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The Rant y l h t Mon February 2020


2 | February 2020


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y The Rant l h t on M February 2020 | Sanford, North Carolina A product of LPH Media, LLC Vol. 2 | Issue 2

The Rant Monthly | 3 Serving families and businesses, Davenport offers stock and bond brokerage,asset management, insurance, retirement and financial planning.

Editorial Gordon Anderson | Billy Liggett | Jonathan Owens | Advertising Brandon Allred | 919.605.1479 Contributors Corbie Hill and Charles Petty Editorial Board Dave Henderson, Carney Lansford, Tony Phillips, Mike Gallego, Terry Steinbach, Dave Parker, Glenn Hubbard, Stan Javier, Walt Weiss, Bob Welch and Eric Plunk

Oliver Crawley, Jr., Vice President, Investments Laurel Johnson, Investment Executive Heather McCoy Wicker, Investment Executive

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The Rant Monthly February 2020



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The Rant Monthly takes a deep look at issues important to our community, and the future development coming to the Deep River area certainly qualifies as an important issue. While a large faction of Sanfordites are in favor of growth, many in the Deep River area are worried about what the future Galvin's Ridge subdivision will mean to the value of their land and their quiet way of life. Our cover story this month is on the divide in Deep River, Page 12. Image: Graphics from — illustration by Billy Liggett

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: or Advertising: 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 public flogging. Printed by SunBelt Press in Dunn, North Carolina. Copyright 2020, LPH Media LLC, all rights reserved.

February 6 - 23, 2020

4 | February 2020


I've discovered my motivation to write, says a writer By Billy Liggett


t's somewhat of an inside joke among journalists — we're all working on that novel. The key words are "working on."

I've been a professional journalist — in that I've been paid, though not very much, to cover news — in some form or fashion since I was 21 years old. So for most of my life (22 years). I got into the profession for several reasons, but the big one is I love to write. And I think, at times, I'm OK at it. (Most of the time, though, I'm my biggest troll). My passion for journalism derives from meeting people and learning about them and their interesting lives. I also love to be a part of a big event — to share information with people who want it or need it. But there's a part of me — a part I seem to share with a lot of people in this profession — that thinks having the ability to put words to paper to inform the masses automatically translates to the ability to put

“What matters is that I'm writing. And learning to write. And finding a voice and a style. It's a hell of a thing.” words to paper in order to entertain them as well. In other words, because I can write, I should be able to write. Except, it's not that easy. And good lord, I've tried. I've had a handful of ideas for the next great American novel dancing in my head for years now. And I've even sat down with every intent to get started and write something that will allow me to retire and move to a place that doesn't get below 72 degrees. But so much gets in the way. My real job that pays real money and offers real insurance is the big one. There's also The Rant, which requires a bit of time. There's my family, which actually supports my writing

more than anybody else and encourages me to put my ideas to paper — but three children 10 and under need attention ... more so than that computer screen with the blinking blue line. But a few months ago, I found something. Rather, my wife found something and sent me the link saying I had to do it. NYC Midnight holds a series of writing contests for aspiring authors all over the world. They offer contests in microfiction (250 words in 24 hours), short stories, short screenplays and more. Thousands of people enter. They're given genres to write within and character and action prompts. The prompts help make the hardest part — the "idea" — happen. The rest is up to

the writer. Needless to say, it's exciting. And scary ... because it forces you to do it. In the past four months, I've entered three microfictions and a short story. NYC's online community gets together and critiques (mostly supports) the entries. Writers advance to other rounds. Others are eliminated. It takes two things I love — competition and writing — and mashes it up into a beautiful thing. The results don't matter (I mean, they do, but ... you know). What matters is I'm writing. And learning to write. And getting frustrated with writing. And finding a voice and a style. And creating characters and killing them when asked to. It's a hell of a thing. It might even get me back on that novel ... once the kids are grown. o Billy Liggett likes to write. He might even write to you if you email him at billy@rantnc. com to talk books, writing and other fun stuff.

The Rant Monthly | 5

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The Rant Monthly | 7

The Rant plays a big role in MTV's 'Catfish' episode and inexplicably interesting show and The Rant played a big part in this episode.

And we mess up (or help) the investigation into who the real 'Adonnis' is

The Rant’s role began about 20 minutes into the episode, now streaming at MTV. com. Nev and Crawford came across the Facebook profile of a “suspect” whom they thought might be pretending to be Adonis. The most recent post on the guy’s profile in the show was a Sept. 24 Rant article titled, “Star of MTV’s ‘Catfish’ visits Sanford.”

