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My vision for Spring Lake

05 Spring Lake town logoEditors note: This submission is running as received from the candidate.

The Town of Spring Lake is a town with explosive potential, one that needs strong leadership. I was encouraged to run for Mayor of Spring Lake and I can provide that leadership as we look forward to rejuvenating our town with unity, transparency and more communication to residents. This is our town.

With a long standing history in the town from my grandfather Grady Howard being the first mayor and first Chamber of Commerce president and my grandparents having Howard’s Variety Store on Main Street, and also in my own history of serving as Mayor Pro Tem and Alderman for two terms, as the Executive Director of the Greater Spring Lake Chamber of Commerce and as the editor of the Spring Lake Beacon, a partnership with Up and Coming Weekly, I can say I know the residents and businesses and can see where we can grow.

My vision for Spring Lake is one of passion. This town and our residents deserve the best. As we look towards the next couple of years and beyond, we need to put policies and partnerships in place that will help us get to where we need to go. We need to bring back our small town mentality, but balance with the trends of Main Street development, marketing and events, which will only be assets moving forward. As I have been going door to door, I have heard the need for change. The need to re — look at our town with fresh eyes. I serve as the Spring Lake representative for the Cumberland County Joint Planning Board where we will be making our town a priority for a new land use plan and also updating our municipal area of influence. This is vitally important considering our need for new businesses, redeveloped infrastructure, jobs, entertainment and the like. Our need for economic growth is one that concerns all of us, from the families who have built their lives here to the new residents moving in. Our tax rate is the highest in the county and we need strong leadership to ensure that our budget is transparent allowing community input before we make those decisions. We need to work harder to get information out to residents and bring involvement that is so key.

I have spent the last 20 years volunteering in this community from serving on the 50th Anniversary committee to my current position as Town Historian. In between, I have co — written a history book about Spring Lake with Howard B. Pate, Jr. I was named Spring Lake Volunteer of the Year and was also named to the first class of Fayetteville’s 40 under Forty. I have been involved in everything from children’s support organizations like Communities in Schools of Cumberland County, the Partnership for Children of Cumberland County Board of Directors, Fayetteville Urban Ministry and March of Dimes to military relations on the MAC Council, as an active member of DUSA and as an honorary commander on Pope AFB to being the 50th Anniversary Holly Day Fair Chair for Junior League of Fayetteville and writing Fayetteville Area Mom on the Go, a blog to help residents find events and activities in our area, which was also named the WRAL top five blog in the state of NC last year. I also currently serve on the Spring Lake Economic Development Advisory Board.

My educational and professional background in nonprofit management, communications, downtown development and marketing are only part of what I bring to the table. In today’s world, there is too much that divides us. I want to bring all our neighborhoods, no matter our economic circumstances, political affiliations or backgrounds, to find solutions that create bright futures for all of our people. Spring Lake is an extraordinary community, and by working tirelessly to break down barriers, we can create a town where success, health and progress is available to everyone.

I am very thankful to my family, my children and my friends for supporting me to run. I hope I can count on your vote, a vote for Spring Lake.

Platform:

• Transparency – The Town Board MUST be open, honest and transparent for you. This means working harder to get vital issues to residents in a timely fashion so there is no second guessing what our town is doing for you. Your elected board represents you and transparency is KEY.

• Economic growth – We need to determine how to work with Fort Bragg and outlying areas to grow our town businesses and lower our tax rate. We need to create strong partnerships with our local leaders surrounding our town and doing business around us. Our neighbors have experienced growth around us so looking at our “Municipal Area of Influence” is going to be important as we exist in regard to economic growth and development, both preserving our important areas and working towards improving our others.

• Main Street development – We have applied to be a Main Street community in NC and working on our downtown will provide events, businesses and a “heart” to our town. The Main Street program, along with our Main Street Overlay District guidelines, will bring new life to a section of town that has not reached its full potential in a few decades. Think parades, more street fairs, thriving restaurants, cafes and living space. I am looking forward to citizen involvement as committees are formed and seeing our downtown area transform, and transform Spring Lake for the better. This is about quality of life.

