Local News

Veteran honored by the Kingdom of the Netherlands for WWII service

04 Bertino coin presentation ASOMRepresentatives from the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands honored World War II veteran Don Bertino on April 17 for his role in the liberation of the Dutch people from Nazi oppression. He was one of several surviving veterans from eight allied countries to receive recognition from the Netherlands in advance of Liberation Day to be celebrated on May 5.

The ceremony took place at the Army Airborne and Special Operations Museum where Bertino is a volunteer.

Captain Mark Brouwer, an officer in The Netherlands Marine Corps, presided over the presentation on behalf of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Brouwer is assigned to Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville.

Bertino, 96, is a native of Pennsylvania but came to North Carolina more than 60 years ago. He now lives in Fayetteville with his daughter. Bertino was drafted into the Army in 1943 at the age of 18. He would serve as part of a 90 mm anti-aircraft gun team in locations from Normandy, Belgium to Berlin. After World War II, he was again called into service during the Korean War. Bertino reached the rank of Private First Class during his service in WWII. During the Korean War, Bertino reached the rank of Sergeant.

During his time in the military, Bertino was stationed in several installations from Pennsylvania to Fort Bliss, Texas, then Louisiana and New York before shipping overseas. After his time in the military, he became a bricklayer in his native Pennsylvania, where the weather up north was too cold to lay brick year-round.

“My brother-in-law left Pennsylvania in 1938 to attend Duke University, and in 1959, he told me if I wanted to lay brick 12 months out of the year, the Carolinas were the place to do it,” said Bertino about his work.

During an exchange with Brouwer, Bertino mentioned that, of the seven countries in Europe he’d been to, the Netherlands treated him the best. When asked the worst part of his time in the Netherlands Bertino responded with, “one of Hitler’s bombs on Christmas Day,” recalling a moment from his combat service.

Bertino recalled his first day of service as “fast and furious.”

“They threw us a bag of clothes, dressed us up, and said get on that train,” said Bertino about that day in 1943. This took place in Pennsylvania, and three days later he said he was in El Paso. Though not everyone Bertino served with made it home, he considers himself fortunate. “I was at the right place at the right time. The enemy didn’t get me, I got them.”

Bertino left military service in June of 1952 and continues to encourage younger men and women now serving: “Try and stay in for 20 years if you can,” he says. “Stay in, do a good job, and honor our country.”

Groups strive for year-round sustainable practices

10 TWO 2 26 21 PopUp Cleanup 3In honor of Earth Day 2021, many local environmentally conscious organizations are making efforts to help the environment in April as well as year-round. Earth Day, celebrated mid-April each year, was first observed in 1970. The movement’s mission focuses on diversifying, educating and activating environmental movements across the world.

Fayetteville Beautiful, a city-wide clean up drive organized on April 17, by the City of Fayetteville, Fayetteville Beautiful, Cumberland County and Sustainable Sandhills targeted issues like litter prevention, beautification and waste reduction. Volunteers cleaned up litter across various marked points in the city from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Sustainable Sandhills is a non-profit serving Fayetteville and the nine surrounding counties creating resilient environmental, economic and social resources for current and future generations.

“Sustainability is the ability of a system to continue functioning without compromising or depleting components it needs to function,” said Dr. Iman Moore, Department Chairman, Environmental and Occupational Management at Methodist University. “The concept of sustainability is important because it will improve overall living conditions which leads to improved health.”

Anti-litter campaign “5 for Friday” was launched by the city along with Cumberland County Solid Waste and Sustainable Sandhills on Feb. 26 of this year, Jonelle Kimbrough, Executive Director of Sustainable Sandhills, said.

The initiative aims to encourage the community to reduce litter in the city by having people pick up five pieces of trash and recyclable materials every Friday. Solid Waste picked up about 84 tons of litter and dumped waste in 2020.

The organizers are requesting people to post pictures on social media picking up litter and using the hashtags #5forFriday and #StantheCan to spread awareness about the initiative.

According to their website, if 25 percent of the county’s population picked up about five pieces of trash on Fridays, it would equal 21 million pieces of litter removed in communities countywide.

For more information on these campaigns, visit fayettevillebeautiful.com and 5forfriday.org
In the long-term, sustainability will protect the health and well-being of future generations, Dr. Moore said.

Another event, a virtual Earth Day Challenge, has participants running throughout the month of April to raise awareness and earn an Earth Day t-shirt and eco-friendly stainless steel straw, she said.