By Billy Liggett “That got out fast.” Host Kamie Crawford delivered what we're certain is going to be The Rant’s new tagline in the second episode of the eighth season of “Catfish,” which aired on Jan. 15, on MTV. The episode — filmed in Sanford and featuring a few recognizable Sanford locales, such as Libations and the Holiday Inn Express — followed the relationship of Alfred, his ex-boyfriend Antonnio, who men who broke up before Alfred started chatting online with another man named Adonis. Alfred's brother was suspicious that Adonis was a "catfish," a made-up online persona

“That got out fast,” Kamie quipped, and the two believed this guy was “throwing shade” by posting the article. MTV's 'Catfish' host Neve (right) talks with Alfred about his online relationship with a made-up online character (or, a "catfish") on the Jan. 15 episode, filmed in Sanford. MTV

used to get close to or manipulate somebody. Hosts Neve (he goes by one name) and Crawford (she goes by two) arrived in Sanford in Septemberr to meet Alfred and to get the real identity of his online boyfriend,

Local, Honest & Affordable Call Today


with whom he'd been chatting for a year. No spoilers here (for those who'd like to go back and watch) — aside from a few views: Alfred came off as a sympathetic guy in the episode, “Catfish” is certainly an odd

The Rant wasn't mentioned again (by name) in the episode, though they mention serveral times the "story is all over Facebook." Crawford even refers to us as “The Sanford Times” and the big reveal toward the end is set up because the culprit read The Rant's story about Catfish being in town online. With its appearance, The Rant has now been featured on MTV, Deadspin and Sports Illustrated. But not yet in The Sanford Herald.

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8 | February 2020


Downtown getting a new mural LOCAL MATTERS

Artist Chris Dalton's butterfly wings will help transform downtown alley into Instagram wall A new downtown mural — more of an “Instagram Wall” containing a large set of butterfly wings in the alley (Charlie Watson Lane) along Steele Street — is one step closer to becoming reality after Sanford’s Historic Preservation Commission approved a certificate of appropriateness on Jan. 27.

Former Lee County Board chairman Hayes dies Richard B. Hayes, a former chairman of the Lee County Board of Commissioners, died on Jan. 28. Hayes, a Democrat, served as the board’s chairman from his first election in 2008 until 2010, when a wave election swept Republicans into power and he was replaced as chair by Linda Shook. Shook died in May of 2019. Hayes did not seek re-election to the seat in 2012. His two years leading the board were consequential, however, as he was involved in placing a referendum on the 2009 ballot which led to a quarter cent sales tax with proceeds funding long-needed renovations at Lee County High School. The same effort had failed the previous year. Hayes had also previously served on the Lee County Board of Education. On a personal level, Hayes was known to love model trains, and donated his personal collection for auction to benefit Central Carolina Community College in 2016.

Broadway commissioner wins $1M in lottery scratch-off

The wings will be painted next to the “Before I die” wall, which allows downtown pedestrians to fill in a “before I die, ___________” prompt on a large chalkboard. The wings will be approximately 11 to 15 feet tall and will be considered an “interactive” art display, as people will be able to stand in front of them and take on the appearance of a giant, winged human for their social media posts. The artist will be Chris Dalton, who has also painted downtown’s “Off to War,” “Fairview Dairy,” and “Tobacco History” murals. She also painted the interactive “Bringing the Arts Together” spinning wheel mural on South Horner Boulevard. The mural will be partly funded by the Building Improvement Grant from Downtown Sanford Inc. The grant’s purpose is to provide incentives to property owners for exterior improvements, public art and life and safety interior improvements. DSI has a total of $15,000 available for grants through June 30 — the grants must be matched by private funding, and the maximum grant for each project is $5,000.

A new mural in the alley off of Steele Street in Downtown Sanford will allow visitors to stand in front of a giant pair of butterfly wings and take colorful photos for their various social media accounts. Rendering courtesy of the Historic Preservation Commission.

Southern Lee's Ken Neal resigns as head football coach

James Paschal of Broadway is the first North Carolina player to win $1 million in the new decade.

Southern Lee Football Coach Ken Neal announced on Jan. 27 that he would be resigning from his coaching responsibilities effective immediately, according to a statement provided by Principal Molly Poston. The statement:

The town commissioner’s good fortune happened when he stopped at the Fastee Mart on Lee Avenue in Sanford and bought a $10 Big Money scratch-off ticket.

“Coach Neal initially joined the Cavalier staff in January of 2011 as a physical education teacher and defensive coordinator.

Coach Neal left Sanford to coach at West Montgomery High School from 2012 to 2017 before returning to Southern Lee as a school counselor and head football coach.” “In his career at Southern Lee, Coach Neal amassed an overall record of 18-14 during his 3 years as head coach. Additionally, the Cavaliers finished among the top three teams in the conference with state

playoff appearances in the 2017, 2018, and 2019 seasons.” “Southern Lee High School thanks Coach Neal for his dedicated service both on and off the field. Coach Neal will continue to serve as a school counselor at Southern Lee.” “The selection process for a new head football coach will begin immediately.”

