Local News

Commitment defines Fort Bragg Family of Year

11Each year Army Community Service accepts nomination packets from units for the Family of the Year program. There were 25 families nominated from units across Fort Bragg. Out of those 25, the family that chose “Commitment” was the Burlee family.

Maj. Sarah Burlee and 1st Sgt. Christopher Burlee has been together for 16 years. After almost two decades together, they have been deployed multiple times, stationed at several military installations, and raised one older son and two daughters together. The two met in Korea. They bonded over the movie “Highlander” and had a similar sense of humor.

“The night that I caught her with a really great line, she was on her way up the stairs, with the basket laundry, and I was on my way down, and she just passed by when I said, ‘what, you’re not going to say hi,’ which I’m pretty sure made her more angry than anything else,” Christopher Burlee joked.

They were married a few months later in Hawaii. Alex Burlee, 26, was Christopher’s son from a previous relationship. Their daughters, Audie, 11, and Paisley, 9, have been to four different schools, but have kept a happy, joking attitude and don’t mind being the ‘new kids’ at school.

The success of the family can be partially credited to Sarah’s family. Her parents moved out to Fort Campbell shortly after the family was stationed there. When Sarah worked in the D.C. area for two years, her sister was in the area and helped watch after the girls. Now at Fort Bragg, Sarah’s parents have moved to Fayetteville and reconnected with other family members who live in the area.

Her family were present at the Fort Bragg Family of the Year ceremony on Dec. 1. Another thing that helps the family is a digital family calendar and jumping back into routine after one of the Burlees were away. Christopher has been on eight total rotations to Afghanistan, six after the girls were born.

“So when he says like eight rotations, it’s like, okay, we’re leaving today,” Sarah remarked.

Christopher says the one to two month rotations are the hardest to get adjusted back into family life.11a

“Because by the time I got back, she had found her way into a schedule. And now I’m back and it’s like, oh, throw me into the rotation coach and it just threw her off a lot of times. But I look back now and I think that her assertion was absolutely 100% correct. You just have to have family help and just understand that when we come back, things have to change. That was the hardest thing for me,” Christopher remarked.

“I know it’s not easy for anybody, even me traveling in and out. I try to get back into the routine just in time to like jump back out again,” Sarah jumped in. In the last year, Sarah spent 13 to 14 weeks gone — a quarter of the year away from her family.

In the end, both the Burlees agree that, at the end of the day, the job has to get done.

“I think there’s the understanding too that, you know, for especially in Sarah’s position now is this stuff has to get done. There’s very few people that can do it and when she showed up to her job, they said, ‘here’s a problem, we need you to fix it.’ And then a little over a year later, she’s like, ‘Are your problems fixed?’ ‘How did you do that,’ ‘Well, because you told me to fix it.’ So it was fixed with trips and long days at work and everything else,” Christopher said.

“My job requires me to be here. There’s 300 people in this company that need my help. So I just have to be available for them and have to be willing to say work day doesn’t end just because 1700 hits or 1800. The workday continues until the next workday begins for everybody else. So just a lot of commitment and dedication to get the job done. We're hired for a reason.”

The Fort Bragg Family of the Year is a unique title given to just one family annually who exemplifies the spirit of military families. Christopher was the one who nominated his family for the Family of the Year award, which was odd, according to Sarah, because he’s typically the one who hates any attention and additionally hates Hallmark movies.

Little did he know that the submission for his family would lead to the ultimate Hallmark moment — lighting the Christmas tree at the annual Fort Bragg tree lighting ceremony. Christopher also didn’t tell his wife that he applied. She learned about it a few days before the Family of the Year Board interviewed them. She was also in Lithuania at the time, so she had to call in.

11b“I heard very little of the interview. I was literally in a speakeasy in Lithuania trying to listen in,” Sarah said.

According to the ACS, one of the many reasons why the Burlee Family was nominated included the Family’s initiation of a Girl Scout Troop, where they have volunteered leading the girls and helping them develop tangible skills.

The Burlee family also organized a blood donation program at the Fort Bragg Blood Donor Center and created a Quilts for Valor program with Sarah’s mother. The program presents Soldier’s newborn children with handmade baby quilts.

Each family who is nominated for family of the year has to submit a word that describes their family. The word for the Burlee family was “Commitment.”
Sarah recalls a story from a kickboxing teacher in Afghanistan, which has stuck with her for a long time and has reflected in how their family is run.

“You don’t think you have time? You don’t think you want to do a second workout? You don't want to have to deal with the laundry. You don’t want to have yeah yeah yeah. And then you will do it because you want to. We'll do it because we decided that was what we were going to do,” Sarah said.

“We decided to do the Girl Scouts thing. We decided to put them in the school. We decided that we were not caving either one of our careers. We decided that we were going to finish this degree,” Sarah said. “We do because we decided to do.”

