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POPULAR INDIVIDUAL HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN ADDS LOCAL DOCTORS AT THE LAST MINUTE, BUT SANFORD'S ONLY HOSPITAL REMAINS LEFT OUT


2 | January 2020

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The Rant Monthly | 3

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January 2020 | Sanford, North Carolina A product of LPH Media, LLC Vol. 2 | Issue 1

Editorial Gordon Anderson | gordon@rantnc.com Billy Liggett | billy@rantnc.com Jonathan Owens | jonathan@rantnc.com Advertising Brandon Allred | brandon@rantnc.com 919.605.1479 Editorial Board Pedro Pascal, Carl Weathers, Gina Carano, Nick Nolte, Werner Herzog, Taika Waititi, Emily Swallow, Giancarlo Esposito, Amy Sedaris and Baby Yoda

Find Us Online: www.rantnc.com Facebook: facebook.com/therant905 Twitter: twitter.com/therant905 Tinder: Please swipe right!

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The Rant Monthly January 2020

OUT OF NETWORK

POPULAR INDIVIDUAL HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN ADDS LOCAL DOCTORS AT THE LAST MINUTE, BUT SANFORD'S ONLY HOSPITAL REMAINS LEFT OUT

ABOUT THE COVER The Rant Monthly was created originally way back in April 2019 to provide a monthly publication dedicated to research journalism and longform storytelling. We've returned to the journalism mindset with our cover story this month — a few thousand Lee County residents have discovered that their individual health insurance plans initially didn't include the doctors closest to them: physicians and hospitals in Sanford. We find out what the disconnect is in the January 2020 edition of The Rant Monthly. Enjoy! Image: iStock

The Rant Monthly is located in beautiful Sanford, North Carolina. Please address all correspondence to LPH Media LLC, 3096 South Horner Boulevard #126, Sanford, NC, 27332. Editorial email: gordon@rantnc.com or billy@rantnc.com. Advertising: brandon@rantnc.com. The Rant Monthly is published monthly (obvs). The Rant Monthly is wholly owned and operated by LPH Media LLC, a North Carolina corporation. Submissions of all kinds are welcome. This publication is free — one per reader, please. Removal of this newspaper from any distribution point for purposes other than reading it constitutes theft, and violators are subject to prosecution. Printed by SunBelt Press in Dunn, North Carolina. Copyright 2020, LPH Media LLC, all rights reserved.

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4 | January 2020

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Kids and screens are inevitable, but we can do better By Billy Liggett

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hildren and screen time. The struggle is real.

I learned from my dad over the holidays that one of my nephews got an iPhone 11 for Christmas. This nephew is 5 years old. I learned this because my dad, who was visiting us from out of state, received no fewer than 12 calls over a three-day period from said nephew. The gist of all 12 conversations were, “Hi. What are you doing? Bye.” Should my brother ever read this, please note I’m not judging. I’m simply asking, “Why on Earth does a 5-year-old kid need a cell phone? A smart phone? A smarter phone than the one I’m carrying around?” OK, so I’m judging. But I’ve also got my own problems. Two of my three children received a screen of some sort on Christmas morning. They both asked for them. Neither

“Adults are already guilty of 'too much screen.' The last thing I want is ... my children glued to their phones instead of enjoying reality.” screens were phones, and my wife and I will argue to the grave that both devices have educational value to them. And they’re monitored closely, with various parental protections. And we have time limits. Et cetera. Et cetera. Blah, blah, blah. This is where we’re at as a first-world society. Our kids start swiping screens long before they start reading, and those screens become a huge part of their education from Day 1 of kindergarten. It doesn’t mean we’re entirely comfortable with it. And it certainly doesn’t mean we know what we’re doing when it comes to “how much screen time is too much screen time?” So I went looking for what the experts had to say.

ABC News reported in November that the American Academy of Pediatrics has published troubling data stating that too much screen time is hurting our children’s brain development. The AAP’s 2016 study suggested young children require face-to-face interaction to reach developmental milestones such as language and social skills, and that screen time is replacing important interactions such as outdoor play with friends or siblings or time spent reading or learning with parents. Important takeaways (advice) from the study: avoid screen time for children younger than 18 months (with the exception of video chatting), introduce digital media with educational content like PBS Kids, limit screen time to an hour a day for children ages 2 to 5, and

limit media use and device type for children ages 6 and up (and make sure their use doesn’t interfere with sleep or physical activity). Yeah. It’s easier said than done. There’s nothing easier for a parent than to hand over a phone or an iPad to a whining 5-year-old and say, “Here, kid, watch some Big City Greens and leave me alone.” But I have to do better. We adults are already guilty of “too much screen” ourselves, and we weren’t introduced to them until later in life. The last thing I want is to see my children glued to their phones instead of enjoying reality. And the other last thing I want is for my nephew to learn my phone number. o Billy Liggett typed this column while staring at a laptop screen, with his phone next to him on the couch and a TV in front of him showing a football game. In other words, he’s a giant hypocrite. Email him from your screen at billy@rantnc.com.


The Rant Monthly | 5

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6 | January 2020

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The Rant Monthly | 7

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Local UPS driver enjoys a bit of viral internet fame Unplanned photo shot in Sanford went viral on Twitter with more than 456K likes, 80K retweets

find this man so he can see this?"

UPS drivers usually get a little more love from their customers (we hope) during the holiday season. A Sanford delivery man got a whole lot more thanks to a curtious photographer.

The UPS driver was later identified by his family on Twitter as Jermey Watkins, who lives in Southern Pines. His wife, LeCarya Watkins, followed up with a tweet the following day of her husband dressed in his Sunday best next to Lunkin's viral photo, writing, " He can dress it up too!!! Church and UPS!!! Love a man and his suit ... That’s bae!! Mr. Watkins." Her tweet earned an additional 93,500-plus likes.

Professional photographer Donreål Lunkin was shooting on location in Sanford on Dec. 19, when a UPS delivery man making holiday deliveries asked him to take his picture. Lunkin then tweeted the photo with the caption: "I was doing a photoshoot in downtown Sanford when this UPS delivery man kindly interrupted and asked for a picture. THIS IS THE BEST PICTURE OUT THE WHOLE PHOTOSHOOT! Can someone

The internet fell in love with the hard-working driver with an approachable smile. That tweet has since garnered more than 456,700 likes, 80,000 retweets and 2,000 comments — earning "viral" status and national attention.

The internet has been uncharacteristically positive about the photo. One comment: "This should be the cover of UPS' website, HR handbook, new employee training. Everything."

Photographer Donreål Lunkin's photo of UPS driver Jermey Watkins during a delivery in Sanford went viral in December, earning more than 456,700 likes. Photo: Twitter


8 | January 2020

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Jonesboro's newest restaurant LOCAL MATTERS Headquarters for Lee County Democrats vandalized The headquarters of the Lee County Democratic Party was vandalized with spray paint sometime around Christmas. Party officials discovered the word “LIAR” written in red spray paint on the front of the headquarters at 711 Carthage Street around lunchtime Dec. 26. Additionally, marks were made on the side of the building, one reading “Dem LIARS,” another reading “The Law = Justice” and a third of what appears to be a symbol from the movie “V For Vendetta.”

Britton Buchanan single 'Cross My Mind' coming soon Sanford native Britton Buchanan announced via Facebook in December that he will release a single, “Cross My Mind,” on Jan. 10. Buchanan, who made Sanford proud in 2018 by finishing as the runner up on Season 14 of NBC’s “The Voice,” played a local concert in December with Taylor Phillips, another Sanford native who’s recently made a splash in the country music world by co-writing the Luke Combs hit “Hurricane.” Buchanan’s single will be available on all streaming formats.

Deep River bridge reopens after nearly two years of work After nearly two years of work on what was supposed to be a nine month project, the Carbonton Bridge straddling the Deep River between Lee and Chatham counties is back open. The 57-year-old bridge connects the Lee and Moore county lines and goes over the Deep River near the Carbonton community. The construction was prompted after NCDOT found it to be "structurally deficient" and "functionally obsolete."

Cafeteria-style Mexican food restaurant to occupy building formerly housed by Landmark A Mexican restaurant serving cafeteria style breakfast, lunch and dinner will soon occupy the site of the old Landmark Breakfast shop at 129 W. Main St. in the Jonesboro area, according to signs in the window and information from the Sanford/Lee County Planning Department. Fonda Lupita is “coming soon,” according to the signs. The plans on file call for a “Mexican market and restaurant” serving a cafeteria-style breakfast, lunch and dinner. Some cosmetic renovations will need to be done prior to the restaurant’s opening. Biridiana Frausto described the concept as similar to Chipotle in that customers will order their meals from behind a glass counter, and said the menu will differ some from other Mexican restaurants in the area. “Everything will be handmade, like something you would get at a Mexican grandmother’s home,” she said. “The dishes will mainly be stews – like potatoes with

The former location for Landmark Breakfast Shop in downtown Jonesboro will house Fonda Lupita, a cafeteria-style Mexican food restaurant, by mid-January. Photo by Billy Liggett

chiles and chicken, steak with peppers and poblanos. It won’t be a set menu, there will be like a stew of the day. More like comfort food, I want to say.” Breakfast options will include quesadillas and traditional Mexican drinks like atoles.

Frausto said she’s looking at opening in mid-January. The Landmark Breakfast Shop vacated the location and moved to a storefront on South Horner Boulevard in mid-2019.

Work begins on TLC Home expansion on Hawkins Avenue Carolina Commercial Contractors has been awarded a contract for a 2,500 square foot expansion to the TLC Home on Hawkins Avenue, The Rant has learned. Work began in December on the expansion to the facility, which serves adults with special needs. The TLC (Tender Loving Care) Home began in 1987 and is a 10 bed, nonprofit intermediate care facility. The expansion will add 10 additional bedrooms, new office space and allow for needed physical therapy space in the facility. TLC provides therapeutic, residential, rehabilitative services, and 24 hour care. “Site work has already begun,” said Dave Richardson, a project manager for Carolina Commercial Contractors. “We anticipate TLC residents and staff being able to move into their new spaces in May of 2020.” TLC Home Executive Director Rita

Oglesbee said the organization is excited about the new addition. “It will really make life nicer for our residents and staff every single day,” she said. “It will give everyone some breathing room in a space that was originally designed for children but that now services fully grown adults.”

Carolina Commercial Contractors is a Sanford-based, family-owned commercial construction company that began in 1998. Recent projects include South Park Village Apartments off N.C. 87 in Sanford, as well as a new building for Wilkinson Cadillac Chevrolet Buick GMC in the same area.


