Local News

Hedgepeth celebrates 50 years

09Hedgepeths 2When Dr. John Hedgepeth came to Northwood Temple in 1968, it was only supposed to a two-year appointment by the local conference of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church. And Northwood Temple is where he’s remained for 50 years. On Sunday, Aug. 12, the church will hold a day of celebration in recognition of Hedgepeth’s years of service.

“Like the old song said, just one day at a time,’’ Hedgepeth said. “That’s where I’ve been all my life since August of 1968.’’

There will be no Sunday School that morning, just a 10:30 a.m. worship service honoring Hedgepeth’s unprecedented tenure at the church.

The guest speaker will be Dr. A.D. Beecham Jr., general superintendent of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

The celebration will continue at
5 p.m. with a banquet in the church’s Family Life Center gymnasium. Hedgepeth said he never dreamed in the summer of 1968 he’d stay at Northwood for 50 years.

He said the congregation is made up of really great people.

“You go to a place and you minister with all your heart to the people that are there,’’ he said. “If you have a ministry, that is your testament, it doesn’t stay static. It always keeps changing. Like it says in Acts, the Lord added daily to the church.’’

Hedgepeth said a focus of his ministry from the start has been reaching out to people in time of need, especially when they are facing problems with their health.

“They are looking for someone to love them and care for them,’’ he said, “someone that will lay hands on them and go to the hospital when they are sick, rather than saying if you need me, call me.’’

Under Hedgepeth’s leadership, Northwood has also become a focal point for mission work. He describes what the church has done by paraphrasing the scripture passage Acts 1:8, which called on the apostles of Jesus Christ to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth.

“Jerusalem is your local people,’’ Hedgepeth said. “Judea, that’s your counties and state.’’

He said Samaria referred to Samaritans, an unwanted people in the time of Christ. “We reached out to everybody,’’ he said.

If you visit Northwood today, you will see flags of 54 nations displayed. They represent the countries around the world where the church’s members call home. 

“My people have always had a heart to reach out to every race,’’ he said.

And they’ve done it in ways other than just welcoming people to the congregation. Northwood’s Church On The Street program delivers meals to the local homeless.

The church has sent mission teams to Mexico, Africa, the Dominican Republic and the Kuna Islands off Panama. They’ve been to Nicaragua over 20 times.

“We helped build schools, built churches,’’ Hedgepeth said. “People got saved and healed. We can’t stop.’’

Hedgepeth gives much of the credit for the success of his ministry at Northwood to his wife of 55 years, the former Fay Bullard.

“I owe her everything,’’ he said. “She settled me down and made me think right. She taught me ways to do things I didn’t know because of her brilliance.’’

He also praised the staff at Northwood, especially minister of music Buck Hodge, who has been with Hedgepeth almost 50 years.

Hedgepeth is willing to talk at length about almost any subject, but there are two areas where he’s not that vocal. One is his age and the other is the subject of retirement.

“I never tell anybody my age,’’ he said. “Age puts limits on you now.’’

Hedgepeth is a firm believer in the philosophy of motivation. Nothing stands still, he said. It either goes backward or forward.

He said he’s never read of anyone in the Bible that retired, not even Moses.

“I really believe when you come to a place in life when you don’t want any more souls, when you don’t want to go to any more hospitals, when you don’t want to do any more weddings or attend a funeral, when you don’t have to worry about any more mountains to conquer, you don’t have to worry about being dead,’’ he said. “You’re already dead.

“I really believe you’ve got to go get them. I might not get them as much as I used to, but man, I’m moving forward.’’

Seating is limited for the event, and tickets are available at $8 a person. For reservations, call 910-488-7474.

Photo: Rev. John Hedgepeth and wife Fay

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Remembering E.E. Smith coach Ike Walker

08IkeWriters avoid using the word legend with great frequency in this business, and with good reason.

Used too often, it cheapens the effect and makes it seem far less than the exclusive club it should be.

