02lake2 2I have written about it often: Hope Mills is a beautiful, thriving, All-American community filled with possibilities and destined for growth, development and economic success. Its population, at over 16,000, has nearly tripled over the last two decades, and by the look of things, the town will continue to enjoy consistent, healthy and moderate growth throughout the next decade and beyond. Hope Mills maintains a charm and small-town feeling that continues to draw newcomers.

Its rich history and idyllic lake make Hope Mills a place people want to move to raise their families and pursue the American Dream. Good schools, economic opportunities and friendly people continue to pull new residents to settle in the town.

Under the guidance and leadership of Mayor Jackie Warner, the Hope Mills Board of Commissioners have a perfect balance of history, tradition, tenacity, intelligence and vision to embrace progress and opportunity and to assure Hope Mills’ future.

If the town of Hope Mills were a company whose stock traded on Wall Street, a well-informed trader might advise a client to examine and evaluate the talent, experience and capabilities of its management team and staff to establish the company’s worth and potential.

Hope Mills would be hot stock because this is where Hope Mills Town Manager Melissa Adams excels. Her common sense, dedication and leadership skills are only surpassed by her organizational abilities, making her a respected leader to the many town employees and department heads that report to her.

Adams and Warner are the near perfect municipal dynamic duo who, together, will successfully take Hope Mills into the future with confidence and solid leadership that will benefit the town for generations to come.

Up & Coming Weekly community newspaper will be there in support.

So, now that all the hubba-hubba controversy is over about the town partnering with Up & Coming Weekly to create its own community media voice, I would like to personally say “thank you” to all the residents and businesses who supported us and the Hope Mills Initiative. They took the time to understand and embrace the real purpose of the program and the long-term objectives and vision of the project.

It was never about the money. It was about creating a media vehicle that reflected a positive voice and image for the town of Hope Mills. Up & Coming Weekly committed to share its 23-year-old reputation, mission and mandates with the town to tell the Hope Mills story – not just to the 16,000 plus residents of Hope Mills but to all of Fayetteville, Fort Bragg and Cumberland County.

The $28,000 cost was just a convenient diversion and easy distraction from the real underlying fear of media competition and losing control of the narrative. The Hope Mills Initiative was conceived when the perception was at its highest that The Fayetteville Observer’s Sandspur had pretty much deserted Hope Mills. Well, not anymore. Our media commitment to the town has now rejuvenated The Sandspur.

It’s hard not to notice how much attention Hope Mills is now getting from The Fayetteville Observer since the Hope Mills Commissioners’ decision not to renew Up & Coming Weekly’s partnership. There has been a plethora of Hope Mills profiles, stories, editorials, articles and even a front page “above the fold” feature. They even hosted a meet-and-greet social to solidify their new promise and commitment of more news and editorials for the town.

To this, we say “Great!” and “Mission accomplished.” This is the type of attention and respect Hope Mills should have been getting all along. We hope it continues. Competition is a good thing. Without it, mediocrity becomes the standard. As a newspaper publisher, I’ve always been adamant that there is no exclusivity in media. That’s why it’s called the free press. No individual has the right to own or control a single voice or opinion. This also holds true for electronic communications and social media. Beware of anyone (person, organization or business) who attempts to restrict, censor, silence or influence your free speech or thought processes through intimidation. For they are attempting to control the narrative.

Here is the good news. Up & Coming Weekly is not going away. Hope Mills is in Cumberland County, and we intend to continue to be a positive voice. Now, Hope Mills residents will have more town news and information to share. Not only will we keep them informed on local issues, we will be their conduit for other wonderful and exciting things taking place in Cumberland County. We will make a difference.

The most recurring issue and concern presented to me regarding discontinuing the Hope Mills Initiative was about the low voter turnout during Hope Mills elections. Believe me, you will see this change dramatically over the years. Why? Because the residents will know what’s going on in the town. They will be better informed by having consistent and reliable access to information about the candidates and important issues affecting them and their families. You will also see new, younger and enthusiastic residents stepping up to participate and be involved with Hope Mills just for the betterment of the town, thus assuring their future.

Hope Mills, North Carolina, is the mouse that roared! And we hear you loud and clear. Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

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