• 275552454 1027299954801352 3440785021579282691 n Nadia Minniti, the owner of Gusto Napoletano, never expected to leave Segra Stadium last week with funding for a food truck, but she did.

    Minniti was one out of eight women who pitched their ideas to the Women's Business Center of Fayetteville at the Center for Economic Empowerment and Development and the City of Fayetteville for a chance to win up to $10,000 in grant funding. The eight competitors presented their businesses and ideas to a group of judges at Segra Stadium last Thursday in an event called #HERPitch.

    #HERPitch was one out of five themed events throughout the week that helped celebrate, recognize and support local women business owners and employees.

    Minniti said this theme of supporting each other continued throughout the competition.

    "You think that eight women competing for this money, the atmosphere is going to be like we are going to be at each other's throats. I was so surprised. We were supporting one another. Helping adjust each other's crown," Minniti said. "We were giving each other advice and helping each other out. Yes, we were all there competing, but you didn't feel the competitiveness of us competing with one another."

    Three women total were awarded checks. Evolv Dezigns won a check for $2,500 and Joy in Learning Discovery Center was awarded a check for $1,000.

    Minniti won the biggest prize, a $7,500 check. Her plan for that money is to buy a food truck with a customized wood-fire oven in the back to make authentic Neapolitan pizza, the only food truck in North Carolina, to Minniti's knowledge, that would do so.

    "I am very grateful and happy that CEED is there for us women because this is still a man's world - especially in the restaurant industry and the pizza world. There are very few women in the pizza world still. I am one of the few women in the world that is certified to make Neapolitan pizza."

    Minniti opened Gusto Napoletano in Sept. of 2019. She said she only survived the pandemic because she started small with a small staff and a limited menu. While that has helped her survive, she wants to get more recognition in town and have more people eat good pizza.

    "There's no food truck that has good pizza in Fayetteville. The market is there," Minniti explained. "Well if we want to increase our sales and continue to grow, getting a food truck is the cheapest way to do that. It will also increase my exposure out into the community."

    With the grant from CEED and the City of Fayetteville, Minniti believes she could have this food truck up and running in a year.

    Minniti said she would be excited to see this type of event happen again in the future to help support other women in the community.

    “There are a lot of women who have great ideas and sometimes they need a sounding board to bounce this idea off and maybe get funded for them.
    There are a lot of valuable businesses that can positively contribute to society, especially in Fayetteville. CEED and these types of events are a great asset to this community,”
    Minniti said.

  • 16FTCCVetsIf you are a service member exiting the military, you may find yourself asking where the next chapter in your life is going to take you and what it entails. Have you been contemplating what your next move is going to be and how you will utilize the experience gained in the military? Have you wondered what type of career you will choose and if it will be your lifetime career? Have you asked yourself if you can live a comfortable life and be financially sustained without obtaining a degree? Stop asking so many questions! The answer is simple: go back to school and get a degree. If you are a veteran or dependent of a veteran and determined to make the best of your future, the All American Veterans Center at FTCC is here to help you get started. 

    The FTCC All American Veterans Center is proud to serve military veterans and dependents as they pursue educational goals. The center was created to honor veterans and to provide a location where veterans can gather, find assistance, and receive the support necessary to ensure success at FTCC and beyond. The center is operated by a team of veterans and dependents from all branches of the military who have a passion to serve their fellow veterans. The team answers questions, guides and assists in taking the first step and helps make a smooth transition into college. Staff members are available to provide educational benefits information needed to make the right decision. Even the work study staff members are veterans and can help alleviate “new student” concerns and anxiety. They make the enrollment process easy, and some work-study staff members have worked in the Veterans Center since their first semester. All are important in the success of the Veterans Center and serving veteran students. 

    The All American Veterans Center offers a relaxed atmosphere where veterans have an opportunity to engage in conversation with other veterans. It offers currently enrolled veteran students a place to relax and have a cup of coffee before and in between classes. The Center also offers students the opportunity to use computers to complete homework or to study with fellow veterans. 

    While the primary focus of the Veterans Center is to provide students the tools they need to be successful in accomplishing their educational goals, the staff makes every effort in obtaining information on other resources the veteran is in need of. Volunteers from Patriot Outreach are faithfully at the center to offer veterans informational assistance and resources. 

    Bring your list of questions, and let us help you get moving. The All American Veterans Center is located inside the General Classroom Building at the Fayetteville campus of FTCC. Visit soon and put your educational benefits to work for you — at FTCC. 

  • beach music fesitval 2The Fayetteville Beach Music Festival is returning after being on a hiatus for several years. The day-long festival will be bringing beach music and family fun later this month.

    The festival is a fundraiser for the Karen Chandler Trust - a local non-profit charity that started over 20 years ago. KCT helps support local cancer patients that are currently undergoing treatment. That support ranges from helping with car rides to treatments and doctor's appointments to paying off utility bills, car payments, mortgages and rents.

    "We have given over one million dollars away to cancer patients," Mike Chandler, a founding member of KCT, said. "99.9% of all the funds raised go to cancer patients."

    Chandler helped form the Karen Chandler Trust in honor of his late sister. Karen Chandler, a mother of two and a local musician, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Local musicians held a benefit concert to raise money to help pay off medical bills while she was fighting against cancer. After she passed away in 1999 at age 44, the leftover money was used to form the KCT.

    In 2021, the KCT raised and distributed close to $150,000 to Cumberland County cancer patients.

    The benefit concerts were a tradition for many years and helped continue to raise money, but they were phased out a few years ago. Mike Chandler decided it was time to bring back the music component to fundraise, and he wants to make sure it sticks this time.

    "We are going to try and do this as an annual event. I tried to bring it back down to a local level. I wanted to bring that back," Chandler said.

    All proceeds from the festival go directly to KCT and that money will be distributed to people in the community who need it.

    To qualify to receive help from the KCT, a cancer patient must be a resident of Cumberland County and have a letter from a social worker or a medical provider confirming cancer treatment.

    The festival will take place at Dirtbag Ales Brewery & Taproom. Chandler says he is excited to have the music festival at Dirtbag Ales as they offer plenty of parking, space, and shade, allowing everyone to pull a lawn chair up and enjoy the day.

    For Shannon Loper, the operations manager and event and marketing coordinator at Dirtbag Ales Brewery, supporting KCT as the venue for the Beach Music Festival was a no-brainer for Dirtbag Ales. The non-profit helped Loper's parents when their neighborhood put in a new sewer system, and they received an unexpected bill for a $5,000 connection fee.

    "My dad was in stage four pancreatic cancer, and obviously, cancer ruins your credit if you're not fortunate. And they did not have the money," Loper said. "PWC began repossession proceedings on my parent's house, and the Karen Chandler Trust came in and paid their $5,000 utility bill."

    All festival performers have a personal connection with the KCT, and all are local musicians. Rivermist will kick off the festival at 1 p.m. Classic Soul takes the stage at 2:15 p.m. The Martin Davis Band featuring a founding member of The Embers, Jackie Gore, will begin their performance at 3:45 p.m. Finally, the Chairmen of the Board will close out the fundraiser with their performance starting at 5:30 p.m.

    The festival will be a family-friendly affair with games, sponsor tables and bounce houses for kids. Food will also be available for purchase. The food trucks currently confirmed for the festival are Smokey's BBQ, R Burger, Ragin Rooster and 32 Degrees Ice Cream.

    "People can bring their kids, their dogs, their lawn chairs and come on out and enjoy it," Chandler told Up & Coming Weekly.

    Chandler's goal is to have anywhere from two thousand to four thousand people attend the festival.

    "Our goal is to raise $40,000," Chandler said.

    The event is being sponsored in part by Cape Fear Valley Hospital and Dragon's Lair Comics.

    The festival will take place on March 27. Gates will open at noon, and the music will start at 1 p.m. The Beach Music Festival will run until 7 p.m. General Admission to the festival is $20, and children under 12 get in for free.
    Tickets can be purchased at
    www.eventbrite.com/e/karen-chandler-trust-beach-music-festival-tickets-272318210097.

    For more information about the Karen Chandler Trust, whether to donate or volunteer, call 910-578-3382 or visit their website, karenchandlertrust.com.

  • 20FTCCDentalThe Dental Assisting curriculum at Fayetteville Technical Community College prepares individuals to assist a dentist and to to function as integral members of the dental team while performing chair-side, office and laboratory procedures. Students receive up-to-date training in the dental field from a CODA-accredited program. This means students who graduate from FTCC are considered DA II’s in the state of North Carolina and are eligible to perform some expanded functions in this state without paying for further training or certification. 

    Dental assisting is an exciting career that gives students a variety of options upon graduation. Those options include working in general dentistry or in a specialty field such as orthodontics, oral surgery or pediatrics, etc. Work is also available in administrative roles and through opportunities to work with dental vendors. Students who receive training in dental assisting receive the knowledge and flexibility to advance in the dental field. FTCC’s program covers instruments (general and specialty) and their functions, infection control policies and procedures, dental radiography, dental materials, dental sciences, anatomy and practice management. Students train on campus as well as through clinical rotations at dental offices in Fayetteville and the surrounding area. Rotation sites include general dentistry and specialty areas. The broad range of exposure also allows students to map out their career paths by finding their areas of interest. It also allows students the opportunity to experience different areas to facilitate mapping out their career paths and find their areas of interest. 

    As students move through their semesters at FTCC, they also prepare for the National Board examinations. Students have the option to take their exams in three sections: Infection Control, Radiation Health and Safety, and General Chairside, or students can opt to take all three exam components in one sitting. Once students pass all components, they are considered Certified Dental Assistants or CDAs, which is a national recognition. 

    Training to become a dental assistant is a one-year program that begins in the fall semester, with program completion the following summer. Most graduates have secured jobs before graduation and gained valuable hands-on experience from their clinical rotation sites. The job outlook for dental assisting shows that there will be growth in the field through at least 2024. The average salary for a North Carolina dental assistant is $38,720. Students who have advanced certification and training are more likely to have the best job prospects, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics.

    Students interested in dental assisting are encouraged to call 910-678-8574 or email walkers@faytechcc.edu. The application process for all health programs is open from Nov. 1 through Jan. 30. Financial aid is available for qualifying students. Students will need to apply to the college first and have all academic transcripts sent to FTCC for processing. We at FTCC are excited to help get you started on the path to your new career! We look forward to having you become part of the FTCC dental family. 

  • St Avold A bond that began to form in the early 1980s and solidified in the early 1990s is finding life again nearly four decades after making the first connections. The Lafayette Society has handed the reins of Fayetteville's International Sister City over to a new organization, the Fayetteville Saint Avold Friendship Alliance (FSAFA).

    Saint Avold is situated in the Lorraine region of northeast France and is just seventeen miles from the border of Germany. The town is just south of the largest World War II cemetery, the Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial. This location is considered American soil, and the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) oversees its operations. ABMC, created by executive order in 1923, is an agency of the federal government's executive branch. On this land, an ocean and many miles away, a son of Fayetteville is buried, a man who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country, Pfc. William M. Shaw, Jr. Shaw was killed in action overseas on September 12, 1944. His sister Gillie Revelle, who is nearing 90 years old, is still in Fayetteville, explained FSAFA President Kris Johnson. Johnson sits at a large wooden desk in Town Historian Bruce Daws' office at the Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum. On the desk in front of her is a vintage diplomat-style briefcase circa possibly the early 1990s full of display board photos from Saint Avold events and displays in the past. This briefcase symbolizes the passing of the baton for the Sister City Program to FSAFA. Former Lafayette Society President Hank Parfitt passed these items on to Johnson when she stepped up to reinvigorate the connection between Fayetteville and Saint Avold.
    Johnson has quite a tale about the long-standing relationship between the two cities.

    The program began with the late Martha Duell, former Lafayette Society president and described by Johnson as "a true ambassador" for Fayetteville. Duell caught wind of a repair needed for a statue of the Marquis de Lafayette in Lorraine in 1981 and offered support. This act of support on Duell's part sowed the seeds of connection. When a delegation of bicyclists from the Lorraine region began to plan a trip to cycle from Washington D.C. to Fayetteville in 1986, it was recommended they reach out to Duell. In addition to the cycle trip, the group contacted the Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial for help identifying a North Carolina soldier buried there, one they might be able to honor during their trip. The cemetery superintendent gave them Shaw's name. With approval from the cemetery, they collected soil from Shaw's grave. The bicyclists mixed this soil with sand from Omaha Beach in Normandy. When they arrived in Fayetteville, with Shaw's family in attendance, they spread the soil and sand at the marker in Cross Creek Cemetery that honors Fayetteville's "sons who never returned home from the war," explained Johnson.

    This act of kindness and connection was Duell's inspiration to connect Fayetteville and Saint Avold. On September 27, 1993, former Fayetteville Mayor J.L. Dawkins and the City Council signed a resolution uniting the two International Sister Cities. In 1994, Saint Avold renamed the street in front of the Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial, Avenue de Fayetteville. Over the years, groups of people from both cities have visited in delegations to maintain the relationship and uphold cultural exchange.

    Students in Cumberland County Schools have participated in pen pal programs with Saint Avold. And in 1997, signs were posted along Interstate-95 declaring the cities' sisterhood.

    Johnson feels the time has come to reconnect and reinvigorate the program.

    The first event for the newly founded group was a trip to see an Alphonse Mucha exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, followed by a lunch at French restaurant La Coquette. FSAFA is not stopping there. It has many more events in the planning stages for the upcoming year.

    The group, which is a nonprofit working to gain their 501(c) designation, uses funds for two functions, education and administration. Sales from a published book of Shaw's letters home during WWII, "Letter's to Home, a Soldier's Story," helps support FSAFA's educational pursuits. Proceeds from an upcoming yard sale will support their administration costs.

    This yard sale has been dubbed the first annual Great French-American Yard Sale and is scheduled for March 12. It will be held at 121 Devane St. from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. The yard sale will have a variety of furniture, housewares, kitchen and cookware, home décor and much more.

    In addition to the Great French-American Yard Sale, plans are in the works for a French cheese and wine tasting event and a possible French cookery and baking class at Fayetteville Technical Community College.

    FSAFA membership for this first year is free, and dues will be a nominal fee moving forward.

    Memberships will include discounted group rates for events and outings. Interested parties are encouraged to reach out to the group by emailing faync_saintavold@yahoo.com or like the Facebook page, Fayetteville – Saint Avold Friendship Alliance.

  • 13WorkInjuriesHave you been injured at work?  Well, you are not alone.  

    In 2015, there were 2.9 million work-related injuries in our country with almost 70,000 reported work-related injuries in North Carolina.  For ten years, I worked at the North Carolina Industrial Commission, our state’s “court system” for workers’ compensation cases. Over those ten years, I found that people with work-related injuries face the most serious situation in their lives — they are sick, unable to work and are having financial difficulties. 

    When you are injured at work, there are a few things you should do. 

    1. Inform your employer about your injury immediately and in writing. 

    2. If you do not report your injury within thirty days of the injury, you could lose your rights to benefits.  Many employers have a form for you to complete.

    3. Seek medical treatment as soon as possible.  Your employer may send you to the doctor.  If not, use your health insurance to get medical treatment.

    4. Take care in how you describe your injury.  Not all work-related injuries are covered by workers’ compensation. 

    5. File your claim, or Form 18, with the Industrial Commission within two years.

    6. Consult an attorney for help.  

    7. You can also call the Industrial Commission Information Specialists at 1-800-688-8349 for information.  

    Workers’ compensation is complicated.  Follow these steps to avoid making a mistake which can cause a problem later in your claim.

  • Citys Mural By the time Jermaine "JP" Powell finishes a state-of-the-art mural where the I-295 Overpass crosses North Ramsey Street, motorists traveling into and outside the Fayetteville city limits will admire the attractive scenic design on both sides of the underpass.

    Without words, the mural will speak to ways in which the City of Fayetteville recognizes and supports the ways in which the arts can enrich a community. People may wonder why it took so long to have such an attractive mural painted. That's where my inside story begins.

    If you take time to drive past the early phases of the mural being painted, you will be able to see the stages that take place to create a very large mural titled We Are Fayetteville: Legacy and Future.

    So why is it important to know the process as the artist begins working – you can drive by and enjoy it when it's completed? In short, you will see why the mural looks the way it does; and you may be surprised at the logistics of a project of this scale.

    Factors include but are not limited to finding sources to support the project, planning, leadership knowledgeable about the arts, countless hours of coordinating with individuals, committees, agencies and groups, and of course, finding the right artist for the task.

    The I-295 and Ramsey Street Corridor Project started in 2017/2018 when the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County (Arts Council) applied for and received partial funding from the National Endowments for the Arts.

    Over the next few years, the project was paused several times due to budgetary concerns and the ability to receive approval for the work. COVID restrictions and people working remotely further delayed coordination with organizations.

    In early 2020, Michelle Horn and I were contracted to coordinate the mural project. Michelle and I had worked together coordinating the Veterans Park Project, we work well together, and both bring varied expertise and strengths.

    Bob Pinson, interim president/CEO of the Arts Council, and his staff worked closely with us to carry out many of the administrative details, interfacing with Michael Gibson and Tim Johnson with the Fayetteville/Cumberland Parks and Recreation Department (and too many others to list), NC DOT representatives and suppliers.

    So, the planning begins. Before launching the project with a nationwide "request for proposals (RFP)," an advisory board of individuals in the visual arts/architecture was created. Coordinators met with members of the City's Revitalization Committee to determine themes. Finally, the coordinators and Pinson met with a group of citizens to discuss themes they believed best represented the north side of Fayetteville.
    Now the RFP could be published, initializing a national search for submissions by artists. Artists sent their resumes and examples of mural designs using themes from the meetings: "diversity, agricultural past, forward-thinking, a pleasant and fun place to live and work and the colors of green and gold... since Methodist University and Pine Forest High School anchor this area."

    North Carolina Department of Transportation owns the bridge and the concrete surface on each side of the abutment that will be painted. If the design was going to be approved, the process first had to meet the detailed guidelines of the NCDOT Aesthetics Committee from planning to pre-approved paint for the project.

    The preliminary guidelines had been met: (1) a good location for a mural and a design that is not distracting, (2) the coordinators provided the engagement and expertise required, (3) the community was engaged early in the process, (4) a five-step process of selecting an artist was used, and (5), the RFP went to as many national websites as possible for the search to be inclusive and diverse regardless of race, color, national origin, sex or age."

    After the June 2020 deadline for artists to submit their ideas, the coordinators selected the top three artists based on resume, design and if they were suited for such a large project. The members of the Advisory Committee chose the artist in a blind selection process (blind selection means the committee did not see the names of artists or where they lived – only viewed prior murals by an artist and ideations for this project).

    Two of the finalists included an Italian artist creating murals in the US and a muralist living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Through the blind selection process, the advisory committee selected a third artist: Jermaine "JP" Powell, an artist living in Fuquay Varina, North Carolina!

    The decision was overwhelmingly unanimous. Powell, a mixed-media fine artist and mural artist living in North Carolina, is originally from Cleveland, Ohio, and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Pratt Institute, located in Brooklyn, New York. He was selected for the project due to his strong design skills, creative use of patterns and textures, and his uplifting and positive approach to subjects in prior murals and content.

    By August 2020, Powell, the coordinators and Pinson had met with residents, and they discussed the piece's themes with the artist. Residents shared what they valued in their part of the community.

    Over the next few months, the artist worked with coordinators and advisory committee members, revising and presenting his drafts for approval.

    By March 2021, the design was approved by the city's Public Art Committee, Revitalization and Corridor Committee and Fayetteville City Council.

    A year later, this month, after many COVID-related delays, the project is starting. Unexpected delays included the length of time it took for two NC DOT Aesthetic Committees to review the approved design and paint being used, COVID and Zoom meetings, approved paints on backorder finally arriving and weather preventing priming of the walls. Finally, Powell has begun laying the foundation of the design on the walls.

    During the delays, meetings on the project continued with the coordinators, Powell, Arts Council staff, and staff from Fayetteville City Parks and Recreation. Discussions included logistics of the site, equipment and supplies. A small team of volunteer assistants was selected, met and were briefed on safety standards at the location and the practice of working with the artist.

    Everyone who has participated in the project is excited to have Powell as the artist and share a mural we know the community will find pleasing and attractive.
    The mural, like other public art projects, will add enormous value to the cultural, aesthetic and economic vitality of our community. State-of-the-art projects contribute to our identity as a community, foster community pride, and enhance the quality of life for the residents.

    The entire mural process has been documented and archived at the Arts Council as a resource for future projects. The Arts Council marketing team is creating a video to share when the mural is complete. Visit http://www.wearethearts.com/295mural for more information.


    Photo Credit: Location for a new mural at the intersection of I-295 and north Ramsey Street. Depending on weather conditions, the murals are expected to be completed by the end of June. Photo courtesy of the City of Fayetteville.

  •     Click the Image for UCW's Online Edition!

         Did you hear the one about the tap dancing biochemist? No?
    Actually, it’s no joke … On March 21 at Methodist University’s Reeves Auditorium there will be a tap dancing biochemist hoofing across the stage, along with a molecular geneticist, a software engineer and a second-grade teacher. This seemingly disparate group of professionals make up the Footnotes Tap Ensemble, a nonprofit, Research Triangle-based professional tap company dedicated to bringing tap to the masses.
         {mosimage} Co-founder Mimi Benjamin — who works as a physician when she’s not treading the boards along with the other members of Footnotes — says everyone in the troupe holds down a “day” job, though their real passion is the dance.
    “All of our dancers work regular jobs,” said Benjamin, who founded Footnotes in 2005 with former dance school classmate Robin Vail, “but they find time to put their careers on the backburner to entertain and educate people about tap dancing.”
         Benjamin says dance fans that show up at Methodist on March 21 will be treated to a display of old-fashioned tap done in the style of some of the legends, including a tribute to Bill “Bojangles” Robinson.
         “We will perform three different types of tap,” said Benjamin. “We’ve worked hard to preserve the old historic dances. Among the ones we’ll be doing is ‘New Lowdown,’ made famous by Mr. Bojangles, himself.
         “We’ll also be doing ‘The Walkaround’ that was previously performed by the great Henry Robinson,” said Benjamin. “We also have dances we’ve commissioned from contemporary choreographers Dorothy Wasserman and Lane Alexander, as well as our own compositions. People are usually very surprised at the variety of what makes up tap dancing.”
         In addition to bringing some of their own dance creations with them, Footnotes will also bring its own band, consisting of a pianist, bassist, drummer, singer, banjoist and sax player/flautist.
         And while Footnotes will certainly bring the noise, Methodist brings a little something special itself that will contribute mightily to the performance: “The floor on that stage (Reeves Auditorium) is just legendary,” said Benjamin. “It’s got a great reputation as being an extraordinary wood stage.”
         In addition to a widespread reputation for its dancing abilities, Footnotes is also well known for its educational programs, bringing tap classes and workshops into communities across the region — workshops and classes that attract a broad spectrum of participants.
         “There are so many different styles of tap that can be performed in conjunction with so many different types of music,” said Benjamin. “I mean, when we hit the stage we have to appeal to all ages, from 4 to 80. And a lot of these folks get into dance after seeing us perform or attending one of our workshops.”
         The show is scheduled for March 21, 8 p.m., at Reeves Auditorium is entitled “Live Rhythms,” and if you want more information about how you can catch it “live,” call (919) 475-5444 to purchase tickets; tickets are $10 — $5 for students, seniors and NCDA members.
         You can also check out the Footnotes Web site, www.footnotestapensemble.org, for more information about the organization as well as a schedule.

  • Clue Social Media Posts 9Jennifer Newman, Marc de la Concha and Jock Brocki sit around a plain table at Cape Fear Regional Theatre. They talk like they are involved in a rapid-fire improv. The jokes fly back and forth, and the three actors seem to build off one another's comments, moving through the quips as if they were planned. In just a couple of days, the trio will brave a dark and stormy night, a moving stage and a murder. They will come as Miss Scarlet,

    Wadsworth and Mr. Boddy, respectively. They are just three of the actors in the upcoming musical "Clue: On Stage."

    "As soon as I heard they were doing 'Clue,' I immediately started researching everything I possibly could on Miss Scarlett. I thought if I could get this, I would cry," Newman said.

    "We missed the crying part," Brocki quickly quipped. The three actors immediately laughed. The rapport they have with each other is palpable and engaging.

    The play is an adaptation of the 1985 movie "Clue," directed by Jonathan Lynn and starring Tim Curry.

    Newman said she loved the movie and, of course, the "confident, sexy" Miss Scarlet. While she idolized the confidence that Miss Scarlet had and went into the audition with the goal of landing the part, every actor has to take their roles in a "different direction."

    "I feel like you have to give at least some nods to the classics … I don't think anyone could be the exact character they saw in the movie. It's important to give an audience a new take on all these characters," Newman said.

    Newman and De la Concha are local actors, and Brocki is a self-proclaimed, semi-retired actor living in the Triangle area. De la Concha is also the Director of Education for Cape Fear Regional Theatre.
    Brocki jokes that De la Concha didn't even need to audition for Wadsworth.

    "I had to do a little bit of an audition," De la Concha said.

    Brocki laughed and gave a playful eye roll. Picking up on his humor, and having a naturally happy-go-lucky demeanor, De la Concha added, "I knew just a little bit before."

    De la Concha plays Wadsworth, the same role played by Curry in "Clue," the motion picture. When De la Concha speaks about Curry, he remarks on the iconic nature of his depiction of the character and a sort of mixture of both excitement and intimidation about playing this part.

    "I'm no Tim Curry. He's amazing, but you want to pay respect to something that is so iconic but bring a new take to it," he said.
    Something the three actors can agree on without hesitation, the true magic and finesse of the play, is the fast-paced conversation that takes place between the ten actors in the production and quick movements requiring precision.

    "You can't mess up the details. The characters go over everything with a fine-tooth comb so you can't mess it up," De la Concha said.

    "No pressure," Newman said while laughing.

    The stage and set for this production are multi-layered; Brocki helped with the construction. It will have many hidden doors and rooms, and, according to Brocki, the set itself will have a lot of movement — not just the actors.

    "For an audience, there's a lot of eye candy," Brocki said.

    The show's director, Mary Catherine Burke, wants the audience to feel like they are a part of the board game. The actors will be almost surrounded on three sides by their audience at many points.

    "Things are sliding and moving … the audience will feel like they are in the game with us," De la Concha said.

    With all the movement, the actors admit that because the show is a murder mystery, they have to make sure the movements are precise. The audience is supposed to want to figure out the murder alongside the characters, so the recreation of scenes and details matters. The finer details, Newman said, are the hardest part.

    "It's hard to make sure you are where you need to be when you need to be there," she paused before continuing, "in heels."

    "I don't have heels," Brocki laughed.

    "I guess I could if it was part of the costume," De la Concha said.

    The three performers stop for a second, look at one another then share another giggle.
    The music for the show will be original to this production. There will be a lot of sound cues for the actors, and the music, the actors promise, will be a large part of the show and its mounting suspense. The theater hired Los Angeles producer David Abbinant to create the music and sound cues for the play.

    "There's an entire scene with no lines. It's basically like a dance number in a play," Newman said.

    "Clue: On Stage" will be made up of 11 actors. It will be about 90 minutes in length and offer no intermission. Within five minutes of the start of the show, the audience will be able to see all the actors on stage together.

    The key to the performance was keeping it going at a fast pace, just like the original movie.

    "The cast is together most of the evening. They are so suspicious of one another they want to stay together, so they don't get murdered," De la Concha said.

    De la Concha said this show will not be a run of the mill one direction show. The actors will be surrounded on three sides by the audience — an intentional involvement that differs from regular plays at the theatre.

    "We say you are in the game. You are in it with us," he said.

    The actors share a few laughs about the start of rehearsal, including De la Concha telling his fellow cast members that they would all have to play his Golden Girls' version of the Clue board game at some point.
    During the first rehearsal, they recalled, Burke asked each of them to talk about their favorite games growing up. Brocki said marbles. De la Concha said Nintendo. Newman loved Monopoly. She's competitive, she said.

    "I like Monopoly, Risk … anything that requires complete domination," Newman laughed.

    "Okay, Miss Scarlett," De la Concha chuckled.

    "That's why she was cast," Brocki added.

    The quick jokes and back-forth of their conversation is just a little peek into the chemistry that the crowd can expect on the stage during "Clue: On Stage." This sort of chemistry and connection is what De la Concha said was the easiest part of putting this particular play together. The play requires its actors to have fun and be involved in a lot of conversation and physical comedy.

    "We did this play merely because it's fun. It's engaging. It takes your mind off of what happened that day. All you can think about is who did it," said Ashley Owen, Marketing Director for Cape Fear Regional Theatre.

    "Clue: On Stage" will run from March 24 through April 10. Tickets are $15 to $25. Military and educator discounts are available during special Military Appreciation and Educator Appreciation nights.
    The show is rated PG for parental guidance. It contains mild and comedic themes of violence and adult humor.

  • IMG 0854The Gilbert Theater, "Theater with a Pulse," brings "Othello," a tale of love, envy, betrayal and race to its stage from March 25 to April 10.

    The Gilbert is an award-winning community theater located in the heart of downtown Fayetteville, founded in 1994 by Lynn Pryer. Now in its 28th season, the theater prides itself on bringing a diverse selection of topics, tastes and artistic styles to the stage.

    "Othello" tells the story of Venetian general Othello, a nobleman of Black Moorish descent. Othello struggles to hold on to his reputation, his secret marriage to Desdemona and his military career at the hands of Iago, a scheming, lower-ranked soldier driven by jealousy.

    Written around 1604, Othello tackles themes that co-directors Lawrence Carlisle III and Montgomery Sutton believe still resonates with audiences today.

    "This play is about something that at its heart is universal," said Carlisle, who is also artistic director at the Gilbert Theater.

    While the idea of Shakespeare may seem intimidating for some, Sutton's adaptation is designed to be accessible, bridging the gulf between classical works like Shakespeare and modern-day audiences.
    The production will be modern, with the characters dressed in everyday clothing. Sutton wants the characters to be "incredibly recognizable" to the people in the audience.
    The play will unfold as a "psychological thriller," with the run time cut to 90 minutes and one intermission.

    "We've taken fine-grit sandpaper to this play and made it smooth and aerodynamic."

    "The goal," Sutton explains, "is to tell a story simply and clearly," Carlisle echoes the sentiment, expressing his deep appreciation for this play. He feels it is one of Shakespeare's "most focused and straightforward works."

    "We've trimmed a lot of fat off the language," Sutton explains. "It's still rich; it's still heightened; it's still Shakespeare, but with nothing extraneous."

    Ultimately, Carlisle and Sutton want theatergoers to feel connected. Engagement is a word that comes up a lot when speaking about the play's production and their hopes for the audience.

    "I want people to walk away really connecting with questions the play asks about human nature, what it means to be a villain, and what culpability we have for our actions," Sutton said. "Come ready to have your assumptions challenged."

    Carlisle invites the audience to come and truly experience theater, stating that "live theater is a much more visceral experience than other forms of entertainment."

    "I want people to come to enjoy live theater, enjoy the show, and come away with more appreciation for Shakespeare," Carlisle said. “If you don't like Shakespeare or feel you don't understand Shakespeare — this is the show to see."

    While online ticket purchases are recommended, the box office will be open one and a half hours prior to the show's start.

    General admission tickets are $18; discount tickets for first responders, military, students, and seniors are also available. Tickets can be purchased at www.gilberttheater.com. For more information, call 910- 678-7186.

  • labour2017Residents in Fayetteville and the region have the unique opportunity to experience an uncommon type of artform by visual artist Marcela Casals — a performance work titled in-bitween. Casals, who lived in Fayetteville for many years and now resides in the New York City area, was invited to participate in the 2021-2022 Fine Art Series at Fayetteville State University in the Department of Performing and Fine Arts.

    Before Marcela Casals decided to complete a degree in sculpture and ceramics at FSU, she was a well-known actor and director at the Gilbert Theatre in Fayetteville. By 2017 Casals had completed the visual art degree in sculpture and ceramics at FSU, a Post Baccalaureate degree at the Maryland Institute College of Art, and a Master of Fine Arts at the School of Arts in New York. After graduation, she remained in New York as a performance artist.

    Casals has created an immersive sculpture installation in Rosenthal Gallery to perform in-bitween on two different days: March 18th and 19th. The event is free and a reception to meet the artist will follow the March 19th performance from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Ellington White Contemporary Gallery on Gillespie Street in downtown Fayetteville.

    Before leaving Fayetteville, Casals was invited to create a sculpture installation in the west gallery at the Arts Council of Fayetteville in 2013. The paper and fabric used in the installation titled woodforeststream became her signature materials. From descending sculptural forms to sculptural projections, Casals utilizes neutral and/or black/white paper or fabric to express content. Using easily accessible materials Casals inspires meaning from a minimal approach in her performances and accumulation as mass in her sculptures.

    in-bitween, reveals Casals’ underlying preoccupation with the characteristics of opposites: restraint and gravity, limitation and abundance, weight and weightlessness, culture and nonculture, lastly, language and the voiceless. After the performance, the immersive sculpture installation remains in place until April 8, 2022, for visitors to Rosenthal Gallery to experience — the video recording of in-bitween will play on a large monitor.

    In talking about the content for in-bitween Casals shared her experiences with language as “innate and foreign, a bridge and a barrier. After arriving with my parents in NYC from Buenos Aires at the age of nine, not speaking a word of English … in a years’ time I spoke it fluently. Time passed and I only spoke Spanish with my parents. By the time of my adulthood, my parents returned to Argentina and visited me regularly in the United States. Visiting them regularly, I noticed my mother language was stunted. When my parents passed and not having spoken Spanish for two years, I came to experience a sense of loss. I was no longer from my birthplace and not 100% from where I grew up…my experience with language, that everyday sound defines this middle space I inhabit: not from there, not from here, in-bitween.”

    Visitors to in-bitween performance do not need to know Casals' idea behind the sculpture and performance, they can experience whatever their sensibilities respond to during the event. Knowing the artist’s intent before visiting the gallery could give visitors insight and perhaps influence a new and surprisingly pleasing experience.

    Visitors do not have to stay the entire time of the performance; they can quietly come and go during either of the performances. The five-hour March 19th performance is durational. Instead of performing for the complete five hours, the artist will take short breaks, then re-enter the performance.

    A master class is scheduled for the art students — the public is welcome to attend. The artist will briefly talk about the history of performance art and how theatre and being a trained studio artist has influenced her style.

    Instead of the master class, visitors can go to this YouTube link prior to coming to the gallery for in-bitween: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsO9K3twk3E

    As an actor, Casals has a long list of memorable theater performances over the years. Since becoming a visual artist, her list of achievements continues to grow. While an art student in 2011, Casals was one of the artists who participated in the “500 Hands” North Carolina Veterans Park, in Fayetteville, NC. Like the other artists, Casals was assigned and traveled to 12 counties in North Carolina to cast the hands of veterans and their supporters for Veterans Park.

    Some of her installations and performances includes the following: “Intrusion” Installation, Projecto áce, Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2013; “Is That A Gun In Your Pocket” Studio 10, Brooklyn NY Performance, 2017; “Labour” Performance/Installation — SVA Open Studios, 2017; and 2020 “Parabola-Parable” Language-Mother Tongue, The Immigrant Artists Biennial, NYC Performance.

  • TechNet2 The annual TechNet Symposium is returning to Fort Bragg with the intent to help build solutions and share best practices that promote valuable results to technology challenges the military faces today.

    The symposium is hosted by the North Carolina chapter of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA). They are a non-profit volunteer association of technology professionals that promotes technology in the military community. The local North Carolina chapter hosts monthly luncheons, golf tournaments, professional development classes, college scholarships, STEM grants to local schools and the annual TechNet Fort Bragg conference.

    The president of the local chapter, Marv Gordner, says this has been the biggest exposition in the Fayetteville and Fort Bragg area every year for the past 12 years. In 2020, the conference was canceled due to COVID-19 and last year, it had to be held off base.

    “This year, we are back at Fort Bragg and right where and when we need to be,” Gordner said.

    The two-day military technology conference will be held at the Iron Mike Conference Center. TechNet Fort Bragg offers an opportunity for experts and leaders from across the Army and Fort Bragg community to address various sides of the challenging, controversial issues facing the U.S. Army Forces Command, U.S. Special Operations Command, Joint Special Operations Command and U.S. Army Special Operations Command communities.

    The topics covered during the conference will address hard-hitting issues facing the military technology community over the next 12 to 18 months.

    Attendees can pick a specific topic they would like to focus on during the symposium and go to those breakout sessions. Those tracks include Artificial Intelligence, Cloud, Cyber, Data, Small Business and Other.
    Gordner says there are three main things people can take away from the exposition: Networking, Education and Giving to a good cause. The AFCEA will use the money raised at the conference for local charity efforts such as local teaching STEM grants, scholarships for high school seniors, and ROTC cadets in college.

    The keynote speaker will be Brig. Gen. Jeth B. Rey. He is the Director of the Network Cross-Functional Team within Army Futures Command. He is responsible for the continuous improvement of network, command, control, communications and intelligence to enable mission command across the tactical network. On Wednesday, April 6, he will be speaking about how the Army is modernizing the tactical network and increasing integration with the strategic network through the Army Unified Network Plan to deliver data-centric capabilities in support of Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) and Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2).

    “Everyone is welcome from E1 to people with stars on their shoulders. You will make good contacts. You can always learn something,” Gordner said. “You can always get that one percent or five percent better every day.”

    Gordner told Up & Coming Weekly that he hopes for at least 700 to 800 people to attend.

    The conference will take place on Tuesday, April 5 and Wednesday, April 6.

    Military and Government attendees can attend for free, while retired military and non-government attendees can attend for $175.

    Tickets are available at https://www.technetfortbragg.com/Register. People can also register at the door.

  • history to go box The Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex is offering history kits for kids every first Tuesday of the month. The kits, called History To-Go boxes, are full of interactive activities for children and their families. History To-Go boxes are designed for kids ages 6 to 12. The kits invite participants to enjoy and learn about the greater Cape Fear region.

    Each month, the themed boxes have worksheets, writing prompts and crafts. February’s theme was the Underground Railroad. The kit included crafts and helped kids locate the North Star in the Little Dipper using a cardboard tube and a flashlight. In March, the boxes were centered around the American Revolution and contained decoding activities. April’s theme is textiles.

    “’Textiles’ is going to have a little cardboard loom that comes prestrung with yarn, so the kids learn how to weave,” said Sarah Stubbs, museum administrative assistant.

    The box is also going to delve into the history of mill villages. These villages were created by the mill owners close to their textile mills. Textile mills required running water from streams and rivers, and these often were in rural settings, meaning workers needed to either travel from larger towns or live nearby. Setting up the villages for their workers gave the mill owners a way to keep staff around and keep an eye on their workers.

    “There’s a worksheet that we call ‘mill village math,’ and that plays off of an oral history interview that is included (in the box),” said Stubbs. “What is unique about that time period is that we do have audio-recorded oral history interviews. I took a transcription of one of those about two people, a married couple, who worked at a mill when they were children, roughly the same age as the kids who will get the boxes. Using the information we got out of that oral history interview, the kids have to learn how much money they would’ve been making as kids and the cost of living at that time.”

    The Museum launched History To-Go boxes in the summer of 2021. The museum holds a yearly summer camp for kids, but with the uncertainty of COVID-19 restrictions, the museum decided to make summer camp mobile.

    “They (the boxes) were so popular; we decided to bring them back on a monthly basis,” Stubbs said.

    Boxes are available for pick up beginning on the first Tuesday of every month. Currently, families are limited to two boxes per family.

    “We have a section on our website where every month we put PDFs of what we have in the box, including a list of materials that you would need to do your own hands-on-activity, so if you have other children or if you are a large homeschool group and you want to replicate the boxes yourself, you can do that from our website,” Stubbs said.

    The Museum of the Cape Fear Historical Complex is located at 801 Arsenal Ave. in Fayetteville and is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

  • Ukraine Demonstration This past week, March 24, marked one month since renewed aggression in Ukraine in the ongoing Russo-Ukraine War. Beginning in 2014 and resulting in the Russian annexation of Crimea and unrest in the Donbas region, the war has culminated in a full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces. While the war may seem very far away for many in Cumberland County, it is hitting home for some.

    Dmitry and Alena, whose last names are being withheld at their request because Dmitry is in the U.S. Army Special Forces, are from and grew up near Kyiv. The couple immigrated to the U.S. from Ukraine. Dmitry joined the U.S. Army in 2009 and graduated from the Special Forces Qualification Course in 2014. He currently serves on active duty and is stationed locally at Fort Bragg.

    While Dimitry and Alena now live in the U.S., their families are still in Ukraine. This includes brothers and sisters and their children, aunts, uncles and cousins. Dmitry's nephew and brother-in-law are currently fighting in Kyiv along with thousands more throughout Ukraine who have vowed to defend their homeland.

    Shortly after the invasion, Dmitry put out a call through his personal network and via social media for support and medical supplies to be donated and sent to Ukraine. Just one day after the invasion began, Dmitry posted.

    "If you [are] not too far away from me: Fayetteville NC, we've got some request[s] from Ukraine," Dmitry said in his post.

    He was requesting medical supplies to send home. And the community answered.

    "Russian and Belorussian terrorists are still attacking my home country, and I am still looking for equipment to send to Ukraine. We successfully shipped off today 22 40-gallon boxes of amazing medical equipment worth $98,000," Dmitry said in early March.

    In support of his call for help, the Special Forces Foundation, a nonprofit with the mission of supporting Green Berets and their families, helped Dmitry and Alena establish a fund supporting their cause.

    "The Green Beret Humanitarian Fund (GBHF) was created to support humanitarian efforts in which Green Berets coordinate, work with or otherwise support outside of their line of duty. The fund was created in the first days of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine when a fellow Green Beret and his wife reached out for assistance in helping their former countrymen," the Special Forces Foundation said in a statement. "Dmitry and

    Alena have actively been gaining support within their community in the form of monetary and material donations and physical help in preparing those donations for delivery to Ukrainians in dire need. The GBHF has been set up so that they, along with other advocates, can actively raise funds to aid in the expenses accrued when shipping donated items to Ukraine."

    Since the creation of the GBHF, a Facebook page, UkrainianEfforts has been created, demonstrations in Fayetteville have been organized, and Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Taproom and Dirty Whiskey Craft Cocktail Bar have scheduled an event in support of Dmitry and Alena. The brewery is accepting donations by collecting Meals Ready to Eat, dry freeze foods, blankets, water filtration systems, socks and undergarments and medical supplies.

    The efforts to support the GBHF will culminate in an event from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on April 3.

    For information on how to help the GBHF visit the Facebook UkrainianEfforts, and to make a donation, you can text GBHF to 41444 and follow the link provided.

  • DSC 0113Fayetteville Technical Community College Foundation is hosting the second annual Trojan Fit 5K Color Run/Walk on Saturday, April 30.

    FTCC Foundation partners with donors to support Fayetteville Technical Community College by raising awareness and financial resources to provide college access for students to attain their educational and career goals.

    The mission of FTCC Foundation is to foster and promote the growth, progress, and general welfare of FTCC, provide supplementary financial support to the College and its students, and advance and enrich the services provided for students, the community, alumni, faculty, and staff. FTCC Foundation manages more than 200 scholarship endowments and other funds.

    The FTCC Trojan Fit 5K Color Run/Walk will be a fun event for serious runners and casual walkers. Run or walk across FTCC’s beautiful campus and explore the Camellia Trails, fountains and the Rose Garden. The optional rainbow color powder adds extra fun and happiness. There will be two routes available – a 5K run and a fun walk, appropriate for families with strollers. Proceeds from the Trojan Fit Color Run benefit the Health and Fitness Scholarship and other scholarships at FTCC.

    “Now, more than ever, health and fitness are a priority for many people. The health and fitness industry is growing fast with an increased demand for trainers and industry workers,” said Joseph Davis, health and fitness instructor at FTCC and Trojan Fit committee member. “Our goal with the Health and Fitness Scholarship is to ease the financial burden of our students and help them to achieve their academic and career goals.”

    Registration is limited to the first 400 participants. T-shirt and race bib pickup will take place on the Thursday and Friday before the event. Check-in on race day will begin at 8 a.m. The warm-up begins at 8:45 a.m., and the run starts at 9 a.m. After the run, participants are invited to enjoy music and food and check out health and fitness vendors.

    Many volunteers are needed to manage the Color Run to staff the water and color stations and provide route guidance. This will be a safe and fun volunteer opportunity for individuals and groups.

    “We are so excited to be able to host another Trojan Fit Color Run here at the FTCC campus. This event brings people together in the community and offers a great volunteer experience as well,” said Vinessa Jones, health and fitness instructor at FTCC and volunteer coordinator for the event. “Volunteer hours are a great way to be involved in the community. Students get to add experience to their college and work applications.

    Whether you want to be a participant, a volunteer or simply come out to encourage those running, we hope to see you there.”

    Individual registration is $35 per person. For more information and to register to run or volunteer, visit https://www.faytechcc.edu/trojan5k or call 910-678-8441.

  • 01 Cover

  • 3283081The All American Races include the All American Half Marathon and a 5K, which are now open to the public for participation.

    "This is a virtual event, and our runners are able to run at any time between now up until Tuesday, May 31," said Jennifer Fayson, Fort Bragg MWR special events office. "Now that it has gone virtual, they will be able to run on their own and select the location of their choosing, and we would like for runners to know that the new Liberty Park is available for them to use."

    The event is a morale booster and community event. While it is usually an in-person race, due to the current 82nd Airborne Division's Immediate Response Force Deployments to Europe, virtual, seemed the way to go for race planners.

    "The purpose of the event is to bring some morale to our families, soldiers, veterans and members of our community," Fayson said. "Recently, it was supposed to be an in-person event with a half marathon and 5K; however, due to various events going on, we transitioned it to a virtual event."

    The virtual event allows runners freedom of venue and includes mail-out swag.

    "Winners now have an opportunity to run a 5K or a half marathon at a place of their choosing, and they will submit the results to us, and we will mail them an event shirt, half marathon or 5K medal, and a commemorative event bib," Fayson said.

    The All American Races, formally known as the All American Marathon, held its inaugural event in 2014. The marathon was a collaboration between the City of Fayetteville and Fort Bragg. It began as a marathon, half marathon, and 5k.

    In previous years, the marathon and the half marathon started in downtown Fayetteville, and runners ran the All American Freeway onto the installation and crossed the finish line at the Main Post Parade Field.

    "After the race going virtual in 2020 and 2021 due to the ongoing pandemic, we felt this would be a good time to make some changes," said Fayson.

    "The transition to a loop course that started and finished at the new Liberty Park was one of the changes that we were most excited about, and we are looking forward to a return to the in-person event in 2023."

    Previously, the half marathon was nicknamed "Mike to Mike."

    At that time, the run started at the iconic Iron Mike statue in front of the Airborne & Special Operations Museum in historic downtown Fayetteville and passed the Iron Mike statue on Fort Bragg located near the finish line at the Main Post Parade Field.

    These virtual marathons are non-competitive with no age group or overall awards. Participation costs $40 per race.

    Registration is going on now and will run until May 31. Visit www.zippyreg.com/online_reg/?e=1610, to register, or call, 910-908-5977.

  • EE smithLegacy: a word that best describes Doctor Ezekiel Ezra Smith. A free man born in 1853, E.E. Smith was an educator, a soldier, a pastor and a diplomat. The Fayetteville History Museum will celebrate this legacy with an open house at Smith's Fayetteville home, March 25, from noon to 3 p.m.

    The house, built in 1902, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014. It is on Blount and Chase Streets in downtown Fayetteville, an area that was once a prominent African American neighborhood.

    "A lot of people are surprised when they see the house and step foot in here. This was a man of wealth. That's not a story that is told that there were upper-middle-class, affluent African Americans. That is a Fayetteville story," said Heidi Bleazey, historic properties manager, Fayetteville History Museum.

    Smith was not from a wealthy family originally. He was born on a farm in Duplin County, where his father worked. While his mother's family had been free for a couple of generations, his father was the first of his family to be emancipated. As a young black child, Smith was not allowed an education in the formal sense. After the Civil War, however, he was able to attend a school in Wilmington, where he also began his teaching career at the age of 17. Smith applied to Shaw University and graduated with a bachelor's degree in 1878. He would later return to Shaw University and receive a doctorate.

    Smith became the principal of a school in Goldsboro, where he was approached with an opportunity to become the head of the Fayetteville State Normal School, now Fayetteville State University. Smith worked hard to continue to improve the school and is credited as being instrumental in obtaining the land FSU currently sits on.

    In addition to his legacy within FSU, Smith's name is also used for a local high school. E. E. Smith High School produces many graduates who then continue to FSU, becoming educators themselves.

    "About 90% of the high school graduates from E.E. Smith from the 50s and 60s went directly to FSU, and the majority of them are teachers," said Melinda Dancy, museum assistant.
    Dancy's two daughters graduated from E.E. Smith following their father's footsteps. She said she brought them to the house to experience the man their school was named after.

    "E.E. Smith alumni go really strong; they have such a sense of school pride. So it's been cool to have alumni come here and have even more meaning associated with their school pride. I think that would make E.E. Smith proud, to see how prideful his graduates are," said Catherine Linton, museum specialist.

    The parlor of the E.E. Smith House will be decorated with period-appropriate furniture pieces, books and photos. Further into the house, an exhibit gallery space has been set up with panels talking about Smith's extraordinary life.

    Smith served in the North Carolina National Guard through the Spanish American War. He was an ordained Baptist Minister and became president of the Baptist State Convention. In 1888, President Grover Cleveland appointed him as resident minister and general consul to the Republic of Liberia. Smith was also a businessman, heading insurance companies and real estate holdings and editor of multiple newspapers.

    The museum staff were permitted to peruse FSU's archives. They found the certificate from Cleveland appointing Smith as resident minister and general consul to the Republic of Liberia and his Third North Carolina Regiment appointment letter. Copies of both will be on display for visitors to see.

    "We are constantly learning about him, constantly seeing new aspects. We bought a celebratory edition of the Fayetteville Observer from 1967, and there was a little snippet about him saying that he developed a newspaper here in Fayetteville that was short-lived, and we were like, 'what didn't he do?'," said Bleazey.

    This will be the second open house for the E.E. Smith property. The first one, held in February, was seen as a great success, with many older community members coming in and sharing memories of the space.
    Linton mentioned how hard the community worked to rehabilitate the space, which had fallen into disrepair. She credited support from city staff, building maintenance, city custodians, grounds people and Cumberland County Parks and Recreation.

    "People have really shown interest in getting back into this house, seeing it brought back to life, and becoming that gathering space and community center," said Linton.

    Emma Freeman, marketing and social media manager for the museum, agreed.

    "It was really cool to talk to some people at our first open house who grew up in this neighborhood. What this house symbolized for them, this was a hub for them," said Freeman. "As kids, they would come and hang on the porch and talk and play. They knew what this house stood for and who E.E. Smith was, and they loved being here."

    The open house on March 25 is free and open to the public.

  • in her shoesThe Rape Crisis of Cumberland County at the Phoenix Center has set a date for their 10th annual Walk Awhile in Their Shoes event, Friday, March 25 at 7 p.m., in front of the Encore Academy Building on Hay Street in downtown Fayetteville.

    “The event originally started as a fundraiser, but it has really grown into an awareness event as well as a fundraiser about sexual assault in our community,” said Deanne Gerdes, executive director of Rape Crisis of Cumberland County, at the Phoenix Center. “We will stroll down to Segra Stadium, and that is where we will be having our after party.”

    The Rape Crisis of Cumberland County at the Phoenix Center supports sexual and domestic violence victims in multiple ways.

    “Last year, we had 412 victims of sexual violence and 398 victims of domestic violence in Cumberland County, and we provide services from a crisis hotline, responding to the emergency room, responding to law enforcement and going to court,” said Gerdes. “Last year, domestic violence cases were different, but the numbers were not necessarily up because of COVID-19.”

    Gerdes added that last year schools were closed, many worked from home or were unemployed and much domestic violence was contained to the home. Many victims did not feel comfortable reaching out or leaving their homes for help for many reasons.

    These conditions have impacted federal funding for the center.

    “We had closed shelters whether it was due to staffing, COVID-19 outbreak or just closed, and we all took a big hit in federal funding,” said Gerdes. “The services that used to be prior to COVID-19 were not there, and coming out of COVID-19, we are still feeling those effects.”

    She added, “For domestic violence, we are focusing on really trying to get victims to a safe place which is more than likely outside of Cumberland County.”

