Local News

Commission recommends renaming Fort Bragg as Fort Liberty

FOrt Bragg signFort Bragg, home of the airborne, may soon become Fort Liberty if Congress approves the recommendations of the Naming Commission tasked with remaining military installations bearing names of Confederate generals.

The Naming Commission on Tuesday, May 24, held a virtual news conference where it announced the recommended names it will forward to Congress. After Congress approves the names, they will be forwarded to Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, who will have the ultimate authority to rename the installations.

The Naming Commission also recommended new names for eight other Army posts. Fort Bragg is the only one that would not be renamed after a person. Instead, the recommendation is to rename Fort Bragg in honor of the American value of liberty, according to retired Brig. Gen. Ty Seidule, the commission’s vice chairman.

Seidule said he served in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg and recalled the lyrics of the 82nd Airborne song: “We’re All-American and proud to be, for we’re the soldiers of liberty.”

Fort Bragg is named for Braxton Bragg, a North Carolina native who served as a general in the Confederate Army.

It is home to the airborne and special operations forces and has more than 53,000 troops.

The other eight recommendations call for:
• Fort Benning, Georgia, to become Fort Moore, named after Lt. Gen. Hal and Julia Moore. Hal Moore commanded the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment at the Battle of Ia Drang Valley in 1965 in Vietnam. His wife, Julia, was behind the Army's revamping death notices to family members.
• Fort Gordon, Georgia, to become Fort Eisenhower, named after Dwight Eisenhower, the Army general and president. The U.S. Army medical center at Fort Gordon already bears his name.
• Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia, to become Fort Walker, named after Dr. Mary Edwards Walker, the first female Army surgeon and only woman awarded the Medal of Honor.
• Fort Hood, Texas, to become Fort Cavazos, named after Gen. Richard Cavazos, the first Latino promoted in 1982 to four-star general.
• Fort Lee, Virginia, to become Fort Gregg-Adams, named after Lt. Gen. Arthur Gregg and Lt. Col. Charity Adams, the first African-American female officer in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps.
• Fort Picket, Virginia, to become Fort Barfoot, named after Tech. Sgt. Van T. Barfoot, a WWII Medal of Honor recipient.
• Fort Polk, Louisiana, to become Fort Johnson, named after World War l hero Sgt. William Henry Johnson.
• Fort Rucker, Alabama, to become Fort Novosel, named after Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael J. Novosel Sr. who received the Medal of Honor for his service as a helicopter rescue pilot during the Vietnam War.

The Naming Commission is also looking at more than 750 Department of Defense assets, including street, school and building names. Other items include Navy vessels, monuments or military items that it deems to commemorate the Confederacy.

Congress last year enacted legislation creating the Naming Commission and gave it the task to rename military installations by 2023.

Austin, who previously commanded units of the 82nd Airborne Division, released a statement saying, "I am pleased to see the Naming Commission's progress as mandated by Congress in the FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act."

“Today’s announcement highlights the commission’s efforts to propose nine new installation names that reflect the courage, values, sacrifices and diversity of our military men and women,” the statement said. “I thank the members of the commission for their important, collaborative work with base commanders, local community leaders, soldiers and military families. And I look forward to seeing their complete report later this year.”

Seidule, who led Tuesday’s virtual news conference, reiterated several times that the commission took into account "local sensitivities" when arriving at a proposed name.

In a release, the commission said it visited the installations last year for listening sessions with military commanders and community leaders to get feedback on the process and to hear preferences for new names.

Seidule said post commanders determined the stakeholders, post and community leaders, and others involved in the renaming process. He said the sessions were not open to the media because the commission wanted "unvarnished opinions" from the participants.

The commission said it received more than 34,000 submissions related to naming activities, including 3,670 unique names of individuals, locations, values and more.

The Naming Commission developed a short-list of potential names for the nine installations before reconnecting with the community groups through virtual listening sessions and gathering more input.