The Rant Monthly | 9


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

A split district for Lee


et ready to see some new faces asking for your vote this year. As 2020 kicks off, Lee County is not only assured a new member of Congress after November’s election — we’re actually assured two.

Greensboro Republican Mark Walker will say goodbye not only to Lee County thanks to redistricting, but also to Congress, as he’s decided to retire in the face of a newly drawn district that doesn’t tilt quite as right as he might prefer. Further, Lee County will now be split between the 8th and 13th Congressional districts, meaning our local leaders have two people in D.C. they can lobby for, say, additional school funding, or a border moat filled with man-eating apes. They should ask for a Target. But anyway, if there’s anything where “two are better than one” might not be true, it’s probably members of Congress. Although we’re not as is often repeated the smallest county in the state (Lee is the 12th smallest by square mileage, and the 56th smallest by population), it still doesn’t make much sense to split us up. The communities of Pocket and Buckhorn have more in common with each other than they do with Burlington or Fayetteville. And it’s at least as arguable that the attentions of our new congresspeople will more frequently be with those bigger communities than with Lee. There’s also the potential for voter confusion. We can’t remember a time when Lee was split among Congressional districts, but for the better part of the last decade we had a split state House district, and in that time we met at least as many people who didn’t know which district they lived in as those who did. Lee County Elections Director Parker Holland has said the Board of Elections is jumping out in front of that possibility by packing the organization's website ( departments/elections) with new voting information, so if you want to know who you’ll be voting for or against, use that tool to familiarize yourself with the new information. “We are going to try our best to alleviate any confusion with the district changes concerns” Holland said recently. “We’re planning on doing a public service announcement with the county to get out necessary voting information.”

School, law enforcement handled potential threat well, but could have communicated better with parents I'd like to express my gratitude to law enforcement for their quick efforts in identifying a suspect alleged to have made a threat against Southern Lee High School on Jan. 21. Although Sheriff Tracy Carter eventually said the threat was deemed not credible, as a parent I appreciate his office taking the situation as seriously as was warranted. I'm equally disappointed that we parents received no contact from the school or the district regarding this situation. I frequently receive robocalls from the school about sporting events, absences and other items. I don't understand why I couldn't have been made aware in the same way that the situation had been neutralized, that it was safe for my child to attend school, and that extra security was on hand to further ensure security. Instead, I learned from my child that a threat had been made on social media without any more details. When I contacted the school I was told that she “believed” it was handled! I needed to know for a fact it was handled. Out of an abundance of caution, I and other parents made a decision Wednesday morning to take our kids out of school for the day. Now, because there was no effort by the school to inform us of the situation, these children have unexcused absences to contend with. The other details I've heard about this situation tell me it was handled properly by all parties involved, including the school. The glaring exception is the fact that parents were not made aware. I hope that in the future, situations like this will be handled more transparently and openly.

Brenda DelVecchio

READER RESPONSE | 'OUT OF NETWORK' The January 2020 cover story of The Rant Monthly took a look at how the big hospital in Sanford and several local physicians weren’t covered by many individual Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina health insurance plans. Below are just some of the responses to the story from Rant readers: If there is a contracted provider network inadequacy in Lee County, health plan members can request retroactive authorizations and let the insurance company know that there are no in network providers within a reasonable distance. Many plans are able to approve this retroactively and proactively. If approved, they can pay the provider the way they would pay an in network provider. Your plans won't tell you about it — you have to know to ask for it. I hope that helps people get bills paid, especially in cases where they have an emergency. I’m not sure how insurance plans got around having a network deficiency in Lee County. Jessica Thomas “Obamacare” (or the Affordable Care Act) made health insurance so unaffordable for my family that we had to cancel years ago. The gift that keeps on giving. Megan Mosier

I lost every one of my doctors and specialists. They covered no one in Lee County. They also did not cover Pinehurst or First Health. But they advertised that they cover Lee County. I called Blue Cross Blue Shield, and they basically said tough. Doug Western For the past three years, I’ve been covered at the beginning of the year and get dropped for migraines. Last year, it was also because I was diagnosed with diabetes. It's hard enough to find an affordable doctor out of pocket, let alone the medication. I was told to go to Chapel Hill or Raleigh for a doctor on the plan with a high payment and deductible. Tracey Marrero Ambetter! There are no doctors here for that either, but it does have the hospital in network. So the problem is the opposite of BCBS. At least with BCBS, you can have a choice of doctors. This is not what the American Care Act was meant to do. It was to provide better access to care, not less. This has not been addressed at all by Congress after the first six months of the election! I think the article states Ambetter is a choice, and I do not feel it is. Shannon Welch

