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City Councilman Dan Culliton declines to run in next election

06cityoffayettevilleFellow Fayettevillians,

For those who know me, they know that I am first and foremost a husband and father who puts his family above all else. I have balanced my personal responsibilities in addition to my professional responsibilities, along with the civic responsibilities of holding the District 2 City Council seat, and I have no regrets.

However, I believe it’s important to listen. So, when (I was) discussing the upcoming election with my family and my daughter innocently asked, as only a 6-year-old can, “Dadda — if you don’t get elected, does that mean you’ll have more time to spend with me?” I had to listen to what that question was really saying.

I have always placed a demanding schedule on myself, but very recently, we had a physician at our practice relocate out of the state. Due to this, I had to take on even more professional responsibility to ensure continuity of care within our practice, which also employs a very dedicated and loyal staff. I have a responsibility to those people and their families as well as the patient base we care for. I have always been a man of my word and live up to my responsibilities to the best of my ability.

I am proud that I have been able to serve the people of District 2 and this city honorably and effectively. I have worked tirelessly to ensure that my constituents have had a strong voice on the council that could be heard out of the other nine I had the honor to sit amongst. I am but one vote of 10; however, I have tried to make sure that vote was the people’s vote and not my own.

During my representation, I, along with the rest of the council and city staff, have made great strides in moving our city forward. We have accomplished much in a short time and at a very critical juncture in our city’s growth. I look forward to continuing that service until the end of my term and will remain steadfast in ensuring other projects and initiatives I am involved with progress on schedule.

However, as I said in my last campaign, actions speak louder than words. And upon much reflection, I must take action for what my heart is telling me. Therefore, I will not be running for another term at this time, so that I may better balance my time with my family and my professional responsibilities. I am hopeful to be able to offer my time and dedication to our city in the future should that path open again, and I will continue to remain engaged in our local community organization.

It truly has been an honor to serve under such an overwhelmingly broad base of support that has come from all sides of the community. Fayetteville, we truly are one. And although there will always be those who wish to divide, do not let them. I have faith that my district will choose wisely in a replacement. I will work with that choice to ensure a smooth transition so that District 2 and our great city continue towards its immense potential that I believe has yet to be reached.

Apologies for this half-baked Alaska column

05auroraMy apologies to the two or three of you who had the misfortune to read my recent column about our Alaska trip. That column was written under the influence of jet lag and the king of all sinus infections, which I obtained in the 49th state. Being cranky and ill, I was unfair to Alaska. Mea culpa Alaska, you are wonderful. My fourth-grade teacher, Ms. Delgrande, would have probably given me a B on that column. Her daughter Susan Delgrande, out of kindness, gave me an A. Let us look back in gratitude to the great state of Alaska.

We flew out of RDU. The lengthy line for TSA review resembles Walt Disney World’s queue for Space Mountain. The TSA has added something new, a starter’s line for fliers to stand behind until their row is called. You walk down a 30-foot strip as a drug-sniffing dog weaves in and out of the tourists. The lady next to me said, “I’m sure glad I left my brownies at home.”

After the usual soothing air travel experience, we arrived in Fairbanks in early afternoon. Our tour kept pushing something called the Alaskan Salmon Bake for only $99 for two. Being gullible, we went. A school bus picked up a flock of tourists at the hotel. We were hauled off like so much Soylent Green to the tourist shearing. Truth in advertising would demand it be called the Alaskan Tourist Bake. It was the Alaskan equivalent of Dillon S.C.’s South of the Border, or a Myrtle Beach all-you-can-stomach fried seafood buffet. All the salmon you could eat — along with a salad bar featuring brown lettuce. Wine and beer cost extra. The next day, after applying the rule that Tragedy + Time = Comedy, I realized the tourist food scam was funny.

There is a four-hour time difference between North Carolina and Alaska. Who knew there was a time zone beyond Pacific time? Alaska time, like the cheese, stands alone. The University of Alaska at Fairbanks has an excellent museum in which I slept through a highly educational movie about the aurora borealis. Fairbanks also has the first Moldovian restaurant I have ever seen featuring a specialty apparently called Placenta Primavera. Yum.

