Local News

Heroic paratrooper dies

Legendary World War II paratrooper Lt. Col. James “Maggie” Megellas, one of the 82nd Airborne Division’s original “Devils in Baggy Pants,” died April 2 at his home in Colleyville, Texas. Megellas died three weeks after celebrating his 103rd birthday. His death was announced by the 82nd Airborne Division in a Facebook post on April 3 that said, in part, “This loss will be felt by us all. Remember, Paratroopers never die, they just slip away.”

Widely written about and portrayed in movies, Megellas’ wartime heroics occurred when he was a platoon leader in Company H, 3rd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment during World War II. In several combat engagements, he earned the Distinguished Service Cross, two Silver Stars, two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts, making him the most decorated officer in the history of the 82nd Airborne Division.

He was first wounded in action in Italy in the mountains above Naples. He also jumped into the Netherlands during Operation Market Garden, made the crossing of the Waal River near Nijmegen and served in the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium. He often told the story of his unit and its crossing of the Waal River in rowboats, a scene that is portrayed in the 1977 classic film “A Bridge Too Far.” Discharged from the Army as a captain, Megellas continued serving in the Army Reserve and retired as a lieutenant colonel, according to his biography.

Fayetteville Technical Community College remembers Sen. Rand

FTCC was likely the community’s biggest benefactor of the late Tony Rand’s many legislative accomplishments. The former North Carolina Senate Majority Leader was a tremendous friend to the college and all aspects of public education, said FTCC President Larry Keen. 

The college student center is named for Rand, who died late last month at the age of 80.

“A giant in our community has been lost,” said Keen. “No one had more compassion for our diverse population than Tony Rand.”

He represented Cumberland County for more than two decades in the Senate. Rand served on the FTCC Foundation’s board of directors for 16 years, from 1992 to 2008, and in 2003 was the first person to be named an honorary trustee of the college. In 2004, because of his leadership and financial support, FTCC was able to build and renovate its campus facilities, including the student center, the Center for Business and Industry, the Continuing Education Center, the Health Technologies Center, the Advanced Technology Center and the Early Childhood Education Center. Keen also noted that the senator’s leadership was key in the passage of a 2000 bond referendum for higher education, which provided FTCC with more than $38 million. That money was used to open an FTCC location in Spring Lake and build the Virtual College Center and the Horticulture Technology Center.

Rand was influential in the establishment of the North Carolina Military Business Center and making sure it was part of the community college system, with headquarters at FTCC, said Scott Dorney, the center’s executive director.

Face coverings have become necessary
for some

Cape Fear Valley Health System patients and Cumberland County Courthouse visitors must bring their own face masks when receiving care at the hospital or responding to courthouse needs to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Cape Fear Valley recently made it mandatory for staff to wear face coverings in hallways, meeting rooms and shared workplaces. The updates were implemented as a result of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised infection prevention recommendations. Approximately 50% of people who are spreading the coronavirus have no symptoms, and half of them never develop symptoms.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all patients, health care personnel and visitors wear cloth face coverings over their mouths and noses to contain their respiratory droplets. This decreases the likelihood of anyone with unrecognized COVID-19 infection exposing others. Local churches and businesses have donated cloth masks, personal protective equipment and supplies to Cape Fear Valley Health in recent weeks.

Masks should be worn when visiting any Cape Fear Valley hospital, clinic or outpatient facility.

 Airborne & Special Operations Museum support encouraged

The Airborne & Special Operations Museum’s doors are closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but researching and documenting artifacts, providing social media content and preparing to reopen the museum by early summer has kept the staff and supporters busy. Since 2000, ASOM has chronicled important battles and heroic achievements from times past, building a solid foundation of airborne and green beret combat. “This place gave me goose bumps,” said one visitor.

“That’s why planning now for the future has never been more important to our entire team,” said
Renee Lane, executive director of the museum’s foundation.

Lane said donations help staff and volunteers to continue engaging and inspiring visitors and educating 12,000 students every year. “Every dollar benefits those who walk through our doors and experiences history,” Lane said.

The downtown Fayetteville world-class institution is one of the few military museums built and operated off reservation grounds.

