Local News

Meet this year’s Fayetteville Ladies Power Lunch speakers

09 20191114 Fayetteville Ladies Power Lunch 208The Fayetteville Ladies Power Lunch  is a quarterly networking event held at Cape Fear Botanical Garden focused on inspiring and empowering the women in our community. Each event opens with an exclusive Shopportunity Expo with local vendors and a wine tasting event at 10 a.m. The catered luncheon with entertainment, a keynote speaker and raffle take place from 11:45 a.m.-2 p.m., and lastly, the Shopportunity Expo continues with more door prizes from 2-3 p.m. The dates for the 2020 FLPL events are Feb. 13, May 14, Aug.13 and Nov. 12. The FLPL keynote speakers for 2020 are Donna Clayton Lloyd, Mary Kate Burke, Julie Russo and Dr. DeSandra Washington, respectively.

February 13, Donna Clayton Lloyd
Realtor and Broker in Charge of ANYTHING REAL ESTATE, an affiliate of Townsend Real Estate in Fayetteville
To be chosen as a speaker for the 2020 FLPL, I face a perfect opportunity to live out my life mission of telling the stories from my life and lessons learned that I hope will inspire, educate and celebrate women as other women and leaders have done for me. I believe in passing on every secret to success and acknowledging the lessons learned from the broken places. With God’s help and that of others, I want to be a part of the team of women that spreads that word.

May 14, Mary Kate Burke
Artistic Director of Cape Fear Regional Theatre
At CFRT, 86% of our mainstage directors are women. The national average is closer to 35%. The incredible Bo Thorp founded CFRT. For 53 out of its 59 years, the theater has been woman-led. It is important to create opportunities for other deserving women and to mentor them. At CFRT, we make it easy for people to have a family and still work, which is rare in this field. Small accommodations and flexibility allow us to retain incredible employees and provides them a better quality of life.
August 13, Julie Russo
Director at McKee Homes, LLC
One of the ways I hope to inspire women is by helping them connect with other women. The hardest thing about trying or learning something new is the initial discomfort associated with it. I encourage all women to embrace that discomfort because there is no such thing as a wasted education. I like to celebrate the unique talents women bring to the workforce while supporting their efforts to find work-life balance is vital to our success.

November 12, Dr. Desandra Washington
Associate Vice President for Academic Support at Fayetteville Technical Community College
As a young girl growing up in Fayetteville, I had the honor, privilege, and blessing to have mentors that encouraged and motivated me to excel in life. These phenomenal women molded me into the God-fearing, driven, service-oriented woman I am today. It was a given that I would continue the legacy to inspire, educate, empower and celebrate our local women.

Learn more from these visionary women in this year’s 2020 quarterly FLPL series. Visit https://www.fayettevilleladiespowerlunch.com/ for tickets and information.
Pictured from L-R: Dr. Desandra Washington, Julie Russo, Mary Kate Burke, Donna Clayton Lloyd

Commissary savings up slightly

06 Fort Bragg Commissary InteriorThe military commissary agency has been required to track customer savings since fiscal 2016, to help defense officials and Congress monitor the commissary benefit. Commissary customers save 25% more than in civilian grocery stores. The upward trend in fiscal 2019 averaged 25.6%, according to a report from the Defense Commissary Agency. Overall, the savings are up from 23.9% for fiscal 2018. But savings in overseas stores declined from the 2018 level. Officials attribute the drop overseas to the lower cost-of-living allowance in fiscal 2019.

The overall savings level for U.S. stores was 22.3% for fiscal 2019. DeCA compares prices with up to three commercial grocers, including one supercenter, in the local area of each commissary in the U.S. Fort Bragg is the largest Army post in the country and has two full-size commissaries. The comparison looks at 38,000 items at a regional level and local prices on about 1,000 products that are representative of a shopper’s typical market basket, officials say.

