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Publisher's Pen: Join the Fayetteville Can Do BETTER Campaign

4After attending the recent municipal forums, listening to the candidates on the radio and reading their social media posts, I can honestly and confidently make several assessments. For the most part, these candidates are honest, hard-working, and good-intentioned Fayetteville citizens with deep concerns for our city. Otherwise, they would not be seeking public office.

However, I question the motives of several of the newbies and a few incumbents who are vying for reelection. The current configuration of districts in our city council does not allow for a cohesive community vision. After all, because of how the nine Fayetteville municipal districts are determined, it fosters an environment that encourages, protects, and disguises laziness, neglect of responsibilities, and gross incompetence while restricting our voice in local government. For more information on this issue visit, www.voteyesfayetteville.com.

If history and past performance are indications of future leadership expectations, then why would anyone think these dysfunctional, uncooperative and uninformed city council placeholders would perform any differently if reelected? Tisha Waddell resigned her position in District 3 on November 9, 2022 after realizing, among other things, that it was impossible to work and achieve anything for the citizens of Fayetteville in such a hostile, dysfunctional environment. She resigned after realizing there was no path forward to improve or influence change for honest and transparent governance for all Fayetteville residents.

As we listen to these political wannabes, everyone seems to tout public safety, the unhoused, storm water, infrastructure and the need to make Fayetteville a cleaner and more attractive business-friendly city. All spewing words without substance that go primarily unchallenged by the general public. These are ambiguous talking points and sound bites void of remedies, solutions, or plans to move our city forward. They do not reflect a working knowledge of how the city government operates.

The Fayetteville Can Do BETTER campaign, funded by donations collected from citizens who want a better Fayetteville, will run through the General election on Nov. 8. The campaign has two primary objectives: To remind and encourage people to vote in the upcoming elections and let the current city-elected officials know that we see and experience what they chose to ignore every day in our city.

Up & Coming Weekly is accepting contributions to the ad campaign and photos highlighting issues in our city from the community. Please email me directly at bill@upandcomingweekly.com or send them direct to Fayetteville Can Do BETTER c/o Up & Coming Weekly, 208 Rowan St., Fayetteville, N.C., 28301.

Fayetteville is a fabulous community with great potential for a bright and prosperous future, but only if we can elect leaders with integrity and a strong work ethic. Your comments are welcome and appreciated.
Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

Bid farewell to Spring and welcome a multitude of summer events

12 With the return of a full-blown Fayetteville Dogwood Festival just behind us, it’s easy to tell Spring has sprung in North Carolina. Let the outdoor everything begin!

No better way to forget the weirdest summers ever than to simply glance at what lies ahead and make new memories as we embrace all we can. April will go out in a glorious glow as Israel Houghton, Hezekiah Walker and Fred Hammond bring their Festival of Praise to the Crown Coliseum for an amazing night of Gospel music. The month of May holds plenty of promise for us all.

The annual National Day of Prayer on Thursday, May 5, unites people of faith and gives us an opportunity to come together as friends and neighbors, seeking God and the best way forward for our communities near and far. That same day, Fayetteville’s Festival Park will come alive with touring and Christian recording artists Seventh Day Slumber. As they crisscross the country on their “Death by Admiration Tour,” the band promises a high-energy evening of music meant to turn more than just heads.

The lyrics of their songs, and the message they bring on and off stage are meant to turn both hearts and minds to a future none of us control. The free concert includes tour mates Decyfer Down, Spoken and Amongst the Giants at Festival Park, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Fayetteville Dinner Theatre keeps the summer fun happening again this year with their Gates Four Summer Concert Series. After an exciting kickoff in April, the musical pump is primed and ready to deliver some of the most loved hits of the 70s and 80s with a tribute to the rocking female sister act, Heart, during a lively show on Friday, May 6. There’s an incredible lineup all summer long, making it completely worth being on the mailing list for all they’re bringing to the community indoors and out.

All of these events provide a perfect backdrop and opportunities to get together as we warm up for summer. In just a few short weeks, we’ll celebrate Memorial Day.

Our high school seniors will move their tassels from right to left as they cross the stage and receive their diplomas at Cumberland County’s Crown Coliseum. Whether it’s a trip to the beach, a flight across the country, or some of the best local entertainment ever assembled, I hope this will be a summer to remember for all the right reasons. Celebrate life, celebrate family, and celebrate the return of the most exciting season in North Carolina!

C’mon Summer … you are welcome here!

Publisher's Pen: Fayetteville and Cumberland County need a strong Chamber of Commerce

1 This past Thursday, April 21, we were fortunate to host the April Chamber of Commerce Coffee Club. Up & Coming Weekly has been a Chamber of Commerce member and advocate for twenty-six years and sponsoring this event for over fifteen years. It’s always been a fun, enjoyable and worthwhile experience. This year the timing was nearly perfect. After two years of COVID restrictions, local economic and entrepreneurial opportunities are abundant. Organizations like the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce and established businesses like ours are vitally important to new business development and ultimate success. The Coffee Club is only one example of how our chamber offers value to its members.

