Local News

Elmer Floyd’s primary defeat shocks many

 08 Elmer FloydNorth Carolina Rep. Elmer Floyd’s Democratic Primary defeat this month was a shocker for many. He was one of only two incumbent legislators who lost their seats in the March 3 election. Floyd, 77, a retired city of Fayetteville Human Relations director, has served in the legislature since 2009. He was seeking his seventh consecutive term in the 43rd House of Representatives District. He lost to Kimberly Hardy, 48, a professor at Fayetteville State University, who has lived in Cumberland County for four years. A political unknown, she won 54% of the vote and will face Republican Diane Wheatley, 68, a former Cumberland County commissioner and board of education member. 

A realigned 43rd District was disadvantageous to Floyd but could be advantageous for Wheatley, a prominent Republican. It covers all of Cumberland County east of the Cape Fear River and the Linden area, plus precincts in eastern, central and southern Fayetteville. 

Wheatley lives in Linden, north of Fayetteville. Demographics of the territory give her a chance of winning the seat because more Republican voters live there now. Overall, the district is a mish mash of Republican and Democratic voters. Wheatley and Hardy will meet in the November general election.

The district map was revised last year because the court found it to be an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander. Many of the voters in the new legislative district were unaware that the district map had been redrawn. They were no longer represented by Rep. Billy Richardson, D-Cumberland, and were being asked to elect a candidate they didn’t know. Richardson won the primary in his new district.

Floyd was one of only three House Democrats who initially voted for Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget bill last June, which had Republican support except for Cooper’s insistence that Medicaid expansion be included. Floyd said he supported the budget because of the millions of dollars included for Cumberland County projects. He had been encouraged to cross over by Rep. John Szoka, R-Cumberland. 

Hardy stressed her support for Medicaid expansion, which Republicans would not support. The controversial bathroom bill also came into play. Floyd faced criticism for voting for House Bill 2, vehemently opposed in the African American community. He later supported the partial repeal compromise. Hardy made LGBT rights a key element of her campaign. She won an endorsement from the advocacy group Equality NC.

Both candidates raised relatively small amounts of money in the primary. Campaign finance records show Floyd raised $36,200, much of which he spent on television commercials the last two weeks before the primary. Hardy raised about half what Floyd did. She said her grassroots campaign of attending community events, meeting voters and promoting her message on social media made the difference. “You can’t know anybody until you’ve gone out into the community,” she told the News & Observer of Raleigh. The old fashioned, yet always effective, grassroots campaign is door knocking, telephone calling and personally identifying who will vote for you.

Police officer in shooting death remains unidentified

 Fayetteville police are withholding the name of the officer involved in a shooting death two weeks ago. “He will be publicly identified at a time when deemed appropriate based on our internal investigation,” said police spokesman Sgt. Jeremy Glass. The officer has been placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure. The State Bureau of Investigation is in charge of the probe. Gary Lee Tierney Sr., 73, of the 1300 block of Pamalee Drive, died after being admitted to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center. Tierney fired several shots at police officers who had responded to a complaint March 4. Glass said Tierney was wounded “when he refused to comply with multiple attempts to de-escalate the situation, and eventually fired toward the officers.” Anyone with information regarding the investigation should contact Fayetteville/Cumberland County Crime Stoppers at 910-483-TIPS. Crime Stoppers information can also be submitted electronically at http://fay-nccrimestoppers.org or by downloading the FREE “P3 Tips” app.  

More children are staying in school

The dropout rate among Cumberland County school students continues to decline.  New data from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction affirms the work being done to help students overcome the obstacles they face. Cumberland County Schools system’s 2018-2019 dropout rate was 1.67%, down from 2.01% in the 2017-2018 school year, which is below the state average. The school system has reduced its dropout rate for the third consecutive year. 

“We are making tremendous progress,” said CCS Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelly, Jr. “We are very pleased to see our dropout numbers decreasing, but we have more work to do.” 

The state also released data on disciplinary offenses and suspensions. Last year, the number of short-term suspensions decreased to 9,084 from 9,363 the year before. Long-term suspensions increased slightly from 17 to 18. Overall reportable acts committed went down by 6%.

