Local News

Nation’s top military leaders have Fort Bragg connection

06 Gen Mark MilleyTwo prominent Army generals with ties to Fort Bragg have become the nation’s top military leaders.

During the Clinton administration, former 18th Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg Commanding Gen. Hugh Shelton was the first airborne officer to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Gen. Mark Milley served as commanding general of Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg before being named chief of staff.

President Donald Trump tapped Milley, 60, to lead the Joint Chiefs. Milley will replace Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, who was named to the post in 2015. Trump nominated Dunford for a second two-year term last year.

Trump tweeted, “I am pleased to announce my nomination of four-star General Mark Milley, Chief of Staff of the United States Army — as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, replacing Gen. Joe Dunford, who will be retiring.

“I am thankful to both of these incredible men for their service to our country! Date of transition to be determined.”

Milley’s military career has spanned numerous commands and staff positions in Special Forces and eight divisions, according to his Defense Department biography. Before being named chief of staff in 2015, Milley served in command and leadership positions in the 82nd Airborne Division and the 5th Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg.

Highly decorated, his awards include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal and the Army Distinguished Service Medal. A native of Winchester, Massachusetts, Milley graduated and received his commission from Princeton University in 1980.

In 2018, Milley was involved in deciding whether the Army would publish a controversial report on the Iraq War, a two volume, 1,300-page study. Milley reportedly decided that he wanted to read the entire 500,000-word study before deciding on publication. Milley also directed that an external panel of scholars review the work before he made a decision. The panel returned glowing reviews on the study, including one that described it as “the gold standard in official history.”

In September 2018, Secretary of the Army Mark Esper and other Army officials decided to distance themselves from the study by casting it as an independent work of the authors, instead of being described as a project by the chief of staff of the Army’s Operation Iraqi Freedom Study Group.

When confronted by a reporter with The Wall Street Journal in October 2018, Milley reversed the decisions and directed that the report be published officially with a foreword that he would write. He declared the team that wrote the study “did a damn good job,” that the study itself was “a solid work” and noted that he aimed to publish the study by the holidays (2018).

Within days of this revelation, two members of Congress who sit on the House Armed Services Committee, Reps. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., and Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., sent a letter to Army leadership expressing their anger with the Army’s delay of publication of the report. The study was published in January 2019.

Pictured: Gen. Mark Milley

Lumberton and Hope Mills see highway safety projects

05 1 I 95The North Carolina Department of Transportation is developing plans to widen almost 19 miles of I-95 between Lumberton and Hope Mills from four lanes to eight lanes. The project’s overall estimated cost is almost $450 million, with construction scheduled to start in 2026. The project will reduce congestion, lower the risk of crashes and enable the interstate to better handle anticipated traffic growth.

About 63,000 vehicles pass through exit 22 in Lumberton each day. By 2040, that figure is projected to exceed 95,000.
 
“This is one of the oldest parts of I-95 in our state, and we really need to modernize it and expand it,” said Grady Hunt, a Robeson County resident who represents the area on the North Carolina Board of Transportation.

Meanwhile, a busy intersection in east Fayetteville has been changed to a four-way stop to reduce the risk of crashes. The change at Clinton Road and North Plymouth Street is intended to reduce collisions. North Carolina DOT crews have added additional signs, converted the overhead flashers to red lenses in all directions and restriped the pavement.
Interim chancellor named for Fayetteville State University
Dr. Peggy Valentine, dean of Health Sciences at Winston-Salem State University, has been named interim chancellor of Fayetteville State University, the University of North Carolina System announced this month. She will fill in following former Chancellor James Anderson’s resignation in June. She starts Aug. 7, a news release said.

Valentine received a doctorate in education from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and a Master of Arts and a Bachelor of Science from Howard University.

Valentine is listed in Who’s Who of American Women. She has conducted research on homeless and minority issues and has published journals, textbooks and manuals on the subject. She is the founding editor-in-chief of The Journal of Best Practices in Health Professions Diversity.

She serves on the board of trustees for Novant Health and is secretary/treasurer of the North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research.
PWC Day

Want to learn more about Fayetteville’s Hometown Utility? Oct. 2 is PWC Day and will include tours of the Butler-Warner Generation Plant and water and wastewater plants. PWC will also provide an up-close look at power restoration, water main rehabilitation, PWC’s customer call center and emergency operations.

The day begins at the Public Works Commission headquarters at 955 Old Wilmington Rd. at 8 a.m. and runs until 3 p.m. Lunch and transportation to other PWC facilities will be provided. Transportation back to your car will be available should you need to leave at any point during the day. 
 
School’s out for the summer, but …

Teachers at Cumberland County School district’s year-round schools returned to their classrooms last week to prepare for the arrival of students this week. CCS Superintendent Marvin Connelly announced that every teacher is receiving $300 from the school system to purchase supplies and materials. This is in addition to any funds that teachers typically receive for classroom resources.

Providing support to teachers and staff is one of four major priorities in CCS’ Strategic Plan.