For years, commissary savings were touted as an overall 30%. But, in 2016, as mandated by law, DeCA established a baseline of savings using a more thorough methodology. Congress now requires the agency to maintain savings levels that are reasonably consistent with the 2016 baseline, since the agency can now use variable pricing — lowering or raising prices on items, rather than selling them at cost, as they did for decades.

Commissary officials have had the authority to do this for several years, as a means of being competitive with local stores, and to allow commissaries to use some of the profit made to reduce the amount of taxpayer dollars — over $1 billion a year — that’s used to run the stores. Taxpayer dollars have been a target of people in DoD in efforts to save money. One retiree contacted Military Times to say he’s been shopping at commissaries for more than 50 years, “and from what I can see, prices are noticeably going up!”

Savings depend on the items, as well as the region. For example, there are more than 900 items in the commissary’s Your Everyday Savings, or “YES!” program, which lowers prices year-round on items that commissary customers purchase the most. That has contributed to the increase in savings, said Robert Bianchi, a retired Navy rear admiral who is a Defense Department special assistant for commissary operations.

The YES! program is designed to help commissaries level the playing field when it comes to the perceived value of the benefit, Bianchi added.

Too many consumers get a false impression about the value of the overall savings of a civilian grocery store based on a few loss leaders. These are items that stores are willing to accept revenue losses on so they can attract consumers. Bianchi said a commissary’s grocery department — for example, packaged foods — is the main driver of savings for commissaries in the South Atlantic region. The 30 stores in the region showed Fiscal Year 2019 savings of 20.4%.

Cybersecurity education available

07 N2003P36001CIn recent years, cybersecurity as a profession has found itself at a crossroads. Since its origins in the 1980s, practitioners have drifted into computer security, information security or cybersecurity from other disciplines, mainly information technology and engineering, as well as entering through more academic or formal routes. However, with the increase in cybersecurity threats and attacks, the demand for professionals can no longer be met by practitioners drifting in from other professions or by limiting the choice to those lucky enough to have been able to pursue master’s degrees.

Just last month, Cumberland County Workforce Development commemorated graduates of a Cybersecurity Pre-Apprenticeship program. The program is for young adults ages 14 through 25. It was held at the Cumberland County N.C. Works Career Center last fall. Raleigh-based ISG Cybersecurity Talent Development teamed up with Cumberland County Workforce Development to present the program. Eighteen students graduated in the inaugural class.

ISG launched the Cybersecurity Apprenticeship Program in 2016 to help entry-level apprentices advance from mid- to senior-level skills in two years. The apprenticeship program helps meet industry demand for cybersecurity professionals and helps young people establish a career path in the field. Graduates will enter the next phase at Fayetteville Technical Community College to obtain certifications for continued education in cybersecurity. FTCC’s Systems Security and Analysis program prepares graduates for employment in the technology sector as cybersecurity analysts, cybersecurity managers, support technicians, system administrators and engineers.
In 2015, Fayetteville Technical Community College President Dr. Larry Keen and Methodist University President Dr. Ben Hancock signed an agreement that allows a seamless transfer process for students interested in continuing cyber and information security studies. FTCC students who receive their Associate in Applied Science degrees in Information Systems Security are fully qualified to enter Methodist’s Digital Forensics and Cybersecurity program, which offers a Bachelor of Science degree.
“We’re very excited for all of the positive things that will come from this agreement,” Hancock said. “For some students, this will be the best fit — to start out their careers at FTCC and then come to Methodist.”

FTCC students must have received a C or better grade in those classes.

“This is the first IT preapprentice program in North Carolina. Once these young adults complete this program, which will take them less than two years, they will be certified in cybersecurity with the ability to earn a mini-mum of $45,000 annually,” said Cumberland County Workforce Development Director Nedra Rodriguez.

“The cybersecurity course was very informative and helped me understand more about computers,” said Ian McLaurin, a Cape Fear High School graduate who is one of the cybersecurity graduates.