The commission said it met earlier this month and came up with its recommendations.

“This was an exhaustive process that entailed hundreds of hours of research, community engagement and internal deliberations,” retired Navy Adm. Michelle Howard, the chairwoman of the Naming Commission, said in a release. “This recommendation list includes American heroes whose stories deserve to be told and remembered; people who fought and sacrificed greatly on behalf of our nation.”

Assault, vehicle thefts rise; homicides, rapes decline, police chief tells Fayetteville council

Chief Gina Hawkins FPDAssault, domestic violence and vehicle theft cases rose in the first quarter, but homicides and rapes decreased, according to Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins.

Hawkins presented a report on crime to the City Council on Monday night, May 23, comparing figures for January through March with those from the same period last year.

Hawkins noted that the city has seen a decrease in overall personal and property crimes reported over the past six years.

“The department crime trend is going downward,” she told the City Council during its regular monthly meeting at City Hall. “This is a reminder of where we’re at over the last six years.”

But in the first quarter of 2022, she said, crime is increasing in some areas compared with the first quarter of 2021.

Reports of personal crime increased from 941 in the first quarter of 2021 to 971 in the same period of 2022. Property crime was up from 2,458 reports in 2021 to 2,864 in 2022, according to Hawkins’ presentation.

Felony crimes also were up from 348 reports in 2021 to 357 in 2022.

“We saw a larger increase, especially in January and February, in motor vehicle thefts,” Hawkins said. “We spent a lot of resources doing that.”

Citywide arrests climbed slightly from 1,043 in 2021 to 1,099 in 2022. That’s an increase of 5.4%, according to her figures.

From January through March, the number of homicides dropped from 12 to 11 over the same period a year ago. The number of rapes reported decreased also, from 27 to 19, Hawkins said.

But aggravated assault reports rose 27.6%, from 225 to 287, she said.

Overall, death investigations were up 38.6%, from 101 in 2021 to 140 this year, according to Hawkins.

Domestic violence also saw a big increase, she noted. Though misdemeanors dropped from 23 to 22, felonies doubled from 10 to 20. Overall, domestic violence assaults were up by 27.3%, from a total of 33 to 42.

Drug cases involving cocaine, methamphetamine and fentanyl rose. Police made 28 arrests on drug charges, an increase of 20.

Hawkins said drug dealers are lacing a lot of drugs with fentanyl.

In terms of staffing, the Police Department has 383 officer positions filled, Hawkins said. The department is budgeted for 431 officers.

“We’re up this year in hiring,” Hawkins said. “Up 13 from the previous last year, but down in nonsworn (officers).”

The council voted unanimously to accept the report from Hawkins.

Pictured above: Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins.

Man sought in double homicide in Fayetteville kills himself

9The 29-year-old Clayton man who was the suspect in a double murder in Fayetteville committed suicide Tuesday morning, May 17, according to authorities.

Officer Jeremy Strickland, a spokesman for the Fayetteville Police Department, said Rhaim Mosies Santiago killed himself in Smithfield in Johnston County after a manhunt that lasted more than 24 hours.

“He is deceased from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” Strickland said early Tuesday afternoon.

Santiago was wanted on two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of a man and a woman on Monday, May 16; one count of second-degree kidnapping; and one count of attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon.

Strickland said the charges are all in connection with the deaths of Marchellous Braddy, 33, of Rushmore Drive in Raeford, and Nakeea Brooks, 27, of Bartons Landing Place in Fayetteville.

The murders were reported at 12:14 p.m. Monday, May 16 in the 5700 block of Aftonshire Drive in western Fayetteville.
Officers with the Fayetteville Police Department were sent to investigate a report that a dead person was found inside the residence. The homeowner arrived home and discovered an unresponsive man lying in the home, a news release said. The man was pronounced dead at the scene. Officers then found a second victim in the yard, and she was pronounced dead as well.

Santiago went missing Monday after being charged.

