Local News

Cumberland County Schools suspension study

07 CCSCumberland County Schools are charting a course to reduce out-of-school student suspensions. The school system and the Cumberland County Chapter of the NAACP recently held a forum to review strategies and develop new approaches to embrace restorative justice practices and reduce suspensions. Restorative justice is an approach in which the response to an incident is a meeting between the victim and the offender, the goal being to share their experience of what happened and create a consensus for what the offender can do to repair the harm from the offense.

Dozens of community stakeholders met at the Cliffdale Regional Branch Library for a School Discipline Forum, according to a news release provided by Cumberland County Schools. The forum, entitled Alternatives to Suspensions: Rethinking School Discipline, provided information on the effects of suspensions, aims to stop the school-to-prison pipeline and how the community can work together to improve academic and life outcomes for students.

Up & Coming Weekly asked CCS to elaborate on student racial inequities. Associate Superintendent Lindsay Whitley said the most up-to-date information that has been certified and can be released is from the 2017-2018 school year: “Out-of-school suspensions by ethnicity,” involved 6,526 African-American pupils compared to 1,175 whites. Lindsay said 45.09% of the student body was African-American. He did not respond to an inquiry as to what the administration attributed the imbalance, saying that “there are many factors that may contribute to suspension rates in CCS.”

Peggy Nicholson of the Youth Justice Project and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice acknowledged the work is being done to reduce suspensions and racial inequities, while noting that there is still more work to be done. She provided two major strategies to help CCS move forward — increasing institutional equity while decreasing suspensions and court referrals.

School Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelly, Jr. shared a variety of strategies that school officials currently use to reduce suspensions, including conferences with students and parents, restorative justice practices and positive behavioral interventions. “A suspension is not discipline — it is the consequence of an action,” said Connelly.

The National Center for Education Statistics disagrees saying “suspensions and expulsions are disciplinary actions taken by a school or district in response to a student’s behavior.”

Connelly added that “when students are not in school, they cannot learn. We’re committed to reviewing policies and procedures through an equity lens, with the goal of reducing the number of out-of-school suspensions and expanding alternatives to suspensions.”

The NCES notes that grade retention, suspension and expulsion are all associated with negative outcomes, such as an increased risk of dropping out of school. Retention, however, can be related to both disciplinary and academic issues; a student might be retained because of behavioral issues or because the student is not academically ready to progress to the next grade level.

“The forum was a call to action to create better outcomes for our youth,” said Emily Chapman Grimes, education committee chair for the NAACP. “We’ve talked about racial disparities in school suspensions for far too long. It’s time to do something. School leadership, community members, the NAACP and its coalition partners are ready to collaborate to create better outcomes for the youth in Cumberland County.”

Dozens of community stakeholders met at the Cliffdale Regional Branch Library for a School Discipline Forum, according to a news release provided by Cumberland County Schools.

Commissaries to sell beer and wine?

06 CommissaryMilitary commissary officials have stepped up their efforts to beef up savings, convenience and overall shopping experiences for customers. When are beer and wine coming to your commissary? No answer yet, according to DoD officials. Right now there is a limited test selling beer and wine in 12 military commissaries. Fort Bragg is not one of them. Commissary and exchange officials are “gathering and analyzing all factors related to beer and wine sales,” said DoD spokeswoman Jessica Maxwell.

The 12 test stores have limited selections and restricted floor space for beer and wine, typically a four-foot shelf space each for beer and for wine. The selections have been purposely kept small at the 12 stores, and are being culled and changed, said one industry source. Beer and wine sales are expected to be rolled out slowly to other stores, he said, as officials evaluate the initial sales and remain sensitive to the needs of customers and the military services’ desires to deglamorize alcohol.

One industry source said the Fort Myer, Virginia, commissary — the store closest to the Pentagon — has the best sales of all 12 stores. Although its selection is the smallest, its placement near the meat section is key, a local official said. “It’s all about where you put it, and how you stage it.”

Even with just four-feet of shelf space devoted to each of their beer and wine offerings, that store sold $165,596 worth of libations. Its wine sales brought it over the top: 66% of the sales were wine, which far surpassed the other 11 stores.
Following a 90-day pilot program in the last half of 2018, DoD decided to continue sales of beer and wine at the 12 test stores while it evaluated whether to expand sales to the rest of the system’s 226 commissaries in the U.S. and abroad. As of December 8, 2018, some $394,315 worth of beer and wine were sold in the 12 commissaries — $190,574 in beer, and $203,741 in wine, according to Lt. Col. Carla Gleason, a Pentagon spokeswoman.

The spirits industry had been hoping that a test of spirits sales at the commissaries might follow. But the DoD decided it will not move ahead with a pilot test for spirits. “The department has evaluated the sale of alcoholic beverages in commissaries,” Gleason said, “and stands by its original decision to limit sales to a small selection of beers and wines.”