The rumors about Alaska being the land of the midnight sun are true. The sun does not disappear at night. It drops into a low crawl across the horizon moving from west to east and then starts back up into the sky in the morning. Watching the sun refuse to set was worth the price of admission. A side trip took us to a giant Alaskan Gold Dredge, which can scoop out entire mountains looking for gold. We got to pan for gold. We came up with $26 worth of gold, according to the proprietors. They did not offer to buy it back from us. However, the gift shop had necklaces for sale for $76 into which you could put your gold flakes to preserve your precious memories of your Klondike gold strike. They did give us a free cookie and coffee to go along with our gold. We took a picture next to the Alaskan pipeline to scare environmentalists.

The next overnight stop was near the mountain called Denali, which formerly was known as Mount McKinley. That is one large mountain. The restaurant there sold wine in a can. This allowed you to sit on the deck, drink canned wine and admire America’s tallest mountain while thinking profound thoughts. One thought was that there are very few fat tourists in Alaska. You have to be in reasonably good shape just to get there.

There is very little access to actual printed newspapers in Alaska. I read the same Wall Street Journal I brought from home for a week until I found a New York Times in Anchorage. You can get excellent shrimp and grits with a fried egg on top in Anchorage. Who knew low-country cooking would turn up in the north country? While we were in Anchorage, Trump got into a twitter war with Bette Midler, calling her a washed-up psycho. Kind of made me nostalgic for daily news.

Once on the cruise ship, I was pleased to learn they showed a different episode of “The Love Boat” TV show every day. There is nothing finer than a 1970’s TV show with faded stars from yesteryear finding love on the Love Boat. Captain Stubing, Dr. Bricker, Gopher, and Isaac the Bar Tender remain on board. I still can’t get the theme song out of my head: “Love, exciting and new/ Come aboard/ We’re expecting you/ Love, the sweetest reward/ Let it flow/ It flows back to you.”

Have you learned anything from this waste of your reading time? Probably not. However, I now strongly recommend going to Alaska. Once the jet lag and the sinus cooties disappeared, I was able to appreciate the wonders that comprise the Last Frontier. One last note, Alaska delights in selling T-shirts and hats that compare the size of Alaska to Texas. Size matters. Alaska is 2.5 times bigger than Texas.

Alaskan people are among the friendliest and most self-sufficient folks I have ever met. If you can smile where it gets 60 degrees below zero in the winter, you are America’s finest.

My party, right or wrong’

02RepElmerFloydPublisher’s note: I am yielding this space to Rep. John Szoka, R-N.C. I have the highest respect for John and all our elected public servants, regardless of political affiliation. Up & Coming Weekly is proud to be the local community newspaper, and we welcome contributions without regard to race, religion or political affiliation. This unbiased diversity is what makes Up & Coming Weekly successful and uniquely appealing to our readers. The only mandatory requirement we have is that the writers own their words. This is why we require photos and bios to run with all content features. Our readers want to know who is speaking to them. It’s also the reason many politicians will not contribute. Our policy: “You say it! You own it!” — Bill Bowman, Publisher

In the aftermath of the governor’s veto of the budget, Democrats in the House who agreed to vote to override the veto have been labeled as disloyal to their governor and disloyal to the Democratic Party. How dare a Democrat step out of line? It’s “My party, right or wrong.”

These Democrat House members are being portrayed as disloyal traitors and are threatened with being primaried by their own party. In fact, some were called to the governor’s mansion and introduced face-to-face to their next Democratic primary election opponent if they don’t toe the line. Raw political threats by elected and appointed people in positions of great civic responsibility is disappointing and so very wrong, to say the least. But remember, it’s “My party, right or wrong.”

Equally disappointing are left-leaning organizations like Progress North Carolina. This organization is on social media claiming that Democrat Representative X is trading healthcare for pork, depicting a picture of a hog’s head and a stack of money right next to an unflattering photo of Representative X. Add to that the executive director of the North Carolina Justice Center, who was a guest on a local radio station last Thursday morning, echoing the same sentiments. Pork? Really? Funding the residency program at Cape Fear Valley Hospital is pork? Helping the town of Falcon repair its town hall when insurance came in about $60,000 short is pork? $20 million for capital improvements at Fayetteville Technical Community College, $16 million for capital improvements at Fayetteville State University and $28 million for new schools in Cumberland County is pork? Seriously? But remember, it’s “My party, right or wrong.”