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10 | January 2020

THE FORUM

@therant905 After taking a month off in December, the Friends of The Rant podcast will return in January and resume its monthly schedule. Download all previous hour-long episodes at rantnc.com, or find it on iTunes, Spotify and Amazon podcasts.

Symbiotic relationship

T

he Sanford Herald announced in December, no way around it, that you’re going to get 52 fewer papers per year beginning in 2020.

The move, announced Dec. 8 on the paper’s editorial page, was blamed on the paper’s supposed inability to find qualified carriers. Because delivery service has become unreliable, the argument went, papers will as of Jan. 7 be handed off each morning to the U.S. Postal Service, which will then in turn deliver them to subscribers. Because the USPS doesn’t run on Sunday, there would no longer be a paper on that day. If a decrease in the cost of a subscription commensurate with the decrease in the volume of product readers will now get has been announced, we haven’t seen it. And if you’re one of those folks whose mail arrives in the afternoon, you’ll have to get used to reading your paper with dinner instead of your coffee. When we started The Rant Monthly, we didn’t do so to “replace” the local semi-daily (and to be clear, we in no way believe the modest growth we’ve experienced in less than a year has anything at all to do with whatever factors led to The Herald’s going from six to five days each week). So while we got a fair amount of “attaboy Rant fellas” type comments when we reported The Herald’s plans, we weren’t thrilled about it. Just like there are things The Rant does that The Herald can’t or won’t, there are also things The Herald does that The Rant can’t or won’t. We don’t need to spell those differences out here, but this is all to say that if you want a complete picture of what’s happening in your community, you should be reading both. And listening to local radio. And even dipping your toes into some of the less reputable Facebook groups out there (just make sure to take a good hot shower afterwards). If you’ve only got time for one of those, we’re glad to be it, but we don’t purport to be all the news you need all the time. Still, none of this means there are things we still feel like The Herald can do better. The Lee County High School Yellow Jackets’ recent run at a state championship in football is a prime example - game coverage is great, necessary, and something we’re unable to provide. But much of The Herald’s coverage failed to capture the excitement felt in every quarter of the community, an excitement more than evident in the number of clicks our website received when we reported that story. Likewise, we saw very little attention paid to contested municipal elections in 2019 — a news topic that should be among the most important for any daily or semi-daily. We hope to continue and expand our efforts to address issues like these in 2020. Again, this is not in an effort to supplant The Herald, but to shine more light on topics that are important to Lee County. If The Herald’s move will help them do a better job addressing topics like these, we applaud it. But the days of any outlet even being able to provide all you need all the time in a community this size have been gone for a long time. We’re glad to have become a part of the news landscape in Lee County in a few months, and we look forward to continuing to present information you need. Thanks for reading.

Read the stories, then ask the questions ... please By Gordon Anderson

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eople just want to be appreciated.

I mean, yes. I know paychecks put food on the table and a roof over your head and all that. But if you’re lucky enough to decide which endeavor you’re going to give your waking hours in exchange for compensation, you’re probably going to pick something gratifying, right? A server at a restaurant, I’m entirely conjecturing here, has to appreciate being verbally thanked for creating a great dining experience almost as much as a nice tip. “Nice building you designed there,” must be something the architect enjoys hearing. “This septic tank is as empty as the day I got it” has got to be music to the pump man’s ears. Everybody likes to be appreciated.

comments to the effect of “so what is this?” “Taste of India opened last week at 143 Rand St. in the Jonesboro area, and we’ve been getting all kinds of calls and messages about the quality of food there,” I wrote back in June, prompting one person to ask where the restaurant in question was located. “Since December 12, the Medicine Park Pharmacy at 100 Park Avenue, Magicias Tajeras at 101 Wicker St., Advance Auto at 936 N. Horner Blvd., Fabulous Finds at 201 N. Steele St., City Electric Supply at 817 Woodland Ave., and Dominion Energy at 800 N. Horner Blvd. have all made similar reports,” we included in our story about the shooting out of windows at Kringle & Kompany in the Riverbirch shopping center, only to be informed by several folks that other businesses had also had their windows shot out. And on and on. I don’t bring this up to single anyone out or make them feel bad. We appreciate all of our readers. And in the age of cable news and social media, sounding off on a story without giving it a full read is probably the

So while I do take a moment to soak it in every time I hear something like “I sure love that newspaper you’re doing, “That spirit-affirming feeling gets wiped away Gordon,” that spirit-affirming like the convictions of a pardoned Trump feeling gets wiped crony every time I see a comment on one of away like the convictions of a our stories asking a question that’s literally pardoned Trump answered in the story’s opening sentences.” crony every time I see a Facebook comment on one of our stories asking a question that’s literally new normal (and one of the reasons a visit to the comments section often requires a answered in the story’s opening sentences. hazmat suit). I mean, come on! But so anyway. Thanks for reading our It’s happening way too much lately, too. work. We’re probably gonna know if you “A Mexican restaurant serving cafeteria style didn’t. breakfast, lunch and dinner will soon occuo py the site of the old Landmark Breakfast Gordon Anderson was created in a Russian shop at 129 W. Main St. in the Jonesboro troll factory, rebelled against his masters and now area, according to signs in the window and lives under an assumed name (Gordon Anderinformation from the Sanford/Lee County son) in Sanford, North Carolina. He co-owns Planning Department,” I led off a story The Rant. with on Dec. 23, eliciting at least three


The Rant Monthly | 11

rantnc.com READER RESPONSE The owners of Kathryn’s Hallmark announced in December they will leave Riverbirch Corner and set up shop in the nearby Spring Lane Galleria. The business announced the move on Facebook, and in response to one user comment, a representative of the store said “the plaza owner does no upkeep, so we eat that cost too.” Riverbirch Corner, built in 1985, has been the subject of complaints for some time now. It was sold in late 2017 and in 2019 faced civil penalties from the city of Sanford over a failure to perform upkeep on various items like potholes and street lights. The shopping center’s JCPenney shut down in July. The announcement drew several comments on The Rant's Facebook page and website. Below are some of those comments: This shopping center has often been an embarrassment to Sanford, even before it was built. A big sign announced it would open a certain year, and construction never started until a year or two after the sign's announcement. It's too bad the shopping center is owned by people who seem to care nothing about Sanford. LInda Gilliam Unfortunately, the shopping center is not properly maintained. I was there for years at Kelly’s Diamonds. He (the shopping center owner) did minimal repairs. The parking lot and drive in/out asphalt is horrendous. It’s a shame, because the location is convenient. Teri Francis Calcutt

All the Sanford City Council is concerned with these days are “heads on beds”— the more apartments, condos and houses that can be built, the better. I wish they were as concerned about businesses coming to the area, especially the north end of town. Layne Rickard Noles Riverbirch is disgusting. The roads are horrible (pot holes everywhere). I feel like I am breathing in black mold every time I go to Belk’s. This plaza should be condemned. Kandake Mathis

____________ Lee County High School's football team advanced to its first state championship game in 46 years before falling to defending 3AA state champs Weddington, 34-14. Yellow Jacket fans were still proud of their team (more on the Lee County run on Page 32). This is an amazing group of talented young men and coaches. We are so proud of how they have represented Lee County. Tracy Carter These boys have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. They worked so hard and played their best. Lee County is so very proud of y'all. Keep your heads up and know that you are our state champions. Tara Daffin Jamerson I was so happy to be in the stands with so many others from our little town! I'm proud of this team ... and what a great year they’ve had! Patti Quinn Griffin

YOUR RANT If we’re anything, we’re pretty good listeners. Each month, we’ll reserve this space in our little publication for your opinions on anything and everything (tell us what you think of our brewery story this month!). All we ask is that you keep it clean, don’t get personal with your fellow citizens and keep it short. Email us (addresses on Page 3) or send a message to our Facebook page.

Great job fellas! That was a hard game. No matter what, you guys are still our hometown heroes. Our Lee County Yellow Jackets! Especially my #4.

You, the rock for your family, planning and budgeting for all of life’s events, large and small. We see you, and we’re here to help with a no-hassle checking account, a credit card with rewards, free financial education resources, and a local team that knows your name and believes in your dream for the future.

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COVER STORY

LEFT OUT

Popular individual health insurance plan adds local doctors at the last minute, but Sanford's only hospital remains left out By Gordon Anderson

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ack in November, while shopping for an individual health insurance plan for 2020, Linda Diesfeld of Sanford noticed something distressing. Almost no Lee County doctors were a part of the plan she usually purchased through Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina.

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That meant very, very little covered care would be available anywhere close to Sanford. Instead, she’d have to drive to Pittsboro or Chapel Hill or Holly Springs or Cary. Most notably missing from the list of in-network providers was Central Carolina Hospital. “We got a letter from Blue Cross explaining our options, and then we called my husband’s doctor,” said Diesfeld, who herself is on Medicare but was shopping plans for her husband and son. “We were told that if (the BCBSNC plan) was going to be UNC affiliated, they would not be participating.”

An estimated 2,000 people in Lee County are facing the same dilemma as Diesfeld — either stick with BCBSNC and get a plan that is compliant with the Affordable Care Act but does not include CCH and many others in Sanford, or opt for a plan through Ambetter that costs more and covers less.

Blue Cross Blue Shield partnered with UNC Health Alliance as the sole network for individual purchasers in the Triangle through its “Blue Home with UNC Health Alliance” plan that became effective on Jan. 1, removing dozens of providers and hospitals in the area from the network Diesfeld and others relied on.

With the change, BCBSNC estimates the individual ACA rates in Lee County have gone down by a pre-subsidy average of more than 26 percent — saving those members roughly $1,900 a year. But members like Diesfeld had to decide whether that savings offsets the prospects of travelling outside Sanford for care.

OUT OF NETWORK

POPULAR INDIVIDUAL HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN ADDS LOCAL DOCTORS AT THE LAST MINUTE, BUT SANFORD'S ONLY HOSPITAL REMAINS LEFT OUT

Have you found that your individual insurance plan is leaving out local hospitals or health care providers? Let us know — or send us your thoughts on this story — by emailing Gordon Anderson at gordon@rantnc.com. Your comments could be featured in the February 2020 edition of The Rant Monthly.