Why are veterans killing themselves?

More veterans die by suicide every two days than were killed in action last year. The suicide epidemic took center stage in Washington, D.C., earlier this month with veteran advocacy groups testifying before the Veterans Affairs Committees of both houses of Congress. 

Jan Brown, head of American Veterans, urged that Congress and the VA reevaluate mental health care. He called the system “horribly broken that ... regardless of billions spent, our suicide numbers haven’t budged an inch.” 

Nearly 20 veterans are dying by suicide every day, about one-and-a-half times as high as the civilian suicide rate, according to the most recent federal statistics. Lawmakers say they are frustrated by the lack of nontraditional approaches to the crisis. Brown praised some of the VA’s suicide prevention services but said there needs to be more attention paid to alternative approaches. 

Craig Bryan, executive director of the National Center for Veterans Studies, said easy access to firearms increases the risk. According to the VA, 50% of veterans own guns. “We spend hardly any time talking about the role of firearms,” Bryan said. “The biggest blind spot involves continuing to view suicide only from the lens of mental health.”

 The Veteran Crisis Line is staffed 24 hours a day. The number is 800-273-8255. Select “1” for a Veterans Affairs staffer. 

GenX community forum

March 26, North Carolina Rep. John Szoka, R-Cumberland, and Sen. Kirk deViere, D-Cumberland, will hold a public meeting on the latest research into PFAS and GenX contamination of drinking water supplies in southeastern Cumberland County. The meeting will be at Gray’s Creek High School, 5301 Celebration Dr. The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Health and Human Services began investigating the compound known as GenX in the Cape Fear River in June 2017. The Chemours plant near Fayetteville was determined to be the source of the chemical, which was used for industrial product development. The state’s investigation focused on the protection of public health and drinking water. The release into the Cape Fear River of GenX and two other fluorinated compounds has stopped. Water quality is now well within state health goals. State officials say they continue to develop information needed to protect North Carolina’s water quality and public health.

Field of Honor

The Cool Spring Downtown District is partnering with the Airborne & Special Operations Museum Foundation for the 13th Annual Field of Honor®. Since its inception in 2007, the Field of Honor® has been an annual tradition in downtown Fayetteville. Hundreds of flags will fly on the museum parade ground at 100 Bragg Blvd. Each flag has its own story and displays a tag identifying the person who sponsored the flag and the honoree. The display honors all who are currently serving, those who have served, and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Flags may be purchased to honor the memory of a veteran or current service member of any branch for $35 at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum gift shop. An opening ceremony will be held at 9 a.m., Saturday, May 16. Flags will remain up until Friday, July 10.

FTCC invites women to pursue the field of technology

11 Woman in technologyThere is much discussion about women in technology — or the lack of women in technology.  Currently women make up 47% of the labor market; however, women make up only 25% of all technology jobs. In big tech companies, such as Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft, women make up only 20-23% of technology jobs. There are several reasons why this might be and the issue can be addressed.

The Women Tech Council, a national organization for women in technology of which I am a member, published a study in May of 2019 explaining the issues currently facing this employment gap and offered some solutions to help get more women involved in technology. It seems that the gap begins in high school and college. Although women are outpacing their counterparts in obtaining bachelor’s and master’s degrees, only about 33% of women are pursing technology once they leave high school. After graduation, the gap widens. Only 38% of those women who graduate go on to pursue a technology career, as compared to over 58% of their male counterparts with the same technology degree. And once in their field, attrition rates for women in technology is 30% higher than nontechnology jobs.

What might a company do to try to recruit and retain more women in technology? WTC finds that companies with more women in senior management positions promote a workplace that is inclusive for all women, including technology. The corporate culture — especially in technology companies — has a tremendous effect on the retention of its workforce. The more inclusive the environment, the higher employee retention. Therefore, recruiting more women into the company in general is necessary. Secondly, providing support and resources to those recruits to lead and guide them into leadership positions is recommended. Lastly, allowing those senior managers to create an inclusive culture is necessary.

