Local News

Railroad crossing repairs in May may cause traffic

240986602 4599863756693182 2834177216228375197 n CSX Transportation will be repairing several train crossings in May which will require motorists and traffic to find an alternate route.

The released schedule listed below is subject to change based on conditions and unforeseen circumstances such as inclement weather that delays maintenance and scheduling:

May 3-6: Hay Street at Hillsborough/Winslow Street
May 16: Johnson Street (Hope Mills)
May 19: Whitfield Street
May 23: Cumberland Street
May 23: Moore Street
May 23: Franklin Street at Winslow Street
May 23: Russell Street at Winslow Street

Drivers are advised to plan alternate routes on the above dates and allow for additional travel time to and from destinations while crossings are closed.

Local brewery markets support local growers, makers, farmers

DBA Pic 1 Last Sunday, April 3, marked the return of the Dirtbag Ales Brewery weekly Farmer's Markets. Vendors set up tables, under fabric gazebos laid their wares out with care. Lines often form before the market has officially opened at some stalls. The markets at Dirtbag began in April of 2016 before completing the facility that houses the brewery and taproom. And they have only grown. Dirtbag Ales Brewery now hosts five different types of markets, and they will run all year long.

"They have turned into this whole thing," said Shannon Loper, operations manager and event and marketing coordinator at Dirtbag Ales Brewery.

Weekly Farmers Markets
The farmer's markets were born from a love of all things local.

"The Farmer's Market came from our love and desire to source locally for our beers. So, strawberries, herbs and any type of fruit that we can source locally any type of grain, hops, any of that stuff that we can get North Carolina made we purchase, and we put into our products," Loper said.

This love of all things local is also evident in their Heroes Homecoming Pilsner.

"It is completely North Carolina-made, from the yeast to the grains to the hops to the label that went on the front of the can that we collaborated with the city of Fayetteville. Every bit of it was done right here in North Carolina," Loper explained.

Open every Sunday from early April until late November; the Dirtbag Ales Farmers Market boasts a variety of well-vetted vendors. Great care is taken to ensure the vendors and shoppers are well protected, and the items on offer meet all rules and regulations.

"We have quite a few rules that we established from the beginning," Loper said.

The market requires relevant health or Department of Agriculture inspections, and all vendors must have liability insurance.

Dirtbag Ales Brewery Market Manager Michelle Bruening realized early on in her position that certain vendors were no longer participating as their businesses grew and shifted into full-time brick-and-mortar ventures.

"You have to think of us as like an incubator. People come here … and they grow, and you have to be proud of them when they move into a brick-and-mortar establishment, and you have to say, 'you guys did it, good job,' and now look for somebody to replace them," Loper explained.
Bruening and Loper have a lot to be proud of; Napkins chef Brian Graybill is set to open Pan, a new restaurant on Hay Street, Ambery Edge, owner of Authentique food truck, is opening Vibe also on Hay Street, Vagabond Coffee opened on Hay Street in November, and Fräulein Pottery is set to open tomorrow, April 7 in downtown Fayetteville, to name just a few.

Misfit Markets transform into Night Markets
"We would have all the applications from these beautiful artists and these wonderful vendors that were not necessarily a fit for the Farmers Market," Loper said.

After many applications from vendors that were not quite the right fit for the farmer's market, Dirtbag decided to create the Misfit Market to offer them a venue to sell, and they have now transformed this market into their new Night Market.

"The Misfit Markets, we are super excited about this year because we are turning [them] into a full-blown Night Market," Loper explained.

The new Night Markets will be held on the last Wednesday of every month from April through November.
Marketgoers ' favorites will be in attendance, and Dirtbag has added café lights to their building and around their pavilion to provide ambiance and light. The vendors will be set up in and around the parking lot and the pavilion.

Bruening and Loper said they have 27 vendors lined up for the New Night Markets at the time of this interview.