“Spirits, wine and beer all compete for the same drinking occasions,” said David Ozgo, senior vice president for economic and strategic analysis for the Distilled Spirits Council. “By discriminating against spirits, the DoD is picking marketplace winners and losers and trying to dictate consumer preferences … excluding spirits puts us at a competitive disadvantage.”

Following a 90-day pilot program in the last half of 2018, DoD decided to continue sales of beer and wine at the 12 test stores while it evaluated whether to expand sales to the rest of the system’s 226 commissaries in the U.S. and abroad.

State funding released

05 Aerial ViewThe North Carolina Department of Transportation has begun distributing more than $147.5 million in state aid to municipalities. Powell Bill funds are distributed twice annually to 508 cities and towns across the state. The initial allocation of $73.8 million was sent out in late September. The next allocation in the same amount will be paid by Dec. 31. Powell Bill funds are used primarily for the resurfacing of streets within the corporate limits of municipalities but can also help pay for construction, improvements, repairs of streets and public thoroughfares — including bridges, drainage systems and curbs and gutters, as well as bikeways, greenways and sidewalks.

“Funding provided through the Powell Bill helps cities and towns pay for needed repairs, maintenance and construction of their transportation network,” said Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon. The amount each municipality receives is based on a formula set by the North Carolina General Assembly, with 75% of it based on population, and 25% based on the number of local street miles. Charlotte is receiving $20.5 million. Fayetteville’s allocation is $5.2 million.
School bus driver award

For Ellen Swinson, student safety is always her top priority. As a bus driver for Ashley Elementary School, she is constantly going the extra mile to ensure all students make it to and from school safely — even students who ride other buses. Recently, after finishing her route for the day, Swinson noticed a bus from Vanstory Hills Elementary had pulled over due to mechanical issues. She immediately stopped to help, offering the students an air-conditioned place to wait. After speaking with Vanstory’s administration, Swinson ended up finishing the bus route so that the students would arrive home on time. For literally going the extra mile, Swinson is Cumberland County Schools’ Extra Mile Award recipient for October. She was nominated under the Compassion category by Carolyn Ortiz, a teacher’s assistant at Ashley Elementary, who praised Swinson for putting children first. Swinson received a certificate and was recognized at the October Cumberland County Board of Education meeting.
Getting to sleep isn’t easy for everyone

Cape Fear Valley Health System has opened a fourth sleep center lab to help area residents get a good night’s rest. The new four-bed lab is now open at Hoke Hospital, located at 210 Medical Pavilion Dr. near Raeford. Cape Fear Valley Sleep Center in Fayetteville already serves a growing number of civilian and military patients in the region. The sleep centers treat a variety of sleep disorders, including sleep apnea, insomnia, narcolepsy, periodic limb movement, restless legs syndrome and more. The new Hoke sleep lab offers a wide array of testing, including Polysomnography, CPAP titration, daytime studies, multiple sleep latency tests and more. Cape Fear Valley also has sleep labs at Health Pavilion North in Fayetteville, Bladen Hospital in Elizabethtown and the main Sleep Center on Owen Drive in Fayetteville. Cape Fear Valley Sleep Centers are accredited by the American Association of Sleep Medicine and The Joint Commission.
The Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum

The Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum is a hub for history in downtown Fayetteville. From the history enthusiast to families looking for fun, there is something for everyone. Deep within the museum collection are artifacts that are a bit unusual. Many of these items are job-specific tools or household items that have become obsolete. Do you think you can identify them? Museum Collection Oddities is an exciting and interactive exhibit that opened Oct. 8 and will run into the 2020 calendar year. The museum is located 325 Franklin St. and is open to the public Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is free.

Energy Action Month

Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin has declared October Energy Action Month in the city. The proclamation acknowledges national Energy Action Month, a federal campaign by the U.S. Department of Energy to increase public awareness about energy conservation, efficiency and technology.

“Energy is one of our most vital resources,” Colvin said. “Accessible, viable, dependable and affordable energy resources are critical to the city of Fayetteville and to each and every one of our residents.” City employees and Fayetteville residents can support the mayor’s proclamation by being mindful of their energy use — not only during October but throughout the year.
31 Days of Love

The Cumberland County Public Library & Information Center system is participating in the 31 Days of Love campaign. Each branch is hosting pet-related programs and accepting donations of pet supplies for animals at the Cumberland County Animal Control Shelter. For animals at the shelter, responsible pet owners can make a difference by adopting animals. For those who are unable to adopt, donations are greatly appreciated and needed. The library is working to increase awareness of animal control services and to facilitate the donation drive. Donations can be delivered to any library location. Pet food, cat litter, toys, flea-control products, treats, shampoo, plastic crates and carriers are accepted.

