Local News

Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office toy drive helps children

11ToyDriveAs a community, Cumberland County has many organizations that try to look after children and make the holidays a special time. The need is great, and budgets are often small. But a little creativity and generosity from those who are willing to give make a big difference. The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office presents “5 Days of Christmas in July Toy Drive” Monday, July 23, to Friday, July 27.

“For the last 21 years, the Sheriff’s Office has been doing shop with the sheriff where we assist deserving, less than fortunate families that come from the Cumberland County Schools and are recommended by the school social workers,” said Shawna Leake, lieutenant of community policing for the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office. “I was getting inundated with calls from people asking how they can get on the list, and I found myself referring those families to The Salvation Army and Fayetteville Urban Ministry.”

Leake added that she approached the Sheriff and asked if there was any way they could assist those agencies that they were referring people to. This is how “5 Days of Christmas in July” was established.

The toys will be donated to the Salvation Army and Fayetteville Urban Ministry. The event organizers are asking for appropriate toys for school-aged children.

“Please steer away from purchasing toy guns and other items of violence,” said Leake.

Unwrapped toys can be dropped off at the following locations: July 23 at the Walmart at 2820 Gillespie St. from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; July 24 at J. P. Riddle Stadium from 5-10 p.m.; July 25 at the Sheriff’s Office at 131 Dick St. from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; July 26 at the Walmart at 4601 Ramsey St. from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; and July 27 at Fourth Friday at 311 Hay St. from 5-9 p.m. Bring an unwrapped toy to the baseball game on July 24 and receive $2 off the price of admission.

“We appreciate the support of the community for this cause, and we want it to be a huge success so we can give toys to children,” said Leake. “Our goal is to help these agencies out in any way possible.” For more information, contact Lt. Leake at 910-824-4146 or sleake@ccsonc.org.

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Recalling city council members

07recall petitionFayetteville City Council is considering asking the legislature for authority to give citizens the right to recall elected officials who misbehave in office. It’s an outgrowth of the attempted bribery case involving former District 2 Councilman Tyrone Williams. City attorney Karen McDonald told council several North Carolina cities have recall provisions in their charters. But, she said, there is no consistent pattern to the various arrangements.

McDonald offered ideas that council members can consider, such as a method by which citizens could circulate a petition of grievances. It would require a predetermined percentage of registered voters’ signatures, which would be submitted to the Cumberland County Board of Elections. Once certified, the elected official would have five days to resign or face a recall election.

Because council members are elected from districts, one question that remained unanswered is whether the vote would be in the district where the member was elected or citywide. “Whatever we do wrong impacts the entire city,” said Councilman Bill Crisp.

“If city taxpayers pay for the recall election, city taxpayers should vote,” agreed Councilman Jim Arp.

City Manager Doug Hewett cautioned that city council must take care in developing criteria for having members removed from office. “This is something that is extraordinary; an avenue of last resort,” he said.

North Carolina does not provide for statewide recall elections. Virginia’s law states that recalls can be held when “neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance of duties has a material adverse effect upon the conduct of the office.”

Council is also considering a plan to do away with primary elections and extending terms of office from two to four years. Mayor Mitch Colvin said any such changes would be put to a vote of the people.

“Primaries cost a lot of money and serve no purpose,” Crisp said. He said primaries cost the city $100,000 and that he wants to save the money.

Councilwoman Kathy Jensen voted against the Crisp plan to cancel primaries. She thinks they help ensure the ultimate winners of the general election have clear support of the voters.

Crisp also wants to raise the filing fees for city council candidates to one percent of the annual salary.

Councilwoman Tisha Waddell objected, saying, “There are people who may not have a lot of money but have a lot to offer.”

Crisp contended that candidates who have popular support could easily raise the money to pay the higher filing fees.

City council took no action on any of the proposals but agreed to further discuss conditions that would justify including recall elections in the city charter.

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News Digest: June 13, 2018

06I 95I-95 widening funded by federal government

U.S. Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis have announced that Interstate 95 will be widened to eight lanes north and south of Fayetteville. A $147 million federal infrastructure grant has been earmarked for the project.

The announcement said the project will provide for widening from exit 56 in Eastover to exit 71 in Dunn and between Fayetteville and Lumberton.

The state Department Of Transportation also plans to widen the interstate from Dunn to Benson, where it intersects with Interstate 40. Little more has been said about the project, but Gov. Roy Cooper’s office released a statement that described the importance of the widening to military transportation and commerce.

The state DOT indicated earlier that I-95 widening projects wouldn’t begin until 2026, but the $147 million federal grant could accelerate the project.

