Local News

FTCC offers skills for navigating a remote career

14 remote meetingThe financial crisis of little more than a decade ago masked a technological revolution, and everyone shelled out small fortunes for smartphones. The scientific fantasy embodied in "Star Trek’s" tricorder had become everyday overnight.

Today, the revolution has been digital rather than technological. This time, the revolution is coming for your job and staging its coup in your home. And it’s happening faster than we originally predicted. Only a decade ago, we were still struggling with what to call the phenomenon of working while not being at work. Telecommuting? Teleworking? E-work? Flex work? Virtual work?

Eventually, what the job market collectively settled on calling “remote work” was something that 44% of global companies didn’t allow as recently as 2018. Contemporary predictions estimated that by 2020, around 50% of the United States workforce would clock their hours from home. An UpWork study from 2017 postulated that more people will work remotely than not by 2027.

Little did they then know that their predictions would be realized before the end of 2020’s Q1. According to a Gallup study, by midMarch, 49% of workers in the U.S. reported having worked from home in the past seven days. Mere weeks later in April, that statistic leapt to 63% — even while some states announced plans to reopen.

Shortly thereafter, several companies announced that they would be shifting most if not all of their workforces to remote or in-office/remote hybrid arrangements.

This means that if your role is a good candidate for remote and flexibly-scheduled work, then you’re potentially competing against 7.8 billion other people for the job. Potential employers will be sizing you up online well in advance of ever offering an interview. Here are three skills to become a digital-based, remote working master and maintain an attractive digital portrait:

Mastering Communication Channels
If nothing else, the sudden shift to remote work has illuminated how time-intensive, in-person meetings could be replaced by a well-written email. There are now means far beyond email for keeping up (Slack, Zoom, Google Meetings, Jira, even video games like Red Dead Redemption), not to mention calendar, content and project management platforms.

Knowing When to Switch Platforms
When it comes to the platforms, apps or software you use to do your work, one size rarely fits all. This became clear to me when my students and I had to make the shift from face-to-face classes to “online-only.” Blackboard served us very well for some remote-based learning but not for everything or everyone. In the end, we added several other digital platforms as satellite learning channels to Blackboard. We shifted to an environment where coursework could be completed as long as you had an internet connection. Our virtual classroom worked because we took stock of what needed to be learned and achieved and then asked what tools work best for achieving those goals.

Designing Your Digital Self to become Discoverable
Search engines favor accounts which publish frequently and regularly. Engagement via likes, shares and external links is also important. To appear in the first page of a search engine’s results involves an amalgam of algorithms, web crawlers, cross-linking, keywords and content.

Maintain your dominance by picking a topical lane (or two) and staying in it. Be consistent, use the same photo for each online account, find a reference guide for what types of content perform best, and make meaningful connections with others online.

Local blood drive seeks donors

12 N1601P38005CIs it safe to donate blood right now? Marcus Plescia, MD, MPH, chief medical officer of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, said not only is donating blood safe, it’s essential. “People are scared to go to the doctor’s office right now and I really think that’s an unfounded fear.” At most doctor’s offices, you sit out in your car until you’re texted and told you can come in, so nobody’s in the waiting room. “I would think that blood donation sites are in a position where they can adopt those exact same kinds of measures,” he added.

The Cape Fear Valley Blood Donor Center, in cooperation with Up & Coming Weekly and Carolina Specialties International, is conducting a mobile blood drive Sept. 30 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. in Up & Coming Weekly’s rear parking lot at 208 Rowan Street. Donors will receive free COVID-19 antibody tests and gift bags. Residents who pre-register will be eligible to win a door prize.

The Cape Fear Valley Blood Donor Center is a community program that serves patients in Cumberland, Hoke, Harnett and Bladen Counties through donations made by individual donors, community organizations and businesses. Dianne Carter, Cape Fear Valley’s Mobile Recruitment Coordinator, said our area is critically low in blood supplies and has been for several months. Donations from local high school students stopped abruptly in March as the result of the coronavirus pandemic. Students have historically provided 40% of the blood donated in our area, Carter said.