14 | January 2020

@therant905

'Easy, affordable access to healthcare' Statement from Central Carolina Hospital CEO Spencer Thomas "Central Carolina Hospital (CCH) is committed to providing comprehensive, quality healthcare to serve the needs of our community. We believe that our community deserves to have access to affordable, quality care close to home.” “CCH makes every effort to establish suitable contracts with our payors; however, despite our best efforts, we are not considered “in-network” with the Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance exchange (HIX) plan for 2020. Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) of North Carolina made a unilateral decision to eliminate CCH from the network without proactively engaging and notifying patients or providers of this significant change. We were not given advanced notice of this decision - and like the public - became aware that CCH would be ‘out-of-network’ with this plan in late October.”

“CCH continues to treat any and all patients in need of emergency care through our Emergency Department. Individuals covered by this BCBS plan who wish to receive non-emergency care at our hospital will have significantly reduced benefits and have to pay additional out-of-pocket costs for services. Specific questions about coverage and costs should be referred to the plan administrator BCBS. Though the open enrollment period is now closed, we recommend that patients, who may still have the option to enroll, sign up for the Ambetter (Centene) plan.” “Individuals with BCBS insurance through their employer or those with Medicare Advantage plans will not be impacted.” “We regret any inconvenience this causes our community members as we want everyone to have easy and affordable access to the healthcare provider of their choice.”

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BCBSNC has changed course from its initial plan since late 2019, presumably in response to concerns from customers and those in the insurance industry. More than a dozen Lee County doctors ranging from primary care providers to specialists were added to the plan in December, bringing the total number of Lee County doctors in the UNC network to 18. But one rather significant issue remains for the thousands of locals who purchase individual ACA plans: Lee County’s only hospital will remain out of network.

sidered ‘in-network’ with the Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance exchange plan for 2020,” Thomas said in a statement provided to The Rant. “Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina made a unilateral decision to eliminate CCH from the network without proactively engaging and notifying patients or providers of this significant change. We were not given advanced notice of this decision — and like the public — became aware that CCH would be ‘out-of-network’ with this plan in late October.”

“For more tertiary events, you’re going to see more and more people being shipped off to UNC Hospital and other places for care, which is not good for Central Carolina Hospital,” explained Tom Snell, a benefits advisor with OneDigital in Sanford.

Of course, while non-emergency care at CCH will cost BCBSNC individual customers significantly more, both the hospital and BCBSNC say emergency care at the hospital will still be covered as in-network by the ACA plan.

Central Carolina Hospital is owned by Duke Lifepoint and is not a part of the UNC Health Alliance. According to CCH CEO Spencer Thomas, the hospital became aware that it wouldn’t be in network for BCBSNC plans at the same time as the general public:

But that distinction is confusing to some, including Diesfeld, and even CCH referred questions about what constitutes an emergency — does a baby arriving earlier than expected, for example, count? — back to BCBSNC. The hospital even went so far as to recommend patients who still had the option to enroll sign up for the competing

“Despite our best efforts, we are not con-


The Rant Monthly | 15

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EVERY NEW YEAR STARTS WITH A GOAL

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16 | January 2020

@therant905

Blue Home with UNC Health Alliance providers UNC Health Alliance is continually building its network, therefore there may be some lag time before they show up in the provider directory on our Find a Doctor tool. Here is the list of Blue Home with UNC Health Alliance providers in Lee County as of December: Mid Carolina Radiology Associates Carolina Womens Health Center, PA Firsthealth Convenient Care Firsthlth Convenient Care Lee Campus Central Carolina Sandhills Family Care Central Carolina Community Family Care Paul M. Heimbecker Md, PA Brick City Primary Care PLLC Surinder Dhawan, M.D. Mid Carolina Primary Care, PA Dr Alfred Sidney B. Bunao Sanford Pediatrics Firsthealth Primary Care Central Carolina Internal Medicine Doctors Vital Care & Screening PLLC

Ajay K. Ajmani, M.D. Central Carolina Internal Medicine Assocs. Kinetic Institute Physical Therapy Performance Rehabilitation Corp. Central Carolina EMS Benjamin K. Merritt, M.D. Mohan C. Deochand, M.D. John S. Shin, M.D. First Feet PLLC Food Lion LLC Central Carolina Urology Laurie M. Conaty, L.C.S.W. Firsthealth Back & Neck Pain Center Elizabeth M. Martin, Ph.D. Sanford Nephrology Clinic, PA Firsthealth Cardio Pulmonary Rehab Laureen B. Thomas, L.C.S.W. Pine Ridge Urgent Care & Occupation Katie M. Thomas, L.C.S.W. Jacobs Counseling, Inc. Dymond Speech & Rehab, PA Janet A. Cheek Linda A. Smith, L.C.S.W. Julie A. Brown, L.P.C.

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— Tom Snell, benefits advisor, OneDigital Ambetter plan. “I’m worried about the hospital,” Diesfeld said. “UNC is a ways off. What if you’re in a bad accident? Are you going to have out of network charges? That would kill you.” The nearest UNC Health Alliance hospitals to Sanford are Chatham Hospital in Siler City or UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill. And while 2,000 may not sound like that large a number, in a county of just over 61,000 people, that represents almost three and a half percent of the population. Still, BCBSNC stresses the savings its customers will see under the new plan. “For years, our customers who bought insurance through the federal exchanges saw significant rate increases,” said Laura Eberhard, a spokesperson for BCBSNC. “This made coverage unaffordable for many families. Blue Cross NC’s goal is always to offer our customers the best possible coverage at the lowest possible price.” Eberhard added that BCBSNC “engaged Duke, WakeMed, and UNC in a competitive process to see who could offer customers the lowest possible costs while continuing to offer them access to the highest quality care.” UNC delivered the deepest cost savings, Eberhard said.

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Shannon Suggs, who owns Suggs Insurance in Sanford, said the situation is better than it was before, but she still worries about customers she knows who have to see doctors multiple times each month. “I have a customer who can’t drive, and she has to see the doctor every couple of weeks,” she said. “And now she has to go to Chapel Hill for care.” Snell said his understanding was that the BCBSNC approach was based on geography — “they’ll use, say, a 20- to 30-mile radius to determine whether there’s an adequate network for Lee County,” he explained — but he also understands those who felt that having almost no in county options for health care was itself inadequate.

“I had several conversations with Blue Cross and told them their plan had kind of thrown Lee County under the bus,” he said. “But they told me and they told others that they would get the UNC network engaged to get us some local options. So it’s a step in the right direction. They did what they needed to do from a primary care standpoint.” Snell said the initial lack of in county options during most of the open enrollment period for 2020 only added to what’s already a cumbersome and bureaucratic process. “I have a person in my office doing the meetings on open enrollment, and things were taking three times as long as they usually do,” he said. “People are frustrated.” Like Snell, Suggs said the addition of local doctors was a good thing, but she fears the problem could repeat itself year after year. “We did have nothing, so it’s definitely better than it was,” she said. “The problem is, are you going to have to change your doctor every year when the plan changes again?” That’s a fear Diesfeld, who eventually ended up purchasing BCBSNC individual plans for her husband and son on the marketplace before the local doctors were added, also shares. “You feel comfortable with your doctor, and you have a rapport with him,” she said. “Then all the sudden, you have to go far away and see somebody you don’t know. We might still have the same problem a year from now.” Still, Snell said people should look on the bright side, explaining that it’s uncommon for an insurance carrier like BCBSNC to move so quickly in response to consumer concerns. “Their ambition is excellent, but I know a lot of people feel like they just weren’t fair to Lee County,” he said. “Still, they’ve made an effort to rapidly expand their network, and that’s not something carriers do very often.”


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rantnc.com

THE WAR IN A SCRAPBOOK

Family's tattered scrapbook holds Lee County's World War II history kept the books. From what I understand, she had a relative who wasn’t able to go to World War II, so he kept that book to keep track of all his friends.”

By Gordon Anderson

T

he scrapbook, even at first glance, is obviously very old.

Jimmy Haire, a photographer and member of the Sanford City Council who has an affinity for local history, said the story of Lee County and World War II is a deep one.

While the black cover is in decent shape, the laminated pages wobble in and out, precariously held together by twisty metal bindings. Improperly cared for, the book could easily fall apart.

“The population of Lee County in 1940 was 18,000, and the average household had four people. So that’s 4,500 households,” he said. “We sent 1,300 to World War II, so that’s one of every four houses roughly.”

Even that old and on the verge of losing its structural integrity, the book tells an important story. Not a linear one, exactly, but important nevertheless. “Lee Boy Is Commended For Share In Air Attack,” one page offers, going on to tell the story of Sergeant Eugene McNeill of Broadway’s actions in bombing a Nazi military target in France. “Sgt. Fowler Loses Life,” indicates another, recounting the combat death of H.E. Fowler. “Screen Actress Helps Sanford Boy,” yet another reads. “Lee Boy Gets Air Medal.” “Cumnock Boy Loses LIfe Overseas.” And on and on and on.

Gunter isn’t old enough to have gone to the war, but he recognizes the book’s importance. Now, he’s concerned about it being properly cared for. The book — which is one of a kind — tells Lee County’s story as it pertains to World War II. Page after page of newspaper clippings from the 1940s recount the combat successes, the captures, the promotions, and the deaths of those from Lee County who fought for the

Allied Forces. “My dad was a big history buff,” explained Barry Gunter of Sanford, who had seen the book growing up and located it among his father Luke’s things after his death in 2017. “He had a long time employee, Lizette Budd, who

“If it needs to go to the Railroad House or to the library, that would be nice,” he said. “It needs to go somewhere.” Anyone wishing to discuss the book with Gunter can email gordon@rantnc.com.


18 | January 2020

@therant905

BUSINESS Sanford Herald announces it will do away with Sunday paper, go to mail delivery The Sanford Herald will combine its Saturday and Sunday papers into one “weekend edition” and will do away with delivery drivers — instead relying on the Postal service to deliver papers on the same day — Publisher Jeff Ayers announced in December. The changes will take place beginning Jan. 7. According to Ayers, The Herald has struggled to find and maintain delivery drivers, citing low unemployment levels in the area. “Finding help has become a challenge,” he wrote, “and finding newspaper carriers to provide the level of service we expect has become impossible.” Instead, The Herald will place postal labels on its newspapers and deliver them directly to area post offices, “arriving early enough in the morning to enable the postal carriers to deliver that day’s edition … the same day.” One effect the new delivery system will have is the elimination of a Sunday newspaper. Ayers said The Herald will combine the Saturday and Sunday edition instead, and that issue will be delivered on Saturdays. That edition will continue to have comics, circulars and other Sunday paper features. Under the new structure, The Herald will go from six papers a week to five (The Herald does not publish on Mondays). Subscribers will also receive their paper whenever they usually receive their mail, instead of early in the morning. o Do The Herald and The Rant Monthly form a symbiotic relationship in Sanford? Read what we think about The Herald's big announcement on the Opinions page in this edition (page 10).