The next cybersecurity pre-apprentice program at Fayetteville’s N.C. Works Career Center at 414 Ray Ave. starts in April.

The Cumberland County N.C. Works Career assists veterans and job seekers with the resources they need to succeed. For more information about the career center, go to co.cumberland.nc.us/career-center.

The Workforce Development Board is appointed and governed by the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners.

Building Business Rally a success

05 01 Building Business Rally 2A business development gathering begun as an annual event four years ago by Fayetteville’s Public Works Commission succeeded beyond expectations this year. “Of the 500 or so attendees, 300 were representatives of local businesses,” said PWC spokeswoman Carolyn Justice-Hinson.

They took advantage of the opportunity to learn about the estimated $1 billion local governments and major companies have budgeted that they would like to spend locally. The Building Business Rally, held  at the Ramada Plaza Hotel Jan. 30, made area business owners aware that Fayetteville and Cumberland County organizations depend on local companies to provide relevant and necessary goods and services. “Local engagement is what government agencies emphasize,” when making purchases large and small, Justice-Hinson added.

“Learning about correct sources in the community was of great value,” said Anthony Day of WMK Tiles.

A website is available for business owners for follow up: Faybids.com.   

05 02 N1611P25011CEarly voting

Early voting for the March 3 primary election ends Feb. 29 at all seven locations in Cumberland County. They are the Board of Elections office, Cliffdale Recreation Center, North Regional Branch Library, Hope Mills Recreation Center, East Regional Branch Library, J.D. Pone Recreation Center and Smith Recreation Center. Voters will not be required to show photo identification for the March 3, primary election. A federal court blocked North Carolina’s voter photo ID requirement from taking effect. The injunction will remain in place until further orders of the court. The March primary is for various federal, state and local offices including president, governor, North Carolina House districts 43, 44 and 45, judicial district 12 and two Cumberland County Board of Commissioners seats. Citizens who wish to vote must report to their home precinct. Polls for all precincts will open at 6:30 a.m. March 3 and close at 7:30 p.m. Call 910-678-7733 or go to co.cumberland.nc.us/election-board for more information.

05 03 fayettevillepoliceofficersHome buying assistance for police officers

The city of Fayetteville has received a $50,000 check from First Horizon Bank for the Good Neighbor Homebuyer Loan Program. This program, to be administered by the city’s Economic and Community Development Department, is designed to offer city police officers a depreciating loan of up to $20,000 for a down payment and closing costs. The homes must be in Fayetteville’s revitalization corridors of Murchison Road or B Street.

“This provides our officers with a great opportunity to receive assistance with a home purchase within the city,” said Police Chief Gina Hawkins. “I am very thankful for First Horizon Bank’s graciousness in providing the money ... for this effort,” Mayor Mitch Colvin added, “We encourage other businesses and organizations to consider such beneficial partnerships.”

05 04 fire station 15 2Fayetteville has been fire-fatality free for more than a year

For the first time in 10 years, there were no fire-related deaths in the city of Fayetteville in 2019. Across North Carolina last year, there were 117 fire-related deaths. The Fayetteville Fire Department responded to more than 29,000 calls for service in 2019. Four hundred sixteen calls were structure fires.  The reduction in fire fatalities has been attributed primarily to the rapid response of the fire department and the dedication of residents who have smoke alarms and early detection devices in their homes.
“The importance of an early indication of fire in a dwelling is immeasurable,” said Fire Chief Mike Hill.

The Fayetteville Fire Department will install smoke alarms free of charge. The Fayetteville Fire Department is rated class 1 by the Insurance Service Office, which is the best possible rating. A class 1 rating describes how well a fire department protects the community. Insurance companies also use the score to help set insurance rates.