“I know how hard our teachers and staff work to prepare for our students each year,” Connelly said. “Many teachers spend personal funds to make sure their classrooms are just right for the first day of school. This is a small way for us to express our appreciation for all that our teachers do to provide robust learning experiences for every student.”
Indigo Moon Film Festival approaches

Fayetteville’s fourth annual Indigo Moon Film Festival is like a nerve center for great films from around the globe. The festival this year is set for Oct. 11-13.

Of course, film screenings are a major element of the festival. But there is much more. GroundSwell Pictures presents the festival, which takes place in downtown Fayetteville. It also features awards, barbecue, Q&A panels and more. The event organizers are seeking volunteers. Sign up at https://signup.zone/imff-2019.
 
4-H summer fun programs

Cumberland County 4-H is taking registrations for the 2019 Summer Fun Program. The 4-H staff has been planning lots of exciting activities for youth ages 5-19. Included in the Summer Fun Program are workshops, programs and field trips.

Young people will visit exotic animals, learn to knit with their fingers and how milk is processed, participate in a cooking competition and more. There will also be two arts and crafts days — just in time for Cumberland County Fair entries.

Teens will have an opportunity to spend two days in August exploring the North Carolina Mountains, taking a train ride and mining for gold.

For more information and to register, contact Jeanie Edwards at 910-321-6864 or via email at jeanie_edwards@ncsu.edu.

Cape Fear Valley Medical Center earns top safety awards

09capefearvalleymedCape Fear Valley Medical Center has been designated one of America’s safest hospitals by a national organization that monitors institutional patient safety. In 1999, the Institute of Medicine reported that nearly 98,000 Americans were dying annually because of medical errors. In response, a group of large employers formed The Leapfrog Group. Their goal was to collect data that ensures they are providing the best health benefits for their employees and to drive giant leaps forward in hospital safety. Thus, the name The Leapfrog Group was chosen.

The group developed the Leapfrog Hospital Survey, which assigns recognizable letter grades assessing the safety of general hospitals across the country: A, B, C, D and F.

Cape Fear Valley Medical Center was awarded an “A” rating this spring, acknowledging its efforts to protect patients from harm. The hospital survey system used 28 performance measures of patient safety. Details on those measures are available at hospitalsafetygrade.org. Across the country, 2,600 hospitals participated. The Leapfrog Group found that if hospitals with a grade lower than A are able to achieve the safety performance of A hospitals, an estimated 50,000 patient lives could be saved.

The 2017 American Hospital Association’s Annual Survey of patient admissions found that the number of avoidable deaths ranged from 3.24 lives per 1,000 admissions in A hospitals to 6.21 lives per 1,000 admissions in D and F hospitals. Overall results reflect average hospital performance in each grade category.

The information about hospital performance collected through the Leapfrog Hospital Survey is unique. “When they look into it, (you) realize how many things can go wrong in a hospital, and that makes a big difference,” said Leapfrog President and CEO Leah Binder. “That’s why I think it’s … important for us to highlight this in a way that’s easily accessible to laypeople.”

In addition to Leapfrog Group’s findings, Healthgrades has conferred three specialty clinical quality awards on Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, which include evaluation of patient safety.

The local hospital was ranked among America’s 100 Best Hospitals for the 2019 Cardiac Care Award. It also earned America’s 100 Best Hospitals’ Coronary Intervention Award for superior clinical outcomes in heart bypass surgery, coronary interventional procedures, heart attack treatment, heart failure treatment and heart valve surgery; and the 2018 superior clinical outcomes in coronary intervention procedures, which involve angioplasty with stent. Healthgrades evaluates hospital performance using objective quality measures, including patient safety, clinical outcomes and patient experience.

Cape Fear Valley Health System’s most recent honors included Get with the Guidelines — AFIB Gold Quality Achievement Award from the American Heart Association — for helping patients suffering from atrial fibrillation. Methods to aggressively reduce risks to prevent stroke and stabilize heart function were established. The American Heart Association estimates 2.7 million adults have AFIB, which is associated with a significant increased risk of stroke.

Cape Fear Valley is a private, not-for-profit health system governed by a 22-member board of trustees. The board includes the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners as well as physicians, registered nurses and various members of the community.

New Special Operations leader comes to Fort Bragg

08craigbishopFort Bragg is probably best known as headquarters of the famed 82nd Airborne Division. But it’s one of several major combat commands on post. They include U.S. Army Forces Command, Army Reserve Command, 18th Airborne Corps, Army Special Forces Command, the Army Special Operations Command, Joint Special Operations Command, John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, 95th Civil Affairs Brigade, 528th Sustainment Brigade (Airborne) and the 4th Military Information Support Group (Airborne). An estimated three dozen general officers, including a four-star and half a dozen three-star generals, are stationed at Pentagon South, as Fort Bragg is colloquially known.

A veteran of the 75th Ranger Regiment is on his way to Fort Bragg to become senior NCO of the secretive Joint Special Operations Command. Command Sgt. Maj. Craig Bishop is currently the senior non-commissioned officer of the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas. He was named to replace JSOC Command Sgt. Maj. David Blake, according to a Pentagon press release.