Meals for local school children continue to be available

All Cumberland County Public School meal sites, including bus routes, have been modified to a three-day weekly operation. Meals are now being distributed on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, children will receive two days of meals that include frozen entrees with heating instructions. Altogether, five days of breakfast and lunch meals will continue to be provided. The Douglas Byrd Middle School has resumed serving meals. Cumberland County Schools closed that site for two weeks after a worker tested positive for COVID-19. Visit http://bit.ly/mealpickup for more information about meal service distribution.

Unattended cooking causes half of Fayetteville’s housefires

08 FFD E 15 2A recent house fire nearly claimed the life of the resident at his home on Brockwood Street in Cliffdale West. The man, whose name is being withheld, told authorities he was overcome by smoke. Fortunately, a neighbor heard a smoke alarm and saw smoke billowing from the eaves of the roof and called 9-1-1. Fayetteville Fire Department units responded to the alarm.

Engine 15 was the first to arrive. Captain Shane Flack confirmed with communications that there was a working fire. Engine 11 and Rescue 2 were on the way, but additional units were dispatched. Battalion Chief Jason Davis said the house was locked with no indication that anyone was home.

As Engine 11 and Rescue 2 arrived, Lt. Beau Culbreth and firefighter Joey Regenhardt forced entry into the house and found the resident unresponsive in the foyer. They pulled the victim out of the house as Firefighters David Cosme-Reyes and Jeremiah Williams advanced a hose line inside to extinguish the fire while also searching for other victims. Captain L.B. Herndon, Lt. Culbreth and firefighter Stacy Ritchie began first aid treatment in the front yard.

The crews inside quickly got the fire under control and completed a search of the entire house. No other victims were found inside. The resident “told us that he had put a pan on the stove to heat up. He left it unattended … and lost track of time,” Battalion Chief Davis said. “When he realized there was smoke in the house, he found the fire too far advanced to put out.”

He was overcome by the smoke on his way to the front door.

Additional fire department crews that arrived rotated in to relieve their colleagues and ensure that the fire was out. Meanwhile, the home occupant regained consciousness and was able to explain what happened leading up to the incident. “A lead medic from Cape Fear Valley EMS arrived and took over primary patient care, assisted by our personnel,” Davis added.

Davis said the fire crews that responded to the fire performed exactly as they have been trained. “Thankfully, we were called early enough to make a difference.”

Unfortunately, this was another fire started by unattended cooking. “Nearly half the house fires we respond to are the result of unattended cooking, and we average a little over one building fire a day,” Davis said.

Seven thousand people are injured in kitchen fires each year in the U.S., and that doesn’t include those who are killed, according to the Fire Safety Advice Center. The kitchen is the single most dangerous place in the home. Time and again, the same problem causes many fires — unattended cooking.

The most important point about cooking is to avoid being distracted. If called away by the phone or by someone at the door, take pans off the heat. It’s easy to forget about them. Turn saucepan handles so they don’t stick out where they can accidentally be knocked over and make sure they aren’t over another stove element. Oven gloves and towels should not be left on the stove after they’ve been used.

By exercising caution, the risk of a kitchen fire can be eliminated. But if a fire does flare up, occupants need to be prepared. Officials say not to fight the fire but leave the scene, call 9-1-1 for help, and let the fire department control the fire.

Fort Bragg troops to return from Middle East

07 01 Iraq US EmbassyParatroopers who rapidly deployed to the Middle East at the beginning of the year in response to growing tensions with Iran have gotten the green light to come back home.

“I’m excited to tell you that their redeploy-ment has been approved, and they will begin their journey home in the next several weeks,” said Maj. Gen. James Mingus, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division, in a message posted on Twitter.

“The paratroopers and our families have had a historic deployment,” Col. Andrew Saslav, the brigade commander, said in a Facebook video. Seven hundred fifty soldiers with the Immediate Response Force started deploying New Year’s Eve in response to an attack on the American embassy in Baghdad. All tolled, 3,500 paratroopers of the 1st Brigade Combat Team deployed at the beginning of the year. Near the end of February, 800 of them had returned to Fort Bragg, but because of continued tensions in the region, the rest of the brigade had been unable to. Mingus’ message said that soldiers would need to quarantine for 14 days upon returning home. No paratroopers have tested positive for COVID-19. He added that soldiers would be able to quarantine at home.