Hallmark leaving Riverbirch Kathryn’s Hallmark will leave Riverbirch Corner and set up shop in the nearby Spring Lane Galleria sometime sometime this month. The business announced the move on Facebook, and in response to one user comment, a representative of the store said “the plaza owner does no upkeep, so we eat that cost too.” Riverbirch Corner, built in 1985, has been the subject of complaints for some time now. It was sold in late 2017 and in 2019 faced civil penalties from the city of Sanford over a failure to perform upkeep on various items like potholes and street lights. The shopping

center’s JCPenney shut down in July. According to the North Carolina Secretary of State website, Igal Namdar of Great Neck, New York is Riverbirch Realty’s executive officer; a Reuters story from 2018 reveals Namdar and his company as one of two with “about 100 malls from New York to Utah now under their ownership” and that allegedly “invest as little as possible on many of their properties.” From the story: “Namdar and Mason typically spend 20 to 50 cents per square foot on maintenance. This compares to an average of about 60 cents per square foot that U.S. mall owners spent on mall upkeep in the first quarter of

2018 among malls that reported square feet for the period, according to National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries. Namdar and Mason have spent so little on the malls they have acquired, they often yield a 10 to 16 percent capitalization rate, a gauge of the investment’s rate of return, according to real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield’s head of capital markets Mark Gilbert. This tops last year’s average U.S. mall capitalization rate of 5.4 percent, and even the 9 percent rate mall owners enjoyed on average in their 1990s heyday, according to real estate research firm GreenStreet.”

Vandals smash windows at Riverbirch's Kringle & Kompany A seasonal storefront business in the Riverbirch Plaza shopping center that provides opportunities for families to create photos with Santa Claus at Christmas time had its plate glass windows broken out late on Dec. 17. Charlotte Johns, the owner of Kringle & Kompany, said she was called by Sanford Police early the following morning after an

officer discovered two windows at her shop broken out. Johns was unsure how the windows were broken, but speculated that a BB or pellet gun may have been used. In a Facebook Live video posted on Dec. 18, Johns said she wasn’t going to let the incident stop her and her daughter Kinsley Rae from opening up Wednesday and continuing to do business. Johns had the windows board-

ed up and said she was grateful for help she had cleaning up. She added that she doesn’t have any malice toward whoever is responsible. Sanford Police told The Rant that there have been an unusually high number of incidents recently involving windows at businesses being broken by apparent BB gun fire, although it’s unknown whether the cases are related.


The Rant Monthly | 19

rantnc.com

Closing, openings and more business rumors By Jonathan Owens

food area, plenty of pumps and even a beer cave. I’ll definitely be stopping there a lot.

Doby Trailer Sales closes for good

But as someone who picks up dinner for his family a couple times a week on the way home, it could have at least included a Wendy’s.

Doby’s Trailer Sales on U.S. 15/501 has long been a landmark that signals your descent toward Carthage or that you’re almost home to Sanford, depending on which way you were travelling. But not anymore. After 44 years, Russell Doby has decided to close the Tramway business and retire. When I spoke to Doby recently, I told him I remember the place fondly as a kid. I grew up in Robbins, and passing by Doby’s meant that we were close to visiting my cousins in the big city of Sanford. He said recent deaths in his family convinced him to take a break. He currently has no plans to reopen the business or to sell the property, which seems like it would be a prime spot at the intersection of U.S. 1 and 15/501. Regular gas station opens in Tramway Spending around two hours a day in my car, I’m a connoisseur of gas stations. They’re like my little oasises (oases?) on the lifeless desert of U.S. 1 that is my commute to Raleigh and back home each day. That Sheetz in Apex is my kryptonite. That station in New Hill (Exit 84) is a good stop when your gas light is on. The Circle K closest to home seems to have the lowest gas prices. So I’ll admit I was way more excited than my Rant colleagues when I noticed the tiny Exxon on the Northbound side of U.S. 1 in Tramway had been torn down and would be replaced a few months ago. Ah, the possibilities. Maybe there would be a new fast food restaurant in there, like a Taco Bell or a KFC. Better yet, maybe it’s a Sheetz! The station opened unceremoniously a few days before Christmas, and turns out it’s just another Circle K. That came out wrong. It’s a very nice station. It has a big beverage and hot

Another car wash coming to South Horner area Driving around doing some last-minute Christmas shopping last month, I noticed yet another car wash being built just a few blocks up from the one that just opened next to Ron’s Barn. Who is washing their cars this much? I like a clean car as much as the next guy, but there has to be a maximum capacity on the number of car washes a town can support. We’re approaching it. Maybe if we can get a mattress store that has a car wash and auto parts store attached, we’ll have the ultimate Sanford business. Maybe throw in a thrift story in back. Share your Sanford biz gossip with us I like gossip. It’s a character flaw. Not the “who is cheating on their wife” type gossip, mind you. I like to find out what I can about new businesses and restaurants coming to our area. My wife rolls her eyes every time I ask another baseball parent what they’re hearing around town. Judging by our page views on Rantnc. com, you like it, too. Our stories about a new restaurant or a business closing always rank among the top for views. So we thought, hey, why don’t we put our ear to the ground and let folks know what we’re hearing each month. This column was born. This isn’t meant to be a gossip column, but more of a “conversation” if you will. Each month we’ll try to give you some tidbits on what we’re hearing in the world of Sanford business. Likewise, if you have some information you’d like to share, send it to me at jonathan@ rantnc.com. We’ll look into it, and if we can dig up enough to print, we will.


20 | January 2020

@therant905

ENTERTAINMENT Want to include your upcoming events in our monthly entertainment calendar? Email gordon@rantnc.com and let us know the event, the date, the time, the location and any other pertinent information you want to include. Get even more noticed by including a high-resolution photo. _____________________________ CLIFF WHEELER BAND - UNPLUGGED

Jan. 3 | Hugger Mugger Brewing | 8 - 9:30 p.m. | Free Cliff Wheeler, an awarding winning southern rock artist from Lemon Springs spends a lot of time on the road, but he’ll be in Sanford for a homecoming at Hugger Mugger’s First Friday.

If "The Last Five Years" sounds familiar to movie fans, it was a 2014 musical romantic comedy-drama film starring Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan. The stage production — introduced in 2001 — comes to Temple Theatre on Jan. 9 as part of a co-production with Asheboro-based RhinoLeap Productions. The show runs in Sanford from Jan. 9-Jan. 19. Promotional Photo: Grand Peaks Entertainment and Lucky Monkey Pictures

FINISH TO START

THE LAST FIVE YEARS

Jan. 9 - 19 | Temple Theatre | $17 - $29 Tickets and times: templeshows.com Temple Theatre partners with Rhinoleap Productions on this emotionally powerful and intimate musical about two New Yorkers in their twenties who fall in and out of love over the course of five years. One of TIME Magazine's 10 best shows of 2001, Jason Robert Brown’s Drama Desk winner has been translated into several languages, enjoyed an Off Broadway revival at Second Stage in 2013, and was adapted into a film starring Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan. SOUTHERN VOICE (ACOUSTIC)

Jan. 11 | Camelback Brewing Company 7-10 p.m. | Free Southern Voice brings a scaled down, acoustic version of its modern country act to Camelback Brewing Company. Continued, Page 28

Temple Theatre's 'The Last Five Years' is an unconventional love story By Billy Liggett

R

ecent big Temple Theatre productions have seen as many as 40 to 50 actors performing on stage at once. The next mainstage show will have a far more intimate feel. “The Last Five Years,” the award-winning Jason Robert Brown musical drama named one of TIME Magazine’s 10 best shows of 2001, will feature just two actors when it begins its two-weekend run from Jan. 9 to Jan. 19. Temple is partnering with RhinoLeap Productions in Asheboro and director Jeremy Skidmore in this co-production. “The Last Five Years” explores a five-year a five-year relationship between Jamie Wellerstein, a rising novelist played by veteran New York actor Ashley Robinson, and Cathy Hiatt, a struggling actress portrayed by Cameron

THE LAST FIVE YEARS JANUARY 9-19 TEMPLE THEATRE, SANFORD Tickets: TempleShows.com Wade (both she and Robinson are making their Temple debuts). The show uses a form of storytelling in which Cathy's story is told in reverse chronological order (beginning the show at the end of the marriage), and Jamie's is told in chronological order (starting just after the couple first meets). “It is a more traditional show for [RhinoLeap’s] audience, and we wanted to take a step toward a more contemporary musical for our Temple audience,” said Gavan Pamer, Temple Theatre’s marketing and development director and the musical director for “The Last

Five Years.” “We feel that the story can resonate with people who balance separate careers while navigating an intimate relationship.” Pamer said Skidmore, the artistic director at RhinoLeap, and Peggy Taphorn, Temple’s artistic director, are collaborating on the production — ”a great way for both of our companies to help one another and support each other financially by sharing the production costs,” he added. After the two-week Temple Theatre run, the show will run from Jan. 23 to Feb. 2 at the Sunset Theatre in Asheboro. Pamer said the story may resonate with audiences having to deal with new-found success and supporting their partner when their career might not have the same trajectory. “It also deals with living together as well as having to manage a relationship when your career takes you to different cities and you have to live apart from one another.”