    Walk Awhile in Their Shoes event will see men walk four blocks down Hay Street wearing high heels; the walk will end at Segra Stadium.
    The traditional red heels have been challenging to source this year, so event planners welcome the support regardless of footwear.

    “Originally, it was red high heels, but we just can’t find enough red high heels to be honest with you,” said Gerdes. “Some men don’t wear red high heels for the walk, so they wear red shoes, black flats or their tennis shoes, and we are okay with that. We have some seasoned, older gentlemen that may have hip or knee problems but want to come out and support, and they do, and we are so grateful for that.”

    Plans for the Phoenix Center involve working to return to where they were before COVID-19, building back up their volunteer advocates, a pilot program to support the need for sexual assault nurse examiners, advocating for a bill in Raleigh and using funds to rehab their building.

    “One of the most amazing things about this walk is that we have victims, their family members and husbands that come to this walk, and they walk the walk,” said Gerdes. “It is so incredible to see these victims in awe of seeing these people supporting them, not knowing who they are.”

    Registration begins at 6 p.m. on the day of the event, and the cost is $25, $15 with a student ID; for more information, call 910-485-7273.

  • vietnamWith 2.7 million Americans having served in Vietnam from 1964 to 1975, the Vietnam War impacted and defined over a decade of American History. March 29, Vietnam Veterans Day was established by former President Barrack Obama in 2012 and made official in 2017 with The Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act of 2017 signed into law by former President Donald J. Trump.

    With 58,318 killed, 61% being under 21, and over 75,000 severely injured, the war impacted the entire country. According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, 1584 Americans remain unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, 1062 individual's remains have been repatriated since the beginning of 1973.

    Memorializing these losses in Washington, D.C., the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, dedicated in 1982, reflects the names of those killed during the conflict.

    The Moving Wall has toured the U.S for 30 years, a half-size replica of the Memorial in Washinton, D.C. The Moving Wall was inspired during Vietnam veteran John Devitt's attendance at the commemoration of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. A small group of Vietnam veterans built The Moving Wall to "share that experience with those who did not have the opportunity to go to Washington," according to movingwall.org.

    The Moving Wall is making its third visit to Fayetteville as part of the Airborne and Special Operations four-day community-wide remembrance event "Vietnam War: Reflections of Courage." The Moving Wall will be on display on the ASOM parade field and will be accessible to visitors 24 hours a day during the event.

    There will be a directory available for those who may want to make a rubbing of a loved one's name.

    The four-day event will mark the 49th anniversary of the end of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam on March 29.

    And while the Moving Wall will be the centerpiece of the event, the event will offer so much more to attendees; organizers are anticipating a large turnout in the thousands.

    "Many veterans' groups and military organizations will be drawn to The Moving Wall as it represents honor, respect, healing and closure for so many men and women who served during the Vietnam War and their families. With Cumberland County and North Carolina having one of the highest populations of Vietnam Veterans in the U.S., this exhibit in Fayetteville will give many people in our community and beyond an opportunity to honor and respect those who made the ultimate sacrifice through remembrance and education," said Jim Bartlinski, museum director, ASOM.

    An opening Remembrance Ceremony begins at 4 p.m. on March 25 at the Yarborough Bank Theater and will be followed by a pinning ceremony. Speaking at the ceremony are two local Vietnam Veterans with community ties. Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Jimmie Spencer, an ASOM volunteer and member of their Military Advisory Committee, will be speaking. During the war, Spencer served with the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) (Airborne) and with the Military Advisory Command.

    Ron Matthews will also speak at the event. Matthews is a local who served in the Republic of Vietnam from 1969 to 1970 with the 1st Infantry Division and the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment.

    Their stories are unique, and their connection to the local community is invaluable. Speaking about Mathews, ASOM Foundation Executive Director, Renee Lane, explained his story is unique, and as a community leader, it is important for people to hear his story.

    "He has a really good story about his service there [the Republic of Vietnam]," said Lane. "He's a community leader here, and everybody knows him, and I think it would be important for people to hear his story."

    Following the speakers and ceremony, visiting Vietnam veterans can be pinned. The pins are only for living veterans who served in the U.S. Armed Forces, but there is a unique pin for those who served from November 1, 1955, to May 15, 1975. The Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pin holds deep significance for those who wear it. Many Vietnam veterans said they are glad they served, 91%, and many say they would serve again, 74%. There is a great deal of pride regarding their service among Vietnam
    veterans.

    "I have a number of medals pinned on in my day … even though it might just be a lapel pin to a lot of people, this is like a medal to the Vietnam veterans," said retired Col. Michael Brazelton, U.S. Air Force, in a pamphlet from the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration. Brazelton is a former Vietnam War POW and was awarded the Silver Star four times.

    The pinning program is offered by ASOM all year. Still, they expect to have an opportunity to pin many additional veterans who will be visiting during "Vietnam War: Reflections of Courage."
    On March 26, retired Lt. Col Jack Kelley will speak about his book "Bonded in Battle." Kelley served with the 173rd Airborne Brigade.

    His book details the true account of Sgt. Charles Morris, who received the Medal of Honor for his leadership and bravery in Vietnam in June of 1966. Following the book discussion, ASOM will be hosting a screening of the documentary "My Father's Brothers" by Kelley's son, Shawn Kelley.

    The following day, March 27, the documentary "The Wall That Heals" will be shown. The documentary focuses on the stories of North Carolinians who served in Vietnam.The documentary is slated to air on FOX 50, WRAL-TV and PBS-North Carolina.

    Event organizers expect a "full house for these events and highly recommend attendees register for the events. To register for the Remembrance Ceremony visit, https://bit.ly/remceremony, for the March 26 event visit, https://bit.ly/326vietnam and for the March 27 event visit, https://bit.ly/327vietnam.
    In addition to the Moving Wall and guest speakers, ASOM encourages visitors to take some time and walk through the museum's gallery.

    "I would encourage people to go into our gallery because we have the exhibit on the 173rd with the Huey. That highlights Lawrence Joel, the medic, and Chaplain Watters. And of course, the POW Nick Rowe exhibit that we have, and of course the Red Hats [Military Assistance Command Vietnam] exhibit," Bartlinski said.

    In addition, there will be unique Vietnam-era artwork and artifacts on display throughout the museum lobby.

    "This is a great way to educate the public on Vietnam. And it's not just the Wall, but inside the museum in the lobby here, we have a lot of artifacts that have never been on display before from the Vietnam era. And I think that it's important for people to see the artifacts and understand the meaning behind them. And certainly, come away more educated about what happened than when they walked in the door," said Lane.

    The artifacts are a mixture of Airborne, Special Forces and even some Montagnard artifacts.

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  • BotanicalG The Fort Bragg Area Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. is holding their "Party With A Purpose" on March 19. This event is their twelfth annual Big Hat Brunch and will be held at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

    "Put on your biggest, classiest and most elegant hat as we enjoy brunch and a cup of tea with those Ft. Bragg Deltas," reads the organization's invitation of welcome.
    Founded in 1913, "Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to provide assistance and support through established programs in local communities throughout the world," as stated by their website.

    Introduced in 2010, The Big Hat Brunch has been a popular annual fundraising event. Attendance in years past has numbered in the hundreds, with tickets selling out well before the event day. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, however, seating will be limited this year.

    Making a move in venue from the Iron Mike Conference Center on Fort Bragg, the site of this event for the past 11 years, The Big Hat Brunch 2022 will make its first appearance at The Cape Fear Botanical Garden.

    Attendees of this year's brunch can enjoy the early spring with good food and fellowship while taking in the natural beauty of an 80-acre "urban oasis" located mere minutes from the bustle of downtown Fayetteville.

    The Big Hat Brunch's primary fund-raising goal is to provide scholarship opportunities for graduating high school seniors planning to attend Fayetteville State University.

    According to their Facebook page, "Since the first Big Hat Brunch in 2010, the Fort Bragg Area Alumnae Chapter has awarded over $50,000 in scholarships to high school seniors and college students attending FSU."

    Proceeds from this event directly fund the 2nd Lt. Lisa Nicole Bryant Memorial Scholarship.

    Lisa Bryant, born in 1979, was a 2nd Lt. in the United States Army and a graduate of Princeton University. Bryant was murdered in the early morning hours of July 10, 1993, in a residence hall on Fort Bragg; she was 21 years old.

    Through the fundraising efforts of The Big Hat Brunch, the Fort Bragg Area Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority seeks to keep Lisa Bryant's spirit, legacy and devotion to academic excellence alive with the dedication of this scholarship to meritable students in the Fort Bragg community.

    According to their webpage, "This scholarship will be awarded to a deserving undergraduate military family member attending FSU who exemplifies a commitment to education while majoring in sociology, psychology or education."

    While no dress code is expressly stated, it's clear at least one item is an absolute must!

    Tickets are $50 and the event will be held at the Cape Fear Botanical Garden, located at 536 N. Eastern Blvd.

    Those interested in attending can find additional information and tickets for The Annual Big Hat Brunch at www.eventbrite.com/e/annual-big-hat-brunch-2022-tickets-173147909057?ref=eios&fbclid=IwAR2dRGxldO7QRGzJwDsTvk6TYtSxqfef5dC9oEbWDKdmpPitdLOx7GLxBg0

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  • Bible As we head toward Easter, you’re bound to see a big-production movie (or at least a listing) that seems remarkably like a story you heard. Maybe you heard it in Sunday School or heard it told during one of the countless sermons preached about when God parted the Red Sea to allow the people of Israel to escape the Egyptians who had long enslaved them.

    On-screen or off, the imagery is striking and worthy of all the mentions we can give it; God’s faithfulness to his people is amazing!

    But why were the Israelites enslaved in the first place? You can trace that throughout Israel’s history leading to that parting of that sea, but more specifically to Joseph – as in the ‘coat of many colors’ son of Jacob, whose name God eventually changed to Israel.

    Joseph is the one who was thrown into a pit and then sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, and the one whose trials, tribulations and rise to a place of prominence in Egypt are all told within the pages of the very first book of the Bible: Genesis.

    The book details how Joseph trusted God through his enslavement, betrayal and situations that would leave most of us in utter despair. It details how in a wild turn of events, he becomes the very one who saves his father and the descendants of his 11 brothers when Joseph’s homeland is dying during a devastating famine.

    Even after all they did to him, Joseph helps his brothers and their enormous tribes, which leads them all to relocate to Egypt. They flourish and become productive, growing in both stature and number, and eventually, there’s a change of power in Egypt. The new king wasn’t fond of foreigners thriving in his kingdom, so he enslaved the Israelites – this continued and worsened over more than 400 years.

    So yes, God parting the waters to allow them to march out unharmed under the leadership of Moses (that’s another story) is a big deal and worthy of every telling.

    But there are so many points worth making along the way.

    The Bible is rich with stories of pain and struggle, forgiveness and redemption, and when we study it all in context, we begin to understand God’s love for us in all-new ways.

    From the table of contents in the front to the maps in the back, reading and gleaning truth from the Bible is worth your while. And just like this story about the Israelites marching out of a 430-year captivity through a sea which parted to allow them to cross on dry land, and then comes crashing in on the army chasing them, there are many pieces to every story.

    So, take time to study the Bible.

    Don’t miss a moment. Don’t look past a hero or a healing because if you miss a piece, you just might miss the point.

  • IMG 5216 1 Sweet Tea Shakespeare, Fayetteville's traveling theater company, will be presenting an impromptu performance of the magical and whimsy musical "Into the Woods."

    Stephen Sondheim's "Into the Woods" has won three Tony Awards and was made into a full-length Disney film in 2014. The story follows several well-known fairytale characters — Cinderella, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood and a Baker and his wife. All have wishes and hope a witch will grant them, bringing the old adage "be careful of what you wish" to mind as their actions return to haunt them later with disastrous results.

    Artistic Director Jeremy Fiebig said this performance promises to be an evening full of magic and fairytales. However, the idea for the musical to be performed came very late into the game.

    "We signed paperwork to do 'Into the Woods' in January," Fiebig said.

    The idea came to Sweet Tea Shakespeare after the new owners of Fayetteville Pie Company, Kerry and Jen Washburn, approached Sweet Tea Shakespeare after their annual Christmas concerts. The new Fayetteville Pie Company owners heard about the theater company's 2019 performance of "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" at the restaurant and how successful it was. They wanted to do it again.

    Shortly after that meeting, the idea of doing another Sondheim classic came about. Sweet Tea Shakespeare rose to the challenge and ambitiously put this musical performance together in under three months.

    However, Fiebig says it's been easy to do with the support from Fayetteville Pie Company.

    "They have been so extremely supportive. It was the case for Sweeney Todd, and it's the case now," Fiebig said.

    The tickets at the Fayetteville Pie Company will include a themed dinner with live music an hour before the show starts. Then attendees can make their way downstairs to see the small performance.

    "That's one thing unique about the Fayetteville Pie Company experience is that there are less than 50 seats a night, so you get that experience of seeing a play in your living room," Fiebig said. "What's different between Sweet Tea and anywhere else is how familiar, and close and interactive the performances are. It feels like we are doing a production in your living room. It's that intimate. It involves you that much."

    With having a small "stage," there's not much room for a large set — which for Fiebig is another thing he loves about their performances.

    "One of the things that excite me about this performance is all of the ways we find to create that magic with little, everyday household items."

    One big difference with this performance behind-the-scenes is that there will be two entirely separate casts for all the actors.

    "When we were planning this, it was still in the height of the omicron surge. We knew from our experiences from the last few months; we needed to have a cover plan for actors," Fiebig explained. "Every person in this play has a cover. We have this whole team of folks to essentially come to rehearsals, watch, step in occasionally, and they will get a small handful of performances of their own."

    The run of "Into the Woods" will kick off on March 17 and will run through April 10 at the Fayetteville Pie Company. The production will move and continue at the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church from April 21 through May 8.

    The ticket price for the Fayetteville Pie Company show includes a savory pie, a sweet pie and a soft drink or tea.

    Beer and wine will be available for purchase. The total price is $47.50 per ticket.

    At the Holy Trinity Episcopal Church shows, tickets range from $10 to $30. The performances will take place outside unless it rains.

    Tickets for the performances can be bought at sweetteashakespeare.com/into-the-woods-fayetteville-nc-events/.

  • In my last column, I wrote about the Mediterranean diet. Nutrition trends are popular and frequently discussed topics. There are as many opinions on the best diet as there are a variety of diets. The industry has taken an active approach in marketing to us to impact the way we eat. Marketed products come in the form of vitamins, powders, planned meals and drinks. Specialized diets have become so popular that it is not unusual to see diet-related options on restaurant menus. In the long run, proper nutrition depends on individual consumption and how our bodies respond to nutrition interventions. Lifestyle, current health, and genetics also significantly impact how we react to a diet. Two people of the same age, sex, height and weight will respond differently to the amount of weight loss in the same period and see weight loss in different areas of their bodies.

    I am not suggesting that you go on the Paleo diet, but it is an interesting subject. Enthusiasts of the Paleo diet believe it is the healthiest way to eat because it works with your genetics, resulting in more energy and keeping you lean and strong. The Paleo diet has a heavy focus on protein consumption. It is considered a caveman diet or a stone-age diet consisting of foods thought to be eaten by humans in the Paleolithic era, dating approximately 2.5 million to ten thousand years ago. The significant difference in eating during this time was the food was obtained by hunting, gathering fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds. When farming emerged, foods that became part of our diets included dairy products and legumes. Advocates of the diet believed that the addition of legumes and dairy products resulted in obesity and heart problems.

    Preferred Paleo foods are vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, wild game, grass-fed lean meat, fish rich in Omega 3 fatty acids and olive and walnut oils. People on the Paleo diet are advised to drink lots of water, black coffee or green tea. Foods to avoid are grains, legumes, dairy products, sugar, salt and potatoes. Some examples of a Paleo menu: Breakfast — smoothies with a combination of kale or spinach, banana, apple and almond milk or scrambled eggs with sauteed spinach, grilled tomatoes and pumpkin seeds. Lunch — mixed salad greens, fried sea bass, pumpkin seeds and olive oil dressing or roasted chicken with mixed greens, tomatoes and olive oil dressing. Dinner — roasted chicken stuffed with carrots and fresh rosemary or baked salmon with roasted asparagus.

    The Paleo diet emphasizes fruit, vegetables, animal proteins, nuts and olive oil. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes fruit, vegetables, whole grain products, nuts, seeds, olive oil, fish and less consumption of meat products.

    A safe approach to weight loss involves losing one to two pounds per week. Fad diets that cause a large amount of weight loss in a short time are not sustainable.

    A healthy approach to dieting includes a combination of diet and exercise. While going on a quick-fix diet for a special occasion or trying a friend’s diet can be tempting, the bottom line is that a sustainable lifestyle with good eating habits will result in a healthier you. Avoid processed foods, sugary drinks, saturated fats and sweets.

    Take your time selecting a diet and educating yourself or see a qualified nutritionist for meal plans. Live, love life with health and diet.

  • BLBBC 2021 ST paddys Spring has arrived. It is time to bid a fond farewell to the gray days of winter and welcome the tease of summer, which is just around the corner. The longer days and warmer weather invite a sense of fun, and Bright Light Brewing Company has plans to help Fayetteville kickoff springtime in the "Can-Do City."

    BLBC, a fixture on the downtown scene over the past five years, is hosting its annual St. Paddy's Day at Bright Light on March 19 from 4 to 11 p.m.
    Considered a "nano-brewery," BLBC is veteran-owned and opened its taproom doors on Russell St. in 2017. The company has now expanded to include a brewhouse located at 304 Williams St., a mere two blocks away.

    St. Paddy's Day at Bright Light boasts no shortage of games, good food and fun. Rainbows, shamrocks and likely more than a few shenanigans as any non-believers in attendance try not to get pinched. There will be a little something for everyone.

    "It's going to be so much fun," Oliva Caughey, event manager at BLBC, said, struggling to explain a game ominously called the "Shamrock Shuffle" without laughing.
    BLBC's St. Paddy's event will have a curated list of activities tailored to its patrons and community, from the whimsical to the more daring.

    Feel like channeling your St. Paddy's Day free spirit with a bit of body art? BLBC has got you covered. Free face painting will be available on-site from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. After that time, patrons are welcome to have their faces painted, but at their own cost.

    Attendees can also try their hand at some ax-throwing hosted by Axes and X's, another local company.

    From 4 to 9 p.m., guests can enjoy the savory comfort of the Rollin' Rust Belt Food Truck. Their Great Lakes-inspired menu "will definitely fill you up, and it goes really well with a pint or two," according to their website.

    A "pint or two" won't be an issue at BLBC. With an impressive rotation of in-house beer and at least fifteen on tap, festivalgoers can look forward to a St. Patrick's Day celebration staple- green beer, at $4 a pint.
    Fayetteville musician Crow Kozak, popular at the taproom, will entertain the merry crowd from 7 to 10 p.m. "We try to do as many local musicians in rotation as possible," Caughey said, expressing the company's dedication to supporting local talent and businesses.

    And ultimately, Caughey explains, that's what this event is all about.
    It's about appreciation and the collective uplifting of an industry hard-hit by events of the last two years.

    "We want to bring the community together and support small businesses," Caughey continued. "Especially during the pandemic, it's more important than ever."

    St. Paddy's at Bright Light will be held at the BLBC taproom at 444 W. Russell St.
    For more information, visit brighlightbrew.com/events.

  • 3-19-14-methodist.gifJazz music is a national treasure. Along with musical theater, it is one of the rare true American art forms with roots dating back to the early 20th century. Its impact has shaped the modern world of music and has influenced a myriad of musicians to pick up instruments and learn to play the wonderful art that is music. With music legends like John Coltrane, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and the great Duke Ellington, it is easy to see the mark that jazz music has made not only on our country, but the world over.

    Join Methodist University as it hosts its annual Jazz Festival. This free event is scheduled for March 22, at the Huff Auditorium on the campus of Methodist University. To make it as convenient as possible for the general public, it will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with a break for lunch. The point of this festival is to share jazz with those who may have an interest, a curiosity or who may have never considered it before. It is also a time to focus and exhibit the talents of musicians who are already proficient in the discipline of jazz music.

    The day will begin with Methodist University instructor Skip Walker conducting a workshop entitled “Thinking Jazz” in which he will discuss what it takes to think and play improvised music. A number of classes including those involving performance-based discussion are scheduled, too. Following lunch, the Methodist University Jazz Orchestra, with guest performer Mike Wallace will perform.

    Methodist University’s Director of Band, Dr. Daniel McCloud says that this festival is important because the art of jazz music is dissipating in American culture. He discussed why he believes this to be so.

    “I think that the single biggest factor for jazz losing its appeal is that jazz musicians simply don’t make as much as they used to. Maybe it’s because people are afraid of improvising music or playing with someone who has more experience,” he said.

    McCloud went on to say that he feels North Carolina has a special relationship with jazz music given artists like North Carolina native John Coltrane. In addition, Branford Marsalis was an instructor at North Carolina Central University. McCloud also stated that fewer and fewer public high schools in the state offer classes in jazz.

    Having received his bachelor’s and doctorate degree from Ball State University as well as master’s from University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Dr. McCloud is a percussionist with 14 years of experience in higher education. He comes to Fayetteville to serve Methodist University with professional experience in music. Join Methodist University in this free event to promote awareness of jazz music. With a half day of amazing performers and classes, the Jazz Festival is a great opportunity to begin a new hobby and learn about a true American art form. For more information, call Dr. Daniel McCloud at 910.630.7673.

    Photo: Join Methodist University as it hosts the annual Jazz Festival.

  • We Americans take great pride in our Constitutional right to free speech. It is, after all, the very first amendment we made to our Constitution in our clarifying Bill of Rights in 1791. The First Amendment protects us from government restrictions on our speech, but it is widely interpreted as a right to voice our thoughts in public. We cherish it, in part, because other nations do not have such a guarantee for their people, a sad reality on full display during Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

    So, it is not surprising that a recent editorial in the New York Times with the headline America has a free speech problem" caught my attention. The Times' editorial board describes our problem this way. "For all the tolerance and enlightenment that modern society claims, Americans are losing hold of a fundamental right as citizens of a free country: the right to speak their minds and voice their opinions in public without fear of being shamed or shunned... the old lesson of 'think before you speak' has given way to the new lesson of 'speak at your peril.'"

    The Times lays much of the blame for this dangerous situation on the vicious ideological war between the right and left of our political system, with one side pretending "cancel culture" does not exist and the other side attacking rapid societal change with laws banning books and censoring some discussions in schools and colleges.

    What's more, the newspaper has teamed with Siena College to poll on this issue. Here are some of its questions … be honest with yourself as you read them!

    • Over the past year, have you held your tongue because you were concerned about retaliation or harsh criticism?
    • Over the past year, have you retaliated against or harshly criticized another person because of something he or she said?
    • How much of a problem is it that some Americans do not exercise their freedom of speech in everyday situations out of fear of retaliation or harsh criticism?

    No matter how you responded personally, 55% of those polled said they had indeed held their tongues, more women than men and slightly more Republicans than Democrats. Fewer, 22%, reported that they had done the retaliating, more younger folks and more liberals than conservatives.

    And, not surprisingly, fully 84% believe fear of retaliation for expressing one's opinions is a "very serious" or "somewhat serious" problem. Nearly half said they feel less free to talk about politics now than they did ten years ago.

    Millions of us are worried about this, and with good reason.

    Living in a free society requires respectful communication, not the free-flowing, often incorrect and false and/or unattributed vitriol on various social media platforms. Large numbers of us read, believe and disseminate misinformation, and disinformation is damaging our nation.

    We cannot communicate with — much less understand — each other if we do not respect each other's right to express our opinions, no matter how much we might disagree with those opinions. If we are honest with ourselves, most of us identify with one political side.

    At this time in our nation's history, few of us actually have open minds. Conversion is not the point.

    The point, the concern, the danger is that we have lost the will and the ability to communicate respectfully when we disagree with each other. We see each other not as fellow Americans with differing points of view but as enemies.

    If that is true, we have squandered our precious right to free speech.

    Therefore, we have canceled each other and our precious First Amendment right.

  • Fay Eats Header 1 The Fayetteville Marksmen hockey organization will be holding a food festival on March 19 at the Crown Coliseum. The festival, which will showcase both local and chain restaurant vendors, will take place the afternoon before the Marksmen face the Birmingham Bulls.

    According to Zach Ruettgers, an intern working with the Marksmen, 18 vendors are currently lined up to provide food for the event, including but not limited to Dorothy's Catering, Carrabbas Italian Grill, Gaston Brewing Company and El Cazador Mexican Restaurant.

    "This is our first year putting on an event like this. Fayetteville Eats is designed to marry two of the most exciting elements of the Fayetteville community: its wonderful cuisine and Marksmen hockey," he said.

    The vendors will be setting up sampling tables, and participants can roam the vendor's offerings and enjoy sample size bites of their food. The idea behind the festival was to create the "ultimate tailgate experience," and to help create that atmosphere, organizers will have games set up for attendees, and drinks will be available throughout the event.

    Fayetteville Eats is open to all ages. Admission to the game is included in the price of a ticket to the festival.

    The Marksmen are offering two different ticket packages for the festival. The "general admission" package costs $30 in advance, $35 on the day of, and includes entry to the festival beginning at 3:30 p.m. Ticket holders have access to unlimited sampling with the vendors. With the general admission package, festival-goers will receive an endzone ticket to the Marksman game starting at 6:30 p.m.

    In addition to the unlimited food sampling, VIP ticket holders will be able to take advantage of complimentary soft drinks and water during the festival. The VIP package allows for early access into the festival at 3 p.m. and costs $45 in advance, $50 on the day of the event. VIPs will receive a center ice ticket for the game and a Marksman shot glass.

    "This is a food festival featuring some of the best food and drinks that Fayetteville has to offer, followed by a Marksman hockey game," said Ruettgers.
    The event will also feature music by a local performer. Michael Daughtry, a North Carolina singer and songwriter, will perform during the festival. Daughtry has opened for acts like Jimmy Buffet, and is a local Fayetteville favorite.

    Tickets can be found at https://marksmenhockey.com/fayettevilleeats/.

  • Hotels Very few people know that my first career out of the Army, in 1970, was in the hospitality industry. My degree, earned in the Army's Project Transition Program, was in hotel/motel management. And fortunately, my first job was with Pinehurst, Inc. I was a hotel management intern at their elegant and historic Carolina Hotel in the village of Pinehurst. I worked under and with the industry's most experienced and dedicated hospitality professionals. From bell hopping to the front desk to housekeeping, night auditing and food and beverage, I learned from the best. At twenty-one years old, I was eager to learn the craft and even keener to immerse myself in a satisfying career dedicated to making people feel welcomed, comfortable and happy.

    It's a colossal transition from hotel management and hospitality to newspaper publishing, and there were several other experiences and careers in-between. However, I learned one thing for sure, the rules and principles they taught me in the hospitality industry apply to every aspect of work and life I have experienced since then. This is why I have dedicated the past 26 years to showcasing and accentuating the Fayetteville community.
    When I created the Up & Coming Weekly newspaper in 1996, the Fayetteville community had no shortage of warm and welcoming residents, arts and culture, dedicated and involved business professionals or municipal leadership. What the Fayetteville community did lack was somewhat of an enigma to me, and that was an advocate for the city. In the absence of sufficient media, a dedicated local TV and radio station, the marketing and promotion of the uniquely friendly nature of our diverse Fayetteville community was lost. Filling that void became our mantra and, ultimately, our business philosophy. The rest is history. So, you may be asking what all this information has to do with apartments and hotels. Much.

    It is commendable that Jordan Jones of Prince Charles Holdings LLC and the city have agreed to build over 200 apartments above the $17 million-plus Hay Street Parking deck. The deck without the elevator! Residential apartments may seem like a good alternative after the Hyatt hotel, and office building didn't materialize. I do not think it is the best alternative because of all the hard work the Arts Council, Cool Spring Downtown District, Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Alliance and many others are doing to enhance historic downtown Fayetteville. Everyone wants to make downtown Fayetteville a thriving destination and a successful environment for local businesses, organizations and guests. With a background in the hospitality industry and after spending decades traveling for business, I can say, without a doubt, a first-class 3.5 or 4-star property located downtown would create a tourist and economical tour de force for Fayetteville and the downtown business community. The Exit 49, Skibo Road and Cross Creek Mall areas have good businesses; however, they are not in downtown Fayetteville. People wanting to experience the heart of our city want to stay in the heart of our city. Visitors, guests and travelers spending the night on the city's perimeter are reluctant to venture downtown and instead seek out more convenient restaurants or entertainment venues. However, if they stayed in the heart of historic downtown Fayetteville, the entire city would become their dining, entertainment and fun destination. I'm convinced that quality properties like Hyatt, Courtyard, Fairfield, Hilton or Hampton Inns would do exceptionally well while drawing travelers off I-95 and providing guests and visitors a favorable and hospitable impression of our community. Local downtown businesses and city and county agencies would support such a venture because a quality hotel would provide lodging and meeting space convenient to both city and county offices. A quality downtown hotel would be a win-win for the local downtown businesses, the city and the county government, the Airborne and Special Operations Museum, the Woodpeckers, the Arts Council and citizens. The apartments are good, but a quality downtown hotel would make historic downtown Fayetteville even better.

    I'll close by sharing this: On July 29, seven Harley Davidson motorcycle riders (and one BMW) will be leaving Fayetteville and traveling to Sturgis, South Dakota, a distance of 1850 miles. Our itinerary includes spending the night in hotels in downtown Charleston, West Virginia, downtown Cleveland, Ohio, downtown Ludington, Michigan, downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin and downtown Deadwood, South Dakota. We are not the exception to the rule of travel enjoyment. Without a quality hotel, downtown Fayetteville deprives itself of a substantial economic opportunity by neglecting to provide the facility and amenities this market
    demands.

    In closing, if you know of any local hotel or business entrepreneurs who agree with this assessment, have them contact me. After I retire from the newspaper business, I will gladly come and manage their hotel for them. Full disclosure, I was never very good at housekeeping!

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • 5158487 04 gobs of guns banquet for the f 640The Cape Fear Friends of NRA will celebrate their 30th anniversary with their Annual Banquet and Auction next week.

    Cape Fear Friends of NRA connects with the national Friends of NRA program which has raised over one billion dollars for the National Rifle Association of America Foundation. That foundation has funded over 56,000 grants in connection to the support of shooting sports. Each year, the local non-profit organization uses 100% of the money raised at the Annual Banquet and Auction event to support local shooting sports and award grants for firearm safety programs.

    Tony Forte, the Chairmen of the CFFNRA committee, said their organization has helped several local organizations, and one of their significant commitments is gun safety and gun education programs.
    Those programs include 4-H, the scouts, sharpshooter clubs and Fayetteville's Operation Ceasefire.

    "The firearms community is growing fast. Over 13 million guns were sold in the United States last year; five million of them are new shooters. That's part of the audience we're trying to reach out to," Forte said. "Education safety is key."

    The Friends of NRA national organization has raised over a billion dollars for education, specifically for kids. $150,000 has been raised locally over the past six years.

    The banquet event is a family-friendly affair with some educational programs, but mainly it's for people to come together and learn about what the Cape Fear Friends of NRA does. They will also be hosting raffles and auctions. The auction items will include firearms, sporting goods, equipment, ammunition and artwork.

    Forte says that they expect well over 200 people to be at the event. He says this may be the best year so far. He hopes to raise at least $25,000 by the end of the event.

    "Our next real milestone would be to double that. We're going to try to do it incrementally," Forte said. 'So $25,000, that's where we've been comfortable in good times and bad."

    Looking towards the future, Forte says they would like to plan an event or help co-sponsor a women's target event in the fall.

    "Women are dominating the shooting sports now," Forte said. "There's no reason anyone has an advantage over another person other than something they have: vision, motor coordination and motor skills. Men and women are equal on the playing field in shooting sports. As women discovered, shooting sports today are really changing our world, and it's really exciting to see."

    The Annual Banquet and Auction will be held on March 24 at Paradise Acres of Grays Creek, located at 1965 John McMillan Road, in Hope Mills. The banquet will kick off at 6 p.m. Ticket prices are $45 for singles and $80 for doubles. Tickets can be purchased online at www.friendsofnra.org/eventtickets/Events/Details/34?eventId=58633.

  • pub penThere are two new attractions at the zoo where we display all the critters and culprits in North Carolina state and local politics. The two latest arrivals to our political zoo are the Fayetteville Observer (FO)/Opinion Editor Myron Pitts and the Public Policy Polling (PPP). The Fayetteville Observer recently asked the few readers they have left what their thoughts were on Gov. Roy Cooper’s surprise endorsement of former Democratic City Councilmember Val Applewhite over current District 19 Sen. Kirk deViere. The Public Policy Polling (PPP) joins the FO/Pitts for hastily rushing out a survey showing Applewhite with a substantial double-digit lead over deViere in the Senate District 19 Democratic Party primary. It’s all happening at the zoo!

    The FO has seldom asked a question to which they didn’t already have the answer; their response is usually already set and ready to go to press. Some of their news coverage and editorial writings are so outlandish that Gannett (owner of FO) has begun putting disclaimers on their editorials:

    OPINION. This piece expresses the views of its author(s), separate from those of this publication.

    What? How can this be when the newspaper publication itself employs the writer? It may be that declining FO revenue, loss of subscriptions and reader pushback could have warranted and precipitated Gannett’s action. CYA.

    Next, to earn their spot at the zoo, the PPP is a Democratic organization operating out of Raleigh. PPP has used questions, in this writer's opinion, designed to sway and influence public opinion. The recent poll produced by PPP for Applewhite's campaign deserves an “F” and has been deemed “very much worthless” by a local political commentator.
    Cooper and his celebrated-fifteen-minutes-of-fame endorsement of Applewhite have unnerved and embarrassed his party. Even prominent members of the Democratic Party are asking, “… What was he thinking?”

    Cooper has exposed just how nasty, retaliatory, impulsive and mindless the Democratic Party is when someone doesn’t tow the Democratic line.

    On May 17, the Democratic primary will be the ultimate answer to whether Cooper impacted the election outcome beyond demeaning the integrity of North Carolina politics in general. Even though District 19 is a three-way race between Applewhite, deViere, and retired Judge Ed Donaldson, all eyes will be on Applewhite and deViere. No one can predict the outcome at this point. However, we know this: As a former Councilmember, Applewhite’s vexed and argumentative personality did little for the City of Fayetteville citizens and even less for her community and constituents. And, she indeed did nothing to bring $413 million to Fayetteville and Cumberland County to enhance our quality of life.

    We urge our readers to become “election intelligent.” Know the candidates and what they stand for, and vote in every election.

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

    OPINION. This piece expresses the views of its author, not separate from those of the publisher.

  • pagan games Arnette Park will play host to the second Fayetteville Pagan Games, held March 12 and beginning at 11 a.m. The Pagan Games celebrate the Pagan communities in Fayetteville, Fort Bragg and the surrounding areas. This year, the games are Norse-themed, with different events focused on Norse mythology.

    “There is a large Norse Pagan community here in Fayetteville and Fort Bragg, and I knew this theme would drum up a bit more attention. It’s not Norse Pagan exclusive; anyone can jump in,” said Danny Hirajeta, the organizer of the event.

    Hirajeta explains that the Pagan Games is a way for different groups to come together. Hirajeta has been a practicing Pagan for over 20 years, but when he came to Fayetteville, he felt a disconnect between the different Pagan groups.

    “I used to have to drive up to three hours toward the coast because that was the only way I was going to be able to interact with pagans, and I thought, we should have something like [the Games] in Fayetteville,” he said.

    The first Fayetteville Pagan Games held in 2020 were Greek-themed, and Hirajeta enjoyed hosting the festivities. Initially, the idea was to center the games around the Pagan holiday Imbolc, traditionally in February. Imbolc is the celebration of the return of spring, a time when people begin to focus on new plans and a time when the earth starts to warm back up. However, the weather last time didn’t quite cooperate. The event will be held a month later than the holiday this year to ensure warmer weather.

    “We decided to push the games forward because last time it was incredibly cold and incredibly wet and a little miserable. People were falling in the mud, and everyone did think it was hilarious, but it was pretty cold. So, we decided to push it out almost a month to hopefully not have it be that way,” said Hirajeta.

    The games are a mix of physical challenges, luck-based games, skills and relays. The day will begin with an opening ceremony followed by a game called “Well of Mimir.” Runes will be placed in the bottom of a water-filled tub, and participants will be shown a rune symbol they’ll have to look for in the bottom of the tub.

    The poetry contest is a highlight of the Pagan Games along with a relay race conducted in cardboard Viking longboats. The day finishes with “Blind Archery,” based on the story of Baldr, a god thought to be indestructible. Baldr met his end when killed by Loki, an archer named Hodr the Blind and an arrow with mistletoe. Participants will blindly shoot three arrows at targets with Baldr’s image at the center. A spotter will play the part of Loki and help the blind archers find the target.

    “All of the games represent Norse mythology or stories or history. It gives the game meaning, so we aren’t just doing whatever. We have something to attach it to,” said Hirajeta.
    The general public is invited to watch the Pagan Games. Those who wish to participate can find tickets and game information at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/fayetteville-pagan-games-2022-tickets-220298226927.

    Tickets to participate cost $8 in advance and $10 at the event. There will be three prize bundles and an overall champion prize bundle, with items donated from local Fayetteville stores, including Pressed NC, Garnet Skull, and Moon Garden Apothecary. The event is for anyone 18 and over.

  • COVER

  • pittWhat's in a name? Would a Viking by any other name smell as sweet? This is the musical question America is asking itself right now. Well lucky you, my two gentle readers, today's assault on world literature will answer that question as we look at my favorite Viking, the inimitable Ivar the Boneless. What? You say you have never heard of Ivar the Boneless? For shame. Allow me to correct that gap in your knowledge of Norsemen.

    Ivar was a real person. His full name was Ivar Ragnarsson, but his buddies called him Ivar the Boneless. He strode the Earth in the middle of the 9th Century, raising heck wherever he went. His daddy was King Ragnar Lodbrok. Like many Kings, Ragnar had issues. On Ragnar's wedding night, his bride Aslaug told him that their son would be born boneless unless he waited three nights to consummate their marriage. Ragnar, being hot to trot, chose not to wait.

    Living up to Asluag's prophecy, legend says Ivar was born without bones. Scientists guess that Ivar might have had osteogenesis imperfecta, a terrible condition of brittle bones that break frequently. Some Norse experts think that Ivar's nickname was a Viking joke. They propose that Ivar was actually a giant. His buddies called him Boneless like calling a 300-pound man "Tiny." The actual truth is lost in the fog of time. In any event, history has called him Ivar the Boneless forevermore.

    Ivar's daddy, King Ragnar, came to a bad end. After losing a battle to King Aella of North Umbria, Ragnar got tossed into a pit of poisonous snakes, dying a venomous death. His death did not sit well with Ivar and his brothers, who then invaded Britain to kick some Northumbrian backside in 865 A.D.

    As the story goes, Ivar the Boneless was carried into battles on a shield smiting his enemies with his sword or piercing them with arrows from his longbow. After winning a battle, Viking warlords enjoyed being carried around on the shields of the defeated enemy just to rub it in. The same phenomenon occurred when Tar Heel fans went to Franklin Street to celebrate the recent defeat of Dook at Coach K's last home game and beatification. That loss caused Coach K to emulate Lesley Gore's great song, "It's my party, and I'll cry if I want to." But I digress, back to Ivar.

    Ivar was a wild man in battle. He got to be known as a Berserker. Berserkers were Viking warriors who went absolutely bananas when the blood lust was lusting. Historians say the term came from the Vikings' habit of wearing a bearskin into battle. "Ber" means bear, and "Serker" means coat in Viking talk. Watch out; you just learned something new that was old. After Ivar whipped King Aella in battle, he subjected him to a gooey and painful death called the "blood eagle." As this is a family newspaper, I shall spare you the gruesome details of the "blood eagle," but you can look it up on Mr. Google if you are curious. Ivar apparently died about 873 A.D. of a "sudden and horrible disease," according to Irish records. An English researcher claims that the bones of a nine-foot-tall Viking found in Ireland might be the remains of Ivar. If Ivar were nine feet tall, that could explain his silly nickname. At this point, we say goodbye to Ivar but continue to consider some colorful Viking names.

    The Vikings' twisted sense of humor shows up in many of their names. When they weren't robbing monasteries or despoiling virgins, Vikings spent a lot of time like the former guy making up nicknames. Shakespeare may have stolen his lines from Ivar's berserking band of brothers when he had Henry V say: "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers/ For he today that sheds his blood with me/ Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile."

    Ponder the names of Ivar's buddies: Eric Bloodaxe, Gunnstein Berserk-Killer, Olaf the Witch Breaker, Harald Wartooth, Thoriir the Troll Buster, Sigurd Snake in the Eye, Sweyn Forkbeard, Asbjorn Muscle of Orastead, Hilf the Castrator of Horses, Sigurd the Stout, Ljot the Unwashed, Tryggvi the Pretender and last but not least Eystein Foul-Fart. Who would want to meet any of this vile group in hand-to-hand combat?

    Being duly sensitive to today's current woke culture, one can only imagine the humiliation and smell shaming visited upon poor old Eystein Foul-Fart. Eystein was probably suffering from some gastrointestinal disorder that caused him to become socially isolated and sustain great mental anguish. The sorrow and the pity. I can only liken his suffering to that of a worker named Leon. I was once in a restaurant restroom and noticed a defacing of the sign that says, "Employees must wash their hands after every visit."

    Some insensitive lout had singled out poor Leon on said sign. The lout had written in ink below the printed "Employees must wash their hands" "Especially Leon."

    Eystein and Leon were brothers who suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. The horror. The horror. Can't we all just get along?

  • Dirtbag St Paddys Before you get after your green beer, you can get your workout in on Saturday, March 12, at Dirtbag Ales. Rogue Alpha Athletics is co-hosting the third, not consecutive, because of the pandemic, St. Paddy’s Day Beer Mile and Keg Toss.

    “Participants can run, jog, walk, crawl the one mile-ish course and enjoy four ten-ounce beer straight from Dirtbag Ales onsite brewery,” according to event organizers.

    Organizers ask that all participants be sure they are checked in at noon, as the event kicks off at 12:15 p.m. Sign up is $40 plus a nominal processing fee. The event is costume and dog friendly, and there will be prizes. To purchase tickets, visit runsignup.com/Race/NC/HopeMills/UglySweaterBeerMileDirtbagAles.

    If running a mile is not your forte, fear not, Dirtbag has got you covered for the entire day. After the Beer Mile, at 12:30 p.m., music for the day will begin with a live performance by the Stone Dolls, a Southern Pines-based band.

    “They’re a fantastic trio that comes out here and plays,” explained Shannon Loper, operations manager and event and marketing coordinator for Dirtbag Ales.

    The Stone Dolls will finish their set around 4:30 p.m. At 6 p.m., the ’80s Unleashed will be on the scene and playing until 10 p.m. At this time, a Raleigh DJ, Chris Domingo, will be onsite for the Dirty Whiskey Craft Cocktail Bar will take over for the St. Paddy’s after-party.

    Need some green beer? Not to worry, Dirtbag’s Weiner Smash will be all dressed in green, but the green Weiner Smash will be a one-day-only opportunity; the brewery dresses its pints in green to order. The event will mark the annual release of Dirtbag Ales El Dorado Red, a red India pale ale, and a special small-batch brew in the Erin Go Bragh spirit, Dropkick Stout.

    As described by Loper, Weiner Smash is a Belgian blonde, “single-malt, single-hop, super basic and very light in color.” However, Weiner Smash will be markedly green for this occasion. Dirty Whiskey Craft Cocktail Bar will also be sporting a special St. Paddy’s cocktail menu with the ever-popular Irish Car Bomb made using Dirtbag Ales Cold-Brew Mocha Porter.

    Food options onsite for the event will be showing up strong as well. Napkins will be offering an Irish feature to compliment the festivities; resident food truck the Redneck BBQ Lab will be on site. In addition to the Dirtbag Ales fixtures, R Burger – Up & Coming Weekly’s 2021 Best of Fayetteville Best Food Truck — the Grazing Buffalo, Baja Dogs, Alamo Snow and from Raleigh, Beefy Buns, will all be on hand to feed the crowd. Daytime festivities are, like most Dirtbag Ales events, family-oriented. There will be face painting on offer.

    Loper said that the people make the event stand out for her each year.

    “I love the energy of the crowd. I love how everybody is excited to be out here. Everybody is here just to have a good time. I enjoy the atmosphere. The energy that comes from people that are just excited to be out here for St. Patrick’s Day,” Loper said.

  • cover

  • pexels ella olsson 1640777 1Weight loss is often a primary reason people join a fitness center or start exercising. A healthy weight loss goal is to lose one-to-two pounds per week for long-term sustainability. A drastic weight loss approach with a caloric intake of four hundred to eight hundred calories per day can be non-sustainable. With this type of approach, you will likely regain weight within six months or less. A good diet with exercise can help you lose weight and maintain your weight loss goals.

    Anyone can slash their caloric intake and lose weight, but is this weight loss a plan you will continue to follow? Educating yourself about nutrition-related dieting options empowers you to make good decisions about food consumption for health and wellness. Choosing a weight loss plan can be overwhelming with all the available commercial programs and apps because no one diet fits all. Take your time to research a plan or app that will work for you. Two diets surface when I read health and fitness articles: the Mediterranean and Paleo diet.

    The Mediterranean diet emphasizes fruit, vegetables, seafood, and grains -in moderation. The Paleo diet features an abundance of meat, seafood, poultry with fresh vegetables and fruit. While I am not suggesting that you try either of these diets, I think the Mediterranean diet is an interesting read for this column. It became popular in the fifties and sixties when Ancel Keys and his colleagues studied relationships between diet and coronary heart disease in Greece, Spain, Italy, Finland, Japan and South Africa.They found that the diets in Italy and Greece had the lowest risk of developing heart disease. In general, people in these countries enjoy long lives with low rates of chronic disease.

    The lifestyle in these countries also embraces regular physical activity and leisurely meals with friends and family. The question is, why is this diet so effective?

    The Mediterranean diet encompasses many fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fish, olive oil, nuts and seeds. It is a heart-healthy eating plan that incorporates cooking methods and flavors of the region. The diet is rich in fiber, protein, and Omega -3 fats and allows for a modest amount of carbs. The preferred beverages on this diet are coffee, tea, water and an occasional red wine. It encourages fewer eggs, red meat, white meat, sweets, refined grains, processed foods, sweetened beverages and unhealthy oils.

    Research has shown that this type of diet can reduce your risk of diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, metabolic syndrome and heart disease. People in these countries enjoy long lives with low rates of chronic disease. The reason is that the diet has fewer foods high in fat, salt and sugar. The result is weight loss, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and less inflammation in the body. Studies also suggest that this diet promotes good gut health and healthy aging. Below are menu choices for breakfast, lunch, dinner and a snack. Breakfast: Grilled tomatoes on whole-wheat toast, yogurt with fruit or kale and butternut squash frittata. Lunch: Mixed green salad with olives and cherry tomatoes (oil and vinegar dressing) or whole-grain sandwich with hummus, vegetables, or chickpea salad. Dinner: Whole–grain pizza with grilled vegetables or broiled salmon with brown rice and vegetables. Snack: Hummus with red bell peppers. Look for my next column, which will feature details on the Paleo diet. Live, love life with healthy eating and exercise.

  • FSO BR Is this just fantasy, or is the Fayetteville Symphony playing Queen? One of the most anticipated concerts of the year is back with the FSO's "Bohemian Rhapsody" concert.

    Anna Meyer, community engagement manager for the FSO, told Up & Coming Weekly that this performance's theme has been in the works for a while. She explained that this program was initially scheduled for the 2019-2020 season, but COVID-19 canceled it.

    "We've really been waiting for this," Meyer said. "We like to have concerts that incorporate popular music that people recognize and can kind of sing-along. I think we like to do that just so people feel a little bit more involved in a concert they know."

    The FSO will be performing four classical pieces that break the stereotype of symphony music. These pieces were created with the idea that you dance and enjoy yourself. And as the title of the concert suggests, the performance of FSO's symphonic rendition of "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen will be included.

    The principal cellist during this event is local cellist Nathan Leyland. He will help conclude the evening with a performance of Antonin Dvorak's "Cello Concerto." This concerto is often noted as one of Dvorak's greatest concertos of all time. The concerto highlights a mix of folk music with the classical range of the cello.

    For Leyland, this concerto has a special place in his heart. The first symphony concert he attended was the Lynchburg Symphony Orchestra in Virginia. During that concert, Steven Honigberg, a cellist and member of the National Symphony Orchestra, performed the "Cello Concerto."

    "I was in fifth grade and had just started playing the cello. I was selected to perform in a masterclass with Mr. Honigberg, and the next day we were invited to watch him play with the orchestra," Leyland said. "It's pretty wild to think that 36 years later, I am getting ready to perform this great work with my friends and colleagues in FSO."

    The symphony will be returning to the Seabrook Auditorium at Fayetteville State University for the first time since the pandemic started. The bigger auditorium means that more people will be able to attend this concert. The previous concerts for the 2022 season have been performed for around 100 people. Because of the location, this concert will be able to entertain an audience of more than 700.

    Meyer says that they have sold more tickets for this performance as well.

    The concert will take place at 7:30 p.m. on March 12. Tickets can be purchased online at https://ci.ovationtix.com/36404/production/1075555 or over the phone at 910-433-3690. The ticket price ranges from $5 to $25. The total concert run time will be an hour and 20 minutes.

     

  • Jeremy Camp 88888357 5056 BF65 D602525ABDE67D9A 88d3c098 5056 bf65 d61e46a6dfe9bb3c We often sing along with songs we hear on the radio (or our favorite digital platform) without much thought of the road down which they were written.

    Other times, though, we hear a song and just know there's a story tucked away in the lyrics.

    The latter would likely be the case with contemporary Christian singer-songwriter Jeremy Camp's "I Still Believe."

    A popular single from his first major-label full-length album in 2003, Camp wrote the song after the death of his first wife, Melissa.

    The song helped propel Jeremy Camp's career, whose name is now well-known to Christian music fans.

    At the very beginning of the pandemic, a full-length movie based on the story behind the song was due to release on March 13, 2020, only to find there were few to no theaters open to the public — seemingly derailing the plans for the impact of "I Still Believe the Movie."

    Undeterred, the film was released immediately on digital and streaming platforms to great acclaim.

    And nearly two decades into his musical career, fans were quickly able to connect with the man behind the artistry and the story of God's faithfulness to the singer.

    Camp's career highlights now include over 30 number one Christian radio hits, American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers songwriter awards, and back-to-back Gospel Music Association Dove Awards for Best Male Vocalist.

    Fayetteville will get all of that and much more when the "I Still Believe Tour" lands in the Crown Theatre on Saturday, March 19th.

    Appropriately named, the "I Still Believe Tour" features Riley Clemmons, a young Christian songstress whose infectious pop singles have earned her the respect, admiration and tens of millions of plays on radio and digital platforms since her 2018 debut.

    Canada-native Jordan St. Cyr rounds out the lineup for the evening, which promises to be one of the best Christian music shows of the year.

    Longtime fans of Jeremy Camp know they can count on an evening that is both high energy and reflective.

    Jeremy has a solid foundation as an artist and is an adept storyteller whose songs quickly point to God and the truth of his strength.

    With a twenty-year string of hits songs under his hat, the evening will be filled with exciting surprises for some and sing-along memories for others.

    Without a doubt, everyone will leave knowing they have been both encouraged and entertained.

    Doors open at 6 p.m., and the concert begins at 7 p.m. at Fayetteville's Crown Theatre on Saturday, March 19th. To purchase tickets, visit crowncomplexnc.com.

     

  • 12 01 NakeyraMcAllisterNakeyra McAllister

    Seventy-First • Basketball • Junior

    McAllister has a 4.0 grade point average. She is active in the Student Government Association and the concert band.

     

     


    12 02 AyannaAyannna Williams

    Seventy-First • Basketball/volleyball • Sophomore

    Williams has a 4.1 grade point average. She averaged 10.9 points and 6.6 rebounds. She made 31 3-point field goals and helped the Falcons to a 19-9 record last season.

  • 09 01 The DinerIt’s said in comedy, timing is everything. It’s also important in the restaurant business, and Glenn Garner has run into a challenging timing problem in Hope Mills as he tries to relocate his popular downtown eatery, The Diner, to a more spacious location.