Cliffdale Road widening opposed

Fayetteville city officials hope to convince the NC DOT not to go through with a plan to widen a residential section of Cliffdale Road. Council adopted a resolution expressing opposition to a proposed $16 million project to widen the neighborhood stretch of roadway from two to four lanes with a center median.

The roadway in question is the original onemile stretch of Cliffdale between Morganton and McPherson Church Roads. It is considered a state street over which DOT has jurisdiction. Residents
of the area are opposed to the project. They fear a widened road would result in heavier traffic and a reduction of property values.

County Government adopts new budget

The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners has adopted its Fiscal Year 2019 operating budget. The ad valorem property tax rate remains at 79.9 cents per $100 of valuation. The budget, which must be balanced by state law, includes $478 million in total expenditures, with a general fund total of $316 million. That represents savings of about $7 million less than the FY2018 adopted budget. The decrease was attributed to the implementation of child care subsidies being paid directly from the state and no longer through county budgets.

“We thought we had a pretty solid budget, and in the spirit of cooperation, we were able to come together and approve it unanimously,” said Chairman Larry Lancaster.

County employees will receive a three percent pay increase. Funding for Cumberland County Schools totals $79,463,109. An additional $398,937 is budgeted for seven school nurses. In addition to the new nurses, the budget includes 11 new full-time and two part-time positions in the general fund and abolishes one full-time Animal Control administrative support specialist position. The new positions include two full-time and two part-time animal shelter attendants, plus a full-time veterinarian. Two telecommunicator positions will be added to Emergency Services for Animal Control dispatch.

Festival Park Plaza leased

A leading Fayetteville realtor is moving its offices to downtown Fayetteville to “better position itself in the marketplace,” said Denise Strother, CEO of ERA Strother Real Estate. She said as many as 100 employees will occupy the second floor of the Festival Park Plaza building at 225 Ray Ave.

Developer Jordan Jones bought the building recently from the city of Fayetteville, which has signed a long-term lease for use of the first floor. The third floor is also leased.

Strother says the 15,000 square feet on the second floor will house Strother Real Estate, SPM Property Management and Lendello Mortgage Co. as well as corporate offices. Jones has agreed to add 132 spaces to an extended parking lot at the rear of the building, according to Strother. She says the company plans to move into the building the first of the year once some upfitting is completed.

Fayetteville businessman John Malzone said, “This is a great addition to our downtown workforce. Having a large, successful company relocate to our central city shows where the future of Fayetteville is. The future is downtown.”

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An update from Washington

02PubPenchildhood cancerPublisher Bill Bowman is on vacation this week and yields this space to Rep. Richard Hudson for an update.


As the saying goes, “A little progress each day adds up to big results.” Just as longterm pressure creates diamonds or water in a river eventually smooths stone, dedicated and persistent efforts often yield big results. As we mark the first 500 days of the Trump administration, our continuous efforts in the House of Representatives have added up to some impressive wins for the
American people. Make no mistake, there’s still much more work to do, but we are getting our nation back on the right track and making a real difference in people’s lives.

This Congress, we’ve taken the lead on keeping our promises to the American people. So far, we’ve passed 695 bills out of the House, with 175 of them being signed into law by President Donald Trump.

What are those bills we’ve passed? How about tax cuts that have led to more jobs and more take-home pay for working families across the country. How about bipartisan legislation to reduce the flow of fentanyl and synthetic opioids across our borders and to get these dangerous drugs off our streets. How about bipartisan legislation to give critically ill patients the ability to try innovative and potentially lifesaving medications. All of these and more have already been signed into law.

This week, we also added two more major accomplishments to that growing list. Trump signed the bipartisan Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research (STAR) Act, the most significant pediatric cancer research bill ever passed by Congress. As the co-chair of the Pediatric Trauma Caucus and a proud father, I recognize how critical it is to care for our children, and this is another important step to help deliver hope and cures to children and their families.

Another piece of legislation that was signed into law this week was the VA MISSION Act. This bipartisan bill seeks to make good on one of our most sacred promises – to take care of our men and women in uniform both before and after their service. By condensing all the various community care programs at the VA into one single program, we can empower veterans to more easily access a doctor who suits their unique needs. This bill follows the same principles of my bill, the Care Veterans Deserve Act, to make sure veterans can access private health care if they want.

While we celebrate these accomplishments, I know there is still a lot of work to be done. Unfortunately, there are still more than 500 House-passed bills that are collecting dust waiting on action in the Senate. These are not meaningless bills either – they are critical initiatives like improving job opportunities for veterans and helping to end human trafficking.

This Congress, Washington continues to be plagued by historic obstructionism. However, I know there is too much at stake to give up. As your voice in Congress, I’ll continue to push for our shared values. We must continue to fight every day, and I won’t give up until the job is done. There’s too much at stake.

