Local News

Red Cross offers steps to keep students safe

10As students head back to the classroom, the American Red Cross has steps to help kids remain safe.

For parents, it’s a good time to think about emergencies, such as weather-related disasters. Know what the emergency plan is at your child’s school and develop a family emergency plan so everyone will know who to contact and where to go if something happens during the school day. Details are available at redcross.org/prepare.

“There are a lot of things to think about for the start of a busy new school year, but don’t forget to include safety,” said Barry Porter, Regional CEO, American Red Cross Eastern North Carolina Region.

CELL PHONES A DISTRACTION

The National Safety Council reports distracted walking can be dangerous, even deadly. Teach your students the following:

  • Don’t text or talk on your phone while walking. If you must text, move out of the way of others and stop on the sidewalk.
  • Never cross the street while using an electronic device.
  • Do not walk with headphones in your ears.
  • Drivers can be distracted too. Never use a phone while driving.

TAKING THE BUS

  • Students should get to their bus stop early and stand away from the curb while waiting. Young children should be supervised.
  • Board the bus only after it has come to a complete stop and the driver or attendant instructs them to get on. They should only board their bus, never an alternate one.
  • All students should stay in clear view of the bus driver and never walk behind the bus.

WALKING TO SCHOOL

  • Cross the street at the corner, obeying traffic signals and staying in the crosswalk.
  • Never run out into the street or cross between parked cars.
  • Use a route along which the school has placed crossing guards.
  • Parents, walk with young children and those taking new routes or attending new schools, for the first week to ensure they know how to get there safely. Arrange for the kids to walk to school with a friend or classmate.

GOING BY CAR

  • Everyone should always wear a seat belt. Younger children should use car seats or booster seats until the lap-shoulder belt fits properly (typically for children ages 8-12 and over 4’9”), and ride in the back seat until they are at least 13 years old.

RIDING A BIKE

There may be more young people on bikes as the school bells ring. They should:

  • Wear a properly fitted helmet and bright clothing.
  • Ride on the right side of the road, with traffic, in a single file.
  • Come to a complete stop before crossing the street; walk bikes across the street.
  • Stay alert to avoid distracted riding.

SLOW DOWN

Drivers should slow down, especially in residential areas and school zones. Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is getting ready to stop, that motorists should slow down and be prepared to stop. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign indicate the bus is stopped and children are getting on or off.
Motorists must stop when they are behind a bus, meeting the bus or approaching an intersection where a bus is stopped. Motorists following or traveling alongside a school bus must also stop until the red lights have stopped flashing, the stop arm is withdrawn, and all children have reached safety. This includes two and four-lane highways. If physical barriers such as grassy medians, guide rails or concrete median barriers separate oncoming traffic from the bus, motorists in the opposing lanes may proceed without stopping.

KEEP LITTLE ONES SAFE

Keeping all students safe is the primary concern for everyone, but there are special steps for parents of younger kids and those going to school for the first time:

  • Make sure the child knows their phone number, address, how to get in touch with their parents at work, how to get in touch with another trusted adult and how to call 911.
  • Teach children not to talk to strangers or accept rides from someone they don’t know.

Finally, download the free Red Cross First Aid app for instant access to information on handling the most common first aid emergencies. You can find it by searching for ‘American Red Cross’ in your app store or at redcross.org/apps.

City Council District 4: Haire speaks about his decades-long career in council, what's next

9Fayetteville City Council member D.J. Haire is excited to be back on City Council for his eleventh term.

Haire is the longest-serving council member on the current council. He was first sworn into office in December of 1997, and remained until November 2013. He won the district seat again in 2017, and has continued to maintain his seat representing District 4.
The 63-year-old bested challenger Thomas Greene by an overwhelming majority. He was sworn in by North Carolina Justice Mike Morgan.

“I think it went very well, just like everyone else, we're always hoping for voters to come out. So with those that came out, we're very honored and thankful for the number [of votes]that we received. Very grateful,” Haire said.

District 4 includes Bonnie Doone, Cambridge, Glen Reilly, Lake Valley, Mallard Creek, Scotty Hills, Stewart’s Creek and Woodfield.

