Local News

City Council dean calls it quits

There will be a vacancy on Fayetteville City Council come the first of the year. Longtime councilmember Bill Crisp won’t be there. Crisp, 79, has served for 12 years. He was first elected as a result of the so-called Big Bang annexation of western Cumberland County in 2005 when more than 40,000 people were involuntarily annexed into Fayetteville. The controversial move was a major reason that the state legislature did away with unsolicited annexations.

Crisp became an influential and respected member of City Council. He served in the U.S. Army for 27 years, retiring with the rank of Command Sgt. Maj. in 1987. When asked about his greatest satisfaction of serving on council, Crisp said “I love people and appreciated being able to serve them.”

The area Crisp serves is one of nine political districts, each representing approximately the same number of people. District 6 is on the southwestern side of the city. To this day, Crisp says the big bang annexation “was a disaster” calling it “a land grab for tax dollars.”

The result made the city of Fayetteville the second largest in the state geographically, encompassing 148-square-miles. Only Charlotte has more land area. Crisp is among those who believe that bigger isn’t better, that the government lacks the capacity to serve its 210,000 residents. He takes pride in significant accomplishments he contributed to in his dozen years, including development of the multimillion-dollar Hope VI residential community off Old Wilmington Road. Modern apartment buildings replaced a post-World War II housing project.

Crisp is especially proud of Fayetteville’s designation as home of North Carolina’s Veterans Park, the nation’s first state park dedicated to military veterans from all branches of the Armed Services. Then-Gov. Beverly Perdue was on hand for the ground-breaking in February 2010. Crisp was a major supporter of the city’s $40 million commitment to build Segra Stadium on Hay Street. Officials say it will be the impetus of more than $100 million of private development.

City council colleagues have come and gone during Bill Crisp’s dozen years. He did not hesitate when asked who he most enjoyed working with on the governing body. District 1 councilwoman Kathy Jensen is his favorite. “She isn’t as experienced as most, but is one smart lady,” he said.

Crisp noted he developed a partnership with District 8 member Ted Mohn, who was also elected as the result of the 2005 big bang annexation.

Crisp’s decision this year to not run for another term was based on his poor health. “It’s an ordeal for me,” he said. Crisp has had prostate cancer surgery, spinal infusion and has had three tumors removed from his lungs. Diminished lung capacity and a weakened heart required that the people of District 6 elect a new member of council. Suffice it to say Councilman Bill Crisp will be missed.

Pictured: Fayetteville City Councilman Bill Crisp

Police Chief Hawkins goes to Washington

07 Chief Hawkins 1Fayetteville Police Chief Gina V. Hawkins testified on community policing practices before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee Sept. 19. She appeared on behalf of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, or NOBLE. Hawkins is treasurer of the organization. The judiciary committee has oversight responsibility for federal and local police practices.

Rep. Gerald Nadler, D-NY, chaired the meeting. “Without question, the vast majority of law enforcement officers serve honorably under difficult conditions, often risking, and sometimes losing, their lives to protect us,” Nadler said. “There have been, however, a disturbing number of incidents of excessive force used by police against civilians — many of whom were unarmed, most of whom were people of color, and many of which resulted in tragic death — that have put incredible strain on the relationship between law enforcement and their communities.

“We should consider legislative proposals to end racial profiling and to restore trust between law enforcement and the community. And we should explore ways to strengthen data collection on the use of force and racial profiling so police departments can measure the practices they manage,” Nadler said in his opening remarks.

Committee Ranking Member Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga, said he was “concerned that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle will turn today’s hearing into a crusade against all law enforcement officers based on isolated incidents.”
Collins added, “We — as Congress and as Americans — are nothing without the rule of law and its fair and uniform enforcement.”

“My predecessor used technical assistance resources … to help the agency establish a strategy to improve engagement at all levels of the department and particularly with communities of color,” Hawkins said. Her reference was to U.S. Department of Justice police assistance programs that retired Fayetteville Police Chief Harold Medlock sought out to improve local policing. In his three-and-one-half years at the helm of the FPD, Medlock worked tirelessly to improve relations in the African American community.

Chief Hawkins has said law enforcement agencies implement various strategies and methods to combat crime and ensure public safety. Those strategies extend beyond traditional models of responding to calls for service and often seek to increase crime prevention, intervention and response effectiveness. Community outreach, efficient resource distribution, crime mapping and data collection are concepts which comprise CompStat, a crime-reduction strategy that concentrates on improving physical and social order in high-crime locations.

“The safety of police officers and civilians alike depends, in large part, on the strength of the relationship between the police and the public,” said Seth Stoughton, a law professor at the University of South Carolina and a former police officer. “Public distrust of the police can decrease cooperation with law enforcement, which can, in turn, lead to an increase in violent crime. Police distrust of the public, in turn, can lead to an increase in officer misconduct and the use of force, as well as the adoption of aggressive, zero-tolerance tactics that further exacerbate the tension.”

Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins appeared before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee  representing the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.

