speech-Language and Hearing Annual Convention. McKoy presented on “The Impact of Socioeconomic Status on Communication.” Comer presented “Kids are Just Kids, Toys Aren’t Just Toys.” Comer was supported by six of her classmates, who also attended this year’s state convention: Shana Cameron, Latonya Chester, Ambria Martin, Portia Mac Kelsky and Dakota Ripley.

As FTCC’s SLPA program continues to thrive, SLPAs remain in high demand with career opportunities in school systems and private agencies. The SLPA curriculum prepares graduates to work under the supervision of a licensed speech-language pathologist, who evaluates, diagnoses and treats individuals with various communication disorders. Courses provide instruction in methods of screening for speech, language and hearing disorders and in following written protocols designed to remediate individual communication disorders. Supervised field experience includes working with patients of various ages and various disorders.

FTCC’s SLPA program uses a competitive admissions process for acceptance into the program. For more information on the program, call 910-678-8492 or email gaineyc@faytechcc.edu. For general information about FTCC, visit www.faytechcc.edu or plan a visit to the Fayetteville or Spring Lake campus locations. FTCC also has a presence at the Fort Bragg Training and Education Center.

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Massey Hill student wins national art contest

07ArtcontestSince the 1980s, the Congressional Institute has been helping members of Congress better serve their constituents and helping citizens understand the operations of the national legislature. From conferences to research projects, the nonprofit closes the gap between legislators and the people they govern. Each spring, the Congressional Institute sponsors a nationwide high school visual art competition to recognize and encourage artistic talent in the nation and in each congressional district. The Artistic Discovery competition began in 1982. Since its inception, more than 650,000 highschool students have participated.

“Students submit entries to the irrepresentative’s office, and panels of district artists select the winning entries. Winners are recognized both in their district and at an annual awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. The winning works are displayed for one year at the U.S. Capitol,” said the U.S. House of Representatives website, www.house.gov.

Deanna Glus, a junior at Massey Hill Classical High School, is winner of the 2018 Congressional Art Competition. Her watercolor, titled “A Hometown Feeling,” was judged best entry in a selection process that included a professional artist, community input and Congressman Robert Pittenger’s staff.

Marcy Gregg, a highly-sought professional artist from Charlotte, commented that “A Hometown Feeling” features “wonderful line work.” Community input included a suggestion that the artwork be used as a billboard and that it had “great use of perspective and color balance.”

Glus’ artwork will be displayed in a busy corridor of the U.S. Capitol for one year. She’ll also receive a scholarship offer from a prestigious Southern arts university and two complimentary airline tickets to fly to Washington, D.C., to attend a reception in her honor.

“This impressive watercolor captures the beauty and spirit of Fayetteville,” said Pittenger. “We will proudly hang this in one of the busiest corridors of the U.S. Capitol, where members of Congress and thousands of visitors will be able to see it each day. Congratulations to Ms. Glus, and thank you to every student who entered. Over 40,000 people viewed your artwork, and we are proud of each one of you.”

An album displaying Glus’ entries among others is available on Pittenger’s Facebook page (Facebook.com/CongressmanPittenger). The 2018 Congressional Art Competition is carried out at no expense to the federal government. All expenses are provided locally in the community.

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