    For the last three months, Garner, who goes by the professional name of Chef Glenn, has been looking to move his South Main Street business in the old Becky’s Cafe to the recently-vacated Buckhead Steakhouse on Camden Road.

    Garner plans to keep the old location, closing it temporarily once he completes the move to the new location and later reopening it with a different theme.
    10 diner interior
    But the arrival of COVID-19 and all the headaches it has created has slowed his plans for getting things started at the new home of The Diner.

    “We are still pushing for that April 6 date,’’ he said, referring to when he had originally planned to roll out his new business location. As of the writing of this article, North Carolina restaurants were shuttered by order of the governor save for takeout business.

    Garner, who operates two food trucks through his other business, A Catered Affair, has both trucks currently in operation, one at the original location of The Diner and the other at the new location. The kitchen at the original location is also open for takeout orders only.

    Garner said it’s looking more and more like the planned April 6 opening won’t take place, so he’ll continue with the takeout options via the food trucks and the kitchen at the Main Street business. He won’t start takeout at the new location, preferring to roll out the new business with its 1950s decor, only when he can open to regular customers.
    The main reason he decided to relocate The Diner was to grow the business, he said. The old building had room for only 32 customers. At the new location, he’s got 200 seats and will have ABC permits that allow him to stay open as late as 10 or 11 p.m. and serve a full line of adult beverages.

    While the current location of The Diner emphasizes what Garner calls Southern comfort food, the menu at the new place will be expanded.

    “I can do steak,’’ he said. “I can do pasta dishes. I can do French-style cooking, a lot of sauces, upscale dining at a fair price.’’

    Like many small, local businesses, the current pandemic is hurting him and his small staff of employees in the pocketbook. “I’ve got employees that need to work and they’ve got families they need to feed,’’ Garner said.

    That’s why he’s cranked up the food trucks to daily business for now. He’s open from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. at both his locations, but he’ll stay as late as he’s got customers. At the Camden Road location they recently were still serving as late as 9 p.m. he said.

    “I love the community and I appreciate everything they’ve done to support me and help me get to this point,’’ he said. “I hope they continue to support me.’’

  • KVN OCT COVER

  • Market House The Market House in downtown Fayetteville has been a focus of local dissension long before any of us reading this column drew breath, and sometimes the buzz has been louder than at other times. Since the 2020 unrest following the murder of Fayetteville native George Floyd in Minneapolis, the buzz has accelerated to the point that an arsonist tried to set the building afire. However, he managed to burn only his clothes. Calls to demolish the Market House reached Fayetteville City Council and resulted in the Council deciding to “repurpose” the building, but it is unclear what that means at this point.

    The Market House was constructed following the great fire of 1831, which consumed its predecessor, the State House, where North Carolina ratified the US Constitution and chartered the nation’s first public university, the University of North Carolina. It was what its name implies for most of its existence, a community market for local goods and produce with town hall facilities on the upper floor. In more recent years, the market function fell away, and the second story has been used as a library, an art museum, a history museum and offices for various organizations. Over time, it became an official symbol of the city of Fayetteville, a logo of sorts. It is one of 40 National Historic Landmarks in North Carolina and the only one in Cumberland County.

    It is also a place where enslaved human beings were sold as chattel.

    Stop for a moment. Let that historical reality sink in.

    It is also a place where enslaved human beings were sold as chattel.

    In downtown Fayetteville in an open arcaded building, a place near which many residents now enjoy an outdoor meal, a visit to nearby parks, attend church or take in a movie at an art-house theater, human beings were sold to the highest bidder.

    Families were likely parted, perhaps for eternity. A plaque to honor and in memory of those enslaved people was authorized by Fayetteville City Council in 1989 now resides permanently on the ground level of the Market House. It acknowledges the building’s excruciating history but can do nothing to change it.

    So the question looms on and large. What is the fate of the Market House in the 21st century?

    Presumably, the Council’s decision to repurpose the building means it will not be demolished. Still, calls for its destruction continue, and as with any elected body responsive to public sentiment, that decision can be changed. It should not be.

    Tearing down a building because atrocities occurred there does not erase them. It may even make such acts more difficult to remember if the place where they happened exists only in memory.

    This is why Germany retained its horrendous concentration camps — so people will never forget what happened in them.

    That said, what should the Market House be? Should it stand in place or be moved, if that is even possible? How should it be used, if used at all?

    These are the complex and emotional questions facing Fayetteville's City Council.

    I do not envy its members this decision, but the timing has landed it squarely in their laps.

    Americans from coast to coast and elsewhere are grappling with our nation’s history of and, sadly, continuing racism. Millions of individuals and thousands of communities are struggling with our collective pasts and painful presents. We are looking into personal and national mirrors and must reckon with what we see.

    Whatever the fate of the nearly 200-year-old Market House is to be, it should be decided now. As difficult as this decision will be, Fayetteville City Council must not be allowed, as politicians say, to “kick this can down the road.”

    The decision is this Council’s, and the time is now.

  • In the midst of the ongoing bad news 2020 has generated during the battle with the COVID-19 virus, basketball coaches Dee Hardy of the E.E. Smith girls and George Stackhouse of the Westover boys got a bit of good news recently when the North Carolina Basketball Coaches Association announced its All-State teams.

    Hardy and Smith got a double dose of recognition as she was named the NCBCA’s girls basketball coach of the year while freshman Miya Giles-Jones made the All-State third team chosen by the coaches.

    For Stackhouse, the news was that Westover junior D’Marco Dunn was picked to the All-State second team for the boys.

    Hardy led the Smith girls to a 31-1 record and a still pending state 3-A championship game matchup with Southeast Guilford.

    The Westover boys are a perfect 30-0 and are also on hold as the North Carolina High School Athletic Association has suspended all sports competition until mid-May because of COVID-19, with Westover awaiting a championship matchup against Morganton Freedom for the 3-A title.

    Neither Hardy nor Stackhouse were surprised that their players were chosen for All-State recognition by their fellow coaches.

    A 5-foot-10 guard, Giles-Jones was a versatile player for the Smith girls, averaging 13.4 points and 10.3 rebounds. Dunn, a 6-foot-4 junior guard, was the leading scorer among boys from the Cumberland County Schools with 20.8 points per game and 7.3 rebounds. He also led in 3-point baskets with 70.

    Hardy said Giles-Jones had several double-doubles during the season and was able to do anything on the court that Hardy asked her to do. “She rebounds well and is strong, puts it back up,’’ Hardy said. “She could also handle the ball well.

    “We could take her and move her to face the basket as well as post her up, depending on who was guarding her.’’

    Stackhouse said Dunn was an efficient player, adding that his scoring and rebounding totals didn’t tell the full story about his ability. “He put up a lot of those numbers in three quarters,’’ Stackhouse said, noting that Dunn frequently went to the bench in the fourth quarter of games the Wolverines had already wrapped up.

    “I think he had 38 points in one game this year and only put up 15 or 16 shots,’’ Stackhouse said. “He shot maybe 50% from three-point in conference games. He just did a lot of things to help us win. To be that good, he had to put in a lot of work.’’

    The last few weeks have been difficult ones for Hardy, Stackhouse and their players. It has been some weeks since the NCHSAA announced this year’s state basketball championship games would be placed on hold as the entire country is dealing with the fallout from COVID-19.

    Both Hardy and Stackhouse are hopeful that the championship games will eventually be played, but the prospects are looking grimmer as the days pass.

    Last week, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced that the state’s public schools would remain closed at least until May 15. Shortly after that announcement, NCHSAA commissioner Que Tucker said the association would extend its hold on all high school athletic competition and practice by its member schools until at least May 18. She added that it was becoming increasingly unlikely that the NCHSAA will be able to hold spring sports this year.

    In an earlier teleconference with statewide media, Tucker said that the NCHSAA would not extend the spring sports season into the summer months because of commitments many high school athletes had with summer sports camps and other obligations.

    The state championship basketball games that Westover and Smith are hoping to play are an entirely different matter. Tucker indicated that the state would be able to play those in a much shorter period of time, possibly allowing the competing teams five days or so to return to practice, then finding them a venue where they could play.
    But as much as they’d like to play a title game, both Hardy and Stackhouse had doubts what kind of title game it would be with only five days to prepare.

    “I don’t know how realistic it is to take such a long time off and then come back in five days,’’ Stackhouse said. “That kind of feels like disrespect for your game. That would be like having a championship game after the first week of practice. The level of play and the level of conditioning wouldn’t be the same.’’

    Hardy said her present focus has had little to do with thinking about playing a championship game and more about concern for the safety of her players, making sure they are avoiding becoming infected by COVID-19 and making sure they have enough to eat during the shutdown.

    “It makes everything else seem so small as far as facing adversity,’’ she said. “It’s hard to keep that focus and that intensity.’’

    Although she’s had contact with her players, Hardy said she doesn’t know if they are exercising or what they may be doing to stay in anything close to
    game shape.

    She said she had made phone calls to her players, but the subject was academics, not basketball. “I don’t want them to lose anything as far as the academic piece,’’ she said. “For me it’s a little bigger than athletics. My concern was are they going to complete their packets, their online work, for school.’’

    While the teams left to play in the finals of the basketball titles have won Eastern and Western titles this season, no decision has been made on what they’ll awarded if the title game isn’t played.

    There was a time when the NCHSAA ended state playoffs in football with Eastern and Western winners. If the title game can’t be played this year, Hardy knows what she would prefer.

    “I’d rather see it as co-champions,’’ she said.

  • 08 jackie warnerHope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner said the town remains open for business for the most part, but like everyone else, she is adjusting to the safety restrictions put in place statewide and nationwide in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    All official town commission and committee meetings have been canceled through April 6, including the next scheduled meeting of the Board of Commissioners. Essential personnel of the town remain on duty at Town Hall and the police, fire and pubic works departments, but with some limitations to prevent direct interaction with too many people.

    Except for the front door, Town Hall is closed, and when people enter the building, they will interact with town staff from behind a glass enclosure.

    The front office is open at the police department for people who have to go inside.

    One of Warner’s biggest concerns during the pandemic is the large number of local restaurants that are closed to everything but takeout service to prevent the spread of COVID-19. She’s particularly concerned for restaurants that traditionally don’t do takeout service, adding she’s noted a serious decline in their business even though they are advertising that they’re open for takeout only.

    “The lights are on but I see very few cars,’’ she said, referring to one such business. She noted some businesses are trying to stay viable by using social media to advertise they are open. The problem, she thinks, is many Hope Mills residents don’t have access to social media for whatever reason.

    One local concern is that, initially, too many people were congregating at Hope Mills Lake when the shutdown for COVID-19 first began. Warner said there are still a lot of people going to the lake, and she is hopeful most of them are observing social distancing. The one popular business located on lake property, Big T’s, has barred customers from using the picnic tables beneath its shelter and is now allowing customers to come and order but not stay on the grounds.

    Warner hopes the community will continue to support charitable causes locally that benefit the area’s disadvantaged, especially the elderly and school children, the latter having lost access to school lunches since all schools are closed for the foreseeable future.

    She is especially concerned about ongoing donations to the ALMS HOUSE in Hope Mills, which supports a program that provides regular lunches for children in need of food.

    “The people that make donations to them aren’t in church,’’ Warner said. “They are also missing the churches that collect at the church and take it to the ALMS HOUSE.’’
    Warner also expressed concern for senior citizens who are in local retirement and assisted living facilities who are currently denied visitors because of the lockdown.
    “You need to take stuff to the door and drop it off,’’ she said.

    Warner said the biggest item on the town agenda moving forward is preparation of the budget for the new fiscal year. It would normally be presented to the community in early June.

    Work is continuing on the budget, she said, with some members of town staff involved able to work from home. She said the town may need to figure a way it can present the budget to the community either by a live Facebook feed or by recording the meeting as usual and posting it online as soon as possible.

    Warner said citizens can keep up with the most current info at the town website, www.townofhopemills.com, the Facebook page at Town of Hope Mills Administration or by calling Town Hall at 910-424-4555.

  • COVER

  • dg martinGoing blind. Is there any way it could be a good thing?

    Frank Bruni asks this question in his new book, “The Beauty of Dusk.”

    Bruni, one of the great writers to move to North Carolina recently, is an opinion writer for The New York Times, author of bestselling books, and is now a professor of public policy at Duke University.

    One day in 2017, Bruni woke up to find something wrong with an eye. He could barely see anything in that eye. Reading and driving became problematic. Doctors told him a stroke had destroyed the nerves that connected the eye and the brain.

    The damage was permanent, and there was a 40 percent chance something similar would happen to the other eye. If it did, he would be, for all practical purposes, totally blind.

    How Bruni dealt with life afterwards, is the story of his book.

    He sought out people who have been similarly handicapped: blind, deaf, injured limbs, crippling diseases. He found that many have learned to live with their situations and have refused to be defeated.

    As he told me recently, “I decided to put on my journalist hat and interviewed to try to learn from people who had been confronted with serious physical and medical challenges” and learn “how they navigated those, and what they learned from them.”

    He wanted to avail himself of that wisdom. So, he said, “That's the story of the book.”

    The stories he collected are impressive and inspirational.

    He wrote about an English travel writer, James Holman, who notwithstanding his blindness, Bruni told me, “was perhaps the most famous travel writer of his day.”

    “When he wrote about the places, to the extent that he described them visually, it was through other people's accounts.

    “But, there was still so much available to him, the smells of a place, the sounds of a place, the legends of a place. And it's a really interesting lesson in how much is still available to us when a portion of our lives is taken away. There are still many portions of our lives, many, many perspectives and aspects left.”

    Bruni writes about David Tatel, a blind U.S. Court of Appeals judge who, rather than focusing on all the negatives of his blindness, celebrates his luck at having gone blind “at a point in human progress when technology was so sophisticated and could come to the rescue in many situations.”

    When Bruni told the judge that he was impressed with him and “our species’ unfathomable nimbleness,” the judge “smiled and with his whole face, then said something that echoed in my thoughts for the rest of that evening and echoes there still. ‘Starfish can regrow limbs,’ he said. ‘But that’s nothing compared to what human beings can do.’”

    Bruni was inspired by others, such as a blind dancer, a blind painter, a blind gallerist, a blind architect, all showing the powerful ability of humans to adapt even better than the starfish.

    From these many other people facing up to lost physical abilities Bruni learned that there were upsides to these downsides and the struggles that go with them.

    Instead of asking, “Why me?” Bruni asks, “Why not me?”

    “Why should any of us be spared struggle, when struggle is a condition more universal than comfort, than satiation, than peace, maybe than love? Should we even be calling or thinking of it as struggle, which connotes an exertion beyond the usual, a deviation from the norm?”

    He told me that we are dealt a set of cards in this life. Some are really good, some not.

    “You have no control over what that hand of cards is going to be, but you have enormous control over how you play them. That's a lesson that was really hammered home to me as I dealt with vision loss.”

    That lesson, Bruni thinks, is one all of us should learn.

  • 20 01 Nyla CooperHere are the Patriot Athletic All-Conference basketball teams for boys and girls as chosen by the league’s head coaches:
    GIRLS
    Player of the year
    Faith Francis, Westover
    Coach of the year
    Michael Ferguson, Westover
    First team
    Montasia Jones, Pine Forest
    Dai’ja Robinson, Douglas Byrd
    Mia Ayres, South ViewMiya Giles-Jones, E.E. Smith
    Ni’jaa Wells, Gray’s Creek
    Second t20 02 Kaya Goldsbyeam
    Skylar White, Cape Fear
    Ke’Onna Bryant, E.E. Smith
    Harmony Martin, Westover
    Morgan Brady, Gray’s Creek
    Maaika Dones, Overhills
    Kendall Macauley, E.E. Smith
    Honorable mention
    E.E. Smith - Amiah Savage, Tamia Morris
    South View - Tashyria McNeill
    Westover - 20 03 Langston DavisMaria Wiley
    Cape Fear - Ania McLaughlin
    Douglas Byrd - Sierra Glover, Tamia Brantley

    BOYS
     Player of the year
     D’Marco Dunn, Westover
     Coach of the year
     George 20 04 Quiones ClaytonStackhouse, Westover
     First team
    Treymane Parker, Cape Fear
    Traymond Willis-Shaw, Westover
    Davis Molnar, Terry Sanford
    Marquail James, Cape Fear
    Isaiah Washington, Pine Forest
    Second team
    Marquis Eskew, Pine Forest
    Zachary Lowery, Overhills
    Darius Jewel, Westover
    Jase Ford, Overhills
    Tristan Harkins, Pine Forest
    Yates Johnson, Terry Sanford
    Hon20 06 traymond willis shaworable mention
    South View - Cedavion Wimbley, Aiden McLaurin
    Westover - Isaiah Bridges
    Cape Fear - R.J. McDonald
    Terry Sanford - Ky’Ron Kelly
    E.E. Smith - Jayden Siermons
    Douglas Byrd - Donnell Melvin, Shawn Jones.

    Here are the Sandhills Athletic All-Conference basketball teams for girls and boys as chosen by the league’s head coaches:

    GIRL20 07 Faith FrancisS
    Player of the year
    Kylie Chavis, Purnell Swett
    Coach of the year
    Nattlie McArthur, Jack Britt
    First team
    Nyla Cooper, Jack Britt
    Kaya Goldsby, Jack Britt
    Ashara Hayes, Jack Britt
    Amore Kirkland, Seventy-First
    Nyielah Nick, Seventy-First
    Natalie Evington, Purnell Swett
    Jada Coward, Purnell Swett
    Keayna McLaughlin, Pinecrest
    Keionnna Love, Richmond Senior
    August Smith, Lumberton
    Asjah Swindell, Scotland
    Wynashia Bratcher, Hoke County
    Jayla McDougald, Richmond Senior
    Ayonn20 08 Miya Giles Jonesa Williams, Seventy-First
    Amber Nealy, Jack Britt
    BOYS
    Player of the year
    Jordan McNeil, Lumberton
    Coach of the year
    Ben Snyder, Pinecrest
    First team
    Bradley Haskell, Pinecrest
    J.J. Goins, Pinecrest
    Jadrion Chatman, Lumberton
    Charlie Miller, Lumberton
    Nygie Stroman, Richmond Senior
    Patrick McLaughlin, Richmond Senior
    Mandrell Johnson, Scotland
    Quinones Clayton, Seventy-First
    Xavice Jones, Purnell Swett
    Ervin Everett, Hoke
    Langston Davis, Jack Britt
    Michael Todd, Lumberton
    Dillon Drennon, Pinecrest
    Garrett McRae, Scotland
    Bruce Wall, Scotland
     
    Pictured from top to bottom: Nyla Cooper, Kaya Goldsby, Langston Davis, Quiones Clayton, D'Marco Dunn, Traymond Willis-Shaw, Faith Francis, Miya Giles-Jones. Photo of Miya Giles-Jones by Matthew Plyler/MaxPreps
  • 17 yackalackyStephanie Bentley likes the direction Hope Mills is heading in and wants to be a part of the good things going on in the community. That’s a big part of the reason she and her husband Josh are kicking off a new business, Yakalacky Outfitters NC.

    “I have a great passion in making things happen,’’ Bentley said. “I’ve done it before in past businesses. I’m very resourceful and creative. This is going to be a fun thing for the community.’’

    The business she is putting together will roll out over a period of weeks, starting first with a kayak rental business that will be based in a mobile format to take the kayaks down to Hope Mills Lake.

    Her physical business address, which likely won’t be open until mid-April at the earliest, will be just around the corner from the lake, literally, at 5552 Trade Street in a former paint store.

    The building she plans to occupy has been vacant for nearly two years. She’s in the process of cleaning the building inside and out. Once that’s done, she’ll be able to devote full time to installing kayak racks on the trailer she plans to bring her rental kayaks down to Hope Mills Lake.

    She has set a tentative date of March 28th to have some travel writers and photographers visit the new business and take a tour of the lake. That event is on hold as the current COVID-19 situation may limit the ability of the writers to travel to Hope Mills until a later time.

    But she does plan to crank up the kayak rentals soon, advertising and taking reservations on her company’s Facebook page.

    She is working on pricing plans that will make the rental affordable for people who have no experience using kayaks and just want to try it out. She’s also going to have longer rental times for veteran kayakers at a higher price.

    “It’s definitely going to be affordable,’’ Bentley said. “I want everybody to be able to afford it.’’

    She is hoping to make the Trade Street building more than just a typical store. She wants it to become a place where people can visit, shop and enjoy some time relaxing and socializing.

    “We’ll sell bait, fishing tackle and sundries,’’ she said. “We’ll probably have apparel down the road.’’

    To save money, and prevent the need to keep the building constantly stocked with kayaks she’s purchased to sell, Bentley plans to work out contracts with different distributors of various water sports products and have them come in on a rotating basis to do demonstrations of their products.

    She’s currently negotiating with a company in Texas that makes a unique paddle board with pontoons.

    Bentley also plans to offer loaner rods and reels for fishermen and eventually hopes to be able to sell fishing licenses at the store.

    She hopes to do some landscaping in the store’s back yard and turn it into a place where people can come and relax in the shade during the summer months, possibly even constructing a small pond with koi or goldfish.

    Her primary goal is to offer items that people will want and need when they visit Hope Mills Lake, either as fishermen or kayakers.

    While she’s starting with kayaks, eventually she hopes to offer different types of water craft, including canoes, rowboats and possibly even pedal boats.
    “The pedal boats are very expensive,’’ she said. “When we get that ball rolling the town is going to let us keep them on the water.’’

    Eventually, Bentley hopes to have some kind of storage facility at the lake so she can keep the kayaks there as well and not have to move them back and forth.
    She also plans to offer kayak owners the chance to bring their kayaks to her and let her sell them at the store.

    She’d also like to sell items made by local artists and craftsmen. “I want to give them an outlet inside the store,’’ she said, “help them and help me.’’

  • PG19001

  • 03-04-15-elton-john.gifIf royalty has ever visited our fair city, other than the Marquis de LaFayette, for whom the city is named after, we can’t find a record of it. So, it is with great excitement that Cumberland County residents are set to welcome not only a member of the British royalty, but also a member of rock-n-roll royalty: Sir Elton John.

    John is well known, if you don’t know his face, you at least know and probably love at least one of his songs. He is one of the most highly acclaimed artists of all time holding five Grammys, a Grammy Legend Award, a Tony, an Oscar, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriter Hall of Fame, a knighthood from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain and he holds the record for best-selling single of all time — just to name a few of his accomplishments. He has permanently and globally left his mark on music and he is coming to Fayetteville on March 11.

    Sir Elton (as the international press have deemed him) was born in 1947 in Middlesex, England under the name Reginald Kenneth Dwight. He changed his name to Eton Hercules John in 1967. He demonstrated skill on the piano at the incredibly early age of 3 by picking out a popular song by ear. By 11, he had a junior scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music. His childhood was often restrictive, but with the support of his mother and stepfather, he began his music career at 15, playing piano at a local pub on the weekends. This gave him an outlet to play not only popular songs, but also those that he composed himself. His music caught the ear of people in the recording industry, and became a staff writer for Liberty records, routinely composing music for the lyrics written by Bernie Taupin. The pairing of John and Taupin created a beautiful partnership that still produces incredible music.

    John’s first hit that rocketed him into success was “Your Song,” which was released in 1970 on the B-side of “Take Me to the Pilot.” It was extremely popular in the United States and in the United Kingdom, and in 1998, was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Since that very first hit, he has remained in the public’s eye — and ears. Just a few of his other popular works include “Can you Feel the Love Tonight” from The Lion King, Billy Elliot the Musical, ”Candle in the Wind” and “The Road to Eldorado.”

    The March 11 concert is part of the All the Hits Tour. John and his band will perform classic and well-loved album tracks from throughout his career. The band includes incredible musicians familiar to Elton John fans: Davey Johnstone on guitars, mandolin, banjo and vocals. Matt Bissonette on bass guitar and vocals. Kim Bullard is on keyboards. John Mahon is on percussion, drums and vocals. Nigel Olsson is on drums and vocals. This concert is the perfect opportunity for longtime fans to experience all of their favorites and for new fans to experience the height of his entire five-decade career in a single evening.

    Elton John will perform at the Crown Coliseum, located at 1960 Coliseum Dr., on March 11 at 8 p.m. Ticket prices vary, with tickets ranging from $50 to several hundred dollars. Tickets are available at ticketmaster.com or by phone at 800-745-3000 or at the Crown Box Office. The limit is 8 tickets per customer.

    For more information visit http://crowncomplexnc.com/events/elton-john/ or call 910-438-4100.

    Photo: Ever flamboyant, the talented singer/songwriter Sir Elton John is making a stop at the Crown Coliseum on March 11.

  • Whoever said "politics is a circus" wasn't far from wrong. And every circus has a ringmaster and a lion tamer that shout and crack their whips demanding compliance from those they dominate. North Carolina's Governor Roy Cooper indeed fills both these positions in Raleigh's political circus. Cooper's recent, unprecedented and outlandish endorsement of former Fayetteville City Councilwoman Val Applewhite to challenge and unseat District 19 Democrat Senator Kirk deViere shocked both Republican and Democratic citizens. But, it's Cooper's circus. He is the ringmaster, and he calls all the shots.

    There is little doubt that Cooper's action is retaliation toward deViere for working across the political aisles with Republicans on local and statewide policies and initiatives. Initiatives and policies that ultimately would benefit his District 19 constituents and all the residents of North Carolina. In other words, deViere was doing his job. He was doing what the people of District 19 elected him to do. From these tasks and principles, he did not waver. Ringmaster Cooper punished deViere for not adhering to strict Democratic Party mandates, policies and philosophies. Cooper's actions are a near-perfect example of just how ruthless, corrupt and unforgiving the game of politics can be at all levels.

    Sen. deViere and the Cumberland County delegation, Sen. Ben Clark, State Reps. John Szoka, Diane Wheatley, Billy Richardson, and Marvin Lucus all worked diligently and "across the aisle" to do everything they could for the citizens of Fayetteville and Cumberland County. The result was an unprecedented $413 million infusion into our community to enhance our quality of life and positively impact our community for decades to come.
    In a recent phone conversation with Sen. deViere, I reminded him that "no good deed goes unpunished." In this writer's opinion, Cooper's endorsement of Applewhite indicates his circus may be on the verge of transforming into a zoo. This being the case, every citizen of Fayetteville and Cumberland County needs to be aware of the situation and know who's who in the zoo.

    I urge you to do your due diligence on each candidate. Learn who the candidates are, what they stand for, what they have accomplished or what they plan to accomplish if elected. One of the main reasons quality leadership has diminished in Fayetteville and Cumberland County during the last decade is because candidates have figured out how to be elected, but they have no knowledge of the office they are elected to or what is expected of them.

    Their lack of knowledge and experience has created a significant deficit in our planning and future vision for the entire community.
    Over the years, Senator deViere and I have disagreed on many issues, but never has it been personal. I have always admired people with a solid work ethic who are not afraid to stand up and fight for their principles regardless of political affiliations. Hardcore and complex politics often make this difficult.

    Gov. Cooper and Val Applewhite have done very little for Fayetteville and Cumberland County citizens. Neither Cooper nor Applewhite contributed to bringing $413 million to our community. The upcoming elections will be vital to the ultimate success of Fayetteville and Cumberland County. During this election period, everyone needs to be aware of who's who in the zoo. Our community has great potential, and collectively, we have identified faltering leadership in the mayor's office, city council and the county commission. We are the only ones who can change this, and we do not want to elect more of the same. Vote. But vote from a position of knowledge. Vote on the candidates based on their ability to serve our community with dignity, honor and integrity. Fayetteville and Cumberland County are wonderful communities with tremendous potential. We must

    elect honest and talented leaders who will take advantage of our assets and will not abuse the positions entrusted to them. I'll leave you with this.
    It's all up to us and not hard to do,
    Run the circus out of town,
    And you will disassemble the zoo!
    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.
    (My apologies to Dr. Seuss.)

  • 19 PittmanMen who coached with him called the late Nathan Pittman one of the smartest people they ever knew, and an assistant football coach who was impossible to fool.
    Pittman, who was part of four championship football teams in Fayetteville, died recently and was recognized during a celebration of life
    service on March 15 at Rogers and Breece Funeral Home.

    A native of Florida, Pittman came to Fayetteville as a young man and held assistant coaching jobs at a variety of local high schools. But it was at Seventy-First and South View high schools where he saw his greatest success in his role as defensive coordinator. He helped lead the 1970 Seventy-First team to the Eastern 3-A title, which was as far as schools could go in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association playoffs at the time.

    He was a part of three state championship teams under head coach Bobby Poss, two at Seventy-First in the 1980s and a third at South View High School in the 1990s.
    After Poss left South View, Pittman ended his coaching career with stops at Terry Sanford and Gray’s Creek high schools.

    Greg Killingsworth played for Pittman his first year at Seventy-First and later hired him to coach at Terry Sanford when Killingsworth was athletic director there.
    “If you were playing Trivial Pursuit, you wanted him on your team,’’ Killingsworth said. “He was the smartest man I ever met.’’

    As for his skills as a football coach, Killingsworth said Pittman was way ahead of the game as a defensive coordinator. “He studied what people did and predicted exactly what they were going to do,’’ Killingsworth said. “You could move the football from the 20 to the 20, but when the field got smaller, his defense always rose to the occasion.’’
    Bernie Poole, who became head basketball coach at Seventy-First, came to the school in 1984 and worked with Pittman as an assistant football coach.

    “He made great adjustments when he watched films,’’ Poole said. “He never wanted to be a head coach. He liked who he worked for and that’s what kept him going.’’
    Poss, who has won more NCHSAA football championships at different schools than any coach in state history, called Pittman a big part of any success he had while coaching at Seventy-First and South View.

    “He was intelligent and he wasn’t one to get snookered,’’ Poss said. “You weren’t going to pull the wool over his eyes, whether you were the backup linebacker or the head coach.’’

    Former Terry Sanford and Gray’s Creek head coach Bill Yeager took Pittman with him when he started the football program at Gray’s Creek.

    “He was as knowledgeable as any football coach I’ve been around, I don’t care what level,’’ Yeager said. “I didn’t have to worry about the defense at all. He ran the defense, from top to bottom.’’

    But Yeager said there was more than Xs and Os with Pittman. “He cared about the young men as far as being good people,’’ Yeager said. “The kids knew he cared about them. That was why they played so hard for him.’’

  • 16 town hallIn response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the town of Hope Mills took swift action to limit the exposure of its citizens to possible infection with the virus.
    At the top of the list of actions was the declaration of a state of emergency by Mayor Jackie Warner that took effect on Monday, March 16.

    The action gave the Hope Mills Police Department authority to deny access to any areas in the town that may be necessary to keep the spread of the virus under control.
    Anyone attempting to gain access to any area that is blocked by the police would be considered guilty of a misdemeanor.

    The town also announced cancellation of all appointed boards, commissions, committees and upcoming special events through Monday, April 6.

    Specific events are listed below:

    All town facility rentals from March 16-April 6 are canceled. No additional reservations will be scheduled during that time period.

    Easter in Hope Mills and Breakfast with the Eastern Bunny on Saturday, April 4, and the free Easter Egg Hunt are canceled.

    Ag Day on Saturday, April 4 is canceled.

    Effective Monday, March 16, the Hope Mills Recreation Center closed for an indefinite period.

    All scheduled Parks and Recreation programs, athletics, activities, trips and open gym times are suspended through April 6. Registration and payment for future programs and activities can be done online at https://secure.rec1.com/NC/hope-mills-N.C.

    Hope Mills Municipal Park, Golfview Greenway and Hope Mills Park open spaces will remain accessible for public use.

    Town Hall and the police department lobby will not be closed. Residents are asked to limit visits to both facilities. Use online forms where possible and mail checks for permits. Those who must come to Town Hall or the police station are asked to call ahead and make an appointment to make sure someone is available to assist you.
    Call 910-424-4555 for Town Hall or 910-425-4103 for the police department.

    Visit http://www.townofhopemills.com/directory.aspx  to find alist of direct extensions.

  • 031815abg_11.gifWith hits like “You Should Be Dancing,” “Jive Talkin’,” “Stayin’ Alive,” “How to Mend a Broken Heart,” and “To Love Somebody,” the Bee Gees dominated the music charts in the 1970s. The group, inducted in to the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in 1997, has sold more than 220 million records ranking them among top musical performers of all time, including the Beatles, Elvis and Michael Jackson.


    The Bee Gees, comprised of Australian-born brothers Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb reached a pinnacle with their contributions to Saturday Night Live’s musical score; however, they had a long string of hits prior to that break-out recording. With the death of Maurice, followed by his twin Robin, the group ceased as a performing entity, but their legacy lives on in their music and through the performances of the Bee Gees tribute show, The Australian Bee Gees Show, which comes to the Crown on March 25.

    The second to last performance in the Community Concerts 2014-2015 season, The Australian Bee Gees Show promises a multimedia theatrical experience that celebrates the legacy the Bee Gees left behind and showcases the four decades of the infectious music written by the Gibb brothers. The unsurpassed and state-of-the-art sound, live camera images and vivid graphics will have the audience dancin’ in the aisles.  

    From early favorites like “Massachusetts,” “New York Mining Disaster 1941” and  “To Love Somebody” to later classics like “Stayin’ Alive” and “You Should Be Dancin’,” this show offers a walk down memory lane for Bee Gees fans and a peek in to one of music’s most popular bands.
    Matt Baldoni plays Barry Gibb. He’s been with The Australian Bee Gees show for about three years.

    “When I auditioned for The Australian Bee Gees, I was touring as a sideman with other artists like Melissa Manchester and Taylor Dane. I was in the pit for a lot of shows, too, like Spamalot,” said Baldoni. “Playing Barry Gibb is different from that. It is very challenging. I have grown to be a huge fan of the Bee Gees. I respect them and their contributions to music. It is amazing to be a part of this group. We work hard to nail the authenticity.”

    A musician since the age of 8, Baldoni realized at a young age that to make a living as a musician he would need to be able to do more than play the guitar. So he learned to sing and read music, too.

    “When I was young I thought I would just join a band like Eddie Van Halen and tour the world and play music and write songs and be famous,” Baldoni said. “But for me, the magic is in performing.”

    Since 1935, Community Concerts has delivered the finest in entertainment to Fayetteville. Each year, the all-volunteer organization brings diverse and interesting shows to the community. The big name entertainment is great, but the organization contributes to the community in other ways, too.

    Community Concerts awards college scholarships to promising musicians each year. To date, 24 young students have benefited from this program. Community Concerts also showcases local musicians and performers by providing opportunities for them to open for many of the main acts. Since 2008, the Fayetteville Music Hall of Fame has been a part of the Community Concerts program, honoring people in the community who have brought musical distinction to the area. In 2014, the 82nd Airborne Division’s All American Chorus was inducted into the Fayetteville Music Hall of Fame.

    For tickets and information about The Australian Bee Gees Show, visit  www.community-concerts.com or http://crowncomplexnc.com/events/australian-gee-bees-show. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and takes place in the Crown Theatre.

  • Walter E Dellinger III The tributes that rolled in when North Carolina lawyer Walter Dellinger died Feb. 16 were testimony that he was one of the nation’s great lawyers of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. He was 80.

    In an Associated Press article, North Carolina native Jonathan Drew wrote that Dellinger’s career “marked him as one of the legal giants of our era. Many remembered — and justly celebrated — him as a brilliant and prolific scholar, a titan of the Supreme Court bar, an inspiring teacher and mentor to generations of bright proteges now in elected office, federal and state government, and on the bench.

    “He was also a government lawyer whose advice was important to both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Key officials in the Biden White House sought his advice almost literally until the day he died.”

    His son, Hampton, recently confirmed by the U.S. Senate as an assistant attorney general in the Biden administration’s Justice Department, gave this tribute to his dad, “Walter lived a wonderful and extraordinary life. He had many loves, first among them his wife Anne but also the State and University of North Carolina, the law and the rule of law, and American democracy.”

    Several years ago I talked to Dellinger for a short North Carolina Bookwatch program recorded at Carolina Meadows in Chapel Hill, where he was living. He was working on a chapter of a memoir to be titled “Balcony Reserved for White Spectators.”
    He explained his early awareness of the unfairness of the social system in his hometown Charlotte. In the late 1950s he was working on a construction site “where only whites could be carpenters and the black men were all laborers paid $1 an hour. As I was a temporary kid, I was assigned as a laborer. I was like the token white labor on this crew.

    “What was interesting and dramatic for me was that the best carpenter by far was one of the African American men who was a laborer. He got paid as a laborer no matter what he was doing. So whenever there was a very difficult challenge to the carpentry, the on-site supervisor would ask David to take on the challenge.

    “But if anybody from company headquarters arrived on the scene, I was sometimes a lookout, David had to put down his carpentry tools. He could be an expert but couldn't be caught breaking the rigid rules. That gives you a sense of how rigid the system was.”

    Dellinger remembered his love of Black music and listening to WGIV, the Black radio station in Charlotte. “I listened to the gospel hour faithfully. They had a contest to see who could first identify a gospel song, and I knew immediately from the first three bars it was ‘Ride on King Jesus.’

    “The prize was a one-year subscription to Ebony magazine, which in the segregated South was a whole different world, particularly the advertisements where no people of color were ever in mainstream media.”
    Dellinger’s love of music led him to try to attend the Black concerts and dances at Park Center in downtown Charlotte. There is where he encountered the sign.

    He explained, “In Charlotte dances that were for African Americans [they]had a balcony reserved for white spectators, so it's sort of both literal and metaphorical the notion that I was only a spectator from the balcony on what was happening with race in the South, watching what was happening in the Black community.”

    After four years at UNC-Chapel Hill, three years at Yale Law School, and two years teaching at the University of Mississippi Law School, Dellinger was never “only a spectator” again.

    He lived and died in the middle of our country’s struggle to eliminate the unfairness the carpenter David experienced and the legacy of the customs that put Dellinger in the balcony at Park Center dances.

  • 18 que tuckerFacing some of the most challenging decisions the North Carolina High School Athletic Association has ever had to cope with, Commissioner Que Tucker stressed a positive attitude moving forward as she spoke to statewide media recently about her organization’s reaction to the pandemic caused by COVID-19.

    Despite that upbeat mood, the initial announcements from the NCHSAA office in Chapel Hill were grim for coaches, athletes and high school sports fans.

    Tucker was forced to announce that the state high school basketball championships, which saw Fayetteville’s Westover boys and E.E. Smith girls advance to the state 3-A finals, were postponed indefinitely.

    The entire spring sports season was also put on hold, as were all practices and off-season skill development sessions until at least Monday,
    April 6.

    However, Tucker stressed the April 6 date was flexible and that her staff and members of the NCHSAA Board of Directors would continue to assess the situation in hopes it might be possible to play both the basketball championships and as much of the spring sports season as possible.

    Tucker said the NCHSAA will study the calendar in hopes the situation with COVID-19 improves and see how much of a spring season with championships can be played.
    She said that the spring season will not be extended into the summer months if play can resume in time because playing that late would conflict with graduation exercises and commitments some students may have with college camps.

    If the spring season can be played, Tucker said the NCHSAA would have to work with conferences on coming up with some kind of formula to determine conference champions since all of the games likely could not be played in the time available.

    She suggested they might use a percentage of conference games won, which is how conference standings are determined. She added the MaxPreps national and state rankings, which are used to seed NCHSAA playoff sports, may not be used in this situation.

    As for the basketball championship games, if they are played there are many variables to deal with.

    One would be allowing the teams that qualified for the finals sufficient time to practice and get into shape before playing the games if they can be scheduled. Another problem could be finding venues to play them. Reynolds Coliseum at N.C. State and the Smith Center at the University of North Carolina were supposed to host the championships.
    If those arenas aren’t available, Tucker said the NCHSAA would first turn to other college venues then look at civic arenas.

    It is possible if the games aren’t played that the NCHSAA could declare cochampions or do something it did in football years ago and have Eastern and Western champs with no outright state winner.

    “I always like to lean toward the positive,’’ Tucker said. “I’m going to be hopeful and prayerful that by the time we get to April 6, as we get closer and closer, this situation will be different and maybe we will have some opportunity to look at resuming spring sports.’’

  • 15 01 trade streetAs mayor of Hope Mills, Jackie Warner is always looking for opportunities to spark economic development and downtown revitalization. That’s why she and town finance director Drew Holland recently attended the 40th annual North Carolina Main Street Conference in New Bern.

    The conference was geared toward communities roughly the same size as Hope Mills and looked at creative ways various towns had used to promote interest on the part of visitors that didn’t involve huge expenditures of money.

    15 02 slideWarner and Holland split up during their time at the conference so each could come back with different ideas on revitalization.

    With the news that the historic Trade Street property in Hope Mills has been put up for sale, Warner was particularly interested in things that the town can do to preserve the history there and possibly renovate some of the buildings along the street.

    “We had already brought in somebody that explained you can get tax credits for historical preservation and renovating the building,’’ Warner said of a recent presentation that was put on by the town.

    One of the most interesting presentations Warner attended involved something Hope Mills has already started doing, the addition of art to the downtown
    landscape.

    Ironically, before the presentation started, Warner saw pictures displayed from a town art display in nearby Laurinburg that was the inspiration for Hope Mills’ initial foray into municipal art.

    Warner’s son, Teddy, worked with the town of Laurinburg when it started the idea of buying a lot, clearing it and setting up sculptures. “They were featured in one talk about how that helped economic development,’’ Warner said of the Laurinburg project.

    Hope Mills established an agreement with Adam Walls, who lives in Hope Mills and is an art instructor at UNC-Pembroke, to have his art students provide the town with sculptures.

    Warner noted that the presentation highlighted the success of art in other small North Carolina towns.

    She mentioned the whirligig park in downtown Wilson, which features a variety of tall, colorful wind-driven sculptures.

    Lexington, which is famous for its barbecue, features an assortment of pink pig statues.

    The nearby town of Sanford has become famous for local murals that tell the story of the town.

    “We could use those murals to show what Trade Street was like years ago,’’ Warner said.

    Warner would especially like to do something to bring back the memories of the days when there was a train depot in Hope Mills and trains made regular stops in the town, instead of whizzing through over the downtown bridge as they do today.

    Her desire is to get some kind of grant assistance to create a mural on Trade Street near where the old depot once stood. “We’ve got pictures tied to the railroad when it ran through town behind the old mill,’’ she said.

    There are many other things Warner saw that could bring back an old-time feel to Hope Mills while at the same time bringing the town into the 21st century.

    One thing she saw at the gathering were solar-powered street lights that have a retro look from the 1900s. “Solar lights are very cost effective, and you don’t know it’s a solar light,’’ Warner said.

    She also saw some things in a tour of two New Bern churches that could be used at the Thomas Campbell Oakman Memorial Chapel downtown.

    “They have times of the day when they are open for prayer,’’ Warner said. “I looked at a garden they had done beside one of them. “They also had a hidden restroom facility that we could easily do by our church. It was cost-effective and served a good purpose.’’

    She looked at pavers, bricks and different types of sidewalks. There were also park benches and playgrounds.

    Warner hopes to visit Sanford to take a look at the murals there. She would also like for the Hope Mills Creative Arts Council to visit Washington, N.C., a small North Carolina town that has raised significant money for the arts through various partnerships. “Because we’re a tier one county, there is money available if we go the right route to apply for it, to do some of the things we may want to do,’’ she said.

  • 031815uac031815001.gif From their first princess dress, to their prom dress to their wedding dress, most little girls take delight in dressing up and having a moment in the spotlight. For the past seven years, girls in Cumberland County have had the opportunity to do more than dress up, they have had the opportunity to take a walk down the runway during the American Girl Fashion Show.


    Of course, these girls are getting more than a moment in the spotlight, they are taking the opportunity to help children who have suffered abuse by supporting the work of the Child Advocacy Center. This annual fundraiser for the organization is unique in that each of the models chosen to participate in the fashion show has to help raise money for the organization, so the fashion show actually becomes a lesson in civic participation.

    One, which many of the girls continue throughout their lives.

    Julia Adkins has been working with the American Girl Fashion Show since its inception. Adkins, and her co-chairs, Cindy Williams and Carol Wheeler, were members of the Junior League. The Child Advocacy Center came to the Junior League looking for a grant to help put the show together. The idea intrigued them. The Junior League not only gave them the grant, but the three ladies volunteered to help with the first show. For the past seven years, they have organized the entire event.

    Adkins explained that all three had daughters who were of the age to have American Girl Dolls and to participate in the show. As their daughters aged out of the show, they continued to support it because of the need in the community that the Child Advocacy Center fills.

    Adkins, whose daughter is a freshman at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said that most girls who participate return as long as they can. She noted her daughter was in the show until she was too old to walk the runway, and then she became a commentator.

    “Even now, she is very involved,” said Adkins. “She will call home and ask me what the show schedule is and if we have fittings or anything, she will come home to participate. She will be commenting again this year. A lot of the girls who participate in the show take child abuse and prevention on as a personal platform throughout their lives.”

    But for the little girls who love American Girl Dolls, the fashion show isn’t a serious event. Instead it is a magical afternoon filled with everything they love: their dolls and their families. It’s an elegant afternoon of tea and party food. As in years past, girls are encouraged to bring their dolls with them to the show and shop at the American Girl store for more outfits or maybe let their dolls have a spa day at the beauty parlor.

    And while they marvel at the excitement that surrounds them, they will support children much less fortunate. Last year the show raised $64,000 to help fund the work of the Child Advocacy Center.

    Show times are at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on March 21 and 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. on March 22. Tickets may be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com or in person at the Crown Center Box Office. VIP tickets with seating close to the stage are available. For more information, please visit the CAC website at www.childadvocacycenter.com or call 910-486-9700.

  • faith Beginning on Wednesday evening, March 16 and continuing until nightfall on March 17 is the Jewish holiday of Purim. (For religious purposes, Jewish days run from sunset to sundown.) Purim is the celebration of the survival of the Jews in ancient Persia, from the wicked plot of Haman, as described in the biblical “Book of Esther.”

    Perhaps the most unusual thing about this book is that it is in the Hebrew Bible of the Jews (as well as in the Old Testament of Christian scriptures) despite the fact that God is never mentioned. The book does seem to allude to God, or at least cosmic forces, acting behind the scenes, but God is never mentioned explicitly. Indeed, the rabbis in antiquity who determined which writings were sacred enough to be included officially in the Hebrew Bible they were formalizing vigorously debated the issue of its inclusion before deciding it should make the cut.

    Perhaps the reason it ultimately prevailed is precisely because God is only found there implicitly. Understandably, we would like to have obvious, incontrovertible and palpable proof of the existence of God and what God wants from us. A burning bush or the splitting of a sea might be nice. It would definitely help make our lives more certain and assured. But that’s not the nature of the daily experience for most of us.

    Faith is the recognition that there is more to our lives and the world around us than we can access directly. And this truth is found beyond the sphere of religion. How do you feel – not just infer, but feel - the care, concern or love of another human being? How do actors sense the energy of an audience in a silent, dark theater with bright stage lights in their eyes? How do we know when a sound or a sight is beautiful? How do we recognize, if we are truly honest with ourselves, whether we have acted morally or not?

    None of these are merely part of the realm of our ordinary five senses. They are not within the empirical processes with which we analyze and incorporate overt information. And yet, we all know with certainty that those intangible experiences are real. Even the ultra-rational skeptics among us live their lives, as a practical matter, as if they are genuine realities. As my doctoral studies in religious philosophy would acknowledge, there are ways to account for all of this in formal ways. But that’s not what’s important for our daily lives.

    What matters is that we open ourselves up to what is greater than ourselves and beyond what is overtly apparent to us. Our lives can be enriched by recognizing, like the “Book of Esther,” there is always much more present in our lives, contributing to them than simply the superficial. Whether in the realm of the Divine, cosmos or humanity, let us appreciate the powerful omnipresence that is just beyond the veil of our senses.

  • 21 01 kevin brewingtonKevin Brewington

    South View • Football/wrestling/track • Senior

    Brewington has a 3.6 grade point average. He recently signed to play college football for Western Carolina University. He was the winner of the 138-pound weight class in this year’s Patriot Athletic Conference wrestling tournament.


     

    21 02 nyjara stephensNyjara Stephens

    South View• Track • Senior

    Stephens has a 3.9 grade point average. She is a member of Health Occupations Students of America, Key Club, Student Government Association and Tigers for Christ.

  • 17 DrDue to the spread of COVID-19, this event will be rescheduled for a future date.

    Dr. Tremaine Canteen thinks 2020 is a significant year to celebrate the importance of voting rights in this country and is seeking to do it through an oratorical contest for high school students.

    Canteen, in conjunction with the Hope Mills chapter of the Zeta Phi Beta sorority, originally planned to the contest on Feb. 29 at the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Center. Because of a lack of participants, the event was postponed.

    A new date has now been set for Saturday, April 25, still at the Hope Mills Parks and Recreation Center. The contest will begin at 1 p.m.

    The contest was originally meant to coincide with Black History Month, but Canteen said the significance of the topic makes the date of the contest a bit more flexible, although she’s encouraging anyone interested to sign up as quickly as possible.

    The contest is open to all high school students from grades 9-12. They do not have to be residents of Cumberland County.

    The topic for the speeches is “Her Story: African-Americans and the vote.”

    Canteen feels 2020 is an excellent year to hold a contest like this for several reasons.

    “This is the centennial for the 19th amendment that deals with the right to vote regardless of sex,’’ she said.

    She added it’s the 150th anniversary of the 15th amendment, which deals with having the right to vote regardless of race.

    She feels it’s important to hear from teen-age voices on the subject.

    “I think this is a good year to celebrate change, but to bring awareness to where we are in society right now,’’ she said. “Who better to hear it from than children?”

    Canteen feels teenagers have powerful things to say on the subject and bring a different perspective to the topic.

    Each speech will be limited to three to five minutes, and the speakers will be timed during their presentations. The judges will be listening for creativity and content.

    One reason Canteen is encouraging young people to sign up for the competition as quickly as possible is so members of the Zeta Phi Beta sorority can work with them prior to the competition to help them with basic speaking skills.

    For details on how to sign up for the contest, contact Canteen at drtremainecanteen@gmail.com.

    Trophies and three cash prizes will be awarded, $150 for first place, $75 for second an $50 for third.“I see this as a way to prepare kids for life,’’ Canteen said. “In any career you’re successful in, there is going to be an element of public speaking. This is a topic that’s never going to die.’’

    Visit https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSd21fkHXJ5JDb7LhomyfpmybaVp4LojZOmw8Wd0jDH284z4wA/viewform to apply online.

  • Pitt Congratulations, gentle readers, you have survived the Rona. You have lived long enough to see the return of that most wonderful time of the year: America's favorite event, your stomach's highlight of the year, the social event that welcomes sweet springtime: The Annual Cape Fear Kiwanis Pancake Festival.

    Yes, friends and neighbors, once again, it's time to put on a happy face, plus the old feed bag and come on down to Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church conveniently located at 614 Oakridge Ave. in historic Haymount.

    This is the 48th Annual Pancake Festival put on by the Cape Fear Kiwanis. For a mere $6, you can shake off the demons of winter and the isolation of quarantines to indulge in all the pancakes and sausage that you dare to eat. All proceeds go right back into our community for various civic groups and activities. You can eat all the pancakes you like without guilt, knowing you are contributing to Cumberland County's good causes.

    During last year's bout with the Rona, the Pancake Festival only had to do drive-through orders. However, as the Rona seems to be receding into the rear-view mirror, the Pancake Festival returns to dine in and carry out.

    Dine-in and have breakfast with your friends, neighbors and total strangers who are all in excellent moods due to a collective sugar high. As we are unable to keep them out and frankly welcome their money, you will get to see local politicians of all stripes working the crowd. It is a sight to see, not to be missed.

    Here is a listing of some of the local beneficiaries of past Pancake Festivals. Bringing Up Grades, Better Health of Cumberland County, Boys & Girls Club of Cumberland County, Cape Fear Valley NICU, The Care Clinic, Catholic Charities, Dolly Parton Imagination Library, EE Smith High School Mentoring Program, Child Advocacy Center, Friends of the Cumberland County Library, Habitat for Humanity, Homeworks, five local high school Key Clubs, Lewis Chapel Builders Club, New Parent Support Diaper Program at Fort Bragg, Operation Inasmuch, Police Activity League, Safe Kids, Salvation Army, College Scholarships to four local students annually, Second Harvest Food Bank, Urban Ministry, USO, Vision Resource Center and the Westminster Church Eyeglass Program have all received grants from the Cape Fear Kiwanis Club.

    At about this time, you are probably asking yourself, "Self, what is the origin story of pancakes and some pancake factoids to dazzle my friends?" Funny, you should ask that question as the rest of the column will deal with pancakes' back story.