"I really like how small it is because you feel more like you can talk to the vendor about their passion. It's a lot of people who are very passionate about what they are doing," Bruening said.

Shop Small Market
Loper's origins in the Women's Business Center of Fayetteville led to the inception of the Shop Small Market. While at the WBC, Loper helped with their capacity as a Shop Small Ambassador.

"When I left the WBC, we did a small shop market at the Legion Road location, and then we carried it over to here," Loper said.

The first year they had 12 to 15 vendors and only used social media to advertise this year, they used radio ads, and Bruening organized 54 vendors. Since its beginnings in 2016, the market has also seen the addition of music and food vendors. All vendors come from within 100 miles of the brewery, and it is held annually on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

"The impact on the local economy of what a small shop market does like that is huge, especially right before the holidays for some of these small businesses," Loper said.

German Christmas Market
The German Christmas Market originated with Hyatt Hakim, the brewery's long-term yoga instructor. The event started in her yoga studio.

"Hyatt's German and she was looking for a little bit of home, and Tito [Vernanrdo 'Tito' Simmons-Valenzuela, co-owner and brewer] brews fantastic German-style beers, so it was originally just a natural co-host for us. We were providing the German beers, and she was providing the Germans," Loper Laughed.

Dirtbag Ales Brewery donated beer for the first event, and the following year the moved it moved to its Legion Road location. This past year marked the sixth German Christmas Market, and it will be back next year.

Mini Markets
The Mini Markets have just ended for the year. These Markets run every other Sunday from January to March. They are exactly what they sound like — a smaller version of the Farmer's Market. A small selection of vendor shops in the Dirtbag Ales Brewery pavilion.

"People still wanted to be able to get their groceries when the Spring and Summer markets went away," Loper explained.

Markets are busy days at the brewery, and Loper attributes this to the support of the local community.

"I think that when Tito and I came here, and Jerry and Eric, the partners, it was huge for us to be able to make a space that represented our community … and to try to help as many small businesses as we possibly can. And non-profits, we work with a ton of non-profits as well," Loper said. "It's just the community wanted us to succeed, so they are behind us 100%, I feel like."

This year the markets will be featuring different non-profits as well. Visitors can learn about Kids Peace, an organization that supports local foster families, the John E. Pechmann Fishing Center, and N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission education facility or Fizzy Friends Bath Bombs, a pair of young entrepreneurs who donate their proceeds to support local school children. Dirtbag hopes to feature a new non-profit in every market. Any non-profits interested in space are invited to email vendors@dirtbagales.com.

Regardless of what marketgoers are searching for, Dirtbag seems to have a market on their calendar to help them find it. For additional information on the Dirtbag Ales Brewery Markets, visit their website www.dirtbagales.com or their Facebook page, Dirtbag Ales Farmers Market.

Special Prosecutor says no charges will be filed in the death of Jason Walker

A special prosecutor announced Thursday that no charges will be filed against an off-duty Cumberland County Sheriff's deputy accused of killing 37-year-old Jason Walker.

The incident happened on January 8 along Bingham Drive and Shenandoah Drive. Witnesses told police that Walker jumped on the hood of a truck. Inside the truck was Lieutenant Jeffrey Hash, his wife and Hash’s teenage daughter. Walker allegedly tore off the driver’s windshield wiper and started to hit the windshield.

The windshield was cracked and shards of glass were coming into the truck, which was confirmed by the Fayetteville Police Department.

One of the witnesses was Jason Walker’s father.

“He was out here in the daggone street when that fellow drove up. He jumped up on the guy’s hood, the guy got out…started shooting,” Walker told officers. “He pulled out one of the daggone windshield wipers, and he hit the windshield with the wiper.”

Hash told police that he shouted at Walker to stop and he then got out of the truck. Hash said that Walker lunged at him and had something in his hand. Hash told police that he wasn’t sure whether it was the windshield wiper or something else. Hash pulled his .9mm pistol out and shot Walker four times.