To qualify as blood donors, individuals must be at least 16 years old with signed parental consent. Teens 17 years of age do not need that consent. Prospective donors must weigh at least 110 pounds and be in good health. Positive proof of identification is required. Be sure to eat a nutritious breakfast or lunch. Donors should be well hydrated in the days before and after a donation. Avoid caffeine. Wear comfortable clothing with sleeves that can be easily rolled up above the elbow.

According to the American Red Cross, every two seconds, someone in the U.S. needs blood. It is essential for surgeries, cancer treatments, chronic illnesses, and traumatic injuries. Whether a patient receives whole blood, red cells, platelets or plasma, this lifesaving care begins with one person making one donation. In our community the Cape Fear Valley Blood Donor Center receive and distributes blood units, not the Red Cross. All donations made here stay here. “It is very important for the people in our community to donate to maintain a safe, sufficient supply of blood to save lives locally,” Carter said. “It can literally mean life or death.”

The American Cancer Society says more than 1.8 million people nationwide are expected to have been diagnosed with cancer this year. Many of them require blood, sometimes daily, during chemotherapy treatment. “Roughly 38% of Americans are healthy enough to donate and the national average shows only 10% of them are donating,” Carter added. “In our community, only 2% ... are donating at least once a year. We need the other 98% of the community to step up.”
Officials say this area requires 1,200 units of blood per month to meet the needs of Cape Fear Valley Health System patients. The blood type most often requested is type O. Under normal circumstances, “We struggle to collect 900 units of blood a month,” Carter said. But currently only 300-400 units are contributed on average. Carter told Up & Coming Weekly the health system purchases the rest of the blood from other blood banks, but donor centers across the nation are experiencing shortages.

On the day of donation, individuals will complete a brief health questionnaire. Some donor contributions may be temporarily delayed. Tattoos and body piercings received from licensed North Carolina parlors are acceptable, if the tattoos have healed. Tattoos and piercings received outside our state will result in a 12-month deferral. Having a cold or flu or recent surgery or being under a physician’s care will result in delay. Recent or current diagnosis of cancer could result in a delay. Pregnant women have to wait six weeks after delivery to donate.

Some people are permanently rejected: Anyone who has lived in Europe between 1980 and 1996 for periods totaling five years or more or specifically traveled to or lived in the United Kingdom for more than three months between 1980 and 1996 is ineligible. Members of the U.S. military or their dependents stationed six months or more between 1980 and 1990 in Belgium, Netherlands or Germany or six months or more between 1980 and 1996 in Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece or Turkey will be denied.

Anyone with questions about eligibility, can call the Cape Fear Valley Blood Donor Center at 910-615-LIFE or visit www.savingliveslocally.org.

House speaker calls out Dems for backing agenda that would 'defund police'

11 N2011P47007CSpeaker of the House Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, says nearly 50 N.C. Democratic House lawmakers and candidates have backed a dangerous pledge to defund the police, but House Minority Leader Darren Jackson, D-Wake, says that’s a lie.

During a Monday, Sept. 14, news conference, Moore attacked Democrats for signing a pledge to accomplish a list of policy goals by 2030 as outlined by the left-leaning advocacy group Future Now. Joining Moore’s news conference were Rep. Carson Smith, R-Pender; Rep. John Faircloth, R-Guilford; and a handful of county sheriffs who shared Moore’s concerns for what they considered a radical agenda.

Future Now’s Pledge to Achieve America’s Goals includes promises to provide affordable health care, boost education spending and ensure equal opportunities for all. Dozens of N.C. House Democrats and Democratic candidates have signed the pledge since 2018.

While the pledge doesn’t explicitly call for defunding the police, such a proposal can be found under the subsection for “Equal Opportunities For All” on the America’s Goals website. Included is model legislation to create a commission to study taking money from police departments and giving them to other community programs like youth shelters.

“Right now, law enforcement officers across our nation are being targeted and attacked,” Moore said. “I consider signing this pledge a direct attack on North Carolina law enforcement too.”