The Rant Monthly | 11 READER RESPONSE The Rant’s renegade columnist wrote a column last month asking people to read stories until the end before they comment. You answered his column below (and he’s been suspended from column writing for a full month … that’ll show him). I grabbed a hard copy of The Rant the other day! Was happy to see it at Tramway Diner. I think people are just lazy and don’t bother to read — they just comment. Amy Ping I suspect that scrolling down the page to read the complete article is akin to walking into another room and forgetting what you were going after. BUT, you can always scroll back, folks. Cathy Griffith This is an outrageous, ridiculous, unfathomable opinion, and as soon as I read the piece I will complain more in detail. Byron Raphael Likely the same people who don't use turn signals. "It's just sooooooo hard to flick this little lever up and down with my finger … or tap this tiny area on my cell phone screen." It's astonishing how lazy some people are. Liz Vanderneut One of my pet peeves is someone asking a question in the comment section, when the answer is in the article. I try to read all your posts, even if I do not comment. But, please answer this ... Why Sanford after escaping your masters? And, was that part of a Russia plot to steal Lee County's election? Asking for a friend, a politician. Chyrie Moore You mean you’re actually supposed to read the article? Maybe people are just so used to having to pay for local news that don’t even bother. Thanks for keeping us updated on our town for free. I appreciate all your hard work. Crystal Estrada _______________________

In early January, the Sanford City Council and Lee County Board of Commissioners approved an incentive package to an unnamed company that, if accepted, would bring in 196 new jobs and $126 million tax base investment to the area. Both the council and the board approved the measure along party lines (Democrats in favor). A mustachioed city councilman responds below: We must elect Democrats to the Lee County Commission in November or all of the progress in bringing high-paying jobs to Sanford and Lee County — along with an increased commercial tax base — will come to a screeching halt. The increased tax base for which we have been striving is what pays for the improvements in quality of life and lowering the residential property taxes. Sam Gaskins Sanford City Council _______________________ A young woman was killed by a stray bullet near downtown Sanford on Jan. 11. This makes me so sad. Sanford residents — we can do better. As Sanford grows, hopefully the population will change and the people moving in will be like-minded. With growth comes jobs, which equal higher income levels and property values. The economy will be stimulated. When people see shady stuff going down in their neighborhoods, hopefully they will call and get help from local authorities. We need to find a way to clean up the streets and make this town a place for families again. So sorry to the family of this precious child and mother. Erin Bisson

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.

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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The Rant Monthly | 13


DEEP DIVIDE A new 1,000-home subdivision is coming to the Deep River area, exciting those hungry for growth in Sanford and alienating those who'll feel crowded and victimized by Raleigh's southbound sprawl By Billy Liggett


here are two trains of thought going in two very different directions when it comes to Galvin’s Ridge — the 420-acre, 1,000-home subdivision coming in the near future to what is now a sea of trees where U.S. 1 meets Colon Road at the northern tip of Sanford’s city limits.

There are those who love it. Those who point to the juxtaposition of an influx of jobs (both present and future) in a city on the precipice of a housing shortage. Those who see Galvin’s Ridge (and other new developments like Laurel Oaks and Carbonton Cove, to name just a few) as a sign of progress in a city rebounding impressively from the economic downturn that crippled the local economy just a decade ago. And those who say that if Sanford wants more restaurants, more retail (Target, anyone?) and more jobs, it needs to right now invest in its infrastructure and build more rooftops. Then there are those who loathe it, though the “loathe” is a little more complicated. There is a vocal group of men and women — many of whom live in the Deep River area on roads like Perry Pond and Cedar Lake and, of course, Deep River — who are against any kind of large-scale development altering the laid back, low-trafficked way of life they’ve enjoyed for multiple generations. There are others who aren’t necessarily opposed to growth in their area, but are unim-

pressed with and worried about the plans for Galvin’s Ridge submitted by developers WithersRavenel and homebuilding giant D.R. Horton. Love it or loathe it, Galvin’s Ridge is coming. And soon. After months of discussion, trips to cities with similar home sites, poring over plans and crunching numbers, the Sanford City Council passed a rezoning measure back in November that will pave the way for the new subdivision and its mixture of homes (single-family and townhomes), commercial space, greenways, dog parks, playgrounds and a clubhouse. According to city officials, land clearing could begin as soon as next month. The first homes — Phase I of the massive plan — could be up and filled with families in as little as 12 to 16 months.