One of the most recent projects for Haire included working with the state to drop the speed limit on sections of Pamalee Drive, Cliffdale Road and Stoney Point Road. He wanted the speed limit to change to 35 miles per hour for each section. However, the North Carolina Department of Transportation — which owns the roads — decided to change the speed limit on Pamalee Drive and Cliffdale Road from 50 to 45 mph. For Stoney Point Road, the NCDOT changed the speed limit from 55 mph to 45 mph.

“I think that's a great improvement to slow down cars in that major thoroughfare that is surrounded by residential neighborhoods,” Haire said.

Another successful project he is proud of is the extension of zoning notification for neighborhoods. Previously only houses within 500 feet would receive notification of a new zoning permit. Now, that notification area is 1,000 feet.

“In my district we're saying that [the residents] were not receiving the notices and it was because they were outside of that 500 feet but were still in the neighborhood that encompassed the zoning for construction,” Haire said.

Looking to the future, Haire wants to continue to focus on small local businesses and encourage and support them in his district. As a second-generation small business estate investor, Haire believes the community is backed by small businesses. According to Haire, $400,000 has been dedicated to helping local businesses in the first quarter alone.

“When they do well, the city does well. When we help our small businesses, and they can expand or hire new or additional employees, if their footprint can grow, where we can help increase their tax base. That's a big, big plus,” Haire said.

He is also excited to see the new Amazon distribution center scheduled to be built in his district. The 1.3 million-square-foot facility is getting built on 94 acres inside Fayetteville’s Military Industrial Park, near Interstate 295 near Fort Bragg. The center is projected to create up to 500 jobs by the time operation begins.

Other projects Haire wants to work on for District 4 include adding bathrooms in parks, developing pieces of worn-down property, and continuing to push for improved stormwater drainage.
One recent item that Haire suggested the council look into is a possible retirement plan for council members above 60 who have served at least ten years on council. Council members would not receive the money until the official leaves the City Council and each official would receive $500 per month.

Haire tells Up & Coming Weekly that he just wants the city to look into the possibility after he spoke with county commissioners and realized that the state delegation has a form of retirement/deferment plan.
Cumberland County commissioners are eligible to invest in a 401k-like matching investment plan with the county matching up to 4.9% of a board member’s salary for those who opt
to participate in the deferred retirement plan.

“It's just a matter of staff bringing that information. Nothing is a done deal. Anytime there's a council member request at a work session, it is only for information,” Haire said.

During the election of mayor pro-tem, it was Haire who nominated Johnny Dawkins and motioned for Dawkins to take on the position.
Haire also voted against the “Vote Yes Fayetteville” referendum so it would not be on the November ballot. The referendum would require that four of the nine City Council members be elected by citywide voting rather than voting by district.

The issue was that the Vote Yes group may not have followed the “notice of circulation” procedure to get signatures on its petition, according to Mayor Mitch Colvin.
The State Board of Elections decided last week that it will be up to City Council to vote on if the petition is valid or not. [At press time, the matter had not yet been decided.]

Haire wants people to know that neighborhood concerns are just as big as economic concerns. He says he wants to continue to work on community programs like crime prevention and safety groups.
He is also open to looking at old ordinances and see what needs to be updated for this growing city.

“I try my best not to let my community down as far as being at meetings. Talking with them, standing up in front of them, taking their questions. Whatever their concerns are, I'm going to continue to do the job, what I've been doing, and that's just working aggressively hard and building trust and being loyal and being committed,” Haire said.

“That's what I've tried to do since 1997, is let my word be my bond. And because of that, we have built a lot of trust.”

Will city redistricting go to Fayetteville voters again?

8After a petition was issued in June to change how municipal districts are organized, a referendum might be on November’s ballot to restructure the nine-person Fayetteville City Council.
The proposal comes less than a year from the last time the city decided on voting districts for City Council members.

Currently, one member is selected from and represents each of the nine city districts.