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rantnc.com “The Last Five Years” will have 10 shows total at Temple Theatre — 2 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 9 and 16; 2 and 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 10 and 17; 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 11 and 18; and 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 12 and 19. Tickets are available at templeshows.com ACTOR BIOS Ashley Robinson (Jamie) Past roles: Floyd Collins (Floyd—West End, London), A Clockwork Orange (Minister/ Old Woman/Mum — New World Stages), Casa Valentina (Gloria — West End, London Premiere), Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory (Capote — New York Premiere/2015 Outer Critics Award Nom), Little Rock (Mike Wallace – Sheen Center Off-Broadway), Steve Martin’s Bright Star (Norquist — World Premiere at The Old Globe), Merrily We Roll Along (Tyler — Menier Chocolate Factory and West End). Originated the role of Jett Rink in the world premiere of Giant (Helen Hayes Award nomination, Best Actor), as well as Tybalt in The Last Goodbye (the Jeff Buckley/ Romeo and Juliet musical) at Williamstown Theatre Festival. Other theatre credits include: Shakespeare’s R&J (Juliet/Benvolio — Theaterworks Hartford), Take Me Along (Richard — Irish Repertory Theatre, NYC), Meet Me in St. Louis (Lon — Irish Rep, NYC), Wicked (Original Chicago Cast- Fiyero u/s), A Child’s Christmas in Wales (Dylan Thomas — Irish Rep, NYC), Hair (Claude — Prince Music Theatre), Stud’s Terkel’s The Good War (World Premiere, Maltz Jupiter), The Best Little whorehouse in Texas (Roundabout, dir. Joe Mantello). Cameron Wade (Cathy) Favorite performing credits: Evita (Eva Peron, Nat'l Tour), Rock of Ages (Sherrie),

Boeing Boeing (Gloria), 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Olive), Urinetown (Hope) at Theatre Raleigh, High School Musical (Sharpay, NCT, Casa Manana), A Grand Night for Singing (Victoria, Centennial Station Theatre). Others: A Chorus Line (Arkansas Rep), Grease, Jesus Christ Superstar, Fiddler on the Roof (NCT), SUPERior (NYU As Performance …). Directing/Choreography credits: Selkie, Quilters, Honk & more at Children’s Theatre of Charlotte, Fame and The Fantasticks at Gilbert Theatre, Forever Plaid at RhinoLeap, Blurred Lines ... for NYU As Performance Series, Nocturne, The Colored Museum at UNC-Charlotte, The Big Picture, The Most Massive Woman Wins at Northwest School of the Arts. Registered Drama Therapist in private practice (carolinacreativewellness.com) and serving Playmakers Repertory Company, also in residence at RhinoLeap. Jeremy Skidmore (Director) Skidmore has directed, produced and/or taught across five continents. He currently serves as the artistic director of RhinoLeap Productions based in Asheboro. His other leadership positions include serving as associate artistic director of the Worldwide Art Collective based in Taiwan; the artistic director of Theater Alliance of Washington, D.C.; the artistic producer of the nationally renowned Source Festival; the co-founder and president of the Capital Talent Agency, and the artistic director of the Malibu Playhouse. He was based in Washington, D.C. for 14 years where his productions there were nominated for 34 Helen Hayes awards.

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22 | January 2020

@therant905 AMERICAN PRIDE - A TRIBUTE TO THE STATLER BROTHERS

Jan. 11 | Mann Center | 7 - 10 p.m. $17 - $22 | Tickets: manncenternc.org This quartet perfectly captures the authenticity of the legendary Statler Brothers sound, keeping the group’s Southern Gospel quartet legacy alive. The tribute band has captured the true authenticity of The Statler Brothers sound, keeping the legacy alive and promoting traditional Country Music, which is generational, yet crosses age boundaries.

HUGGER MUGGER SECOND-YEAR ANNIVERSARY

Jan. 18 | Hugger Mugger All day long | Free Second anniversary festivities include a limited seating/ticketed brunch and beer release, music from DJ Peluso, and a performance by Ambition Aerial Arts. You’ll also have access to axe throwing, brewery tours, a ticketed beer and doughnut pairing, In between we have axe throwing, brewery tours, a beer and doughnut pairing (ticketed event), food trucks, and more.

THE B-SIDES THE BRITISH INVADERS BAND

Jan. 17 | Smoke & Barrel 8:30-11 p.m. | Free Performing a variety of drinking tunes, songs of struggle, or trucker classics, The B Sides are what honky tonk and classic country are all about. Drawing influence from the Outlaw Country genre, the band promises a tight performance and a great show. Hugger Mugger's second-year anniversary party will run all day long on Jan. 18. Owner Tim Emmert is throwing a limited-seating, ticketed brunch and beer release that day. There will be axe throwing, brewery tours, a beer and doughnut pairing, food trucks and more. Photo by Billy Liggett

TEMPLE 919.774.4155

Jan. 24 | Temple Theatre | 7:30 p.m. $20 | Tickets: templeshows.com The British Invaders bring visitors back to the 60s, when audiences across America were singing and dancing to music from across the Atlantic. They cover all the great English groups: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, The Who, The Dave Clark Five, and More. Wearing 1960s Nehru suits, this four piece plays vintage instruments which allow them to replicate the music perfectly.

THEATRE templeshows.com

919-842-2608 January 9-19

/sanleeroofing


The Rant Monthly | 23

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The British Invasion Band will perform at Temple Theatre on Jan. 24. TNMC

Jan. 24 | Smoke & Barrel 8:30-11 p.m. | Free Sanford’s own Tuesday Night Music Club features Jim Powers, Robert Gilleland, Robert Watson, and David Spivey. They perform a variety of classic rock, country and bluegrass. LEWIS ‘N’ CLARK BAND EXPEDITION: BURT BACHARACH

Jan. 25 | Temple Theatre | 7:30 p.m. $25 | Tickets: templeshows.com Nationally touring duo Von Lewis and Abbey Clark return to the Temple to highlight some of the magic moments throughout Burt Bacharach’s career. Together, Lewis ‘n’ Clark have an undeniable chemistry on stage as they journey through their shows of songs and stories. Their harmonies are magical and some say they were meant to sing together. WORKIN’ ON COMMISSION

Jan. 25 | Mann Center | 7-10 p.m. | $12 - $17 | Tickets: manncenternc.org Sanford’s very own Workin’ On Commission covers the full classic rock songbook including hits from favorites like Journey, REO Speedwagon, ZZ Top, Marshall Tucker Band, The Eagles, Pat Benatar, Tom Petty, Gun ‘N’ Roses, Poison, Van Halen, Jackson Brown, Queen and more. BE THE MOON

Jan. 31 | Smoke & Barrel 8:30-11 p.m. | Free Burlington-based combo bringing sounds reminiscent of wide ranging artists such as Tom Petty, Wilco, John Prine, Whiskeytown, and Ryan Adams.

Daisy Ridley (left) as Rey and Adam Driver as Kylo Ren in a scene from "The Rise of Skywalker," in theaters now. Promotional photo: LucasFilm and Disney.

SAGA LIMPS HOME

Review: 'Rise of Skywalker' has great moments, but it's mostly a muddled mess By Billy Liggett Your opinion of the final movie in Star Wars' "Skywalker saga" might very well depend on what you thought of the previous movie. In other words, if you loved The Last Jedi for its bold choices, its lack of fear in taking everything you thought you knew about the cult of Star Wars and turning it on its head and its idea that "The Force" can live in anybody — from a nobody scavenger on a desert planet to a young broom boy working the stables at a giant casino — ... then chances are, The Rise of Skywalker is going to piss you off. But if you thought The Last Jedi treated the legend of Luke Skywalker with lack of respect; belittled the idea of the Sith, the Jedi and that whole "balance" thing; and was an overall abomination to the franchise that you love ... then chances are, The Rise of Skywalker is going to please your inner fanboy. I fall into the former — I thought The Last Jedi was the best "Star War" since Empire Strikes Back. And because of this, there's a lot about J.J. Abrams' finale that irks me. He pretty much takes most of the ideas Rian Johnson laid

out previously — Rey is a nobody, the Jedi have a history of failure, anybody can be a hero, etc. — and tosses it into the Sarlacc Pit. And it does so without even a hint of subtlety. So, I didn't LOVE The Rise of Skywalker. And that disappoints me — a fan of the franchise for as long as I can remember who has passed down his love of "pew pew," laser swords and cool bounty hunters to my kids. But I didn't HATE The Rise of Skywalker either. Because for all that's bad in it — a clunkyas-hell first 30 minutes, twists that are neither surprising nor earned, the whole "Emperor still lives" plot device (not a spoiler ... it's in the trailers, and it's literally the first thing you learn in the opening crawl) — there's still a lot of good in it. And even a little "pretty great" in it. Daisy Ridley's Rey and Adam Driver's Kylo Ren carry the movie on their shoulders and are solely responsible for it not being a complete disaster. The movie shines brightest when both are on screen, and their fight scenes are brilliant. Anthony Daniels as C-3PO has some of the best lines and is important for the first time since the early 1980s. And the new droid and new little alien — although underused — are great additions.

As for the ending — once I stopped overthinking what got us there and sat back and accepted that I was watching Star Wars, the ending was pretty big, packed a decent emotional punch and was satisfying enough that my kids and I left with a smile on our faces. No movie in the franchise will ever touch Empire — even though we all hoped these last three would come close. I contend The Last Jedi had potential and set the table for a more thought-provoking ending than what Rise of Skywalker gave us. Am I going to lose sleep over it? No. I'm 43, and I cherish my sleep. I advise everybody else to do the same. Besides, while this is the end of the "saga," we're going to have Star Wars shoved down our throats for years to come. And I'm thoroughly enjoying Star Wars in the slower TV format, with The Mandalorian and a future Obi-Wan Kenobi show on the horizon. Verdict: The worst of the sequel trilogy, but still better acting and action than anything the prequels gave us. Rise of Skywalker is safe and full of fan service. Just accept it. The final movie doesn't stick the landing, but it's still a Star War. And I'm OK with that.


24 | January 2020

@therant905

LOCAL MATTERS MINA Charter School breaks ground at Kendale Plaza The MINA Charter School, set to open to Lee County students in 2020, broke ground on the refurbishment and renovation of the structure on Dec. 12. Speakers included Lee County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Amy Dalrymple, Sanford Mayor Chet Mann, and Dave Machado, director of the North Carolina Office of Charter Schools. Members of the MINA — which stands for "more is now achievable" — were also on hand. The organization announced back in January that school would open in July 2020 and offer a STREAM curriculum (science, technology, reading, engineering, arts and math) to K-5 students. Ascend Leadership Academy, another charter school, currently serves children in grades 6 through 9, and will eventually serve grades 6 through 12. In September, the organization closed on the buildings in the southernmost lot at Kendale, which has stood vacant for several years.

Judge revokes permits for Lee, Chatham coal ash landfills Environmental groups who have been doing battle with the state over coal ash storage in Lee and Chatham counties celebrated victory in Decembrer after an administrative law judge revoked permits for landfills in both counties, ruling that the state Department of Environmental Quality exceeded their authority and failed to use proper procedure in issuing the permits. A press release from the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League indicates that Judge Melissa Owens-Lassiter revoked the permits held by Green Meadow, LLC, a subsidiary of Charah, the company hired by Duke Energy in 2014 to dispose of coal ash at the two locations. Coal ash has since been delivered to Chatham County, but not Lee.

