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Graduation day — finally!

02 CongratsgraduateGraduates: This edition of Up & Coming Weekly is for you. We want to say congratulations to each one of you and thank Cumberland County Schools Superintendent Dr. Marvin Connelley, his administrators and staff, the Cumberland County Board of Education and countless teachers and high school principals who pushed the limits of their imagination and creativity to make sure that graduating seniors were academically prepared to graduate and free to pursue whatever future path they choose. The recent COVID-19 pandemic drastically disrupted their academic acumen. What local education will look like in the future is unknown. One thing you can be sure of is that we have the right people at the helm to steer it in the right direction.

Like I said, this edition of U&CW community newspaper is dedicated to all Cumberland County High School 2020 graduates. It was made possible on short notice with the cooperation of Connelly, the coordination efforts of Associate Superintendent of Communications Lindsay Whitley and the diligent and timely response of all 17 CCS high school principals, who provided the information to create this 2020 graduation commemorative edition. We thank them immensely, as we do our business and community sponsors who have made it possible to provide a copy to each graduate.

Every Cumberland County high school is showcased with the name of each graduate, along with a personal, heartfelt message from their principal. This is a significant event and accomplishment for our young people and future leaders. Up & Coming Weekly, Fayetteville’s community newspaper, is proud to be a part of their once-in-a-lifetime celebration. We are so proud of these young adults and wish them the very best and bright future.
Thank you for reading U&CW.

Sticking to budget can boost your emergency fund

06 N2005P72022CDuring the coronavirus pandemic, our health concerns — for ourselves and our loved ones — have been at the top of our minds. But financial worries have been there, too, both for people whose employment has been affected and for investors anxious about the volatile financial markets. And one aspect of every individual’s total financial picture has become quite clear — the importance of an emergency fund.

in normal times, it’s a good idea for you to keep three to six months’ worth of living expenses in a liquid, low-risk account. Having an emergency fund available can help you cope with those large, unexpected costs, such as a major car repair or a costly medical bill.

Furthermore, if you have an adequate emergency fund, you won’t have to dip into your long-term investments to pay for short-term needs. These investment vehicles, such as your IRA and 401(k), are designed for your retirement, so the more you can leave them intact, the more assets you’re likely to have when you retire. And because they are intended for your retirement, they typically come with disincentives, including taxes and penalties, if you do tap into them early. (However, as part of the economic stimulus legislation known as the CARES Act, individuals can now take up to $100,000 from their 401(k) plans and IRAs without paying the 10% penalty that typically applies to investors younger than 59½. If you take this type of withdrawal, you have up to three years to pay the taxes and, if you want, replace the funds, beyond the usual caps on annual contributions.

Of course, life is expensive, so it’s not always easy to put away money in a fund that you aren’t going to use for your normal cash flow. That’s why it’s so important to establish a budget and stick to it. When developing such a budget, you may find ways to cut down on your spending, freeing up money that could be used to build your emergency fund.

There are different ways to establish a budget, but they all typically involve identifying your income and expenses and separating your needs and wants. You can find various online budgeting tools to help you get started, but, ultimately, it’s up to you to make your budget work. Nonetheless, you may be pleasantly surprised at how painless it is to follow a budget. For example, if you’ve budgeted a certain amount for food each month, you’ll need to avoid going to the grocery store several times a week, just to pick up “a few things” — because it doesn’t really take that many visits for those few things to add up to hundreds of dollars. You’ll be much better off limiting your trips to the grocery, making a list of the items you’ll need and adhering to these lists. After doing this for a few months, see how much you’ve saved — it may be much more than you’d expect. Besides using these savings to strengthen your emergency fund, you could also deploy them toward longer-term investments designed to help you reach other objectives, such as retirement.

Saving money is always a good idea, and when you use your savings to build an emergency fund, you can help yourself prepare for the unexpected and make progress toward your long-term goals.

Welcome the Rolling Stones

During the current Corona Cooties crisis, it’s time we all began to think seriously about the kind of world we want to leave behind for Keith Richards. No one, no civilization, lasts forever, with the only exception being Mr. Richards. Able to survive years of curious multiple-substances ingestion, able to fall from a coconut tree on his head without permanent damage, longer-lasting than a Twinkie or a cockroach, the unsinkable Mr. Richards goes on and on into the future. Once America is gone, once we are all gone, what kind of legacy will we bequeath to Mr. Richards? It is a question made even more timely with the two-week interval between America’s coming out party on Memorial Day and the surge of Corona, which is sure to follow.

I got to thinking about Mr. Richards when I realized that this column would disgrace the annals of journalism by appearing the week of June 3, which, coincidentally, is the anniversary of the Rolling Stones’ first American tour in 1964. Climb into Mr. Peabody’s Time Machine to go back to June 5, 1964, in San Bernadino, California, where the group had its first American concert. The Stones’ song setlist began with “Not Fade Away,” included “Route 66,” “Walking the Dog,” and finished up with “I’m Alright.” The Stones were billed by the radio station sponsoring the concert as “the ugliest band in England.” The Stones opening acts on that tour included Bobby Goldsboro, George Jones and Bobby Vee.