The Fayetteville Police Department was the first to be at the scene. Police Chief Gina Hawkins shortly turned the case over to the State Bureau of Investigations. The SBI, after conducting the investigation, turned the case over to the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys.

The autopsy revealed that one bullet entered Walker’s lower chest and traveled through his chest, hitting multiple vital organs. Another bullet entered the top of Walker’s head and lodged in Walker’s spinal cord. A third bullet entered the front of the thigh and exited the left thigh. The last bullet entered Walker’s left-back and exited the left side.

The report shows that with the wounds as they were, Walker’s back was not facing Hash when he was shot, rather Walker was standing to the side.

The SBI report also states that the woman who was at the scene, Elizabeth Ricks, who identified herself as a trauma nurse and applied pressure to Walker’s wounds at the scene, was not and has never been a nurse. Ricks made several public statements following Walker’s death about how she felt a faint pulse when EMS arrived. EMS and multiple other witnesses confirmed that Walker was dead when EMS arrived.

Other evidence found in the SBI investigation showed that two drops of Walker’s blood was found on the interior of the driver’s door near the door pocket. The SBI concluded that this was consistent with Walker being on the hood of the truck and moving toward the driver’s door when shot.

The NC Conference of District Attorneys made the decision not to file any criminal charges against Hash after reviewing the state's evidence, according to a letter from Executive Director, Kimberly Overton Spahos.

"The shooting was indisputably tragic, but based upon these facts, the state of North Carolina will not be able to provide beyond a reasonable doubt that the shooting of Jason Walker was unlawful. Consequently, our office will not be seeking charges related to the death of Jason Walker, " Spahos wrote in the letter to the SBI.

“While it is possible that Walker’s intent was not to enter the truck or to injure Hash or his family, the analysis in every self-defense case requires that we put ourselves in the position of the person who used deadly force. Hash was driving down a public roadway with his family in the vehicle when Walker charged the truck, mounted it, and began a violent assault upon the vehicle. Hash’s entreaties to stop and get off the vehicle were ignored, and when Hash exited the truck, Walker’s offense shifted from the truck to Hash himself,” Spahos wrote. “We cannot view these events from the comfort of our desks after cool reflection, as Hash was not granted the luxury of time and reflection. Instead, he had to make a split-second decision. Additionally, while it is possible that other alternatives were available to Hash, the analysis is not and cannot be whether his actions were the only option or event the best option. When determining whether criminal charges are filed, the question is whether the State can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the action he took violated the law.”

Hash was put on administrative paid leave from the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office the day after the shooting. He will remain on leave until after the Sheriff’s Office conducts its own internal investigation.

Volunteers needed for clean up

Fay clean up “Better Together” is the theme of this year’s initiative to clean up Cumberland County.

Just in time for Earth Day and National Volunteer Week, Fayetteville Beautiful and Cumberland Clean invite volunteers to grab a pair of gloves and a few trash bags for some spring cleaning in Fayetteville on Saturday, April 23, from 8 a.m. to noon.

These events, which happen twice a year, have only grown in popularity since their establishment in September 2006. In the fall of 2021, the most recent event welcomed over 500 volunteers who picked up nearly five tons of trash from over 100 miles of Fayetteville’s streets.

“The goal is to attract as many people as we can,” said Jessica Howell, management analyst for the City Of Fayetteville Parks and Recreation Department. “This event is so important because we want to love where we live and take pride in our city. Litter is at an all-time high with the problem steadily growing.”

For those willing to accept it, the mission is a fairly straightforward one. Volunteers can sign up as individuals or teams with supply pick-up between 9 and 11 a.m. Participants sign up to clean a particular area such as a neighborhood, street or stretch of highway and leave their haul in a designated area for pick up.

Fayetteville Beautiful and Cumberland Clean volunteers will receive a t-shirt, trash bags and water before getting started. For the first 100 participants, donuts and other goodies await.