• Parks and recreation – Our children are important. We need to look at upgrading our fields for soccer and football. We need to improve our programs and our outreach so that soccer, baseball, basketball, cheer, tennis and our other programs are full and children are experiencing the full programs that rival other towns and communities. We need to make sure our parks, walking trails and green space are well — lit and safe for our families.

• Budget –We need to look at our budget with town involvement. The budget process should be on the Town website well before the budget approval process and everyone should have input. This is your money. You should know where every dollar comes from and where every dollar goes. We have the highest valuation tax in the county. We have infrastructure that needs to be improved so we can avoid flooding in our streets and create a better quality of life in our neighborhoods.

• Safety – This is at the forefront thought of most families in our town. We need visible police presence in our neighborhoods, our parks and throughout our town. Our police officers and firemen should know us, not just when a call comes in, but through a gentle reminder that they are here to serve and protect. Our police and fire departments through community engagement and school visits can help educate and build our community for future generations.

• Unity – Our town board needs to represent and respond to ALL citizens in Spring Lake. Our town motto “Unity for Prosperity” rang true when it was created and resonates strongly today. We need a town board who will answer the call whoever is on the line. We need to hear from ALL residents. We need to listen to ALL residents. Connectivity, transparency and unity are what will help our Town get to the next level. Our Town is on the cusp of greatness, we will be looking towards a balanced quality of life. We can be proud of Town. It will take all of us!
 
 

Beautification through desolation

04 Paul Bunyan and Babe Klamath CaliforniaPaul Bunyan is making a comeback right here in Fayetteville. Our very own City Council recently came out against big trees in favor of money from developers. In a remarkable display of fealty to contributions from our local developers lobby, the City Council cut the cost of chopping down big trees in half. Since 2011, something called the Uniform Development Ordinance, or UDO, has been a thorn in the wallet of our developers. To protect big trees, the original UDO charged developers $100 per caliper inch to cut down big trees. Under the new improved developer-friendly UDO, it will only cost $50 per caliper inch to cut down big trees.

To misquote Robert Frost’s poem about walls, “Something there is that doesn’t love a big tree in Fayetteville.” You may recall several years ago the City Council was seriously considering cutting down the trees on Hay Street because they were messy, dropping leaves in the fall and having roots that could mess up sidewalks. The current City Council voted 9-1 to cut the cost for cutting big trees, with Tisha Waddell the only one voting against the kissing of the tushies of our local Developers. Huzzah for Ms. Waddell.

Tree huggers will moan and wail about the new UDO’s war on trees, but money talks, and the oak trees will drop. Our City Council is more concerned with political contributions than stupid trees. Trees don’t vote or make political contributions. Let the trees eat cake. This leaves us with the eternal question of whether it is better to light the darkness or curse a candle. Can we make margaritas out of this pile of lemons from the City Council? I say yes. The trees must die! If our city is to be denuded of big dumb trees that interfere with profits, let’s make the most of it. A new city motto springs to mind: “Look Up Fayetteville, there are no trees to block your view.”

Fayetteville’s new emblem instead of the Market House could be Paul Bunyan, slayer of trees. Pictures of Paul on the side of PWC trucks would light up the eyes of the little children of our semi-verdant city. If you have forgotten your American legends, kindly pull up a chair to ponder old Paul. Paul Bunyan was a giant of a man who was a giant of a baby. When Paul was born, it took five giant storks to deliver Paul to his parents in Maine. Paul soon grew too big for his little town. He moved into the Midwest. During a terrible snowstorm — this was before climate change — Paul found a baby ox that had frozen from the blizzard. The ox had turned blue after being frozen solid. A lesser man would have left the ox to die, but not Paul. He took the ox to his camp, wrapped it in his sleeping bag, and warmed it up by his campfire. The ox survived but never lost his Carolina blue color. Paul named him Babe. Babe grew into a giant Blue Ox who helped Paul with his logging.