Right now, Galvin's Ridge is 400-plus acres of trees, dotted with a few ponds and swampy patches. In as little as a month, clearing will begin to make way for the new 1,000-home subdivision, which could see finished homes filled with families (in Phase I) by early to mid 2021. Photo take from Perry Pond Road, facing the soon-tobe-developed land by Billy Liggett

14 | February 2020



time,” Mann said. “So we had no real ability to stop the Galvin’s Ridge project. We simply had the power to enforce standards onto the builder as recommended by the planning board.”

It’s unlike any development Sanford has seen since Carolina Trace (built in the 1970s) in terms of size and the sheer number of homes coming in such a short period of time. And if Galvin’s Ridge and its 995 homes ever reach capacity, the city is looking at an instant 8 percent population increase.

Chip Pickard, director of North Carolina operations for Criteria Development in Daphne, Alabama, said his company submitted the application for rezoning because the land met five benchmarks for residential planning: the city’s overall need for housing, Sanford’s current economic status, future prospects in the city for economic development, the affordability and cost of living in Sanford, and the overall “community atmosphere” or “desirability” of people looking to move to Sanford.

The subdivision will sit on the north side of U.S. 1 with its main entrance on Colon Road, across from Enterprise Park Drive and the recently built 117,000-square-foot industrial warehouse. The front nine acres of the site will be reserved for commercial buildings, and townhomes will go up near the front, surrounded by smaller single-family homes. According to the WithersRavenel master plan, last updated in August, larger homes and larger lots will be part of the second and third phases.

Currently, a farm house and vintage red barn overlook the land where Galvin's Ridge and its 420 acres and 995 homes will sit. The future entrance is currently home to a sign for Central Carolina Enterprise Park, an industrial park that begins across Colon Road. Construction on Galvin's Ridge could begin early this year. Photo by Billy Liggett

According to Sanford Mayor Chet Mann, the site was originally zoned for more industrial development and was originally incorporated into Central Carolina Enterprise Park. Mann said the de-

velopers owned the land for over 12 years and had negotiated the right to negotiate and change the zoning to “residential” if it did not sell to an industrial user by

January of this year. “This all went through public hearings in 2017, and very little input or push back was given to the city council at the

“These things are important in attracting new residents to your community,” Pickard said. “And geographically, Sanford’s proximity to Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Greensboro, Charlotte and the coast makes it an extremely attractive location. With all of this considered, this area stood out as a key gem for us and what we believe to be a good opportuni-

The Rant Monthly | 15

16 | February 2020


“Is this a product that 10 years from now we'll be proud of? I want to make sure we're not underselling our city.” — Sanford Councilman Charles Taylor, who voted against the rezoning ty. We met with your various leaders in the Sanford community, and there was a strong desire expressed [by them] for the need for more housing.”

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The community itself will be a mix of single-family homes, townhomes, commercial parcels and “extensive open space and community amenities,” according to plans provided by WithersRavenel. The single-family home building program will consist of no fewer than three distinct D.R Horton home series, the “Express,” the “Horton” and the “Freedom” series. As the community develops, additional home series may be offered. While target prices of the homes are not set in stone, it is anticipated that the townhomes will run in the high $100,000s, while the Express homes will run from $200,000 to low $300,000 and the Freedom homes in the mid $200,000 to mid-$300,000 range. As for those “community amenities,” developers are promising over three miles of public and private greenways, a neighborhood swimming pool, a clubhouse, playgrounds, two dog parks, a “sports court” and picnic area. The trail system will incorporate benches and pet waste stations and will be peppered with open spaces. Every street will have a sidewalk on one or both sides, according to site plans, and every street will have a designated planting strip that will have trees planted an average of 50 feet on center. According to Kelly Race, the former senior technical consultant at WithersRavenel, all homes in Galvin’s Ridge will be part of a Homeowners Association, and dues to that HOA will pay for yard maintenance performed by the association. “We believe this project will be one of the most diverse in the Triangle,” said Zack Anderson of D.R. Horton. “The amenities of this project will be bar none,

and not just for the homeowners, but the entire community. It will be an important part of the growth of this city and of the county’s economy — and of the hard work that’s made this one of the fastest growing areas in the state.” And Galvin’s Ridge could be just the beginning for Colon Road. A quarter mile south of the site, on the other side of U.S. 1, sits an 1,800-acre assemblage of land called Deep River Forest with two miles of river frontage that was annexed by the City of Sanford a dozen years ago. Mann said he expects Deep River Forest will be ready for development in the next few years and could triple or quadruple the size of Galvin’s Ridge, offering more than 3,000 homes over the next few decades. GOOD FOR SANFORD? The City of Sanford gave its stamp of approval to Galvin’s Ridge back on Nov. 19 at the recommendation of the planning board. The vote, however, was not unanimous — councilmen Jimmy Haire and Charles Taylor voted against the measure, which still passed with a 5-2 majority. Taylor was the most vocal councilman at that November meeting, which also included public comments from Deep River homeowners who were against the plan. In his statement before his vote, Taylor said he wasn’t opposed to the idea of home construction in the highly rural Deep River area, but had issues with the large number of homes planned for such a relatively small area. “Look at the Nottingham subdivision, which is a Smith Douglas product. Or Carthage Colonies, which are Beazer homes. The smallest lots in these neighborhoods are larger than the vast majority of Galvin’s Ridge lots,” Taylor said. “To put it in perspective, I looked at a map of City Hall, where we’re all sitting right