Thursday’s event was graciously hosted by Chamber Board Chairwoman Tammy Thurman, the community relations director for Piedmont Natural Gas. Also in attendance were several other members of their board, though not nearly the attendance you would expect from an organization with twenty-plus board members; members of the business community charged with providing leadership, vision and guidance to this fast-growing business community.

The chamber’s mission statement outlines its purpose: “Our organization serves as a catalyst in growing a healthy business community through our advocacy of business-friendly public policy, fostering of diverse, innovative business initiatives, and delivering valuable programs and services to our members — all made possible through strong collaborative partnerships.”

Well, then, they need to get started because much work needs to be done in these areas. And, if the enthusiasm and organization of this last event is any indication of things to come, then I commend Thurman and the few notable board members who took the time to attend: the effervescent Master of Ceremony Gary Rogers, Fort Bragg Garrison Commander Col. Scott Pence, Public Works Commission CEO Elaina Ball, Interim President of the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Randy Fiveash, and Robert Van Geons of Fayetteville/Cumberland County Economic Development. A scant sampling of the prestigious board charged with the mission statement quoted above.

Chamber leadership, direction, vision and support are vital for nurturing new businesses and assisting existing businesses in taking advantage of economic opportunities. Thriving and growing communities all have strong and established chambers. And all influential chambers have talented, dedicated leadership with business savvy, vision and respectability. These chambers have little or no dependency on local government agencies for funding. Strong chambers are self-supporting, utilizing local partnerships, effective fundraisers and maintaining a committed and loyal membership base. A strong chamber is best achieved by providing value to the members. Creating value and loyalty is accomplished by setting a good example, being a staunch and vocal supporter, and advocating for all local businesses and organizations.

For whatever reasons, our Chamber of Commerce has sidelined itself during the past several years, becoming irrelevant to the business community by not getting involved and failing to take a stand on important issues that impact local businesses, chamber members and the community. However, I see this changing for the better. This year we see new faces and personalities on the board. Stepping up are experienced leaders who understand business and, more importantly, the uniqueness of this community and the need to be informed and involved with important issues that affect business and economic growth.

They understand that the chamber serves all businesses in Fayetteville and Cumberland County.

It is my hope that they realize and take seriously that Fayetteville and Cumberland County are unique, with business and community environments far different from other cities and towns across the country. To be successful here and to effect positive change, one must recognize and understand the nuances of this community. An effective chamber understands the community’s diversity.

They know our media (or lack of) impacts businesses; we must stay informed on important issues related to our businesses. They need to know about Fort Bragg’s economic impact on our community and how military turnover influences almost every aspect of our lives.

Yes, Fayetteville and Cumberland County need a strong chamber. This is a fabulous community with amazing opportunities. With a new chamber board recently installed, I hope we will see an aggressive future vision.

Thurman gets it, and so do the board members who attended the Coffee Club last Thursday. Let’s hope the rest of the board will follow suit.

Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

Get to know Senate candidates before District 19 primary

On face value, our Cumberland County Senate District 19 democratic primary election between Senator Kirk deViere and challenger Val Applewhite is pretty boring minus a few misleading mailers and radio ads. Kirk and Val have similar campaign platforms just like most democrats running for State of NC senate seats. They both support increased teacher pay, Medicaid expansion, clean water, supporting military veterans, affordable housing, affordable wages and the list goes on.

The main differences I see between Kirk and Val for the upcoming democratic primary election are one is a man, one is a woman; one is white and one is black. One is a seasoned State Senator and the other is trying to become a State Senator.

I served with Kirk and Val on the Fayetteville City Council and consider them friends. Both are extremely intelligent, came prepared to every council meeting and truly cared about Fayetteville citizens. I am not personally endorsing either of them. Kirk and Val both have NC Senate campaign sites and I recommend you review them at www.kirkdeviere.com/ and www.valapplewhitencsenate.com/.

2B

I did find a few differences between Kirk and Val's voting records within archived city council meeting minutes. In 2012, Val voted four times against a voter bond referendum for Parks and Recreation projects.

2A From what I remember, Val was against the bond referendum because city staff was not forthcoming with the “all-in cost” for the bond referendum including interest costs for borrowing the money. This item reemerged in 2015, and Kirk voted yes to allow the voters of Fayetteville to decide if they want to fund General Obligation Bonds for additional parks and recreation facilities. Voters overwhelmingly approved borrowing the money in a vote of 21,323 in favor to 14,785 against.

Back in 2012 and 2013, Fayetteville was going through the Driving While Black discussions. Part of that discussion was to ask the NC General Assembly to authorize Fayetteville to form a Citizen Review Board. The first step was to adopt a formal resolution and prepare a city ordinance creating the CRB. Val voted against the creation of the CRB in November 2012 and January 2013.

The CRB came back to council’s attention in 2020 and 2021 from concerned citizens. City council reached out to our local delegation in Raleigh. Kirk introduced Senate Bills 291 and 682 to authorize cities to establish a CRB. Senate Bill 291 was only for Fayetteville while Senate Bill 682 was broader to include all cities in North Carolina.