Parking to be key part of events center planning

Cumberlan Co logo The head of Cumberland County’s engineering and infrastructure department on Dec. 19 assured the county commissioners that parking for the planned Crown Event Center will be adequate once the facility is completed in 2025.

Jermaine Walker told members of the Board of Commissioners’ Crown Event Center Committee that the county is undertaking a parking study.

The committee includes Commissioners Jeannette Council, Jimmy Keefe and Glenn Adams. Board Chairwoman Toni Stewart and Commissioner Veronica Jones also attended Monday’s meeting.
Walker said the center committee has considered parking throughout the site selection process and knows that building the Center next to the County Courthouse would result in a reduction of 203 parking spaces in the courthouse’s front parking lot.

He said county officials are exploring “parking alternatives” that would be within walking distance of the new theater and expo center.
Assistant County Manager Brian Haney said that although he could not divulge specifics, the county is working on options that would result in more parking spaces than are currently available at the courthouse.

Walker said the county is doing a detailed parking study to determine the impact of the site selection in terms of displaced parking and analyzing how a downtown location would affect parking capacity. Walker said the parking study results should come before the board in February.

The committee also met the EwingCole architectural design team. George Bushey, a programmer and planner for EwingCole, said the team will be back in January to start its programming phase.
Bushey said in late February, EwingCole will conduct a “concept workshop” to determine what the facility will look like, how big it will be, and how it will fit into the neighborhood.

“It will be an intensive January and February,” Bushey said.

Bushey said the events center needs to be attractive to people who will buy tickets to events there and to promoters who need to come to Cumberland County and make money.
Committee member Glenn Adams said an African American Museum is planned nearby and its organizers need to be involved in the planning process for the events center.

Walker said a contractor information session was held Dec. 6 and more than 50 companies nationwide participated.

“It was very successful,” Walker said.

Walker said that by Feb. 24, he hopes to have a short list of contractors to be considered for the job and conduct interviews March 6-10.
An advertisement for contractors will be posted in the county’s website, on a state portal for minority firms, on social media and in news releases.

Cumberland Communty Foundation rasies roughly $1.8 million in Giving Tuesday campaign

10 The Cumberland Community Foundation raised approximately $1.8 million in this year’s Giving Tuesday campaign. Coupled with the $575,000 local match, that means nearly $2.4 million was raised for nonprofits in Fayetteville and Cumberland County.

“It’s a very generous community,’’ said Mary Holmes, the president and chief executive officer of the Cumberland Community Foundation. “We may not be the wealthiest community, but I’m sure we’re the most generous.”

This was the third year that the foundation has participated in the Giving Tuesday campaign and overseen the donations from Cumberland County. Seventy-six nonprofits participated this year compared with 65 last year, Holmes said. The money was raised over 10 days, she said.

Holmes said the financial gifts ranged in size from $10 to $100,000.

“Two anonymous donors gave us $100,000,” she said.

“Most of the gifts were $100,’’ she said. “We’re very proud of that. Our goal is to help people who have any ability to give to support these charitable organizations.”

Overall, Holmes said, 3,885 gifts were received from more than 2,000 donors of the different organizations.

“Our campaign is only for our grantees who decided to participate,” said Holmes. “So, that was 76 charitable organizations that decided to participate. So, we’re fundraising just for those organizations.”

In terms of individual organizations, Cape Fear Regional Theatre received the most money, said Holmes, who declined to divulge the amount. Other organizations that ranked high in receiving donations included the Cape Fear Botanical Garden, the Fayetteville Police Foundation, the CARE Clinic and the N.C. History Center on the Civil War, Emancipation and Reconstruction. The CityView News Fund also participated this year.

According to the foundation, the family of Eleanor and Raymond Manning, the Fayetteville Area New Car Dealers Association, Elizabeth M. “Beth” Keeney, Ramon Yarborough, the Cumberland Community Foundation, board alumni and an anonymous donor joined together to offer the cumulative $575,000 to match the gifts throughout the campaign. The matching funds amplify the original donation.

Giving Tuesday — which is often referred to as a global day of generosity — was held from 9 a.m. Nov. 21 through 5 p.m. Nov. 30. The donations will be directed toward “a local nonprofit working to improve Fayetteville and Cumberland County for those who live here,” the foundation states. The foundation put out a catalog featuring the nonprofit organizations participating in the campaign.

“We run the campaign over a 10-day window,” Holmes said. “If you think about it, we have so many charitable organizations here in this community doing fabulous work that really don’t have any fundraising staff.

And the Community Foundation is really good at raising money, and so why wouldn’t we use that skill to help these smaller organizations support their work?”

“We have a really good relationship with donors,” she said, “this is a good role for the Community Foundation.”

The local campaign has seen donations grow each year. In 2020, the campaign raised more than $872,000. A match of $300,000 brought the total to more than $1.17 million, Holmes said. In 2021, nearly $1.25 million was raised before the match of $400,000 was added for a total of more than $1.65 million, she said.