Movement in Wilrik case? Lee County grand jury indictment suggests court movement on alleged embezzlement An investigation into alleged embezzlement from the Wilrik Hotel Apartments in downtown Sanford has been quiet for more than two years, but there are indications that movement in the case could begin soon. A Lee County grand jury on Dec. 3 issued an indictment charging a Robert William Woods with embezzlement. While the indictment itself has yet to be served and is therefore not a matter of public record, The Rant confirmed its existence via a search of the Lee County Clerk of Court’s public terminal. The Rant has been unable to definitively confirm that the indictment in question is related to the situation at the Wilrik, but a Robert Woods was deeply involved with the

Sanford Affordable Housing Development Corporation — the nonprofit which owns and operates the historic structure — until just before the alleged embezzlement was reported. The date of offense shown on the clerk of court’s computer — June 1, 2016 — is the same date of offense that’s listed on the Sanford Police Department’s report about the case. Woods left the organization in mid 2017; the report, which claims $100,000 was embezzled, was filed on Aug. 14 of that year. Sanford Police at the time said they’d referred the case to the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation. The Wilrik has been a source of controversy and confusion in Sanford’s affordable housing sector since 2016, when the SAHDC and the Sanford Housing Authority ended their contractual relationship under which the SHA had previously had oversight of the building’s operations, but not ownership. The SHA, an arm of the federal Depart-

ment of Housing and Urban Development, exists to “ensure safe, decent, and affordable housing; create opportunities for residents’ self-sufficiency and economic independence; and assure fiscal integrity by all program participants,” according to its website. The organization’s board of directors are appointed locally by the Sanford City Council, but beyond that appointment authority, the organization’s dealings and budget are entirely federal. It serves residents in Lee and Harnett counties. The SAHDC, on the other hand, is an entirely private nonprofit entity. The split between the two groups was controversial at the time because it revealed that the SHA was never the owner of the Wilrik, as many locals had thought. News reports and a memorandum of understanding from 2013 show that the SAHDC had been represented as “owned and controlled by the SHA” when former SHA Executive Director Ken Armstrong lobbied city and county leaders to forgive roughly half


The Rant Monthly | 25

rantnc.com a million dollars in debt on the building’s seller, Duke Energy. Shortly thereafter, Duke transferred the property to the SAHDC with an agreement that the SHA would invest between $50,000 and $75,000 in upgrades to the building. Despite the fact that there was an informal co-mingling of the organizations for a time – Armstrong served on the SAHDC’s board while also serving as the SHA’s executive director – sources have told The Rant that federal regulators insist the organizations are entirely unaffiliated and that city government has no authority, oversight or responsibility for the nonprofit SAHDC. The end result was that downtown Sanford’s tallest historic downtown structure was as of June 1, 2016 (the same date of offense alleged in both the embezzlement complaint and the indictment issued Dec. 3) entirely in the hands of a two-man board of directors with no accountability to local, state or federal government. Weeks later, it was revealed that plans to eventually renovate at least some of the building’s apartments into high-end condominiums would have to be put on hold until at least 2027 because of low income housing tax credits associated

with the property since the 1990s. Woods himself has also been at the center of controversy in Sanford more than once, both with regards to the Wilrik and another nonprofit he owned, the Woolford House. In March of 2017, The Sanford Herald reported that Woods blamed the city’s streetscape improvements for water damage which occurred in the Wilrik building. Woods apparently attempted to bill the city for the damage, but a claim against the city’s insurance carrier was denied. Sources have told The Rant that Wilrik representatives never pushed the claim further. Woods also reported in March of 2015 that a bus owned by his transportation nonprofit the Woolford House had been vandalized with a racial epithet. No perpetrator has ever been identified, and the nonprofit’s bus remained parked behind the movie theater on Spring Lane for several more years. It had been moved as of December. It’s unclear if Woods remains in the area. The North Carolina State Board of Elections shows him registered to vote at a Sanford address, but he has not participated in any elections since 2016.

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26 | January 2020

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LOCAL MATTERS Cooper's, Camelback raise more than $7k for local Boys & Girls Club A Dec. 9 benefit dinner for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Carolina raised more than $7,000 for the organization. The five course dinner presented at Cooper's Restaurant and Wine Room by the restaurant and Camelback Brewing Company raised a total of $7,415 in donations and pledges, according to Elizabeth Colebrook, the resource development and marketing coordinator for the Boys and Girls Club. "Our clubs depend on the generosity of our supporters, partners, and investors. Support from individuals and the local business community is vital to our ability to ensure that all young people have the same opportunities to succeed as their more affluent peers," she said. "We are incredibly appreciative to have the opportunity to partner with Cooper’s Restaurant & Wine Room and Camelback Brewing Company, and truly honored by the strong commitment of the individuals and businesses that have supported this event through their donations. These gifts are not just donations; they are an investment in the lives of the young people who need us most."

Southern Lee High School students Carlee Dollar, Shaugnesty Dorsett, Ja'Cora Murchison and Brianna McNeill compiled a chili recipe for the North Carolina Junior Chef Competition in December. The recipe was an extensive project for the four students, who consulted Southern Lee’s Child Nutrition Cafeteria manager and the Child Nutrition director for Lee County Schools — in addition to other staff members and administration for taste tests and feedback. The team chose the name Southern Spice Girls for their competition.

Christmas traffic stop yields a pound of marijuana

School board candidate: Sentence illegals to 'life hard labor'

Lee County sheriff's deputies arrested two men on Christmas night after allegedly finding them in possession of a pound of marijuana. Rahyeem Devonne Patterson and Charles Alton Patterson Jr. each face charges of possession with intent to sell and deliver marijuana, maintaining a vehicle to store and sell a controlled substance, and possession of drug paraphernalia. According to a press release from the sheriff's office, drug agents with the department found a pound of marijuana in a vehicle Rahyeem Patterson was driving around 11 p.m. on Dec. 25.

A Republican seeking a seat on the Lee County Board of Education wrote social media posts in 2016 calling for illegal immigrants to be sentenced to “life hard labor,” The Rant has learned. In a LinkedIn article titled “A Proposal for Immigration Reform!!!,” Todd Ashley Miller wrote on July 23, 2016 that entry to the United States by any immigrant should be closed for 120 days “while we pass and process a new Immigration Reform laws (sic).” “During these 120 days we give all ‘illegal immigrants’ that are in your nation an amnesty

period to file the appropriate documents to remain in within our nation legally. Once this 120 day period has past (sic) we reopen our borders once again and enforce the following punishments for anyone found in our country illegally after that 120 day grace period,” Miller wrote, noting that first time offender would be deported and barred re-entry for five years, a second time offender would be sentenced to five years hard labor before deportation. He called for a third time offender to be sentenced to “life hard labor” and wrote that such convicts could be made to mow grass along highways with handheld equipment.

“Instead of paying that 1 guy $65,000 a year to mow the grass on the side of the highways, buying those expensive piece of mowing equipment and maintaining that equipment,” Miller wrote. “Lets (sic) pay that same man the same $65000 yearly to watch after these illegal immigrants as they mow the grass on the side of the highway by hand, using handheld equipment that cost (sic) a percentage of what we are spending now. There are many other task (sic) they can be trained to do and complete to better our nation as a whole, such as filling potholes, etc etc etc.”


The Rant Monthly | 27

rantnc.com

2020 election filings Candidate filing for the 2020 election closed in January, and while November 3 may seem a long way off, it’ll be here before you know it. The Rant looks forward to more political campaign coverage in 2020, and as the year goes on you’ll see more of it. For now, here’s a list of candidates Lee Countians will be able to vote for (or against) in 2020. We stopped at Congress - there’s plenty of information about your statewide candidates elsewhere. (*denotes incumbent) Lee County Board of Commissioners (pick 3): • • • • • •

Bill Carver (R) *Amy Dalrymple (D) Sandra Jones (R) Mark Lovick (D) *Cameron Sharpe (D) Randy Todd (R)

Lee County Board of Education (pick 4): • • • • • • • •

U.S. House of Representatives, District 13 (western Lee County): • •

*Ted Budd (R) Scott Huffman (D)

Lee County Register of Deeds: •

*Pam Britt (D)

• • •

Suzanne Matthews (R) Nicole Phair (R) R. Andrew Porter (D)

N.C. District Court Judge (Lee County seat): •

Jimmy L. Love Jr. (R)

N.C. District Court Judge (Johnston County seat): •

Jason Coats (R)

N.C. District Court Judge (Harnett County seat):

N.C. House of Representatives, District 51 (Lee County, part of Harnett County):

N.C. District Court Judge (Johnston County seat):

Jason Cain (D) *John Sauls (R)

N.C. Senate, District 12 (Lee, Harnett counties, part of Johnston County): • •

*Jim Burgin (R) John Kirkman (D)

U.S. House of Representatives, District 8 (eastern Lee County): • •

*Richard Hudson (R) Patricia Timmons-Goodson (D)

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District Attorney (Lee, Harnett counties):

Sandra Bowen (R) Eric Davidson (R) Tom Frye (D) *Patrick Kelly (D) Jamey Laudate (D) Todd Miller (R) *Lynn Smith (D) *Sherry Lynn Womack (R)

• •

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N.C. District Court Judge (Johnston County seat): •

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Paul A. Holcombe (R)

Terry Rose (R) Charlene B. Nelson (R)

N.C. District Court Judge (Johnston County seat): •

Frank Wood (R)

N.C. District Court Judge (Johnston County seat): •

Mary Howard Wells (R)

N.C. District Court Judge (Johnston County seat): •

O. Henry Willis (R)

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28 | January 2020

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The Steele Pig in Downtown Sanford became Cooper's Restaurant and Wine Room in March, one of several restaurant stories published on rantnc.com in 2019. Restaurant news accounted for the second most hits at The Rant during the year.