North Carolina’s economy has been booming for the last several years. Because of prudent fiscal policy and controlled spending over the last four budget cycles, we have seen a dramatic increase in job creation and increasing wages. North Carolina’s unemployment rate is at a record low, and tax collections have outpaced budget estimates for the last four years because of our booming economy. These are the reasons we can fund these important and necessary projects across the state that might not otherwise be funded. Pork? Politically speaking, pork can be defined as spending money you don’t have for projects you don’t need. What this budget does is return the “good economy dividend” to its rightful owners, the taxpayers, for projects benefiting taxpayers.

House Democrats who’ve reached out across the aisle to work with Republicans — who have reached out to them in-kind — are being villainized and portrayed as party traitors. I thought this was called compromise. If I can believe even a small portion of what I see on TV, and read about in countless editorials, that’s exactly what everyone wants, compromise. And now everyone can see who is truly interested in compromise and who isn’t.

Working for our constituents by working together for the common good is, after all, why we were all sent to Raleigh. So, instead of recognizing and acknowledging these House Democrats for what they have been able to achieve in spite of their own party, they are subjected to disdain, criticism and disrespect from their party peers and leftleaning organizations. Reps. Billy Richardson and Elmer Floyd are two such public servants who don’t deserve the contempt and disdain being heaped upon them.

Actually, these two public servants deserve grateful appreciation, respect, support and thanks from their constituents and community. They understand that it’s not “My party, right or wrong,” but it’s about honoring their duty as public servants and doing the right thing for the right reasons for their constituents, community and state.

For this, gentlemen, I thank you — even if no one else will.

Photo: Democrat Reps. Elmer Floyd

Filling the void

04phoneSyndicated columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. published a column earlier this month in the Raleigh News and Observer with the arresting headline, “What will we do when there are no newspapers?”

What, indeed?

Friends have told me that they do not use electronic readers because they prefer the physical feel of actual books, and others say the same about reading newspapers instead of online editions. It is the same sentiment regarding two different forms of communication, and the difference is, of course, that books are static. They do not change unless their authors issue updated editions. Newspapers, by nature, are different every day and require daily — now hourly, even second-to-second updates. As do broadcast and electronic media, they require massive volumes of information, hard news and many other kinds of stories, that require large staffs and vast amounts of money to churn out regularly.

That is one of the main reasons the newspaper — as we have known it since the inception of the United States and even before — is endangered. Newspaper readers fret about their shrinking size, both physically and in terms of content. Another big reason for their decline is that newspapers appear once a day, and much of what they tell us we already know from the internet, television and radio. The internet, CNN and other media tell us in seconds what we used to find out the next morning in our daily paper.

If — maybe when — newspapers as we know them do disappear, there will still be news, of course. The internet, CNN and other media will surely keep us informed about what the president is up to, which aspect of climate change is currently scaring us to death and what Prince Harry, Meghan and baby Archie are doing over the weekend. What we will have a much harder time learning is what our local legislative delegation is doing for — or to — us in Raleigh or when the governor is coming to town. If no one is reporting on our city council or county commissioners, it is more convenient for us to attend those meetings ourselves than it is to take a road trip to the General Assembly in Raleigh. Realistically, though, most of us are not going to make the effort.

Hence, Leonard Pitts’ scary column, which points out a 2018 University of North Carolina School of Media and Journalism report that we have lost nearly 1,800 newspapers across our nation since 2004. The future is upon us, and it looks devoid of newspapers and local and regional journalism.

Here is how Pitts describes our situation.

“The passing of newspapers would have a devastating impact on the coverage of local events. The hole they leave would not be filled by CNN, whose original reporting tends to center on national — usually political — news. It would not be filled by local TV, whose original reporting tends to begin and end with street crime, weather and sports. And it would not be filled by social media, whose original reporting tends to be nonexistent.

