Local News

Multiservice homeless center proposed

07 homeless personFayetteville City Council is considering spending nearly $4 million on a facility to help the homeless. The money is available to the city in state grant funds. City Council invited officials of Raleigh’s Oak City Cares to make a presentation at a recent public meeting. Oak City Cares is an organization that bills itself as a multiservice agency that provides a day center and services to help the homeless.

The “concept is to coordinate rather than compete with other agencies,” said Oak City Cares Executive Director Kathryn Johnson.

Wake County provided $7 million, and the city of Raleigh gave $3.4 million for the multipurpose center in downtown Raleigh, according to Rick Miller, retired regional director of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Raleigh, which operates the facility.

Wake County provided an old warehouse as a shell building for the center. Catholic Charities employees operate the facility, which raised $2.5 million in a private fundraising effort. The funds are paying the nonprofit agency’s share of operating costs for the first few years and provide $400,000 in reserve funds, Johnson told Council.

Local Fayetteville agencies that serve the homeless insist a multimillion-dollar complex would be a waste of money since the services offered by such a facility are already available in the community. Fayetteville’s Operation Inasmuch has many of the programs and facilities provided by Oak City Cares. FOI’s website says its 40-bed lodge has led more than 200 men to get jobs, assisted over 100 men to find stable housing, provided individualized case management, offered job search and interview training and reduced the homeless population. Just as Oak City Cares does, the Operation Inasmuch lodge provides shower facilities, laundry services and computer access.

Unlike the capital city area where city and county governments worked together, Cumberland County Commissioners have said they have no interest in joining the city in a multipurpose center for the homeless. Other groups are also active in Fayetteville in meeting the needs of people living on the streets. Street people who live a public, transient lifestyle on the streets of a city are among the homeless and are often mentally ill. Organizations here that serve the homeless agree the city should focus on job creation and providing affordable housing.

City Council also heard from the director of Communities in Communities, which builds and leases tiny homes for those in need. It’s a Greensboro-based company that replaces vacant and blighted properties in the Triad with small houses of 500 to 1,000 square feet. Scott Jones outlined cottage communities in pocket neighborhoods that have been developed in High Point and Greensboro with a new development underway in Winston-Salem. “They are designed to serve the needs of the chronic homeless,” Jones said. “The idea is to replace tent-living with small homes that are practical and affordable.”

Rent is subsidized based on the occupants’ earnings. City officials took no action on the proposals and did not schedule a subsequent meeting.

New performing arts center for Fayetteville?

06 01 Memorial auditorium and arenaSpectra Venue Management, the company that manages Fayetteville’s Crown Complex, has selected Conventions, Sports, and Leisure International to conduct a market analysis and feasibility study for a new venue to replace the Crown Theatre and Crown Arena. Memorial auditorium and arena will be closed in October 2022. The study will analyze and determine whether a new facility is feasible, and if so, its type, size and location. Results of the market analysis and feasibility study are expected by May of this year. The study is being paid for by Spectra Venue Management, utilizing funds that were set aside in its 2017 management agreement with Cumberland County. “We are excited for CSL to get started on this project,” Trent Merritt, Spectra’s regional vice president, said. CSL clients in North Carolina include Hickory Performing Arts Center; Keenan Stadium at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; the Charlotte Coliseum; and proposed venues in Wilmington and Mooresville. CSL will establish a date, time and location for public forums for those who wish to provide insight or feedback on the project.

County extension of water lines to Grays Creek underway

06 02 chemours2Several dozen Grays Creek residents were on hand at a county commission meeting this month when the board agreed to spend $376,000 for engineering work on a water line extension. The need for public water came to the surface two-and-a-half years ago when GenX, a potential carcinogen, was found in Grays Creek water wells. The culprit is the huge Chemours chemical plant on the Cumberland/Bladen County line. Chemours has provided bottled water and water filtration systems to some homes in the area. The project is a $10.5 million water line extension commissioners approved Jan. 6. GenX has also been reported in the Cape Fear River and in drinking water supplies of communities downstream from Chemours that get their water from the river. Residents claim the contamination has reduced property values and that Chemours should be held responsible for the cost of the water line extension.

