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Celebrate milestone moments in women’s history

11a Each March, Women’s History Month highlights the contributions of women throughout history.

Women have played a vital role throughout the history of the world, even during eras and in countries where they have been marginalized and their freedoms limited.

There’s no shortage of milestone moments in women’s history, and the following are some everyone can appreciate and commemorate this March and beyond.

Marie Curie wins the Nobel Prize: In 1903, chemist and physicist Marie Curie and her husband, Pierre, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their work involving radiation. Curie became the first woman to win the distinguished prize, but she didn’t stop there, winning the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1911. That made Curie a trailblazer of a different sort, as she became the first person to win or share two Nobel Prizes.

American women are granted the right to vote: The passage of the Nineteenth Amendment of the Constitution on August 18, 1920, guaranteed all American women the right to vote. The passage of the amendment, which was a byproduct of the hard work of women who had been fighting for suffrage for decades, enfranchised more than 25 million American women in the months ahead of the 1920 presidential election.

Though this was a momentous event for American women, the United States was not the first nation to grant voting rights to women. That distinction belongs to the colony of South Australia, which allowed women to vote in local elections in 1861.

Women serve in the armed forces during World War II: WWII has inspired countless books and Hollywood productions, but few have recognized or emphasized the role women played in that conflict. 11b

11c That’s unfortunate and misleading, as the U.S. Army established the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps on May 15, 1942. Later known as the Women’s Army Corps, or WAC, this women’s branch of the U.S. Army was initially led by Colonel Oveta Culp Hobby, who later became just the second woman to serve in a presidential cabinet.
Roughly 150,000 women served in the WAAC or WAC during World War II, with some stationed in Europe, North Africa and New Guinea.

The National Organization for Women is founded: An American feminist organization, NOW was founded on June 30, 1966 and has since left an indelible mark on American society. Since its inception, NOW, which has an estimated membership of roughly half a million, has fought against discrimination and for equal rights for women.

Iceland makes equal pay the law of the land: In 2018, Iceland became the first country in the world to mandate that men and women in the same job be paid the same amount. This marked a major step forward for women, who have historically been paid less than their male counterparts holding the same positions.

Women’s History Month is a great time to recognize and celebrate the many contributions women have made throughout world history.

Global scope of violence against women continues

10 Dating back to social media usage that began in 2006, the social movement often referred to as “#MeToo” has done much to draw attention to violence against women.

Such violence was perpetrated prior to 2006 and has persisted even as the #MeToo movement has inspired women across the globe to share their stories in public.

Greater public understanding of the scope of violence against women may compel further action to combat such brutality.

  • Estimates from the World Health Organization indicate that three in 10 women worldwide have been subjected to either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime.
  • WHO data indicates that 27% of women between the ages of 15 and 49 who have been in a relationship report that they have been subjected to some form of physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner. The organization UN Women indicates that, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 243 million women in that age bracket experienced such violence.
  • A WHO analysis of prevalence data from 2000-2018 found that as many as 38% of all murders of women are committed by intimate partners.
  • Data regarding non-partner sexual violence is more limited, but the WHO indicates 6% of women across the globe report having been sexually assaulted by someone other than a partner.
  • A 2013 study from the WHO examining the health burden associated with violence against women found that women who had been physically or sexually abused were 1.5 times more likely to have a sexually transmitted infection compared to women who had not experienced partner violence.
  • A 2021 report from the United Nations indicated that domestic violence against women increased to unprecedented levels in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. The National Commission on COVID-19 and criminal justice indicated a greater than 8% increase of such violence following the onset of lockdown orders in 2020.

Violence against women remains a significant yet wholly preventable issue.
Women in need of assistance in the United States can contact the National Domestic Violence hotline 24/7/365 at 1-800-799-7233.