The Truth about hemp and CBD and their future in North Carolina

14 01 TinctureEditor’s note: Though they are related, marijuana and hemp are not the same. A lot of that has to do with chemistry and how the plants are used. Hemp has a long and noble history. It’s used to make rope, textiles, shoes, food, insulation, paper, biofuel, paint, varnish and more. Locally, hemp’s history runs deep. The town of Robbins in Moore County was officially named Hemp from 1935-1943 because of its connection to hemp rope. Hemp was grown from Colonial times in southern Appalachian states, including North Carolina, until the early 1940s, when it was no longer legal to grow.
Hemp is back, though, and North Carolina is one of the states looking to explore its potential as a safe and healthy crop for its residents. It brings health benefits, medical benefits, potential economic benefits and more.
Let’s talk about hemp, what it is — and what it is not.
Cannabis. Marijuana. Hemp. Though related, these three pseudo-synonyms have important biological and functional differences. U.S. Marine Corps veteran Robert Elliot, owner of farmer for Broad River Hemp on Robeson St., sheds some light on this controversial topic:
“When you talk about hemp and you talk about marijuana, (the difference) boils down to what we call in the horticulture world – in the plant science world — a cultivar.” According to 14 02 joyce romero tC TOGGEODI unsplashElliot, cultivars are genetic characteristics that result from breeding. “Every single one of us are humans, but we’re all different,” Elliot said. “The same thing is true with plants.”
As varieties of the cannabis plant, hemp and marijuana share certain traits. One key cultivar, or genetic trait, that characterizes cannabis is THC — tetrahydrocannabinol. If a cannabis plant’s percentage of THC falls below 0.3%, we call it hemp. If it’s over 0.3%, we call it marijuana, Elliot said. “That is literally the definition of the whole thing.”
To clarify, hemp does not make a person high. And hemp plants aren’t likely to transition to marijuana in the growing process. According to Elliot, it’s all in the THC content. “Most cultivars of hemp, take for instance cherry, is so well known for never going over the limit for THC, it will always be a hemp plant.”
“Hemp and CBD oil are two different products too, and that’s extremely important for the consumers to know.” According to Elliot, CBD oil comes from hemp. Hemp oil contains less THC than CBD oil, and is therefore less effective.
CBD Products

So, why is CBD so popular? According to Elliot, CBD treats ailments like arthritis, inflammation, muscle pains and anxiety, naturally. “It’s the best of both worlds. (The) main demographic that we’re after is the older crowd, ‘cause they benefit the most from CBD.”

CBD products come in a variety of forms, and Elliot recommends that consumers use what works best for them. “The most common form on the market right now is tincture,” Elliot said, referring to CBD oil mixed with a carrier oil, like coconut oil.

Tincture is typically ingested under the tongue or mixed in drinks, but since it’s an oil, it doesn’t mix very well, Elliot said. It can also be smoked like Marijuana, but without the high.

Some consumers like to cook with CBD. “It can replace the majority of oils in food,” Elliot said. “But it’s got to be done just right, ‘cause if you overheat it, you’ll cook it and kill all the CBD.”

CBD can be applied topically as well. Broad River Hemp carries several skin creams and muscle lotions, said Elliot. The dosage, like the medium, depends on the user. “We advise people to start with a smaller dose and see how it affects them. If it doesn’t work, we take the dose up.”

Elliot offers what he considers the most important step when purchasing CBD or Hemp products: “Get educated. Not all CBD is created equal. Make sure that (you) are buying a quality product from people that know what they’re talking about.”
Hemp and CBD — the particulars

“CBD oil is broken down into a few different types. Most prominent are full spectrum CBD oil or isolate.” The difference, Elliot said, is how far along the maturation process the cannabis flower has gone.

Full spectrum CBD contains not just CBD molecules, but a host of other vitamins, proteins and fatty acids, said Elliot. “It’s basically trying to get as much of the good stuff out of that flower as humanly possible.”

Isolate, on the other hand, is just the CBD molecule. “(It’s) CBD in the purest form. The difference is that full spectrum is much more effective. Isolate doesn’t really do much for the human body.” For noticeable results, Elliot recommends full spectrum CBD over isolate.

Regardless of the spectrum, consumers should be careful when purchasing CBD products. In North Carolina, a test confirming THC levels of 0.3% or less is the only regulation currently placed on CBD production. “Yes, it is safe, to a very good degree,” Elliot said. “However, … what we see a lot in the industry is white labeling.”

“An opportunist will go and find someone who’s producing hemp or who’s processing hemp into CBD oil, and they will take that oil and bottle it and put a label on it and sell it as if it’s their own product,” Elliot said.