    Mr. Google knows the answer. None other than Ms. Betty Crocker has a history of the pancake out on the interwebs. According to Ms. Crocker, the first mention of pancakes shows up in about 600 B.C. when a Greek poet named Cratinus mentioned pancakes in a poem. In case you are in Greece and want pancakes for breakfast, ask for 'Tiganites.' You will get them with honey and walnuts. During the Middle Ages, the first three pancakes in the batch had religious significance. The three were marked with a cross and not eaten to ward off evil spirits. Evil spirits could be scared by pancakes back then. Not sure that pancakes would work now against Putin in Ukraine, but it might be worth a try.

    William Shakespeare liked pancakes as he wrote about them in his play As You Like It when Touchstone said: "a certain knight that swore by his honor they were good pancakes and swore by his honor that the mustard was naught, Now I'll stand to it, the pancakes were naught, and the mustard was good."

    The Kiwanis guarantee their pancakes will be good and totally without mustard unless you bring your own yellow condiment. Why anyone would want to put mustard on their pancakes is beyond the scope of this column. As the King of Siam once said: "It is a puzzlement."

    Some other pancake factoids: Maple syrup which graces many pancakes, was originally discovered by the Algonquin Indians. The world's biggest pancake, cooked in 1994, was 49.3 feet in diameter and estimated to contain two million calories.

    The National Geographic reports that an analysis of starch grains on grinding tools from 30,000 years ago meant that Stone Age cuisine may have included pancakes made from cattails and ferns.

    The most flips of a pancake in two minutes were 349 times by a cook named Dean Gould in England in 1995. Southerners eat the most pancakes of any group of Americans. We proudly consume 32.5% of all of America's pancakes. If you have ever driven through Myrtle Beach, you know that Highway 17 is awash with more Pancake Houses than you can shake a stick at if you were so inclined to shake such a stick at that particular type of building.

    Allow me to end with the Kiwanis' motto: "Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to improving the world, one child and one community at a time."

    It is your civic duty to come out, buy and eat some patriotic pancakes. If you come hungry, you will leave happy.

    The annual Kiwanis Pancake Festival returns on March 11, from 7 a.m. to noon.

  • 20 01 Jared KaiserFew first-year coaches have a tougher act to follow than Terry Sanford girls’ soccer coach Jared Kaiser.

    After serving as an assistant with former head coach Karl Molnar, Kaiser steps into the head coaching job this year with an high bar to clear.

    For each of the last four seasons, the Terry Sanford girls won at least 20 matches per year while never suffering more than a single loss, all of those defeats coming in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association state playoffs.

    No one appreciates that challenge more than Kaiser. But the good news is last year’s graduation didn’t leave the Terry Sanford cupboard short on experience for Kaiser’s first season in charge.

    “We’ve got a lot of returners, so that’s going to help out a lot,’’ he said.

    20 02 Maiya ParrousBut there will be some adjustments, for Kaiser and his players. Even though he worked with Molnar for multiple years and the two have similar coaching philosophies, some things will be different this season.

    “Little changes here and there,’’ he said. “The girls are getting used to it and we’re trying to keep the momentum going. Getting through this year with them and building for next year, too, is going to be a challenge.’’

    The key to success for Terry Sanford this year will be a solid base of about eight veteran players returning from last year’s team. The biggest returnees in terms of offensive productions are Maiya Parrous and Corrine Shovlain.

    Shovlain led all Cumberland County Schools soccer players with 111 points last season on a county-best 43 goals and 25 assists. Parrous 20 03 Corrine Shovlainwas third in the county in both categories with 34 goals and 19 assists for 87 points. 

    The top holes Kaiser has to fill are at goalkeeper, center midfielder and outside backs. He calls finding the replacements for those positions his top priority.

    The key to success, he feels, will be developing team chemistry as quickly as possible. In past years, he feels the Terry Sanford girls have been a cohesive unit. He hopes to keep that same personality for this season.

    Parrous agreed with Kaiser that team chemistry will be important for the Bulldogs. “Getting the freshmen used to all the new players, getting in our new positions,’’ she said. Parrous said the new players will be filling some key positions created by graduation losses.

    “The biggest part of the game is getting along with your teammates and being able to work well, which I think we will.’’

    Parrous thinks the Bulldogs have the potential to repeat their performance of recent years. “This is my last year playing high school soccer and I want us to do well,’’ she said. “I want it to be fun playing with these girls I’ve played with my whole life.’’

    Shovlain doesn’t feel Kaiser is making any changes of a major nature, and feels that’s helping with the transition.

    “I’m looking to score more goals and have more assists,’’ Shovlain said. “I think with the team behind me, we’ve got this as a team.’’

    There will be one big change for the team that everyone has to adjust to this season. Because work is still continuing on the Terry Sanford football stadium where the soccer team usually plays, it will be playing all of its home matches at John Daskal Stadium at Reid Ross Classical High School on Ramsey Street.

    “We’ve played there in the past and we know what we’re getting into,’’ Shovlain said. “The first couple of games we’ll have to figure it out, if the ball moves faster or slower.’’

    The biggest physical different between the Terry Sanford field and the one at Ross, according to Shovlain, is the Reid Ross field is a little narrower. Shovlain thinks the only phase of the game that will directly impact is corner kicks, making them shorter.

    Looking at the rest of the Patriot Athletic Conference, Kaiser said he’s expecting to get a challenge from Gray’s Creek. Last season the Bears tied Pine Forest for second in the league, both with 13-3 conference records. Overall the Bears were 16-4-1, losing in overtime to Clayton in the second round of the NCHSAA 3-A playoffs.

    “I’m definitely expecting something from Gray’s Creek,’’ Kaiser said. “They only lost two seniors last year.’’

    Pine Forest, which shared second with the Bears, finished 13-6 overall. The Trojans qualified for the NCHSAA 4-A playoffs and got a first-round bye as the top-finishing 4-A team in split Patriot Conference. They were eliminated in the second round of the state playoffs by Fuquay-Varina.

    Kaiser said the Trojans always provide decent competition. “From camp we saw quite a few younger players practicing for their team,’’ he said. “I’m looking forward to running into them more than anything.’’

    One problem that Molnar was unable to address and that Kaiser was unable to fix either was making Terry Sanford’s regular-season soccer schedule a bit tougher.

    The Bulldogs play 16 of their regular-season games against Patriot Athletic Conference opponents. Their only games against teams either outside the conference or Cumberland County are with Northwood and Union Pines. Northwood was 16-7-1 last season while Union Pines was 17-3-1.

    Photos from top to bottom: Jared Kaiser, Maiya Parrous, Corrine Shovlain

  • Due to the spread of COVID-19, as a precaution, the delivery of the smoke alarms has been postponed. The new date is to be determined. 16 Smoke Alarm

    Free home smoke alarms are coming to Hope Mills, courtesy of the American Red Cross.

    Phil Harris, executive director of the Sandhills Chapter of the Red Cross, is looking for community volunteers to make up teams that will be headed for Hope Mills on Saturday, April 25, to areas in town that have been identified as being at higher risk for home fires or lacking smoke detectors.

    The Red Cross has been involved in installing smoke alarms since 2014, and the program has now gone national, Harris said.

    “We do it throughout the year, but we want to make a push in April,’’ he said.

    Harris said the Red Cross knows that working smoke alarms save lives. He said since the Red Cross began installing the free smoke alarms nationwide, 715 lives have been saved by alarms that were placed in homes.

    “We know people don’t think it will ever happen to them,’’ he said of a home fire. “If we get that extra alert, we remind them they only have two minutes to get out,’’ he said.

    In addition to installing the smoke detectors, the Red Cross provides the people they visit with basic fire safety information.“Do they know how to crawl below the smoke?” Harris said. “Do they know to get out and stay out?’’

    Harris said the Red Cross also stresses the importance for families to have a plan on how to get out of the house and where to go when they have left the home.

    In addition to having at least two routes planned to escape their home in a fire, Harris said it’s important for families to have a central meeting place where everyone should rendezvous when they’ve left the house.

    “You need to have a meeting spot so the firemen don’t go in and think somebody is still in there,’’ he said. “Everybody is accounted for. All of those things come into play with saving a life.’’

    Harris said the Red Cross is able to provide free smoke detectors thanks to some grants and the support of major sponsors like Lowe’s and Delta Airlines. He said the Sandhills chapter continues to seek more local businesses to sponsor the program in this area.

    The Red Cross also has a home fire campaign that can provide direct financial assistance to families who have been displaced by a fire.

    Previously they’ve helped 166 families deal with the aftermath of a fire.

    The alarms the Red Cross installs are what Harris referred to as 10-year alarms. “We found these are great for seniors who can’t change a battery periodically,’’ Harris said. 

    Harris said the Red Cross cooperated with the Hope Mills Fire Department to identify high-risk areas in the town most in need of smoke detectors.

    Now they need approximately 125 volunteers to fan out in teams on April 25 and install the smoke detectors.

    Each team will be composed of four people, Harris said. There’s the actual installer, one member who will record the number of people in each home, one to educate the family on basic fire safety and one to introduce the team to each household and explain its purpose.

    People can volunteer as late as the day of the event, but early signup is preferred. They can sign up at soundthealarm.org or call the local chapter at 910-867-8151.Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner applauds the Red Cross for bringing the free smoke detectors to Hope Mills. “It’s going to improve safety,’’ she said. “I was glad they targeted Hope Mills. This is the first time they’ve entertained coming here.’’

  • pub pen 3 9 Finally, we are scheduled to have a primary election on May 17. Candidate filings have faced inconvenient delays because of lawsuits over the establishment of congressional districts. These districts are also used in county and municipal elections and were redrawn using information from the 2020 Census. So, let the games (primaries) begin!

    It's been a long time since this community has seen so much activity and enthusiasm toward local elections. The many residents who have filed to serve public offices in Fayetteville and Cumberland County reflect this enthusiasm. Every one of them should be commended for their willingness to step up and be a public servant. This enthusiastic participation speaks volumes about what residents think of the City of Fayetteville and Cumberland County's leadership. And, by the candidates' turnout, these folks are not giving our current public servants very high marks in leadership. Just the opposite. Citizens are frustrated and discouraged by the way our local governments are run. Dissatisfaction runs the gamut. Our local governments lack transparency in handling the allegations of incompetence and mismanagement leveled against Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins. And the reluctance of the City Council to call for an independent external investigation of former councilwoman Tisha Waddell's allegations against the mayor and several sitting council members. Suppose there is, in fact, no truth to these allegations, as Mayor Mitch Colvin contends. Then why resist the call for an independent external investigation? An independent external inquiry into Waddell's allegations would provide proof, reassurance and closure for the citizens of Fayetteville. Residents are not happy with the way current leadership is running this community, and they are losing trust and confidence in them every day and for a good reason.

    The citizens of Fayetteville and Cumberland County love and care about this community, and they witness daily what our collective elected officials choose to ignore.

    The downtown encampments filled with people without homes are seen daily by city and county elected officials, staff members and employees without acknowledgment. People are homesteading under trees in our center city and camping out in our downtown parking lots using our trees and fence posts to hang their laundry and trash bags.

    In addition, we have a homicide rate that makes us competitive for the title of murder capital of North Carolina and one of the deadliest cities in the country. But, we boast a lower rate of petty crimes. The amount of trash and litter on our streets is beginning to speak volumes about people's lack of respect for our community.

    Yes, the election period is short. Yes, candidates seeking office must work fast and hard to raise money and name recognition. And, yes, most of the incumbents have a huge advantage. I doubt any challengers will displace Mitch Colvin or many of the other city and county officials.

    However, the sheer number of candidates running for office indicates that people are not happy with the current leadership. And, those new folks who manage to win have the opportunity to provide a new and fresh leadership style that could help assure honest governance to city and county residents.

    Review the candidates carefully and do your due diligence. Because, ultimately, in the end, we will end up with the kind of leadership we deserve.

    Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

  • 19 NC STATEThe late United States Senator Bobby Kennedy made a speech in the 1960s that popularized what some claim is an ancient Chinese curse, although the real source of the phrase has been disputed over the years.

    The words Kennedy used were, “May you live in interesting times.’’

    Regardless of where the phrase came from, it certainly applies to the current situation in state and local high school athletics resulting from fears over the continuing spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19 as it’s officially known.

    Over what seemed like a matter of hours, concerns over the spread of the virus led to some sweeping decisions at the state level that left the high school sports world, locally and statewide, at a standstill.

    The first pronouncements came from the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.

    The organization initially decided to restrict access to its state basketball championship games at North Carolina State’s Reynolds Coliseum and North Carolina’s Dean Smith Center to official team personnel and a small group of parents from the competing schools.

    Then they followed that with word that the championships had been postponed, with no guarantee they would even be played.

    Of course, this leaves the boys from Westover and the girls from E.E. Smith, who had qualified for the state 3-A basketball championship games at Reynolds this year, in limbo waiting to find out if they would ever get to fulfill every high school athlete’s dream of chasing a state title.

    More bad news from the NCHSAA followed. The entire spring sports season was suspended effective at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, March 13. The ruling stated that not only competition would cease, but so would any workouts, practice or skill development sessions.

    The North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association followed suit shortly after that, announcing the suspension of all interscholastic games, scrimmages or contests on the same date as the NCHSAA. The NCISAA did leave the option of holding practices at the discretion of its member coaches.

    I am not a doctor. I don’t pretend to understand everything that’s been written and spoken about the coronavirus. But one thing I have heard loud and clear is that it’s critical to stop the spread of what I’ve seen described as a disease with a lot of unknowns that there is currently no vaccine for nor any medication that has been truly effective at knocking it out.

    I respect the frustration of coaches in Cumberland County, where as of this writing there are no reported cases of the virus, as they try to understand why their teams can’t play.

    All I can say is this decision to close schools is much like when there’s a forecast of snow. Sometimes, the forecast is wrong, but officials have to make a decision based on what’s best for everyone’s safety. That is what is happening here, only the stakes are far higher than having a car skid into a ditch and get stuck.

     I am confident we will get through this, as long as we all take common sense precautions and do everything we can to prevent the disease from spreading. At the same time, let’s not spread rumors. Listen to the professionals and stay safe.

    Photo credit: N.C. State

  • 15 01 Candace WilliamsonThe health of members in our community is important. Due to the spread of the coronavirus, as a precaution, several events have been cancelled throughout the community. Please call to confirm events.

    It’s been four years since Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner created the Hope Mills Mayor’s Youth Coalition. It is composed of students from Gray’s Creek, South View and Jack Britt high schools and seeks to better inform the community’s young people on the business of the town.Since it was started, Warner has been impressed with the talents of the young people who have served on the coalition and how involved they were with their schools.

    Initially, she recruited students who were active in the Student Government Association at each of the three schools. But as time passed, she learned there was a problem with that.

    The SGA students as a group were extremely busy at their respective schools and often involved in multiple projects. So this year, Warner 15 02 jackie warner copyincreased the pool of students involved in the coalition. She sent an email to the principals of each of the three schools. She asked them to nominate two members from their SGA as usual, but also extended an invitation to members of the Key Club and students involved in JROTC.

    “We’ve found that Key Club members volunteer a lot,’’ Warner said. “I’ve also been really impressed with the JROTC programs.’’

    The result this year is the largest group of coalition students the town has ever had, and they are tackling a project called Hope Mills Beautiful as they work together to coordinate a litter sweep of the town on April 18.

    “It’s neat the way all three high schools have worked together,’’ Warner said of the current group. “I think the benefit is building unity among the youth (and) how they relate to each other. Bringing them to the table, it’s interesting to watch them work well together.

    “We hope to get the majority of them involved in our Citizens Academy.’’

    The chairman of this year’s coalition is Candace Williamson from South View. She is a member of the JROTC at her school.

    Vice-chairs are Christopher Vanderpool of the South View Key Club and Melissa Medina of the Jack Britt Key Club. The secretaries are Hunter Stewart of Gray’s Creek SGA and Briana Jackson of the South View SGA.

    In addition to their work on the litter sweep, this year’s coalition has composed a letter endorsing the town’s work on Heritage Park. Down the road, they may be looking at finding ways to improve conditions in Hope Mills for people with disabilities.

    Williamson, who is a senior at South View, initially didn’t want to be involved in JROTC but decided to join in order to carry on a family tradition.

    “I realized we are all a big family and we all have different stories,’’ she said. “We all came together. It taught me leadership skills and stuff I can carry on after high school.’’

    Williamson’s JROTC advisor at South View, Sgt. Maj. Ruby Murray, said Williamson reminds her of a butterfly. “She didn’t let her light shine,’’ Murray said. “She’d sit in class and keep quiet, but she’s always gotten her work done.’’

    As years passed, Murray said Williamson displayed more and more leadership ability, eventually rising to the role of battalion commander at South View.

    “She started showing more leadership ability, taking charge,’’ Murray said. “She became the eyes and ears her second year. When the mayor sent out that email (requesting nominations for the Mayor’s Youth Coalition), I knew I had to put the right person in charge.’’

    Williamson said being a member of the coalition is helping her learn how to better herself and hopefully avoid repeating some of the mistakes her elders have made.

    She said being part of the coalition has helped her understand everyone has their own voice. She feels she and her fellow members of the coalition are trying to use their various voices in harmony so they can come to agreement on decisions. 

    She feels the mission of this year’s coalition, as shown by their involvement in the Hope Mills Beautiful project, is to make the town better.

    She said the students from the three different high schools bring a variety of perspectives to the table. “I think that’s a good idea,’’ Williamson said, “sitting at the table with different leaders.’’

    Pictured from top to bottom: Candace Williamson, Jackie Warner

  • faith 3 2 There are only a handful of contacts on my phone I’ve added photos to. And when Jeff’s picture popped up on a recent Saturday evening, I was excited to get the call.

    We became quick friends after meeting nearly 20 years ago and have shared meals, prayers and conversations through some of the highest and lowest points of life during that time. I have several friends who attend the church Jeff pastors just outside town, about 30-miles from my home on the other side of town, and though he’s a good teacher and leader, the drive has always been enough to keep me in a church a little closer to home.

    I can honestly say I don’t remember why Jeff called that night. Like any good friend, the conversations typically go down several roads, and we’re more likely to stop when one of us reaches home, work or the checkout line than arrive at the end of the conversation. One thing we share is a particular affection for contemporary Christian music. Not just what’s out today; we often cite bands, songs and artists who found a place in the collective heart of Christian culture across several decades.

    On this recent Saturday night, when Jeff called, I had just finished listening to a YouTube recording of an album that took me back to a time shortly after I began my journey with Christ. It was a live album from the group Mylon LeFevre & Broken Heart – a ‘too-many-guitars-to-count’ Christian rock band from the 1980s. At the time, the music drew me in; as a new Christian, rock music spoke to me from a place I understood. But there was something else about the live recording. Somewhere near the end of the concert, the band fell into this simple groove, and Mylon began to speak. In his slow, southern drawl, he talked about the importance of opening and reading the Bible. He continued talking about his relationship with God – a God with whom he had frequent conversations. I may not have realized it at the time, but this would become instrumental in my walk of faith. I had listened to that album – and Mylon’s message – so many times back then that the thought of knowing and becoming so familiar with God by reading His word, praying and listening became a foundation in my life.

    As I unfolded that memory for Pastor Jeff in our phone call, I said, “…that’s why it’s so important to tell our story. There’s always someone listening that understands the language.” Not missing a beat, Jeff told me he was getting the men in his church to be more engaged with one another and invited me to speak at an upcoming breakfast.

    When the morning came, I left early enough that the sun was in my eyes nearly the whole way. I grew agitated as I squinted to see traffic lights and lane markings, but then, as I turned north and the sun was off to the side, there was a line from a song stuck in my head from church a few days earlier: “Your mercies are new … as surely as the morning comes.” My agitation quickly faded into thankfulness in that moment. God’s goodness and faithfulness have carried me through good and bad times, and it’s still that familiarity I learned when Mylon shared his story in a language I understood, which led me to and keeps me in a place of trusting God through all of it. The transformation continues daily. This is the story I’ll tell.

  • 18 Shot ClockThe calendar has turned to March, which in the world of high school sports can only mean one thing — basketball. It is time for state tournaments, March Madness and, yes, the annual rhetoric about the merits of the shot clock. 

    For the almost one million boys and girls who participate in high school basketball, there is nothing quite like the state tournament. Although there are great memories from the one-class days, led by Carr Creek’s almost upset of powerhouse Ashland in Kentucky in 1928 and Milan’s Cinderella victory in Indiana in 1954, today, basketball provides more opportunities for girls and boys teams to be crowned state champion than any other sport.

    This month, about 450 girls and boys teams will earn state basketball titles in championships conducted by NFHS member state associations. Multiple team champions are crowned for both boys and girls in all states but two, with the majority of states sponsoring tournaments in 4-6 classifications for each and four states conducting state championships in seven classes.

    That is truly March Madness, which is appropriate since the term was first used in connection with high school basketball. Although the tag line became familiar to millions on a national scale in relation to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship, the NCAA shares a dual-use trademark with the Illinois High School Association (IHSA), thanks to H. V. Porter, the first full-time executive director of the NFHS. 

    In his final year as IHSA executive director in 1939, Porter published his “March Madness” essay in reference to the mania surrounding the IHSA’s annual state basketball tournament. Eight years later, in a 1947 Associated Press article, Porter said, “Naturally, we think basketball has done a lot for high school kids, but it’s done something for the older people, too. It has made community life in general a lot more fun each winter.”

    While many things have changed in the past 73 years, the value of high school sports — and especially state basketball tournaments  — remains as strong as ever today. In some states, seemingly the entire community will travel to the site of the state tournament in support of the high school team. 

    As a footnote to the use of March Madness, Scott Johnson, recently retired assistant executive director of the IHSA in his book “Association Work,” discovered through research that the first recorded mention of March Madness in relation to basketball occurred in 1931 by Bob Stranahan, sports editor of the New Castle Courier-Times in Indiana. 

    While the sport remains strong and March Madness is set to begin in earnest across the nation, there is a belief by some that the addition of a shot clock would make the game even better.

    Although there are some arguments for implementing the shot clock, the NFHS Basketball Rules Committee, similar to the other 14 NFHS rules committees, must make decisions based on what is best for the masses — the small schools with less than 100 students as well as large urban schools with 3,000-plus students. Rule changes will always be made with considerations for minimizing risks, containing costs and developing rules that are best for high school athletes. 

    Nine of our member state associations have elected to use a shot clock in their states, which certainly adds to the clamor for its implementation nationally. And, we at the NFHS have read the headlines, seen the social media posts and received the phone calls advocating for the shot clock’s adoption. However, the Basketball Rules Committee will continue to assess the shot clock based on the aforementioned considerations, as well its members representing all areas of the country.

    We encourage everyone to support their local high school teams by attending this year’s exciting state basketball tournaments.

    Photo credit: NFHS.

  • 14 Theodore SchwammGray’s Creek High School senior Theodore Schwamm recently joined an elite group of high school students in the United States. He’s one of  15,000 national finalists for the elite National Merit scholarship.

    Shana Matthews, who counsels the academically and intellectually gifted students at the schools, said Schwamm is the first National Merit finalist from Gray’s Creek in her four years at the school.

    “The scholarship is a nice incentive, a nice bonus, for someone like Theodore who has put in a lot of effort and devoted a lot of time,’’ Matthews said.

    A Fayetteville native, Schwamm said his primary interests are vocal music and theater. He plays the piano and is also a handbell player in his church choir.

    Even if he’s not ultimately named a winner in the National Merit competition, just being a finalist makes him a potential candidate for other college scholarship offers.

    Schwamm said a number of colleges have already offered him full scholarships, but he’s currently not considering those because they are from schools he doesn’t consider a good fit for his interests.

    He’s officially applied to four colleges. They include his top two picks, Williams in Massachusetts and Kenyon in Ohio. Others he has applied to are Roanoke in Virginia and the University of Chicago.

    Of the four, he’s already been accepted at Roanoke and is expecting word back soon from the other three.

    Schwamm said the main draw for him at all four schools was their liberal arts atmosphere and the flexibility and interdisciplinary approach they take to education.

    As far as what he plans to study is concerned, Schwamm isn’t sure if he’ll continue with music and theater or turn his attention to physics and mathematics. “I may combine them in some way,’’ he said.

    He’s interested in the connection between the arts and sciences and why they have so much in common. “Einstein would often say he’d play the violin while working through physics problems,’’ Schwamm said. “A lot of scientists say if they were not professional scientists, they would be artists.’’

    Schwamm is currently involved with the Gray’s Creek High School production of the Broadway musical "Newsies." Performances are scheduled March 20-21 at 7 p.m., with a matinee on March 22 at 4 p.m. Admission is $10.

    In recent years, Schwamm has changed his philosophy about his education and realizes balance is an important part of the process.

    “Certainly I could spend time endlessly looking at calculus problems,’’ he said. “There comes a time you need to recognize moving away from it and doing something else will ultimately be more valuable.’’

    Toward that end, he plans to spend his final summer before college at home with family.

    “I plan to sleep without an alarm many days and do a lot of reading,’’ he said.

  • IMG 1995 Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 670 have scheduled a new event. Their Spring Fling with The Embers featuring Craig Woolard will be held on March 20, from 4 to 7 p.m. at VFW Post 670.
    The Embers were formed in 1958 by Bobby Tomlinson and Jackie Gore.

    "[The Embers] were one of the first integrated bands that had a Black saxophone player," said Craig Woolard, lead singer and featured artist of The Embers. "They recorded their first album live from the North Carolina State University student union."

    Being in the group was an excellent experience for Woolard.

    "The band opened a nightclub in Raleigh, opened a nightclub in Atlantic Beach, drove nice Cadillacs and it was big time for me," Woolard said.
    Woolard dreamed of performing early on in life.

    "I am from... Washington, North Carolina, and we would go to Atlantic Beach, and that is when I first heard about The Embers," said Woolard. "I was a musician, and I would look at the stage and wish that one day I could be on the stage performing too."

    The Embers laid the foundation for Beach Music in the Carolinas, Virginia, the Gulf Coast region and the beaches. The current band members are Gerald Davis, bass player; Jody Bundy, keyboards; Wayne Free, drummer; Jeff Grimes, guitar; Bob Nantz, trombone; Stephen Pachuta, trumpet; and Craig Woolard, lead vocals. They are supported by sound, lights and setup crew members Julio Eubanks and Bob Blair.
    Woolard feels his bandmates are very talented and enjoys performing with them.

    "Gerald [on bass] and I joined The Embers the same day in November of 1976," said Woolard. "He is easily one of those influential musicians in my life."
    The Embers have recorded numerous albums and single releases that span decades. Some of their greatest hits include "Far Away Places," "I Love Beach Music," "Solitaire," "What You Do To Me" and "Cool Me Out," to name a few.

    Woolard has also had independent success as well.

    "I have had several hits that include 'Love Don't Come No Stronger Than Yours and Mine' and 'I've Got A Feeling We'll Be Seeing Each Other Again,'" said Woolard.

    The Embers' awards and accomplishments include induction into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame, the South Carolina Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame, the South Carolina Beach Music Hall of Fame, the honor of carrying the moniker of North Carolina's Official Ambassadors of Music, military coins of excellence for their distinguished service, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Award and the Group of the Year Award.

    "I have won Male Vocalist of the Year at the Carolina Beach Music Awards and Entertainer of the Year many times, so much so that I retired myself from it," said Woolard. "When you win the first few times, everybody applauds, but when you win 15 times, you might get some boos, so I figured I needed to quit while I was ahead."

    Some of the band's most significant accomplishments include playing at former President Bill Clinton's Inaugural Party, playing for an ambassador at his home in Ottawa, Canada, and being sponsored by Anheuser-Busch.

    "It was a big deal to get sponsored by the national company, Anheuser-Busch, in the 80s, and they picked up our song "I Love Beach Music" and turned it into "I Love Budweiser," so people all over the country were getting to hear that," said Woolard. "They would fly us to different places to play at their conventions in New York City, Chicago, Palm Springs and Hawaii."

    Touring is one of the band's favorite things to do, and they have traveled the world extensively, averaging 250 shows a year.

    "When COVID-19 hit, everything was shut down," said Woolard. "Everybody sat around and adjusted as best as we could. I was fortunate because, in January 2020, the owner of a radio station asked me if I would be interested in doing radio, so I gave it a try and every Sunday night from 6 to 11 p.m. was the Craig Woolard Show."

    The radio position helped Woolard through the pandemic.

    "I got the radio job because the Lord knew what was going to happen, so he looked out for me and carried me through," said Woolard.

    The Embers hold an annual cruise during the Christmas holidays, and about 300 of their fans show up to the party.

    "It is called the 'Making Waves Cruise,' and it is something that I started during my time away from The Embers," said Woolard. "I had my own band, The Craig Woolard Band, and I started the Making Waves Cruise, and when those guys who were in charge called me back, it became the 'Making Waves Cruise' with The Embers."

    He added, "We have been doing this cruise for at least 15 years until the pandemic hit."

    "Right now we are working on a destination instead of a cruise because of the pandemic and you just don't know what is going to happen," said Woolard.

    Future projects for the group involve recording an album.

    "Every Christmas, we release a Christmas album to go along with the Christmas show because we do the show the whole month of December all the way up to Christmas Eve," said Woolard.

    "I am happy to be able to do what I am doing, and I don't have a problem keeping my spirits up," said Woolard. "If I have got to sing the same songs every night, then I have to find a way to make that interesting, and the way that I do it is to listen and see how well I can sing that song a little better than I did the last time."

    The Embers are looking forward to playing good music at the Spring Fling.

    "The audience can expect the most entertaining and professional performance that we can possibly muster," said Woolard. "You cannot rest on your laurels, and you have to make people a believer every time that you play."

    The Spring Fling will feature food trucks, vendors, music and more in addition to The Embers.

    The Spring Fling is free from noon to 4 p.m. and the concert is open to the public.

    After 4 p.m., tickets cost is $10 to $15 and can be purchased at the door and online at https://theticketing.co/events/theembersatvfwpost670.
    Sponsors, food trucks and vendors are still needed.

    Interested trucks and vendors are asked to call/text 910-779-8425 or email agoraproductionsmc@gmail.com.

  • Fitness There are two tests that fitness professionals often use to check the state of exertion in a group class setting or when personal training. The two tests are the Talk Test and the Borg Rating RPE (Rate of Perceived Exertion). Both tests are easy to learn and helpful when determining your level of exercise intensity.

    Have you ever heard a fitness instructor or personal trainer ask how you are doing? If you have heard that question, the trainer or instructor is looking for an audible response showing your exercise level. The basis of this measure is that the harder you work, the more breathless you become. The technical term is Ventilatory Threshold or (VT1). If you are exercising at a light-to-moderate intensity and can talk comfortably, you are below VT1 intensity. As you increase exercise, your breathing frequency rises, your blood lactate accumulates faster and talking becomes increasingly limited. Test results range from VT1, moderate intensity, to VT2, the highest exercise intensity.

    The average person exercising is not looking for VT2 sustainability and can recognize when they have reached their maximum output and decrease their intensity. Being aware of how you are breathing is a good sign. An example would be walking or jogging while talking with a friend. Your conversation flows at a comfortable pace. Your terrain begins to change slightly, and now you are approaching a small hill or incline. Talking becomes a little more challenging, but you are not taxed to complete sentences. The slope you are on has become a tough hill or picked up your pace. Your small talk at this point becomes more difficult, and your conversation is becoming limited to a few, one or no words.

    If you are working out by yourself and you know you can sing along with the song you are listening to, you are at a moderate or lower pace. That song gets harder to sing as you progress, and your level intensifies. You are at your max when you can only listen and cannot sing along.

    It does not take the direction of an exercise professional to know when you are reaching your maximum. Another scale for monitoring a level of exercise intensity is the Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE). The scale level rates from 0 to 10, with 0 at nothing and 10 at intense exertion. A person exercising at a level 3 or 4 would be considered a moderate-intensity rate. A seven on the scale would be just above your VT1 and considered strong. It is a subjective way to quantify your overall feelings and sensations while exercising. As you exercise, you may begin to sweat or feel a difference in your breathing, and as intensity increases, you may start to experience fatigue.

    A doctor may recommend that you use the RPE versus your heart rate because certain medications can cause functional and structural changes in the cardiorespiratory system and could affect a person’s maximum heart rate. Being aware of how your body reacts to exercise is essential to know what feels good and what does not and can help avoid injuries. As you become familiar with both scales, it will help you assess your intensity levels. Knowing when to increase and decrease your level of intensity will be a valuable tool in improving your overall fitness. Live, love life with health and movement.

  • 17 01 MarshaunDemarshaun Worley

    Gray’s Creek • Basketball/track • Senior

    Worley has a 4.25 grade point average. He’s an analyst for the Bears Sports Network. He is active in the New Light Church youth group. He has been a competitor and winner in his church’s oratorical contest. He is also a crew member at a local fast food restaurant.

    17 02 ChassieChassie Jacops

    Gray’s Creek • Volleyball/swimming • Junior

    Jacops has a 3.91 grade point average. She is a member of the Student Government Association, National Honor Society, Future Business Leaders of America and works at a local sandwich shop.

  • 13 McCrayDr. Kenjuana McCray made history when she became the first African-American woman elected to the Hope Mills Board of Commissioners last November.

    But it was a page from national history that helped inspire her to run for office, and make a promise to herself to keep that history alive in her own memories.

    Recently McCray made her second consecutive trip to Selma, Alabama, to revisit some of the most prominent sites connected with the American Civil Rights movement and the passage of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act. The act, which was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson, prohibited racial discrimination in voting.

    The event McCray participated in is called the Bridge Crossing Jubilee. It marked the 55th anniversary of Civil Rights marchers crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge during a march in support of voting rights in 1965. During that crossing, now referred to as “Bloody Sunday," many of the marchers were brutally beaten by law enforcement officers.
    McCray not only visited the bridge, but also museums and other historic sites in the Selma, Tuskegee and Montgomery, Alabama, areas during her visit.

    She was most moved by the personal accounts of people who were invited back to speak who took part in the marches 55 years ago. “They bring in people that were foot soldiers in the movement,’’ McCray said. “You get to hear one-on-one stories about actual events that happened, things you don’t read in the history books.’’

    She also attended a special event at Tabernacle Baptist Church in Selma, the site of a famous meeting held by the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to conduct a planning session for the 1965 march.

    McCray said that after she attended the conference for the first time in 2019, she made up her mind to again run for public office in Hope Mills. “It was one of the things that helped me make my decision I was going to run again,’’ she said. She noted that people of different races were involved in that march 55 years ago, and that people of different races lost their lives in the struggle for civil rights in this country.

    “I have to continue to advocate for people to exercise their right to vote and how powerful that vote is,’’ McCray said. “It’s something I will continue to advocate while I’m in office and when I’m not in office. This trip helps remind me and puts everything into perspective.’’

    One important lesson she has learned from her visits to the Selma area is the power of people working together for a common cause. She noted names like King and Congressman John Lewis, along with many others who were at the forefront of the Civil Rights movement.

    “It was a collective group of people who helped do this,’’ she said. “It’s that whole idea of the power of what you can do if you work together and do things together.
    “There were a lot of people who worked together to make this thing happen.’’

  •     Click the Image for UCW's Online Edition!

         Fayetteville is looking for a few good men — and women — who are truly interested in making a difference in the community. And on Saturday, March 28, county leaders are hoping those folks will join them at the Crown Coliseum to participate in Greater Fayetteville Futures II, a community action plan.
         Greater Fayetteville Futures II is an offshoot of a 2001 project that bore the same name. Greater Fayetteville Futures was, according to Fayetteville Mayor Tony Chavonne, the “first honest assessment of our community.”
         “That’s when we acknowledged that we didn’t have the economy to create the jobs we needed to build our economy,” he said. “It was recognition that we were not where we needed to be.”
    {mosimage} At that time, the group tackled three major goals: image, a unified vision for economic opportunities, and leveraging the military’s presence in the community for greater economic opportunities. From that project came a unified economic development presence in the form of the Chamber, the development of the History, Heroes and a Hometown feeling slogan and a closer examination of economic opportunities tied to the military that are not service-related.
    Key to the success of the first Fayetteville Futures was the involvement in the process by a wide segment of the community. It is, in fact, an action plan for the future. When the group convenes this month, it will focus on 10 objectives that will help the community reach its 2020 Vision: Greater Fayetteville will be recognized as a top 10 place to live in the Southeastern United States for all with safe neighborhoods, cultural opportunities, a model education system, well-connected and a strong, vibrant local economy.
         The 10 objectives are:
         VO 1: Create a model education system that supports and networks workforce readiness and sustainable innovations.
         VO 2: Effectively implement the community’s economic development strategy.
         VO 3: Ensure safety and security for all.
         VO 4: Expand and develop services that lead to a better living environment.
         VO 5: Leverage the region’s defense technology assets.
         VO 6: Increase/improve traditional and non-traditional connectivity infrastructure (transportation and information technology.)
         VO 7: Improve and sustain health services and wellness
         VO 8: Grow and sustain a “green” community.
         VO 9: Communicate our community story.
         VO 10: Sustain and grow cultural and recreational opportunities.
         Over the past several years, several studies have been conducted throughout the community to help guide the direction and firm up the 2020 vision. Chavonne said the community has the information it needs to meet the vision, now it’s time for people to “roll up their sleeves” and do the work to get the community where it needs to go.
         To do that, community leaders pulled up the original Fayetteville Futures model and put it back on the table. According to Chavonne the reason the first project was so successful was that it was “inclusive.”
         “It’s an action place, not a white-paper exercise,” he noted. “We already have the benefit of the reports. We know what we need to do, and now we need to energize the community on these action items.
         Kirk deViere is helping facilitate the process. He explained that during the meeting at the Crown, citizens will get an overview of the objectives and the mission, and then they will have the opportunity to break down into smaller groups and explore objectives in a more depth. “Citizens will get a chance to plug into two objectives,” said deViere. “They will then discuss a series of initiatives and create project teams with definite, measurable goals. Each initiative has a one-year time for completion.”
         That’s when the ball is squarely in the hands of the community. Once the project teams are created, they become responsible for setting their meetings, creating their plans and working to meet their targets.
         “This is a completely action focused, action-based project,” said deViere. “The community has the direction, the resources have been spent and a blue print is in place. It now becomes a community playbook.”
         He noted that there is a wide spectrum of the community involved from large stakeholders in the education, healthcare, governmental and other agencies, to individual citizens. “People who make up the community are represented at the table to put the final shape on what we are going to do,” he said.
         Chavonne said that cross-segment of the community will help to look at the bigger picture and seeing how issues are not one dimensional. “Crime rates aren’t just an issue with the city,” said Chavonne. “They impact across the community in a number of ways. If we all work in a collaborative way we can find an answer.”
         He was adamant in that this is not a “study to study” our community. “Through this process we will have specific steps to move our community forward,” he said.
         deViere said at the end of the year, a community scorecard will be issued letting the citizens see what has been accomplished. “This is a very open process. We will use a variety of means to keep the community informed so that they can gauge how we are doing,” he said.
         But, both men pointed out that it begins with the community. The meeting is open to the public and the process is community driven. “We need people to be energized about the process, roll up their sleeves and make a difference in our community,” said Chavonne. “We want to find people who will engage and move forward.”
         The event begins sat 9:30 a.m. at the Crown and runs through noon. For more information, visit the organization Web site at www.GreaterFayettevilleFutures.org .

  •  

    The Greatest Show On Earth

     

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    by STORMIE MCGEE

     

    Step right up! Its almost time… the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey will present their big top family production  that has been touring the nation for more than 100 years. And on Thursday, Feb. 28, the Crown Coliseum will come alive when the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus, “the Greatest Show on Earth,” comes to Fayetteville.Starting out as a small circus, in no way distinct from a throng of small shows that traveled regionally by wagon, the seven Ringling brothers quickly transformed their traveling act into one of the largest and best-run circuses in the country. With John and Charles at the helm, they gave their tour the official title: “Ringling Brothers United Monster Shows,Great Double Circus, Royal European Menagerie, Museum, Caravan, and Congress of Trained Animals.” The Ringling Brothers distinguished their circus from the others by being honest and fair in their attitude toward the public; never allowing ticket sellers to short change customers or gambling on their lots. Their success resulted from a reputation of clean dealing and good value. It wasn’t long before they were able to begin touring the country by railroad.In 1907 the brothers purchased the Barnum & Bailey circus and ran the two circuses separately until they merged them into one unit in 1919 when they also moved the winter quarters to Bridgeport, Conn. Today the circus travels around the world bringing joy to the faces of children of all ages. When the circus makes its stop in Fayetteville, it will bring its Gold Show to the stage. This intimate, interactive event brings you so up-close and personal to the live action that you’ll experience a day at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey you never imagined possible! Audiences are just a few feet away from six white Bengal tigers. The aerialists walk, fl y and jump through the air on a high wire, while the Wheel of Steel act leaves you questioning the forces of gravity. The circus also offers an all access pre-show to meet the animals and performers, teach circus tricks and give audience members a taste of the circus before the show even starts! Join the circus for a special opening night performance on Thursday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. Tickets for the pre-show are $12.50. This price is not valid on VIP fl oor seats and cannot be combined with any other offer. Tickets to the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus are on sale now and can be purchased at www. ticketmaster.com. The Crown Center box offi ce also offers tickets by phone at 223-2900. For fl oor seats, tickets are $33.50, lower bowl tickets are $19.50 and upper bowl seats are $15.50. On opening night, Feb. 28 all tickets (except VIP fl oor seats) to the 7 p.m. performance are $12.50 at the door. There will be a 7 p.m. show on Friday, Feb. 29; a 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. show on Saturday, Mar. 1; and a 2 p.m. show on Sunday as well.

  • Something ominous and ugly is active in our nation once again, and it is vicious.

    It is not new. In fact, it was birthed before we were a nation and stems from our nation’s original sin, slavery. It is something we have been loath to talk about publicly for nearly half a century. However, events and personalities in recent years have loosened tongues, and now some among us are once again showcasing America’s hideous underbelly. They are demonstrating — and in some instances with great pride — American racism.

    Some people — we know not who—have kicked off 2022 by making bomb threats to historically black colleges and universities in at least 11 states and Washington, DC. Just last month, both Fayetteville State and Winston-Salem State Universities received bomb threats on the same day. No explosive devices were found on either campus, though FSU did suspend operations while officers from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies investigated. It is important to remember that these colleges and universities operate to educate students with the same purpose as all other institutions of higher learning.

    Bomb threats against HBCUs are hardly the only racist behaviors currently directed at minorities in the United States. Hate crimes against Black people have increased by 40% since 2019, according to FBI data and by a horrifying 70% against people of Asian heritage over the same period. Anti-Semitic hate crimes have also risen, though not as dramatically; such offenses account for nearly 60% of religiously motivated hate crimes. If this is not shocking enough, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland says that many hate crimes are never reported at all, so hate crimes are under-counted.

    Historians have yet to define this hateful period in our history. Still, chances are they will eventually write about segments of the American population that fear change from life as they have known it.
    After the American Civil War, elements against change expressed themselves through the Ku Klux Klan and other fear-mongering organizations, through Jim Crow laws intended to disenfranchise African Americans, and, more recently, through private schools known as segregation academies and the John Birch Society and other such organizations. Such groups promote a highly sanitized version of American history in which our darker behaviors and beliefs were and are rarely mentioned. If some aspect of our past or current reality does not jive with their worldview, it did not exist.
    We live in a pluralistic society with a highly mobile population, which is not going to change. Like all history, it will continue to evolve, whether some of us like it or not. The America that some people idealize never really existed, so there is nothing to which to return. We can only move forward.

    When FSU shut down for the bomb scare, leaving its men’s and women’s basketball teams adrift with nowhere to play their visiting Claflin University opponents that evening on Senior Night, FSU Chancellor Darrell Allison reached out to Methodist University. Within hours, the Broncos and their visitors and fans of both teams were in the MU arena playing ball and cheering on the teams. Said Allison to those in the arena, “If the motive [of the bomb threat] was to send a message of hate based on race, those responsible lost, they lost in a big way. What evil and hatred would like to do to cause division only made us stronger in greater unity.”

  • 16 01 Jackson deaverTerry Sanford’s baseball team has won three consecutive conference titles and hasn’t lost a conference game for the last two seasons.

    But veteran head coach Sam Guy is looking at a much different landscape as he prepares his team for the 2020 season.

    Gone are most of the pitching stars from his 2019 team, including pitcher D.J. Herz, who was chosen by the Chicago Cubs in the Major League Baseball draft and is now pitching in the minor leagues.

    16 02 Sam GuyA core group of four seniors including Jackson Deaver, Dorian Clark, Tommy Cooney and Jack Cooney will form the nucleus of this year’s Bulldog team. After that, Guy said Terry Sanford will be counting on some inexperienced faces.

    “We will have a carousel of lineups depending on who is pitching,’’ Guy said. “We’re going to be really young on the mound.’’

    He said it’s likely instead of having a starter go five or six innings and a reliever taking the mound to wrap things up, many games will see the Bulldogs use as many as three pitchers.

    “There’s going to be a lot more trying to manufacture runs, trying to find the best nine that play the best together to carry us through,’’ he said.

    Guy’s biggest concern during the preseason has been the way the team is hitting the ball. “We’ve been missing too many fastballs and we can’t do that,’’ he said.
    That is why he’s counting heavily on Deaver to help lead an inexperienced lineup of hitters. Last season, Deaver was one of five .400 hitters for Terry Sanford, ending the season with a .418 batting average. He was second among players from Cumberland County Schools in RBI’s with 27. He had eight doubles and a triple.

    “He was a big run producer last year,’’ Guy said. Guy will use Deaver at three positions in the field, catcher, first base or third base, depending on who is pitching for Terry Sanford.

    Deaver, who was the defensive Player of the Year on last fall’s Patriot Athletic Conference All-Conference football team, said the weight training he does for football carries over to help him in baseball.

    “I definitely thinks that helps with my swing and my explosiveness,’’ he said. He also said the quickness football helps him develop are assets on defense, especially when he’s playing catcher or third base.

    While the Bulldog pitching staff will be young, Deaver thinks there is a lot of potential there.

    Cruise Herz is the younger brother of the departed D.J. Herz. Joining him will be Brady Gore, Cason Puczylowski and Tommy Cooney.

    “They are not going to throw 94 or 95 miles per hour like D.J.,  but they are going to get you the ground ball outs, the pop fly outs,’’ Deaver said. “They are more than capable of getting the strikeouts that we need.’’

    Deaver said the goals for both himself and the team are the same: win the regular season, the Bulldog Easter tournament and the state title.
    Terry Sanford’s annual Easter baseball tournament will be held April 11, 13-14.

    Competing teams in this year’s tournament in addition to the Bulldogs are Triton, Hobbton, Pittsboro Northwood, Apex Middle Creek, Western Harnett, East Bladen and Richmond Senior.

  • 12 Hope Mills Police DepartmentMoving consistently ranks as one of the most traumatizing experiences people have to negotiate. But if relocating to a new residence is a giant headache, imagine the challenges of going from one location to another while temporarily keeping both open for business.

    That is the chore Hope Mills police chief Joel Acciardo and his staff will be tackling in the weeks ahead as they vacate their home of some 30 years on Rockfish Road and relocate to temporary headquarters on South Main Street.

    This is part of the process to build the new public safety building on the current Rockfish Road property, which will eventually house both the police and fire departments when it’s done.

    The new building was going to be placed in front of the existing police and fire departments during the early planning  stages, but when Rockfish Road was expanded, that idea was ruled out as it had to be moved further back from the widened road.

    The fire department will lose some of its parking area but will still be able to function at its current location. The police department is headed for the former Ace Hardware building, where it expects to be located for as long as 24 months while the new building is under construction.

    Acciardo said the challenge for him and his staff is to complete the move in an orderly manner while still providing services to the town of Hope Mills without any gaps.
    Work on the interior of the temporary police headquarters is progressing, and the goal is for the entire department to be fully relocated by the end of March.

    “It’s going to be a phased move,’’ Acciardo said. “The first thing we are going to be shutting down is the front of the police department, where reception and records and all that stuff is.

    “That way, we can officially close this building and still have a location where the public can come, get reports and meet with officers.’’

    After that move is done, the most complicated part of the move will take place, transporting evidence to the new location. “You have to maintain complete control and a chain of custody,’’ Acciardo said.

    Because of security concerns, there will be no publicity as to when the actual evidence is being moved. Armed officers will accompany the evidence when it is moved. “It’s a little bit more complicated than having a moving company come in and load up some desks and filing cabinets,’’ Acciardo said. “It has to stay with the officers.’’

    Once the evidence is moved, the next stage will be to move the investigative division, followed by the administrative offices.

    Acciardo stressed the public will see no disruption in field services since those officers were hired to work outside the building in police cars.

    A moving company has been contracted to help with large items like desks and file cabinets, but all of the smaller things will be taken care of by Acciardo and his staff.
    The plan is to shut down the police headquarters as usual one Friday afternoon and conduct the initial move of the front office area over the course of the weekend, opening the portion of the temporary building where staff interacts with the public the following Monday.

    It’s during the process when the department is between buildings that problems are most likely to arise. Acciardo said it won’t be much different from moving to a new house and realizing when you arrive that something you need is still in a box at your former residence. “As with any move, there will be tweaking during the process to make it work right,’’ he said. Acciardo said measures are in place to address glitches.

    Just prior to the start of the move, Acciardo said a ceremony will be held to officially close the current police headquarters. “This facility served the public in Hope Mills for 30 years,’’ he said. “I think everyone got their money’s worth out of it.’’

    The current building is actually sitting in what will become the construction zone for the new building, so it will have to be demolished.

    “It’s a complicated move but it’s one we will get done,’’ Acciardo said. “The goal is not to disrupt any service the citizens are currently enjoying. That’s what we are all striving for.’’
     
  • The last time Cape Fear didn’t win its conference regular-season title in softball was 2013.

    But since joining the 3-A Patriot Athletic Conference in 2018, the Colts have had a new rival nipping at their heels, Gray’s Creek.

    In that first season together, the only losses Gray’s Creek suffered in conference play were to the Colts. Last season, the teams split their regular-season meetings and shared the regular-season conference championship.

    But with Cape Fear losing 16 seniors over the past two years and Gray’s Creek returning some key veteran players, the Bears appear ready to contest the Colts’ string of league titles this spring.Here’s a closer look at both teams:

    Cape Fear

    Colt coach Jeff McPhail said his team is in a rebuilding mode after so many graduation losses over the last two seasons. “It’s going to be a learning experience for us this year,’’ he said. “The graduating thing caught up with us. We’re all eager to see what we can do this year with these young kids.’’

    Toni Blackwell is the most experienced Cape Fear pitcher returning. She was 3-0 last season with a 2.33 earned run average, striking out 38 batters in 21 innings.
    McPhail expects the leader of the pitching staff to be freshman Alexza Glemaker. “She’s been doing a good job throughout the fall and winter,’’ McPhail said of Glemaker, who transferred to Cape Fear from the South View district.

    The infield will also be dominated by youth, with freshmen scheduled to start at nearly every position.

    One of the most experienced players on the team is outfielder Morgan Nunnery, who has been with the Colts four years. She was around as a freshman the last time Cape Fear made the finals of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association softball playoffs.

    “She keeps everything together,’’ McPhail said of Nunnery. “She’s done a really good job in the classroom and the softball program.’’

    Nunnery, a slap hitter, batted a whopping .671 last season for Cape Fear. She led Cumberland County Schools with 55 hits, including nine doubles and one home run. She scored a county-best 49 runs and drove in 31.

    Nunnery said the rich tradition of softball at Cape Fear helps push each year’s players to do their best. “We’ve always been pretty big competitors in our conference,’’ she said. “We are here to represent. You have to play to the standard of Cape Fear softball.

    “It means a lot to wear the jersey, having the community behind you.’’

    With all the youth on this year’s team, Nunnery said it will be important to develop chemistry early and get to know each other.

    McPhail agrees. “For us to be competitive, we’ve got to know each other,’’ he said.

    Gray’s Creek

    With a veteran lineup returning, Bears’ head coach Stuart Gilmer hopes his team will be able to compete head-to-head with Cape Fear again this season.
    Heading the returners for the Bears is one of the best players in the county, Patriot Athletic Conference Player of the Year Jaden Pone.

    Pone led all hitters from Cumberland County Schools last season with a .700 batting average. She had seven doubles, six triples and six home runs while driving in a county-best 45 runs.