Strickland referred questions about the manhunt and investigation in Johnston County to the Smithfield Police Department.
Smithfield police Capt. Ryan Shepphard was in a meeting on Tuesday afternoon and was not immediately available for comment.

Santiago and the two victims apparently knew each other, Strickland said.

“We can’t go into detail on how they were known to each other, but we think prior to the incident they knew each other,” he said.
He said investigators are still trying to determine how the crimes occurred. Police have not said what the motive was.

“The forensic unit has been on the scene more than 12 hours,” said Strickland. “The homicide unit continues to investigate to see if anyone else was involved with the homicide itself. They continue to interview witnesses.

“Just because he’s dead doesn’t mean the case is closed,” Strickland said.

County commissioners rename part of Old Plank Road

8The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners on Monday, May 16 unanimously approved renaming part of Old Plank Road as Glenn Road after a brief public hearing.

The name was changed because the N.C. Department of Transportation’s construction of Interstate 295 severed Old Plank Road into two sections. The county’s 911 emergency communications system cannot function properly when two roads have the same name, according to Assistant Fire Chief Freddy Johnson Jr. of Stoney Point Fire Department. The department is responsible for fire and emergency response in that area of the county.

The Stoney Point department asked the county to continue the Glenn Road name from Robeson County over I-295 through Black Bridge Road. The change affects the 6400 through 6800 blocks of what is now Old Plank Road and the newly constructed portion that goes over I-295 to Black Bridge Road.

The county sent 40 notices about the name change to area residents, and 15 responded. Of those, nine responses favored the name change and six opposed it. Only two people spoke at the public hearing. Johnson spoke in favor of the plan, and John Pavlikianidis spoke against it.

Pavlikianidis, of 6456 Old Plank Road, said his family operates Carolina Stables on about 40 acres adjacent to the road. Changing the name would be an “undue hardship,” he said. It would require the family to change the address on legal documents associated with the property, said Pavlikianidis. Also, the Old Plank Road name has a historical context related to Fayetteville, he said.

The board also voted to allow naming an unnamed private street off Chicken Foot Road. The owner, Craven Gaddy, said in his application that people have problems finding his home off Chicken Foot Road. The proposed name is Gaddy Lane. No one spoke on a public hearing on the request.

After the vote, Commissioner Charles Evans asked if the county has a standard for road name changes. Members of the county staff said name changes are covered in county ordinances. Evans suggested the board review in detail the process of name changes, from roads to facilities.

In other action Monday, the board voted to renew a lease with the Vision Resource Center for property known as the Alphin House at 2736 Cedar Creek Road. The three-year lease renewal is for $2,400 a year. Commissioner Jimmy Keefe objected to the lease because he said the property is not suitable for the Vision Resource Center. The property is adjacent to an industrial park and is in a remote part of the county that does not have public transportation, Keefe said.

“It’s not the best use of the property. We’re losing money,” he said.

Keefe said he is willing to find a more suitable location, but the other commissioners disagreed. The motion to renew the lease passed on a 5-2 vote, with Keefe and Michael Boose voting against the renewal.
The agency serves the blind and visually impaired.

Commissioner Toni Stewart said she spoke to the Vision Resource Center director and was assured she likes the location despite being in a remote area lacking public transit. “I have a problem with uprooting them,” Stewart said.

Commissioner Evans suggested the board again look into the possibility of establishing countywide public transit.

Local primary election results are in

voting pexels element digital 1550337 1The North Carolina primary election is over. Here are the unofficial results of those races according to the State Board of Elections:


This July, Mitch Colvin, the incumbent candidate, will be facing Freddie Delacruz for the mayoral seat. Colvin left the primary election with 64.5% of the vote while Delacruz left with 13.9% of the vote.

In July, Kathy Jensen, the incumbent candidate, will be running against Jose Alex Rodriguez. Jensen left the primary election with 47.15% of the vote while Rodriquez left with 29.8% of the vote. Rodriguez surpassed third finisher William Milbourne by only 131 votes.