SBA provides loans for Hurricane Dorian repairs

The U.S. Small Business Administration says Working Capital Disaster Loans are available to small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives, businesses engaged in aquaculture and private nonprofit organizations in some North Carolina communities as a result of Hurricane Dorian on Sept. 6 - 10, 2019. Locally, loans are available in Cumberland, Bladen, Harnett and Hoke counties. The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program is available to eligible farm-related and nonfarm-related entities that suffered financial losses as a direct result of the hurricane. Disaster loans are not available to 06 03 hurricane dorin 2agricultural producers, farmers and ranchers. The loan amount can be up to $2 million with interest rates of 4% for small businesses and 2.75% for private nonprofit organizations, with terms up to 30 years. The SBA determines eligibility based on the size of the applicant, type of activity and its financial resources. These working capital loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that could have been paid had the disaster not occurred. Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application via SBA’s secure website at Disasterloan.sba.gov. Disaster loan information may also be obtained by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 800-659-2955 or by sending an email to disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.
Fayetteville airport opens new concourse

The new concourse features an open rotunda with large viewing windows, a new waiting area with in-seat charging stations and three new boarding gates. American Airlines is utilizing the new 06 04 Fayetteville Regional Airportconcourse, servicing its daily flights to and from Charlotte. The concourse will soon feature a new restaurant, which is expected to open in the spring. The facility is Phase 1 of a $45 million renovation project at Fayetteville Regional Project.
“The opening of the new concourse is a big milestone for us,” said Airport Director Bradley Whited. “No major improvements have been made to the airport terminal since its opening in 1969.”
Plans to start Phase 2 are already underway, including renovation of the front façade, a refreshed interior, a new TSA checkpoint, renovated ticketing and baggage wings and an updated second floor. Offering service to two major airline hubs, travelers have access to more than 230 one-stop destinations.

Public countywide education program set

A local state of education event scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 4, will shine a spotlight on various educational institutions in Cumberland County. During the event at J.W. Seabrook Auditorium on the campus of Fayetteville State University, participants will learn about major initiatives and strategic priorities in Cumberland County schools. Leaders from Fayetteville State, Methodist University and Fayetteville Technical Community College will also be featured. The program begins at 6 p.m.
06 05 State of Education of CC 2 1200x496 copy

Building Business Rally: Let’s do business

13 01 business rally 1If you are a local business owner or are looking to start a new venture, the Building Business Rally, which will be held on Jan. 30, is a must for you.

“This could have one of the biggest impacts on keeping dollars local than any other event this year,” said Christine Michaels, president and CEO of the Greater Fayetteville Chamber.

The event will be held at the Ramada Plaza, 1707 Owen Dr., from 2-6 p.m., and features purchasing and procurement representatives for Fayetteville and Cumberland County’s largest buyers who have over $1 billion of needs and opportunities for local vendors, regardless of your business.

“To have the purchasing staff from the major companies and government entities all in one place, and all with dollars to spend, is an unbelievable opportunity for local businesses to make the right connections,” said Michaels.

Robert Van Geons, president and CEO of the Fayetteville Cumberland Economic Development Corporation, said the Building Business Rally is significant for our community. “These major organizations spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year, and if they have to go out of Fayetteville/Cumberland County to find businesses to meet their procurement needs, we are exporting that wealth to other people and places,” said Van Geons. “Imagine if we spent all our public dollars here, how much better our community can be. Our hope with events like the Building Business Rally is by educating our entrepreneurs and future entrepreneurs, we can build that ecosystem, keep more dollars local and churn that funding through our local economy.”