07 02 I 295 FutureLocal highway construction delayed

The North Carolina Department of Transpor-tation is pumping the brakes on major pro-jects in the year ahead. A news release from DOT states that as people across North Carolina take measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, traffic volumes and car sales have plummeted, causing a $300 million budget shortfall this fiscal year, which ends June 30. Because NCDOT revenue is fully funded through the Motor Fuels Tax, Highway Use Tax and DMV fees, all but about 50 major projects scheduled to start in the next 12 months are being delayed, the release said. A segment of the future I-295 in Cumberland County from Raeford Road to Camden Road, which is not yet under contract, has been delayed until August 2022. An I-95 eight-lane widening project in Harnett and Johnston counties has been delayed until July of next year. DOT spokesman Andrew Barksdale said the proposed interstate widening project through Fayetteville will not be delayed.

“That particular contract will not change, no work is suspended. We’ll continue to fund it,” he said.

The Raeford Road median project and road-way upgrade has been delayed until February 2022.

07 03 Microfiber Untitled design The Army solves the face protection issue

Four-ply microfiber cloth is the best material to use for homemade face coverings to protect against COVID-19. Army researchers at the service’s Chemical Biological Center said in a news release that microfiber cloth filters out 75% of problem-causing particles. The material can be found in the cleaning sections of most big stores. The N-95 mask is able to filter out 90% of particles, the Army said.

“The challenge is to pick a material that effectively blocks the virus particles from going through the material while not being too hard to breathe through,” said David Caretti, chief of the Chemical Biological Center’s protection and decontamination division. 

Researchers determined microfiber does well after testing more than 50 materials. Salt particles used to test the filter were about the same size as coronavirus microns.

07 04 telemedicine devicesHospital system wins $50K grant

Cape Fear Valley Health System’s Medical Foundation has received a $50,386 grant from Truist Financial Corporation to buy telemedicine equipment needed to help treat COVID-19 patients. The grant is part of the financial service company’s Truist Cares initiative. The firm announced a $25 million philanthropic pledge in March to support basic needs, medical supplies and financial hardship relief due to COVID-19. The new telemedicine equipment will allow the Cape Fear Valley Health System’s hospitals and outpatient clinics to provide remote patient health assessments and care.

“Telemedicine has become essential in reaching all of our patients at a time when we have to adjust the way we care for people,” Cape Fear Valley CEO Mike Nagowski said.

“Hospitals and health systems are having to rethink their approach to patient care during this challenging time,” said Phil Marion, Eastern North Carolina regional president for Truist. “Cape Fear Valley is delivering critical services to more members of our community through telemedicine, and we are proud to support them in this effort.”

07 05 s l400Twenty-year-old cold case solved

The Fayetteville Police Department’s Cold Case Sexual Assault Unit have arrested two men in connection with a rape which occurred in February 1990. Jack Blackwell, Sr., 59, of Fayetteville and Bruce Wayne Miller, 56, of Spring Lake have been charged with first-degree rape and common law robbery.

The victim told police she was staying at a local motel in the 2300 block of Gillespie St. and was sexually assaulted and robbed of her belongings. Blackwell has been jailed under $50,000 secured bond. Miller is incarcerated in at the Federal Correctional Institution in Sumterville, Florida, on charges stemming from the robbery of a convenience store. The initial 1990 investigation went unsolved, but the rape kit from this case was recently tested.

A Federal Bureau of Justice Assistance grant has funded updates of older investigations, and Blackwell was identified as a suspect. City police encourage anyone with information concerning a sexual assault case to contact the Fayetteville Police Department’s Special Victim’s Unit at 910-433-1851 or Crimestoppers at 910-483-TIPS (8477).  

Child Advocacy Center: Building a safer community

08 02 lipsyncApril is Child Abuse Awareness Month, but one local organization, the Child Advocacy Center, works tirelessly all year long to serve children in the Cumberland County community.