These bills are still stuck in the Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate. Senate Bill 291 can still come back this summer during our General Assembly’s short session should our city council be unanimous on this item and ask our local delegation to once again push for its passage.

Kirk and Val both ran for the Mayor of Fayetteville position twice and lost twice. Val lost her bids for Mayor in 2013 and 2015. Kirk lost his bids for Mayor in 2013 and 2017.

Kirk moved on and won the NC State Senate District 19 position in 2018 and 2020.

Both Kirk and Val are great citizens for putting their names on the 2022 democratic primary ballot. Both were successful members of the Fayetteville City Council and have voting records to examine.

Val voted to support our new multi-model center in downtown. Kirk voted to support our new baseball stadium.

Early voting begins April 28 and primary election day is May 17. Please get to know Kirk and Val before you vote if you’re voting in the democratic primary election.

Viking tale tells of tree at the end of the world

Pitt Excitement is boiling. Here comes Arbor Day. That celestial holiday got me pondering what the Vikings thought about trees. Voila: today’s lesson is about the Vikings’ sacred tree Yggdrasil. What? You say you have never heard of Yggdrasil? Well, listen my children, and you shall hear of the midnight tree called Yggdrasil.

The Yggdrasil tree is the pillar of Viking theology. It was so big it not only held up, but also connected all the elements of the universe. The Yggdrasil was like the Dark Matter that our modern-day astronomer theologists believe in. Yiggy, as his friends called him, was Norse for Odin’s Horse. Yiggy’s top branches reached somewhere far above the rainbow where only Elon Musk could fly.
His roots went all the way into the underworld land of the dead. Yiggy was quite the tree. He was a veritable eco-system with a Dragon named Nidhogg and a bunch of snakes at the bottom, and an enchanted eagle at the top. There was also a pesky squirrel named Drill-Tooth who ran up and down the trunk causing mischief by repeating insults from the Dragon and the eagle to keep things stirred up.

Odin was the King of the Viking Gods who hung out with the other lesser gods in a party treehouse called Asgard at the top of Yiggy. Yiggy’s roots dipped into the bottomless Well of Urd. Three bodacious goddesses called Norns were lounging around, deciding humanity’s fate. The Norns would cut Runes into Yiggy’s bark which dictated what would happen on Earth. This aggravated Odin because he couldn’t read the Runes. Odin cyphered that if he hung himself from a branch of Yiggy, stabbed himself with a spear, and stared into the Well of Urd he would come to understand Runes. After spending nine days hanging around, Odin had a moment of clarity. Eureka, he understood the Runes! But knowing the future does not always lead to safe and restful sleep.

With Runic knowledge comes the Viking’s version of the end of the world — Ragnarok, in which the gods and man come to a bad end. If the Vikings are right, this is what is in store for us. The Norns bring on the world’s worst cold weather — The Great Winter, which lasts three years. Famine and pestilence stalk the land. Cannibalism becomes the new fad diet.

The Two Big Bad Wolves Hati and Skoll, who have been chasing the moon and sun like a dog chasing a car, finally succeed in their quest. They chow down on all celestial bodies, including the stars. The sky turns black and empty. Even Yiggy starts to shake. Another giant wolf named Fenrir breaks his chain and runs wild on the land chomping hapless humans.

Remember Cecil the Sea Sick Sea Serpent? His evil twin, the giant sea serpent Jormungand, rises like the Kraken from the ocean depths and swamps the land.

The waves break loose the good ship Naglfar — the Nail Ship. The Nail Ship is so named because it is constructed of dead humans’ fingernails and toenails. Not sure what the Vikings were smoking when they came up with this, but you can probably buy it in California. The crew of the Nail Ship is a rowdy bunch of giants, led by Captain Loki, who start acting like drunken homicidal psychopathic sailors on extended shore leave. Fenrir the wolf is so big his upper jaw touches the sky as he eats everyone in his path. Jormungand spews venom all over the world, poisoning everything. Sort of like Putin in Ukraine or the former guy on Fox.

About this time, the sky cracks open, plopping a bunch of Fire Giants onto the Earth, ready to duke it out with Odin and
his boys.

The Viking Gods versus the Fire Giants. Odin gets eaten by Fenrir the wolf. Odin’s son Vidar goes ballistic and shoves his magic shoe into Fenrir’s mouth. While Fenrir is choking on the shoe, Vidar cuts Fenrir’s throat. Fenrir then expires. Thor and Jormungand get into it, resulting in the deaths of both of them. What is left of the world then collapses into the ocean, leaving nothing behind but a giant pool of dirty, bloody, reeking water.

The end.

So, what have we learned today? The Vikings were much weirder than we give them credit for. There is a new movie coming out at the end of April called “The Northman” which is supposed to be historically accurate.

Go see the movie if this column has not turned you off to Vikings. If someone yells Ragnarok in a movie theater, hurry up and finish your popcorn, as time is about up.
Reading Runes is fundamental. Ragnarok and Roll is here to stay.

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