05 05 82nd Abn Columbia trainingSouth America airborne exercise

Approximately 75 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division and 40 personnel from U.S. Army South wrapped up an airborne assault exercise Jan. 29. During the field maneuver, U.S. and Colombian paratroopers performed an airborne training insertion from C-130 Hercules aircraft, followed by tactical exercises designed to simulate the securing of an airfield. U.S. and Colombian personnel worked together to build interoperability and strategic and tactical expertise.

“We are honored to train with Colombia — a close friend of the U.S. and Global Partner to NATO,” said U.S. Navy Adm. Craig Faller, commander of U.S. Southern Command, which routinely conducts multinational exercises throughout Latin America and the Caribbean to strengthen partnerships.

05 06 Tiny HomesTiny homes for homeless veterans

Super Bowl-bound Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, 24, spends much of his spare time volunteering with a Kansas City-based organization that supports homeless veterans. One of the project’s initiatives is a community of 49 tiny homes built to get down-on-their-luck veterans off the streets. Fayetteville City Council recently heard a presentation from a Greensboro-based firm that builds tiny homes, some of which are set aside for homeless vets.

“It’s awesome, just to be a part of this … and help out some veterans of our country,” Mahomes said. “It’s something that’s truly special.”

Along with these 240- to 350-square-foot homes, occupants are provided with utilities and food. Mahomes’ volunteer work is separate from his personal charity. His foundation focuses on aiding underprivileged children by supporting 15 different local youth charities. With less than a week until Super Bowl Sunday, Kansas City is ready to cheer on Mahomes as he leads his team into its final game of the season.

Multiservice homeless center proposed

07 homeless personFayetteville City Council is considering spending nearly $4 million on a facility to help the homeless. The money is available to the city in state grant funds. City Council invited officials of Raleigh’s Oak City Cares to make a presentation at a recent public meeting. Oak City Cares is an organization that bills itself as a multiservice agency that provides a day center and services to help the homeless.

The “concept is to coordinate rather than compete with other agencies,” said Oak City Cares Executive Director Kathryn Johnson.

Wake County provided $7 million, and the city of Raleigh gave $3.4 million for the multipurpose center in downtown Raleigh, according to Rick Miller, retired regional director of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Raleigh, which operates the facility.

Wake County provided an old warehouse as a shell building for the center. Catholic Charities employees operate the facility, which raised $2.5 million in a private fundraising effort. The funds are paying the nonprofit agency’s share of operating costs for the first few years and provide $400,000 in reserve funds, Johnson told Council.

Local Fayetteville agencies that serve the homeless insist a multimillion-dollar complex would be a waste of money since the services offered by such a facility are already available in the community. Fayetteville’s Operation Inasmuch has many of the programs and facilities provided by Oak City Cares. FOI’s website says its 40-bed lodge has led more than 200 men to get jobs, assisted over 100 men to find stable housing, provided individualized case management, offered job search and interview training and reduced the homeless population. Just as Oak City Cares does, the Operation Inasmuch lodge provides shower facilities, laundry services and computer access.

Unlike the capital city area where city and county governments worked together, Cumberland County Commissioners have said they have no interest in joining the city in a multipurpose center for the homeless. Other groups are also active in Fayetteville in meeting the needs of people living on the streets. Street people who live a public, transient lifestyle on the streets of a city are among the homeless and are often mentally ill. Organizations here that serve the homeless agree the city should focus on job creation and providing affordable housing.

City Council also heard from the director of Communities in Communities, which builds and leases tiny homes for those in need. It’s a Greensboro-based company that replaces vacant and blighted properties in the Triad with small houses of 500 to 1,000 square feet. Scott Jones outlined cottage communities in pocket neighborhoods that have been developed in High Point and Greensboro with a new development underway in Winston-Salem. “They are designed to serve the needs of the chronic homeless,” Jones said. “The idea is to replace tent-living with small homes that are practical and affordable.”

Rent is subsidized based on the occupants’ earnings. City officials took no action on the proposals and did not schedule a subsequent meeting.


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