Paul and Babe worked in the snows of the Midwest, leaving giant footprints that filled up with water and became known as the land of 10,000 lakes. Paul cut all the trees in North and South Dakota, to the delight of the Dakota Developers Association. To get the logs from the Dakotas, Paul dug out the Missouri River to float the logs downstream. He dug Lake Superior to use to ice down logging roads to get his lumber to market. One day, Babe the Blue Ox slipped and turned over his water trough. The resulting flood created the Mississippi River. Paul and Babe were major dudes in the tree-chopping business.

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. Paul got into a tree-chopping contest with a fellow named Joe Muffaw, who was trying to convince loggers to buy steam-powered chain saws. Paul and Babe did their mightiest work creating a pile of lumber 240 feet tall. Muffaw and his steam-powered chain saw created a pile that was 240 feet and 1/4 inches tall, thereby defeating Paul. Paul and Babe, being despondent, moved to Alaska where they stopped cutting trees and lived in the forest. Paul and Babe are still up in Alaska. When they are wrestling each other they create the Aurora Borealis.

Where does that leave us in Fayetteville? Muffaw and his steam-powered chain saws have won the day with their newly mutated UDO tree ordinance. We can turn chopped down trees into something that will draw visitors to look up at our untree blocked skies. I suggest holding a Paul Bunyan Festival each spring with prizes to the developers who chop down the biggest trees. The developer with the largest tree fall will be awarded their very own City Council member for a year. Members of the City Council will attempt to catch trees as they fall. The Council member making the loudest splat under a falling tree will receive the Joyce Kilmer Developers Award.

Let us redo Mr. Kilmer’s poem “Trees” to reflect our new open-skies policy. “I think that I shall never see/ A developer as lovely as a tree/ A politician whose hungry mouth is pressed/ Against a developer’s sweet flowing wallet/ A developer who looks at profits all day/ And lifts political contributions to pay/ A developer who may in summer wear/ A nest of politicians in his hair/ Upon whose political lobby dollars have lain/ Who intimately lives without blame/ Poems are made by fools like me/ But only developers and politicians can kill a tree.”
 
 
 
 

My commitment to Fayetteville residents

02 couple holding handsdFor 24 years this space has been reserved to opine about, showcase and accentuate local community events, initiatives and issues affecting the health, welfare and quality of life of all residents of Fayetteville and Cumberland County. Recently, Karl Merritt, Rep. Billy Richardson, and now, District 3 Councilwoman Tishsa Waddell have written and editorialized in my space. These folks — two men, one woman, two black/one white, one Republican, one Democrat and one Independent — all have a passion for this community, and all are committed to doing the right things for the right reasons. This commitment and their willing participation is our endorsement. Enjoy!

 — Bill Bowman, publisher

Two years ago, you gave me a chance to be trusted to work diligently for you — and I don’t take that lightly. My goals have been open communication with my district and other governing bodies, a truthful representation of who you are and what you want and employment and workforce development, not only for youth but also for displaced adult workers. I have gained the support and respect of most of my peers and have done so without compromising my character. I know above all that I have to represent you in the best possible light because when people see me, they judge my whole district.

I’ve remained present for individuals and groups throughout our district, focusing on the priorities you wanted to be established throughout my term, and I have challenged conventional governing and openly discussed concerns so that my constituency base could be well-informed not only about pending decisions but to be knowledgeable about procedure, so that no member of government at our level could use misleading tactics to gain their trust all while circumventing their voices.

Through my tenure, residents remind me that they want the city’s help to restore safety and beautification within its borders, and they want the property values of their homes to stop declining and experience an upward shift. They deserve to be well supported by their tax-funded city services and well represented by their council member in public and behind closed doors. In response, we (city council) worked to increase (police) patrol, ensuring these residents remain safe. I continue to make sure our staff remains responsive when concerns are raised regarding any other issues like trash collection, speeding and other nuisance activity.