But the late E.E. Smith basketball coach Ike Walker is deserving of the accolade. Walker, 87, was the longtime boys basketball coach at E.E. Smith High School and a 2010 inductee into the Fayetteville Sports Club Hall of Fame. He died on July 30 after a long illness.

You get a sense of his status as legend talking with the people who were closest to him, his former players, many deserving consideration for that title themselves.

Take Robert Brickey, a basketball phenom for Walker’s E.E. Smith team in the mid-1980s before going on to star for Mike Krzyzewski at Duke.

“If I could summarize it, he was a man who cared about young people, and he tried to model what he thought they should be,’’ Brickey said.

Charlie Baggett had an even stronger tie to Walker. He was his nephew and a sensational E.E. Smith quarterback in the early 1970s before setting a slew of passing records at Michigan State.

Walker came from a family of a dozen children, and Baggett said Walker and Baggett’s mom were the only two of the 12 that went to college, Walker attending North Carolina A&T.

“When you’re a coach and teacher, you wear a lot of different hats,’’ Baggett said. “He touched a lot of lives in a lot of different ways.’’

He was also a poet and a philosopher. He sent countless handwritten notes and cards to friends and acquaintances.

One of the many people he wrote was Joe Harris, a football great from Smith who starred at Georgia Tech and became the first Fayetteville high school product to play in the Super Bowl, as a member of the Los Angeles Rams in 1980.

Harris remembers the notes and life lessons Walker shared.

“He always pushed education,’’ Harris said. “To know who you are. Where you come from. Where you’re going in life.’’

    But Harris’ best memory of Walker is how he took care of his players, including himself.

One rainy afternoon after practice, Walker told Harris to get in his car so he could give him a lift home.

Harris lived where the roads weren’t paved and were filled with bumps. Walker drove a shiny black Ford that he kept in immaculate condition.

 As they approached the road to Harris’ house, he told Walker to stop and not mess up his car.

“He said, ‘No, I’m going all the way,’” Harris said. “That’s the type of person he was.’’

Ike Walker spent a lifetime going all the way for kids, pulling them through the messes of life to hope and success.

The gospel of Matthew said it best. “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Photo: Ike Walker


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Fayetteville native Robert Wilkie takes over the VA

07Robert Wilkie Sworn inRobert Wilkie is officially the United States secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. He took the oath of office during a swearing-in ceremony with President Donald Trump at the White House. 

Wilkie is a former military officer and Pentagon official. He serves in the Air Force Reserve. Wilkie grew up in Fayetteville and to date is the highest-ranking native son to serve in the federal government. He was joined in the Oval Office by his wife, Julie, and son, Adam, as well as former bosses Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. 

“I’m humbled by the prospect of serving those who have borne the battle, those American men and women who have sacrificed so much,” Wilkie, 55, said in remarks before the ceremony. 

Wilkie is now in charge of the second-largest federal government agency. The VA has more than 360,000 employees and an annual budget of nearly $200 billion. The department is tasked with providing health care, monetary assistance and other benefits to millions of veterans.

“I know you’ll work night and day to fulfill our sacred duty to protect those who protect us,” Trump said. “It’s a tough job, but a beautiful job. Congratulations.” 

Wilkie is taking over at a time of significant change at the VA. He is charged with leading an overhaul of the VA’s private-sector care programs and overseeing a multibillion-dollar project to create a new electronic health record system, as well as implementing recently approved changes to the VA claims appeals process, caregiver benefits and GI Bill, among other things.

Lawmakers and veterans’ organizations are hopeful that Wilkie can stabilize the department after months of uncertainty about its leadership. 

“We congratulate him on becoming secretary, and we look forward to him bringing stable leadership to the department and strong advocacy for America’s veterans,” Veterans of Foreign Wars Commander B.J. Lawrence said.

The VA has been without a permanent secretary since David Shulkin was fired in March as the result of a power struggle with political appointees assigned to the VA. Wilkie has already purged some Trump loyalists and others who he said represented part of the VA’s operations problem. He did so with the president’s knowledge and consent. 