JSOC oversees elite special operations strike forces, including the Navy’s SEAL Team six, the Air Force’s 24th Special Tactics Squadron and the Army’s Delta Force, officially designated the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment. JSOC is also responsible for studying special operations requirements, ensuring equipment standardization and developing joint tactics among special operations forces.

Bishop enlisted in the Army in September 1992 from Sweetwater, Tennessee. Over the course of his Army career, he has performed all NCO leadership positions, from team leader to command sergeant major for the 75th Ranger Regiment. Bishop has been through all levels of the NCO education system, including Special Operations Command Summit course and the Joint Special Operations Forces Senior Enlisted Academy.

Bishop will serve under Air Force Lt. Gen. Scott Howell, JSOC commander and the first Air Force general to lead the legendary unit that was born out of the Iran hostage crisis in 1980.

Since 9/11, few elements of the U.S. military have been more involved in the fight against terrorism than soldiers of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, or USASOC. Established at Fort Bragg on Dec. 1, 1989, to enhance the readiness of Army Special Operations Forces, USASOC also functions as the Army component of the U.S. Special Operations Command, which is located at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida. In Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and numerous other hotspots around the world, USASOC soldiers have been among the first forces to deploy in support of U.S. and coalition force objectives.

Many of these soldiers, most of them having served in numerous combat rotations, remain deployed to those locations along with conventional forces and multinational partners to help ensure the success of all GWOT operations, whether in a frontline combat role or a humanitarian assistance function. Green berets ordinarily serve shorter deployments than traditional forces but are sent into combat more often.

Photo: Command Sgt. Maj. Craig Bishop

County high school grads awarded scholarships

07scholarshipCumberland County’s collective graduating class of 2019 has racked up more than $92 million in college scholarships. Local high school graduates earned $74.7 million in academic scholarships and $5.5 million in athletic scholarships, a Cumberland County Schools news release said.

Military scholarships, including those awarded by West Point Military Academy, Virginia Military Institute and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, totaled $10.2 million. Other awards of community and civic scholarships amounted to nearly $2 million.

This year’s scholarship dollar totals surpassed the class of 2018 by more than $800,000. The class of 2019 graduates will also be financing their higher education at Methodist University, Fayetteville State University, Duke University, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Morehouse College, Ohio State University, Livingstone College and dozens of others.

Department of Social Services helps fund those in need during the summer heat

The Cumberland County Department of Social Services is accepting Crisis Intervention Program applications from individuals and families who are in danger of experiencing cooling-related crises. Households are being served on a first-come, first served basis. The CIP fund will be in effect until all funds are exhausted.

Eligible families may receive more than one payment during the year. Benefits will vary based on the amount needed to alleviate the crisis, but will not exceed $600. Funds are paid directly to the utility provider.

A household is considered in a crisis if there is a person experiencing or in danger of experiencing a life-threatening or health-related emergency when assistance is not available from other sources.

Applications are accepted Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., at reception desk 23 on the second floor of the DSS building, 1225 Ramsey St. For information regarding eligibility criteria, call the Department of Social Services at 910-323-1540.

Register of Deeds staffers may beat their own school supply drive record

The Cumberland County Register of Deeds office is holding its 10th annual school supply fundraiser for homeless school children through Aug. 1. Individuals, businesses, civic groups and churches are encouraged to give. The Register of Deeds office hopes to collect supplies to fill 850 book bags, which will be donated to the estimated 650 homeless children in county schools. Some of the book bags will be set aside for relief events and the American Red Cross to help families that have experienced disasters.

The following school supplies are needed: pencils, pens, notebooks, rulers, composition books, folders, notebook paper, pencil sharpeners, erasers, glue sticks, crayons, toothbrushes, toothbrush cases, toothpaste and hand sanitizer. In addition to school supplies, gift cards or cash donations will be accepted. No checks, please.

Donated items can be dropped off Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Register of Deeds office in Room 114 of the Cumberland County Courthouse, 117 Dick St. For more information, call 910- 678-7775.

Vacation time at City Hall

It’s July, which means local government bodies are taking time off. Fayetteville City Council and Cumberland County Commissioners won’t be conducting regularly scheduled meetings until August. Fayetteville City Manager Doug Hewett took some time off last month so he can be on hand in the event something comes up.

National Airborne day

The 79th anniversary of U.S. Army airborne forces coincides with the 19th anniversary of the opening of downtown Fayetteville’s Airborne & Special Operations Museum. It opened Aug. 16, 2000.

The ASOM Foundation chose to celebrate National Airborne Day on Saturday, Aug.17, to maximize the opportunity for the public to visit and celebrate the museum’s anniversary. Visitors will see iconic static displays of the XVIII Airborne Corps, United States Army Special Operations Command, and 82nd Airborne Division, as well as period reenactors in the world-class museum.

ASOM is owned by the U.S. Army but operated by a local foundation. Local military and civilian officials decided to construct the facility in downtown Fayetteville rather than on Fort Bragg. They said at the time it was the most significant Army edifice in the civilian domain.

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