Tuesday, 05 May 2020
Written by Jeff Thompson
Paratroopers who rapidly deployed to the Middle East at the beginning of the year in response to growing tensions with Iran have gotten the green light to come back home.
“I’m excited to tell you that their redeploy-ment has been approved, and they will begin their journey home in the next several weeks,” said Maj. Gen. James Mingus, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, in a message posted on Twitter.
“The paratroopers and our families have had a historic deployment,” Col. Andrew Saslav, the brigade commander, said in a Facebook video. Seven hundred fifty soldiers with the Immediate Response Force started deploying New Year’s Eve in response to an attack on the American embassy in Baghdad. All tolled, 3,500 paratroopers of the 1st Brigade Combat Team deployed at the beginning of the year. Near the end of February, 800 of them had returned to Fort Bragg, but because of continued tensions in the region, the rest of the brigade had been unable to. Mingus’ message said that soldiers would need to quarantine for 14 days upon returning home. No paratroopers have tested positive for COVID-19. He added that soldiers would be able to quarantine at home.
Local highway construction delayed
The North Carolina Department of Transpor-tation is pumping the brakes on major pro-jects in the year ahead. A news release from DOT states that as people across North Carolina take measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, traffic volumes and car sales have plummeted, causing a $300 million budget shortfall this fiscal year, which ends June 30. Because NCDOT revenue is fully funded through the Motor Fuels Tax, Highway Use Tax and DMV fees, all but about 50 major projects scheduled to start in the next 12 months are being delayed, the release said. A segment of the future I-295 in Cumberland County from Raeford Road to Camden Road, which is not yet under contract, has been delayed until August 2022. An I-95 eight-lane widening project in Harnett and Johnston counties has been delayed until July of next year. DOT spokesman Andrew Barksdale said the proposed interstate widening project through Fayetteville will not be delayed.
“That particular contract will not change, no work is suspended. We’ll continue to fund it,” he said.
The Raeford Road median project and road-way upgrade has been delayed until February 2022.
The Army solves the face protection issue
Four-ply microfiber cloth is the best material to use for homemade face coverings to protect against COVID-19. Army researchers at the service’s Chemical Biological Center said in a news release that microfiber cloth filters out 75% of problem-causing particles. The material can be found in the cleaning sections of most big stores. The N-95 mask is able to filter out 90% of particles, the Army said.
“The challenge is to pick a material that effectively blocks the virus particles from going through the material while not being too hard to breathe through,” said David Caretti, chief of the Chemical Biological Center’s protection and decontamination division.
Researchers determined microfiber does well after testing more than 50 materials. Salt particles used to test the filter were about the same size as coronavirus microns.
Hospital system wins $50K grant
Cape Fear Valley Health System’s Medical Foundation has received a $50,386 grant from Truist Financial Corporation to buy telemedicine equipment needed to help treat COVID-19 patients. The grant is part of the financial service company’s Truist Cares initiative. The firm announced a $25 million philanthropic pledge in March to support basic needs, medical supplies and financial hardship relief due to COVID-19. The new telemedicine equipment will allow the Cape Fear Valley Health System’s hospitals and outpatient clinics to provide remote patient health assessments and care.
“Telemedicine has become essential in reaching all of our patients at a time when we have to adjust the way we care for people,” Cape Fear Valley CEO Mike Nagowski said.
“Hospitals and health systems are having to rethink their approach to patient care during this challenging time,” said Phil Marion, Eastern North Carolina regional president for Truist. “Cape Fear Valley is delivering critical services to more members of our community through telemedicine, and we are proud to support them in this effort.”
Twenty-year-old cold case solved
The Fayetteville Police Department’s Cold Case Sexual Assault Unit have arrested two men in connection with a rape which occurred in February 1990. Jack Blackwell, Sr., 59, of Fayetteville and Bruce Wayne Miller, 56, of Spring Lake have been charged with first-degree rape and common law robbery.
The victim told police she was staying at a local motel in the 2300 block of Gillespie St. and was sexually assaulted and robbed of her belongings. Blackwell has been jailed under $50,000 secured bond. Miller is incarcerated in at the Federal Correctional Institution in Sumterville, Florida, on charges stemming from the robbery of a convenience store. The initial 1990 investigation went unsolved, but the rape kit from this case was recently tested.
A Federal Bureau of Justice Assistance grant has funded updates of older investigations, and Blackwell was identified as a suspect. City police encourage anyone with information concerning a sexual assault case to contact the Fayetteville Police Department’s Special Victim’s Unit at 910-433-1851 or Crimestoppers at 910-483-TIPS (8477).
Monday, 27 April 2020
Written by Jenna Shackelford
April is Child Abuse Awareness Month, but one local organization, the Child Advocacy Center, works tirelessly all year long to serve children in the Cumberland County community.