How might we inspire more girls and women into technology at a younger age? We now understand that we first have to inspire women into the technology field at a younger age to increase the number of women who study technology in college. At Fayetteville Technical Community College , we take this challenge seriously, and in 2019, a committee was formed to address recruitment of women into our technology programs. This committee hosted several “Women in Technology” seminars that included guest speakers from local companies. These women discussed their jobs and careers and answered questions from the audience at the end of their presentations. We also hosted a live webinar given by CISCO Systems (Women Rock IT) that featured two women in the technology field. These seminars have helped increase our female enrollment by 10% for the 2019-2020 academic year.  Also, the Systems Security and Analysis department is working with middle and high schools to promote technology and cyber security fields. On Feb. 21, we held our annual Cyber Girls Days — a partnership with Cumberland County Schools — to have middle school girls spend the morning with our faculty in hands-on workshops where various cyber tools and fields available were explained. Our department at FTCC is also partnering with Terry Sandford High School to host a CyberPatriot Summer Camp during the week of June 8-12.  We continue to work to bridge the gap, but at FTCC, we actively support women in technology and encourage women to pursue this exciting field. Learn more about the many academic options available in the field of Computer Technology at FTCC by visiting faytechcc.edu or contact me at woodd@faytechcc.edu. ;

Pop-Up Wedding Day: Popular, fun and affordable

10 01 wedding 2 It’s common to hear of people “popping the question,” but what about pop-up weddings? They are an easy and convenient way to have a beautiful, heartfelt wedding ceremony without breaking the bank. Love is in season all year round, but with flowers in bloom, the Cape Fear Botanical Garden’s Pop-Up Wedding Day on March 21 is a beautiful day to say “I do.”

In Fayetteville, reasonably priced venues that come with minimal planning are hard to come by. Aside from the courthouse wedding at the Register of Deeds office, marriages are performed by the magistrates at the Cumberland County Detention Center.

“I had two friends who had each married an active-duty soldier before deployment, and both women had their wedding at the jail,” Sheila Hanrick, the director of marketing and events for CFBG said.”They both kept commenting on seeing inmates, not being allowed to have photos, etc. I wanted to provide an alternative environment.”

The first pop-up wedding took place at the Garden Feb. 6 last year. Since then, the Garden has hosted three more Pop-Up Wedding Days. So far, 13 couples have gotten married on those dates, but the goal is for 15 couples to tie the knot in March.

In 2018, heartofncweddings.com reported that the average wedding in the state of North Carolina cost a whopping $30,000. The hefty price tag combined with the time and stress that goes into coordinating all of the details that come with a wedding can be overwhelming for the bride, the groom, and their families and friends.

10 02 wedding 3 The Garden alleviates those issues by offering a traditional ceremony while also touting affordable packages guaranteed to cut costs. For just $450, a pop-up wedding includes the venue, an officiant, chairs, decor in neutral tones by Debbie Bender Designs, up to 30 guests, not including the bride- and groom-to-be, and complimentary parking, as well as witnesses, should the couple need some. Additional add-ons include options for flowers from Johnson’s Florist, photography from LRP Media and a small cake from Marci’s Cakes and Bakes, to name a few. The add-ons range from $15 to $250.

One benefit of registering for the Garden’s Pop-Up Wedding Day is that couples, their families and their friends can sit back and relax as some of the most stressful parts about planning a wedding are taken off their hands by the staff at the Garden and the vendors responsible for the add-ons. The wedding party just has to show up and go down the aisle.

Debbie Bender has over 10 years of event planning experience and is excited to be on board for a second year for the joyous occasions. As someone who is active in the community as part of the Fayetteville Young Professionals and through her work with nonprofit organizations in the area, Bender prides herself on utilizing local vendors and small businesses in her decor.

“We receive phone calls every day from brides and grooms-to-be who want a magical day but due to ‘life happening,’ not everyone has months, sometimes over a year, to plan the wedding of their dreams,” Bender said. “Being a part of the Pop-Up Weddings at CFBG provides us the privilege to be a part of their day, even in the simplest way.”
 To highlight the natural beauty of the garden, and to match everyone’s wedding, Bender uses fresh greenery and cream floral arrangements. Her company will also showcase its greenery moon gate, a classic wooden arbor and a triangle arbor.