According to city documents, the proposal calls for Fayetteville’s municipal districts to be reduced to five. That would result in five representatives from five separate districts within the city. The remaining four would be decided at-large, meaning all Fayetteville voters would decide on nearly half of the members of the city council.

North Carolina law requires that at-large members of any city or town council in the state be fewer or equal to half of the total elected municipal body, according to legal analysis from the UNC School of Government.

If voters approve, redistricting ahead

If the petition is validated, the measure is placed on November’s ballot and if a majority of voters approve of the restructuring, Fayetteville City Council members would be responsible for passing a new district map, like any other municipality in North Carolina.

Under the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution, the potential new five districts would be required to be substantially equal in population.
At a regular meeting earlier this month, council members considered the petition for approving the measure to be put on the ballot for the upcoming election in November, but the City Council delayed the approval.

City Attorney Karen McDonald said at the meeting that the council must decide on the ballot measure at its next meeting on Aug. 22 or hold a special meeting to conclude the matter.
The timing is required because of the public notice to voters that must be issued by the Cumberland County Board of Elections in a certain time frame before the election, as required by state law. Per state law, any proposed change to voting districts must have enough public notice prior to a vote.

Neither McDonald nor members of the council discussed the petition’s origin.

5,000 valid signatures prompt question

According to N.C. General Statute § 160A-104, municipalities of Fayetteville’s size only need 5,000 valid signatures on a petition to ask for a change to the structure of the City Council. U.S. census figures show that Fayetteville had an estimated 209,000 residents in 2021.

The Cumberland County Board of Elections is charged with validating the petition. According to a letter addressed to the city and signed by the board’s interim director, Angie Amaro, 5,009 of the 5,721 signatures on the petition have been verified, certifying the validity of the petition on June 13.

Upon direction from the City Council at last week’s meeting, McDonald will follow up with the Board of Elections on the petition’s validity and ask for a copy of the filed notice of the circulation of the petition.
State law requires that such a notice must be registered with the county board of elections for the petition to be valid.

The City Council will review the notice once it is obtained from the Board of Election, at its Aug. 22 meeting or a special meeting.
If the petition is ultimately deemed valid, the City Council will be required by state law to send the proposal to voters.

Then, if voters ultimately reject the proposal, the current district map will be used for the next decade until the next U.S. census recalculates the city’s population in 2030.

Backpack giveaway set for Monday

pexels katerina holmes 5905436 Students can get backpacks, school supplies and a hot meal during a drive-thru back-to-school event Monday, Aug. 22.

Balm in Gilead, in partnership with Cumberland County Schools and the Carolina Panthers, will distribute the items to students in need during an event Monday from 6 to 8 p.m., the school system said in a release.

The giveaway will be at Balm in Gilead, 3110 Doc Bennett Road.

Staff with Balm in Gilead and volunteers from the school system and other organizations will be at the site helping with the distribution.

The Carolina Panthers donated 5,000 bookbags with school supplies for Cumberland County Schools students, the release said.

City Council scheduled to discuss Vote Yes Fayetteville

vote yes3 copy The Fayetteville City Council on Monday night. Aug. 22, is expected to consider a resolution that would allow voters to decide whether to change the way council members are elected.

The Vote Yes initiative would restructure the way City Council members are elected. Instead of all nine members being elected by district, four members would be elected at large and five would be elected from districts. The mayor would still be elected citywide.

In other business Monday, Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins is scheduled to give a second-quarter report on her department.
With the Vote Yes initiative, the council is expected to consider a resolution that would put the issue before voters on Nov. 8.
If the issue is to go before voters this fall, the council needs to take action soon. In an email last week to CityView Today, Cumberland County Board of Elections member Linda Devore said “time is of the essence’’ because absentee ballots are expected to go out on Sept. 9 and the state has already started the ballot printing process for some counties.

The issue was removed from the council's agenda at a June 27 work session and its Aug. 8 regular meeting, when questions were raised about whether the advocacy group promoting the change, Vote Yes Fayetteville, had filed all the paperwork needed to get the referendum on the ballot.
The council directed City Attorney Karen McDonald to request a copy of the notice of circulation and the date of registration from the county Board of Elections. She made the request in a letter on Aug. 9.