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Hari Jones: ‘How the Civil War Made America Great’

01coverUAC0061318001In general, we think we know history, or at least have working knowledge of it. Finding out differently can be enlightening and even jarring, but knowing the truth, in context, is freeing – for everyone. Tuesday, June 19, the North Carolina Civil War & Reconstruction History Center presents Hari Jones, an expert on the role of African-Americans in the Civil War. Jones’ speech “How the Civil War Made America Great” begins at 7 p.m. and will take place at Fayetteville State University in the Rudolph Jones Student Center.

Jones has shared his extensive knowledge of African-American history on programs and documentaries aired on CSPAN, Fox News, NBC, PBS, BBC, the American Heroes Channel, the History Channel, the Smithsonian Channel and many local outlets. He was a content developer for the National Park Service museum at the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site in Tuskegee, Alabama, a content adviser for the American Civil War Center exhibit “Take Our Stand” and a content adviser for the National Archives and Records Administration exhibit “Discovering the Civil War.” He also curated the exhibit “Clearing a Path for Democracy: Citizen Soldiers of the Fighting Eighth in World War I” at the DuSable Museum of African-American History in Chicago.

Jones credits his grandmother and great-grandmother with fostering his passion for history. “I was a curious child,” he said. “I was really interested in the military, so they directed me to books written by African-American authors like William Nell, whose book ‘The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution’ was published in 1852.” Jones read extensively about the African-American experience throughout our nation’s history, specifically seeking out sources written by African-Americans so he could learn about their viewpoints.

Jones continued to study the military and history, eventually joining the Marine Corps where he served as an infantryman, an artillery officer and an intelligence officer. As an instructor at the U.S. Naval Academy, Jones had an experience that focused his passion for American history, specifically from the African-American perspective.

“I taught Marine Corps practicum,” Jones said. “I asked one of my peers why there were no African-American teachings on American war, and he said, ‘because they didn’t write anything.’ I knew that was false, so I realized this was a need even in our military academies. So, when I retired, I went to the Library of Congress.”

Jones spent almost every day there for about three years. During that time, he read books from the perspective of African-Americans. But when he wanted to study what he called “the big picture” and strategy, he found that the African-American voice was missing. “It was annoying because it was like telling the story of the NBA finals and making it appear there were no African-Americans on the court,” Jones said. “So, I started working more on finding primary sources. Once I was conversant, I wanted to share what I knew.”

And he’s been doing that ever since. He said it’s not always easy, though, because Americans have certain perspectives ingrained in the collective psyche. And these perspectives are often factually incorrect and even destructive.

“One of the biggest challenges in telling history accurately is that we have so many people invested in false narratives and who are even victims of false narratives,” Jones said. “Often, they’ve been successful and have even built their career on it. Think about it this way: If you go to the doctor and tell him lies about your family’s medical history, he can’t help you as he could if you told him the truth. America as a country cannot heal what ails us if we don’t face our truth.”

When the North Carolina Civil War & Reconstruction History Center was in the early planning stages, senior consultant David Winslow took a group of leaders from Fayetteville to look at museums in Washington, D.C. The team visited the African American Civil War Museum. That’s where they first heard Hari Jones; he was giving a talk on the Civil War from the African-American perspective. “It was an eye-opening experience,” Winslow said. “This is an important part of the American story. We invited him to Fayetteville in 2012, and he gave a talk at Cape Fear Regional Theatre. It was filled to the rafters with more than 400 people. We knew we wanted to have him back, and this seemed like the perfect time. Where he is coming from is different (than) where others come from.”

The presentation scheduled for June 19 focuses on the perspective that there were no losers – North or South, Union or Confederate – because the war effectively formed a more perfect union and secured liberty for millions of Americans who had not known such freedom before. In his talk about how the Civil War made America great, Jones stresses that the Civil War story “belongs to all of us. It is the story of how we got rid of that which made us less than great.”

One way that Jones approaches the topic is his stance that in being honest about who we are as a country, we need to tell history not based on which side our ancestors fought on.

“All of us who are Americans should be pleased with the outcome,” he said. “I hope this takes us to (a place) where, when we talk about this subject, we talk about it as Americans. I hope I
can work in telling the story in such a way that people are not making it a race discussion but a discussion of how America became great. I want America to appreciate this chapter in our history as an American story – because it is an American story.”

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, comes on Juneteenth, or Freedom Day, an American holiday that commemorates the June 19, 1865, announcement of the abolition of slavery
in Texas. It has also come to commemorate more generally the emancipation of enslaved African-Americans throughout the former Confederacy.

For more information, call the NC Civil War & Reconstruction History Center at 910-491-0602 or visit www.nccivilwarcenter.com.

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