- Tuesday, 27 August 2019
- Written by Jeff Thompson
North Carolina will celebrate the birthday of Revolutionary War hero Marquis de LaFayette Friday and Saturday, Sept. 6-7 in Fayetteville.
Fayetteville was the first city in the nation named for the French nobleman when the State Assembly combined the towns of Cross Creek and Campbellton in 1783. It is the only namesake city Lafayette visited, even though there are many communities named for him. Festivities begin Friday evening with “Arias and Artifacts” in Davis Memorial Library at Methodist University. Tickets can be purchased at City Center Gallery & Books at 112 Hay St. or by calling 910-678-8899. The Lafayette Trail Tour takes place Saturday at 8:30 a.m., starting with coffee and croissants at the Fayetteville Independent Light Infantry, 210 Burgess St. Guests will see places that Lafayette visited when he was here in 1825. Reservations are required. Call 910-678-8899. Saturday, the Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex will celebrate Lafayette’s birthday and the American Revolution with the annual Festival of Yesteryear: Revolution on the Cape Fear, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., in Arsenal Park.
Ice hockey gets a boost at the Crown Coliseum
Capital improvement projects underway at the Crown Coliseum will add years of life to the facility. The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners approved approximately $4.6 million to replace the coliseum ice system and ice floor and replace and paint two parking lots. These funds were available from local food and beverage tax proceeds that must be utilized by law for costs associated with Crown facilities. The ice floor, which covers the entire performance area of the coliseum, and the ice floor chiller were replaced earlier this month. Old concrete and piping were removed, and new piping was installed along with 410 cubic yards of concrete. The concrete will need 28 days to cure and will be ready for use in mid-September. The new ice system is expected to provide more than 20 years of efficient ice-making capabilities.
“Investment in capital projects at the Crown Complex ... (indicates) Cumberland County is committed to providing first-class entertainment facilities for its citizens,” said Engineering and Infrastructure Director Jeffery Brown.
Parking lot work to replace the Agri-Expo Center east parking lot and the Cooperative Extension parking lot is about 85% complete. Construction of the Crown Coliseum was completed in 1997. To see upcoming events at the Crown, go to crowncomplexnc.com.
Animal shelter adoptions a success
The Cumberland County Animal Shelter found homes, Aug. 17, for 162 animals during the nationwide Clear the Shelters event. Officials waived adoption fees for the day, resulting in 99 cats, 61 dogs and two guinea pigs being adopted. Twenty-two animal control staff members and 30 volunteers assisted more than 550 people who visited the shelter to see the available animals.
Dr. April Kelly, animal control staff veterinarian, met with families to answer questions and provide information abouts heartworms, fleas, ticks and other pet health topics. Friends of the Cumberland County Animal Shelter provided adopters with gift bags with pet-related items. People interested in pet adoptions can visit the animal shelter during regular business hours, Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. Visit http://bit.ly/CCAdoptablePets for more information on pet adoptions.
Operation Safe Travel
One of the goals of the North Carolina Highway Patrol is to reduce teenage driver crashes. To accomplish this objective, the State Patrol has requested the assistance of the Cumberland County Schools system to inform parents of high school students who drive to school to be aware of the following issues: speeding; seatbelt usage; limited provisional license violations; Level II driver restrictions, which means one teenage passenger; and distractions such as texting while driving and cellphone usage. Troopers are patrolling the main thoroughfares and roads that feed into county schools during the first two weeks of the school year. Parents are urged to make their teens aware that enforcement actions will be taken for substantial violations of motor vehicle laws.
Introducing the EMBLETC
The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners has named the sheriff’s training center in honor of former longtime Sheriff Moose Butler, who retired three years ago. Sheriff Ennis Wright asked the board to name the training center for Butler. Sheriff Wright provided a petition signed by 14 current and former elected officials supporting the endorsement.
The building, located next to the Animal Control Center on Corporation Drive, is now the Earl “Moose” Butler Law Enforcement Training Center.
Butler served as Cumberland County Sheriff for 22 years, from 1994 to 2016. The state-of-the-art training center was built during his tenure. It has an indoor firing range, munitions room, lecture rooms, a driver training pad and other features. It was built using money forfeited by drug dealers who were arrested and successfully prosecuted.
- Monday, 19 August 2019
- Written by Jeff Thompson
The U.S. Department of Justice wants to clear the way for the federal government to resume capital punishment. Some experts view it as a potential sign of things to come. There are currently four military death row inmates held at the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Two of the inmates were convicted of crimes in Cumberland County, North Carolina, in the 1980s: Ronald R. Gray and Timothy Hennis.
Gray, a former Army cook, was convicted in 1988 of four murders and several rapes in Fayetteville and at Fort Bragg. He appears to be the closest of the four to being put to death. Gray was initially given an execution date in 2008 after then-President George W. Bush approved it. But a stay was granted less than a week afterward. That stay of execution was lifted in 2016; he doesn’t face an immediate execution date.
Hennis, a former master sergeant, was convicted and sentenced to death for the murders of a Fayetteville woman and two of her children in 1985. Kathryn Eastburn, 5-year-old Kara and 3-year-old Erin were found dead in May 1985 at their Summerhill Road home off Yadkin Road. A third child, then 22-month-old Jana, was found alive. Hennis was tried three times and was initially convicted in Cumberland County Superior Court and sentenced to death. He won an appeal and was found not guilty during a new trial in Wilmington, North Carolina, in 1989. Hennis resumed his Army career and retired in 2004 as a master sergeant. The Army brought him out of retirement two years later when DNA evidence not available earlier linked him to the murders. He was court-martialed at Fort Bragg in 2010 and a military judge sentenced Hennis to death.
“Attorney General [William] Barr’s announcement does not affect the individual status of any of the four death row inmates,” a Department of the Army official said.
But the new Trump administration policy clears the legal path to resume using lethal injection for federal death row inmates. The eagerness of Trump’s DOJ to change the status quo could bode badly for Gray, Hennis and the other two inmates held at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks in Fort Leavenworth.
“If I were on death row, I would consider this a very bad sign, but not a sign that anything is happening immediately,” said Eugene Fidell, a Yale Law School lecturer on military justice. “There is going to be litigation over this.”
The military hasn’t executed anyone since 1961, though capital punishment remains a legal penalty under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice. In the 1970s, capital punishment was invalidated by the Supreme Court only to be reinstated later by the high court. In 1983, the Armed Forces Court of Appeals also ruled the death penalty unconstitutional. But it was reinstated by executive order by President Ronald Reagan the following year.
Retired Lt. Col. Jeffrey Addicott, a former Army judge advocate, said he hopes the DOJ guidance signals a change. “Hopefully it is a harbinger of things to come,” he said. “Obviously the military appeal system is broken, and hopefully, the DOJ’s decision will energize a revamping of the military’s appeal process so that the victims can have justice.”
Pictured from top to bottom: Ronald Gray, Timothy Hennis