Fort Bragg welcomes new Garrison Command Sergeant Major

9 Command Sgt. Maj. Gregory Seymour assumed responsibility as Fort Bragg’s Garrison senior non-commissioned officer, Feb. 24 at the Main Post Chapel — the same chapel that he married his wife, Candace,17 years ago.

“My family and I are truly humbled to be here today,” Seymour said. “However, in 1997, if you had asked that 19-year-old paratrooper from Augusta, Georgia that if he ever thought he’d be a command sergeant major, let alone the Fort Bragg garrison command sergeant major — he probably would have told you, you’re crazier than two squirrels in a walnut tree. My family and I are excited to get to know and serve you. I look forward to continuing the collaboration and innovation efforts in improving the quality of life for service members and their families on this installation.”

Having served on Fort Bragg most of his career, Seymour joins the Garrison Command team after serving as the operations sergeant major for the 82nd Airborne Division Artillery. Other previous assignments include cannon crewmember, ammunition team chief, gunner, howitzer section chief, Chief of Firing Battery/Platoon Sergeant and First Sergeant at Fort Bragg. He also served as the Operations Sergeant Major, 6th Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment at Camp Casey, Korea.

Seymour deployed in support of the Global War on Terrorism during Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Inherent Resolve.

“I’m excited for the next chapter,” Seymour continued. “This is the crown jewel — the centerpiece of this power projection platform that we call the center of the universe. And what makes the center of the universe great? The people. This is a phenomenal team who works hard, around the clock, every day to help meet the needs of our service members and their families, veterans and retirees.”

The assumption of responsibility ceremony is rich in symbolism and heritage within the military. It reinforces the role of the noncommissioned officer in the Army, highlighting his or her role as a bridge between the commander and the formation's enlisted soldiers.

“The people of this installation have made Fort Bragg what it is today,” Seymour said. “It’s more than just a name, it’s the people who have served on this installation and continue to live the legacy of Fort Bragg as we transition to Fort Liberty. The biggest thing to take away from this, is that that legacy of you unit or organization is still alive. Fort Bragg lives in this room, Fort Bragg is shown through our comradery, and the honor of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom we enjoy. That is the reason why Fort Liberty will continue to live.”

Seymour’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart with two oak-leaf Clusters, Meritorious Service Medal with five oak leaf clusters, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with bronze service star, Iraqi Campaign Medal with four bronze service stars, Combat Action Badge and the Master Parachutist Badge. He was also awarded the 3rd Brigade Combat Team Jump Master of the Year 2010.

“As the Fort Bragg Garrison looks to the future — a future with a new name and a new focus, I cannot think of anyone better than CSM Seymour,” said Col. John Wilcox, Fort Bragg garrison commander.

“Together we will set the standards of the garrison team to be part of the installation of the future — one that is ready, relevant and resilient; and above all one that is innovative.”

City Council member asks for forgiveness of PWC’s $4 million pandemic relief loan

6 During a Fayetteville Public Works Commission meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 22 City Councilman Deno Hondros asked the utility board to forgive repayment of $4 million that PWC loaned to the city in 2020.
Hondros, who is also the City Council’s liaison to PWC, clarified in an interview after the meeting that he was speaking for himself and not representing the city or the City Council as a whole.

The loan was intended to help the city through the economic struggles of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last month, PWC Chief Financial Officer Rhonda Haskins wrote to city Chief Financial Officer Jody Picarella asking the city to “promptly repay the $4 million to PWC.”
According to the initial written loan agreement, the city would have to repay PWC’s loan if it received pandemic relief funds from another source. Fayetteville has received more than $40 million from the American Rescue Plan Act, federal legislation enacted in March 2021 that sent money to state and local governments as a way to help recovery from the pandemic.

Hondros asked that PWC rescind this part of the agreement.

“My ask,” Hondros said at Wednesday’s meeting “is to rescind the ask or to reconsider the ask of the repayment of that.”

Hondros argued that the city and PWC’s money all comes from Fayetteville taxpayers.