The Rant Monthly | 17 now, and you could fit 33 Galvin’s Ridge homes between these sidewalks here. Three rows of 11 homes each.” Taylor pointed to large-scale homes in the New Hill area, just 10 miles north of the Galvin’s Ridge site, and suggested Sanford could shoot higher when it comes to new homes and build townhomes that demand $250,000 and single-family homes that demand $400,000. “It’s not my decision to tell a developer what to build, but it is our decision as a council to represent the people in these areas,” Taylor said. “Is this a product that 10 years from now we’ll be proud of? Is it something we’ll stand behind. Is it going to look good in 10 years? Five years? My goal is to get the best possible product. I want to make sure we’re not underselling our city. We have very few opportunities between Sanford and Apex to make this work. I don’t think we’re there yet to pull the plug and say, ‘Let’s move forward.’” Ron Noles, who lives on Cedar Lake Road in the Deep River area, called the city’s vote to approve Galvin’s Ridge “hypocrisy,” because the same coun-

Home features for Galvin's Ridge subdivision Galvin’s Ridge will be a mix of single-family homes, townhomes, commercial parcels and “extensive open space and community amenities,” according to plans provided by WithersRavenel. The single-family home building program will consist of no fewer than three distinct D.R Horton home series, the “Express,” the “Horton” and the “Freedom” series. As the community is developed, additional home series may be offered. While target prices of the homes are not set in stone, it is anticipated that the townhomes will run in the high $100,000s, while the Express homes will run from $200,000 to low $300,000 and the Freedom homes in the mid $200,000 to mid-$300,000 range.

car garage, concrete driveways, decorative hardware on garage doors, “high-quality” exterior materials (brick, stone, faux stone, vinyl), minimum of two architectural facade types, turf sod for front yard, seed and straw for backyard, one canopy tree in every front yard, six evergreen shrubs and/or groundcover, 10-foot aggregate side yard setback, 20-foot minimum front yard setback. •

Freedom Series Single-Family Home: Same features as Express homes, plus minimum of two “high-quality” exterior materials.

D.R. Horton Series Single-Family Home: Same features as Express and Freedom homes, except minimum heated space is 1,600 square feet, an additional canopy tree in every front yard, and more shrubs and/or groundcover.

A few of the home types and amenities are listed below: •

Express Series Single-Family Home: 1,400 square-foot minimum heated space, three bedrooms minimum, patio, two-

Express Series Townhome:

1,200 square-foot minimum heated space, three bedrooms minimum, patio, one-car garage minimum, concrete driveways, decorative hardware on all garage doors, “high-quality” exterior materials, minimum of two architecutral facade types, turf sod for front yard, seed and straw for backyard, 10 shrubs or groundcover, one understory tree for every two townhome dwellings. Every home type will be part of the larger neighborhood that will be governed by a Homeowner Association (HOA).

18 | February 2020

@therant905 Y RR PE PO N D AD RO ET

















































Tot Lot






Sports Courts (ie. Tennis, Pickleballs, Volleyballs, Etc.) Picnic Area






Fenced Area Agility Training Equipment




Swimming Pool



Notes: 1. This plan is conceptual and is subject to change. 2. This plan is subject to approval by the City of Sanford, NCDOT, and other governing agencies. 3. This plan utilizes GIS and other record information. Final comprehensive boundary and topographic survey are yet to be completed for this project site. 4. All streets are minor residential streets unless otherwise labeled.



Clubhouse (1500 s.f. minimum)




Trash Receptacles Dog Waste Staঞons




Bike Racks




Mini Park (1)

Neighborhood Park



Acঞve Open Space

+/- 995 UNITS













Noles said he agrees with Taylor’s assessment that Galvin’s Ridge is too dense and could have shot for higher-priced homes. “I have not been completely against the project,” Noles said, “only that between




1 inch = 200 feet

137 S Wilmington Street | Suite 200 | Raleigh, NC 27601 t. 919.469.3340 | license #: C-0832 |

"It did not appear to the city council that there was any real sense of a neighborhood community," Mann explained. "Therefore, it was not voted to be annexed in."