Dr. Moore highlighted the works of many students and organizations at Methodist University in regards to sustainability like the project by an ENM student that led to elimination of drinking straws in campus dining. ENM students also participate in local events such as the E-waste event hosted by Sustainable Sandhills.

“Such events serve as an opportunity for them to make the connection from textbook to real life with minimal effort,” she said. “Later this spring and summer, students will have an opportunity to assist several large energy companies in conducting energy assessments on campus.”

Denise Renfro, science teacher at Douglas Byrd High School, leads the school’s four-year Career Technical Education program focused on renewable energy and sustainability. Students in the program start with learning about sustainability, fossil fuels, different sources of energy and climate change before eventually learning electrical wiring to prepare solar panels. They finish their senior year learning how to install solar panels at FTCC, Renfro said.

Fayetteville State University’s Green Team organized Earth Week from April 19 to April 23 for students, staff and faculty to learn and support environment protection initiatives, Phavadee Phasavath, FSU’s Sustainability Coordinator, said.

The Earth Week events include a documentary to educate people on the impact of their behavior on the environment, campus cleanup, bingo-trivia to spread awareness on climate change, and an event to plant trees and flowers around campus. There will also be a picnic.

Phasavath said her main roles include advising the university on energy management, sustainability and advising the Green Team.
It's not only to save and reduce the carbon footprint but also to save money. The main role is to make sure we are still meeting our goal of reducing the carbon footprint,” Phasavath said. “Earth Day isn’t just one day, you know, it’s everyday.”

In a recent study that the Green Team conducted, by anonymously presenting participants with 5 different water choices - four bottled brands and one tap water - the end consensus resulted in people preferring tap water over bottled water, she said.

“So why would we waste our money and create plastic pollution when we have free accessible tap water at home?” Phasavath asked.

Some tips to be more environmentally conscious are to reduce, reuse, recycle in order to decrease our impact on the environment. Another simple thing to do to help conserve energy is to turn off lights or shut down your computer when you leave a room or office, she said.

“Improved overall conditions for all facets of the ecosystem, improved quality of life in terms of mortality, diseases, etc.,” Dr. Moore said.

Child Advocacy Center needs community support to receive grant

08 pinwheel ballBased on national best practice and research, the Child Advocacy Center was founded in 1993 by a group of concerned local professionals seeking to coordinate services provided to child abuse victims and their families. The CAC provides a safe and child-friendly environment where professionals from community agencies come together to interview, investigate and to provide support for abused children and their families.

This results in a collaborative approach of professionals from Child Protective Services, the District Attorney’s office, law enforcement, Guardian ad Litem, Military Family Services, social workers, victim advocates as well as medical and mental health professionals to provide a coordinated, comprehensive response to victims and their caregivers.

By having a collaborative approach, the CAC reduces the number of interviews for child victims of abuse by providing specially trained professionals to conduct forensic interviews in a centralized location. National research has determined that this type of coordinated approach can help alleviate trauma for children, increase the prosecution rate of perpetrators, and be fiscally beneficial to the community.

In fiscal year 2020, the CAC served 876 children and their non-offending family members and saved the community an estimated $700,000 through its multi-disciplinary team approach. In addition, the Child Advocacy Center provides education to the public and professionals on preventing, detecting and reporting child abuse.

Unfortunately, the center has seen an increase in the need for services while at the same time being financially affected by not being able to host their two signature fundraising events during the pandemic in 2020 — the Fayetteville Ultimate Lip Sync Show Down and the Pinwheel Masquerade Ball & Auction.

As many students have returned back to school in person, we anticipate an even higher increase in the number of cases reported to the CAC. Now more than ever, we need your support.

The Child Advocacy Center is a local 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization funded through the generosity of corporate, state, organization and foundation grants; corporate and individual donations; in-kind contributions; and event sponsorships. There is no charge for services provided to child victims of abuse referred to the CAC.

Thankfully, the Child Advocacy Center was recently granted a $10,000 “All or Nothing” challenge grant from the Simply East Anonymous Trust Challenge Grant.

The challenge grant is for $10,000; however, the challenge is that we must raise at least $10,000 in order to receive the matching grant from Anonymous Trust. If we do not meet the $10,000 in donations, we will not receive the matching challenge grant. The purpose of this grant is to raise funds from new donors, increased gifts from individuals, corporations, foundations and churches.