Angie Amaro, the interim director of the county Board of Elections, responded to McDonald in a letter on Aug. 16.
Amaro said in her letter that the N.C. State Board of Elections maintains information and guidance on filing petitions on its website. She said the only petition form on the website is a North Carolina Petition Request.

“Neither the state board’s website nor the petition request form mentions a notice of circulation,’’ Amaro wrote in the letter. “I am not aware that any such form exists. Neither a document identified as a notice of circulation nor a North Carolina petition request was filed in my office for this petition.’’

On Saturday, Mayor Mitch Colvin said he didn't see where much has changed since the city first questioned the legal validity of the petition two weeks ago.

"I'm sure the conversation will come up on Monday," he said. " It boils down to the Article 19 of that particular statute and how if those criteria have been met are outlined. I've heard a lot of double-talk about how it didn't apply, but I haven't seen anything that talks about inclusion, also. Pretty much the position of the city attorney had was that 'It didn't appear to be valid.' "

Colvin said the city has requested copies of all the necessary documents, including the N.C. Petition Request, from the Board of Elections several times but it is his understanding that the document doesn't exist in the file.

"And they don't have anything they can provide," he added.

He said he doesn’t know what to anticipate Monday night.

"We'll see where the discussion goes when it comes up," he said when asked if he expects the council to take action on the proposed resolution.

"At the end of the day," the mayor said, "it's not like it's a never-ending thing. If it doesn't happen in November, to me — I'm just thinking we just need to follow the law in accordance with it. It's an important issue, so it will be challenged, probably either way, so we want to make sure that the city is not taking an additional risk, skipping a step or looking at the other way."

Bobby Hurst, one of the organizers of the Vote Yes Fayetteville initiative, said Saturday that the group has done everything it is supposed to do. Amaro verified the signatures on the petition submitted by the Vote Yes group.

“Everything is in order," Hurst said when asked about having all of the appropriate documentation available for the city to address.

He said changing the way the council is elected is something for residents to decide.

“What do the citizens prefer?’’ Hurst said. “It's really up to them, not council. Do you want more representation — six instead of two votes — and you'd have four people instead of (the) mayor looking at the big picture or what's been for Fayetteville as a whole rather than small districts? Those district representatives — their size of City Council would increase from about 23,(000) or 24(,000) to about 41,000 people. So if they're doing a good job, they would love to have a bigger territory.’’

Hurst said he thinks the council should take action on the issue Monday.

"Because as Linda Devore had mentioned, the time is short," he said.

Hurst has previously said that Fayetteville lawyer Neil Yarborough told the committee that the "notice of circulation" procedure does not apply to the Vote Yes petition.
In a memo to the City Council in the agenda materials, McDonald says that upon receipt of a valid petition, the council is obligated by state law to call for a special election.

The memo says the council has three options: adopt the resolution to call for a special election, don’t adopt the resolution or provide additional direction to staff.
The staff recommends that the council vote on whether to adopt the resolution for a special election.
The Cumberland County Board of Elections needs roughly 90 days from the Nov. 8 Election Day to establish proper working and printing for the general-election ballots, including this referendum and the three bond issues from the city of Fayetteville, according to Hurst.
Supporters of the Vote Yes initiative say the plan would strengthen the council, provide better representation for all voters and result in the election of more “big-picture” council members. CityView Today publisher Tony Chavonne is among those who organized the Vote Yes petition drive.
But some opponents say the change would dilute minority voting strength and make it more expensive for candidates who would have to run citywide campaigns rather than district campaigns.

Second quarter crime report

The council also is expected to receive the second-quarter crime statistics from Hawkins on Monday night.
In May, when she delivered first-quarter statistics to the council, Hawkins reported that assault, domestic violence and vehicle theft cases had risen while homicides and rapes decreased. Though crime has been trending downward over the last six years, Hawkins said in May, crime was going up in some areas compared to the first quarter of 2021.
The City Council meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. at City Hall.

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