13 02 UAC012220015The town of Hope Mills is one entity looking to keep their dollars local and will be at the event. In the next five years, the town projects it will spend over $35 million on major projects, including the construction of the John W. Hodges Public Safety Building, design and implementation of the Heritage Park Masterplan, and the Hope Mills Golf Course Masterplan.

“As we continue to see huge increases in future economic development, focusing on our local contractor and vendor base is paramount to the growth of the base of local businesses in this region, “ said Chancer McLaughlin, planning and economic development director for town of Hope Mills. “This event is so important to us because growing our local general contractor pool is vital to creating a sustainable tax base that ultimately results, not only in keeping local companies in business but also helping retain many of the local college students, creating opportunities for employment.”  

The Building Business Rally is part of a communitywide initiative by local elected officials to increase the amount of funding spent locally on the wide range of service, supply and equipment purchased by local government.

Michaels emphasized the event is for every type of business, and the needs of these organizations are not just construction. Suppliers, professional service providers and prime and sub-contractors of all sizes should attend.

“We are educating and engaging local businesses on how to work with us and the types of goods and services we need, “ said city of Fayetteville Mayor Pro Tem Kathy Jensen. “We will be there because it’s vital that our community foster an environment where businesses can thrive and grow. Even though you think you might not belong there, check it out and you may just find an opportunity that’s perfect for you.”

Michaels said one might equate the Building Business Rally to attending a job fair, only here you are connecting your business to organizations that have money to spend and are looking for local vendors to spend it with.

“Having attended a previous rally, I would encourage other businesses to bring materials such as a capability statement that tells them about your services, references that can talk about your performance and business cards because you want to make sure you stand out,” said Michelle Horne, president and CEO of Landart Solutions. “Time is money. It’s exciting to have a one-stop-shop and be able to participate in and find opportunities throughout the community in a short period of time.”

Over 100 businesses are recognizing the potential opportunities available and have already registered to attend the Rally. James Suber, owner of  JS Designs is registered and says as a small business, getting the word out is hard and the event makes that easier for him. “I am looking forward to it because I hope to get the word out about the services we have to offer and hopefully gain business. I think this is a great opportunity for us to introduce ourselves to the community.”

Joel Angarita of BGS Services agrees that as a local small business, his biggest challenge is getting his company’s name out to the community and says the Building Business Rally offers even more than promoting his services. “I also believe by attending, it will help recognize the gaps that aren’t being filled here,” he said.

This is an opportunity to introduce your company to 15 major organizations and tell them how you can help them and find out what they are looking for,” said Ramona Moore, director of sales and marketing for Holiday Inn & Suites West/Fort Bragg.

Even with extensive involvement and a long work history in our community, Moore knows taking advantage of this opportunity is important to her and other local businesses. “As a new hotel, I need to get the word out, and this is the perfect (venue) for that. … I would tell all businesses to take advantage of this great event and don’ t miss this opportunity.”

The Building Business Rally is free to attend. Businesses are encouraged to preregister at www.faybids.com or can register at the door. All registrants will have their company information shared with the participating procurement representatives.

Animal pound provides care

08 cat cageThe term pound is still commonly used in American society. Its origin is a mystery, but one belief is that it’s a derivative of impound, meaning an enclosed area. These days, homeless animals are no longer viewed as a public nuisance to be warehoused in substandard facilities and disposed of as quickly as possible. Homeless animals and the care they receive in shelters has changed for the better. Increasingly, the trend across the United States is to design shelters as friendly and inviting community centers where the public can go to relinquish or adopt pets.

“There is an awareness and a willingness to help these animals, and we are confident that we can make an even bigger difference … in the coming years,” Cumberland County Animal Control Director Elaine Smith said in a news release. “Our ultimate goal is to never have to euthanize an adoptable animal, and we appreciate all the help from our community partners, the Fayetteville Animal Protection Society, numerous rescue groups, our volunteers and foster parents.”
Animal Control said 3,012 dogs and cats were adopted locally in 2019, compared to 2,829 in 2018. The number of dogs and cats euthanized by the county dropped by more than 500 from 3,790 in 2018 to 3,241 in 2019. Smith said personnel at Animal Control strive to perform their jobs professionally and thoroughly. They love and care for the animals brought into the shelter, she said, and do their best to find homes for as many of the animals as possible, and only as a last resort, euthanize them.