The Challenge Grant will run through July 31, 2021. Donors may participate as a new donor or an existing donor. Every dollar that is raised will be matched. New donor donations and existing donors, who increase their giving from the year before, will be matched dollar to dollar. This is another way you can be a part of supporting the work of the CAC in our community.

There are also additional ways that you can donate to the CAC, such as through our beautiful Tribute Murals.

Tribute Murals offer a unique way to celebrate, honor or remember special people and occasions.

Currently we have The Giving Tree Leaves Mural and/or the Twinkle, Twinkle Little Stars Mural. You may make a donation for the children served by the CAC and have your gift recognized as part of our beautiful tribute murals. The murals were created by local artist Cornell Jones, and they are on the walls of the reception area and the board/conference room.

While April is nationally recognized as Child Abuse Prevention Month, we know that the mission and vision of our work continues throughout the year and as such, communities are encouraged to increase awareness about child and family well-being, and to work together to implement effective strategies that support families and prevent child abuse and neglect.

To make a donation or to learn more about how you can become involved, please visit CACFayNC.org. We sincerely appreciate your support.

Protesters call for police accountability, transparency from city officials

07 MH 3On April 16, about 50 protestors walked around the Market House chanting “no justice, no peace, no racist police,” and “hands up, don’t shoot.” Protesters carried signs and recited the names of Black people killed by police. The event, planned before the City Council voted Thursday to repurpose the Market House, seemed to galvanize the downtown landmark as a hub to assemble and air grievances about continued discrimination against people of color.

The protest had little to do with the historic landmark itself, but rather recognized the Market House as evidence of what organizers call a lack of action by Fayetteville city leaders.

Friday’s protest was in response to the most recent death of a Black man — Duante Wright — in police custody, but one organizer said it was also to point out that local leaders have either not accomplished much in the last year, or have not been transparent with the public about what they’ve done since last May when rioters rallied at the Market House before damaging store fronts downtown and in the Cross Creek Mall area following the death of George Floyd.

“A year later and nothing has been done,” said Bishop McNeill, one of the organizers for the protest. He said continued protests are planned for every Friday through May. McNeill said he and like-minded citizens will gather at the corner of Hay and Green Streets at 6 p.m. to “bring awareness about needed police reforms that were promised by our officials.”

McNeill called for city officials to make public what police reforms have been enacted since
last year.

“If something like that happens here, we want to make sure police officers are held accountable,” McNeill said referencing the deaths of George Floyd and Duante Wright.

Protesters are calling for city officials to present information to the public about any on-going efforts in police reform and the formation and progress of a Citizens Review Board. In early March, City Council voted to give a CRB the power to look into police personnel records when reviewing disciplinary cases. Few details have been released on a CRB or on the differences in authority between a review board and an advisory board.

Citizens want officials to make those details known, McNeill said. His comments echo a growing concern that city leaders are either acting too slowly or are not proactively informing the public of what actions are being taken.

Up & Coming Weekly reached out to Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin following Friday’s protest, asking for comment on McNeill’s call for transparency. Colvin’s emailed response is printed in full on page 10 of this issue.

McNeill said these Friday “marches for social justice” will address “police reform, Black and brown issues, immigration and Asian discrimination.” He hopes the events will gain public and media attention to ask city leaders “where are we at?” on reform, and on combatting racism and discrimination.

Speakers will be planned for the events, but there will also be opportunities for citizens to address the crowd, as was the case with the April 16 event. One woman participating in the march asked for the loudspeaker and told the crowd that “racism is systemic, but we have to be introspective … what are you doing at your house… to grow, learn and be better?”

At least two participants were openly carrying firearms.

A man who identified himself only as “Rell” was carrying the civilian version of the M4 rifle used by many U.S. Army soldiers in combat. Without alteration, the civilian version is capable of only one round per trigger squeeze, not three-round-bursts or fully auto like the military version. Rell was also carrying a pistol.

Rell said he was “not here to impose fear on anyone” but to make sure nobody broke windows, vandalized and blamed it on protestors.

“It’s our Constitutional right to bear arms,” Rell said. “I’m trained on it, and I also have a concealed carry [license].” Rell said he was a military veteran.

“The police have a lot going on,” he said. “We are here to police up our own so it can be a peaceful demonstration.”

The April 16 event was peaceful, as most protests in Fayetteville have been, McNeill said.