Giving Tuesday dates back to 2012 with the mission to help organizations raise money, Holmes said. The Cumberland Community Foundation determined in 2020 that no one was involved locally in the Giving Tuesday campaign. The foundation changed that.

“We realized that local charities were not participating in an international effort to increase giving," Holmes said, "so we decided to create an online giving catalog on our website and invite nonprofit organizations to participate."

J.D. Power ranks Piedmont Natural Gas No. 1 in customer satisfaction in South among large utilities

9aPiedmont Natural Gas earned the No. 1 spot in customer satisfaction with residential natural gas service in the South among large utilities, according to the J.D. Power 2022 Gas Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study.

This is the first time Piedmont Natural Gas has received the No.1 ranking, topping six other utilities in the South Large segment.

“Earning top honors in customer satisfaction demonstrates our strategy to put customers first,” said Sasha Weintraub, senior vice president and president of Piedmont Natural Gas. “Our think-customer approach is simple — listen to what our customers say and act on it. We work daily to deliver what matters most to them — safe, reliable, affordable and increasingly clean energy. We are grateful these efforts have been noticed, and I’m proud of the entire Piedmont Natural Gas team for this recognition.”

Piedmont’s efforts to understand and address the needs of customers earned top rankings in the following study factors: billing and payment, corporate citizenship, communications, customer care and safety and reliability.

J.D. Power represents the voice of customers. This year’s study results are based on responses from over 57,000 online interviews conducted from January 2022 through October 2022 with residential customers of the 84 largest natural gas utility brands, representing nearly 64.6 million households across the United States.

J.D. Power began measuring the customer satisfaction of natural gas utilities in 2002.
Piedmont Natural Gas is a subsidiary of Duke Energy, and distributes natural gas to more than 1.1 million residential, commercial, industrial and power generation customers in North Carolina, as well as South Carolina and Tennessee.

Piedmont has been named by Cogent Reports as one of the most trusted utility brands in the U.S. For more information visit the website at piedmontng.com.
Duke Energy, a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, is one of America’s largest energy holding companies. Its electric utilities serve 8.2 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. Its natural gas unit serves 1.6 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The company employs 28,000 people.

More information is available at duke-energy.com. The Duke Energy News Center contains news releases, fact sheets, photos and videos. Duke Energy’s illumination features stories about people, innovations, community topics and environmental issues.

Local real estate agent wins national award Coldwell Banker’s Alex McFadyen named ‘Rookie of the Year’

9Alex McFadyen, an agent with Coldwell Banker Advantage in Fayetteville, was named RISMedia’s inaugural “Rookie of the Year” national award winner in November at the annual conference of the National Association of Realtors.

According to RISMedia, the official news source for residential real estate, hundreds of agents were nominated from throughout the United States. The field was narrowed to 10 finalists. In a ceremony at Rosen Centre in Orlando, Fla., McFadyen, 27, was announced as the honoree by Jennifer Dixson Hoff, president of Colibri Real Estate, sponsor of the award.

“I’m honored and a little surprised,” said McFadyen. “It feels good to be recognized for all the hard work of the past year.”

McFadyen’s win was based on achievements for his clients in 2021. He closed 86 units for $19.7 million in production for the year. In 2022, he is presently at 81 units and $22 million in closed sales.
After winning the honor, McFadyen recognized his mentors, including company CEO Ralph Huff and president of the Sandhills division, Lisa Geddie. He also thanked Alan Tucker, his Fayetteville broker-in-charge, now general manager for the Southern Pines office/director of marketing; Malcolm McFadyen, a long-time, top-producing broker at CBA who is his uncle; and CBA trainer Megan Gerber. Alex McFadyen spoke of growing up among the business. Another uncle, Bill McFadyen, works in commercial real estate.

Alex earned his real estate license in the final semester of his senior year at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He believes his degree helped better prepare him for a career in real estate. He graduated with his bachelor’s in communications with a minor in business administration in December 2019. One month later, he went to work for Coldwell Banker Advantage in his hometown of Fayetteville, the #1 Coldwell Banker franchise in North America.

When asked the key to his success, he thoughtfully replied, “Always put your clients first, to make sure their interests are met, that they’re making a good investment. And grow your relationships.”
McFadyen said he jump-started his business by notifying family and friends that he had become a licensed real estate agent and by reaching out to persons who had listed their properties as For Sale By Owner.

He established trust, and the business began steadily growing through referrals.

According to Lisa Geddie, “Being selected as a top 10 finalist is a phenomenal achievement in itself. We are so proud of Alex for being chosen for such an honor as the Rookie of the Year.”

Geddie said his success comes down to basics. “Alex has embraced all the tools and training that Coldwell Banker Advantage has to offer,” she said. “Most importantly, he shows up every day ready to do what it takes to be successful.”


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