THE TOP STORIES OF 2019

From a happy viral photo to a community-shaking ICE raid, these stories mattered most

T

he Rant’s website received nearly one million page views in 2019, by far the most in its five year existence. In fact, traffic to rantnc.com has nearly doubled since the debut in April 2019 of The Rant Monthly newspaper, showing that a shift in news distribution strategy doesn’t have to spell doom for one method or another. Below are five of the most read stories we published online in 2019: 5. Photo of UPS delivery man goes viral One brief post about an amateur photographer’s shot of a UPS delivery man going Twitter viral was the website’s second most-read single post of 2019, chalking up more than 13,000 page views in just the second half of December. That's still a far cry from the response photographer Donreål Lunkin got for his tweet — more than

456,700 likes as of this publication. By the time we reported on it, the driver had been identified and notified of the photo, and even UPS itself eventually recognized the great work of both photographer and driver. It’s the kind of story that makes you smile, and its huge popularity in a short timeframe is a good reminder that positive stories still get clicks. 4. Spring Lane Cinemas briefly closes, reopens under new ownership Early 2019 was a turbulent time for Sanford’s only movie theater. A computer virus infected nearly every aspect of operations at Spring Lane Cinemas in February, causing a one-day shutdown. A few days later, the theater shut down again for two days, only to reopen

with an announcement that it had been reacquired by East Coast Entertainment, the company which originally opened the location in the mid 2000s. At the same time, the theater announced it would be lowering prices. In November came the announcement that kids under 17 would not be allowed in the theater on Friday and Saturday night without either adult supervision or an adult leaving a name and contact information for an unaccompanied minor. Theater representatives said the move was prompted by several incidents involving young people on weekends. People in Sanford seem to care a great deal about its one movie theater — whether the news is good or bad. Stories about Spring Lane Cinemas garnered nearly 15,000 page views in 2019.

3. Yellow Jacket football team makes historic run There’s plenty to read about the Lee County High School Yellow Jackets’ 15-1 season that culminated in a heartbreaking loss to Weddington at the NCSHAA 3AA state championship on Dec. 14, but suffice to say Lee County caught a case of football fever in the fall, coming out in support of a team that boasts three members who will go on to play at the collegiate level. Much of The Rant’s coverage focused on senior defensive tackle Desmond Evans, who was the subject of a cover story in September and announced the same month that he’ll be suiting up for the UNC Tar Heels in 2020, and we were excited to publish an interview with senior running back A.J. Boulware about overcoming adversity both on and off the field. But we were also proud to give voice to just how excited Lee County was about


The Rant Monthly | 29

rantnc.com

(919) 776-7537 An HVAC Company You Can Trust Douglas Littiken President douglas@coopercontractorsnc.com Repair • Maintenance • Installation Residential • Commercial • Service Plans

Employees of Bear Creek Arsenal await questioning by ICE agents during a February raid of the Sanford business that netted roughly 30 arrests of alleged undocumented immigrants for alleged identification fraud. The story was the most-read story ever published at rantnc.com.

its potential championship team.

something else in the near future.

Stories about the 2019 Yellow Jacket football team drew nearly 17,000 page views in 2019.

Stories about restaurants in Sanford and Lee County were viewed nearly 36,000 times in 2019.

2. Restaurants, restaurants, restaurants

1. ICE raid at manufacturing facility shakes community, ignites debate

It’s been noted here and elsewhere — Lee County loves a good restaurant story. Fortunately for diners and business owners alike, the vast majority of our restaurant stories in 2019 were about new ones opening up: 2019 saw Cooper’s Restaurant and Wine Room begin operations, as well as Taste of India (technically Coach’s Neighborhood Bar and Grill opened on the last day of 2018, but still garnered plenty of clicks in 2019).

Federal immigration agents in February raided Bear Creek Arsenal on McNeill Road and arrested roughly 30 allegedly undocumented immigrants for allegedly using fraudulent identification to obtain employment at the facility.

We were also excited to report that Big T’s changed hands while staying true to its burgers-dogs-and-breakfast model, and 2020 should hopefully see the openings of a Smoothie King in the old Rite Aid building on South Horner Boulevard and a new Valenti’s in the Jonesboro area. There were casualties, though. Sagebrush Steakhouse and Yamato, two longtime options for diners, both closed their doors in 2019 with little warning, showing just how difficult the restaurant business is. The bright side is that both establishments occupied fairly prime locations for operating dining establishments, meaning we’re more likely than not to see them open up as

It was a day of rumors, speculation, and argument, but the biggest impact was on Lee County’s Hispanic community. Restaurants and businesses closed. Parents kept their kids out of school. Given the status then and today of immigration and deportation as one of this country’s most passionately debated issues, a lot of folks just weren’t taking any chances. Our story on the raid was one of the first to go up, and we remain proud of our reporting that day. One post alone brought more than 87,000 page views, and a followup story about a man who had been filming parts of the raid and was arrested for threatening officers garnered another 4,000-plus. It’s the most-read story in The Rant’s history, and a reminder to us that in times when big stories break, the best way to communicate them to the public is to do so quickly, accurately and for free.

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30 | January 2020

@therant905

Senior Sincere Goldston (9) consoles senior Larry Baldwin after Lee County's 34-14 loss to Weddington on Dec. 14, in the Class 3AA State Championship at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh. Lee County finished its best season in 46 years with a 15-1 record. Photos by Billy Liggett

TOUGH END TO A STELLAR RUN Lee County's state championship run ends with loss to defending champion Weddington

L

ee County’s dream season ended one win short of perfection, falling to Weddington 34-14, on Dec. 14, in the 3AA State Championship game. Weddington used the swift feet of junior phenom running back Will Shipley, the 2019 N.C. Gatorade Player of the Year who rushed for four touchdowns and a career-best 256 yards, to score early and often. The Yellow Jackets stumbled out the gate early and allowed Shipley to march down the field for an opening drive touchdown. The Jackets answered with a methodical drive of their own, converting four third downs along the way, before stalling inside

the 5 yard line and turning the ball over in the end zone on fourth down. The Warriors then blocked a punt for a touchdown to go up 14-0, and midway through the second quarter, Shipley broke free on a 67-yard run to take a 21-0 lead. The Jackets would finally get on the board with a seven-play drive capped by a quarterback sneak by Colin Johnson for a score to set a 21-7 halftime score. The Jackets came out with a chip on their shoulders after the half. After an attempted onside kick failed, Lee’s defense held firm on Weddington’s first drive. Then Johnson connected with Jayden Chalmers on a 44-yard pass to pull the Jackets within a touchdown at 21-14.

The tide seemed to have turned when Lee County followed up with a successful onside kick, but that drive stalled, and Weddington answered with a long drive capped by a two-yard touchdown by Shipley to go up 27-14, and the Warriors didn't look back. Johnson finished his Yellow Jacket career going 22-29 passing for 135 yards and a touchdown and running for 55 yards and another score. The Warriors held Lee County’s do-it-all 2,000-yard running back A.J. Boulware in check all night, allowing just 49 yards on 24 carries. On defense, Delmaz Jennings led the way with 11 tackles. A few thousand Yellow Jacket fans made

the trip to Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh for the finale. The loss capped one of the most successful seasons for Lee County in school history, including the first state championship game since 1974. The Jackets finish the season with a 15-1 record. Weddington (16-0) won its third state title in four years, and Shipley was named the game's MVP. “I’m extremely proud of these guys and how hard they worked to get here to this point,” said Lee County head coach Steve Burdeau. “The community support we had all year was great. And this group of seniors left the program better than they found it.”


rantnc.com

The Rant Monthly | 31

Building more than a winning program

H

igh school football is in my blood. I immersed myself in it, and it shaped my own high school experience growing up in East Texas. And when I got into newspapers and journalism in my early 20s, my first beat was high school sports. So as thrilling as Lee County’s run to the Class 3AA state championship game was for the students, parents and fans in Sanford this fall, it was both thrilling and nostalgic for me as well. And while I would contend nothing comes close to the obsession with the sport that you’ll find in Texas, seeing a few thousand Yellow Jacket fans pack the lower bowl of Carter-Finley Stadium on Dec. 14 was impressive (Lee County might have lost the game, but it certainly beat Weddington in terms of crowd size and noise). This isn’t one of those “you may have lost, but you have a lot to be proud of” columns, even though that cliché certainly holds true for this team. This Lee County squad was one of the most talent-laden high school teams I’ve ever come across. They just ran into a program in Weddington that’s been at this “winning” thing a bit longer. But a quote from second-year Lee County head coach Steve Burdeau rings true — “The community support we had all year was great. And this group of seniors left the program better than they found it.” What Burdeau and his predecessor Burton Cates are building in Sanford is a winning program, and I’ve witnessed that winning programs have far-reaching positive effects on a community that extend well beyond the celebrations on a Friday night. Winning programs can bring a community together. They can keep students interested both athletics and (more importantly) academics. They can build role models. They can improve the high school experience for athletes and non-athletes alike. There’s a lot to be said about this “pride” thing. I’ve seen communities hang their hats on the success of their high school teams, and while some might find that to be a silly notion (happiness depending on the success of teenagers), who are we to question what something that brings us together? I know nothing about the good people of Weddington, except that they seem to love a winner. We’re building one of those in Lee County, and that might be just as important as the new businesses and homes popping up here, too. — by Billy Liggett


32 | January 2020

@therant905

CONGRATULATIONS YELLOW JACKETS!

2019 NCHSAA 3AA East Region Champions

You made Sanford proud!

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The Rant Monthly | 33

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A HELLUVA SEASON A week-by-week breakdown of the greatest football season locally in 46 years

I

t wasn’t the ending local fans hoped for, but the 2019 Lee County High School football season was still one for the record books. The Yellow Jackets advanced to the 3AA state finals for the first time in 46 years, and finished the second season under head coach Steve Burdeau 15-1. The following is a week-by-week breakdown of the season, from a season opener in August that was postponed because of lightning and strong winds to the Dec. 14 finale at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh attended by a few thousand Lee County faithful. WEEK 1 Lee County 47, E.E. Smith 18 A.J. Boulware ran the ball just 10 times

for 144 yards and three touchdowns, and quarterback Colin Johnson threw for 119 yards and a touchdown (117 of those to sophomore Tyric McKendall) in Lee County’s season-opening win that was actually postponed to a Monday afternoon game because of lighting in the first quarter with the Jackets up 3-0. Jordan Batts earned a pick-6 on defense with a 40-yard interception return just before the half to put Lee County up, 38-12. WEEK 2 Lee County 60, Northwood 0 The Yellow Jackets scored 40 points in the second quarter alone, led Northwood 60-0 at halftime and let their foot off the gas in the second half to cruise to a 60-0


34 | January 2020

@therant905

win in Week 2. Colin Johnson threw for 171 yards and two touchdowns, A.J. Boulware ran for 134 yards and three scores, and the defense held Northwood to just 12 yards total (39 passing and -27 yards rushing).

47-26. Larry Baldwin ran for 160 yards and two touchdowns, and Tyric McKendall added 44 yards rushing and two more scores in the win. Colin Johnson ran for 62 yards and a touchdown and added 119 yards passing and two more scores.