The most recent WithersRavenel master plan for the Galvin's Ridge subdivision, showing a site map and construction phases. The updated plan was submitted last August.

cil voted against a subdivision back in January 2019 on Valley Road. According to Mann, the city council voted against annexing that land because the developer "would not compromise on design, land plan and building aesthetics."


R= Required, P= Permi‚ed Note: Amenity features will include the items noted as required and may include addiࢼonal features.





Addiঞonal Acঞve Space











Sport Courts(1)




EME EAS 100’




Dog Park(2)



the developer and the city, they’re wanting to just pack houses one onto another. When the developer says there will be 10 feet between each house, and each home will have 20 feet for the backyard and 20 feet for the front yard, how can the city not have a problem with that?”

someone will remind those who voted for this just what has been lost,” Noles said. “Lee County had the opportunity to set a new standard for developing a place where families would be happy to settle in and not just become a bedroom community for our larger neighbors.”

Noles, whose home is a mile and a half from the future entrance of Galvin’s Ridge and who has lived in the Deep River area for 28 years, said he believes the city cares more about “the almighty dollar” over its residents.

Mandy Moss and Hubert Wall, both residents of Perry Pond Road, which will butt up against the northernmost side of Galvin’s Ridge, spoke at the November meeting against the subdivision, both saying the construction and traffic will take away from their quality of life.

“After the council’s vote, I just hope that once work begins and the homes along Deep River Road have been bulldozed and the trees are cut down …

“This is where I’m from,” Moss pleaded to the council. “This is where my family is from, where my mother graduated

Sanford, NC Project Number: 170170 2019.08.16

from high school and where my kids grew up. It’s where we camped, fished, fourwheeled and played outside in the yard. I want that same life for my grandchildren. I do not want to leave my home because a large neighborhood is going up right in front of me. I do not want that peace and quiet and safety taken away from me. It’s a community we’re proud of and a community with a rich history.” “I learned a lot about the history of Sanford and Lee County through a [Sanford Area Growth Alliance] Leadership class,” added Wall, “and this council is standing on the shoulders of the people who came before them and built this city. Those who made good decisions not just

The Rant Monthly | 19


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/mockingbirdblues TOP: An example of a 1,564-square-foot "Express" home by D.R. Horton, one of the lesser expensive models in the Galvin's Ridge plan. MIDDLE: The Bristol model of a "Freedom" home, approximately 1,672 square foot of heated living space. BOTTOM: A computer rendering of the townhomes that will be available in the plan. PAGE 17: An example of one of the more expensive D.R. Horton single-family home models.

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20 | February 2020 for the city, but for the people of the city. Sanford has been well planned and well thought out. I’m not against change — no person would argue against good change. But the majority of the people who live in the Deep River area don’t believe this is a good change. Is it right for Sanford or Lee County? I don’t know. But I know without a doubt it’s not right for Deep River.” Taylor’s other concern with Galvin’s Ridge is the strain it could put on schools and emergency response, adding that nine firefighters will need to be added to the Deep River Fire Department and eventually a new department will need to be added (in addition to new responders in south Sanford when the 640-home Laurel Oaks subdivision is built). FILLING THE VOID Todd and Stephanie Pace live directly across from the giant field of trees and hills that will soon become Galvin’s Ridge, but they share an optimism about the project and what it will mean for their home that many of their neighbors don’t have.


“We need new families in Sanford. The little inventory and type of housing stock we have to offer does not answer the call for what most people are looking for in 2020.” — Sanford Mayor Chet Mann, an advocate for Galvin's Ridge “Look, we don’t mind if Deep River becomes another Apex,” said Todd, who has lived in the area for over a decade. “I think growth is great. If you don’t embrace growth in your town, then your town’s going to die. New homes means better restaurants and better places to shop. And if you look at some of land and the homes around us and in that area, this development is definitely an improvement. Motorhomes parked in front yards, old trailers that probably aren’t safe enough for people to live in … when you see things

like that, then, yeah, bring in something nicer. Bring in a new subdivision.” Sanford Mayor Chet Mann has championed the new subdivision publicly over the past year and offered a thorough explanation of the process that led to the vote in November after the motion passed with the 5-2 vote. He explained that his support for Galvin’s Ridge goes back to the 2020 land use plan dubbed “Plan SanLee,” which focuses on policies guiding physical development — residential and commercial. Mann said the plan was designed to

provide guidance during rezoning requests, site plan proposals and subdivision proposals. Galvin’s Ridge, according to Mann, fits that plan and is part of a long-term solution to bring Sanford’s housing market on part with its growing job base. “Why am I in favor of residential growth out there? Simply put, Sanford and Lee County have been dead last in our 13-county region in new residential construction for a decade — and by a large margin,” Mann said. “Our lack of inventory and signature amenitized neighborhoods was and still is a detriment to our overall growth and well being. We need new families in Sanford — families drive the quality of life. Strong working families contribute to our neighborhoods, our schools and our nonprofits, and they bolster our existing small businesses, restaurants and service providers. Without new residential homes to choose from, new residents would simply not choose to live here. The little inventory and type of housing stock we have to offer does not answer the call for what most people in 2020 are looking for.”