    Also back are Kylie Aldridge who hit .583, Morgan Brady who hit .489, Courtney Cygan who hit .446 and Becca Collins who batted .385. Collins, who plays first base, is the younger sister of former South View star Whitney Sirois Maxwell.

    Returning to lead the pitching corps is Madi Bagley, who was 6-2 last season with a 1.03 earned run average. She threw 54 innings and recorded 57 strikeouts.

    “Madi has a good fastball and likes to mix in some movement and a changeup now and then,’’ Gilmer said. “She does a good job of hitting
    her spots.’’

    Gilmer thinks offense is going to be critical for Gray’s Creek to win this season. “Hopefully, our bats can get us in positions early in games where we can get up and help us relax on defense,’’ he said. “We’ve got to be defensively sound. I tell them at practice every day, little things make big things happen. If we take care of little things defensively, big things could happen for us.’’

    While the Bears have experience on the field, there are only three seniors on the roster. One of them is Collins at first base.

    She thinks the team comes into the 2020 season with a positive attitude and a strong bond as teammates.

    Her top goal personally is to improve her reaction to different game situations. “They don’t always go as planned,’’ she said. “How we react to them sets the tone for the next play.’’

    While Cape Fear may be the team to beat for conference honors, Collins plans to respect every opponent on the schedule. “We need to think everyone is going to give us a run for our money,’’ she said.

    Gilmer is expecting plenty of competition from the traditional powers in the conference. “Cape Fear, South View, Pine Forest and Overhills should all give us a run for our money,’’ he said.
  • 14 01 teen cert gradsIt’s taken Melode Dickerson nearly 14 months to get a Teen Community Emergency Response Team going in Cumberland County, but once things fell into place, the idea took off like a ballistic missile.

    Dickerson, who has been active for years in the Cumberland Emergency Response Teamm program locally in Hope Mills, first trotted out the idea of involving teenagers in their own CERT program around December of 2018. For whatever reason, response was slow to the idea and Dickerson was never able to get it launched successfully.
    Undaunted, she continued to promote the overall mission of CERT, which is devoted to training citizen volunteers in disaster preparedness and helping people in crisis situations. She continued her dream of introducing teenagers to the program. “We go everywhere,’’ she said of her mission to educate Cumberland County on what CERT is all about.

    14 02 Fire StationThe Teen CERT idea got a huge boost when Dickerson was contacted by Moisbiell Alvarez, deputy chief of community preparedness for the Fayetteville Fire Department. Like Dickerson, Alvarez was interested in getting a Teen CERT program  organized.

    “We had done a lot of stuff with them and they wanted to be involved,’’ Dickerson said of the Fayetteville Fire Department.

    Dickerson was glad to welcome the assistance. “Cumberland County Emergency Management is still our sponsor,’’ Dickerson said, “but we are supported by the Fayetteville Fire Department.’’

    This past weekend, the first class of teen volunteers for the CERT program underwent training during a weekendlong series of classes held at Fayetteville Fire Station 12 at 307 Hope Mills Road.

    Only 24 people can attend a class because of space limitations at the station. Originally, Dickerson had a full complement of 24 students, but only 21 were able to attend the initial weekend of classes. The class sessions were from 6-10 p.m. on Friday and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

    Dickerson said the basic message of the classes is how to be prepared and how to help lend assistance to victims in a variety of disaster situations.

    “They learn basic medical and how to put out a small fire,’’ Dickerson said. They got hands-on training in the firefighting role by putting out small controlled fires set in the fire station parking lot.

    The training goes far behind first aid and firefighting, Dickerson said. There are sections on dealing with basic terrorism. A new session includes how to react to reports of an active shooter. There is also basic search and rescue training.

    In addition to getting valuable training that they can use as a life skill, Dickerson said taking part in Teen CERT training can help the students earn volunteer hours for any number of projects that may be required by various school-related clubs and other organizations.

    Once they complete the training, students receive a certificate recognizing what they’ve accomplished. The state of North Carolina keeps a record of the number of volunteers trained, Dickerson said.

    Marc Baker Jr., a freshman at Pine Forest High School, was one of the participants in the first Teen CERT graduating class.

    A member of the band at Pine Forest, Baker said he decided to get involved with Teen CERT because he wanted to do something to benefit the community.
    “First aid is something I want to get into,’’ Baker said. “I feel it’s important because we need future doctors, future first responders.

    “I feel like this class could really put us on the course for that.’’

    Currently, Dickerson said she’s recruiting students in grades 9-12 for work with Teen CERT. She already has a class scheduled for a group of Girl Scouts.

    The next open training session for Teen CERT is scheduled for June 12-14. There is already a waiting list for that class. Dickerson suggests any teens that are interested should apply as quickly as possible to capefearcert@gmail.com.

    Students themselves can submit the application but parents are also invited to make applications for their children if they are interested in
    the program.

    The email should include the applicant’s name, address and phone number, so they can be registered.

    For people who can’t commit to coming to training sessions on a Saturday and Sunday, Dickerson said she could work with interested groups of teen volunteers and work out an alternate date for the class if there is a large enough group interested in attending. Contact Dickerson at the same email address if interested.

    Dickerson said she welcomes contact from churches or adults as well as teens to hold special class sessions for CERT or Teen CERT if enough people are interested.
    She also does presentations on the basic mission of CERT, but since the Teen CERT program has taken off her time has been monopolized in coordinating the sessions associated with that program.

    “We do have a presentation we can show that we have put together,’’ she said. “Maybe after this class, things will be a little slower.’’

  • 17 01 Amari TaylorAmari Taylor

    Pine Forest • Indoor track • Junior

    Taylor has a 4.32 grade point average. History is her favorite subject. She loves R&B and jazz, enjoys movies and hanging out with friends. Her dream college is the University of Miami, where she would like to major in premed.

     

    17 02 Marquis eskewMarquis Eskew

    Pine Forest • Basketball • Senior

    Eskew has a grade point average of 3.8. English is his favorite subject. He plans to attend college and major in business entrepreneurship. He has been accepted at East Carolina and North Carolina A&T. He wants to own his own accounting business. He likes listening to rap music and R&B.

  • 13 01 Becca CollinsNo one can accuse the officers of the Gray’s Creek chapter of the National Honor Society of cutting corners when it comes to community service projects. Just ask Becca Collins, a Gray’s Creek senior.

    Each year, when they apply for membership in the National Honor Society, Gray’s Creek students are required by club sponsor and faculty member Melissa Bishop to submit a detailed plan for their senior project.

    Bishop said the plan must include a timeline, a budget and resources among other things. “When they are chosen, they get members of other National Honor Society Members together and pull off the project,’’ Bishop said.

    For her project, Collins is following in the footsteps of her former Gray’s Creek softball teammate and fellow National Honor Society member Drew Menscer.
    Last year, Menscer took on the project of organizing a fund-raising golf tournament for Rick’s Place.

    Rick’s Place is located on 50 acres of land in the western part of Cumberland County. It is named in memory of the late Sgt. Richard J. Herrema, a Fort Bragg soldier who was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Defense Meritorious Service Medal.

    He died in combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2006.

    Bishop said the mission of Rick’s Place is to host family events for soldiers and support them before, during and after deployments.
    “Becca wanted to carry on the golf tournament that Drew did last year,’’ Bishop said.

    Bishop said Gray’s Creek originally chose Rick’s Place as a beneficiary of their charity work after they spent a couple of days on the property. “We love their mission and what they stand for,’’ Bishop said.

    Collins, like Bishop, has a strong feeling for the mission of Rick’s Place. “It’s one of the only military places in Fayetteville that really does a lot of hands-on things with military people,’’ she said. “People can bond with their kids. I really feel the golf tournament can be a big thing to help them.’’

    Last year’s event raised $5,000 for Rick’s Place. Collins hopes to equal or increase the amount raised at this year’s event. It is scheduled for Saturday, March 21, at Cypress Lakes Golf Course.

    For those who don’t play golf, hole sponsorships are available at $100 per hole. If anyone wants to make a donation in support of the tournament, those can be dropped off for either Collins or Bishop at the front office of Gray’s Creek High School during regular business hours. “We need a lot of help from the community,’’ Collins said.

    Bishop said getting people to undertake sponsorship of a golf tournament is a huge undertaking for a high school student, but she’s confident that Collins can make it happen.

    “Becca has a wonderful supporting family,’’ Bishop said. “I know her mom (Dawn Collins) has helped her reach out to businesses and make fliers. Becca has been doing a lot on the creative side.’’

    Bishop said Becca and her family have been part of the Gray’s Creek community for many years. “I know the community is pitching in around them,’’ she said. “A lot of the community is small business owners. They love to donate to charities that benefit our soldiers right here in Fayetteville.’’

    The work of promoting the golf tournament will provide valuable experience to Becca and the members of the committee that will be working with her Bishop said.
    “They are often making cold calls to local businesses,’’ Bishop said of the students. “They have to have their pitch for why this is so important and why it would benefit companies to donate. They are learning a lot of real life business and marketing tactics and just how to talk to people in the community.’’

    Check-in time for the tournament is at 7:30 a.m., and the tournament will begin with a shotgun start at 8:30 a.m.

    There is no limit on how many teams can sign up for the event. The entry fee is $65 per person or $260 for a foursome. The format of the tournament is captain’s choice.

    The entry fee includes lunch and a golf cart.

    Early bird registration is underway by emailing either Collins or Bishop. Their addresses are rebcol3577@student.ccs.k12.nc.us or melissabishop@ccs.k12.nc.us.

  • 16 pine forestPine Forest High School baseball coach Tom Willoughby was looking for something different to jumpstart fundraising efforts for this year’s Trojan baseball team.He found it in a scene from a hit baseball film that is 31 years old. The film, "Major League," told the story of a struggling Cleveland Indians baseball team that used an odd combination of aging veterans and untested rookies to put together a successful season.

    An iconic scene from the film showed team members in their own American Express commercial. Willoughby made a few changes to the script from the movie and got his team together on the Pine Forest baseball field to do the Trojan version of the commercial.

    One of the biggest challenges was to get all the players in dress similar to the coats and ties the pretend Cleveland Indians in the movie wore.

    He told the players to watch the YouTube video of the original scene from the movie so they could see the whole thing and also watch how their respective characters said their lines in the commercial. Speaking parts went to Jared Collier, Isaac Gonzalez, Justin Clark, Greg Washington, Justin Honeycutt, Willoughby and Keyshawn Taylor.

    Taylor had the highlight scene in the commercial, reprising the role of actor Wesley Snipes who played the role of team speedster Willie Mays Hays in the movie.
    In the commercial scene, Hays slides in to home plate at the end of the commercial holding up an American Express card.

    The biggest distraction Willoughby had to deal with in making the video was creating the character of the manager of the Indians team in the movie, Lou Brown, played by the late character actor James Gammon.

    A feature of Gammon’s character in the film was a bushy mustache. Prior to the start of practice, Willoughby had grown a full beard, but the day of the filming of the video, he shaved it all off save the mustache.

    “When I showed up with the Lou Brown mustache the guys started laughing,’’ said Willoughby. As soon as the video had been shot, he went to his truck and shaved the mustache off, “just so I could focus with my guys,’’ he said.

    Seniors Justin Honeycutt and Jared Collier were among the handful of players on the Pine Forest team that had actually viewed the film. Honeycutt is a pitcher who plays outfield when he’s not on the mound. Collier has been a catcher throughout his career at Pine Forest.

    “I thought it was a great idea,’’ Honeycutt said, even though the filming took some time and presented a few challenges. One of the players with a speaking part had a difficult time getting his lines right, but Honeycutt said they came up with a simple solution. “We had to tape his lines on the back of the guy in front of him,’’ Honeycutt said.

    Collier said he enjoyed doing something different to kick off the season and try and convince people to support the program financially. “It was something to have a good time with,’’ he said. “We want to get Pine Forest baseball back on track after a tough season.’’

    Willoughby said the goal of recreating the scene was to reach out beyond the immediate Pine Forest baseball community of family and friends of the players and draw some interest from a wider audience to get financial support.

    “We were trying to have some fun with it,’’ Willoughby said. “We wanted to see if we could get something going on Twitter and Facebook.’’

    As of last Tuesday afternoon, the video was up to 694 views on YouTube. To see the video on SnapRaise and make a donation go to https://www.snap-raise.com/v2/fundraisers/111922?fundraiser_id=111922#/.

    As of last Tuesday afternoon, the video had raised $3,794 of the $5,000 goal Willoughby set for this year. Willoughby is hopeful the team will raise enough money to purchase a new net for the team’s batting cage and new tarps to protect the field from wet weather.

    “The batting cage is a safety thing,’’ Willoughby said. “It’s not safe to be around if it starts getting torn and there are holes in the net. The tarp is about keeping the field playable so we can get in more practice time
    and games.’’
    The video has been a critical success, at least on campus. “When I showed it to one of our teachers, she said ‘I’m definitely donating,’" Honeycutt said.

    For their part, Honeycutt thinks the Trojan team truly has a chance to contend for a  championship this season, not unlike the Cleveland Indians team did in "Major League."
    “We’ve got nine seniors on the team,’’ Honeycutt said. “We’ve got the talent and this is the year  to do something.’’

    Honeycutt thinks the key to success for the team will be attitudes, keeping them right and playing each game one at time.

    Collier thinks the approach to each game is important. “We need everybody to play like they’re never going to be here again,’’ he said.

  •   In April 2008, the Cape Fear Regional Theatre staged a Southern tour d’force, as Good ‘Ol Girls hit the stage. The play, written by Jill McCorkle and Lee Smith, brought rave reviews from local audiences and drew the attention of UNC-TV.
      On Friday, March 6, the CFRT will host a red carpet premier of the play, which UNC-TV filmed. The television broadcast of the play is scheduled for April 22.
    The premier party is open to the public, and will feature a wine tasting and hors d’oeuvres from 6:30-8 p.m., with a screening of the production at 8 p.m. The authors will be on hand to celebrate this important event in the life of the theatre.
      {mosimage}The musical’s title tells you what the play is all about. To quote the play, good ‘ol girls “know that big hair and a big heart do not mean a small mind.” They also love to go to Myrtle Beach with the girls and have been saved more than once.
      The show, which featured Pamela Bob, Kendra Goehring, Libby Seymour, Gina Stewart, Cassandra Vallery and Liza Vann, tells the story of a group of Southern women from birth to the grave. It’s told in vignettes, with music interspersed throughout.
      According to Bo Thorp, the artistic director of the theatre, “This is a play about women. It tackles women’s issues at various times in their lives — particulalry Good ‘Ol Girls who you can find anywhere in the South.”
      The stories were written by Smith and McCorkle, and most of them are rooted in reality. Many of these vignettes were written before the two first ladies of Southern literature collaborated on the play.
      Smith and McCorkle are both noted N.C. authors. Smith and McCorkle have a passion for storytelling. The kind of laugh-out-loud storytelling that is rooted in the uniqueness of the South.
      The songs were written by Marshall Chapman and Matraca Berg, both noted songwriters.
      Officials from UNC-TV were intrigued when they heard about the play and made a visit to the theatre to see the play on stage. They were won over, and brought a film crew in to film the play before it closed.
      What the rest of the state will see on television, many local residents saw first hand, and to celebrate the achievement, the theatre hopes they’ll return for the premier.
      Tickets for the premier party are $30, and can be purchased by calling the CFRT box office at  (910) 323-4233. 
  • 15 Wrestlers groupBack in the late 1960s, veteran character Walter Brennan starred in a short-lived television Western series called “The Sons of Will Sonnet.’’

    Though the show lasted only two seasons, Brennan uttered a line describing his talents with a gun that has lingered through the years. It was only four words:
    "No brag, just fact.’’

    In wrapping up the high school wrestling accomplishments of himself and his Cape Fear teammates the last four seasons, three-time state champion Heath Wilson uttered a statement that borrowed from Brennan’s line, and is hard to argue with.

    “We’ve been the most successful athletic program at Cape Fear, even in Cumberland County, since I got to Cape Fear,’’ Wilson said.

    He pointed to the last four years that saw the Colts bring home at least two individual state wrestling champions each of those years. Three of the eight state titles Cape Fear won were his, the last one coming just over a week ago when he dominated the 3-A 145-pound weight class in the state tournament in Greensboro to win his title.

    He was not alone and teammate Nick Minacapelli had a similarly dominating effort en route to taking the 220-pound championship, erasing the disappointment of finishing third the season before.

    For Wilson, one of the biggest obstacles he had to deal with all season was the pressure of chasing a third state title after winning as a sophomore and junior. But Wilson said the pressure to win the second straight championship last year was tougher than the pressure he faced this season.

    “Butterflies are normally a routine for me,’’ Dallas said. “Don’t get me wrong, they were there. I knew what I had to do, and I got the job done.’’

    Heath Wilson, Dallas’ father and head coach, said the seeds for his son’s string of titles were sown during Dallas’ freshman year, when he came up short in his first bid for a state championship.

    Heath scored a lopsided win earlier in the season over the wrestler who would win the state title in his weight class. But he eventually suffered from what his dad calls “sticker shock."
     
    “They get in there, look at the lights, look up in the stands,’’ Heath said. “There’s not a whole lot that don’t get wide-eyed.’’ He finished third in the 4-A East Regional tournament that year and lost in the quarterfinals of the state tournament, failing to place in the top six in his weight class that year.

    That experience was all Dallas needed to correct the problem. “He blames it on his mental toughness,’’ Heath said. “After that, he decided he was going to fix it.’’
    Dallas said he would lie in bed at night and convince himself that no matter who stepped on the mat to face him, he was going to win.

    His final record for this season was 48-2, but those two losses were not against any living opponent. After he felt a sharp pain in his knee during a late-season tournament, he elected not to compete, to save himself for the upcoming run to the state finals.

    It got him two losses via injury default. “I was being safe and I took the right path,’’ he said.

    It showed in his dominance in the state tournament. None of his four matches went the distance. He defeated two of his opponents by pin. The other two, including his state finals match, were by technical fall, both matches stopped because he had gotten so far ahead in total points.

    Now that his high school career is over, Dallas is pointing to college, where he has yet to make a final decision. He’s got an official visit to North Carolina State coming up. The University of North Carolina talked to him after the semifinals of the state tournament, and he also has Campbell University on his mind.

    “Everything is still up in the air,’’ he said. “I want to take my time.’’

    So does his teammate, Minacapelli, who has scholarship offers in both football and wrestling.

    Like Dallas, Minacapelli was motivated to do better this year after a disappointing finish last season.

    “It definitely inspired me to work way harder,’’ he said after a third-place finish in 2019. “I felt like I didn’t leave it all on the mat last year. I had to prove myself. I had a chip on my shoulder.’’

    He made up for it by wrestling more aggressively this season, taking more shots and no longer relying on defense to win matches. “Now I rely on offense,’’ he said. “I could definitely see improvement.’’

    It clearly showed in the state finals. Of his four wins, three were by pin, one in just 32 seconds and only one of his three wins by pin extending to the third period. The fourth win was a major decision, 16-8.

    He said he was “super nervous” going into his finals match and could hear his heart beating in his chest. He quickly overcame that problem by scoring five points in the first period and taking command of an opponent he would eventually pin for the title.

    “Everything went away and I knew I had the win,’’ he said.

    It was not only a win for Minacapelli, it was the final high school wrestling match as coach for Heath Wilson, who told his team before the season that he was going to step down after 15 years at Cape Fear as both an assistant and head coach. A wrestler himself at the school, Heath Wilson was also a Cape Fear state champion.

    “We had some great kids at Cape Fear,’’ Wilson said. “To read a kid and be able to figure out how he’s motivated is a passion of mine. You’ve got to really figure out what buttons to push and what buttons not to push because you’ll run them out of the room.’’

    But the biggest thrill, obviously, was getting to coach his son to three state titles.

    “It was the best of both worlds, as father and coach,’’ Heath said. “Both the good and the bad, that experience is indescribable.’’

  • Match Dot Con
      A woman wrote me on an online dating site. Her profile said she was 42. I’m 37, which isn’t a big age difference, so we went out. We had a blast and were planning to go out again when she e-mailed and confessed she’ll be 49 in August. She seemed really cool, had a great sense of humor, and looked older than 42, but was definitely still cute. Should I be worried she might have other surprises in store?  
    — Numbers Racket

      A seasoned shopper on an online dating site doesn’t just wonder if everybody’s lying, he expects it. People will tell you right in their profile that honesty is extremely important to them — then sandwich that claim between more fudge than you can buy in one of those candy stores you see in the mall. And, because men and women have different hard-wired preferences for what they seek in a partner, they lie about different things. Men tend to lie about their height and income. Women are likely to lie about their age and weight.
     {mosimage} Deception has always played a big part in romantic marketing. Mascara is a lie. Wearing a slimming color is a lie. Frankly, deodorant is a lie, but let’s hope the masses continue to embrace olfactory dishonesty. Online, people can get away with much more. When they create their dating profile, they aren’t lying to somebody’s face, they’re lying on a resume they’re sending off into the ether. And, they aren’t doing it as themselves, but as GolfBeast or ChocolateLuvr89. So, you see “Husky dude with most of his hair and a quirky sense of adventure...” — instead of “Male-pattern-balding, out-of-shape weirdo, teetering between thoughts of suicide and mass murder, seeks model.”
      Many of these hyperbolists seem to forget that there’s going to be some point of reckoning. Or, they keep telling themselves they’re planning on losing the weight or rolling off the couch and looking for a job.
      As for Miss 42-and-counting, try to have a little compassion. Guys tend to go for younger or much-younger women, and guys on dating sites do searches with an age cutoff, which means she never gets the chance to be judged for her looks instead of her age. Regarding your worry that she might have “other surprises” in store, consider it a good sign that she confessed her real age after the first date. If you don’t think she’s too old for you, keep dating her, and see whether she seems inclined toward convenient dishonesty. There’s a good chance you’ve heard the worst of it.
      (c)2008, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved.
  • Monster Truckz Crown Thumbnail ea5e6f03f8Truckz! Truckz! And more Truckz are headed to Fayetteville's Crown Complex Arena from March 25 to March 27.

    "This is a thrill-show featuring highly trained professionals, so first and foremost, we want to tell people: do not try this at home," said Ariel Valeires, on-site manager for Monster Truckz Extreme.

    The show offers a variety of "gravity-defying" acts to shock and amaze, emphasizing a "high-octane" experience.

    "Most people have heard of monster trucks, but we have so much more than that. We have a human cannonball. Our show is very fast, high speed, high energy and high risk," Valeires said.

    This event aims to bring spectacle and awe to its audience, focusing on fun that's appropriate for all ages.

    "We want to offer our audience a good time with their family, the whole family, which is entertainment that's hard to come by nowadays. We want to entertain people aged 0-110," Valeires said.

    The show will be packed with opportunities for kids to learn, engage and play with the gigantic machines right there on site.
    The Monster Truckz Pit Party is a free pre-show at the Monster Truckz event where kids can take pictures and snag the drivers' autographs. Additionally, attendees can learn about the physics and mechanics behind the incredible vehicles before seeing them in action.

    Visitors are encouraged to arrive early, as "The Pit" takes place two hours before the show. During this time, young attendees can visit the "Kids Zone," an area complete with rides on a real monster truck, a gigantic slide, face-painting and a bounce house.

    The show runs from February to December each year and performs in a different city each week with no weeks off. It's an incredible commitment for the drivers, performers and support staff.
    But for Valeires, the long weeks on the road are worth it.

    "For me, the best part of the show is to see the same look of excitement on thousands of faces all at the same time," Valeires said. "Most people have only ever seen monster trucks on TV, so they're not prepared for just how loud it is. Seeing all those faces when the engines start is hard to describe. You have to see it to believe it."

    The event will be held outdoors, and Valeires has some advice for attendees.

    "Honestly, this is an outdoor performance where we perform rain or shine. So check the weather before you come and dress accordingly. If it might rain—bring an umbrella. Be prepared for a very loud show. You're about to experience something you've never seen before."

    Showtimes are Friday, March 25, at 7 p.m., Saturday, March 26, at 2 and 7 p.m., and Sunday, March 27, at 2 p.m.

    The Crown Complex Arena is located at 1960 Coliseum Dr. For more information and tickets, visit: www.monstertruckz.com.

  • 01 01 12004710 10156267691740107 1215836511497132668 nAndrew and Gail Morfesis are very active in the community. The prominent power couple’s contributions continue to provide services and entertainment to the citizens of Fayetteville.

    Andrew is a medical doctor and his wife, Gail, holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in Voice. He has a clinic, Owen Drive Surgical Clinic, where he performs surgery under local anesthesia.

    “He still sees people for medical issues and surgery which is a great benefit to the community because things that can be safely done in the office is much cheaper for people,” said Gail Morfesis. “Even if you have insurance you still have to pay a co-pay and sometimes it is cost prohibitive to have things done, so people just try not to have them done even if it is painful or unpleasant.”

    She added that two days a week her husband works for North Carolina Hyperbarics where they treat individuals with ulcers on their arms and legs.

    Gail took an early retirement from UNC Pembroke in 2007, and since then she has been doing what she loves doing the most — directing and producing shows.

    “I was contacted by the Crown Theatre last year to write an interactive murder mystery for them,” said Morfesis. “It was the first show I ever wrote and the play is based around songs because that is my background.”

    The play is entitled “Love Letters/Sleight of Hand” and the plot of the play is quite intriguing. Gail shares, “It starts out with a karaoke theme and I am the main actress in the show. I am the older actress who starts an agency called “It’s All About You Agency” to promote young artists. During the years that I am doing this, I meet my husband who was performing at a club. I hired him to become part of the agency and then we get married. The plot of this is that he tries to take over the agency from me which is really a stable of young women singers. Of course due to his philandering, we never know which of the ladies that are in the cast of characters has actually killed him. At the end of the first act he is actually electrocuted by the karaoke machine, but anyone in the cast could have manipulated that. During the course of the story all of his interactions with different women comes out. It’s just a really fun show.”

    The cast includes Gail, five female singers/actresses, and two police officer characters. At the end of the show it is revealed who committed the murder.

    “The play is interactive so the audience gets to asks questions of the cast,” said Morfesis.

    “We usually have a foreman at each table that gets to ask the question and during their dessert time they get to talk about why they think different characters may have done it as well as ask one question of one character.”

    She added, “Each table will get to vote on who they think committed the murder and the tables that guess the correct character will win some kind of prize.”

    Up & Coming Weekly is sponsoring the play. The performances are Friday, April 9 and Saturday, April 10 at 7 p.m. at Gates Four Golf & Country Club.

    When not putting on shows, Gail works with many organizations in the community.

    “I was asked by Hank Parfitt, president of the Lafayette Society of Fayetteville, to start doing a concert for them every year of French music to supplement Lafayette’s birthday weekend,” said Morfesis. “I have been doing a concert for them for the last 12 years and I do involve local artists in town and people that work for the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra.”

    “Because of the Lafayette Society, I worked a good bit at Methodist University because Methodist houses the Lafayette Collection of artifacts and initially for the first ten years we did our concert and our artifacts display on the same night,” said Morfesis.

    “It is kind of funny because I never really worked for Methodist but most people thought I did because I did those concerts there
    every year.”

    Gail has also worked with Dr. Marvin Curtis at Fayetteville State University performing lead roles for three years in the summer opera as well as directing shows for UNC Pembroke and the Gilbert Theater.

    “I have sung with the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra in the past and at the Gilbert I directed and produced about five to six different shows there,” said Morfesis.

    “I also worked with Fayetteville Technical Community College as their music director for some of their shows and also directed their choir two years ago when they were between instructors.”

    She added, “I do a lot of work with civic organizations and I feel like you need to give back to your community so I have done work with Heritage Square. They were unable to do their annual Christmas Tour of Homes in December 2020, so I was the emcee for their one-hour video of the homes here in Fayetteville. I was called by The Care Clinic to help them with their upcoming wine and silent auction that will take place in May of this year. The Crown has contacted me to write another play for the fall of this year.”

    So, what’s next on the horizon for Gail?

    “I would like to start a company for up and coming theater people that I would like to call 'Femme Fatale' which means the deadly woman,” said Morfesis. “There’s a lot of talented women who have written shows and are really great actresses and I would like to continue seeing the work that I have done.”

    “I try to work with as many organizations as I can to better the life of the people in the community,” said Morfesis. “If you really reach out and do something for people you will become a part of the community and you can do great things.”

    Tickets for the Fayetteville Diner Theatre can be purchased at www.fayettevilledinnertheatre.com.

  • 06 HarmoneyMother, finance professional, and now an author — Crystal McLean is changing the scene by introducing a children’s book that talks about finances. Inspired by her daughter, she is here to change the “generational cycle” of children growing up not understanding finances.

    City Center Gallery & Books will host a virtual meet and greet on their Facebook page with McLean March 25 at 6:15 p.m. to discuss her book
    “Harmoney & the Empty Piggy Bank.” On March 27 at 1 p.m., there will be an in-person, socially-distanced book signing at the store on Hay Street in Fayetteville.

    McLean is a graduate of Fayetteville State University. Starting off as a University of North Carolina at Pembroke student, she took some time off and worked in the finance industry. When she went back to school at FSU they had launched a new program in banking and finance, which was something McLean was passionate about. Now, having published a children’s books on finances, she is here to normalize the topic in a child-friendly way.

    Growing up, McLean said she had very little knowledge about the subject of finances. “Growing up, finance was a very taboo topic. If you have it, you talk about it, but if you didn’t have it, you didn’t talk about it,” McLean said.

    The frustrating part to her was in school the subject was not taught.

    “It’s inevitable to have to pay bills, taxes, etc. If it’s not taught it sets them up for financial failure,” she said.

    McLean decided to do something about it by publishing the book, “Harmoney & the Empty Piggy Bank.” The children’s book explains the principles of money, saving versus investing, budgeting, and more on a level that children can grasp. She wrote this because when she took her daughter, who was about seven at the time, to pick out finance books, there were none.

    This book will provide parents an opportunity to bring up the topic of finances with their children. It explains money in a child-friendly story with pictures and with a language that kids will understand. McLean said she was inspired by two books: “Amber’s Magical Savings Box” by Rachel Hanible and “Wesley Learns to Invest” by
    Prince Dykes.

    McLean hopes that reading “Harmoney & the Empty Piggy Bank” will invite parents to bring up the topic with their kids. She wants readers to know that the next generation is watching what we are doing now, with everything, including the way we handle our finances. McLean wants parents to know that she would love for them to reach out about any questions they may have when exploring the world of finance with their children.

    McLean wants people to know she is a woman on a mission to make a difference. Her book is available on Amazon and her website. For more information about the author and her book please visit her website, https://www.authorcrystalmclean.com/ or email, hello@authorcrystalmclean.com.

  • 26 rendering don kempBy age 90, most people are settling into their twilight years resting, relaxing and enjoying time free from work commitments. Donald Kemp is not most people. Kemp keeps busy with writing projects, a passion that began more than five decades ago.

    A Fayetteville resident for 40 years, Kemp is originally from Michigan. His serious writing began in 1968 with a series of articles in a Rochester City newspaper about his own heart bypass surgery. The articles lead to his first published book “I Live With A Mended Heart.” At the time of his surgery, Cleveland Clinic was the only place to get have the procedure. Kemp’s book was inspired by his own procedure and his life in recovery.

    Kemp has also produced other works such as articles for magazines and newspapers during his time living in Michigan. As well as writing, Kemp explored his story-telling ability by directing plays in California, which he describes as “an explosion of emotion to see what is in your mind come to life on a stage.”

    His first full-length novel, “Rendering,” is a mystery thriller published in 2016. The inspiration behind this novel was a newspaper article about three inches high. The book took Kemp seven years to write. The book developed over time while he was participating in a writing group that met every two weeks. The group would “toss chapters over the hot coals,” Kemp recalls as a way of challenging authors. Since that experience, Kemp said he chooses to stick to shorter books and writing projects.

    His next book “Senior Touring Society,” was published in 2018. It is a comedy about elders going to and from a stage play.
    Kemp has also written three children’s books, specifically for his grandchildren. He wrote them each year that his military son was stationed at Fort Bragg so that he could read them to his grandchildren at Christmas.

    With two books waiting to be published, Kemp doesn’t plan to slow down any time soon. He said he has a bunch of stories and ideas that he keeps organized on little slips of paper around his office.

    Kemp offers one steadfast rule for aspiring authors: make time to write every day. “Even if it is one hour, or just writing notes, writing every day will get your ideas down on paper.”

    Kemp also offers a tip he learned from reading one of his writing inspirations, Ernest Hemingway. Known for his economic prose, Hemmingway’s writing is minimalist with few adverbs or adjectives. Hemmingway made a special effort to write in simple and direct language. Kemp said he tries to follow that philosophy too.

    Kemp’s book are available online in e-book and soft cover formats. For more information visit https://donkempauthor.com/

    Editor April Olsen contributed to this article.

  • 16 Even as we breathe book coverCherokee is in the news again this month. For North Carolinians, the Cherokee term brings up a whole special set of complex thoughts, especially ones regarding the Cherokee people living in far western North Carolina.

    The big news about this group of Cherokees is “Even As We Breathe,” the debut novel of Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle. It is the first novel ever published by an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

    Appropriately, the book deals with the special challenges Cherokee people face dealing with the non-Indian people who surround them. Set in 1942, during World War II, the lead character, 19-year-old Cowney Sequoyah, lives a hardscrabble life with his grandmother Lishie, whom he loves deeply. His Uncle Bud lives nearby. Bud works Cowney hard and treats him badly. Bud’s brother, Cowney’s father, died overseas at the end of World War I. Now it is 1942 and World War II is raging, but Cowney’s deformed leg means he will not fight.

    When a groundskeeping job at Asheville’s Grove Park Inn opens up, Cowney takes it. The Army is using the Grove Park to confine quarantined enemy officials and their families.

    Joining him in his family’s Model T for the two-hour drive from Cherokee to Asheville is Essie, a beautiful young Cherokee woman who is anxious to break away from the Cherokee community.

    Cowney and Essie become good friends. He wishes for more, but she develops interest in one of the foreign detainees. On this situation Clapsaddle builds a poignant part of the book’s plot.

    When Lishie dies, Cowney’s world collapses.

    Clapsaddle describes the scents he notices as the Cherokee family and friends gather to grieve:
    Grease
    Lilies
    Tobacco
    Vanilla
    Fresh dirt
    Pine sap
    She repeats this refrain over and over again to bring the reader into Cowney’s sadness.

    A white man drops by to pay respects. He had served with Bud and Cowney’s dad in World War I. Bud pushes him away, but not before the man gives Cowney his card and tells him to call if he ever needs help.

    Later, back at the Grove Park, when Cowney is accused in connection with the disappearance of the young daughter of one of the foreign internees, that card and its owner become keys to finding the truth.

    Other characters and places fill the novel and enrich Cowney’s story.

    An ancient Cherokee man, Tsa Tsi, owns a monkey that wanders freely through the forests. Preacherman appears at funerals to blend Cherokee culture with the religion of the white man. Lishie wakes Cowney by singing “Amazing Grace” in Cherokee: “U ne la nv i u we tsi.” Forest fires break out near Lishie’s cabin, and the smoke provides an eerie cover for the gloomy parts of the story. The region’s lovely waterfalls give Cowney places to find peace.

    Clapsaddle brings all these, and much more, together for a lovely story that engages its readers and gives them a vivid experience in Cherokee culture.

    Of course, there are reminders of the unfair and discriminatory treatment suffered by the Cherokee at the hands of the whites who populate historic Cherokee lands. Near the book’s end, Cowney’s grounds crew boss takes him to dinner and a movie. At the movie box office the clerk initially refused to sell a ticket. “Don’t serve Indians here,” she snarled.

    Cowney and his boss quietly go to the balcony and see Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator.”

    Cowney is moved by Chaplin’s final speech against intolerance and hatred, an underlying theme of Clapsaddle’s book.

    Citing the Bible’s book of Luke, Chaplin said, “The Kingdom of God is within man, not one man, nor a group of men, but in all men, in you.”

  • 05 Craig LeHoullierThe Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Association of Cumberland County will host its 2021 Master Gardner Spring Symposium virtually on March 20 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

    The purpose of the horticultural event is to help educate local residents in “state and research approved horticultural practices,” and raise money for education. With this event, two $1,500 dollar scholarships will be awarded to FTCC horticulture students, as well as a $500 grant for a horticulture professor teaching hands-on horticulture education.

    Participants will not only be helping those students and professors with an educational opportunity, they will also be helping Master Gardeners to go out to provide physical and financial assistance to surrounding area gardens. These area gardens include Cape Fear Botanical Garden, the Wounded Warrior Garden at Fort. Bragg, the Second Harvest Food Bank and Garden, and more.

    Guest speakers at this year’s symposium will be Kirk Brown, who is a nationally known horticulturist. His presentation, “A Gardeners Guide to 200 Years of Growing America,” will speak to the importance of “sowing, growing and owning green in our lives.” During the presentation, Brown will be talking about travels in America and how to recognize the design and art within gardening. In a second presentation, “If I had an Apple,” Brown which will discuss what the digital generation knows that older gardeners may have forgotten and how social media, crowdsourcing, etc., can actually work for people who work hard in the dirt for their gardens. This presentation will show different examples of gardens that he calls “American Edens.”

    Another guest speaker will be Craig LeHoullier, also known as the North Carolina “Tomato Man.” LeHoullier will discuss how those who garden in the 2020s are the most fortunate and will use history to explain why. He will also talk about how his 15-year-old dwarf tomato breeding project has now landed him with 135 new varieties. LeHoullier will also explain his techniques in producing such a great garden and compare how the different living zones contributed.

    Registering for the symposium will allow Master Gardeners to provide assistance to the community as well as educate locals and help them to get their gardens up and blooming this spring/summer season. This event will be include door-prizes, a virtual auction and a virtual tomato sale of LeHoullier’s variety of tomatoes. The registration link, action link and tomato sale link are provided below. This event is one you will not want to miss and provides a “once in a lifetime learning experience” from professional gardeners.

    Judy Dewar, chairperson for this event said, “We hope to improve all of our quality of lives by providing educational opportunities for residents to learn how to be good stewards of our environment while also being sustainable. And just because life is short, we hope our participants will have a ‘fun time’ while they are with us.”

    Registration for this “one in a gardening lifetime event” can be made on Eventbrite on the following link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/cumberland-county-master-gardener-virtual-symposium-2021-tickets-13508558

    To bid on items in the auction – with items ranging from artwork, handmade quilts to live plants – visit https://www.32auctions.com/CCEMGVA . The tomato sale link is https://www.32auctions.com/Tomatoes. The tomato plants offered for sale are dwarf tomatoes that are part of the “Dwarf Tomato Project.”

    Pictured above Craig LeHoullier

  • NWS Tornado Warning Cumberland County is preparing for severe weather Thursday afternoon as several areas in North Carolina prepare for damaging winds.

    Cumberland County is under a tornado watch until 8 p.m. This means that conditions are favorable for tornadoes to form. 

    A severe thunderstorm warning is also in effect for Cumberland this afternoon. Winds could gust up to 60 mph in those areas, according to the National Weather Center. Residents should expect to see some damage to roofs, siding and trees from the wind.

    For residents on Fort Bragg, Corvias Property Management sent out an email saying that all outdoor furniture, toys, trashcans and other items should be brought inside or properly secured. 

    Cumberland County Schools have announced that all after-school activities are canceled this afternoon. Prime Time parents are encouraged to pick up their students no later than 4 p.m. today.

  • Wanted Vehicles Detectives with the Fayetteville Police Department’s Homicide Unit are looking for two vehicles that were present during the shooting at the Baymont Ramada on March 19. Three men died during the shooting and three others were injured. Police have determined the shooting occurred during a confrontation between the Hells Angels, Red Devils, Infamous Ryders and La Familia motorcycle gang organizations.

    The vehicles of interest are a Ford Raptor pickup truck displaying NC registration plate 81D5DV, and a Jeep Patriot SUV displaying NC registration plate RDP1513. The rear window of the Jeep was shot out during the incident.

    Two people have been arrested in connection to the shooting. They were arrested for an aggravated assault that happened at the Exxon off 1717 Owen Drive. The assault was between rival gang members which resulted in serious injuries to the victim. The assault happened hours before the shooting at the Baymont Ramada.

    The two men were each charged with Assault with a Deadly Weapon Inflicting Serious Injury and Felony Conspiracy. 26-year-old Dalton Emmanuel Laperriere is out on a $5000 unsecured bond and his next pre-trial date is April 12. 49-year-old Kerry Helms Lawing is out on a $25,000.00 secured bond and will be back in court on April 13.

    Anyone with information regarding the location of these vehicles is asked to contact Detective R. Vernon at (910) 729-2525 or Crimestoppers at (910) 483-TIPS (8477). Crimestoppers information can also be submitted electronically, by visiting http://fay-nccrimestoppers.org and completing the anonymous online tip sheet.

  • Voting Pexels Pic Shakita Norman lives in Wake County, works, pays taxes and has five children in public school. She told a three-judge, Superior Court panel in August 2021 that she wants a voice in North Carolina’s democracy.

    But, like more than 56,000 other North Carolinians, she is being held in limbo as yet another election begins, waiting to see whether she will have the right to vote.

    On Monday, those judges declared the North Carolina law governing when the state restores the right to vote to people previously convicted of felonies to be racist and in violation of the Free Elections and Equal Protections clauses of the state constitution.

    “North Carolina’s elections do not faithfully ascertain the will of the people when such an enormous number of people living in communities across the State — over 56,000 individuals — are prohibited from voting,” wrote Judges Lisa Bell and Keith Gregory, who ruled in a 2-1 majority opinion.

    Disenfranchisement does not advance a valid state interest, the judges wrote, and in fact, harms the state by preventing equal access to the vote.

    “Denial of the franchise to persons on felony supervision harms individuals, families and communities for years even after such supervision ends,” the judges wrote.

    But legal confusion and a pending appeal by state legislative leaders, House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, may still keep those residents off the voter rolls.

    The N.C. State Board of Elections cited confusion from a previous court order made during a preliminary stage in the case when it told county boards to keep voter registration requests from people on probation, parole or post-release supervision in an incomplete queue while lawyers seek clarification from the courts.

    Neither Moore’s nor Berger’s offices replied to questions for this story, and their private attorney did not respond to a voicemail. But that attorney notified the Department of Justice, which formerly represented the legislators and still represents the Board of Elections, that the legislators intend to appeal.

    Still, the groups suing to change the law announced that they are out helping people who, under Monday’s ruling, are newly enfranchised.

    “We’re not casually treating it as, ‘Well, I’ll go register to vote,’” said Dennis Gaddy, a plaintiff in the case and the executive director of the Community Success Initiative, which helps people reenter society after incarceration. “We’re having a sit-down, face-to-face conversation.”

    The situation is confusing, but there’s also a possible opportunity, Gaddy said.

    In August 2021, when the same judges issued a preliminary injunction allowing the same group of people to vote, legislative defendants appealed, and higher courts blocked the injunction. But still, the higher courts allowed the people who had already registered to stay on the voter rolls.

    Even if the Court of Appeals blocks Monday’s ruling, Gaddy said there’s a chance the people who requested voter registration between now and then could be allowed to vote.

    146 years of discrimination
    In 1876, white North Carolinians amended the state Constitution and included a felony disenfranchisement clause that said no one convicted of a felony will have the right to vote until the state restores that right. The next year, the state legislature put a law in place describing how the right to vote is restored.

    Monday’s opinion, 146 years later, said both the amendment and the implementing law target Black North Carolinians with racial intent. The judges also concluded that racial intent survives today, taking a disproportionate amount of political power away from Black communities across the state.

    North Carolina’s three Black legislators in 1973 tried to give people a full reinstatement of rights upon release from jail or prison. But those efforts were watered down by their 167 white counterparts, the judges found.

    Lawyers for the state Department of Justice agreed that the 1876 laws were racially motivated, but the 1973 rewrite was not, and therefore the current law should be valid. Judges Bell and Gregory disagreed.

    “The legislature cannot purge through the mere passage of time an impermissibly racially discriminatory intent,” they wrote.

    Definition of racial disparity
    More white than Black people reside in North Carolina, more white people are in prison, and more white people are on post-release supervision. But the percentage of white people drops at each stage, and the percentage of Black people goes up, meaning that Black people are more harmed by disenfranchisement relative to the total population.

    “African American men are 9.2% of the voting-age population, but 36.6% of those denied the franchise,” according to the majority opinion.

    “In comparison, White people comprise 72% of the voting-age population, but only 52% of those denied the franchise. These numbers are the very definition of a racial disparity.”

    Both the sheer scope of disenfranchisement and the racial disparity violate the state constitution, Bell and Gregory wrote. They pointed to the 2018 elections, which showed “16 different county elections where the margin of victory in the election was less than the number of people denied the franchise due to felony supervision in that county.”

    In several of those elections, the number of disenfranchised voters was several times greater than the margin of an election, such as in Beaufort County, where 457 people were denied the vote under the law and 63 votes decided a Board of Commissioners race. Of those disenfranchised could-be voters, 253 were Black.

    “Denial of the franchise to people on felony supervision reduces political opportunity and the quality of representation across entire communities in North Carolina,” according to the majority opinion.

    The order describes a standard legal test showing the state could keep its disenfranchisement law if it served a legitimate government purpose. But, the judges decided, defendants “failed to introduce any evidence” that the law “serves any valid state interest today.”

    The dissent, and consequences of an appeal
    Bell is an unaffiliated judge based in Mecklenburg County, and Gregory is a Democratic judge based in Wake. Judge John Dunlow, Republican from Granville, dissented.

    In his opinion, the plaintiffs wanted to challenge the constitutional provision that takes the right to vote away from people convicted of felonies, not the law that describes how they get it back. This is in line with defendants’ arguments.

    Should the appellate court back that argument, the plaintiffs’ only recourse would be to change the implementing law through an act of the legislature, the same one attempted in 1973.

    Dunlow also disagreed with the majority opinion on how the Free Elections Clause is applied to elections.

    All the judges agree that the clause’s purpose is to “faithfully ascertain the will of the people.” But where Bell and Gregory define “the people” as all North Carolina citizens, Dunlow has a narrower vision.

    “The people whose will is to be faithfully ascertained are the persons who are lawfully permitted to vote in North Carolina elections,” Dunlow wrote.

    Both majority and dissenting opinions help higher courts review a case. The Court of Appeals is controlled 10-5 by Republican judges. Though the state Supreme Court is currently 4-3 Democrats to Republicans, two Democratic seats are up for election in 2022 and the court may flip.

    Dunlow’s dissent, if picked up by higher courts, could significantly limit the state constitutional protections against discriminatory voting laws.

  • Spring LakeIn a 5-1 vote, the Spring Lake Board of Aldermen decided to revise the prayer policy to be more inclusive and compliant with federal law. However, the invocation will still be a part of government meetings.

    “This is simply a policy change to put us in compliance,” said Mayor Kia Anthony. “We want to make sure we are being inclusive.”

    The board says they never intended to remove prayer from their agenda.

    The Mayor proposed a “non-sectarian” prayer that “does not revote any one religion, so we are not showing favoritism to any one religion over the another.”

    “My whole goal is to keep us in compliance, it is not to remove God from our meetings. That is not the intent,” Anthony said.

    “We want to make sure we’re covered because, as a unit of government, we have to abide by certain rules,” said Alderwoman Sona Cooper.

    The board cites a 2017 publication from the University of North Carolina School of Government, which states that a state court identified four practices that violate the Constitution. These practices are: only board members deliver the prayer; the board members are all of the same religion’ there is no opportunity for other faiths to be represented; and the board meeting occurs in the intimate setting of a local government meeting.

    The board uses information from an excerpt from the University of North Carolina School of Government that stated meetings during meetings “violates the Constitution.”

    Alderman Marvin Lackman disagreed with creating a new prayer policy.

    “I’m a proud Christian, and people elected me to represent them,” he said. “I stand firm in my beliefs. I stand firm for the people of Spring Lake. I am firm against this.”

    The Aldermen also unanimously removed the mask mandate from town facilities and swore in new Interim Town Manager Joe Durham from Wake County.

  • Originally published by The 19th.

    For more than two decades, Kim Hunt was constantly on the move. Alongside her husband, now a retired Navy officer, Hunt moved 16 times across the United States and Europe. The couple had two daughters — pregnancies that were planned around whether her husband was on shore duty or sea duty — but they knew many other active-duty service members who struggled to conceive at all. 

    Now, as associate director of research and training at Blue Star Families, a nonprofit founded in 2009 by military spouses, Hunt helps create, collect and analyze the largest annual military lifestyle survey

    For the first time, the survey included specific questions to better understand family-building challenges among National Guardsmen, Reserve service members, veterans and their families. Hunt said that for several years, respondents would fill in open-ended questions with concerns about their families. 

    “And the more we researched, the more we realized there was not really good quantitative data,” Hunt said. “There’s a lot of stories, which are very important, but there wasn’t this sort of handle on how deep this goes.” 

    And when she saw the results, Hunt said she was surprised by just how deep it went: More than two-thirds of respondents said they had faced a family-building challenge at some point in their lives. And nearly half said military service, specifically, hindered their desired number of children or desired time between births. 

    “We had 1,600 people willing to share their stories, and it was very humbling because they’re such personal stories,” Hunt said. “And so many people said that they just gave up finally, just stopped trying.” 

    The final survey results include more than 8,000 members of the military community. The answers revealed widespread struggles: Women and LGBTQ+ service members were nearly twice as likely to mention family-building challenges, including tracking ovulation, taking hormone-based medication, trying in vitro fertilization or navigating adoption processes while continually moving across state lines. Some voiced concerns about the impact pregnancy might have on their careers. Active-duty service members are generally 17 to 40 years old, about the same range as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) definition of “women of childbearing age.” 

    “Pregnancy and postpartum recovery time affects a woman’s chances of promotion,” an active-duty Air Force service member wrote anonymously in her response. “Obligations of motherhood and military service commitment limit how many children I felt like I could have.”

    Meagan Whalen, the deputy communications director of With Honor, a nonprofit organization led by veterans that focuses on electing veterans into public service, said the military community tends to remain silent on these kinds of personal challenges. 

    “We in the military community have a mindset of facing challenges and rising to the occasion,” said Whalen, who grew up in a military family, constantly being uprooted. “I think this report will be really reaffirming for them and validating what they’ve experienced throughout their military service. And it’s so valuable in getting information out to the public, letting the civilian world into these nuances.” 

    Many respondents described inadequate medical coverage for fertility-related treatments, financial difficulties or undue stress on relationships. But the most common obstacle to growing their families was “military commitments” and an “unstable military lifestyle.” Long deployments, especially during wartime, took their toll and left fewer chances for couples to try conceiving. The CDC defines “infertility” as the inability to get pregnant after at least one year of unprotected sex. However, meeting that criteria and accessing potential treatment is nearly impossible for many military families, who are often separated for months at a time. 

    “We did IVF out of pocket and lost twins,” an active-duty Army spouse wrote. “We had to pay a loan for three years after. If we were able to afford the unlimited tries, we would have a baby together. Him being gone a lot is also a factor.” 

    One Army veteran said: “We were beginning our third attempt at IVF when I was notified that I was deploying … By the time I returned from deployment, I was 46 and my wife was 43, and we determined that we had lost our last opportunity.” 

    Another Reserve service member said she and her partner delayed having children together for a decade while they were both on active duty. When they ended up having children, they made sure the births were “very close together to be able to have them while we were stationed together.” But the only way they were able to stay together, she added, was for her to transfer to the reserves. 

    Another highly cited challenge was expensive out-of-pocket costs due to a lack of health insurance coverage. TRICARE, the health care program of the U.S. Department of Defense Military Health System, does not cover assisted reproduction. (In the civilian world, most states don’t require private insurers to provide infertility benefits). More than 10 percent of respondents with out-of-pocket expenses said they spent more than $35,000; 42 percent spent over $5,000; and nearly 70 percent spent at least $500. 

    “We tried to conceive for three years before finally becoming pregnant on our fourth round of IVF,” an active-duty Air Force spouse wrote in response to the survey. “The military and TRICARE paid for none of it. We spent most of the money we had saved for a house down payment, around $40,000 in total.”

    Another active-duty Air Force spouse said she and her spouse paid $800 for sperm, $200 for shipment and $300 for an IUI procedure each time they tried for a child. It took them five tries.