As an added enticement, there will be a photo contest with a prize for those who snap a pic with the most trash bags.
When speaking about this initiative with Anna Chott, the Waste Management Project Coordinator at Sustainable Sandhills, words like “awareness” and “impact” came
up often.

“As an environmental non-profit, we want to be picking up less litter in twenty years,” she said. “We’ve seen other cities and counties get control of their litter problem, and this is what it takes. Volunteers make a difference, but it takes awareness, litter pick-up, enforcement and education.”

“We recently conducted a survey and learned that much of the litter in this area comes from open trucks and the debris that blows from them. Reusable containers, water bottles, grocery bags, all of those things make a difference,” Chott explained.

Ultimately, these two events work as a call to action for the citizens of Fayetteville and neighboring areas to make this city the best it can be, which both women feel is at the core of the event’s success.

“We work closely with Cumberland County, Spring Lake and Hope Mills, which have their events happening, and we’re all spending this Earth Day weekend making our cities more beautiful,” Chott said.

Howell echoes the sentiment, adding, “everybody from surrounding areas comes together to work toward the same goal: keeping our city and county clean.”

To register online with Fayetteville Beautiful, visit fayettevillebeautiful.com. Group representatives should include the total number of volunteers in their online form. Volunteers should scroll down to the active map and select a clean-up location before registering.

To register with Cumberland Clean, email Tim Middleton at tmiddleton@co.cumberland.nc.us or call 910-321-6907.

Spring Lake PD hosts annual Torch Run for Special Olympics

torch The Spring Lake Police Department will host the annual Special Olympics Law Enforcement Torch Run April 23 at 9:00 a.m. at Veteran's Park.

“We are known as the Guardians of the Flame and we support the athletes who have intellectual and physical disabilities in life,” said Napolean McCormick, Evidence Sergeant and Special Olympics coordinator.

“Everyone knows about the Olympics that occur every four years, but the Special Olympics summer games occur annually during the first week in June in Raleigh and the funds that we raise goes toward the equipment, uniforms, and other resources they need to help host their games,” he said.

McCormick added that many of the police officers attend the summer games and the officers present the medals to the athletes at their games.

The Spring Lake Police Department’s fundraising goal is $10,000.

“Yes, our goal is $10,000, but I will be happy if we get $7,000 so we can get our name on the back of the Special Olympics t-shirt,” said McCormick. “If we get our name on the back of the shirt it shows that Spring Lake is heavily involved with Special Olympics.”

The run is approximately two and a half miles long.

“The runner will start at the flag pole at the intersection of Main Street and Ruth Street,” said McCormick. “Then they will continue up Main Street through town; circle the roundabout on the bridge; go across the bridge; turn left and run towards Lillian Black Elementary School; make a right on the street at the stop sign and run around the back of the school and come back to the flag pole.”

He added, “If you are walking you will round the bridge and turn around and come back to the flag pole.”

The Special Olympics is a worldwide movement that was founded in the 1950s by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the sister of former President John F. Kennedy. She observed that individuals with intellectual and physical abilities were treated unfairly so she decided to take action. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her efforts.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics North Carolina began in 1987 and raises more than 1.3 million for Special Olympics North Carolina each year and serves nearly 40,000 athletes.

“We are asking for donations or to purchase a Special Olympics t-shirt or beach towel for $20,” said McCormick.

“If you would like to get your name on the Special Olympics t-shirt, you can do this by becoming a corporate sponsor.”

“It is not a race, it is a symbolic thing showing the community that we are supporting Special Olympics and these athletes,” said McCormick. “We are asking everyone to come out and support this worthy cause.”

Join the Spring Lake Police Department as a “Torch Run Warrior.” Runners will receive a certificate of participation.
Sponsorship information is available at www.sonc.net.

There is no entry fee. Registration starts at 8:15 a.m. on the day of the run.
For more information call 910-237-9470.


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