Meningitis verified

06 MeningitisThe Cumberland County Health Department said last week that bacterial meningitis had been confirmed in a member of the Methodist University community who is hospitalized. The patient has meningococcal meningitis. No additional cases have been reported. The best way to protect against bacterial meningitis illness is to be vaccinated. All 11- to 12-year-olds should get a vaccine, with a booster dose at 16 years old. More information about meningococcal vaccine recommendations for teenagers is available online by searching Meningococcal Vaccination for Preteens and Teens: Information for Parents. Methodist University individuals who may have been exposed have been contacted and administered protective antibiotics. The health department cannot provide further details about the case to protect confidentiality. Bacterial meningitis can be spread to other people through direct contact with saliva through activities such as kissing or by sharing items such as eating utensils, beverage bottles or cigarettes. If you have questions about immunizations, contact your primary care provider or the Cumberland County Health Department at 910-433-3600.
 
Health director hired

The Cumberland County Board of Health has selected Dr. Jennifer R. Green to serve as the county’s new public health director effective Nov. 18. Her starting salary is $139,000, according to Assistant County Manager Sally Shutt. Green fills a post that was vacant for two years following the resignation of Buck Wilson. Green has been director of the Riley County Health Department in Manhattan, Kan., since 2016.

“Dr. Green’s educational background, public health leadership experience and passion for meeting the health needs of diverse communities make her well suited to serve as Cumberland County’s Public Health Director,” said Dr. Connette McMahon, chairperson of the board of health. Green received her Bachelor of Science in health science studies and master of public health in community health education from Baylor University. She earned a doctorate in health promotion sciences and public health from the University of Oklahoma Hudson College of Public Health. The Health Department is planning a Community meet-and-greet with Dr. Green on Oct. 15, from 4:30-6 p.m., in the third-floor boardroom of the Public Health Center, located at 1235 Ramsey St.
 
Visitor’s Bureau commendation

The Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau received a gold Tourism Achievement Award at the North Carolina Travel Industry Association’s banquet this month. Tourism Achievement Awards recognize best practices, creativity and results accomplished through the tourism industry’s marketing efforts. FACVB’s sports e-newsletter “Hometown Huddle” was recognized in the Group Visitors category.

“Knowing that marketing and tourism professionals from around the country recognized one of our initiatives for its innovation and creativity is humbling,” said John Meroski, FACVB President and CEO. The awards are presented annually by the NCTIA. Each entry was graded on a sliding point scale system and was evaluated on its own merit and demonstrated success in achieving the stated objectives.
 
New County Planner

County Manager Amy Cannon has hired Rawls Howard as Cumberland County’s new Planning and Inspections Director effective Oct. 14. Howard is currently the Director of Planning and Community Development in Mooresville, N.C. Howard, a native of Tarboro, has served as a planning director or manager for several local governments of various sizes and complexity in North Carolina, including North Wilkesboro, Greensboro, Greenville, Sunset Beach and Linville Land Harbor, as well as Cedar Park, Texas. He also spent two years in the Peace Corps and assisted with BRAC-style analysis for the Ukrainian government, which involved redevelopment of military bases for civilian economic development purposes. Howard earned a Bachelor of Science degree in geography and urban planning from East Carolina University and a Master of Arts in geography from Appalachian State University. The department’s mission is to promote a safe, stable, culturally and economically viable environment for the citizens of Cumberland County through comprehensive and coordinated planning, with the provision of responsible code enforcement and trade inspections.
 
2020 Woodpeckers schedule
 
The Fayetteville Woodpeckers, Class A Advanced MiLB affiliate of the Houston Astros, have announced the schedule for the 2020 season, plus the release of the 2020 half-season ticket package. The Woodpeckers open the season at Segra Stadium on Thursday, April 9, at 7 p.m., against the Frederick Keys.

“Over 250,000 people visited Segra Stadium during our inaugural season,” said Mark Zarthar, president of the Fayetteville Woodpeckers. “The response from our community was remarkable. We are eager to reward our fans by offering a 2020 season full of surprises and hopefully, a Carolina League Championship.”

Half-season packages feature 35 games and come with a variety of benefits, including schedule flexibility, a ticket exchange program and first right to special events. Half-season packages start at $340. Full season tickets are also on sale and start at $500 with one-, three- and five-year term options. The full 2020 schedule can be accessed at www.fayettevillewoodpeckers.com
 
 

Southeast region federal summit creates progress and opportunities

12 NCMBCThe Department of Defense’s $7 billion boom in new, major construction projects on bases in North Carolina is now history. However, new construction at Fort Bragg, Camp Lejeune, Cherry Point and other installations remains strong — the third highest in the country for fiscal year 2020 at $616.3 million. Military installations are also turning to operation and maintenance funding to execute additional sustainment projects on existing facilities, and hurricane recovery work may drive military-related construction spending to new highs.