    More than 10 percent of active-duty respondents said family-building challenges are one of the main reasons they’d leave the military. Members of Congress, including military veterans, are currently working on legislation related to military benefits, mental health, spousal employment, time away from family and pay and health care for dependents. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan recently spearheaded the passage of the Military Moms Matter Act to improve postpartum care for military families. Reps. Seth Moulton and Mariannette Miller-Meeks pushed for the passage of The Brandon Act, which strengthened mental health support for service members. And Rep. Jackie Speier penned a letter, signed by more than 140 of her Democratic colleagues, to urge the secretary of defense to eliminate for service members copays for contraceptive care.

    “This is a time in which our veterans in Congress can make a distinctive difference,” Whalen said. “They aren’t just reading these numbers. They’ve experienced or have served with those who did, and they understand those unique challenges that military personnel, families and veterans go through.”

  • Artists for Austism April is Autism Awareness Month, and “Jammin’” Jon Kiebon knows what Fayetteville needs to kick it off in high style. The first annual Artists for Autism Awareness benefit concert will take place at the Fayetteville Bakery and Cafe on Saturday, April 3, from 12 to 5 p.m.

    Formerly called Jammin’ Jon’s Rocking for Autism Awareness, the event was conceived in 2012 on the boardwalk of Rockaway Beach in New York and inspired by his daughter, Gail, who was diagnosed on the spectrum before age two.

    Kiebon, a New York musician heavily inspired by the work of Frank Zappa, saw a concert as an opportunity to bring more visibility to people on the spectrum and fundraise for important causes.

    “The autism community can be so fragmented, and people are so leery of one another. This event is about raising awareness for autism, available resources to those on the spectrum, and bringing the community together.”

    In search of affordable housing amidst the uncertainty of the pandemic, Jammin’ Jon found his way to Fayetteville by chance, then quickly found his tribe in business owner Franco Webb and local spoken-word artist “Little Niecie.”

    What began as a discussion between sets at the open-mic nights hosted by Webb’s Fayetteville Bakery and Cafe would eventually become the blueprint for April’s concert.

    Little Niecie, who also has a child on the spectrum, is incredibly passionate about this project, taking on the co-coordinator role.

    At her suggestion, the concert will keep its origins as a fundraising event, with 100% of its proceeds going to Cumberland County special education teachers.

    “Special-Ed teachers go through so much and pay for so much out of pocket. So we’ve teamed up with School Tools,” another business based in Fayetteville, “to ensure these teachers get what they need.”

    Niecie’s involvement also stems from a place a bit closer to home. Like Jon, she wants to be an agent of awareness regarding autism.

    “People tend to think of autism in one scope; this event is an opportunity to educate the community about what autism is and what it can be. We also want people to have fun at an awesome family event.”

    In that vein, Artists for Autism Awareness has plenty to offer.

    The 1-hour open mic stage will give local artists, many of whom are on the spectrum themselves, an opportunity to shine. In addition, performers can look forward to an awards ceremony at the end of the set, presented by “Little Niecie” herself.

    Attendees can pursue various vendor booths selling everything from woodcraft, wreaths, and jewelry to children’s books and poetry.

    Information booths for veterans and those with disabilities will be on-site to offer more information on available resources in the community.

    Complete with food trucks, a raffle, and plenty of activities for kids in attendance, the Artists for Autism Awareness is an event for anyone and everyone.

    Not forgetting its roots as a musical festival, the main stage has quite a show for those in attendance.

    Several local musicians, such as Fat Freddy’s Cat and Kevin Taylor, to name just a few, will be there to rock the crowd.

    By no means a local, but proud to now call Fayetteville his home, Jammin’ Jon will also take the stage to give back to a community for which he is so grateful.

    “This is surreal,” Jon says reflectively of the event, “this is much bigger than what I did in Rockaway; I never had anything like this.”

  • 03-04-15-abs.gifWhen it comes to making a difference, solving community problems and being an agent of positive change, Dr. Doreen Hilton, a professor at Fayetteville State University’s Department of Psychology takes a committed but somewhat unconventional approach.

    Since the 1980s Hilton has been a member of the Association of Social and Behavioral Scientists. The organization is hosting its 80th Annual Conference at the Embassy Suites at 4760 Lake Valley Dr. on March 19-21. The conference is open to the public and will cover a broad range of topics.

    “The Association of Social and Behavioral Scientists was founded at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte,” said Hilton. “The conference has a long history — the association, too — of addressing issues that impact the lives of blacks. The association is an embracing organization committed to making a difference. That has always been a highlight for me.”

    What makes the conference significant is that scholars in a wide array of disciplines come together and exchange ideas. They generate and discuss theories and practical applied solutions. The scholars come together at the meeting every year and it is at this conference that they share those ideas and research. Many go back to their home institutions and home agencies and continue the work that was shared and inspired at the conference.

    “Every year that I have gone, I have come back with new information and ideas and new energy to infuse into the teaching and work I do with students here,” said Hilton. “It is also an excellent opportunity for networking with scholars from across the country.”

    As President Elect and Program Chair, Hilton knew Fayetteville would be a great fit for the conference.

    “We have many universities in North Carolina, we also have a large military presence here. This is a good place to bring scholars together to highlight the work that goes on in this area of our country that fits with the mission of our organization,” she said.

    Concurrent breakout sessions are planned throughout the course of the conference. The topics of discussion deal with everything from mental health of veterans to HIV AIDS prevention to educational challenges, which Hilton noted is important with budget cuts at public schools and higher education. Some of the education sessions will deal with retention and the high school dropout rates across the country. Health issues like diabetes and cancer are on the agenda as well.

    “All of these health issues are far too prevalent in the African-American community,” said Hilton. “This conference gives us the opportunity to address some of the issues and go back to our communities and implement programs and research that will improve our communities. There are many in our area affiliated with military: active duty, veterans and family members. They have experiences that are very different from the general population and it is important for us to address those and take a look at what we can do to make a difference there, too.”

    The Association of Social and Behavioral Scientists 80th Annual Conference is open to the public but registration is required. The cost is $260 and includes the W.E.B. DuBois Luncheon. Tickets for the W.E.B. DuBois Luncheon on Friday, March 20 are $35. To register for the conference and/or purchase tickets to the W.E.B. DuBois Luncheon, call 910-551-6761 or email ASBSConference2015@gmail.com.

    Photo: Dr. Doreen Hilton is the President-Elect and Program Chair for the 80th Annual Conference of the Association of Social and Behav-ioral Scientists, which will be in Fayetteville March 19-21.

  • USASOC Last week, Fort Bragg ranges were busy playing host to an elite group of local, national and international special operators. Annually, Fort Bragg sets the stage for U.S. Special Operations Command Sniper Competition (USASOC). The event is created with great attention to detail and secrecy by the Special Forces Sniper School Instructors (SFSC) from the United States Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School. Each competition and each event are different, keeping highly trained competitors on their toes.

    This is the 13th time the competition has been held. In the wake of COVID, the event has had to shift and adapt. Last year, fewer teams competed, and the French team was the only international partner able to attend. During the 2020 competition, the USASOC Sniper Competition was held entirely in-house, with soldiers already at Fort Bragg representing the different Special Forces Groups and special operations elements.

    21 teams were in attendance to compete; six of the teams were international, including teams from Ireland, France, Italy, Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland,
    Non-descript white, gray and silver government issue vans ferried soldiers and their equipment between events on precise timelines. Six minutes to here, eight minutes there. Upon arrival at any given range, competition organizers provided each team with relevant details of the challenge before them. The teams collected the appropriate weaponry and scopes, bundled out of their vans and were given one minute to ask the SFSC instructor in charge questions.

    On Tuesday, March 22, a white van rolled up to Range 61 with a two-person team from the U.S. Marine Corps 3rd Raider Unit. One team member climbed to the first floor of a six-floor structure facing a long-range, and the other situated himself in the back of a Humvee next to the building. Each in the prone position. Spotters stood at scopes to check their accuracy and the instructor in charge handed the operator on the first-floor platform a tile with one of eight possible images. The team member in the Humvee, who played spotter for this event, was given a key with all eight images and each image corresponding to a specific target shape and color.

    The soldier in the Humvee has a carbine, the other a long gun or sniper rifle.

    "… background, there are several shapes," called the soldier on the platform. "On the background is a large five-pointed star."

    "Yup," the soldier in the Humvee confirmed.

    "Inside of that is a large circle, inside of the circle is a square inside of the square is hexagon… an octagon, inside of the square is an octagon, and then inside the octagon is an orange circle with a blue border," the soldier on the platform said.

    "Alright, it's going to be a green piece of steel. It's literally just a vertical … a green two-by-four," the soldier in the Humvee said.

    "Got it."

    The soldier on the platform lines up the shot, accounts for the distance and wind and pulls the trigger.

    "Miss," calls the spotter.

    And another tile is given to the soldier on the platform. This continues until the team's time has run out. The Marine Raiders praised the challenge, loaded up and headed to their next event.

    Each event is designed to test the team's marksmanship and ability to communicate and work as a team.

    On Range 62, the next event tested the teams on their ability to shoot at "known distances."

    "A big problem with shooting is wind," explained SFSC Instructor Rick Cuza.

    He explained that the targets were placed 500 to 800 meters out. Each bank of targets had been small, medium and large targets of about the same height but not the same width. The targets range in the number of points they are worth; more for smaller targets less for the larger ones.

    "They have to decide based on the distance and what they see the conditions which target they are going to shoot," Cuza said.

    At another event, soldiers from the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) completed an event designed to test their ability to discriminate between their targets, deciding which targets are threats and which are not.

    Organizers staged this event in an urban setting with targets placed between 385 meters and 650 meters. The team was positioned in a room on an upper floor of a building shooting out of a window. The teams would need to use their scopes to determine if objects near their targets were weapons, indicating they were a threat.

    Command Sgt. Maj. Chuy Almonte, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Special Warfare Group believes the event does not simply measure marksmanship; the events measure a soldier's ability to perform under stress.

    "It's really about to be able to problem-solve … managing your stress," Almonte said.

    Almonte says that the competition is of value beyond measuring skills; that it lays a foundation of communication and collaboration and facilitates the sharing of knowledge with international partners.

    This is important from a perspective of personal experience, Almonte explained.

    While deployed in Afghanistan, Almonte worked on a firebase in a "very kinetic area during a very kinetic time." They needed help and were supported by a group of Czech Republic special forces. They built a strong relationship.

    "We brought a lot of white space to that region … we went from a 500-meter freedom of movement to an almost 10 kilometers freedom of movement," Almonte said. "Because of that partnership with the Czech soldiers."

    Further down the line, while working on a different problem set based in Africa, that relationship was again a benefit.

    "Focused in a totally different content and area of the world, but because of our previous relationship together, we were basically able to pick up where we left off," Almonte said.

    The events culminated in a banquet Friday, March 26, where the event's winners were recognized. A USASOC team for Fort Bragg took first place, France second, and 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne) third. Ireland was disqualified during the competition for a negligent discharge.

  • Market House The Market House was a major topic of discussion during Fayetteville’s City Council meeting Monday night and will continue to be for the next few months.

    The U.S. Department of Justice, which held two workshop meetings with 80 members of the community in October and January, presented a final report to the Council.

    Dion Lyons, a specialist from the DOJ who oversaw the two meetings, says these meetings were different than his usual City-SPIRIT workshops. This was because a decision was already made by the City to repurpose the Market House so the groups that met could not talk about demolition or moving the Market House. Instead, they discussed topics surrounding structural modification, art exhibits and themed events.

    “Both groups want to see the Market House as a symbol of education. They want the true comprehensive story of the history of the Market House to be told. Both groups want to see the Market House handicap accessible and ADA compliant. They want to see vibrant displays of art that connect Market House visitors with activities that promote positive emotional responses and insight. It would feature various genres of art that represent African-American culture and history, as well as an alternate space that is representative of Fayetteville. There were recommendations to enclose the arches to allow the structure to be secured once the proposed solutions are implemented," a spokeswoman for the Human-Rights Commission told the council.

    The goal of the DOJ report and the Human-Relations Commission was for the council to approve the report so the commission can go back and create a more detailed plan on which suggestions took the highest priority and create detailed plans on how to fulfill the suggestions.

    “We've narrowed down the community's input into a set of sort of action plans and recommendations for city council,” Lyons said. “Instead of reconvening all 80 or more citizens who participated, we would now go forward with the recommendations that we have and a subcommittee on a subcommittee of those same 80 people now represented by five from the first group in October and five from the second group in January. Those would be the people on the committee now tasked to work with the City Council to implement the plans that they came up with.”

    However, many council members felt that not enough community input was allowed for the DOJ meetings. The meetings were not open to the public, and the number of people allowed in the meetings was limited because of COVID-19. The people involved in the decisions were also chosen by the Fayetteville-Cumberland Human Rights Commission.

    Councilmember Courtney Banks-Mclaughlin motioned for the council’s staff to open these discussions back up to the public in order to receive more input about the repurposing of the Market House. That motion was approved 9 to 1, with Councilmember Johnny Dawkins voting against it.

    Fencing to come down
    The City Council also voted Monday night to take down the fence surrounding the Market House.

    The fence was put up around the Market House shortly after rioters set fire to the building following protests in May of 2020. City Manager Doug Hewett says the repairs are completed and it was up to the council to decide whether or not to keep the fencing up.

    "We're having open dialog on how to deal with it with the citizens of Fayetteville and we trying to hear back from them because it is a sticky, sticky subject,” Councilmember D.J. Haire said. “But I just don't see where the need to continue to have it surrounded with the temporary fence with all of the work has been done and the improvements has been done and the fence doesn't make it look any better.”

    Councilmember Antonio Jones said that he believes the fence is divisive and this is the right time to take it down.

    “At some point we have to trust the community to do the right thing, just like some would trust them to do the wrong thing,” Jones said.

    The motion passed nine to one, with Councilmember Banks-McLaughlin voting against.

    The City Manager said that the fence wouldn’t come down immediately, but would probably happen within the month.

    “We would probably want to make sure we gave notice so that we had made everyone aware and probably several days for that. We would need to remove the fencing, clean up, probably brush and sweep the area,” Hewitt said.

  • The water is safe at Fort Bragg, according to officials during a town hall last week. The virtual town hall addressed the concerns of possible water contamination and illness that have been rumored online.

    Col. Scott Pence, Fort Bragg Garrison Commander, hosted a town hall alongside Steve Wykel Director of Public Works, Audrey Oxendine from Public Works, LTC Teresa Pearce from Public Health and LTC Easter Strayer from the post’s Veterinary Clinic on Friday afternoon to answer questions from Fort Bragg residents.

    “Fort Bragg Garrison takes these issues seriously and an investigation is ongoing,” said Col. Scott Pence, Fort Bragg Garrison Commander. “The health and welfare of the Soldiers and their families are our number one priority.”

    The American States Utility Services routinely tests 70 different sites across Fort Bragg. The samples are used to test for bacteria and fecal matter present in the water. Based on recent concerns of possible, the garrison commander ordered additional samples this week, which have all come back negative.

    “We’ve never had an actual true positive sample where we had to do a boil water notice, but if we did have a sample come back positive for bacteria they immediately notify that location,” said Oxendine. “We resample upstream and downstream of that location, and then if it is positive, we issue a boil water notice.”

    Pence says what sickness is being seen on the installation is Norovirus. Norovirus is a very contagious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea, according to the CDC. Fort Bragg says there has been a small number of norovirus cases reported in the area.

    Pearce stresses the importance of washing your hands and cleaning your home to help prevent this virus. She says the virus is very contagious and usually spreads within the household and from person to person.

    Since Norovirus spreads among children, Fort Bragg Schools and Child Development Centers have been notified of the concerns and to take extra precautions such as proper hand-washing, according to Pence.

  • Spring LakeFollowing a State Auditor's Office report about the misappropriation of funds in Spring Lake, the Local Government Commission (LGC) will officially step in to avoid payment processing problems.

    Following the release of the audit report, Interim Town Manager Samantha Wullenwaber was fired by the city. According to the LGC, Wullenwaber had the authority to sign checks and her abrupt dismissal left the town with limited options to perform that function.

    During a special meeting on Wednesday, March 23, the LGC voted to retain David Erwin as the town's finance officer and appointed Tiffany Anderson and Susan McCullen as deputy finance officers. All three are State and Local Government Finance Division employees. Erwin was retained as account signatory. Anderson and McCullen also were named account signatories. These appointees should ensure that checks go out on time.

    The Board of Alderman held their own closed session meeting the following night. While the board took no formal action and nothing was voted on, a new interim town manager was announced. The board agreed to hire Joe Durham from Joe Durham and Associates.

    Additionally, Spring Lake's town attorney, Jonathan Charleston, submitted his resignation on Wednesday, March 23.

    According to the LGC, in Charleston's letter to Spring Lake Mayor Kia Anthony, he expressed appreciation for the opportunity to work with the board.

    "While we have worked with the town through several challenges, we believe now is a good time to transition to new counsel," Charleston's letter stated, as recounted by the LGC.

    Charleston has provided a 30-day notice, but he said he "can accommodate a sooner departure with the town's express consent," according to the LGC.

  • Residents in rural Cumberland County with limited access to high-speed broadband internet may have more options in the coming years due to local and state funding through the American Rescue Plan Act.

    The county Board of Commissioners approved $1 million in local ARPA funding Monday to partner with Brightspeed, an internet service provider headquartered in Charlotte.

    Cumberland County received $65 million from ARPA, federal legislation passed last year to combat the public health and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    To fund the needed infrastructure, Brightspeed is applying to the N.C. Department of Information Technology for a Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology, or GREAT, grant, which is also funded through ARPA money allocated to the state.

    GREAT, which started in 2018 before the pandemic, was redesigned for 2022 to incorporate $350 million from the federal dollars.

    ISPs, like Brightspeed, can apply for the GREAT grant. If accepted, ISPs can receive up to $4 million.

    The ISP, as dictated from state legislation in 2018 that started GREAT, must match that grant anywhere from 35%-50%.

    However, ISPs can partner with counties, such as Cumberland, to request local ARPA dollars to be used as part of the required matching funds.

    “That is a big focus of the way that this particular state legislation is written,” said Angela Bailey, director of the broadband infrastructure office at NCDIT. “To encourage partnerships with counties so that we’re leveraging both the state ARPA dollars and the local ARPA dollars.”

    At the meeting Monday, County Manager Amy Cannon told commissioners that Brightspeed plans to bring high-speed fiber access to 2,017 residences and businesses.

    The company estimates the total cost of the project to be $7.5 million, costing about $3,700 per location.

    If accepted into the GREAT grant program, Brightspeed and Cumberland County would invest $2.5 million and $1 million, respectively, as the company has applied for the maximum grant amount of $4 million.

    The application period for the $350 million in the grant program began Jan. 31 and will end April 4.

    NCDIT will begin assessing applications after that date.

    Brightspeed is the second company in recent months to announce expansion of its fiber network into Cumberland County.

    Metronet, a fiber internet company based in Indiana, launched its fiber network in the county earlier this month, Carolina Public Press reported.

    The company is investing $70 million of its own money into the new infrastructure. According to the county and the city of Fayetteville, neither is spending any money on the project.

    The city’s Public Works Commission, however, is investing $1.7 million in the construction.

    Metronet has announced plans to expand to parts of rural Cumberland, including the small towns of Falcon, Godwin, Linden and Stedman.

    Brightspeed has not been in contact with the PWC, a spokesperson with PWC said.

    Requirements of the GREAT program
    To be eligible for the GREAT grant that Brightspeed is pursuing, the funds must be used to build eligible infrastructure in economically distressed counties or rural census tracts with limited broadband access in other counties.

    The state defines eligible counties as the first and second of the N.C. Department of Commerce’s three-tiered county system, with tier one being defined as the most economically disadvantaged. Cumberland is among the tier one counties.

    Brightspeed’s construction plan for its fiber network includes many rural parts of Cumberland, stretching from Gray’s Creek through the Rockfish Road area in Hope Mills to the Hoke County line, Cannon said. The coverage area will also go from Wade to the Harnett County line, she said.

    The purpose of the GREAT grant program is to serve rural communities like these as it often isn’t profitable for ISPs to build infrastructure in remote areas, Bailey said.

    “(The program) essentially incentivizes private-sector providers, broadband providers, to build into areas of the state that are unserved with broadband service,” she said.

    NCDIT defines unserved as locations with no access to internet service with speeds of at least 25 megabytes per second download and 3 megabytes per second upload.

    While more than 99% of Cumberland County has access to that level of service, according to data from NCDIT, most of that is centered in Fayetteville.

    Less than 10% of the entire county has access to fiber internet service, which typically offers speeds well above the state’s minimum threshold.

    A Brightspeed spokesperson said in an email to Carolina Public Press that the company offers speeds up to 1 gigabyte per second upload and download, which is about 1,000 megabytes.

    During the GREAT grant program’s vetting process, NCDIT will administer scores to applicants that account for how fast the service is, how many unserved locations there are in the project and the cost of construction, among other things.

    Applicants with the highest scores, based on available funding, will be accepted into the program.

    After the application phase, accepted ISPs will have a two-year window to complete construction, though a Brightspeed spokesperson said the company would anticipate the project in Cumberland to be finished before that window lapses.

    After construction, NCDIT will continue to monitor the ISP’s service to ensure deployed speeds are maintained as part of the grant requirements, Bailey said.

    As a federal requirement of ARPA, ISPs must also participate in the affordable connectivity program, which requires that households at 200% or below the federal poverty level receive certain discounts on internet service.

    GREAT prior to ARPA
    Prior to ARPA, the GREAT grant program operated initially with $10 million from the state. In the years after, it received $15 million annually.

    The first ISPs accepted into the program completed construction last summer.

    According to NCDIT, the program throughout its history has awarded over $55 million to ISPs to expand broadband service to over 40,000 residences and businesses in North Carolina.

  • 030216jeff5.jpg

    The business people of Fayetteville’s Haymont, or is it Haymount, community are making another effort to organize themselves much like downtown merchants have.  “We all call it Haymont,” says Elle Williams, general manager of the Runner’s Spot at 1221 Hay Street. The epicenter of the business section is at the top of Haymont Hill where Hay Street, Highland Avenue, Oakridge Avenue, Fort Bragg Road and Morganton Road converge. 

    Bobby Wiggs and his parents are natives of the community. The elder Mr. Wiggs is 87 now, and Bobby Jr. is pretty much the unofficial mayor of Haymont. He owns Haymont Auto Repair at the corner of Morganton Road and Broadfoot Avenue. The community is a cluster of “unique little family owned businesses,” Wiggs said. He and about 30 other business owners are trying to put together a small business alliance similar to the merchants group downtown. “They’ve got some traction,” he noted.

    Williams described the area as “a hidden gem.” She says a main objective of an organization is to cross promote and raise public awareness. Parking is an issue everyone has to deal with, she added. Williams told Up & Coming Weekly that her business agreeably shares a small parking lot with Latitude 35 Bar & Grill. 

    Haymont is loosely defined as the region of the city bounded by Bragg Boulevard, Woodrow Street, Glenville Avenue, Pinecrest Drive, McGilvary Street and Turnpike Road. It’s one of the oldest areas of Fayetteville marked by nearly four dozen antebellum houses, upper-middle class homes, an historic civil war arsenal site and state-owned museum and the Cape Fear Regional Theatre. The Haymont Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. (Portions of the content of this article were adapted from a copy of the original nomination documents. Adaptation copyright © 2011, The Gombach Group.)

    A recent brouhaha over the future of the Fair Oaks mansion at the Fort Bragg Road crossover brought out Haymont’s wealthy home owners who persuaded the Fayetteville Zoning Commission not to allow a prospective owner to turn the mansion into a private school. They prevailed in a 4-0 vote of the commission.

    When it was developing in the early nineteenth century, Haymont bordered but was situated outside of the city limits. It was not until approximately 1910 that lower Haymont residences on Hale Street, Brandt’s Lane, Hillside Avenue, Athens Avenue and Hay Street up to Fountainhead Lane were incorporated into the city. Haymont is one of Fayetteville’s oldest and most cohesive neighborhoods. 

     

    But there is another side of Haymont. From Broadfoot Avenue, on the other side of Arsenal Avenue, over to Turnpike Road, are small, low income houses. It’s a very poor area separated from well kempt homes along Valley Road by a large privacy fence. It was once drug-infested, especially along Branson Street. But twenty years ago, Highland Presbyterian Church built a community center at the end of Davis Street. Local residents got involved and police cracked down. Today, while that area of Haymont remains impoverished, it’s safer than before. 


  • Cumberland County CourthouseLast Friday, Cumberland County filed a lawsuit against Chemours and DuPont chemical companies, accusing the companies of causing severe groundwater contamination in the county.

    The law firm companies, Crueger Dickinson L.L.C. and Baron & Budd, P.C., filed the lawsuit on behalf of Cumberland County.

    DuPont has had a chemical facility in Cumberland County dating back to the 1960s. In the 1980s, DuPont started discharging a chemical known as PFOA into the Cape Fear River. PFOA was a type of PFAS chemical, also known as a "forever chemical" because they do not naturally break down and accumulate in the environment and the blood and organs of people and animals. In 2005, PFOA was phased out after the Environmental Protection Agency penalized DuPont for failing to report information about its risk to human health and the environment. In 2009, the company began using a substitute known as GenX, another type of PFAS substance, claiming it was safer. However, the E.P.A. has since said that GenX exposure is associated with an increased risk of health problems in animal studies, including issues in the kidney, liver, immune system and others. Additionally, it can increase the risk of cancer.

    Chemours promised in 2017 to capture, remove and safely dispose of the contaminants in the drinking water source.

    In October 2020, North Carolina filed a lawsuit against DuPont and Chemours, alleging they were aware of the health threats associated with GenX. North Carolina officials announced in August that Chemours had exceeded limits on how much GenX it's Fayetteville factory was emitting and fined them $300,000 for the violations.

    The Complaint alleges that the companies discharged these toxic chemicals into the air, groundwater, and surface water for decades.

    "These companies have used the environment surrounding the Fayetteville Works facility as a dumping ground for hundreds of chemicals while assuring the E.P.A. and state agencies that they were doing no such thing," the Complaint alleges.

    According to the county, these chemicals have been detected at two elementary schools and have impacted thousands of Cumberland County residents who use groundwater wells as their sole water source.

    Up & Coming Weekly has reached out to the Chemours Company F.C., L.L.C., DuPont de Nemours, Inc., and Corteva, Inc. about the lawsuit but has not heard back.

  • Fort BraggA visit from the 10th Marines Field Artillery Regiment at Fort Bragg will mean a larger than usual presence of loud explosions and artillery fire.

    The Marines will be conducting their semi-annual field artillery section certifications, command-post exercise, and live-fire training, Operation Rolling Thunder, March 24 through April 10. The field artillery live fire portion of the exercise starts on March 28. The 10th Marines will fire significant amounts of M777 Howitzer 155mm ammunition from twenty different M777 Howitzers, which can be associated with loud explosions and reverberations upon detonation.

     At the same time, field artillery units from the 82nd Airborne Division and the 18th Field Artillery Brigade will conduct live-fire training resulting in additional loud explosions and reverberations.

    “The training conducted at Fort Bragg is necessary to help maintain the 10th Marine Regiment’s readiness,” said Sharilyn Wells, Fort Bragg spokesperson. “We ask the communities surrounding Fort Bragg to be understanding while they are here training.”

    According to Wells, all field artillery units will comply with existing requirements that prohibit them from massing fires larger than battalion size between 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily or from firing during the hours of 10 a.m. to noon on Sundays.

  • Cumberland County Courthouse Facing a crucial decision about benefits for employees, Cumberland County is going to ask its workers for their perspective.

    Cumberland County will survey its employees in the coming weeks to see whether they prefer higher premiums with lower deductibles, or vice versa, as part of the upcoming fiscal year’s health insurance plan.

    The Board of Commissioners on Monday unanimously approved taking $2 million from the county’s general fund to keep premiums and deductibles the same as last year as a way to keep high and rising health care costs in check for employees.

    Before finalizing those rates, though, commissioners want to see what workers prefer.

    Commissioner Jimmy Keefe, who objected to not lowering deductibles at a previous meeting, introduced the idea of a survey Monday.

    “I’m not asking for any additional money, but possibly paying a higher premium to get a lower deductible,” he said.

    Oftentimes, Keefe said, employees are unable to pay the high deductibles, resulting in letters and calls from collection agencies.

    “It’s just a revolving door of pain and suffering,” he said.

    The current deductible for individuals, under the county’s plan through Blue Cross Blue Shield, is $2,000. For employees and their families, it’s $6,000.

    The monthly premium for a standard wellness plan is $21 for individuals and $296 for families.

    How premiums impact deductibles
    Cumberland Finance Director Vicki Evans said key differences exist between premiums and deductibles that prevent an exact offset in increases and decreases to either.

    “The premiums give the county upfront money because that’s being deducted from the employees’ pay every pay period, but the deductible is on the back end,” she said.

    Most employees are far from likely to pay the full deductible, as that requires receiving that much health care in a given year.

    “Many of our employees, they never meet (the deductible),” Evans said. “They go to primary care visits only during the year. Primary care visits are only subject to copays. There’s no real impact on the people who may be paying more for a premium without additional benefit.”

    To determine the effect of a higher premium on the deductible, Evans said, the county’s insurance broker will need to run figures that account for a collective claims history among employees.

    According to a presentation to the county during its previous meeting, annual paid claims rose to over $22 million, an increase of 21.5%.

    Evans said she expects to have the survey results ready to present to the commissioners by their second meeting next month on April 18.

    Rising health care costs
    Before the board’s agreement, Cumberland was projected to have a $4.38 million deficit in health care costs for the upcoming year, according to the county.

    Beyond the $2 million from the general fund, the board agreed to raise employer contributions as part of next year’s budget to make up the rest of the costs.

    Last year, before the increase in paid claims, the board had planned to decrease deductibles by $1,000, but rising costs rendered that financially impossible.

    “It’s just not good news,” Chairman Glenn Adams said at a previous meeting upon hearing the news.

    “A benefit isn’t a benefit if you can’t afford to pay it.”

    To keep the cost of that benefit the same for now, the board decided to invest the $2 million.

    But those costs could keep increasing.

    “The county is continuing to monitor health insurance cost trends on a monthly basis,” an emailed statement from the county said.

    “Trends are showing health insurance costs are rising. However, each year the broker will evaluate and determine feasibility of various deductible amounts.”

    County keeps health reimbursement plan
    In an attempt to keep health costs low for workers, the board also decided to keep in place the health reimbursement account for employees.

    The HRA, which was established last year, allows employees, once they go over the $1,000 deductible mark, to apply for reimbursement of health costs up to $1,000.

    The broker, however, didn’t recommend renewal, as it costs the county $7,000 per month in administration costs.

    “This isn’t the traditional way to handle deductibles but is a way the board could help members in managing health insurance costs,” county officials said.


     Photo Credit: The Cumberland County Courthouse in Fayetteville houses meetings of the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners. Melissa Sue Gerrits / Carolina Public Press

  • Some North Carolina counties taking state-allocated rental aid may have to use local funds to disburse it, as fees used to fund that process are lower than what was allowed with previous allocations due to a different set of rules.

    The state’s relief comes from the $46 billion Congress approved through federal stimulus. The assistance was created to curb evictions due to widespread income loss at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    This was split into two rounds of relief: one from the December 2020 stimulus and the other from the American Rescue Plan Act in March 2021.

    Portions of that went to the state government and North Carolina’s 12 most populous counties — Buncombe, Cabarrus, Cumberland, Durham, Forsyth, Gaston, Guilford, Johnston, Mecklenburg, New Hanover, Union and Wake.

    To allow for state and local governments to pay for the disbursement of this aid, the U.S. Treasury allowed for 10% of the funds in the first round of relief to be used for administration.

    For the second round of assistance, that increased to 15%.

    The state government’s over $1 billion in rent relief, however, was limited to a lower percentage.

    In Senate Bill 172 from last year, the state legislature divided portions of its allocation to those same 12 counties, but it limited administration fees to just 5%.

    For some counties, that lower rate may not cover disbursement costs. If the county decides to take the money, any additional expenses may have to be paid for with local dollars.

    Cumberland County, for instance, is set to receive more than $31 million in rent aid from the state, but the administration fee won’t be enough to cover the salaries of its rent relief staff, according to county officials.

    Of the 25 positions that Cumberland has listed for applications, three will be funded by the Department of Social Services budget, each at an annual salary of nearly $32,000.

    But additional dollars from the county may be needed. County officials said in an email that it hasn’t determined whether enough DSS money is available to cover the salaries.

    Cumberland’s rental assistance program was previously administered by Innovative Emergency Management, but the private company said the lower fee was not enough to cover its costs going forward, Carolina Public Press previously reported.

    DSS is set to take over the program as the county Board of Commissioners, by unanimous vote, unofficially approved having Social Services handle administration at a previous meeting.

    At Monday’s meeting, the board will vote on whether to finalize the move.

    ‘An expensive program to run’
    Buncombe was one of the counties that took rental aid from the state.

    To disburse the money, county dollars are being used due to the limitations of the 5% administrative fee, said Phillip Hardin, Buncombe County’s economic services director.

    “At the end of the day, it’s an expensive program to run,” he said. “It’s a very labor-intensive program with a lot of work involved.”

    That work involves processing applications to ensure the tenants meet aid requirements. Staff members must work with applicants to verify that they earn 80% or less of the area median income and that they lost income due to the pandemic.

    “We’ve used county dollars for certain to offset,” Hardin said.

    “We’re using staff who work in programs that have revenue attached to them, such as food assistance and Medicaid.”

    That’s not necessarily universal across the state. Hardin said it depends on the county.

    “Counties pay different amounts,” Hardin said. “We pay fairly well in Buncombe, versus maybe another county that doesn’t pay and have benefits like we do.”

    According to the job listings for Cumberland, DSS will offer benefits to those who take the positions.

    Cumberland DSS Director Heather Skeens said in an email that the salaries are equivalent to current DSS positions.

    Despite the decrease in administration funding from the state, Hardin said that the efficiency and the speed of the program in Buncombe have not been affected.

    The fee limitation will not impact the performance of Cumberland’s program either, Skeens said.

    Shift to housing stability services
    While the state allocations are limited to a 5% administrative fee, an additional 5% in housing stability services is allowed. That funding can include, among other things, paying staff to speak with and obtain documentation from landlords. The money can be used on social workers who attend court to assist tenants with an eviction case.

    Mecklenburg County contracted DreamKey Partners to administer the county’s rental aid. Erin Barbee, the company’s chief strategy officer, said the fee limitations forced the firm to reduce staff and lean more into its application software.

    “When we were told that it was changing from 10% to 5%, we needed to shift pretty quickly,” she said. “We were already in conversation about how we could use technology to our advantage and reduce people power, because our program was driven by people power, and it was efficient, but it needed to have more efficiencies.”

    The fee changes forced existing staff away from administrative duties, Barbee said.

    “We put more people into the housing stability services, which gave us the ability to serve those on the ground in the courthouses,” she said. “It was a shift, but I would say it was a good one. We weren’t thinking in that manner before.

    “It’s hard to be upset about the change when it was a positive outcome for us.”

    While the limitations of the state legislation led DreamKey to invest in housing stability services, they were allowed beforehand at a higher rate.

    Both rounds of the direct federal allocation allowed 10% in housing stability. That’s on top of the respective 10% and 15% in administrative fees in the first two runs of relief.

    With that flexibility, Cumberland’s previous administrator, Innovative Emergency Management, used the maximum 25% of the aid at one point for administration and housing stability, Carolina Public Press previously reported.

    In Buncombe County, Hardin said he preferred the previous rate.

    “I would hope that they would have kept it at what Treasury kept it at,” he said.

    Cumberland will use the housing stability funds to pay case managers to work on the ground with landlords and renters, obtaining documentation when necessary from each, while also assisting tenants in court in preventing evictions, when appropriate, Skeens said.

  • The difference between entertainment and art is that art strives to teach us something about human nature.03-27-13-gilbert.gifThis statement holds true across all mediums of self-expression, though art and entertainment are not mutually exclusive.

    Art may still be entertaining and entertainment may still be emotionally touching or jarring; but a work is only truly art when it illuminates a truth about humanity. The play The Effect of Gamma Rays on The Man-In-the-Moon Marigolds is art. It is on stage at the Gilbert Theater from April 4-21.

    The play was written in 1964 by Paul Zindel. Zindel, a science teacher, received the Pulitzer prize in 1971 for the play. The story, set in the ‘60s, centers around the dysfunctional Hunsdorfer family.

    Matilda “Tillie” is the protagonist of the story and the youngest of the family. Throughout the story she struggles against the darkness in her life and serves as a symbol of an individual who can rise above their circumstances.

    Ruth is the oldest sister, and unlike Tillie she cannot defy her controlling and abusive mother. Beatrice is the main antagonist of the story, and the mother of the family. She is a single mother who is overwhelmed with the abuse and destruction she rains upon both herself and those around her.

    It is obvious that the story is a dark one, but it is often by exploring the darkness in ourselves that the beauty and strength we hold internally is revealed.

    Amanda Brooks Learner, who plays Beatrice in the show, says that the play “is a compelling story. It is suspenseful, and the audience should expect to be taken on a trip. It is full of painful, beautiful and painfully beautiful moments. There are horrible moments and the story will force the audience to ask questions such as ‘what is the meaning of life and how can we take this circumstance and find hope?’

    “Throughout the play, the audience sees true cruelty and the affects of alcoholism. Most people have been affected by alcoholism in some way, be it a family member or relative, and in this story we see the affects of truly hopeless alcoholism, abuse and cruelty on children. We see that some can rise above it and some can’t,” she said.

    The antagonist is often an under-rated character. Without the evils in the world there could be no good, the same principle holds true within this play. Without Beatrice, Tillies amazing story of perseverance would not be as powerful as it is. Learner expresses this sentiment in her excitement to portray the character.

    Learner says, “I (Beatrice) can help to tell her story and bring humanity to Beatrice so that the audience can relate to a poor, struggling woman in a time period where divorce is unheard of. I can speak to the audience and help them to identify with the pain of being lonely. I live through them and this is an opportunity to journey into myself and explore the darkness within myself. The darkness scares me, but through it I am able to support the light.”

    The Gilbert Theater is located at 116 Green St. For more information or to order tickets, contact the theatre at 678-7186 or at www.gilberttheatre.com

  • sheriff earl buttlerFormer Cumberland County Sheriff Earl "Moose" Butler passed away on Sunday, March 20, according to a news release from the Sheriff's Office.

    The 84-year-old man passed away peacefully, surrounded by family, according to the press release.

    Butler served as Sheriff of Cumberland County for 22 years, from 1994 to 2016. Prior to being elected as sheriff, Butler worked as a district supervisor with the North Carolina Department of Probation and Parole. He was one of the longest-serving Sheriffs in North Carolina.

    Prior to working in law enforcement, Butler was a football player who went on to play for UNC and eventually the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    In 2019, the Sheriff’s Training Center was renamed in honor of Earl R. Butler. Wright was the one to submit that nomination.

    “Building dedications should be done while someone is alive so they can appreciate it, like we appreciate them," Wright said at the time.

    In 2021, the name of Princeton Street in the Massey Hill community was changed to Moose Butler Lane in honor of Butler. Butler grew up in the Massey Hill neighborhood.

    A Public Viewing will be held on Wednesday, March 23 at Rogers and Breece Funeral Home, 500 Ramsey Street Fayetteville, from 5:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. A Celebration of Sheriff Earl R. Butler's Life Services will be on Thursday, March 24, at 2 p.m. at Massey Hill Baptist Church. There is limited seating. The interment will follow with a private graveside service.

    The family requests that memorials be made to Falcon Children's Home 7569 N. West Street Falcon, NC 28342 and the UNC Lineberger Cancer Center 123 W. Franklin Street, Suite 510, Chapel Hill, NC 27516.

    COMMUNITY REACTS

    County Commissioner Chairman Glenn Adams has ordered all flags at County facilities to be lowered to half-staff in honor of Moose. The flags will remain at half-staff until Butler's funeral.

    "On behalf of Cumberland County, I send our deepest condolences to the Butler family. We have lost a gentle giant of a man. First and foremost, Sheriff Butler cared about people. He was a fair and just man who thought about the whole county and how to make it the best place to live for everyone. We will miss him," Adams said in a press release.

    Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin also gave his condolences to the Butler family in a statement.

    "Today, many hearts of our community are saddened by the passing of Former Sheriff Earl Moose Butler. Sheriff Butler contributed tremendously to the safety and security of our community with his decades of public service. We are rarely given an opportunity to work with a true servant like Moose Butler. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sheriff Butler’s family and loved ones."

    Governor Roy Cooper tweeted that Butler was a strong friend and leader.

    "Sheriff Moose Butler was a true public servant who worked diligently to protect the health & safety of the people of Cumberland County. I’m grateful for our decades of friendship, his strong leadership across our state and the real difference he made in the lives of so many," Cooper said.

    Cumberland County Schools will comply with the order to fly flags at half staff in concert with other Cumberland County facilities until Butler's Celebration of Life on Thursday.

    "We were saddened to learn that former Cumberland County Sheriff Earl "Moose" Butler passed away on Sunday, March 20, 2022. A distinguished alumnus of Massey Hill High School and tremendous public servant, Sheriff Butler was instrumental in expanding the School Resource Officer (SRO) program in Cumberland County Schools. We extend our heartfelt sympathy and prayers to the Butler family during this challenging time," Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelly, Jr. said.

    "The passing of former Cumberland County Sheriff Early Ray "Moose" Butler is a terrible loss to our community. Sheriff Butler was a legend in Cumberland County; as kind as he was strong, as fair as he was tough. During his 22-year tenure as Cumberland County's chief law enforcement officer, Sheriff Butler oversaw many of the positive changes in effect today. In many ways, he set the standard for modern policing in this state and left a legacy that will live long after him. Dion and I mourn with the family and friends of Sheriff Butler as well as the Cumberland County Sheriff's Department during this difficult time," Sen. Ben Clark's statement read.

  • SmithThe Cumberland County Sheriff's Office Special Victims' Unit has arrested a former Cape Fear High School teacher on child-sex charges.

    31-year-old William Landon Smith of Wade County was arrested Friday, March 18 on 29 Warrants with a total of 56 charges. Smith was arrested for 27 counts of 1st-Degree Sex Exploitation of a Minor, 28 Counts of Indecent Liberties with a Student, and one count of Secretly Using or Installing a Photographic Imaging Device to Arouse or Gratify Sexual Desire.

    The Sheriff's Office states that Smith was communicating with victims through social media apps such as Snapchat. One of the known accounts he was using was "Landonology90" user qunyt57f5Rf with Snapchat code 704087.

    Sheriff Ennis Wright requests that all parents, guardians, and custodians monitor their children's social media accounts and educate them about internet safety.

    “It is essential to know who is communicating with your children. Predators are not everywhere, but they may be anywhere," Wright said.

    Smith is currently at the Cumberland County Detention Center on a $425,000.00 secure bond. His first appearance is set for 2:30 p.m. on Monday, March 21 at the Cumberland County Detention Center.

    Detectives have not identified all the victims that had contact with Smith. Anyone with information is requested to contact Detective S. Odenwelder at 910-677-5477 or CrimeStoppers at (910) 483-TIPS (8477). Crimestoppers' information may also be submitted electronically by visiting http://fay-nccrimestoppers.org.

  • FPD Homicide Fayetteville Police are looking into a shooting investigation Saturday evening that has left three men dead and three people with injuries.

    Officers arrived at the parking lot of the Baymont Ramada off Own Drive around 8:51 p.m. following reports of a shooting.

    42-year-old William Franklin Davis Sr. of Fayetteville was pronounced dead at the scene. Keith Allan Dickey, 37, of Lumber Bridge, and Donald Dillenbeck, 49, of Vestal, New York, died later at the hospital, according to FPD.

    The three other people who were shot are being treated at a local hospital.

    Detectives have determined the shooting. Police have determined the shooting occurred during a confrontation between the Hells Angels, Red Devils, Infamous Ryders and La Familia motorcycle gang organizations.

    Detectives are reviewing hundreds of hours of private security camera footage, license plate reader data, and city-owned cameras. Witnesses or anyone with specific information is asked to contact Detective R. Vernon at (910) 729-2525 or Crimestoppers at (910) 483-TIPS (8477). Crimestoppers information can also be submitted electronically, by visiting http://fay-nccrimestoppers.org

  •   As the Crape Myrtles begin to bloom, thoughts turn toward spring and the great outdoors. Every spring, I try to learn a new sport, from canoeing to rock wall climbing, I have tried everything and this year will be no different. This year, I have decided to tackle the somewhat illusive sport of golf. I will do this with the help of the PGA Golf Professionals at Stryker and Ryder Golf Courses.
      {mosimage}Golf has been a favorite past-time in America for years and its not surprising that it is a multibillion dollar a year business. Golf is a fun way to network, socialize and simply enjoy a great day outside. My husband has been golfing for a good portion of his life. He enjoys it immensely but for me it just seems so impossible to learn. This year I have two great mentors and their staff willing to help me overcome my fear of looking stupid — hopefully without tearing up the greens in the process. The PGA Golf Professionals at Stryker and Ryder Golf courses are working hard this year at the Spring Golf Clinics to train everyone from amateurs, like myself, to more advanced skill levels, the wonderful game of golf.
      With the help of the Spring Golf Clinics I will finally be able to grasp the game of golf. The clinics are available to all military and government identification cardholders 18 and older, both men and women, The clinics include unlimited range balls and instruction by a PGA golf professional and a knowledgeable staff. Classes are small and fill up fast, so early registration is encouraged.
      Robert Taylor is the golf pro at Ryder which is a beautiful golf course set among tall Carolina pines and rolling hills. Ryder has several water holes, which come into play. The greens are small and undulating. The fairways are tree-lined and hilly. The bunkers are well positioned and, at times, deep. While not long in length, Ryder is very challenging for all skill levels. Jeff Johnson is the PGA professional for Stryker, which was designed by Donald Ross and features a large clubhouse, a well-stocked golf shop and new locker rooms. This state of the art facility is sure to please even the biggest critics of golf.   Both facilities offer a pro shop and a very knowledgeable staff answer all of your questions.
      The main reason I go to Stryker and Ryder is the staff. The staff does everything they can to make me feel comfortable when I visit. They take time to break things down into terms I will understand. That’s why Stryker and Ryder Golf Courses are my (and my husband’s) “First Choice.”

  • 05 FOrt Bragg sign The Naming Commission has narrowed down the list of new names for nine military installations, including Fort Bragg.

    The renaming of Fort Bragg comes after the U.S. Congress voted to mandate that Fort Bragg and eight other military installations named after Confederate figures or sympathizers be renamed. Fort Bragg was named after Confederate General Braxton Bragg.

    Fort Bragg's leadership has held several town halls on and off-post to receive input from servicemembers and local citizens about the renaming process.

    The Naming Commission said it received more than 34,000 submissions for new names and narrowed it down to 87 names. Some of those names do have connections to Fort Bragg and were some of the suggestions received by Fort Bragg's leadership. The commission does state that while a final selection for each post is still pending, the scope of consideration is now focused on these names:

    • Sgt. 1st Class William Bryant, a 5th Special Forces Group soldier who received a Medal of Honor after being killed in Vietnam in 1969.
      Master Sergeant Raul Perez "Roy" Benavidez, a 5th Special Forces Group soldier who received the Medal of Honor for a series of brave actions during the Vietnam War in 1968.
    • Lt. General James Gavin was the third Commanding General of the 82nd Airborne Division during World War II. He was nicknamed "The Jumping General" because he practiced taking part in combat jumps with the paratroopers under his command.
    • Master Sgt. Gary Gordon and Sgt. First Class Randy Shughart was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions during the Battle of Mogadishu in October 1993. Gordon and Shughart were stationed at Fort Bragg before being deployed to Somalia. Gordon Elementary School in Linden Oaks, Harnett County, was named in Gordon's honor.
    • Capt. Kimberly Hampton was the first female military pilot in United States history to be shot down and killed as a result of hostile fire. She was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg before becoming the commander of Delta Troop, 1st Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment prior to the unit's deployment to Iraq in 2003. Hampton was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, Air Medal, and Purple Heart.
    • Sgt. 1st Class Lawrence Joel of the 1st Battalion 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade was awarded the Silver Star and Medal of Honor for his actions in South Vietnam aiding his fellow Soldiers during an ambush by a Viet Kong battalion. Fort Bragg's Lawrence Joel Health and Dental Clinic is named after him.
    • Lieutenant General (Ret.) Hal Moore and his wife Julia Moore helped prompt the U.S. Army to set up survivor support networks and casualty notification teams consisting of uniformed officers, which are still in use. The two were married at Fort Bragg while Hal Moore was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. Throughout his career, he became a jumpmaster with over 300 jumps. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism at the Battle Ia Drang during the Vietnam War.
    • Gen. Roscoe Robinson, Jr. was the first African-American commander of the 82nd Airborne Division and the first African-American officer to reach the rank of four-star general. Robinson served in the Korean War and received a Bronze Star for his actions in his early career.
    • Gen. Matthew Ridgway fought with distinction during World War II while directly helping create the foundation of the first airborne corps.
    • Cpl. Rodolfo Perez "Rudy" Hernandez received the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above the call of duty for his actions during the Korean War.
    • Gen. Omar N. Bradley oversaw the U.S. military policymaking in the Korean War. The Bradley Fighting vehicles were named after Gen. Bradley and known as a key armored vehicle for the U.S. military.

    One name missing that was popular with Fayetteville, and Fort Bragg locals were Brig. Gen. Edward S. Bragg, the cousin of Braxton Bragg. In the Civil War, Edward Bragg served in the Union Army and served four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives representing Wisconsin. Later, he was United States Minister to Mexico during the presidency of Grover Cleveland and consul-general to the Republic of Cuba and British Hong Kong under President Theodore Roosevelt.

    The full list can be seen here.

    The commission has until Oct. 1 to submit a name-change proposal to the House Armed Services Committee and Senate Armed Services Committee in response to the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act.

    "It's important that the names we recommend for these installations appropriately reflect the courage, values and sacrifices of our diverse military men and women," retired Navy Adm. Michelle Howard said, the chair of The Naming Commission. "We also are considering the local and regional significance of names and their potential to inspire and motivate our service members."

  • The Office of the State Auditor has released its final report into allegations of the misuse of funds in Spring Lake.

    The state auditor found that Spring Lake’s former accounting technician used at least $430,112 of town funds for personal use, at least $36,400 in cash was found to be missing from daily deposits, town employees spent $102,877 of town funds on questionable credit card purchases, the town overpaid the former economic development director $9,900, town officials failed to safeguard town vehicles and the town board did not maintain closed session meeting minutes for some meetings held during 2019 and 2020.

    Findings from this investigation are being referred to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the State Bureau of Investigation to determine if there is sufficient evidence to pursue criminal charges related to the misappropriation of public funds.

    The state auditor’s key recommendations include the recommendation that the board consider seeking legal action against the former accounting technician, the board should ensure adherence to procedures governing financial operations designed to prevent and detect missing cash in the daily cash collection process, the current finance director should ensure that the procedures to prevent and detect missing cash in the daily cash collection process are being followed, the finance director should ensure monthly bank reconciliations are completed timely and accurately, the revenue supervisor should reconcile the collections reports to the deposit slips to ensure all monies collected are deposited into the town’s bank account, the board should establish a comprehensive policy for credit card usage that includes requirements such as itemized receipts for purchases, a documented town purpose for purchases, validation that the purchases were included in the town’s budget, review of all credit card documentation (including receipts and the documented business purpose) before approval of payment and finally the town should seek reimbursement for any amount of the overpayment not yet repaid by the former economic development director.

    In a response from Spring Lake Mayor, Kia Anthony, to the state auditor, Anthony states that the Board of Alderman accepts the findings and recommendations contained in the report and will commit to working with the North Carolina Local Government Commission as well as the Office of State Auditor’s to address the underlying basis for each finding.

    “We have carefully reviewed the report and discussed the same with representatives of the NC Local Government Commission. From the board’s review of the report, we have concluded that a significant focus of the report involves (1) fraudulent conduct relating to the town’s former finance director/accounting technician who used her position to override the town’s systems of internal control for personal gain and (2) other internal control and compliance breakdowns,” Anthony’s letter stated.

    However, the state auditor said that Spring Lake has made several statements that “obscure an issue, mislead the reader and minimize the importance of the Office of State Auditor’s findings and recommendations.”

    The state auditor required Spring Lake to explain the corrective action it plans to take. The report states that while the town agreed with the findings in the report, the town's response did not include the required details. Without those details, the auditor states it will be difficult for the town and other stakeholders to monitor if corrective actions are being implemented and to ensure those responsible are held accountable.