“I don’t want people to be afraid, there’s a lot of fear-mongering … meant to further divide us,” he said. McNeill said he understands that many people are concerned about a protest turning into a riot.

“If you do not want to participate in a demonstration, contact city officials and ask them where they stand, ask them to make a statement,” he said.

At least one local business owner came out to speak with McNeill. “Protests are good as long as they are peaceful,” said Hank Parfitt, owner of a shop on Hay Street. “You should be able to protest.”

Others not directly participating in the event showed support with shouts of encouragement to speakers and honking car horns as they drove around the Market House.

EDITOR’S UPDATE:
Fayetteville Police Chief Gina V. Hawkins provided the following statement via email, which arrived after the April 21, 2021 issue of Up & Coming Weekly went to press.

“The Fayetteville Police Department maintains the Gold Standard CALEA (Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies) accreditation. This is a very strenuous process to become accredited, and it holds agencies to a very high standard (and it is also voluntary).

Our policy and procedure manual is open to the public and is viewable at any time on our website. You can see that our policies and procedures go above what was being requested over the past year. I must note however, the duty to intervene was being taught in our academy/training center, but was added as a written policy last year. Our department continues to attend annual biased based policing and de-escalation training.

Some of the other demands being sought must be approved through proper legislation, such as Citizen Review Board; which is currently pending in the legislative process. Our Mayor and City Council continue to work on this aspect as demonstrated by passing a Council Resolution that included support for a citizen review board on June 22, 2020. This is a process that takes proper research, planning, and discussions.

Mayor Colvin has established two separate City Council Committees last summer to internally examine our City organization as it relates to diversity, equity, and inclusion principles and efforts to determine if obstacles to opportunities exist; and externally to identify areas that will improve the equitable opportunity for all residents to succeed - regardless of their race, color, sex, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, disability, income or zip code as well as engage the residents in dialogue about local issues.

During the March 1, 2021 work session, a motion was passed to formally establish a citizen advisory board (separate entity from the Citizen Review Board that is pending proper legislation). The Council has directed staff to stand up the board in 4 months by July 1st.

As you can see, much work has been going on in by both the Police Department and our City Council leaders. As a reminder all of our policies and procedures can be found on our website: faypd.com.”

City Council votes to repurpose Market House

06 JEFF market house slave plaque 3For nearly 200 years the historic Market House has been the focal point of downtown Fayetteville. Its very existence has been an irritant for many African Americans. Its presence has been an object of public debate for many years. On April 15, City Council decided not to tear the building down or move it out of downtown, which would be virtually impossible because of its architecture.

Council voted 9-1 to repurpose the landmark. Local architects suggested turning it into an art exhibit, making it into a place that displays Fayetteville history with a focus on Black contributors, making it into a marketplace for strictly Black vendors or using it to create an event space. That decision has yet to be made.

The Market House was built in 1832 on the site of the old State House, which had been where North Carolina delegates ratified the U.S. Constitution. But the state house was destroyed in the Great Fire
of 1831.

The Market House is one of only 50 National Landmarks in North Carolina. Architecturally unique, the structure is one of the few in America to use the town hall - market scheme found in England. Household goods were sold beneath the building, while the second floor was utilized originally as the town hall.

Occasionally enslaved people were sold at or near the Market House. The vast majority of the slaves were sold as a result of indebtedness or estate liquidation. Unlike New Orleans, Richmond and Charleston, S.C. North Carolina cities were not slave markets.

On April 16, a small group of demonstrators took up a position at Market Square in response to what they called “the persistent injustice facing Black lives.” The group, mostly young, staged the protest which drew some support from passing motorists. Several police squad cars patrolled the vicinity for an hour before the five o’clock session began. The group said members intend to hold similar demonstrations every Friday evening in May.

The Cumberland County administration closed government buildings in the downtown Fayetteville area at 4 p.m. “to allow employees to leave the area prior to potential protest activities,” as stated in a news release.

The news release stated all of the county's government buildings downtown, including the courthouse, board of elections office and headquarters library would close early. City administrative staff members were sent home at 4:30, according to a city spokeswoman.

In 1989, Fayetteville City Council commissioned a plaque to be attached to the exterior of the Market House where it still stands.

It reads in part: “In memory and honor of those indomitable people who were stripped of their dignity when sold as slaves at this place. Their courage at that time was a proud heritage of all times. They endured the past so the future could be won for freedom and justice.”

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