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Sustaining, restoring and modernizing existing infrastructure will be a primary strategy for bases in North Carolina to address their facility needs for the foreseeable future. Operation and maintenance-funded work provides new opportunities for North Carolina construction-related businesses capable of executing small, mid-size and even large sustainment, restoration and modernization projects either as prime, also called general, or sub, also called specialty, contractors. 


Additionally, the destruction caused by Hurricanes Florence and Matthew in 2018 provided additional opportunities for the construction industry. Naval Facilities Engineering Command Mid-Atlantic recently announced a $1.7 billion program to restore Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point due to these hurricanes. The impact of Hurricane Dorian — either in new damage or exacerbating old damage — has not yet been determined. 


To connect businesses in North Carolina to these opportunities, the offices of Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C.,  and Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C.,  and the NCMBC will co-host the 2019 Southeast Region Federal Construction, Infrastructure & Environmental Summit at the Wilmington Convention Center on Oct. 23-24. The Summit is the premier, best-established and most-recognized federal construction event in the Southeast — businesses that are already engaged or want to perform in the federal market should attend.


The Summit brings together over 700 representatives of the Corps of Engineers, NAVFAC, Fort Bragg, Marine Corps Installations East, Seymour Johnson AFB, other Army, Air Force, Navy and USMC installations, the U.S. Coast Guard, Department of Veterans Affairs, General Services Administration, other federal agencies and construction-related contractors from throughout the Southeastern United States.


Attendance is encouraged for general and specialty contractors, design firms, construction supply firms and companies  provide facility-support contracts. The businesses must work in Virginia, N.C., South Carolina, Georgia and/or Florida.  Current federal contractors seeking partners and suppliers are also welcome.


For more information on The Summit, visit: https://summit.ncmbc.us or contact the North Carolina Military Business Center (www.ncmbc.us).


The North Carolina Military Business Center is a business development entity of the North Carolina Community College System, headquartered at Fayetteville Technical Community College. The mission of the NCMBC is to leverage military and other federal business opportunities to expand the economy, grow jobs and improve quality of life in North Carolina. The NCMBC’s primary goal is to increase federal revenues for businesses in North Carolina. The Department of Defense has an annual impact of $66 billion and is the second largest sector of North Carolina’s economy at  — 12% GDP.  With six major military bases, 116 National Guard and 40 Army Reserve facilities and the third highest number of uniformed military personnel in the country, the state of North Carolina created the NCMBC to leverage opportunities with these installations, DOD commands and federal agencies operating worldwide.

Hurricane Florence revisited

07 FloodingHurricane Florence was a powerful and long-lived Cape Verde hurricane that caused extensive damage in the Carolinas in September 2018, primarily as a result of freshwater flooding. Florence dropped 35.93 inches of rain in Elizabethtown, becoming the wettest tropical cyclone recorded in the Carolinas, as well as the eighth-wettest overall in the contiguous United States. The first major hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, Florence originated from a strong tropical wave that emerged off the West Coast of Africa. The system became a tropical storm on Sept. 1 and fluctuated in strength for several days over open ocean. Rapid intensification occurred on Sept. 4–5, culminating with Florence becoming a major Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph.


As forecast models indicated an increasing threat to the Southeastern United States, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency on Sept. 7. Transportation rules for farmers were waived to enable faster harvesting. President Donald Trump declared an emergency in North Carolina, granting the state access to federal funds. Strong wind shear then tore the storm apart, and by the evening of Sept. 13, Florence had been downgraded to a Category 1 hurricane, though the storm began to stall as it neared the Carolina coastline.


An overnight curfew was established in Lumberton for the duration of the hurricane. Early on Sept. 14, Florence made landfall just south of Wrightsville Beach and weakened further as it slowly moved inland. Despite making landfall as a weakened Category 1 hurricane, Florence still had enough wind speed to uproot trees and cause widespread power outages throughout the Carolinas. A ridge of high pressure over eastern North America stalled Florence’s forward motion for several days while making landfall.


This led to Florence moving forward at only 2–3 miles per hour; the storm continually dumped heavy rain along coastal areas from Sept. 13, when the outer rain bands first began to be felt, to Sept. 15, when the storm was still stalled out only a few miles west of Wilmington. Coupled with a large storm surge, this caused widespread flooding along a stretch of the North Carolina coast, from Wilmington to New Bern. As the storm moved inland, from Sept. 15 to 17, heavy rain caused widespread inland flooding in Fayetteville, Lumberton and Smithfield as major rivers, including the Cape Fear and Lumber, spilled over their banks.


Most major roads and highways in the area experienced some flooding, with large stretches of I-40, I-95 and US Route 70 remaining impassable for days after the storm had passed. The city of Wilmington was cut off entirely from the rest of the mainland by floodwaters. At least 54 deaths were attributed to the storm. Property damage and economic losses in the United States reached $24 billion. Estimated insured losses ranged between $4.8–5 billion. One preliminary estimate for North Carolina was nearly $17 billion, more than the damage from Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Floyd combined.

The first major hurricane of the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season, Florence originated from a strong tropical wave that emerged off the West Coast of Africa.

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