Headed by longtime Fayetteville resident Roberta Humphries with support from a well-trained and compassionate staff and many capable volunteers, the Child Advocacy Center is a nonprofit organization that provides multidisciplinary services for children and families affected by sexual abuse or severe physical abuse across the county. It is accredited by the National Children’s Alliance and adheres to 10 established national standards.
The beneficial impact of the work of the Child Advocacy Center is tremendous. In 2019 alone, the Center received 730 reports of suspected sexual and/or physical abuse for children under 18. The Center conducted 416 forensic interviews for children between the ages of 3-17.
The organization is on the frontlines, fighting abuse in several key ways. “The CAC brings together, in one location, child protective services investigators, law enforcement, detectives, prosecutors, and medical and mental health professionals to provide a coordinated, comprehensive response to victims and their caregivers,” Roberta Humphries, the executive director of the Child Advocacy Center, said.
“The CAC also provides professional and community education related to child abuse prevention and interviention and is active in raising awareness in the community around the issue of child abuse through various community events.”
The Center partners with numerous agencies to accomplish their objectives. “We work with all of the following agencies: Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, Fayetteville Police Department, Hope Mills Police Department, Spring Lake Police Department, CID from Fort Bragg, State Bureau of Investigation, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Child Protective Services with CCDSS, District Attorney’s Office, Cumberland County District Court, Medical services at Southern Regional AHEC, Womack Army Medical Center and Cape Fear Valley Hospital, Rape Crisis, Alliance Health, Guardian ad Litem Program, Army Community Services and the Family Advocacy Program,” said Humphries.
Another way the Center helps the communinty is through education, providing child abuse prevention education to 2,325 adults.
Additionally, more than 2,000 children received body safety instruction through storytimes that were held at 60 different locations during November 2019.
A whopping 401 families received victim advocacy services. Children and caregivers received 315 mental health therapy appointments. The center also held group counseling for girls that meets every week and for boys every other week. Twenty-six case reviews were held with 242 reviewed by the full multi-disciplinary team.
Even during tought times, the Center continues to serve the community. In keeping with the orders from Gov. Cooper, and in efforts to work safely, the Center has limited the number of people that can be in the Center at any one time maintaining recommended safety and cleaning procedures.
“Currently our Center is still open, responding to requests from our partners to provide the forensic interview for children with allegations of abuse,” Humphries said. “We also continue to provide victim advocacy and counseling services.”
Like many organizations, the CAC has taken advantage of available technology to accomodate as many people as possible. “We are offering counseling services via FaceTime or through Zoom meetings,” said Humphries.
The Center’s services are always in demand and there are many ways to help. While the numbers of reports of abuse in the community are staggering, the amount of people who have received assistance from the Center speaks volumes about the people who serve through the Center. The Child Advocacy Center has volunteer opportunities available throughout the year. “(In 2019), 1,283 hours of service were contributed by volunteers,” Humphries said.
Some of the tasks of volunteers include providing clerical support to the center or making no-sew blankets, which are made from tying two pieces of fleece fabric together, and assembling care packages.
Generous donations, whether they are monetary or commodities, are helpful. “We need individually wrapped snacks and juice boxes. Donations of office supplies, gift cards to Chick-fil-A, Biscuitville, Panera Bread, Krispy Kreme, Dunkin Donuts, Harris Teeter, Staples, Lowes, etc. are always beneficial,” said Humphries. Additionally, the CAC needs volunteers to assist with fundraising and special events throughout the year. Fayetteville’s Ultimate Lip Sync Showdown and the Pinwheel Masquerade Ball & Auction are two of the CAC’s most popular events. The Lip Sync Showdown invites members of the community each year to compete for titles by lip syncing their favorite tunes. There will also be a drawing for a smart TV, an Apple iPad, and a weekend getaway in Fayetteville with hotel and gift cards valued at $500. Tickets are $5 each or 5 for $20 and are available at the CAC. The fundraiser accounts for about 20% of the CAC’s funding each year. The event has been postponed until June 20 and will take place in the Crown Ballroom. The Pinwheel Masquerade Ball, which offers an evening of fun at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden, is scheduled for Sept. 26. Visit https://www.childadvocacycenter.com/ for more information about the events
In particular, the Center currently has a need for cleaning supplies like disinfectant spray, as well as masks for adults and children. Thanks to the Cumberland County Community Foundation, the Center has some emergency funding, but more support is always appreciated to fund the operations of the Center. In the midst of the current pandemic, experts have predicted that added stressors will lead to more abuse. With that being the case, the CAC is continuing their work to help alleviate the potential problems.
For more information about the ways that the Child Advocacy Center serves the community, or to support the center, visit https://www.childadvocacycenter.com/ or call 910-486-9700.