    The Local Government Commission’s Director, State and Local Government Finance Division Sharon Edmuson wrote to the state auditor agreeing that the town’s response was not detailed enough.

    “It does not include target completion dates for corrective action, nor does it include enough specifics about necessary changes in processes, procedures and policies. The submitted response does not indicate which town staff position is specifically for each corrective action and refers to a town audit committee that currently has no members.” Edmundson said in her letter. “We do not believe the submitted response meets your requirements for a complete response.”
    The state auditor also states in her report that if the town had followed their recommendations from the 2016 Investigative Report about questionable purchases, the issues found in the current investigation may not have occurred.

    Following an emergency board meeting Thursday morning that was an entirely closed session due to personnel matters, Anthony held a press release regarding the findings.

    “The breadth and seriousness of the misconduct discovered is astonishing. This misconduct is particularly troubling because of the unique position of trust that finance and accounting professionals and senior personnel hold within local government,” Anthony said. “The findings in the report demand that those responsible be severely punished for their wrongdoing and that the board puts in place measures designed to prevent its recurrence. The board expects that everyone involved in misappropriating the town’s resources will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

    Anthony goes on to say she is disappointed and surprised by the response of the state auditor and Local Government Commission contained in the report.
    Anthony also points out that members have been appointed to serve on the Audit Committee earlier this week and former Wake County Manager to assist the board in identifying strong candidates for the roles of town manager and finance director.

    Spring Lake’s finances were seized by state authorities in Oct. 2021 after the town had a $1 million loan that had not been reported to state officials. The majority of the Board of Alderman serving at that time are no longer on the board.

  • Two men have been arrested for the murder of a 24-year-old last year.

    Bryan T. Love was shot and killed at the Zaxby's on 2166 Skibo Road on Feb. 20, 2021. According to police, Love was shot in the chest in the parking lot of the restaurant.

    On March 9, Fayetteville Police arrested 32-year-old Andrew Seidel and 32-year-old Marcus Small for the First Degree Murder of Love. They both were also charged with Robbery with a Dangerous Weapon, Felony Conspiracy, Attempted First Degree Murder, and Discharge a Weapon into Occupied Property. Small was arrested at the Cumberland County Courthouse by the United States Marshalls Service. Seidel was served on the warrants at the Cumberland County Jail while in jail for unrelated charges.

    Both are not eligible for bond. They will both appear in court for a pre-trial hearing on March 30.

  • pexels tembela bohle 1089930Walking around Downtown Fayetteville with an open container of alcohol in specially designated districts may be a possibility in the future. Following the recently passed House Bill 890, the Cool Spring Downtown District is researching how Fayetteville could benefit from a social district, which would allow open container alcoholic beverages purchased within the social district confines.

    The Cool Spring Downtown District, Senator Kirk deViere, Mayor Mitch Colvin, Councilmember Shakeyla Ingram, other elected officials, and several downtown business owners were invited to hear a presentation from the North Carolina Downtown Development Association about the bill and [possible implementation in Fayetteville.
    House Bill 890 allows cities to create open-container districts for alcohol. For this to happen, the governing body of a local governmental unit may make a designated social district that contains a common area where people can drink alcoholic beverages; the alcoholic beverage must be purchased from an ABC licensed business from within the social district. People cannot bring their drinks to the district, and they cannot carry drinks outside the district.

    To establish a social district, seven things are required: signage must be installed at the boundaries of the district, all drinks must be in clearly labeled non-glass containers that are under 16 oz, the local government must pass a local ordinance that establishes the boundaries of the district along with days/hours that are approved for open-container alcohol, and that map and district plan must be submitted to the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.

    When looking at Fayetteville, the most prominent problem presenters were concerned with was establishing the district and its boundaries.

    "I think one of Fayetteville's biggest challenges is going to be where you put the signs and where you put the boundaries just because you do have such a wide streetscape. I think figuring out where you want to put those signs is probably going to be important," said Jason Epleym, president, Benchmark Planning.

    A Social District's potential problems could include littering, public intoxication, and illegal filling of containers from 'personal bottles.' However, the biggest problem Ray Gibbs, executive director, Forward High Point, has seen from these social districts has been a lack of participation.

    "It's not something that's going to be right for every city. It's not a magic solution. And as we always say in downtown development, there is no magic solution," Gibbs said. "But, you know, if you put one in effect and only one or two of your bars, restaurants, or pubs participate, is there really enough to do it and makes sense?"

    Bianca Shoneman, president and CEO, Cool Spring Downtown District, said that the next step is to send out a survey to get feedback to see if establishing a social district is something Fayetteville residents and business owners want in their downtown area.

    "As a collective, we want to make sure that property owners, elected officials, residents and of course, our community at large are all behind this effort because downtown is the heart of the city, and we should have a concerted effort to move us forward and generally have consensus from the community before coming out ahead," Shoneman said. "We are looking to do this likely sometime – if we do feel like it's ready to move forward – by ordinance sometime in late summer, early fall."

  • FACVB logo As one of the fastest-changing industries, tourism continues to be a primary engine of economic health in the entire country.

    That applies here in Fayetteville/Cumberland County as well. The Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau (FACVB) recently initiated a tourism research project that will serve as the foundation for the Strategic Marketing and Media Planning for 2022 and beyond.

    The FACVB sought to highlight tourism's impact on the area through this project. By partnering with the Greater Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce and the Cool Spring Downtown District, the Foundational Tourism Research Project delivered insights from three different scopes of work: Stakeholder Study, Scout Report and Tourism Market Study.

    The Stakeholder Study provided tourism insights from local stakeholders and explored the community's awareness of the three organizations. The information gathered from this effort will help optimize community assets and the community tourism brand.

    The Scout Report provided real-time data (cell phone signals) and was able to show the geographic distribution of Fayetteville's visitors from outside of Cumberland County. The data helped identify the markets with the most significant opportunity and will help measure the performance by each market year over year.

    The third element of the research project, the Tourism Market Study, targeted regional travelers to assess and measure sentiment, brand health, visitor profile and barriers to visitation.
    The purpose of the study was to amplify the core of the regional marketplace by measuring Fayetteville/Cumberland County's brand health as a destination and comparing it to other regional destinations of similar size and scope.

    The research summary included impressive numbers regarding tourism's economic health and its impact on the Fayetteville/Cumberland County community. The average leisure visitor spends $877 a visit, and the average business visitor party spends $502 during their stay. Even the Visiting Family/Relatives sector spends $489 during a visit.

    "The Economic Impact of Travel on North Carolina Counties" was prepared for Visit NC by the U.S. Travel Association for 2019, and the below data was presented to FACVB:
    • Cumberland County's travel and tourism industry employs 4,820 people with a payroll totaling nearly $116 million.
    • Travel spending generates $44.598 million in local and state taxes.
    • Travel to Cumberland County is worth $601 million to our local economy, translating to a tax savings of $134.14 per county resident.
    • Cumberland County ranks tenth out of North Carolina's 100 counties in economic impact from tourism.

    Everyone in the community can contribute to the continuation of the area's growth and shape the tourism industry in Cumberland County. The FACVB works alongside the community, hospitality partners and community leaders to further increase tourism and position Fayetteville/Cumberland County as a destination.

    The FACVB extends an invitation to all to visit the Welcome Center, where they can learn more about the FACVB goals and mission as they represent Fayetteville/Cumberland County as the tourism marketing arm of the community for conventions, meetings, sporting events and leisure travel.

    The research in its entirety can be found on the FACVB website at VisitFayettevilleNC.com/about-us/research.

  • Murchison Townhouses With more than 5,000 pending applications from rent-burdened households, Cumberland County is expected to take over administration of its pandemic rental assistance program next month.

    The county and the city of Fayetteville pooled their federal rental aid to form the Fayetteville Cumberland Rental Assistance Program, or RAP, last June.

    The program was initially funded with two rounds of federal rental aid, one from the December 2020 COVID-19 stimulus package and the other from the American Rescue Plan Act. In total, RAP received over $18 million in direct federal aid.

    The funds are for low-income tenants who have fallen behind on rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Renters are eligible for up to 12 months in past due rent and three months in future rent.

    The city and county had previously contracted administration to Innovative Emergency Management, a private company based in Morrisville in Wake County.

    But IEM decided not to renew past the depletion of the program’s current funding. In an emailed statement to Carolina Public Press, the company said its decision was due, in part, to restrictions the N.C. General Assembly placed on the next $17 million.

    During the first two rounds of assistance, IEM said, the company fronted $13 million, at no additional cost to the city or county, to get the program up and running. Fayetteville and Cumberland later reimbursed that spending.

    IEM officials said they also decided not to renew as more upfront spending would have been required.

    “IEM is committed to stabilizing housing and is proud to have been a part of the city of Fayetteville’s and Cumberland County’s COVID-19 recovery efforts,” company officials said.

    Reduced administrative fees
    From both rounds of federal assistance combined, North Carolina’s state government received over $1 billion in rental aid.

    Most of that was used for North Carolina’s own statewide rental assistance effort, the Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions program.

    Portions of it, however, were allocated to the state’s most populous counties, Cumberland among them, as part of state legislation last year, Senate Bill 172.

    In that legislation, Cumberland was allocated more than $31 million, $17 million of which will be disbursed by the county’s Department of Social Services after IEM finishes administering the last of the current funds.

    The law also reduces administrative fees to 5%, down from the 10% in the U.S. Treasury guidelines for state and local governments.

    IEM said this reduction would render the company unable to cover the cost of disbursement, which, the company said, includes call center and case management services, among others.

    To begin administering the aid, DSS Director Heath Skeens told the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners at its monthly agenda meeting last week that DSS would need to hire 25 temporary workers.

    In a statement emailed to Carolina Public Press, Cumberland officials said all positions except for three would be funded with administration fees.

    It hasn’t been determined whether additional county funds will be needed to fund the remaining three positions or whether the DSS budget can handle it, officials said.

    Skeens said she hopes to have the positions filled by March 28.

    The Board of Commissioners voted 5-0 in support of having DSS take over RAP’s administration. Commissioners Michael Boose and Charles Evans were not present for the vote.

    The action will be on the consent agenda for Monday’s board meeting.

    IEM said the company is working with DSS in the transition.

    “IEM and the county are working together to pivot program administration to DSS,” company officials said. “IEM is working with DSS to provide the necessary training and resources to support a successful handoff.”

    Pending applications
    Due to depleting funds, RAP halted applications to the program in January.

    As of last week, 5,165 applications were pending. About 180 applicants will be sent checks in the next two weeks from the remaining $1.3 million in the last round of assistance directly from the federal government, IEM said.

    DSS expects to begin processing the remaining applications as the agency begins going through the next $17 million from the state, Skeens said.

    “Our plan is to begin to process those applications as quickly as possible, to identify and to ensure that we are distributing the money to those in need, as quickly as we can,” Skeens said. “But again, there are 5,100 applications, and that is not going to happen in 30 days. It’s going to take some time.”

    Cumberland officials said it remains to be seen when applications will reopen.

    “We are unsure when and if the portal will be opened for new applications,” an email from the county said. “That will depend on if there is any money left.”

    The next $17 million in funding will be depleted by the 5,100 pending applications, they said.

    So far in the program, 2,631 households in Cumberland County have received aid. Each family has received an average payout of about $5,200.

    Out of the federal aid received, Cumberland County officials said $1.3 million was remaining as of last Thursday, and IEM expects to send that money to landlords and tenants within the next two weeks.

    That’s the last 7% from the first two rounds of federal rent aid as IEM has disbursed 93%.

  • melvin Nyrell Melvin, a filed candidate for the Fayetteville mayoral race, has decided to drop out of the contested race to run for a spot on the Cumberland County Board of Education.

    In a public statement, Melvin says that while he was running for mayor, he found himself at multiple school board meetings and saw parents ignored by the school board.

    "I have seen parents left outside and refused the right to speak. I have seen parents ignored and shrugged off. I have done my best to speak on their behalf. They have contacted me. I have been thanked and encouraged by them. I have been told they did not feel heard until I spoke up for them," Melvin said. "I set out to serve God and help the citizens of Fayetteville. In doing so, I have found parents being denied the right to be actively involved in how and what their children are taught just because they are taught in public schools. The board of education is designed to serve parents and children while balancing their serves to teachers and staff. I believe they need help to do that again."

    He is looking to run for the At-Large seat during the general election on Nov. 8. The filing deadline for this election is Aug. 5.

    He says he believes the Mayor's Office will end up with proper leadership and spoke highly of mayorial candidate Freddie Delacruz.

    Mayor Mitch Colvin, the incumbent candidate, will be running again for a third term in the upcoming primary elections. There are now four candidates who will be running against him. The candidates who filed for mayor are Clifton L. Johnson, Franco Webb, Antoine J. Miner and Delacruz.

  • Metronet Metronet, a leading 100 percent fiber optic internet provider, officially launched its network in Cumberland County. This expansion of internet services would allow for more innovation and entrepreneurship.

    “Our future-proof network has proven valuable to the cities we partner with, and we are excited to bring that opportunity to Fayetteville,” said Dave Heimbach, Metronet President and Chief Operating Officer. “Metronet is proud to support the CORE Innovation Center by providing 1 Gigabit of upload and download speeds for the next five years. Our services will allow local entrepreneurs to kick-start their businesses and promote further economic growth for the city."

    The celebratory ‘lighting” of the Cumberland County network took place at the CORE Innovation Center adjacent to FCEDC Offices. The CORE is a unique military and technology-focused accelerator offering rentable private offices, demonstration space, conference rooms and a rooftop reception space, overlooking downtown Fayetteville.

    “Advanced world-class internet access is an essential component of innovation. This connectivity is crucial for military and technological innovation, which the CORE accelerator space was developed to support,” said North Carolina Representative John Szoka. “We are thankful that Metronet is now delivering gigabit speeds to drive digital transformation within our local community, boosting the efficiency of our businesses and the productivity of our people.”

    Metronet's network across Cumberland County is under construction. When complete, the network will cover Cumberland County, including Fayetteville, Hope Mills, Linden, Wade, Stedman, Godwin, Eastover, Falcon, and Spring Lake. This build-out will also provide service to portions of Hoke County, such as the communities of Raeford and Rockfish. 

    Metronet expects that all planned areas will receive access within two years, with customers in initial construction areas now eligible for Metronet services. Those who would like to learn more about the construction process can visit construction.metronetinc.com to see the progress throughout their community.

    Cumberland County Commission Chairman Glenn Adams shared, “More than ever, our citizens are relying on fast internet to work, learn and engage. Deploying a high-speed and affordable telecommunications service is critical to help bridge the digital divide.”

    “Metronet’s infrastructure is a vital advancement for our community,” Mayor Mitch Colvin said in a press release. “We’re thrilled to become the next ‘Gigabit City.’ We also need to thank the Fayetteville Public Works Commission for their active collaboration and support in facilitating the construction process. We are grateful that Metronet chose Fayetteville and Cumberland County for their first North Carolina deployment and welcome them to our community.”

    Metronet is currently hiring for several positions in sales and operations. Individuals who are interested in joining the Metronet team can visit metronetinc.com/careers to search for positions and submit applications.

  • 03-12-14-fireantz-pic.gifYour Fayetteville FireAntz Hockey Team begins the last month of the regular season in the hunt for a playoff spot. It has been an exciting season on the ice and off, thanks to the different promotions that the FireAntz have had at each of their games. It looks to get even better in March.

    Friday, March 14, it is the FireAntz vs. the Louisiana Ice Gators. The FireAntz meet the Ice Gators for the fourth time this season and continue their late-season push toward the playoffs. It’s Faith and Family night with the FireAntz. There are group rates available at the FireAntz office, if you have a large group that you would like to bring to the game.

    On Saturday, March 15, the FireAntz take on the Louisiana Ice Gators. The FireAntz host Louisiana for the second game of a weekend doubleheader. It’s Ray Price of Fayetteville Bike Night. Everyone who rides a motorcycle to the game will get one free ticket, per bike, courtesy of Ray Price of Fayetteville. Also, the FireAntz will wear specialty jerseys that will be auctioned to fans after the game. Be sure to get there early.

    Tuesday, March 18 the team plays the Knoxville Ice Bears: This game is to make up for the one originally scheduled on Feb. 11. Fans may use tickets for the Feb. 11 game at the Box Office and they will be accepted. The game is brought to you by ERA Strother Real Estate. There will also be a live performance by Nashville recording artist, Trae Edwards, brought to you by Cape Fear Heroes. Go to any local Kangaroo gas station and get a voucher for a $2 ticket at the Crown Box Office, courtesy of Coca Cola.

    Friday, March 21 the FireAntz face the Peoria RiverMen: This is the second to last home game of the season and you won’t want to miss it. The FireAntz will battle hard for a playoff spot and the action will be intense. Check the FireAntz website for more information on special pricing and details.

    Saturday, March 22 the team plays the Peoria RiverMen: Don’t miss the last game of the regular season. There is a lot going on at this FireAntz game. It’s Race Night featuring the local dirt track and drag racers and their vehicles. There will be a display of local race cars in the parking lot for fans to see, up close and personal. It’s also Scout Night. Scouts who come in their Class “A” uniforms will get a scout patch and free admission to the game! Group rates for the game are available, in advance.

    It’s an exciting final month of the regular season for the FireAntz. Find out more about the FireAntz and purchased tickets at 321-0123 or www.fireantzhockey.com.

    Photo: Forward #7 John Clewlow

    Photo Courtesy Carter/ Groves Photography

  • Valley Pavilion expansion Cape Fear Valley Medical Center will be adding two new floors on top of the Valley Pavilion section. This expansion, worth $110 million, will add 100 beds - 40 of which will be designed as ICU beds - 187 full-time positions and two rooftop helipads.

    CEO Michael Nagowski said this expansion has been an anticipated part of the health system’s long-term planning, and that the health system has been saving funds in preparation for this.

    “We recognized that we need this expansion to meet the growing needs of our community, and to provide meaningful assistance to reduce delays in our Emergency Department,” Nagowski said. “We expect that this will dramatically improve wait times in the ER.”

    The rooftop helipads were designed specifically to help emergencies, specifically because of the short distance from Fort Bragg. Currently, the hospital’s helipad is located on the front lawn.

    “Our plan is that one of the helipads will be structured to accept Blackhawk helicopters,” said Nagowski. “We want to make sure we have complete readiness if it was needed, because of our proximity to Fort Bragg.”

    The construction is expected to start in the fall and will be completed in the fall of 2024. Little Diversified Architectural Consulting and Rodgers Builders, Inc. were chosen to do the construction because they wouldn't shut down or close the entrance of the hospital or the ER while building the two stories.

    “It was a major consideration because we need to be adding onto this facility while it’s occupied,” Nagowski said. “During different phases of construction, there may be some traffic pattern adjustments around our entrances, but they will remain open. We don’t expect the project to affect traffic on Owen Drive or Village Drive at all.”

    This is the first major expansion since 2008 when the five-story Valley Pavilion opened. That expansion added 132 Acute Care beds to the hospital’s capacity, as well as new adult and pediatric Emergency Departments, Heart & Vascular Center, Bariatric Center, Women’s Pavilion, Surgical Pavilion, and Imaging department. Not counting Behavioral Health beds, the medical center currently has 524 Acute Care beds and 78 Rehabilitation beds.

  • Cumberland County School Board approved a reassignment plan for students at T.C. Berrien Elementary school Tuesday evening.

    The board voted on Plan A, which would divide the 178 students that attend T.C. Berrien Elementary School amongst Ferguson-Easley Elementary and Lucile Soulders Elementary school.

    According to Cumberland County Schools, Lucile Souders currently has 284 students with a building capacity of 400 students. This plan would add 52 students to Lucile Souders. Ferguson-Easley Elementary currently has 195 students, with a building capacity of 396 students. The reassignment plan would add 126 students to Ferguson-Easley.

    CCS Plan A WEB

    The approved plan will create the least amount of movement for students, as only those who normally attend T.C. Berrien are affected by the reassignment, according to the district.

    The district says the furthest distance that students would have to travel is 2.9 miles, compared with 9.9 miles currently to W. T. Brown Elementary.

    Some of the board members had concerns about changes in diversity and economic index for these reassignment plans. For Lucile Souders, the economic index would go down to 4.8 and 2.7 for Ferguson Easley.

    The board approved the closure of T.C. Berrien Elementary school unanimously, it will close at the end of the school year.

  • elections Filing is closed for the May 2022 primaries and candidates are ready to start campaigning all over Cumberland County. Many of the races are contested — both locally and state-wide.

    CITY AND COUNTY SEATS
    FAYETTEVILLE MAYOR
    Mayor Mitch Colvin, the incumbent candidate, will be running again for a third term. There are five candidates who will be running against him. The candidates who filed for mayor are Clifton L. Johnson, Freddie Delacruz, Franco Webb, Nyrell Melvin and Antoine J. Miner.

    CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 1
    Kathy Jensen, the incumbent candidate, will be running again for her fourth term. She is being challenged by Jose Alex Rodriquez and William Milbourne III.

    CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 2
    Shakeyla Ingram, the incumbent candidate, will be running against three other candidates. She is being challenged by Janene Ackles, Joseph Dewberry, James Peterson and former councilmember Tyrone Williams.

    CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 3
    Antonio Jones, the incumbent candidate who was recently appointed to the city council seat in December, will be running against four candidates - John Zimmerman, Mario Benavente, Kurin Keys and Bill Ayerbe.

    CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 4
    D.J. Haire, the incumbent candidate, will be running for his eleventh term in City Council. He is being challenged by Thomas C. Green and William Grantham.

    CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 5
    Johnny Dawkins, the incumbent candidate, will be facing only one other candidate at the polls. The challenger is Frederick G. LaChance III.

    CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 6
    Christopher Davis, the current seat holder, will be leaving his office at Fayetteville City Council in order to run for the North Carolina House of Representatives. His seat is being contested by Joy Marie Potts, Leigh Howard, Peter Pappas and Derrick Thompson.

    CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 7
    Larry Wright, the incumbent candidate, will be running for his fourth term. He is being challenged by Myahtaeyarra Warren and Brenda McNair.

    CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 8
    Courtney Banks-McLaughlin, the incumbent candidate, will be running for her second term. She is being challenged by one other candidate - Michael Pinkston.

    CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 9
    Yvonne Kinston, the incumbent candidate, will be running for her second term. She is being challenged by John Czajkowski, Sonya Renita Massey and Deno Hondros.

    COUNTY COMMISSIONERS AT-LARGE
    There are two at-large commissioner seats open for the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners.
    For the Democratic Ballot, there are six candidates running for the seats. Those candidates are current Commissioner Larry Lancaster, former Commissioner Marshall Faircloth, Veronica B. Jones, Ronald Pittman, Jackie Paul-Ray and Paul Taylor.
    For the Republican Ballot, State Rep. John Szoka and Ron Ross will be running.

    COUNTY SHERIFF
    Ennis Wright, the incumbent sheriff, has filed for re-election. He is being challenged by Democrat Lester A. Lowe. Whoever comes out in the primary election will run against Republican Candidate LaRue Windham in the general election in November.

    N.C. HOUSE OF
    REPRESENTATIVES
    DISTRICT 42
    On the Democratic ballot, incumbent Rep. Marvin Lucas is being challenged by Naveed Aziz. Whoever comes out in the primary election will run against Republican Candidate Gloria Carrasco in the general election in November.

    DISTRICT 43
    On the Democratic ballot, there are three candidates. Former State Rep. Elmer Floyd, Prince Christian and Kimberly Hardy will be running against each other.
    On the Republican ballot, incumbent Rep. Diane Wheatley is being challenged by Clarence W. Goins, Jr.

    DISTRICT 44
    On the Democratic ballot, there are two candidates running for this seat - Charles Smith and Terry L. Johnson Sr.

    DISTRICT 45
    On the Democratic ballot, there are three candidates running against each other - Fayetteville City Councilmember Chris Davis, Keith Byrd and Frances Jackson. Whoever comes out in the primary election will run against Republican Candidate Susan Chapman in the general election in November.

    STATE SENATE
    DISTRICT 19
    On the Democratic ballot, incumbent State Sen. Kirk DeViere is being challenged by former Fayetteville City Councilwoman Val Applewhite and Ed Donaldson.
    On the Republican ballot, former State Sen. Wesley Meredith will be running against Dennis Britt.

    U.S. CONGRESS
    CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 7
    On the Democratic Ballot, there are four candidates running for the U.S. Representative seat. Those candidates include Cumberland County Commissioner Charles Evans, Charles Graham, Steve Miller and Yushonda Midgette.
    On the Republican Ballot, there are two candidates running. U.S. Rep. David Rouzer will be facing off Max Southworth-Beckwith.

    CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 9
    On the Republican Ballot, there are four candidates running for the seat - U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, Jen Bucardo, Mike Andriani and Francisco Rios.
    Whoever comes out in the primary election will run against Democratic Candidate State Sen. Ben Clark in the general election in November.

    The Cumberland County Board of Elections is currently looking for poll workers for the primary elections. Poll worker training starts in late March. Poll workers will be paid $25 for training and $130 for election day.

    Registered Cumberland County voters who are interested should contact Mitzie Roberts at 910-321-6603 or mcroberts@co.cumberland.nc.us.

    Early voting for the primaries begins on April 28 and ends on May 14 at 3 p.m.

    Voters can start requesting their absentee ballots on March 28. The last day to apply for absentee ballots by mail is on May 10.

    Absentee ballots must be hand delivered to the Board of Elections on May 17 by 5 p.m. If being sent by mail, absentee ballots must be postmarked and received no later than the third day after the election.

    The Primary Election is scheduled for May 17.
    Registered voters may locate their precinct on the Board of Elections website at www.cumberlandcountync.gov/elections.

  • CC Logo The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners met Monday morning to startling news — there are currently 733 children in foster care in the County — the highest number for an individual county in North Carolina. Another concerning number commissioners learned, or a number that should be larger was that Cumberland County only has 51 foster families.

    Delores Long, the assistant director of Social Services, told the board that out of the 733 children who are in foster care, 275 have been placed out of county and 42 were placed out of the state.

    “So you can see with the number of children we have out of county and out of state, there’s truly a need for foster families within Cumberland County,” Long told the commissioners.

    When asked what could possibly be the cause for the high number of foster children, Long said it largely has to do with having a large military installation in the county.

    “We have a lot of families who come here and they do not necessarily have direct, natural support here in the community. So that has the tendency to increase the number of times children have to enter foster care because they lack the natural supports in the community to prevent it,” Long said.

    The Department of Social Services is collaborating with the county for a “Not Perfect…Just Willing” campaign. This campaign aims to create more awareness for families and adults in Cumberland County to take an interest in being a foster family. The goal for Long is to raise the number of foster families from 51 to 115.

    The campaign will kick off on March 26 at the “Vax Your Vet, Vax Yourself 2.0” event.

    “To be a foster parent, you don’t have to be perfect. You just have to be willing,” Loren Bymer, the Deputy Public Information Director, said. “Our goal is to increase foster families within Cumberland County so we don’t have to send anyone outside our county.”

  • 7080462 Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III ordered 500 more U.S. service members to be deployed. 300 of those troops will come from Fort Bragg.

    The troops from Fort Bragg will form a modular ammunition ordnance company, according to Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby. They will be heading to Germany to provide additional logistic support to the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division already on the ground.

    Kirby said the movement is temporary and the added personnel are being positioned “to help reinforce and bolster deterrence and defense capabilities of the NATO alliance."

    "[We're] going to adjust our posture continuously as the conditions require. And as has noted before, we are not and will not send forces into Ukraine," Kirby said.

    Additional service members will also be coming from Fort Stewart, Georgia.


    Photo Credit: U.S. Army Paratroopers assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat, 82nd Airborne Division prepare to train with their Polish Allies at a sniper range in Nowa Deba, Poland, March 3, 2022. The 82nd Airborne Division, based at Fort Bragg, N.C., has been deployed to Poland as part of the strong and unremitting commitment to our NATO Allies and to deter aggression. (Photo by Sgt. Catessa Palone)

  • fayetteville logo 1024x585 Down payment assistance for first-time homebuyers could be coming to Fayetteville city employees soon.

    The City Council voted unanimously Monday to have officials look into expanding its existing Good Neighbor Homebuyer Loan Program to include all eligible city employees.

    When the program first started in 2019, the $20,000 down payment assistance was only offered to police officers.

    The council also asked officials to increase that assistance amount to $30,000 to account for rising home prices.

    As of January, the latest available data, the typical sales price for an existing single-family home in Fayetteville was $189,450, according to Longleaf Pine Realtors.

    That’s an increase of over 11% from January 2021.

    Some ZIP codes in Fayetteville, such as 28314, 28306 and 28304, saw increases approaching 20%. ZIP codes 28305 and 28312 — which both saw an increase of around 30% — have median sale prices for existing single-family homes at $243,000 and $304,504, respectively.

    “There’s been a serious appreciation of housing costs,” Mayor Mitch Colvin said at Monday’s City Council meeting, advocating for the assistance increase. “Houses are competitive … instead of it being one offer or two offers, it’s 10 offers. In order to really put them in the game, they have to put an increased down payment with the way prices have gone up.”

    The program is funded through $400,000 from the city’s general fund and from a $50,000 donation from First Horizon Bank.

    Fayetteville’s economic and community development director, Chris Cauley, said in an interview before the meeting that the program incentivizes positive community aspects in two key ways.

    “It’s about that community-oriented policing that is so important to achieve,” Cauley said. “And then it is also about relief — turning the tide from rental to homeownership. That’s one of the challenges with struggling neighborhoods. Someone’s grandmother passes away, and the grandchildren are in another state, and so they just rent the house out until they can’t rent the house anymore. That’s how a lot of neighborhoods decline over time.

    “It’s really in the city’s interest and the community’s overall to help promote positive property ownership and homeownership from a generational wealth standpoint, from a community safety standpoint and just from preservation of property tax values in those neighborhoods, keeping those neighborhoods intact.”
    If the City Council approves a presented plan to expand the program in the coming weeks, eligible city employees can apply for the assistance as soon as April, Cauley said.

    Who is eligible?
    If the program is expanded, city employees can apply for assistance if they meet certain criteria.

    Employees must have worked for the city for at least a year and received a “meets expectations” in their most recent evaluation.

    They must also be a first-time homebuyer, which the city considers as anyone who is purchasing the property, will live in the house as a primary residence and has had no ownership, sole or joint, in a residential property in the three years prior to the date of purchase.

    There are also income limitations.
    Employees and their families must have an annual household income at or below 140% of the area median income.
    In Fayetteville, that’s $58,000 for a single person, and it’s $65,700, $73,400 and $81,100, respectively, for household sizes of two, three and four people.

    Eligible city employees could purchase a home through the program only in certain neighborhoods.
    As it currently exists, the program is limited to homes in the Central Campbellton neighborhood and the Murchinson Road Corridor.

    The City Council also voted to have officials look into expanding that to four other neighborhoods — Massey HIll Community, Bonnie Doone, 71st District Community and Deep Creek.

    “They all revolve around low-income census tract areas, areas that in some programs we call hard to develop,” Cauley said. “If we’re really looking to try to create homeownership and tip the scale in our redevelopment areas, from renters to homeowners, then this is a really great program to do it.”

    How the program works
    The down payment assistance will come in the form of a five-year depreciating loan.

    That means the amount owed, in the case that the city employee decides to sell, will decrease by 20% every year over a five-year period.

    At the end of the five years, the loan, which is given at zero percent, will be considered paid in full.

    Since this is considered to be a forgivable loan by the Internal Revenue Service, employees will also have to pay taxes on the assistance since it would be considered part of their annual compensation.

    That taxable income will be spread out of the five-year period of the loan.

    Homebuyer education class
    Another part of the program’s expansion is the addition of a homebuyer education class.

    Since the program started in late 2019, Cauley said about a half dozen police officers have inquired about the program, but none have purchased a home through it.

    Cauley said that the primary reason based on feedback was that officers didn’t feel they were ready to buy a home.

    A homebuyer education class, Cauley said, could address that issue.

    “Folks just are not ready to be first-time homeowners and have been renters essentially their whole life,” he said. “Their parents could have been renters their whole life, and buying a house is a serious thing. And it’s also complicated. We wanted to put together a first-time homebuyer education class as a component of this.”

    Cauley said the city would find a certified housing counselor who would teach the potential homeowners how to navigate the homebuying process from finding a lender and real estate agent to finding a home in their price range.

    The class would also teach them how to take on the new responsibilities that come with owning a home.

    Council member Antonio Jones, who is also a real estate agent, supports this addition to the program.

    “There’s a lot that goes into buying a home, going from renting to buying,” Jones said. “The classes would definitely be beneficial because it prepares them for things that they may not have originally thought about or had to deal with on the rental side.”

    Why not others in the city?
    During Monday’s meeting, council member Shakeyla Ingram inquired about adding other occupations outside the city payroll to the program, specifically teachers and firefighters.

    Cauley said in response that significant changes would need to be made to expand the program in that fashion.

    “The legalities of that are very different than us funding our own employees,” Cauley said. “This essentially becomes the base of their compensation.”

    He also said hurdles exist to funding assistance for people who are not low income.

    “We’re very limited in what we can do outside of that moderate income for housing,” Cauley said. “That’s not to say that we couldn’t, but that would need to really be a separate council direction for us to go work on something like that.”

  • Doggy Photo Cumberland County Animal Services announced that they have shown significant progress in helping the animals of Cumberland County over the last decade.

    In 2012, ten years ago, the shelter was only able to save 10% of cats and 44% of dogs that entered the facility. In 2021, the department saved more than 60% of cats and 84% of dogs.

    Some of the services that helped increase the number of animals saved included microchip scanners, adoption and the Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate and Return program.

    “We have made great strides in ensuring that more animals are adopted from our shelter and establishing relationships with dozens of animal rescue groups to allow them to take animals from our shelter for placement,” said Animal Services Director Elaine Smith. 

    With the microchip scanners, many lost pets could be reunited with their owners without having to be admitted to the animal shelter.

    Adoptions have also increased over the past four years due to many events, both at the shelter and around the community. Adoption fees were also reduced, which helped in getting more animals adopted.

    The Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate and Return program, implemented in 2019, has sterilized nearly 1,800 cats. Animal Services says this has helped prevent more than 11,500 kittens from entering the community. Residents can trap feral cats and bring them to the shelter, where the cats are sterilized and vaccinated before being returned to where they were trapped. 

    “We need people in the community to help us by adopting pets, by reporting animal abuse, and by volunteering at our shelter,” Smith added. “This is not something we can do alone.”

    Animal Services is hosting a mobile adoption event on Saturday, March 5 at the Petsmart off Ramsey Street. The event will start at 10 a.m. 

    To see animals available for adoption and learn more about volunteer opportunities at Cumberland County Animal Services, visit cumberlandcountync.gov/departments/animal-services-group/animal-services or call 910-321-6852.

  • Rep. John Szoka Headshot North Carolina Representative John Szoka has filed to run for the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners At-Large seat.

    Szoka told Up & Coming Weekly that after five terms of representing North Carolina's 45th District in the state's House of Representatives, he believes it is time to come back to the county level.

    "I bring that knowledge of who I can talk to in state government to make things happen in a positive manner for our county," Szoka said. "I think more people need to go to this state first and then come back to the county one elected. I think I'll be able to help the county move forward in a faster way, perhaps than it's been."

    The biggest issues that Szoka wants to tackle, if elected, are bringing water and sewer systems to the whole county and dealing with the Grays Creek PMPA-infected water.

    "I've worked very hard on those at the state level trying to get resolution and working to get water, to clean water to the residents of Grays Creek. But really, that's a county issue," Szoka said. "So one of my priorities as a county commissioner will be to get the county commission to more than just talk about getting water out there, but actually taking effective steps to make it happen.

    He previously was running for the Congressional District 4 seat before the redistricting lawsuits were filed and the North Carolina Supreme Court drew new maps in late February. He opposed the new congressional map as it separated Fort Bragg and the Sandhills area. The new district Szoka would run for, if he wanted to go to the U.S. House of Representatives, would have been District 9, however, Rep. Richard Hudson is already running for the seat and he did not want to run against Hudson. 

    North Carolina Rep. Diane Wheatley said that Szoka's knowledge and relationships he has gained in the state legislature as well as his experience in finance and his personal work ethic will make him an outstanding member of the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners. Wheatley and Szoka worked together in the state's House of Representatives as well as on the Cumberland County Legislative Delegation.

    "We are very fortunate that John Szoka has decided to run for County Commissioner," Wheatley told Up & Coming Weekly. "I look forward to working with John to help improve the lives of the citizens of Cumberland County."

    Other people running for the at-large seat include Commissioner Larry Lancaster, Marshall Faircloth, Jackie Paul-Ray, Paul Taylor, Veronica B. Jones, and Ron Ross.

  • 05 FOrt Bragg sign Fort Bragg has lifted the indoor face mask mandate for all vaccinated individuals.

    According to new Defense Department guidance, indoor mask requirements will not be required for installations in counties where the CDC COVID-19 Community Level is considered to be medium.

    Previously, all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, were required to wear a face mask inside. Now only unvaccinated members are required to wear a face mask when indoors.

    Womack Army Medical Center, the Fort Bragg Intrepid Spirit Center, Fayetteville Rehabilitation Center, Fort Bragg Blood Donor Center, Fort Bragg pharmacies, the pharmacy annex and all Fort Bragg dental facilities will still be requiring face masks.

  • Woodpeckers Release Party The Fayetteville Woodpeckers will be kicking off their 2022 season in April with a game on April 8 in Kannapolis, but will quickly be returning home to Segra Stadium on April 12 to go against the Salem Red Sox team.

    Single-game tickets for the first half of the season will be available for purchase starting on March 12. The Woodpeckers will be hosting a ticket release party from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on March 12 at Segra Stadium. Plenty of activities are scheduled for the ticket release party. Families can play catch in the outfield, take some swings in the batting cages, or enjoy the Kids Zone. They will also have a variety of prizes that can be won and food available for purchase. Fans can also gear up for the 2022 season by browsing and buying new merchandise in The Birds’ Nest Team Store.

    Tickets can be purchased online starting March 14 at 9 a.m. Tickets for the home games in July, August and September will be available for purchase in May.

     For more information on ticket purchases, call the Woodpeckers front office at 910-339-1989 or visit www.fayettevillewoodpeckers.com.

    Minor League Spring Training officially started on Feb. 28 at the Astros Spring Training complex in West Palm Beach, FL.

     

  • Dismas Charities The North Carolina Court of Appeals published a decision Tuesday deciding that the City of Fayetteville should have approved Dismas Charities' permit request to build a halfway house in Downtown Fayetteville.

    Dismas Charities Inc., of Louisville, Kentucky, wanted to build a 14,339 square foot, 100-bed halfway house for federal prisoners at 901-905 Cain Road. Dismas Charities is a private company contracted by the Federal Bureau of Prisons to operate residential reentry centers. The BOP has the authority to place inmates in reentry halfway houses to serve the remainder of their sentences which it says is normally six months to a year. If built as proposed, the Cain Road institution would have been the company’s largest center.

    However, the City of Fayetteville denied the permit by a 5-4 vote based on its conclusion that Dismas did not meet its burden of production to show that its use met a certain standard in the City’s ordinance which requires a showing that the special use sought “allows for the protection of property values and the ability of neighboring lands to develop the uses permitted in the zoning district.”

    The firm appealed, and on Sept. 3, 2020, Superior Court Judge Mary Ann Tally affirmed the city council’s decision.

    However, the appeals court concluded that the superior court should have conducted a de novo review, rather than applying the whole record test, to determine whether Dismas met its burden of production. Based on the appeals court's de novo review, Dismas did meet its burden of production. The court found that there was no competent, material, substantial evidence offered to counter Dismas’ evidence. Therefore the Court decided that the City Council was required to approve Dismas’ permit application.

    "Accordingly, we reverse the decision of the superior court and remand with instructions to remand to the City Council to approve Dismas’ permit request," the appeals court opinion read.

  • Fort Bragg experienced phone outages between Monday and Wednesday, but all lines appear to be operational now.

    "Throughout the outage, the emergency 9-1-1 system was operational, and most personnel on post were able to telephone other on-post personnel. Additionally, staff members on base were able to use alternate means of communication such as Microsoft Teams and mobile phones to continue to meet mission requirements," according to a spokesperson from the 7th Signal Command.

    Womack Army Medical Center was one of the buildings on base that was having phone issues, causing issues for patients to make appointments, fill in prescriptions, and call the nurse line. However, phone lines are back up at Womack and are functioning.


    This article was updated on March 3 at 1 p.m.

  • Fayetteville New SignsA newly redesigned city seal won’t be official quite yet.

    The City Council unanimously voted Monday to delay documenting a description of the new design in favor of making slight changes.
    In late December, the council incorporated the new seal as an official insignia for the council, to be used for official Fayetteville documents, ceremonies and other uses.

    If not delayed, Monday’s vote would have changed an ordinance to alter the official description of the city seal to describe the new one, which shows the image of a star with the text “CITY OF FAYETTEVILLE NORTH CAROLINA” surrounding it.

    Mayor Pro Tem Kathy Jensen made a motion to return the city seal to the design team to possibly remove the “CITY OF” text.

    The old seal contained an image of downtown’s Market House, a controversial landmark that saw demonstrations during 2020’s George Floyd protests due to its early history. While the site at the original city center had many uses for political meetings and conducting business transactions, this sometimes included slave trades.

    Protests lead to future changes to Market House

    In the days after Floyd, an unarmed Black man, was killed by a Minneapolis police officer in late May 2020, protests around the Market House escalated. Two people set fire to the landmark in an unsuccessful attempt to destroy it. Damage from the fire and sprinklers has been repaired, and the arson suspects have been charged.

    Protests continued around the landmark throughout the summer of 2020, with calls for police reform.

    In the aftermath of the protests, not only did the council vote to change the seal but considered relocating the Market House entirely last April.

    However, the relocation, priced at $2 million, proved too costly for the council to approve, according to minutes from the meeting.

    Instead, the council voted 9-1 to direct city officials to make plans for repurposing the landmark.

    Council member Courtney Banks-McLaughlin voted against the plan. Earlier in the meeting, she moved to relocate the Market House, but the action failed when no other council member made a required seconding motion.

    The repurposing of the landmark entails many options such as widening the occupied space to overtake the center roundabout lane or reclaiming the square entirely.

    This enlarged space could accommodate art exhibits that display Black history, according to a presentation to the council. There could also be vendors each month, with a focus on Black farmers, entrepreneurs and artists.

    As a part of that vote in April, the council tasked the city’s Human Relations Commission to engage with citizens to determine how to repurpose the Market House.

    The council has also sought guidance from the U.S. Department of Justice. A DOJ report is expected to be presented to the council in the coming months.

    Currently, the inner traffic circle around the landmark contains a mural that reads “Black Lives Matter End Racism Now.”

  • pexels anna shvets 3786126 Masks are now optional on school buses for Cumberland County Schools. This comes as new guidance was passed from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recommend masks but not require them.

    Shirley Bolden, the director of CCS Health Services, shared this information as part of a COVID-19 update during the Student Support Services Committee meeting today.

    Bolden reinstated that COVID-19 policies are still in place to include screening, physical distancing, encouraging virtual meetings, utilizing isolation rooms, recommending masking.

    The Cumberland County School district has partnered with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and MAKO Medical to provide free screening for students and employees. Students and staff can register for weekly testing at their school. Participation in the MAKO testing is voluntary and requires registration through MAKO. To learn more and register, visit the district's COVID-19 Testing for Students and Employees webpage.

  • Spring Lake Logo The Spring Lake Board of Aldermen met Tuesday evening, Feb. 28, to discuss the town's finances.

    Susan McCullen, director of the Fiscal Management Section of the Local Government Commission, gave an update and answered some of the Aldermen's questions on the town's financial plan.

    Last year, the Local Government Commission took control of the town's finances after investigations were launched involving missing money and concerns about budget deficits. As a result, Spring Lake has a fiscal accountability agreement with the Local Government Commission, an enhanced monitoring strategy they use to monitor the town's finances.

    According to McCullen, Spring Lake still has a fiscal accountability agreement and has not established an exit strategy. An exit strategy would include a plan for the board, the manager and the finance staff to regain control of finances.

    "We need to just spend a little bit more time with it," said McCullen. "There is still some work that has to be done."

    According to McCullen, she foresees the town entering its exit strategy plan sometime in the summer.

    The Board of Aldermen also heard from Devin Newton from Cumberland County Community Development, who spoke about several entitlement grants and programs from Housing and Urban Development. Some of the programs are for housing rehabs, rental rehabs, first-time homebuyers and affordable housing development.

    Interim Town Manager Samantha Wullenwaber discussed the fiscal budget for 2022 – 2023 and the monthly financial report.

    "We're right on where we should be which is great," she said. "The town hasn't operated in the plus in a long time and it's good to see."

  • 03-04-15-fireantz-1.gifFireAntz right winger Kyle McNeil, is in his fourth professional season in Fayetteville where he has recorded 17 points on 10 goals and 7 assists through 42 games. The Cambridge, Ontario native has spent his entire professional career in Fayetteville and says that he “really appreciates the fans, the city, and the FireAntz organization.” During his time here in Fayetteville, McNeil has enjoyed the opportunity to give back to the community through the Heart of Carolina Food Drive every year.

    Growing up, McNeil looked up to legends like Wayne Gretzky and Wendell Clark, who inspired him to pursue a career in professional hockey. On game day, McNeil enjoys lunch from Fazoli’s after a morning skate followed by 2-3 hours of sleep. On the way to the rink, McNeil makes his routine pit stop at Starbucks. Just like most, McNeil dresses one foot at a time, but he is a bit superstitious when gearing up pregame, dressing from left to right for every game. Once he is finished playing, McNeil hopes to pursue a career in coaching while also becoming certified in03-04-15-firenatz-2.gif Crossfit.

    This season, McNeil’s roommate is rookie Austin Daae who is also a race car legend. McNeil says something that the public may not know about Daae is “he enjoys cartoon movies.” In the off season, McNeil spends time in Canada with family, but also makes it back down to Fayetteville and Myrtle Beach, where he enjoys the golf courses as well as a good steak from none other than Texas Roadhouse.

    Favorite Song: Talladega by Eric Church

    Favorite Movie: Goodfellas/Breakfast Club

    Favorite Alcoholic Beverage:  Bud Light

    Favorite Sports Team: Toronto Maple Leafs

    What would you do for a Klondike bar? “I would go 0-100 real quick.”

    Photo:  Kyle McNeil, FireAntz right winger

  • 031815misbehavin.gifSunday afternoon matinees at the Cape Fear Regional Theatre are usually fairly sedate. The audience, usually filled with those over the age 60, claps politely, laughs politely and exits politely. That was not the case for the performance of Ain’t Misbehavin’ that I took in on Sunday.


    The crowd, and yes, there was a crowd, filled the theatre. Prior to the show’s beginning, they chatted and laughed. It was an animated bunch that came out to enjoy great music and have a good time. People were discussing the music, the play, the theatre. The energy in the lobby was high and the performance on stage only took it higher.


    Ain’t Misbehavin’ is a collection of music by Fats Waller. Waller was the trend setter in jazz music during the Harlem Renaissance. He was a talented jazz musician who tickled the ivories on the piano, as well as the organ. He composed his own music, sang it and presented it in a comedic way. He was also an innovator, developing the Harlem stride style of playing, which laid the foundation for modern jazz. To do justice to a musical revue of Waller’s music, it was imperative that the Cape Fear Regional Theatre pull together a talented cast, and they succeeded in doing just that.

    The backbone to the cast was, in my opinion, the music, which was directed by Fayetteville native Brian Whitted. Whitted is a nationally recognized entertainer who got his start on the CFRT stage as a child, and returns from time to time to do shows that appeal to him. This show was perfect for Whitted. Without him on the piano, it would not have had the impact nor the appeal. Kudos for bringing such an amazing talent to the CFRT show.

    While the entire cast played well off of each other, the heavy lifters were David LaMarr, Tony Perry and
    Gigi Ritchey.

    Ritchey, also from Fayetteville has a deep, rich voice that reaches all the way down to her toes and comes back out of her mouth as pure gold. Ritchie also has a sense of fun and joy that comes from within her when she sings.

    LaMarr and Perry, both national performers, brought comedy, as well as rich voices to the stage. The duo got the audience into the act with their performance of  “Fat and Greasy” and LaMarr stole the show with “The
    Viper’s Drag.”

    When LaMarr and Perry launched into “Fat and Greasy,” the audience was clapping, and hold on to your hats, singing along.
    If you see one show this year at the CFRT, make it Ain’t Misbehavin’, you’ll never have as much fun being bad, as you will at this performance. You have one weekend left, so visit www.cfrt.org to purchase your tickets.

  • STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART:

    FOURTH FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS HEALTH

     

    Plan to spend plenty of time this Fourth Friday at The Arts Council of {mosimage}Fayetteville/CumberlandCounty, 301 Hay St., as it partners with Cape Fear Valley’s Heart & Vascular Center on February 22 from 6:30-9 p.m. Health experts from Cape Fear Valley’s Cardiac Diagnostics, Cardiac Cath Lab and Cardiac Rehab will be on hand to talk about maintaining a healthy heart through brief seminars, educational booths and interactive displays. Just outside the building will be tours of an emergency medical services vehicle. Along with free refreshments at the Arts Council, enjoy the sounds of the faculty jazz ensemble from Fayetteville State University and the continuation of Perspectives. An art exhibition featuring the works of four local artists,Perspectiveswill be on display through March 15. Just across the street in the Rainbow Room at 223 Hay St., the Heart and Vascular Center will also be offering free blood pressure, blood sugar and sleep apnea screenings. They will also make available baseline EKG readings by LifeLink and coupons for cholesterol testing. This month’s Fourth Friday is an excellent opportunity to enjoy great art, music, and food while at the same time learning more about the importance of taking care of your heart. As always, the rest of downtown Fayetteville welcomes art lovers of all kinds with their own special presentations.

    February Fourth Friday Venues

    1. Art & Soul – View the latest works of artist Becky Lee. Lee, a painter and teacher, has been at the forefront of the Fayetteville art scene for a number of years. Her recent works will be on display at Art & Soul, including landscapes she has completed. Refreshments will be served

    2. Cape Fear Studios – The collective works of talented local artist Leslie Pearson will be on disply. Pearson, a former soldier and art teacher, has had a number of shows in Fayetteville in recent months. Her work focuses on women’s issues and their search for freedom.

    3. The Cotton Exchange – Live jazz music on the indoor stage. Refreshments.

    4. Cumberland County Headquarters Library – Celebrate Black History Month with the music of the Heritage Restoration Chorale, an ecumenical group of singers from the Fayetteville-Cumberland County area. They have received critical acclaim for their love of music and dedication to the preservation of the Negro Spiritual and other music of the Black experience. Refreshments.

    5. Fayetteville Area Transportation Museum. Exhibits and artifacts of transportation from days gone by. 7-9 p.m.

    6. Fascinate-U – Make Crazy Birds using construction paper, feathers, and wiggly eyes. All materials are provided Refreshments will be served.

    7. Loafi ng Artist Studio – View the display of new “Musselflies,” hand painted and crafted by Harold Grace

    8. Market House Exhibit – View an exhibit honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    9. Olde Town Gallery – See the works of John Furches, a watercolorist from Elkin, NC. Join us for a demonstration of an etching. 6:00-9:00 pm

    10. Rude Awakening – View the metalwork of David McCune.

    11. sfL+a Architects – Art by Carla Rokes - Color & Design. Music by Jeremy Gilchrist. Refreshments.

    12. White Trash – Pretty Little Things by Sally Jean Alexander. The Arts Council’s grants, programs and services are funded in part by contributions from businesses and individuals, and through grants from the City of Fayetteville, Cumberland County and the North Carolina Arts Council, with funding from the State of North Carolina.