 Headed by longtime Fayetteville resident Roberta Humphries with support from a well-trained and compassionate staff and many capable volunteers, the Child Advocacy Center is a nonprofit organization that provides multidisciplinary services for children and families affected by sexual abuse or severe physical abuse across the county. It is accredited by the National Children’s Alliance and adheres to 10 established national standards. 

08 03 image001The beneficial impact of the work of the Child Advocacy Center is tremendous. In 2019 alone, the Center received 730 reports of suspected sexual and/or physical abuse for children under 18. The Center conducted 416 forensic interviews for children between the ages of 3-17. 

The organization is on the frontlines, fighting abuse in several key ways. “The CAC brings together, in one location, child protective services investigators, law enforcement, detectives, prosecutors, and medical and mental health professionals to provide a coordinated, comprehensive response to victims and their caregivers,” Roberta Humphries, the executive director of the Child 08 04 N1904P15004HAdvocacy Center, said. 

“The CAC also provides professional and community education related to child abuse prevention and interviention and is active in raising awareness in the community around the issue of child abuse through various community events.” 

The Center partners with numerous agencies to accomplish their objectives. “We work with all of the following agencies: Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, Fayetteville Police Department, Hope Mills Police Department, Spring Lake Police Department, CID from Fort Bragg, State Bureau of Investigation, Federal Bureau of Investigation,  Child Protective Services with CCDSS, District Attorney’s Office, Cumberland County District Court, Medical services at Southern Regional AHEC, Womack Army Medical Center and Cape Fear Valley Hospital, Rape Crisis, Alliance Health, Guardian ad Litem Program, Army Community Services and the Family Advocacy Program,” said Humphries. 

Another way the Center helps the communinty is through education, providing child abuse prevention education to 2,325 adults.

Additionally, more than 2,000 children received body safety instruction through storytimes that were held at 60 different locations during November 2019. 

A whopping 401 families received victim advocacy services. Children and caregivers received 315 mental health therapy appointments. The center also held group counseling for girls that meets every week and for boys every other week. Twenty-six case reviews were held with 242 reviewed by the full multi-disciplinary team. 

Even during tought times, the Center continues to serve the community. In keeping with the orders from Gov. Cooper, and in efforts to work safely, the Center has  limited the number of people that can be in the Center at any one time maintaining recommended safety and cleaning procedures.

“Currently our Center is still open, responding to requests from our partners to provide the forensic interview for children with allegations of abuse,” Humphries said. “We also continue to provide victim advocacy and counseling services.”

 Like many organizations, the CAC has taken advantage of available technology to accomodate as many people as possible. “We are offering counseling services via FaceTime or through Zoom meetings,” said Humphries. 

 The Center’s services are always in demand and there are many ways to help. While the numbers of reports of abuse in the community are staggering, the amount of people who have received assistance from the Center speaks volumes about the people who serve through the Center. The Child Advocacy Center has volunteer opportunities available throughout the year. “(In 2019), 1,283 hours of service were contributed by volunteers,” Humphries said. 

Some of the tasks of volunteers include providing clerical support to the center or making no-sew blankets, which are made from tying two pieces of fleece fabric together, and assembling care packages. 

Generous donations, whether they are monetary or commodities, are helpful. “We need individually wrapped snacks and juice boxes. Donations of office supplies, gift cards to Chick-fil-A, Biscuitville, Panera Bread, Krispy Kreme, Dunkin Donuts, Harris Teeter, Staples, Lowes, etc. are always beneficial,” said Humphries. Additionally, the CAC needs volunteers to assist with fundraising and special events throughout the year. Fayetteville’s Ultimate Lip Sync Showdown and the Pinwheel Masquerade Ball & Auction are two of the CAC’s most popular events. The Lip Sync Showdown invites members of the community each year to compete for titles by lip syncing their favorite tunes. There will also be a drawing for a smart TV, an Apple iPad, and a weekend getaway in Fayetteville with hotel and gift cards valued at $500. Tickets are $5 each or 5 for $20 and are available at the CAC. The fundraiser accounts for about 20% of the CAC’s funding each year. The event has been postponed until June 20 and will take place in the Crown Ballroom. The Pinwheel Masquerade Ball, which offers an evening of fun at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden, is scheduled for Sept. 26. Visit https://www.childadvocacycenter.com/ for more information about the events

 In particular, the Center currently has a need for cleaning supplies like disinfectant spray, as well as masks for adults and children. Thanks to the Cumberland County Community Foundation, the Center has some emergency funding, but more support is always appreciated to fund the operations of the Center. In the midst of the current pandemic, experts have predicted that added stressors will lead to more abuse. With that being the case, the CAC is continuing their work to help alleviate the potential problems. 