Rep. Marcia Morey, D-Durham, told Carolina Journal that when she signed the Future Now pledge in 2018, defunding the police was not part of the stated goals. She told CJ the police proposals must have been added this year and she doesn’t support defunding law enforcement.

Carolina Journal sent an email to Jackson asking him if he would pledge his support today now that a proposal to defund the police is listed on the America’s Goals website. Jackson didn’t respond.

Instead, Jackson sent out a news release challenging Moore’s statements.

“Speaker Moore has given us another set of blatant lies. No, we didn’t pledge to defund the police but we did pledge to invest in quality Health Care and Education for all North Carolinians,” Jackson said.

If House Democrats don’t agree with the proposal to defund the police then they should come out and disavow Future Now, Moore said. They can also give back the money that Future Now gave them.

Future Now has given thousands to Democratic candidates in 2020, including incumbent Reps. Christy Clark, D-Mecklenburg; Sydney Batch, D-Wake; Joe Sam Queen, D-Haywood; and Ray Russell, D-Ashe.

While some House Democrats may have signed the pledge in 2018, Democratic candidates running in 2020 likely signed this year. Future Now has given money to challengers, too: House Democratic candidates Nicole Quick, Kimberly Hardy, Brian Farkas, Aimy Steele, Dan Besse, Frances Vinell Jackson, and Ricky Hurtado have received campaign donations from Future Now.

The America’s Goals pledge is not an endorsement of any specific bill, Future Now Executive Director Daniel Squadron said in a news release following Moore’s news conference.

Future Now funds America’s Goals, which on its website says it is a policy library with model legislation, 50 state report cards, and everything needed to turn a bill into a law.

HealthPlex reopens

10 health plex poolFayetteville’s largest health and wellness center is up and running again. New, temporary hours and safety precautions are in place at Cape Fear Valley’s HealthPlex off Skibo Road because of COVID-19. Hours of operation are 5 a.m.–8 p.m., Monday – Friday.

The pool closes at 7:30 p.m. Saturday hours are 7 a.m.–5 p.m. Sunday hours are 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Temperature checks are performed at the main entrance as members check-in. The rear entrance is closed. Members are required to wear face masks when not exercising, and physical social distancing is requested. Modified group fitness classes have resumed with limited capacity. Massage services have been suspended. Pool lanes provide for one swimmer at a time for a maximum of 45 minutes. Whirlpools and steam rooms are off-limits.

Learn more about new safety precautions at www.capefearvalley.com/healthplex/index.html.

Fort Bragg hero earns the Medal of Honor

08 Thomas PayneGunfire ripped through the air and explosions rattled the ground as then-U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Thomas Patrick Payne peered into a burning building where dozens of ISIS hostages were locked in cells in the northern Iraqi city of Hawija. He knew he had to act or the hostages would die. Payne entered the building, exposing himself to machine gun fire. He used bolt cutters to free the prisoners. For his actions in the Oct. 22, 2015, raid, which ended with the first American service member killed by ISIS since the U.S. return to Iraq in late 2014, now-Sgt. Major Payne, 36, was presented the Medal of Honor by President Trump. The award is an upgrade of the Distinguished Service Cross that Payne initially received in 2017.

He is “one of the bravest men anywhere in the world,” Trump told an audience in the East Room of the White House, which was filled with senior Pentagon officials and Payne’s family.

Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler, who was killed by enemy fire during the raid, posthumously received the Silver Star for his actions that day. Payne received the Medal of Honor on the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the primary event that convinced him to join the military, as thousands of other Americans did.

In 2007, Sgt. Major Payne joined the Army’s most elite unit in Special Operations at Fort Bragg. He has since served several deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq and in support of counterterrorism operations in Africa. Payne is now an instructor at Fort Bragg, having earned numerous valor awards for battlefield heroics. He is also a Purple Heart recipient.

“I still want to serve to this day,” Payne said. “We're still a nation at war, and I still want to serve my country.”

Pictured: President Donald Trump presents the Medal of Honor to Sgt. Maj.Thomas Payne.

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