     

  •   Over the past year, controversy has swirled over the Myrtle Beach Spring Rally. The City of Myrtle Beach has enacted new laws and regulations that seek to limit the activities of the bikers including a new helmet law. The city has made it plain that they do not welcome the idea of the Spring Rally, but its voice seems to be falling on deaf ears.
      Last week the Carolina’s Harley Davidson Dealers Association announced that it will hold its spring rally May 15-16 in New Bern.
      “This new venue will allow us to get back to basics and offer our existing and new customers a rally experience they will appreciate without restrictions and with the ability to enjoy the freedom of riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle,” said Mark Cox, the association president.
      {mosimage}With all eyes focused on New Bern, the city’s officials have thrown a warning flag.
      Tom Bayliss III, the mayor of New Bern, said that he was told the dealer rally will draw less than 4,000 “older people” and their families to the historic port city. The current plan calls for the rally to be set up outside the city limits at the fairgrounds. Bayliss said that an influx of thousands of bikers, the number that usually hit the Grand Strand during Bike Week, would not be welcome or easily accommodated in the smaller locale.
      “We couldn’t handle it. There’s no way in the world,” said Bayliss, who is also a rider.
      He pointed out that the city lacks the sheer number of hotels needed to accomodate the influx and the entertainment venues needed to enterain the attendees. Unlike Myrtle Beach, which is a resort town geared toward providing entertainment to its guest, New Bern is more of a sleepy coastal town. It’s historic streets are not known for the wildness that usually ensues at bike week.
      It is that rowdiness that has led to the restrictions by the Myrtle Beach government. Last year a Coastal Carolina University student was killed during one of the many rallies that occurred at the beach in a dispute over a parking space.
      While many of the Carolina’s bike enthusiasts are still planning on making the trek to Myrtle Beach, city officials breathed a sigh of relief following the announcement by the association.
      “The issue for the city has been that we’ve had two or three … back to back motorcycle events that occupied 20 straight days and that’s too much. So, we’re not going to be in the rally business in May,” Mark Kruea, a city spokesman said.
      Earlier this year, the city and its chamber of commerce lauched a Web site stating that bike rallies were over in the city. It remains to be seen whether bikers will honor the city’s wishes or not. The question to be answered locally is: When May rolls around, where will you be?
      Please send your comments and feedback on the issue to editor@upandcomingweekly.com
  • Anyone who has been to downtown Fayetteville recently already knows that it is the place to go for great food, fun shopping, unique art and local entertainment. There are no chain stores to be found. Instead, unique shops, galleries and eateries offer experiences that you just can’t find anywhere else in town.

    If you haven’t been recently, this is a great reason to check out downtown: March 11-13, the Downtown Alliance and The Downtown Restaurant Association invite you to come taste all of the delicious downtown restaurants in the Spring Edition of the Small Plate Crawl. Local restaurants are eager to offer up their tastiest dishes and show the community that downtown really is a destination with a lot to offer. So get your passport for the Small Plate Crawl and check out the many flavors of downtown.

    “We did the first small plate crawl last fall and had a great turn out,” said Anthony Jackson, owner of Circa and event spokesperson. “We had close to 2,000 people come and it was the perfect way for the local restaurants to showcase our specialties to the public and to let them see what all we have to offer.”

    The answer to that is plenty. Participating restaurants include Blue Moon Cafe, Circa 1800, First Date Coffee Shop, Happiness Is Bakery & Sweets, Huske Hardware House, Marquis Market, Off the Hook Taco Emporium, Pierro’s Italian Bistro, Sherefe, Sweet Palette, Taste of West Africa, The Coffee Cup, The Wine Cafe and The Tap House. Truly, the offerings are vast and varied with something for everyone.

    How to participate:03-04-15-cover-story.gif

    1. Pick up your FREE Passport at any participating location downtown or from a participating restaurant during the event.

    2. Crawlers travel from restaurant to restaurant, purchasing plates over the three day event. Price of plates are from $5 to $10.

    3. If anyone in a group purchases a plate, everyone in the group gets the Food Passport validated. Validation is simply the initials of your server with the date of your visit.

    4. Those wishing to enter prize drawings will present a Food Passport for validation when paying at each restaurant. Food Passports must be validated at three or more restaurants to be eligible for the prize drawing. Anything over three validations will give participants an extra entry into drawing.

    5. Qualifying restaurants are indicated on the Food Passport.

    6. Crawlers leave their Food Passport at the last restaurant they visit during the crawl. Participant passports are collected from restaurants throughout the weekend.

    7. Each qualifying Food Passport is entered into a drawing on March 16. Winners are notified by email.

    Prizes include a one night stay for two at the Doubletree including a couple’s massage, facial and pedicure and $50 gift certificate towards dinner (a $500 value). Lu Mil Vineyard is donating a one night stay in a deluxe cabin and a wine tasting for two. Other great prizes include a movie date night from The Cameo with tickets for two, cooking class for two at Sherefe’s and wine class for two at The Wine Café.

    “One of the great things about being a restaurant owner downtown is that we are each original.” said Jackson. “It is easy to work as a team to put together something fun like this when we each have different flavors and dishes to offer. We have the restaurants that participated last year, and some new ones, too. So every plate won’t be appetizers, there are dessert plates and coffee, too. That will add a new aspect to the plate crawl that I think participants will enjoy.”

    Jackson credits the hard work of the downtown community with making it such a fun place and this is one more event to engage the community and share all that downtown has to offer.

    “With things like the Dogwood Festival, the International Folk Festival and 4th Fridays, it seems like there are more people coming to see what downtown is all about,” he said. “We are seeing a much more diverse crowd these days, and that is very exciting. We love seeing more military families and young people coming downtown.

    “Incredible, things are coming together. Our hope is that downtown is a destination for going out to eat, going shopping — for pretty much everything. Anything you can do at a chain you can do here and it will support local business owners, their families and the community,” he concluded.

    Find out more about the Small Plate Crawl at www.visitdowntownfayetteville.com/event/small-plate-crawl-4.

  • The Fayetteville Public Works Commission has decided to treat Town of Hope Mills utility customers the same way it does City of Fayetteville customers. Hope Mills residents will enjoy so-called ‘in city’ water and sewer rates thanks to a decision last week by the PWC Board. 

    PWC purchased the Hope Mills water and sewer system 18 years ago. Officials recently determined that language in the purchase agreement was ambiguous. PWC spokesperson Carolyn Justice-Hinson said the discrepancy had just recently come to the utility’s attention. 

    “A couple of neighbors were comparing their bills and wondered why they were different,” said PWC Chairman Darsweil Rogers. 

    Public Works Commissioners decided language regarding rates had been interpreted in different ways resulting in rates for Hope Mills residents that were not being applied consistently. 

    “The PWC Board wanted to resolve the confusion related to this agreement and ensure rates are applied in a fair and consistent manner,” said Rogers. “We value our customers and are happy that we have been able to work with Mayor (Jackie) Warner and other Hope Mills officials to work out a resolution for our customers,” he concluded.

    From now on, customers located inside the town limits who have been billed outside-the-city rates will be changed over to the lower in-city rates. Not only that, they’ll be refunded the difference they have paid for water and sewer services, presumably retroactively to 1998. 

    “PWC is very responsive to Hope Mills, and I appreciate the cooperation and concern they have shown by looking into this matter and making this decision that benefits our citizens,” said Mayor Warner. 

    PWC officials say they will work with Hope Mills town officials to identify customers affected by the change who are eligible for refunds. 

     A joint committee will identify current and past Hope Mills residents who will receive in-city utility rates. Those customers will be individually notified about pending changes and the refunds to which they’re entitled. Because the Hope Mills town limits have changed over time the review is expected to take several months to identify the customers who will receive refunds. 


  • 01 UAC031120001

  • 127 HOURS (Rated R) 4 Stars03-02-11-127-hours.gif

    So, allow me a moment to make a Public Service Announcement. Yes, The King’s Speech is all kinds of classy, and way more sophisticated than watching a dude cut off pieces of his body. But just because you are retired and walk with a cane and want to see the classy movie, you still have the wait your turn in line behind those of us there to watch James Franco cut pieces off of himself. In other words: the person behind the counter opened up that extra line for those of us who had been waiting … they did not see you walk in the door and think, wow, older people need a special line. Please apply this rule to the line for getting into Aspen Creek, depositing money into the bank, and checking out at the grocery store as well.

    The Internet Movie Database manages to sum up 127 Hours (94 minutes) pretty quickly: “A mountain climber becomes trapped under a boulder while canyoneering alone near Moab, Utah and resorts to desperate measures in order to survive.” Now I ask you — how can I possibly write 500 words when that is literally all that happens? Luckily for the readers, I know a bit of background, and when I run out of interesting historical details I can always make fun of James Franco for his guest role on General Hospital.

    Danny Boyle knows what he is doing as a screenwriter and behind a camera. I mean, if he can turn five minutes of a little boy swimming in crap into two hours of Oscar Gold (his 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire), he’s doing something right. It took him four years to translate the true story of climber Aron Ralston into the big screen, and he made very few alterations to do so. In fact, the only major change occurs in the beginning of the narrative.

    Ralston (Franco) prepares for his midnight drive into the canyons of Utah by listening to some pretty killer high energy techno-pop … carefully chosen/crafted/arranged by previous Boyle collaborator A.R. Rahman. The high energy introduction allows for periodic breaks that give the audience a sense of Ralston’s ability to pause and appreciate life, only to jump immediately back into action. The frenetic early action is especially intense when compared to the later moments of forced inaction … although even when pinned under boulders Boyle and Franco manage to inject the scenes with purposeful motion.

    After the techno drive, followed by starlit camping, it is time for techno bike-riding and then techno running. Which is interrupted by lost, hot, girls (Amber Tamblyn and Kate Mara). Who are hot both appearance-wise and because it is the middle of the day and they are hiking in the desert. Here is where the dramatic narrative veers off a bit … in real life Ralston showed them some climbing moves. In the movie, he manages to convince them that following a scruffy dude into the middle of nowhere is a great life choice. And that there is nothing wrong with following him into a situation he is deliberately vague about. And when he jumps off a cliff, you should totally jump off the cliff after him.

    So after his love of life utterly charms them, they invite him to a Scooby Doo party and he runs off. Because he is full of life! And, why walk when you can run? Once he is on his own he does some nifty canyoneering moves. Unfortunately, about 30 minutes into the film, just as he is well into the outdoorsy spirit, his nifty moves turn a rock into a projectile, projected at him. So, prepare to spend the next hour or so watching Ralston get progressively nuttier, wishing you had lots of water to drink, and, if you’re me, laughing at the other people in the theater who are closing their eyes for all the best scenes. Or, possibly laughing at all the best scenes. Because I find humor in people drinking their own pee to survive. Is that wrong? No. No it is not.

  • Unknown (Rated PG-13)      3 STARS 

    Unknown (113 minutes) is an entertaining drive through the spy genre even if the plot holes are big enough to drive a finely made German taxicab through. This particular version of a well-tread story is based on a French novel, but Director Jaume Collet-Serra doesn’t do a whole lot to distinguish his material from any other mysterious man films.

    Dr. Martin Harris (Liam Neeson) and his daughter Elizabeth (January Jones) arrive in Berlin for a biotechnology summit. He gets a little handsy with her during the taxi ride over, which might explain her overall shirtiness when dealing with the hotel staff. That’s no way to love your daughter, Dr. Harris!

    While his daughter checks them into a fancy suite, he realizes he left his briefcase with all his secret spy papers and espionage stuff at the airport so he runs to get it. He ends up in Gina’s (Diane Kruger) cab, and then Gina’s cab ends up in the river. In the first of many, “Gosh, should I save him? Yes, Yes I will save him” moments, Gina pulls an unconscious Harris from the river, and he is taken to a hospital.

    During his coma he has many inappropriate flashbacks about his daughter — whoops, my bad, apparently that’s his trophy wife — and then wakes up to find that he has been in a coma. Since patients recently woken from a coma with no identification or any way of proving who they are get to do whatever they want in German hospitals, he checks himself out.

    He manages to get back to the hotel he left from only to find another man macking on his wife and claiming to be Dr. Martin Harris (Aiden Quinn). Since secret agents have absolutely no survival instincts to draw on when they find themselves in bizarre situations, the man with no proof of his identity proceeds to raise a ruckus and draw lots of attention to himself. When that doesn’t work in his favor, he gathers his wits and tricks hotel security into getting him a cab back to the hospital, then tricks the cabdriver into letting him out immediately. Very tricky, this guy.

    He draws on the apparently limitless funds he was carrying (while leaving all his important paperwork in a briefcase that he totally left at the airport) to blunder around Berlin for most of a day, never thinking to check in at the embassy. Because of the conspiracy? Or something? Eventually he decides that he is, in fact, as crazy as all the conspirators keep telling him he is, so he heads back to the hospital and stays safely out of the way until the end of the movie. Just kidding! A dude totally kills like, a million important people, and tries to assassinate him thus revealing that all is not as it seems. Duh. All in all, it’s not an awful movie.

    Why the three stars? Well, when 58-year-old January Jones (or Kruger, for that matter) gets to run around with a 33-yearold James Franco, then we’ll start talking about an extra star. I would LOVE to provide a simpler example … but the male actors who are 25 years younger than January Jones are all currently starring on the Suite Life of Zack and Cody. So the only film where they work as romantic leads is the Lifetime Movie Network’s The Mary Kay Letourneau Story. And I don’t think January Jones has the chops for that. Because she can’t act. And while we’re on the subject, Maggie Grace, who played Neeson’s daughter in Taken is only five years younger than January Jones. Yeah. Think about that.

    Wow. What a shame that busting on Unknown is so easy … it’s really not such a bad little movie. True, Liam Neeson has pretty much played out his “man with certain skills” range, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable to watch him drive around crashing into things.

  •   Mark your calendar for Friday, March 20, if you’re in the market for love.
      Or rather, Love, Sweet Love.
      The play Love, Sweet Love — produced and directed by Cassandra Vallery — will be at Highland Country Club and marks the 12th Annual Evening at the Theater … the chief fundraiser for Cumberland County-based nonprofit healthcare provider Better Health.
      “We’ve been receiving a good number of donations despite the poor economy,” said Judy Klinck, executive director for Better Health. “But there is still an urgent need for funds to help us provide our services for the community.”
      Better Health was founded in 1958 by a group of citizens who were concerned that the indigent could not afford their medications. From that simple starting point Better Health has bridged the gap in healthcare for 50 years.
      Better Health became a United Way agency in 1959 and was incorporated in 1991 as a nonprofit organization under federal law 501(c)3. The agency expanded to become a full time, full service agency governed by a volunteer board of directors.
      Among the many service sit provides:
    •Prescription medications;
    •Vision exams/eyeglasses;
    •Emergency dental extractions;
    •Orthotics & prosthetics;
    •Medical supplies;
    •Medical equipment;
    •Gas assistance to out-of-town medical appointments;
    •Diabetes monitoring clinics with education session;
    •Glucometer training;
    •Exercise classes for diabetics;
    •Diabetes and blood pressure screening;
    •Diabetes supplies;
    •Foot care clinics;
    •Vision screening for eye disease.
      “We were founded in 1958 to help the poor who left the hospitals and couldn’t afford follow-up care or medical supplies,” said Klinck. “Unfortunately, there’s still a great need for our services here in Cumberland County.”
      Klinck says the production of Love, Sweet Love was a resounding success last year, drawing about 250 theater-goers. This year’s show, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m., will include hors d’oeuvres, spirits and “festive sweets,” as well as some familiar faces.
      “The same local cast has performed Love, Sweet Love the past several years,” said Klinck. “They’re very talented and very enthusiastic and do a great job.”
      For more information about the 12th Annual Evening at the Theater, call 483-7534, or check out the Web site, www.betterhealthcc.org.

  • 09Tia FullerFayetteville State University’s Department of Performing and Fine Arts presents its FSU Jazz Day Festival for middle school and high school jazz bands and jazz combos Saturday, April 6, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. 

    A concert featuring the Tia Fuller Jazz Quartet will take place at 7:30 p.m. at Seabrook Auditorium, which is located on the campus of the university. 

    “The jazz festival started last year to basically help students in our region in the jazz field — to help develop jazz programs and to help develop more appreciation for jazz itself,” said Ronald Carter, coordinator of the jazz festival and distinguished professor in the Department of Performing and Fine Arts at FSU. “This year, I am bringing in Grammy-nominated Tia Fuller, who is a performing saxophonist for Beyoncé. She still plays and records around the world with different people.” 

    The festival will include workshops, clinics and performances. “At 1:15 p.m., we will have jazz clinics presented by FSU’s jazz faculty and by Tia Fuller’s jazz group,” said Carter. “The workshops will be about how to use instruments to play jazz, how to develop the concepts, tone and language of jazz, how to play within the jazz ensemble and more.” 

    Carter added the clinics will feature drums, saxophone, piano, clarinet, flute, trumpet, trombone and other jazz instruments. 

    The first band will play at 8:30 a.m. “We will have high schools from South Carolina and North Carolina and two college groups playing,” said Carter. “We have Shaw University’s jazz band. Benedict College’s jazz band from Columbia, South Carolina, will play too.” 

    Carter added that next year the jazz festival will be bigger and that he aims to eventually start having a historically black college jazz festival. 

    “This event is educational and motivational — (it’s) a great mentorship opportunity and allows participants to meet the students (and) the jazz professors and music professors at Fayetteville State as well,” said Carter. “It is community outreach for the colleges that are coming in and also for the students that are coming in from other states as well as Raleigh and the surrounding areas.” 

    All events before 5 p.m. will be free. The clinics are open to the public. The registration fee is $200 for each participating school. General admission for the Tia Fuller Jazz Quartet concert is $5 for students and $10 for adults. For more information, to register or obtain ticket information, email Carter at rcarter11@uncfsu.edu. Tickets can be purchased at www.etix.com. 

    Photo: Tia Fuller

  •      The Fisher House is a home-away-from-home for the families of injured soldiers in military hospitals all over the world.
         At Fort Bragg, the Fisher House is located at the corner of Normandy Drive and Reilly Street. The house, which is overseen by Paula Gallero, provides a comfortable, welcoming environment for families who travel to Fort Bragg to help take care of or visit their loved ones who are in the hospital.
         {mosimage}On Saturday, April 4, The Vietnam Vets Motorcycle Club will host Patriot Run VII to benefit The Fisher House. With a theme of “Never Forget,” the run will begin promptly at 10 a.m. at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #9103 located at 14258 Hwy. 210 S.
         The route will take riders through the countryside to the N.C. Capitol building in Raleigh for the POW/MIA ceremony at noon. On the first Saturday of each month a ceremony is held on the state capital grounds in Raleigh to memorialize those missing from the Tar Heel State.
         Following the ceremony, riders will head out again and wind their way back to the American Legion Post 382 in Sanford, where they will fellowship and enjoy entertainment.
         There is a $15 donation per person to participate in the ride. The fee includes the meal, door prizes, a T-shirt and entertainment. All checks should be made payable to The Fisher House.
         The Vietnam Vets Motorcycle Club USA is an international organization with members in Europe, Canada, Australia and the United States. The club has members in all 50 states including Alaska and Hawaii. It is made up of two highly compatible groups of former U.S. military men: Those who served in the country of Vietnam and earned the Vietnam service ribbon and those who served honorably in the military during the Vietnam war and earned the National Defense ribbon.
         The club devotes its time, energy and resources to help build a better future for all vets and their families. Their main focus is on bringing home POW/MIAs and getting a full accounting of each and every one of the missing men.
         For more information, visit the Web site at www.vnvmc.nc.org. For information about the Fort Bragg Fisher House, visit www.fisherhouse.org/theHouses/northCarolina.shtml.
  • 09 4 fridayEvery 4th Friday, downtown Fayetteville hosts a plethora of experiences and activities. Friday, March 22, folks can expect the charm of Fayetteville’s historic downtown mixed with the celebration of local businesses and entertainment. At 4th Friday, attendees can celebrate the community and learn about groups in the area and what they do. One such organization, the Arts Council of Fayetteville/ Cumberland County, says on its website, “Businesses in the four and a half block of historic downtown Fayetteville join the action and become artistic venues on 4th Friday, featuring the arts in all forms, for all ages.”

    Walk Awhile in Her Shoes is an annual event occurring on March’s 4th Friday this year that encourages local men to support sexual assault victims, advocate for justice and call for an end to sexual violence. For $30 plus shoe rental, men don red shoes of all kinds — pumps, flats and sandals, satin, sequined and leather — and walk from Hay Street to Bright Light Brewing Company. Proceeds go to the Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County. Registration includes a Tshirt, water and desserts. Search the event on Facebook or Eventbrite or email walkawhilefay@gmail.com for more information.

    The Arts Council supports individual creativity, cultural preservation, economic development and lifelong learning for all ages. The nonprofit treats 4th Friday as an opportunity to share and display art exhibitions and more. Opening 4th Friday at the council’s Arts Center, 301 Hay St., is “Picturing America’s Pastime Exhibition with Presenting Partner Fayetteville Woodpeckers: A Snapshot of the Photography Collection at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.” The exhibition will be on display through May 11. To learn more, visit the Arts Council website at www.theartscouncil.com.

    The Ellington-White Gallery, at 113 Gillespie St., will also be open to the public for 4th Friday. According to its website, the Ellington-White Gallery works to “generate and support high quality diverse cultural experiences in all of the arts and art-related disciplines.”

    4th Friday offers other experiences from local organizations ranging from museums nonprofits. The Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum hosts a variety of exhibitions for a variety of interests. Its newest exhibit, “Baseball in Fayetteville,” showcases Fayetteville’s love of baseball. The exhibit will be open throughout the year. Call 910- 433-1457 for more information.

    Fascinate-U Children’s Museum keeps children and families entertained for hours. The museum is open from 7-9 p.m. on 4th Friday, offering free admission and a craft. The craft for March is a Minion magnet. Call 910-829-9171 for details.

    City Center Gallery & Books keeps its doors open until 9 p.m. for 4th Friday, and Cape Fear Studios invites attendees to “stop in to see our newest exhibit, meet our artists and check out the new works during each 4th Friday opening.”

    To top off the festivities, the Cool Spring Downtown District will sponsor the “Clue’ville Downtown Mystery.” The event starts Friday, March 22, from 6-9 p.m., and continues Saturday, March 23, from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. CSDD’s website says, “Your favorite board game comes to life in Downtown again this year. Move from business to business, gather clues, solve the crime. Watch the culprit’s arrest at a Press Conference. Right or wrong you have a chance to win prizes. This event is FREE, and fun for the whole family!”

    The maps for these games are available at local downtown businesses as well as for download. Check the Cool Spring Downtown District Facebook Event Page for updates or call 910-223-1089.

  • 13CarolinasWhy would anybody want to spend months walking from the South Carolina coast up through the Piedmont to present-day Charlotte and then back east to the North Carolina tidewater?

    There are two good reasons, one from more than 300 years ago and the other from modern times.

    First, in 1700, a newcomer to North America named John Lawson made this long trip to explore and learn about unfamiliar lands. He made the trip on foot because there was no better way to travel through the endless forests of backcountry Carolinas. Setting off from Charleston, he was accompanied by several Englishmen and Indian guides. The notes he took became the basis of a book, “A New Voyage to Carolina,” first published in 1709 and still a classic for its rich descriptions of flora and fauna and the conditions of the native peoples who populated the areas he visited.

    The more recent traveler, writer Scott Huler, made the long walk because he wanted to follow in Lawson’s footsteps. He said he looked for a modern book that explained where Lawson went and compared it to what is there today. When he found that it had not been done and that no one had even retraced Lawson’s journey, he thought, “That’s for me!”

    Of course, Huler could have made the trip of several hundred miles in a day or two in a car on modern roads. But he wanted to go slow, seeing today’s landscapes and peoples at the pace Lawson traveled.

    He shares his travels in a new book, “A Delicious Country: Rediscovering the Carolinas along the Route of John Lawson’s 1700 Expedition.” It was released by UNC Press March 4.

    Like most other readers of Lawson, Huler is impressed with Lawson’s descriptions of and attitude about the native populations. Lawson visited Sewee, Santee, Sugeree, Wateree, Catawba, Waxhaw, Occaneechi and Tuscarora Indians. Huler writes, “He (Lawson) stayed in their wigwams, ate their food, trusted their guides. And he emerged with their stories, for some of which he is the only source in the world.”

    Lawson, Huler continues, “documented native communities, buildings, agriculture, hunting, dance, trade, and culture through eyes clear, thorough, and respectful. Lawson depicts the natives as fully human—not some subspecies perceived only in comparison to European settlers.”

    Lawson’s words were, “They are really better to us than we are to them.”

    But Lawson found the native populations to be in a precarious situation. “The Small-Pox and Rum have made such a Destruction amongst them, that, on good grounds, I do believe, there is not the sixth Savage living within two hundred Miles of all our Settlements, as there were fifty Years ago. These poor Creatures have so many Enemies to destroy them, that it’s a wonder one of them is left alive near us.”

    Traveling Lawson’s route through the rural Carolinas, Huler found a surprising and discouraging similarity. The rural and small-town landscapes are littered with empty manufacturing plants, corporate farms and forests, empty main streets and deserted houses. Three centuries after Lawson, Huler found that “our world would teeter: a way of life dying in the countryside, implacable new forces once again balancing an entire civilization on a knife edge.”

    Setting aside this discouraging report, Huler’s adventures and misadventures on the road entertain and inform. He is the best type of tour guide, one who is well-informed but not at all pompous. His wry, self-deprecating sense of humor helps his serious medicine go down smoothly.

    For Lawson, his explorations and the reports about them opened the door to prominence and high positions in the young colony. That success came to a sudden end in 1711 when he was captured and executed by the Indians he had so greatly admired and praised.

  • 09TrumboCape Fear Regional Theatre’s production of “Trumbo,” running through March 17, is not an easy play to review. The show’s program contains two pages of historical context and another two-page glossary to help orient theatergoers. There is no stage, no script and no action. To understand what plot there is, it helps to be a student of American political history. That said, “Trumbo” is a compelling drama.

    Spanning the period from 1947-1960, during which time capitalism and communism were locked in a pitched battle for global ideological dominance, the play tells the story of Dalton Trumbo, a highly successful, award-winning Hollywood screenwriter who ran afoul of the U.S. House Un-American Activities Committee.

    Written by Christopher Trumbo, Dalton’s son, and ably directed by CFRT Artistic Director Mary Kate Burke, much of the show’s dialogue is taken straight from Dalton’s prolific correspondence between friend and foe alike. The juxtaposition in those letters between the noble and the mundane is both brilliant and spellbinding.

    We meet Dalton for the first time as he defiantly takes on his HUAC interrogator only to watch his defiance dissolve into irritability as he pens a longwinded complaint to the phone company.

    The audience is held rapt during the reading of a high-minded moral defense — with implications for our current political climate — only to dissolve in laughter minutes later as Dalton writes his college-bound son a hilariously ribald piece of fatherly advice.

    The role of Dalton is played by Larry Pine, whose screen credits include “Bull,” “House of Cards,” “Madame Secretary” and “The Good Wife,” among many others. Pine plays Trumbo as an unfailingly erudite curmudgeon who manages to hold onto his sense of humor as the world shifts beneath his feet and he plunges from fame and fortune to impecunious infamy, dragging his family along with him.

    That Dalton’s family unfailingly supported him is made evident by the role of his son Christopher in the play, who acts as the glue that holds the entire performance together. Played with endearing diffidence by Michael Tisdale, whose credits include “Law & Order” and “Third Watch,” Christopher provides the context for his father’s story and helps the audience see beyond the bluster to the man he loved.

    The play ends with an unflinching, yet humorous, summing up of the cost of hewing to one’s convictions.

    Whether Dalton was a martyr or a menace depends upon one’s political persuasion. But politics is a pendulum that swings both ways — which should make respect for First Amendment rights a matter of universal concern. That this has not always been so is what makes “Trumbo” an important piece of theater. Burke and CFRT are to be commended for bringing it to town.

    Showtimes and ticket information are available from the CFRT box office at 910-323-4233. The box office is open Tuesday-Friday from 1-6 p.m. and one hour before showtimes. Learn more at www.cfrt.org.

    Photo:  “Trumbo,” starring Larry Pine (right) and Michael Tisdale (left), is at CFRT through March 17.

  • 02 Easter kidsSeveral businesses and area churches have events scheduled to boost your Easter weekend. From egg hunts to pictures with the Easter bunny, you won’t want to miss these opportunities for fun.

    Dirtbag Ales Brewery and Tap Room are having an Easter Egg Hunt on April 3. Pictures with the Easter Bunny start at 10 a.m., and the egg hunts start at different times based on children’s age. The egg hunt for those 5 and under starts at 9 a.m.; the egg hunt for 6 to 10-year-olds starts at 10 a.m.; for 11-year-olds and up, the egg hunt starts at 11 a.m. To find tickets go to www.dirtbagales.com or visit the events page on Facebook.

    Take the family out on April 4 to Huske Hardware located downtown for a nice brunch. Their Simply Southern Easter Brunch will offer Signature Salmon and Huske Benedicts, Steak and Eggs, Biscuits and House Sausage Gravy, Country Fried Steak and Eggs, Chicken and Waffles, and other dining favorites. Huske Hardware will be hosting brunch from 9 a.m. until
    2 p.m.

    For a family day filled with fun, eggs and paintball, visit Black Ops Paintball of Fayetteville on April 4 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. participants can grab a rental and scour our fields for eggs with discount codes, free stuff and candy.

    On April 3 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Fort Bragg Harley Davidson will host an Easter Egg Hunt every hour beginning at 11 a.m. The Bucaneros will be working the grill with free hamburgers and hot dogs. Fort Bragg Harley Davidson is located at 3950 Sycamore Dairy Road.

    Also on April 3, Temple Baptist Church will hold an Easter Egg Hunt for kids in Pre-K up to 5th Grade. They promise thousands of eggs ready to be found. They will have three egg hunts separated by age. In addition to toys and candy, they will have golden eggs with tickets for prizes to be given away after the last egg hunt. The fun begins at 11 a.m. for registration; 11:15 a.m. for the Pre-K egg hunt; 11:30 a.m. for the K-2nd grade egg hunt; 11:45 a.m. for the 3rd-5th grade egg hunt; prizes and giveaways start at noon. This event is completely outdoors. Masks are not required but social distancing is encouraged. For questions contact Pastor Trent at 910-991-6807 or trent@templebaptistfay.com

    King’s Grant will also be holding their Easter Egg Hunt on April 3 from 2-4 p.m. at 347 Shawcroft Road in Fayetteville.

    Green Side Up will be hosting their Fairy Garden Workshop on April 3 from 10-11:30 a.m. For the $25 fee, each fairy garden comes with 3 plants, soil and a container. All participants will receive 15% off on their purchases. Register early because only 10 spots are available. Spots and tables will be socially distanced with only 2 people at each table.

  • 05A Hometown FeelingAs your congressman, I have the honor of hosting the Congressional Art Competition in our district to recognize the artistic talents of students in our community. I’m excited to announce my office is now accepting entries from local high school students. Since this nationwide competition began in 1982, more than 650,000 high school students have been involved — including hundreds from our district alone.

    Every year, I am amazed by the incredible talent and creativity of young artists in our district. And one of the best parts about hosting the competition is getting to meet and speak with students one-onone about their artwork at the reception I host to recognize participants and announce the winner.

    Admittedly, this year’s competition is bittersweet. I am holding the competition in honor and remembrance of my good friend and legendary NASCAR artist Sam Bass, who passed away last week. 

    Sam, a Concord, North Carolina, resident, was a pillar in our community and a big part of NASCAR’s history. He was the first officially licensed NASCAR artist and created notable works ranging from car designs to program covers. He designed the iconic “Rainbow Warrior” scheme on Jeff Gordon’s car, and countless others, out of his studio in Concord. In addition, he was awarded the Smith Family Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018 by the Cabarrus County Convention and Visitors Bureau for his incredible contributions and impact on our community.

    He was beloved not just by our community but by NASCAR fans across the world. I got to know Sam through NASCAR. He even hosted the art competition one year at his gallery. I admired him not just for his talent but also for his incredible kindness. We continue to pray for his wife, Denise, and the entire Bass family as they go through this difficult time.

    This year, I hope all local high school students will join me in paying tribute to Sam by participating in the art competition.

    All entries must be an original in concept, design and execution and may not be larger than 26” x 26” x 4” — including the frame. Interested students should submit entries to my Concord or Fayetteville District offices by 5 p.m., Friday, April 26, with a completed 2019 Congressional Art Competition Student Information and Release Form. A full list of rules and the release form can be found on my website at https://hudson.house.gov/art-competition.

    The winner will be selected by an Arts Advisory Committee made up of artists from the district and will be announced at a reception hosted in Concord. The winner and one guest will have the opportunity to visit Washington, D.C., to participate in the national ceremony with other winners from congressional districts across the country, and winning artwork will be displayed for one year in the U.S. Capitol. Second place artwork will be displayed in my Washington, D.C., office, and third place artwork will be displayed in my Concord office.

    For more information, visit my website at hudson.house.gov or call my Concord office at 704-786-1612. Our district is home to incredibly gifted students, and I look forward to seeing this year’s entries.

  • 12EtafRumDo you remember the important North Carolina connection to “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” one of America’s most loved novels?

    The book was written in North Carolina. Although its author, Betty Smith, based the novel on her experience growing up in Brooklyn, New York, she wrote the book in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. As a struggling divorced woman with two children, she found work at the university until Harper & Brothers published her bestselling book in 1943.

    It usually happens the other way, with the Southern writer moving to New York to write. So you would have to think that this Brooklyn to North Carolina story is something special, one not likely to happen again.

    Surprise! It happened again Tuesday, March 5, when Smith’s publisher, now HarperCollins, released “A Woman Is No Man,” Etaf Rum’s debut novel. 

    Like Smith, Rum based her novel on her life growing up in Brooklyn. Like Smith, the divorced Rum moved to North Carolina. Like Smith, she had two children. Like Smith, she found work in higher education — in Rum’s case, community colleges near where she lives in Rocky Mount.

    Rum’s Palestinian immigrant family and neighbors in Brooklyn in the 1990s and 2000s are not the same as Smith’s families, whose roots were in western Europe.

    Still, both books deal with women’s struggles to make their ways in families and communities dominated by men.

    The central character in the first pages of Rum’s book is Isra, a 17-yearold Palestinian girl whose family forces her into marriage with an older man, Adam. He owns a deli and lives with his parents and siblings in Brooklyn. Adam and Isra move into the family’s basement. Isra becomes a virtual servant to Adam’s mother, Fareeda, who pushes the couple to have children. She wants males who can make money and build the family’s reputation and influence. When Isra produces only four children, all girls, she is dishonored by Fareeda. Adam beats her regularly. The central character of the second part of the book is Deya, Isra and Adam’s oldest daughter. Because Adam and Isra have died, Fareeda raises the children. Following the community’s customs, when Deya is a high school senior, Fareeda looks for a Palestinian man for her to marry. Deya wants to go to college, but she is afraid to bolt her family and the community’s customs. She knows of women who have stood up against male domination and then faced beatings and even death.

    “A Woman Is No Man” is fiction, but it is clearly autobiographical. As such, Rum explains, the book “meant challenging many long-held beliefs in my community and violating our code of silence.”

    “Growing up,” she writes, “there were limits to what women could do in society. Whenever I expressed a desire to step outside the prescribed path of marriage and motherhood, I was reminded over and over again: a woman is no man.”

    She writes that “what I hope people from both inside and outside my community see when they read this novel are the strength and resiliency of our women.”

    “A Woman Is No Man” will stir readers for other reasons, too.

    Its themes of conflict between a drive for individual fulfillment and the demands of community and family loyalty are universal. Readers who have given up some life ambition because it conflicted with a family or community expectation will identify with Isra and Deya. So will those who have lost family ties when they breached community norms.

    The author’s well-turned and beautiful writing makes reading a pleasure.

    Finally, her careful, fair-minded, sympathetic descriptions of complicated and interesting characters give the story a classic richness.

    Whether or not “A Woman Is No Man” becomes a best-seller and attains the beloved status of “A Tree Grows In Brooklyn,” it will, in the view of this reader, surely be a widely appreciated treasure.

    Photo: Etaf Rum

  • 15 A Sinister Cabaret 01The Fayetteville Dinner Theatre is back after a pandemic hiatus and ready to kick off their season with the fun and entertaining musical Mystery Dinner Theatre production of "A Sinister Cabaret: Love Letters/ Sleight of Hand." Formally known as the Bordeaux Dinner Theater before its demise in the mid-1980s, Fayetteville Dinner Theatre has been reintroduced to the Fayetteville and Cumberland County community by local businessman, entrepreneur, and Up & Coming Weekly newspaper publisher Bill Bowman.

    The FDT's first production was in 2016, with "A Southern Girl's Got To Have It" written and directed by local Fayetteville playwright Elaine Alexander. It was the overwhelming success of this production that motivated Bowman to create a totally "new and unique dinner theatre experience for Fayetteville and Cumberland County audiences."

    With the FDT celebrating its fifth year with the production of "A Sinister Cabaret," Bowman follows through with his strategy of utilizing local creative writers and talented actors to create a unique and enjoyable evening of dinner theatre.

    "A Sinister Cabaret: Love Letters/ Sleight of Hand" is written and directed by Fayetteville resident Dr. Gail Morfesis. No stranger to the local arts and cultural community, Dr. Morfesis has a doctorate in music, voice, and theater.

    Dr. Morfesis is very active in the Fayetteville arts community as a singer, performer and ardent volunteer. She has directed many shows with the Gilbert Theater and at Fayetteville Technical Community College. Talented and with a penchant for mischievous humor, Morfesis has created her unique style and format for her original plays.

    One of the more exciting aspects of "A Sinister Cabaret" is that it is never the same show twice. The music, dancing and comedy stay the same; however, the "whodunit" is a mystery. And this is how Morfesis intended it to be. She enjoys writing what she describes "as fun, interactive comedy." There are other unique aspects of this dinner theatre production. In the show, Morfesis also plays one of the leading characters, Francis Maximillian.

    Fayetteville actress Tabitha Humphrey, who plays Percy Barker, actually created the character she is portraying. She described her audition with Morfesis as open and unique. She was instructed to come prepared to audition with a love song rather than reading lines from the script. Once she was cast, Humphrey was given the creative opportunity to express herself and assist in creating the character and how she impacts the murder mystery plot.

    "Dr. Gail gave us creative freedom of our characters while she maintained creative control," said Humphrey. She added that she enjoyed working with the cast and the acting and improvisation became much easier once she got to know everyone and became familiar with their characters.

    Leading actor Jim Smith, who plays Sylvester Sly Fox, said, "this play is a mystery with several different plots within the main characters, and is very intriguing. It's a mystery as to how they play ends and how all the ladies feel about my character." Smith did not want to give too much away about his character but is excited to be a part of the cast and production.

    Interactive shows like "A Sinister Cabaret" are becoming common in the dinner theatre scene. Bowman said, "People are looking for fun and entertaining things to do in these trying times. They need some relief from the tensions caused by their jobs, or lack of, racial unrest, riots, pandemics, lockdowns, vaccines, social distancing restrictions, and Zoom meetings.”

    “The timing for this comedy is perfect, and we are expecting a great response and turnout. Celebrating one year of COVID restrictions, you can bet people are ready to ditch the lockdowns and get out of their houses in search of some fun and wholesome entertainment. And that is what the Fayetteville Dinner Theatre is all about. What better to celebrate than with a show that's fun and showcases a local playwright and local actors? Besides, it's about time that people seeking good dinner theatre venues don't have to travel to Charlotte, Raleigh, Winston Salem, or Greensboro for quality entertainment."

    In addition to "A Southern Girl's Got To Have It," the Fayetteville Dinner Theatre has produced "M is for Mullet," "The Fantastiks," and "HamLIT." The May 2020 FDT show that was canceled due to COVID-19 was titled "Mark Twain Himself," starring Richard Garey from Hannibal, Missouri. Garey owns his own Playhouse in Hannibal and is a Samuel Clement scholar. His performances are known for their authenticity.

    Garey brings Mark Twain to life, and Bowman hopes the FDT will be able to reschedule his performance in the fall. It is a show the entire Fayetteville and Cumberland County community will appreciate and enjoy from an entertainment and historical point of view.

    The Fayetteville Dinner Theatre is all about having a unique theatre and dining experience. The FDT prides itself on focusing on the “wow” factor. Every evening starts with a Preshow Welcome Reception hosted by Gates Four Country Club. It includes a wine tasting followed by the show and a three-course meal prepared especially for the FDT audiences. There are gifts, door prizes and a dessert bar set up during the intermission. After the show, the FDT hosts a Meet and Greet with the actors and actresses.

    Gates Four Golf & Country Club is the home of the Fayetteville Dinner Theatre. It is a gated community located in western Cumberland County near Hope Mills. Gates Four is known for its beautiful residential neighborhoods, quaint country landscapes, and its challenging 18-hole golf course.

    The FDT performance of "A Sinister Cabaret: Love Letters/Sleight of Hand" will hit the center stage on Friday, April 9, and Saturday, April 10. Tickets and reservations may be made online at www.fayettevilledinnertheatre.com.

    The Preshow Welcome Reception begins at 6:00 p.m. Dinner and the performance begins at 7:00 p.m. Open seating with social distancing practices will be in place. Tickets are $75 per person with discounts available for active duty military, seniors 65+ and Gates Four members and residents. Parties of six or eight may purchase VIP tables.

    For more information about tickets or how your business or organization can exclusively sponsor a FDT production, contact the Box Office at 910-391-3859 or email bbowman@upandcomingweekly.com. Partial proceeds from the FDT show will benefit Cumberland County education through the Kidsville News! Literacy and Education Foundation, a (501c3), provides reading and educational resources for local children and teachers.

  • 11GPACGivens Performing Arts Center delivers high-quality entertainment, bringing diverse offerings season after season. The month of March promises to be especially exciting, with shows that range from ballet to bagpipes to an “On Stage for Youth” production of the story of Emmet Till.

    Monday, March 11, the Russian National Ballet performs “Sleeping Beauty” at 7:30 p.m. “Dar He: The Story of Emmet Till” is set for Monday, March 18, at 10 a.m. Rock ’n’ roll bagpipe band the Red Hot Chili Pipers take the stage Wednesday, March 20, at 7:30 p.m.

    The Russian National Ballet’s “Sleeping Beauty”

    Based on the Brothers Grimm tale, more than 50 dancers come together to tell this classic story.

    At the celebration of her birth, a princess is cursed to a 100-year sleep when she pierces her finger on a needle. In this version, the princess’ parents survive the sleep and get to see their daughter marry the prince.

    The enchanting score is by Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. It debuted in 1890 at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia. Marius Petipa choreographed the original production.

    “The Russian Ballet performed ‘Swan Lake’ at GPAC two years ago,” said James Bass, executive director of GPAC. “They are well liked, and they put on an amazing performance.

    “The Russian Ballet is widely respected around the world. We’re gracious to be able to present such a quality piece of art for our patrons.” The Russian National Ballet’s “Sleeping Beauty” is one of several performances held in conjunction with the Act I Diner’s Club. These themed meals are available for an extra charge and will be served in the University Dining Room before performances in GPAC. Call the GPAC box office at 910-521-6361 for information.

    “Dar He: The Story of Emmet Till”

    GPAC’s “On Stage for Youth” series provides educational programs that bring the classroom to the stage.

    “Dar He: The Story of Emmet Till” tells the story of young Emmet. In 1955, the 14-year-old black teen from Chicago, Illinois, visited Mississippi. Instead of making memories with his extended family, he was murdered for flirting with a white woman.

    The play covers Till’s murder, the trial of the men accused of killing him and their unbelievable confession.

    This performance is suggested for middle- to high-school-aged students. Tickets cost $10 for adults and $5 for children. Visit www.uncp.edu/resources/ gpac/stage-youth-series to download the study guide. Showtime is 10 a.m.

    “The Red Hot Chili Pipers” 

    The Red Hot Chili Pipers are a bagpipe band with attitude. The group’s setlist mixes traditional Scottish songs with standards like “Amazing Grace” as well as with covers of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” and dance hits of the ’90s.

    With a social media following of more than 360,000, this Scottish bagpipe band plays more than 200 shows each year.

    “They are a fun band,” said James Bass, executive director of GPAC. “They do some really great covers of songs everyone knows, songs from multiple generations. It’s going to be high energy.

    “Go out on YouTube and find one of their videos … see what they do … but trust me when I say seeing them live is a hundred times more fun.”

    The show starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost between $10 and $31. Visit www. uncp.edu/gpac or call 910-521-6361 for tickets and information.

  • 08 P1060728The Gilbert Theater brings the scandalous, fascinating and infamous story and play
    “Oedipus Rex” to the stage from March 26 until April 11.

    The play was originally written by Sophocles as a part of the trilogy “The Theban Plays” that included Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone. It was first performed in 429 B.C. and the story has notoriously stuck around till present day. The story has also influenced the works of Sigmund Freud and psychologists who study the ‘Oedipus complex.’

    “The plot is very simple, there’s a massive plague going on where everyone’s dying in the streets and the people are begging the king, Oedipus, to find some kind of solution,” said Montgomery Sutton, the director for
    “Oedipus Rex.”

    The play dives into the prophecy and investigation of an unsolved murder of the former king of Thebes to end the plague. That unleashes a lot of events and people called in for questions and stories in a “thrilleresque” way, he said.

    “Playing Oedipus is definitely a role I haven’t had to tackle before, it's definitely brought some enlightenment during the rehearsal process in that, it's something broader than what we know about Oedipus and the Oedipus complex,” said actor Deannah Robinson. “There is more sympathy for him than what we are used to.”

    Sutton, a returning director at the theater, directed “Antigone” about three years ago at the Gilbert. His expertise in theatre is acting, directing and playwriting.

    The audience will watch the performance in a non-traditional setting, sitting in a tennis court arrangement, sitting on each side facing one another while the action takes place in the middle.

    “I am a big fan of that style, one of the things that makes it unique is the performance will never be the same twice and there will never be two audiences who are the same,” Sutton said.

    Robinson said she’s excited about the fluidity of the show from beginning to end.

    This adaptation looks at the origins of Greek theatre as both an artistic, civic and religious event, so the music becomes more of a rock-folk-hymn style that should be very relevant to the audience, Sutton said.

    “It's so good, so good,” Robinson said.

    “Last night after we wrapped up, I sat in my car and cried because it's been a year since I felt so connected to the character in a play in a way that was real and had a heart-to-heart with them,” said actor Ella Mock, who plays four different characters in the play.

    I love it, it's such a challenge, it’s really like the original Greek theatre style, where the chorus would have different masks, costume signifiers being really obvious that they are the same actors playing different roles, they said.

    Sutton added that the play may raise a lot of questions concerning current cultural and political issues, many of which the audience will recognize in the play.

    “They can look forward to 90 minutes of edge of your seat, lightning-fire thriller, it’s incredibly intense,” Sutton said.

     

  • 10TrumboCape Fear Regional Theatre brings “Trumbo” to Fayetteville March 5-17. In today’s politically charged climate, the story of Dalton Trumbo, a prolific and talented Hollywood screenwriter whose work spans seven decades of the 20th century, serves as quite a cautionary tale about the lack of due process run wild.

    Before Trumbo was named as a member of the Communist Party — which was not illegal — and subsequently blacklisted and prohibited from working in films or any other entertainment medium, he was one of the highest-paid screenwriters in Hollywood. His films were routinely nominated for Academy Awards.

    In 1947, Trumbo, citing freedom of speech, refused to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee or to give the committee the names of others in Hollywood with Communist sympathies. He was convicted of contempt of Congress and served 11 months in jail. Thus began the Hollywood blacklist, which extended to Broadway, radio and television.

    Before the blacklist came to an end in the 1960s, an appallingly long list of entertainment personalities were deprived of their livelihoods.

    Hard evidence of Communist infiltration or subversion of the entertainment industry was never uncovered, yet hundreds of people’s lives were ruined without due process and by finger pointing alone.

    Larry Pine plays Trumbo in CFRT’s production of the same name. He’s acted in “All My Children,” “As the World Turns,” “Grand Budapest Hotel” and “House of Cards” among many other television and film credits. 

    “Trumbo” was written by Trumbo’s son, Christopher, and is directed by CFRT Artistic Director Mary Kate Burke.

     Despite the serious backdrop of Trumbo’s professional life, the play is warm and witty, told through personal letters. “Trumbo was such a magnificent writer,” said Burke. “His use of language and his wit make ‘Trumbo’ a very funny... and irreverent play, and Larry is an actor who is able to put the language across.

    “Trumbo is a role that actors who have a substantial body of work behind them are excited to take on.”

    One example of Trumbo’s legendary wit was his response to his contempt of Congress conviction.

    “As far as I was concerned,” Trumbo is famously quoted as saying, “it was a completely just verdict. I had contempt for that Congress and have had contempt for several since.

    “And on the basis of guilt or innocence, I could never really complain very much. That this was a crime or misdemeanor was the complaint, my complaint.”

    Michael Tisdale plays Trumbo’s son, Chris. He also voices the narrator and all other characters as they appear in the script.

    Andy Nicks is designing the costumes. There will be no set for “Trumbo.”

    “This show is going to be staged as ‘Disgraced’ was last year,” said Burke. “We use risers so that the audience surrounds the actors on three sides in what is known as thrust theater. There was such positive audience reaction to the staging of ‘Disgraced’ that we decided to use this more intimate staging again for ‘Trumbo.’”

    “Trumbo” promises to be a relevant and entertaining evening. For performance dates and ticket information, contact the CFRT box office at 910-323-4233 or visit www.cfrt.org. Box office hours are 1-6 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and one hour before the show on Saturdays and Sundays.

    Photo: Larry Pine

  • 01 01Located on the west side of Fayetteville, Gates Four has been a part of the Cumberland County community for about 54 years. The 18-hole championship golf course and club was built in 1967, and the residential community followed in 1974. The community has grown over the decades.

    Gates Four Golf & Country Club and its residential community Fayetteville will be adding more developments and various amenities for residents and club members this year. In addition to hosting the Cumberland County Golf Championship again this year, new entertainment amenities will include the Fayetteville Dinner Theatre in April and the Summer Concert Series beginning in May.

    “Gates Four is really unique to this market at the price point that we offer, there’s really nothing like it around,” Kevin Lavertu, general manager of the Gates Four Country Club said.

    The club and residential development are located in proximity to each other, but they operate separately and membership to the club is open to everyone and one doesn’t have to reside in their community, he said.

    The full-service country club includes the golf course, junior Olympic-sized swimming pool, four USDA tennis courts, JP’s Bar & Grill dining room facility, a banquet facility, and an outdoor pavilion among other things.

    “There are about 400 members and some are social members and some sports,” Lavertu said. “We have different categories of memberships to meet different lifestyles.”

    The golf-course for the club is a semi-private facility, open to outside play after 10 a.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. on weekends.

    “Having a golf course here is nice, it’s top-rated, I go up there every day,” said Mike Molin, a club member and resident of the community. “I am retired and I can play almost every day.”

    Lavertu does a great job with the course and club, and it's a great place to be, eat and hang out with friends, he said.

    Gates Four Country Club is family centric with single or family dues packages available.

    “It provides a getaway for people, whether you play golf, tennis or just to dine or swim. There’s something for everybody and it’s really a getaway for a lot of people,” Lavertu said.

    The Dinner Theatre will include events planned inside the ballroom for members to watch shows in an intimate setting and enjoy dinner and entertainment, while the Summer Concert Series hosted at the club’s pavilion will showcase local bands for members and guests to enjoy outdoors. The concert series will kick off Friday, May 14.

    The Cumberland County Championship will be played this year Oct. 15 through Oct. 17 and is one of the biggest tournaments around for amateur golfers, and a staple for golfers and the Cumberland County area, Lavertu said.

    “Just like anything it's a getaway and way for people to enjoy. We are open to anybody who wants to join and we have some great promotions on memberships,” Lavertu added.

    Surrounding the club house is the residential community of Gates Four, a combination of 760 houses and townhomes.
    “I think it’s the best community in Cumberland County and the area with a top-rated golf course, country club and a gated community,” Molin said. “There’s nothing around like it.”

    Molin, a resident of the community of 41 years, also serves as the Home Owners Association Treasurer.

    We have grown from 200 homes to 760 since I have lived here, and it is almost like a small company that the HOA runs. There's a property manager and we expect people to live by certain standards when they move home to help keep the community looking nice, he said.

    “Having a 24-hour gated community, it provides all these amenities in a safe environment for people to live in, which does help people gravitate towards Gates Four and what I noticed with the school system, we are getting younger and younger within the community moving in,” Lavertu said.

    Some may have the impression that the community is far out of town, but Lavertu says the Gates Four community is only about 10 minutes from Raeford Road, adding that the area offers a great school system.

    “I call it the best kept secret of Fayetteville, honestly,” said Jay Dowdy, Broker/Owner at All American Homes with Berkshire Homes. “Gates Four has one of the best school districts and a lot of people call me from out of town looking for homes there, the whole area is nice, and has a unique environment.”

    Molin said the biggest things he liked about living in Gates Four is the gated community and also having a Fayetteville address but not having to pay the city taxes because the community extends o