For more information about the ways that the Child Advocacy Center serves the community, or to support the center, visit https://www.childadvocacycenter.com/ or call 910-486-9700.

Bragg Mutual Federal Credit Union says ‘thank you’ to hundreds of health workers

07 02 BraggMutual3 Sabrina Brooks and Major Gifts Officer Marge Betley from the Cape Fear Valley Health Foundation were on hand April 22 at Cape Fear Valley Hospital to greet Bragg Mutual Federal Credit Union CEO and President Steve Foley and District 45 State Rep. John Szoka as they delivered 200 lunches to dedicated and hardworking hospital staffers and nurses.

 Bragg Mutual has three locations in Fayetteville and Cumberland County and is a full-service financial institution dedicated to helping local residents better their financial status through education and thrift. According to Foley, Bragg Mutual and its employees wanted to recognize the health service workers and thank them personally for their sacrifices during this COVID-19 crisis. 

The very next day, Foley and Bragg Mutual Volunteers took another 200 lunches to the VA Medical Center on Ramsey Street, where nurses and hospital staffers are working around the clock taking care of our veteran military service members who have served our country so gallantly.

 07 BMFCULunchThat was 400 meals in two days. Bragg Mutual met the challenge with the assistance of local catering company The Vine/Two Brothers Catering owners by Brad and Kelley McLawhorn. Despite their current hectic schedule fulfilling a massive and demanding daily contract for Fort Bragg, the McLawhorns collaborated with Bragg Mutual to prepare the 400 healthy individual boxed lunches for the hospital and the VA staffers and nurses. Each prepared lunch included a fresh deli turkey sandwich, macaroni salad, potato chips and for dessert, a slice of Two Brothers’ special carrot cake. Also, credit union members from Up & Coming Weekly and Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop also included an extra special gift — a sweet treat packet of candy. This heartwarming gesture was the near-perfect example of the people helping people philosophy that has made Bragg Mutual Credit Union such a valuable asset to the Fayetteville community for over seven decades. 

Rep. Szoka, chairman of the board of Bragg Mutual, encourages such local community involvement. “Bragg Mutual Federal Credit Union has always been focused on helping our community, and we’re glad to show our appreciation to our hardworking health care professionals throughout the area,” said Szoka, an appropriate statement coming from the man who was chosen the 2019 National Volunteer of the Year by the National Association of Federally Insured Credit Unions. This prestigious award honors credit union volunteers who demonstrate leadership, dedication to Credit Union members, commitment to professionalism, service to Credit Union staff, and uphold the values of the community. Both Szoka and Foley demonstrate those qualities every day and work to bestow them in everyone they come into contact with the Credit Union.

We salute all our community health care workers serving the hospitals and medical clinics, along with the work, commitment and dedication of businesses like Bragg Mutual Federal Credit Union and people like Foley and the staff of the credit union. Our community is made better because of their presence and support. The same can be said for Cape Fear Valley Health Foundation and the McLawhorns of The Vine / Two Brothers Catering company. No doubt, heroes work here in Fayetteville and Cumberland County.

Want to give back time, money or words of encouragement?

Bragg Mutual Federal Credit Union: www.braggmutual.orgSteve Foley, CEO: sfoley@braggmutual.org

Vine/Two Brothers Catering: 910-584-9892

Brad McLawhorn: twobrotherscatering06@gmail.com

McLawhorn: twobrotherscatering06@gmail.com

Fear Valley Health Foundation: www.cfvfoundation.org/

Marge Betley, Major Gifts Officer: mbetley@capefearvalley.com 910-615-1358

VA Medical Center: 910-488-2120


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