04 Keith Richards Berlinale 2008The combination of the Rolling Stones and Bobby Goldsboro playing the same gig boggles the mind. Bobby went on in 1968 to write “Honey,” possibly the worst song of all time. Bobby’s song mourns his lost love, a gal named Honey, who cried over movies and wrecked his car. The immortal lyrics include: “See the tree how big it’s grown/ But friend it hasn’t been too long, it wasn’t big/ I laughed at her, and she got mad/ The first day that she planted, it was just a twig … She was always young at heart/ Kinda dumb and kinda smart, and I loved her so/ (Honey then gets called home by the angels) … And now my life’s an empty stage/ Where Honey lived, and Honey played and love grew up/ A small cloud passes overhead/ And cries down on the flower bed that Honey loved/.” Gentle Reader, if you can hum these lyrics from memory and not throw up a little bit in your mouth, you are a better person than I.

The bizarre combination of the Stones and Bobby Goldsboro might only come close to being matched by a Janis Joplin concert in Chapel Hill that I attended in Carmichael Auditorium in February 1969. This concert paired Janis with the opening act of Gene Barber and the Cavaliers. Janis was wild and crazy San Francisco rock; Gene and the Cavaliers were pure beach music. The crowd was not there to hear beach music. Gene was not well received. It reminded me of the scene in the Blues Brother’s movie where the boys are playing “Rawhide” at Bob’s Country Bunker red neck bar behind a chicken wire fence dodging thrown beer bottles. Gene did not get to finish his set. Cooler heads prevailed. He was hustled off the stage before he came to bodily harm from the fans who had not come to shag to beach music.

Speaking of strange stage fellows, another odd coupling of bands that nearly rivals Bobby and the Rolling Stones was when the Jimi Hendrix Experience was the opening act for The Monkees in July 1967. Imagine a time when “Pleasant Valley Sunday” and “The Last Train to Clarksville” took precedence over “Purple Haze” and “The Wind Cries Mary.” You cannot make this stuff up.

Odd combinations are not limited to the world of Rock & Roll. In an episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” Larry David has a sandwich named after him at his favorite delicatessen. The Larry David sandwich is a temptingly hideous combination of whitefish salad, smoked black codfish, onions, cream cheese and capers. Larry is greatly offended by the contents of the sandwich and tries to switch sandwich names with Ted Danson. If this plot sounds too involved or trivial to be concerned about, you are probably right. Not every sandwich can be a gem. Larry’s dismay with his namesake sandwich is what is known as a First World Problem.

But what does all this have to do with Keith Richards and the Rolling Stones’ first American concert? Not much. But lest we forget, 1964 is a long time ago. Fifty-six years to be exact. Keith was alive then. He’s alive now. He will be alive long after we are all gone. So, if you were expecting some sort of coherent point to this column, remember — you can’t always get what you want. Time may not be on our side, but it certainly is for Keith. If life offers you a Larry David sandwich, don’t eat it. Paint it black. It’s an election year, be sure to get your fair share of abuse.

Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday, who could hang a coconut on you? See you in two weeks if the Cooties don’t get us first.

Pictured: Keith Richards
Photo credit: Siebbi / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)

Amen!

Bill,

As I read your (May 13) editorial I keep saying AMEN! You hit the nail on the head. At my age (76) it is difficult to realize that our freedoms are slowly — maybe rapidly — being taken away from us. Your opinion piece should be read by everyone. Put your piece together with the article by Karl Merritt and we have all we need to know about the path this country is taking. AMEN! AMEN! to both of you.

Thank you for your work at Up & Coming Weekly.

—Myra Parker
(Mrs. Weeks Parker)

***********************************************************************

05 pennyI was stuck in traffic on McPherson Church Road at 5 p.m. Saturday. When I finally reached the intersection, I saw that the police were protecting a line of people holding signs — that was a peaceful
assembly.

Three hours later I heard on the radio about smoke and a man on fire at the Market House — that was not peaceful. Six hours later, I learned of looting and broken glass at Walmart on Skibo and
JC Penney at the Mall — that is a mob.

What happened, dear Fayettevillians? We are not Baltimore, we are not Los Angeles, we are not Minneapolis. I have lived half my life here and have embraced the city’s 230+ year history. We are black and white and brown and yellow. We are biracial, interracial, multi-ethnic. We are not Bosnia or Serbia or Croatia, where neighbors fought neighbors. We are not an underdeveloped country, although the COVID crisis almost reduced our day-to-day economy as such with toilet paper lines instead of bread lines. We are the center of the military universe and about to celebrate the 2020 graduation of our high school and college students. Is anarchy their future instead of law and order and respect for oneself and others?

My heart broke when I visited the Market House Sunday. Priceless Lafayette exhibits on the second floor were taken and now stolen from the children of this county. To see boarded up windows and doors on both sides of Hay Street was awful. These are small-business owners. A hurricane did not cause this; reckless action did.