“Bottom line, it would not be filled. If you’re living in a news desert and the mayor is crooked, the cops corrupt or the businessmen pervy, how would you know? Chances are, you would not.”

The demise of newspapers is a clear case of not appreciating what we have until we lose it. We newspaper readers have taken it for granted that local and regional reporters will keep us informed about actions that affect us, especially governmental actions. We have taken it for granted that local newspaper editorial staffs will help interpret the world around us and what it means for us and our families.

It is increasingly our own responsibility to find outlets we can trust not just to feed us their points of view but to give us concrete and truthful information. It is increasingly our own responsibility to interpret what we learn and what it means for our communities.

It is all we can do until new local and regional media emerge in whatever forms they take.

History, the rider's companion

14History A Riders CompanionHistory is often a traveler's best companion. I read a book titled "Here Is Where: Discovering America's Great Forgotten History" by Andrew Carroll. In the book, Carroll tells the story of Dr. Joseph Goldberger, who used prisoners in Mississippi as a control group to find a cure for pellagra. Pellagra is a disease caused by low levels of niacin, also known as vitamin B-3. It can be fatal.

In the chapter titled "Sparks: Inventions and Technological Advancements," Carroll opens with the story of Calendonia Correctional Institution. David M. Williams of Godwin, North Carolina, is the focus in this part of the story. Williams was accused of killing Cumberland County Deputy Al Pate on July 22, 1921, during a raid on a moonshine still. The evidence was mostly circumstantial, but Williams pleaded insanity. At the trial, one juror was convinced he was insane, resulting in a mistrial. At retrial, Williams pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in fear of a life sentence or the electric chair.

In 1921, while in prison, Williams eventually was able to work in the metal shop. Williams was talented with firearms, and he began working on a design for a new gun. With the help, trust and encouragement of the prison's superintendent, Captain H. T. People, Williams invented what became the most influential weapon invention in history, the short-stroke piston. The design allowed the breach of a semi-automatic weapon to travel less distance and provide a faster reload capability. This invention led to the production of a shorter, lighter and more dependable rifle, the M1 carbine.

By the end of the 1920s, Superintendent People, North Carolina Gov. Angus McLean, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, Cumberland County Sheriff N. H. McGeachy and, reportedly, Pate's widow lobbied to have Williams pardoned. Williams was pardoned and was hired by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company.

In 1941, Winchester won a contract with the military to build the M1 carbine. In Carroll's book, he reports that 8 million M1s were produced for Word War II and the Korean War. It was reported that Gen. MacArthur stated the M1 carbine was "one of the strongest contributing factors in our victory in the Pacific."

I did some further research and discovered that in 1952, Jimmy Stewart starred in a movie called "Carbine Williams." I downloaded it from iTunes and enjoyed watching it. During my research, I learned there is a historical marker in Godwin, and that Williams is buried not far from there, at the Old Bluff Presbyterian Church near Wade, North Carolina.

Times are changing, and so are our ways of finding new spots and recommendations. Lately, I've been turning to social media. On Facebook, you can type in the place you want to go and ask for a recommendation. Usually, some nice person will help you out.

Recently, I've been trying to get my head around Instagram and have discovered a few things. If I type in some place I want to go, I can search for pictures and see places that people have tagged. Once I see something I like, I just message the person that posted the picture to ask them more information about the picture or where it was taken. Most of the time, people will be kind enough — maybe even excited — to help because you enjoyed their work.

Traveling and learning are just great companions, and you do not have to go across the country to find a little history.

Oh, and about Williams. I will leave you this thought. Although Williams certainly took his time in prison, he turned an evil act into a historychanging moment. What about People? If People had not recognized Williams' genius and not given him the latitude to work in that metal shop, how would World War II and the Korea Wars have turned out? Due to the superior firepower that the M1 carbine gave the U.S., I would suspect our casualty rates at the least would have been much higher, and history would be different.

It is reported that by the time Williams died at the age of 74, he had between 40 to 60 patents.

If there is a topic that you would like to discuss, contact me at motorcycle4fun@aol.com.

RIDE SAFE!

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