Additionally, I advocated for a homeownership program that would specifically target our aging neighborhoods to create a more dominant presence of owner-occupied homes. As a result, the “Neighbor Next Door” program was created, and I was able to partner with members of the council to secure $400,000 in operating funds in our current budget. Police officers will be incentivized to purchase homes in designated areas through a $20,000 forgivable home loan, and I’ll be working to expand this program to teachers through collaborative funding with Cumberland County and am hopeful this will happen within the first 12 months of the program.

Residents across the city, and most certainly in my district, have expressed multiple concerns for pedestrian safety and stormwater solutions. Under the leadership of Councilmember Johnny Dawkins, I have worked to shape a city-funded stormwater infrastructure repair program, which to date, has $2.2 million allocated this year alone for repair projects on private property. This is a big deal because we are finally showing a serious commitment to investing in our infrastructure.

I am also an advocate for sidewalk installation along heavily walked routes. My family and I walk along Rosehill Road, Ramsey Street, McArthur Road and Country Club Road often for health and recreational purposes. I am familiar with the dangers faced by our lack of sidewalks. I have been pushing for increased funding and an expedited schedule for completion of this work. During the recent budget process, there was hesitation on behalf of a member of our board about having conversations — public conversations — regarding infrastructure and public safety bonds before the election due to the possibility that it could become a focal point, which could present challenges during some re-election campaigns. Bonds are usually secured through an increase in taxation. While I was not advocating for an increase in taxation, I did feel we owed it to the citizens of this community to look into options for repairing our streets and installing sidewalks. I addressed these concerns in writing to that member and cc’d the mayor pro tem. The member took no responsibility for their actions or the outcome. I was the only person to vote “NO” for the current budget, and the primary reason was because of the refusal to consider the most pressing needs of the community at large where sidewalks and street resurfacing is concerned and the two-faced way “no new fees” was highlighted by some, knowing that their intention is to raise fees in this off-election cycle budget.

Without fail, I continue to work to ensure the installation of crosswalks and other safety measures to protect our walkers, as is evidenced by my most recent request to consider options for resurfacing, which this time was unanimously approved by council.

I have confidence in each of you that when it is time to decide how to move forward with the work at hand, we will continue as partners. My proven record of leadership, commitment to open and transparent communication and ability to gain support from my peers has helped keep the needs of our district and our city and it’s citizens at the forefront and gives us confidence as we look ahead to the next two years.

OK, boomer

03 Ok boomerMaybe the story caught my eye because I have always been interested in baby boomers. I am, after all, a proud member of what was once the largest ever American generation, the 76 million born between 1946 and 1964 to parents of the Greatest Generation, thrilled that World War II was over and ready to get on with their lives. Boomers were the big bump moving through America’s demographic snake that has impacted everything we encountered from 1950s elementary schools to 2019 retirement communities.

Generational conflict is built into the human condition. Young people always think their elders are hopelessly out of step, and old people always think whippersnappers are a bit nutty. Over the last century, flappers of the 1920s thought their Edwardian parents too fogey for words. Parents of boomers found their own 1920s parents frivolous and hedonistic, and boomers were universally annoyed when their depression-raised parents turned off all the lights as they left a room and asked questions like “do you think money grows on trees?”

Now, no less than the “old gray lady,” The New York Times, reported last month that millions of teenagers shrug at their parents and grandparents who just don’t get it. They toss out the catch phrase, “Ok, boomer” to their elders, who in turn think the teenagers, sometimes called Generation Z, are simply unwilling to grow up. The words “Peter Pan syndrome” have been uttered.  