Shakeyla Ingram, the incumbent candidate, will be running against former councilmember Tyrone Williams. The race was separated only by 1.8%, or 41 votes. Ingram lead with 26.29 %, while Williams was second with 24.48%.

In July, Antonio Jones, the incumbent candidate recently appointed to the city council seat in December, will be running against Mario Benavente. Jones had 38.61% of the vote, while Benavente had 23%.

D.J. Haire, the incumbent candidate, will be running against Thomas C. Greene. Haire had 76% of the vote, while Greene left the primary with 16%.

This open contested seat will be decided in July. The two candidates facing off will be Derrick Thompson, who won 46.5% of the vote, and Peter Pappas, who had 33.5%.

Councilmember Larry Wright had a tight race in the primary and may have a tighter one in July against Brenda McNair. The race, the closest of the city council races, was separated only by 0.14%, or 3 votes. Wright came out on top with 44.37% with McNair right behind at 44.23%.

Yvonne Kinston, the incumbent candidate, will be running against Deno Hondros. Kinston had 36.8% of the vote, while Hondros left the primary with 34.8%.

There are two at-large commissioner seats open for the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners.
For the Democratic Ballot, there were six candidates running for the seats. The two that will face Republicans State Rep. John Szoka and Ron Ross will be Veronica B. Jones and former Commissioner Marshall Faircloth. The incumbent, Commissioner Larry Lancaster came in third in the primary election at 16.5%.

Ennis Wright, the incumbent sheriff, will be facing Republican candidate LaRue Windham in the general election in November. Wright won the primary with 77.7% of the vote.


Democratic incumbent Rep. Marvin Lucas will run against Republican candidate Gloria Carrasco in the general election in November. Lucas won the primary with 55.8%.

Incumbent Rep. Diane Wheatley will be facing former State Rep. Elmer Floyd in November. Wheatley won the Republican nomination with 51.3% of the vote while Floyd won the Democratic nomination with 59% of the vote.

Democrat Charles Smith won the seat for District 44 with no Republican filing for the seat this election cycle. Smith bested Terry Johnson in the primary election by 1,381 votes.

Frances Jackson won the Democrat candidacy with 52.3%, beating Fayetteville City Councilmember Chris Davis. Jackson will be running against Republican candidate Susan Chapman in November.


On the Democratic ballot, former Fayetteville City Councilwoman Val Applewhite bested the incumbent, State Sen. Kirk deViere. DeViere conceded the race shortly before all precincts were reported Tuesday night.
“The voters have spoken and I fully respect their decision but I am disappointed. I called Val early tonight and offered my congratulations. I intend to do my best in this upcoming short session to represent the people of my community, as I always have, and continue in my work as a Senator. Campaigns too often are about people viewed as winners and losers but when that happens, what gets lost are ideas and values. There is too much at stake in our community, state, and nation to let that happen here,” deViere said. “I plan to spend some much needed time with my family after this challenging primary race and the long session in Raleigh. Jenny and I are grateful for all the support during this race and will continue working to make this community and state better for everyone.”
Applewhite will be facing Republican candidate, former State Sen. Wesley Meredith in November.


Charles Graham has won the Democrat nomination and will be facing U.S. Rep. David Rouzer in November. Graham beat Cumberland County Commissioner Charles Evans by 758 votes. Rouzer won the Republican nomination by 79%.

U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson has won the Republican nomination and will be facing Democrat candidate State Sen. Ben Clark in the general election in November. Hudson won the nomination with 81% of the vote.

Cheri Beasley swept the Democratic primary field with 80.93% of votes. The closest competitor, Marcus Williams, carried only 3.89% of the vote. Beasley will face Republican Ted Budd in the general election. Budd pulled in 63.05% of votes. His closest competitor, former North Carolina governor Pat McCrory, received only 22.41%


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