“At the end of the day, it’s the same pot of money — whether the county raises taxes, whether PWC raises rates or whether the city raises taxes,” Hondros said.

After Hondros’ request, PWC Treasurer Wade Fowler said that under the PWC charter, the $4 million, if not repaid by the city, may be considered an impermissible transfer.
PWC spokeswoman Carolyn Justice-Hinson, in an email, echoed Fowler’s comments. She said the loan was made in compliance with the charter.

“That is a factor that will affect whether consideration can be given to the request,” Justice-Hinson said.

Fowler said during the meeting that it may be possible to extend the date for repayment.

In March 2020, Mayor Mitch Colvin declared a state of emergency because of COVID-19. That April, the mayor requested relief funds from PWC to help address the city’s hardships in addressing the pandemic.

Typically, PWC’s charter does not allow additional transfers of cash from PWC to the city, but a state of emergency order, along with a written agreement between the parties, allows for an exception. Colvin requested the money under this exception in the charter.

The city and PWC agreed to terms of the loan that May on the condition it be repaid.
Hondros said at the meeting that he was requesting forgiveness of the repayment in an effort to build a partnership with PWC.

“I think it will show a good-faith effort on PWC’s part,” Hondros said.

PWC Chairwoman Ronna Garrett thanked Hondros for his request.

“It takes a lot of courage to come before the board to ask for something like that, so thank you for your courage and representation,” Garrett said. “I appreciate the courage and the transparency and the intent to partner and break down silos. We, too, have the same goals and vision.”

Max Abbott Middle School student wins County Championship Spelling Bee with C-R-U-S-T-A-C-E-A-N-S

9a Angelo Aldoph, a seventh grader at Max Abbott Middle School, is the winner of the Cumberland County Schools' Championship Spelling Bee. Saint Patrick Catholic School seventh grader Emily Staneata won second place honors.

Julia Lim, a fifth grader at Cumberland Academy K-5 Virtual School, was the third place winner. Fifty-nine students competed in the Preliminary Level II Spelling Bees, which concluded Feb. 10 with the championship competition at the Educational Resource Center. Parents, teachers, fellow students and staff eagerly watched the group of participants one-by-one step up to the microphone and demonstrate their 'spelling power' to the crowd.

Nine students competed in the Championship Spelling Bee after winning their school’s level I and district’s level II competitions. Angelo correctly spelled "crustaceans" to capture the win. Courtesy of CCS, Angelo will go on to compete in the 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee this summer in the Washington, D.C. area. The semifinal and final competitions will take place on May 31 and June 1, respectively, and will be televised on the ION and Bounce networks.

In addition to qualifying for the national competition, Angelo won the following prizes:

  • The Samuel Louis Sugarman Award, a 2023 United States Mint Proof Set provided by Jay Sugarman, chairman and CEO of iStar Financial, in honor of his father
  • The Britannica Online Premium, a one-year subscription for the premier online resource from Encyclopedia Britannica
  • The Merriam-Webster Unabridged Online, a one-year subscription for the official word source for all levels of competition for the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

At the start of the competition, students were welcomed and encouraged to "B-E-G-I-N" spelling by School Board Chairwoman Deanna Jones. The competition, which involved nine public and private local school spellers, lasted 13 rounds. CCS' Psychological Services Coordinator Lisa Craver served as the pronouncer for each of the 10 spelling bees during the competition. 9b

The district and The Fayetteville Observer provided judges for each Bee. The Fayetteville Observer's Opinion Editor Myron Pitts; Food, Dining and Business Reporter Taylor Shook; and Production Manager Kiffany Cain were tasked with tracking every word and verifying spelling accuracy for the Championship Bee.

At the close of the competition, CCS Chief Academic Officer Dr. Stacey Wilson-Norman commended the students on their resilience to keep going no matter what!

“Today’s competition is a demonstration of our students’ determination and hard work," said Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelly, Jr. "I know we will see these spellers in the future as our leaders!”


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