What’s more, Gen Z is monetizing calling out boomers and millennials. A quick internet search confirms mountains of “Ok, boomer” swag, including bumper stickers, phone cases, socks, water bottles, bedsheets and more. Amazon has a large selection of “Ok, boomer” coffee mugs and T-shirts as well as my personal favorite, a sweatshirt bearing the inscription, “OK, Boomer. Great job. We’ll take it from here.” topped off with an emoji face rolling its eyes.  

The NYT quotes 19-year-old Shannon O’Connor, who designed an “Ok, boomer. Have a terrible day.” T-shirt and received more than $10,000 in online orders. Said young O’Connor, “The older generation grew up with a certain mindset, and we have a different perspective. A lot of them don’t believe in climate change or don’t believe people can get jobs with dyed hair, and a lot of them are stubborn in that view. Teenagers respond, ‘Ok, boomer.’ It’s like, we’ll prove you wrong, we’re still going to be successful because the world is changing.”

Nina Kasman, 18 and also an “Ok, boomer” entrepreneur, was blunt. She told The NYT that teens believe older Americans are compromising younger ones. “Everyone in Gen Z is affected by the choices of the boomers, that they made and are still making. Those choices are hurting us and our future. Everyone in my generation can relate to that experience and we’re all really frustrated by it.”

Economists say teenagers have a point. Theirs is expected to be the first American generation whose quality of life will be lower than their parents enjoyed. Education is expensive, and few can afford health insurance if their parents cannot cover them.

Kasman continued, “…there’s not a lot I can personally do to reduce the price of college, for example, which was much cheaper for older generations, who then made it more expensive. There’s not much I can personally do to restore the environment, which was harmed due to corporate greed of older generations. There’s not much I can personally do to undo political corruption, or fix Congress so it’s not mostly old white men who don’t represent the majority of generations.”

Touché.

While every rising generation sees its elders as at least a tad fogey, few younger generations have as many legitimate grievances as does this one. We elders — some would say perpetrators — would likely be angry as well.

Making progress in the fight against opioid addiction

05 N1910P49004CThere are stories that stick with us, pictures seared into our minds and moments we’ll never forget. I’ll always remember a tragic video a local reporter took on Main Street in Salisbury of first responders treating a couple who overdosed on opioids. I’ll never forget hearing a local mother’s story about the death of her son who overdosed after doing drugs that were laced with fentanyl. And I still think about the soldiers and veterans who became addicted after being prescribed opioids for injuries sustained during combat or training.

At the end of the day, the opioid crisis truly knows no bounds. It does not discriminate based on age, race, religion, geography or income. We all know people in our community whose families have been ravaged by opioids or have lost a loved one to a drug overdose — maybe you’ve even personally experienced that pain.

For years, I’ve been deeply invested in this issue and continue to work to combat this crisis. As your congressman, I worked with my colleagues to get the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act and the 21st Century Cures Act signed into law and to ensure North Carolina receives tens of millions of federal dollars to address the opioid crisis. These were important steps, and they were considered by leading national advocates at the time as “the critical response we need” to the opioid epidemic.

Last year, I authored three bipartisan pieces of legislation that focused on the safe and responsible packaging and disposal of unused opioids. My bill was called one of “the most important opioid bills,” and I was proud to see President Donald Trump sign it into law as part of H.R. 6, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act. This is considered the most significant congressional effort against a single drug crisis in history, and this week marks the one-year anniversary.

As a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee — the main Congressional Committee working on opioids legislation — I worked with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to learn about the opioid epidemic and what legislative solutions could be pursued.

Because of these efforts and those of our state government, local leaders and care providers, we’ve made progress. In 2018, the number of overdose deaths in North Carolina caused by opioids dropped – for the first time in five years. This is great news, but our work isn’t done.

Saturday, Oct. 26, was National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. This day serves as a reminder of the potential abuse of medications and provides a safe, convenient and responsible way to dispose of prescription drugs. DEA Take Back Days in the past have been hugely successful, collecting hundreds of tons of prescription medications over the past few years.

To find a collection site near you, visit Hudson.House.gov or contact my office for more information at 704-786-1612.

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