My thoughts Sunday at midnight were where was the city’s leadership, telling the crowds: “OK, time to go home. Do not destroy your town; do not destroy our town.”

Why did the police stand down, be it at Walmart or the Market House? Was it to prevent confrontation, prevent escalation of a planned tense situation? A witness told me Sunday that cars were parked zigzag on Hay Street while their drivers were ransacking the area; that sounds like a calculated maneuver. Other Skibo Road witnesses told me of the 2 a.m. swarm of cars and people running in and out of Walmart as well as J.C. Penney’s with merchandise, egged on by others on their cell phones. With all the store cameras and the bragging Facebook posts, will the police be serving warrants soon?

Perhaps the beloved educator, Dr. E.E. Smith, can return and calm the waters. He lived in a time when the racial wounds were more fresh (1852-1933). Yet, he worked well with others to achieve his education and ministry, build up Fayetteville State University, start the first black-owned newspaper in North Carolina and represent the U.S.. overseas. Every Fayetteville child should know about him and Lafayette; mob rule should not be their model.
We cannot be going backward.

— Linda McAlister

Community Notes

Update: Republican headquarters across the state are temporarily closed. The June 13 event will still take place. 

• 2810 Bragg Blvd. will be the 2020 Headquarters for the Cumberland County Republican Party. Educational material, voter information and precinct maps will be on display. Campaign literature, and candidate signs will be available soon. The current shelter-in- place lockdown has delayed distribution of signs.

County Chairman Jackie Taylor and her Board of Officers will be hosting an outdoor Grand Opening with Ribbon-Cutting and special guests on June 13 in the parking lot. There will be a guest speaker, Mark Robinson, candidate for Lt. Governor. More details to be announced. In the meantime, doors will be open Monday through Saturday  12 p.m. to 4 p.m. as of June 1. For more information, contact jackieleetaylor41@gmail.com or call the Headquarters at 910-339-2011.

• St. Ann RC Church in Fayetteville is hosting a Blood Drive, Saturday, June 13, from 9 a.m.-noon at 357 N. Cool Spring St. The Cape Fear Valley Blood Donor Center is providing two Blood Mobiles to facilitate the collection of blood.
The Blood Mobiles can accommodate five donors every fifteen minutes. Average time it takes to donate is approximately
30 minutes.

There is an urgent need for O-negative blood.

COVID-19’s young victims

03 N1401P14003CMy heart hurt with the sad news the Fayetteville Technical Community College’s Early Childhood Education Center has permanently shuttered its doors. The loss of a 5-star day care center in a young community that needs more, not fewer, of them negatively impacts families, employees and the community at large. FTCC’s Board decided it could no longer underwrite the Center’s financial losses, especially since the pandemic forced the center to shut down more than two months ago. That left a business model with little income and ongoing expenses. Since 1996, the Center provided both high-quality daycare services and a hands-on learning laboratory for students in FTCC’s Early Childhood Education program.

On top of 100,000+ human deaths, COVID-19 is killing U.S. industries that depend on customers who show up faithfully day after day and pay to do so. Daycare is the very definition of such an industry. Working parents depend on daycare, but it is a two-way street. When COVID-19 forced closure of schools and most daycare facilities to slow the spread of the virus, the two-way street shut down. Like the FTCC center, many of those daycare businesses will not return, making high-quality daycare an even more precious commodity.

Underlying the daycare problem in the United States is that we are so two-faced about it. We profess that daycare, especially for preschool children, is essential, and then we walk away.

Daycare is indeed essential to the modern American workplace, but we do not put our money where our mouths are. We tell each other that early childhood education is important on two critical fronts — allowing parents to provide for their families and, with luck, continue upward mobility and preventing educational disparities. High falutin’ talk aside, we put next to no public investment into daycare, relegating the industry to small businesses that are at the head of the failure line when disaster, such as COVID-19, strikes. Most day cares lack financial resources to stay afloat in hard times.

Public schools, where, by far most American children head when they are old enough, are different in one critical way. Public schools, like other essential services such as law enforcement and fire protection, receive public funding. Their teachers, staffs and operations are paid with public dollars.


When disaster strikes, public schools will pick up where they left off when it is safe to do so, while daycare centers can only hang on as best they can for as long as they can. Some economic forecasts project that COVID-19 will cost the United States about half of our daycare capacity. The question then becomes whether daycare be available when parents are ready and can afford to put their precious kiddos back into day care so our American economy can get going again. The New York Times reports about 76% of mothers of children under six work full time, and 96% of their fathers do. Those percentages constitute big numbers, and marshaling the skills of those potential workers is critical to our nation’s economic recovery.

The list of troubled and needy industries suffering from the pandemic is long, and many hands are out for public support. The time has arrived for Americans not only to talk the talk but to figure out how to walk the walk when it comes to day care as support a humming economy.
Either it is essential, or it isn’t.

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