WEEK 3 Lee County 53, Douglas Byrd 6

WEEK 6 Lee County 32, Anson 25

It was another big second quarter (32 points) that boosted Lee County in its 53-6 win over Douglas Byrd. Colin Johnson threw for 208 yards and three touchdowns — two to Jayden Chalmers and one to Tyric McKendall. On defense, Delmaz Jennings led the way with eight tackles (four for a loss), and Desmond Evans had six tackles (three for a loss).

For the first time all season, Lee County trailed heading into the half when Anson led 13-7. The game was postponed midway through the third quarter due to lightning, and when play resumed the following Monday, Anson went up 19-7. The Yellow Jackets answered with 25 unanswered points in the second half to secure an unbeaten non-district record. A.J. Boulware returned from injury to run for 143 yards and three touchdowns.

WEEK 4 Lee County 24, Hoke County 6 Although the game was never in doubt, Lee County finally met a defense up for the challenge in its Week 4 win over Hoke County. With A.J. Boulware limited to just one carry, Colin Johnson carried the load with 142 yards passing and two

Senior quarterback Colin Johnson finished his final season with 2,402 yards passing, 30 touchdowns and just four interceptions. Johnson posted a 38-3 career record in his three years as a starter. Photo by Billy Liggett

touchdowns to Tyric McKendall and Jackson Lamb. Larry Baldwin had a big all-around game with 76 yards rushing and nine tackles on defense (three for a loss).

WEEK 7 Lee County 41, Triton 7

WEEK 5 Lee County 47, Fike 26 Lee County ran for 311 yards without its top running back to beat the Fike Demons,

The Yellow Jackets rolled over Triton in its Tri-County 6 3A opener thanks to 268 yards passing by Colin Johnson and 132 yards on the ground by A.J. Boulware.

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rantnc.com Nine different Jackets caught a pass in the game, with Tyric McKendall and Tarius Alston each getting 74 yards receiving. Freshman Dayreon Jennings led the defense with 11 tackles, while Derran McKoy collected two sacks. WEEK 8 Lee County 46, Union Pines 6 Colin Johnson had his strongest outing of the year with 255 yards passing and four touchdowns, and A.J. Boulware added 177 yards on the ground against Union Pines. Jayden Chalmers caught seven passes for 101 yards and two scores. Desmond Evans had six tackles and a sack on defense and caught two passes for 46 yards and a touchdown on offense.

WEEK 9 Lee County 35, Harnett Central 17 Harnett Central gave Lee County its toughest game in district, leading the Jackets 10-7 before a 21-point third quarter put the game away. A.J. Boulware ran it 28 times for 226 yards and three touchdowns to carry the offense, and Larry Baldwin added 66 yards and two scores on the ground. Desmond Evans had a season-high four sacks on defense. WEEK 10 Lee County 68, Western Harnett 6 The Yellow Jackets jumped out to a 47-0 halftime lead and never looked back against Western Harnett. A.J. Boulware had his second-straight 200-yard rush-

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@therant905 ing game and three touchdowns, and the defense held the Eagles to just 10 yards rushing on 13 carries. Jayden Chalmers caught an 83-yard touchdown, his longest of the season. WEEK 11 Lee County 44, Southern Lee 0 Lee County closed out an undefeated regular season with a 44-0 shutout against cross-town rival Southern Lee in the annual Brick City Bowl. A.J. Boulware’s 160 yards paced Lee County’s 320-yard ground effort in the win, and Larry Baldwin added a 45-yard touchdown run. WEEK 12

PLAYOFFS, FIRST ROUND Lee County 41, Eastern Guilford 7

Go Jackets! CCgratulaaas

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See a photo gallery from the state championship game at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh at our website, rantnc.com

A.J. Boulware had his biggest game of the year at the right time — 243 yards on 26 carries and two touchdowns as Lee County cruised past Eastern Guilford, 41-7, in the first round of the 3AA playoffs. The statement win was a good start to the postseason for a team that had seen early playoff exits after dominating regular seasons in its previous two seasons. Derran McKoy had four tackles for a loss and two sacks on defense. WEEK 13 PLAYOFFS, SECOND ROUND Lee County 33, So. Alamance 12 Lee County’s defense held a tough Southern Alamance squad scoreless for the first three quarters in the 33-12 win. Colin Johnson threw for 114 yards and two touchdowns, one to Jayden Chalmers and the other to Jackson Lamb. Desmond Evans, Delmaz Jennings and Deandre Dingle Prince each had four tackles for loss (the team had 19 total) on defense. WEEK 14 PLAYOFFS, 3AA EASTERN SEMIS Lee County 34, Cleveland 27 Lee County trailed the 12-1 Cleveland Rams 20-3 with six minutes left to go in the first half at one point before mounting its comeback to advance to the 3AA Eastern Finals. The Jackets trailed 20-19 heading into the fourth quarter

and 27-19 with 10 minutes left in the game before Colin Johnson connected with Tim Lett for a 10-yard touchdown with seven minutes left. Tyric McKendall then tied it up with a two-point conversion to make it 27-27. Jackson Lamb then picked off a Cleveland pass with six minutes remaining, and Johnson connected with Jayden Chalmers for a 24-yard game-winning touchdown with four minutes to go. WEEK 15 PLAYOFFS, 3AA EASTERN FINALS Lee County 34, New Hanover 9 The Jackets’ defense held a 13-1 New Hanover squad to just 146 total yards in a dominating 34-6 win to advance to its first state championship game in 46 years. A.J. Boulware ran for a season-high 247 yards (including a 70-yarder) and four touchdowns in the win. The effort put him over 2,000 yards on the ground and 31 touchdowns for the season. WEEK 16 PLAYOFFS, 3AA STATE FINALS Weddington 34, Lee County 14 Lee County’s magical season came to an end at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, thanks to the North Carolina 3AA High School Player of the Year, Will Shipley. The junior running back from Weddington torched the Jackets for 256 yards and four touchdowns in the win (putting him over 2,000 yards on the season). Lee County’s Colin Johnson finished his stellar senior season with 135 yards passing — putting him at 2,402 yards for the year, 30 touchdowns and just four interceptions. Lee County made it a close game after a Jackson Lamb interception in the third quarter, followed by a 44-yard pass from Johnson to Jayden Chalmers to make it 21-14. But Weddington would put it in the end zone two more times in the fourth to win going away.


The Rant Monthly | 37

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Lee County had three seniors sign Division I football scholarships on National Signing Day in December. Desmond Evans (above) and Jayden Chalmers signed to play at UNC Chapel Hill, and Deandre Dingle-Prince signed to play at Appalachian State. Photo by Billy Liggett

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38 | January 2020

@therant905

LOCAL MATTERS

Dillon Crockett (center, back), a six-year science teacher at Southern Lee High School, stands with the school's Quiz Bowl winners. Photo courtesy of Lee County Schools.

GAL volunteers partner with Salvation Army to ring bells and advocate for children The Guardian ad Litem Program (GAL) trains citizen volunteers to advocate for abused and neglected children in court. Supported by GAL staff and partnered with an attorney advocate, these trained advocates champion a child's interest in court — prompting a safe, permanent home for their child-client. The District 11 GAL program, serving Lee, Harnett and Johnston counties, has been serving Lee County children for over 36 years. The group recently partnered with The Salvation Army of Lee County, which enlisted local GALs as bell ringers in the Lee, Harnett and Johnston communities throughout December. Pictured above are Carol Hargreaves, Pat Greybill and Renae Hutsell (all GAL volunteer advocates), and Chantal Abbuhl, the District 11 GAL supervisor. Information courtesy of Allison DeLong, district administrator with the District 11 Guardian ad Litem Program.

THE ACADEMIC COACH

Southern Lee science teacher heads a lengthy list of extracurricular groups after school hours

Outstanding Science Teacher of the Year for the state's fourth district, which includes Lee and 10 other counties. He was presented with the honor at the NCSTA's annual conference in Winston-Salem back in November.

For Dillon Crockett, what happens outside the classroom is as important as what happens inside the classroom.

In order to be considered for the award, Crockett had to submit some writings to the organization, mostly dealing with his educational philosophy, which he says is about “teaching every type of student.”

To that end, Crockett, a sixth-year science teacher at Southern Lee High School, rattles off a lengthy list of extracurriculars he's involved with on campus: Quiz Bowl. Science Olympiad. Chairman of the School Improvement Team. AIG adviser. The list goes on, and it's all in addition to his regular, advanced and honors biology classes. “Out of the hours of the day, I'm definitely in my classes the most,” he said. “But I consider everything I do to be an extension of my role as a classroom teacher. All of us in this building have a stake in the overall performance of this building.” Crockett's busy schedule was rewarded recently when the North Carolina Science Teachers Association named him the

“There's a wide variety of challenges and gifts that each student brings to class, and it's important to adapt my approach based on the needs of each class,” he said. “Students in my AP biology class need very different services from me than the students in a standard biology class.” Crockett was raised in Fayetteville and earned a bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina in 2014 and a master's degree from Clemson University this year. He said between his classes and his extracurricular activities, he has a chance to interface with lots of different students. “It's a mix,” he said. “Some of the students I have in these groups (Quiz Bowl and

Science Olympiad) are students I've had in my classes, and other ones are ones I've never even seen walking the halls. Southern Lee has a lot of extracurricular activities that are vocation-oriented, so Science Olympiad and Quiz Bowl are two of the only ones that are academically-oriented. A lot of the students that take part are really interested in learning, and it's cool to see them have an opportunity to show that.” Quiz Bowl represents a particular goal for Crockett. His classroom is home to four trophies for the event – all of them for second place. (Lee County High School's Quiz Bowl dynasty has been a past focus of Inspired.) “It absolutely is,” a goal to defeat Lee County, Crockett said with a smile, noting that Southern's rival in Science Olympiad is Lee Early College. “It's very competitive.” Southern Lee Principal Molly Poston said Crockett is “an asset to our science faculty and to our school.” “Mr. Crockett is a driven and passionate professional,” she said. “He works tirelessly to meet students' needs while presenting science concepts in meaningful and creative ways.”


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The Rant Monthly | January 2020  

The January 2020 edition of The Rant Monthly, a publication of LPH Media LLC in Sanford, North Carolina.

The Rant Monthly | January 2020  

The January 2020 edition of The Rant Monthly, a publication of LPH Media LLC in Sanford, North Carolina.

Profile for rantnc
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