Following Shulkin’s dismissal, Deputy Secretary Tom Bowman retired, and a handful of other leaders left the agency. VA Press Secretary Curt Cashour said in a statement in April that the officials who left were “wedded to the status quo” and “not on board with this administration’s policies or pace of change.” 

The Washington Post reported that once Wilkie was VA secretary, he intended to form his own leadership team and reassign political appointees who were behind the staff departures. The Post said Cashour is searching for another job in the Trump administration. Camilo Sandoval, acting VA chief information officer, is expected to leave altogether, and John Ullyot, the assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs, will likely be reassigned to another job within the VA. 

However, in a statement, Cashour denied the report and said he had no plans to leave the department. Additionally, Cashour said Ullyot and Sandoval will remain in their positions.

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Hanoi Jane

06Jane Fonda 1970sJane Fonda said she’s still confronted by Vietnam War veterans over her 1970s anti-war activism and welcomes the encounters. Such moments provide an opportunity to talk, she said, which needs to be done with what Fonda called “an open mind and a soft heart.” 

The actress drew bitter criticism after being photographed sitting on an anti-aircraft gun during a 1972 visit to North Vietnam. She was dubbed “Hanoi Jane.” That same year, she and actor Donald Sutherland took part in an anti-war protest in downtown Fayetteville. At the time, Fort Bragg troops gave Fonda a different nickname: traitor b****. 

Fonda met with TV critics this month to discuss a new HBO documentary on her life and expressed regret for that moment. She said it was thoughtless to perch on the gun and called it “horrible to think about the message her action sent to soldiers and their families.” 

Her late father, the famed actor Henry Fonda, was a World War II veteran. Fonda had served as “Miss Army Recruiter” in 1954. 

At age 80, Fonda looks back at her life in HBO’s “Jane Fonda in Five Acts,” debuting this fall. 

Cold case arrest

Fayetteville Police have cracked a nearly 30-year-old sexual assault cold case with an arrest. Antonio L. McNeil, 55, of Slater Avenue in Fayetteville, was 25 when he allegedly attacked his victim. He has been jailed on charges of second-degree rape, second-degree sex offense and first-degree kidnapping. The case dates to November of 1989. Detectives investigated the case then, but it went unsolved. 

The case was recently reopened when the sexual assault evidence kit was tested for DNA. Police Sgt. Shawn Strepay said McNeil was already being held at the Cumberland County Detention Center on unrelated charges when arrested on the new allegations. He is being held on a $400,000 secured bond. 

Strepay said 25 rape cases have been cleared with arrests over the last three years by the Fayetteville Police Department’s Cold Case Sexual Assault Unit. People with information concerning a sexual assault more than five years old are asked to contact Police Detective R. DeShields at 910-580-3016.

Save the rain water

The Cumberland Soil and Water Conservation District is offering rain barrels for sale. The barrels provide a storage system used for collecting rain water, which can be used to water plants, lawns and gardens. Fifty-five-gallon pickle barrels are transformed into rain barrels by adding mesh screen netting to the open tops and installing spigots to the bottoms. Rain barrels can be placed out in the open, under the drip line of a roof or under a gutter’s downspout. A typical one-inch rainfall can fill the rain barrel placed beneath a downspout. 

Rain barrels are selling for $40 at the Cumberland Soil and Water Conservation District office at 301 East Mountain Dr. The office is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Proceeds from rain barrel sales support youth educational programs in Cumberland County.

40th annual International Folk Festival

Grab a dance partner and get ready for an unforgettable evening during the 40th annual International Folk Festival in downtown Fayetteville. The Williamsburg Salsa Orchestra of Brooklyn, New York, is the Saturday evening headliner. The 11-piece band will take the Festival Park stage at 6:15 p.m. on Sept. 29. 

The performance is part of an extensive entertainment lineup during the festival weekend of Sept. 28 through 30, featuring horn arrangements, pulsating percussion and sultry vocals. According to their promotional materials, “WSO has taken the typical Salsa form and infused it with a completely modern identity.” 