Fayetteville locals, or anyone who has been here more than a week or so, might have learned that the weather can change on a dime, and the last day any bride ever wants it to rain is at her wedding. But never fear — the Garden also has rain plans in place as well. The Garden offers the Orangery and the Pond Lawn as ceremony

The Cape Fear Botanical Garden is excited to offer its fresh take on expedient weddings once again. “(My favorite part) is providing the couple a memorable wedding in a beautiful setting without all of the stress and expense of the traditional wedding,” Hanrick said.

Aside from pop-up wedding dates, the Garden accommodates wedding parties throughout the rest of the year as well. In fact, people can be wed almost 360 days of the year at the garden with a ceremony only package. Couples who are interested can contact the events department at 910-486-0221 ext. 29 or 39. The coordinators will discuss details and availability. The couple can also set an appointment to tour the grounds in advance.

The next Pop-Up Wedding Day will be March 21 from 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. To learn more visit https://www.capefearbg.org/ or call the events department at 910-486-0221 ext. 39. 

Photo credit to LRP Media. 

Cape Fear Friends of the NRA host banquet and auction

08 Friends of the NRAThe Cape Fear Friends of National Rifle Association will host the Annual Banquet and Auction Saturday, March 14, at 4 p.m. at Paradise Acres Event Center, 1965 John McMillan Rd., Hope Mills. There will be a raffle, auction and, of course, great food.

“We are family friendy,” said Tony Forte, committee chairmen. “We are apolitical. Our issue is putting funds into programs that keep shooting sports safe and renewable.”
Friends of NRA is the fundraising program under the NRA Foundation. Cumberland and Harnett counties provide a grassroots effort to ensure the future of safe, responsible firearms ownership and participation in shooting sports. The event also helps raise money, in particular, for funding youth safety programs in eastern North Carolina. The organization hosts youth competitions, training and safety courses and provides scholarships to help ensure the future of shooting sports for America’s young people.  

“Some of the things that excite me is we have more and more success locally with programs,” said Forte. “The Eddy Eagle gun safety program teaches that guns are not toys and that kids should ‘Stop. Don’t touch, Run away and tell an adult.’  I am excited to see what the Fayetteville Police Department is doing with Eddie Eagle and Operation Ceasefire. We support those programs. We support 4-H, sharpshooter clubs, the scouts. You name the group, and if they are eligible to receive a nonprofit grant, we do everything we can to ensure — if they mmeet the requirements — that we get them something. Last year, we had  $750,000 in grant requests. We were able to support $250,000. The demand for educatioon and safety programs is insatiable.”

The Friends of NRA was founded in 1992, and the Cumberland and Harnett Committee started in 1994. Over the years, this one committee has paid out more than $ 1 million in North Carolina.
The Friends of NRA provides a united front to secure the Second Amendment and raise money for the shooting sports. Across the country, more than 13,000 volunteers work tirelessly to make these events happen with the generosity of attendees and donors who support their efforts.

“We are a zero sum charity,” said Forte. Eeverything we bring in goes back as grants. We are all volunteers. The committee tries to limit our overhead to less than 1%.”
There is something for everyone at a Friends of NRA event. From the moment you walk in, the atmosphere is brimming with excitement, and they will make sure you have a good time. Not to mention all the great people you’ll meet in the process.

Forte added that the auction items include several firearms, and other items like luggage and outdoor equipment.

“If you are serious about youth safety and firearms,” said Forte. “Outside the political arena, there’s one known resource to
get that done, and it is the NRA foundation.”

 Contact Tony Forte at 254-289-9738, Jerry Parsek at 910-309-9755 or Don Talbot at 910-977-7776 for more information. Purchase tickets online at https://www.friendsofnra.org/eventtickets/Events/Details/34?eventId=57226, or visit the  Facebook page, “Cape Fear Friends of NRA.” The group also has a sponsorship and underwriting program. Donations are always welcomed and are tax-deductible.


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