Since white labelers are typically less experienced farmers, their extraction methods can be unsafe. “Some (processes) aren’t as clean as others. It can be pulled out of the plant in a very crude fashion. Which means you can extract the oil yourself with some pretty common stuff you’ve got in your kitchen already.”

According to Elliot, this approach can manufacture a product that may be risky for consumers. But there are ways to recognize the difference between legitimate products and white labels.

“We work with people that we know. That’s probably the most important part. We can see the farmers – we know what they’re doing,” Elliot said. Broad River Hemp recommends that consumers educate themselves before purchasing hemp or CBD products. “First and foremost, it should be something you can find information on and the person in the store should be able to tell you about it, where’s it from.”
Hemp’s future in North Carolina

As the home of Fort Bragg, the United States’ largest military base, Fayetteville has seen a lot of action regarding CBD. “A lot of the veteran community is very much in support of cannabis … simply because it helps reduce PTSD symptoms for somebody who’s been through the ringer,” Elliot said. “If somebody gets anxious about something, they might get a lot of use out of CBD.”

Elliot is more than enthusiastic about involving veterans in the hemp industry. Honor Hemp Company, founded by Elliot, is a North Carolina veteran co-op designed to help veterans transition into the farming world.

However, since the THC in CBD shows up in drug tests, active duty military members are prohibited from using CBD products. “We … try to educate any active duty service member when they come around. We don’t want anybody losing their military career over the CBD product,” said Elliot.

There’s a lot more to come in the Hemp world, particularly in N.C., Elliot said. “There’s stuff out there that we can’t get our hands on in North Carolina yet, like clothing and handbags and wallets.” According to Elliot, these products are made with fiber Hemp, an industrial stream of the plant.

“Prices will bank on CBD. Probably faster than most people speculate. However, one of the things that I’ve been trying to do is set up fiber production.”

Elliot warns that the Hemp market as we know it today will likely crash within the next 10 years, but a more stable market will take its place. For N.C., that market will likely include fiber hemp.

City Council dean calls it quits

There will be a vacancy on Fayetteville City Council come the first of the year. Longtime councilmember Bill Crisp won’t be there. Crisp, 79, has served for 12 years. He was first elected as a result of the so-called Big Bang annexation of western Cumberland County in 2005 when more than 40,000 people were involuntarily annexed into Fayetteville. The controversial move was a major reason that the state legislature did away with unsolicited annexations.

Crisp became an influential and respected member of City Council. He served in the U.S. Army for 27 years, retiring with the rank of Command Sgt. Maj. in 1987. When asked about his greatest satisfaction of serving on council, Crisp said “I love people and appreciated being able to serve them.”

The area Crisp serves is one of nine political districts, each representing approximately the same number of people. District 6 is on the southwestern side of the city. To this day, Crisp says the big bang annexation “was a disaster” calling it “a land grab for tax dollars.”

The result made the city of Fayetteville the second largest in the state geographically, encompassing 148-square-miles. Only Charlotte has more land area. Crisp is among those who believe that bigger isn’t better, that the government lacks the capacity to serve its 210,000 residents. He takes pride in significant accomplishments he contributed to in his dozen years, including development of the multimillion-dollar Hope VI residential community off Old Wilmington Road. Modern apartment buildings replaced a post-World War II housing project.

Crisp is especially proud of Fayetteville’s designation as home of North Carolina’s Veterans Park, the nation’s first state park dedicated to military veterans from all branches of the Armed Services. Then-Gov. Beverly Perdue was on hand for the ground-breaking in February 2010. Crisp was a major supporter of the city’s $40 million commitment to build Segra Stadium on Hay Street. Officials say it will be the impetus of more than $100 million of private development.

City council colleagues have come and gone during Bill Crisp’s dozen years. He did not hesitate when asked who he most enjoyed working with on the governing body. District 1 councilwoman Kathy Jensen is his favorite. “She isn’t as experienced as most, but is one smart lady,” he said.

Crisp noted he developed a partnership with District 8 member Ted Mohn, who was also elected as the result of the 2005 big bang annexation.

Crisp’s decision this year to not run for another term was based on his poor health. “It’s an ordeal for me,” he said. Crisp has had prostate cancer surgery, spinal infusion and has had three tumors removed from his lungs. Diminished lung capacity and a weakened heart required that the people of District 6 elect a new member of council. Suffice it to say Councilman Bill Crisp will be missed.

Pictured: Fayetteville City Councilman Bill Crisp


Latest Articles

  • The holidays aren’t always easy
  • Tip accordingly
  • Fun at the Thanksgiving table
  • Teacher goes above and beyond
  • ‘Behold’ Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s Christmas cantata
  • A Dickens Holiday turns 20