Symphony leader’s contract renewed

The board of directors of the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra has announced renewal of its contract with President and CEO Christine Kastner. 

“Chris Kastner is a great leader, and her history with the FSO is proof positive of that,” said board chairman Joe Vonnegut. 

Kastner was hired as CEO in November 2011. Under her leadership, the FSO increased the number of concerts performed. The symphony also added a free concert in Festival Park, partnering with the city of Fayetteville for an Independence Day celebration. 

The FSO has also made significant progress in its endowment under her leadership, Vonnegut added. 

Photo: Jane Fonda

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Vision Resource Center’s Out of Sight Wing Fling benefits the blind and visually impaired

01coverUAC0080818001Take a moment and imagine life without the sense of sight. You would have to put your faith and trust in others and learn independent living skills to help you navigate through life’s daily routines. This is reality for hundreds of Cumberland County residents. Things like getting to medical appointments or doing grocery shopping can be difficult challenges to navigate. The Vision Resource Center, a vital advocate for many in the blind and vision-impaired population, has come up with a fun way to raise the funds it needs to carry out its mission. Saturday, Aug. 25, the VRC presents its third annual Out of Sight Wing Fling cooking competition. It is set to run 3-8 p.m. in Festival Park. 

“The purpose of the Wing Fling is to raise money for the VRC to increase programming and independent living skills for adults and children with visual impairments,” said Terri Thomas, the VRC’s executive director. “Our goal is to get a bus for transporting them to the grocery store and medical appointments, and we need Colorino Talking Color Identifiers, signature guides and Ruby portable magnifiers.”   

The VRC opened in 1936 as the Cumberland County Association for the Blind. Working with Cumberland County Social Services, the VRC is one of the first four agencies of the United Way in Cumberland County. The organization changed its name to Vision Resource Center in 2007 and currently operates out of the Dorothy Gilmore Therapeutic Recreation Center, at 1600 Purdue Dr. 

Thomas said blindness and visual impairment is an expensive disability that often requires pricey technology to give recipients a reasonable quality of life. 

“We need funds to be able to grow and get them exactly what they need,” said Thomas. “I am still not able to provide them with some of those things.” 

There are currently 676 blind and visually impaired individuals in the Cumberland County area. The VRC provides resources such as independent living classes, Braille classes, social activities, a healthy living program, transportation to and from the center, youth programming, summer camp and more for the blind and visually impaired. But these all cost money.

“Lately, we have been partnering with Veterans Affairs, and they have some stuff that is down-leveled to them but new to us, so we have been getting some things that way,” said Thomas. “I haven’t been able to purchase anything because it is so expensive.     

“The state does not provide for blind and visually impaired children under age 13. They only start working with kids at age 14, so that’s a whole demographic that now we are writing grants for to try and (reach out to) kids as soon as their parents find out they are visually impaired so we can start working with them.”    

Thomas noted that the main focus with the youth ages 0-13 is to work on socialization skills, and this is one thing the VRC never receives funding for, but something that would help immensely. 

Like many causes, the needs are many and everything helps, including attending the Out of Sight Wing Fling. The event features a wing cooking competition that will have entries from EyeQ Zone, Kid’s Zone and more. There will also be food trucks on-site as well as vendors and special guests. Entertainment will be provided by BB Productions, That NATION Band and Wing Fling’s very own DJ “Q.”   

Festival Park is located at 331 Ray Ave. in downtown Fayetteville. General admission to the Out of Sight Wing Fling is $5 and allows attendees to enjoy the vendors and live entertainment. Admission plus wing-tasting costs $10, which includes samples of every team’s wings and voting privileges for the competition. VIP tent access is $40, and includes access to a covered V.I.P. tent area, Southern sides to accompany your wing-tasting, two beer tickets, non-alcoholic drink selection and prime seating near the entertainment stage. 

For more information, call 910-483-2719. Visit www.wingflingfay.com to purchase tickets.    

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