The Cumberland County Animal Control department has implemented the Fear Free Shelter Program whereby all 48 employees complete studies on the emotional health of animals, animal communication, gentle control techniques and good behavior training. The Fear Free Shelter Program teaches strategies and techniques to reduce fear, anxiety, stress and frustration in the dogs and cats handled by Animal Control staff in the shelter and in the field.

“Our goal at Cumberland County Animal Control is to constantly improve the way we handle and house animals at our shelter so that we minimize the animals’ stress and fear,” Smith said. “We are all animal lovers, so the employees are eager to learn and improve their knowledge and skills.” Future Animal Control employees will be required to obtain certification when they are hired. This training is provided at no cost by the Fear Free Shelter Program.

The public is encouraged to support the thousands of cats and dogs who find their way to the animal shelter annually. Monetary donations can be made to the Animal Enrichment Fund at licensepet.com/cumberlandcountyncdonate. Food, toys or treats can be donated at the shelter. Additionally, Friends of Cumberland County Animal Shelter collects cold-weather dog houses, straw and blankets for outdoor dogs for their comfort and safety during the winter months. 

Residents who would like to donate cold-weather supplies may drop off items at the shelter. The Animal Control Department and Animal Shelter are located off Tom Starling Road, east of Fayetteville.

Fort Bragg heroes killed in combat

07 McKaughlin VillilonFayetteville is struggling with the departure of elements of two 82nd Airborne Division combat teams to the Middle East, where casualties continue to mount. Two paratroopers with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team in Afghanistan died earlier this month. Staff Sgt. Ian Paul McLaughlin, 29, of Newport News, Virginia, and Pfc. Miguel Angel Villalon, 21, of Joliet, Illinois, were killed when their vehicle struck a roadside improvised explosive device. Two other U.S. soldiers from the 82nd Airborne were wounded in the attack, which occurred in the southern province of Kandahar, a spokesman for the division said.

“When our nation called for its best airborne combat engineers to deploy into harm’s way, Staff Sgt. McLaughlin and Pfc. Villalon answered without hesitation,” said Col. Art Sellers, Commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team.
Maj. Gen. James Mingus, the 82nd Airborne Division’s commanding general, added, “These paratroopers represent the very best of our nation and our Army. They will be honored, mourned, but never forgotten, and we are committed to taking care of their families for life.”

The U.S. also has the 82nd’s 1st Brigade Combat Team on duty in the Middle East. The entire unit’s 4,000 paratroopers were deployed following the killing of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani. The troops were deployed to Iraq, Kuwait and other parts of the region, overseen by the Army’s Central Command. Defense officials maintain that the additional soldiers were not a direct response to Soleimani’s death, but rather a continuation of an earlier announcement to beef up America’s military presence in the region, officials said.

McLaughlin and Villalon were assigned to the 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion at Fort Bragg. This was their first combat deployment.  McLaughlin joined the Army in 2012. His awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with “C” Device, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Army Good Conduct Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Combat Action Badge and the Basic Parachutist Badge. He was a 2018 graduate of the U.S. Army Advanced Airborne School Jumpmaster Course. McLaughlin is survived by his wife and four children. The couple’s youngest child was born while his father was deployed.
Villalon joined the Army in 2018. His awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal with “C” Device, the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal and the Combat Action Badge. Villalon is survived by his mother of Chicago, Illinois and father of Brownsville, Texas.

More than 2,400 American troops have died in Afghanistan since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion was launched in response to the 9/11 attacks. Most of the 20,000 international troops now in Afghanistan are focused on training and advising Afghan security forces, with a smaller contingent taking part in a counterterrorism mission.


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