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The Rant Monthly | 21 According to Mann, Sanford’s work force has expanded by nearly 1,500 jobs in the last five years through the Sanford Area Growth Alliance and announced in the last year 765 new jobs coming to the area, with another 200 pending an announcement coming in February. On the flipside, as of last December, Sanford had a region-low 133 homes listed for sale in Lee County. “Do the math,” he said. “There is a big void. No wonder our multi-family development is booming here. Also, rooftops are what drive better and more quality retail that our citizens are demanding. “The question I get most is, ‘When are we going to get this?’ Or, ‘When are we going to get a Target?’” Mann added. “Well, the answer is, ‘When we get more rooftops.’ Nothing else really matters when it comes to retail.” Mann said Galvin’s Ridge will also be a boost to the city’s residential tax base — which he called a “critical element of a growing community” and which is helped by homeowners and not renters. He said when he commissioned a residential task force in 2017, the city began to learn why builders and developers were not coming and what needed to be done to get them to “take the risk” in investing in Sanford. “We never targeted Deep River for development. The private market did,” Mann said. “Plus, it takes a willing seller to make a development deal work. In Deep River, there were willing sellers of land.” Now that it’s happened, though, Mann said he does see Deep River as a prime location — desirable for people who want quick access to Wake County, yet live far enough away to not feel completely urbanized. It’s why several other new homes have begun to spring up around Farrell Road near the Raleigh Exec Jetport. “Colon Road is only about 15 miles from the 540 toll road,” Mann said. “It has been demonstrated that the commute from downtown Raleigh and from the RTP area is quicker and easier to and from Sanford than the commute from North Raleigh to those same areas. Developers have also learned that Sanford now has an amazing sense of place and quality of life component that is attractive to homeowners. Land costs here and in the Deep River area are much more affordable than that of southern Wake County, where quarter acre lots can reach $100,000 in costs if you can find one to

build on. “We want new residential to be spread out in all areas of the city, but it makes sense they would pick the northern and the southern corridors closest to Raleigh and Fayetteville first.”

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Those who sided with the project also see Galvin’s Ridge and the future similar developments in Sanford as “inevitable.” According to 2019 U.S. Census Bureau statistics, growth in the Triangle ranked 10th nationally in percentage growth from 2019 to 2018 (20.5 percent). Raleigh’s pace ranked just behind Orlando, Florida. Lee County’s population grew just 6 percent in that same time span, well behind its neighbors Wake (20.4), Chatham (14.6), Moore (11.4) and Harnett (16) counties. With several new communities (apartment complexes) in the works, that’s poised to change in the next 10 years. Mann said it’s the elected officials’ jobs to make sure Sanford is ready for that growth while still holding on to the qualities that make this area desirable in the first place. “It is possible to still maintain the rural feel and have large planned neighborhoods,” he said. “Briar Chapel between Pittsboro and Chapel Hill, and Twelve Oaks in Holly Springs are examples of how you can blend the rural with the urban and contribute positively to the tax base and vibrancy of a small town. The existence of heavy industry in the Colon Road area has made the residential building just that more likely. “Families in Deep River will likely see more options and amenities close by as homes develop. Sanford and Deep River will not become an Apex or Cary anytime soon. The growth will be gradual. More importantly, we already have a real downtown and an identity. We will never be a bedroom community like some of the Southern Wake County cities have become. We have a 145year tradition all of our own. We have 17 blocks of downtown that will continually be revitalized one block at a time over the next few years. We are creating an economy right here for people to live, work and play in Lee County. Therefore, we will control the momentum and maintain our small town feel even in the midst of large signature neighborhoods.”

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22 | February 2020


Photos by Gordon Anderson

THE RIDE ALONG An up-close, unfiltered look at the Lee County Sheriff's Office drug unit By Gordon Anderson Over two nonconsecutive days in January, I joined the Lee County Sheriff’s Office drug unit for ride alongs to get an up close, unfiltered look at the work they do. I’ve participated over the years in lots of ride alongs, but always when there was a longplanned operation in motion. This time, we left the office with nothing specific in mind to see where they day took us. In the process, I got a good look at the average day in the life of a narcotics agent. I’ve left out names and identifying information of all the people the deputies observed, investigated, interacted with, or even charged on those days so as not to unfairly prejudice the public against them. One of the things I learned from this experience is that oftentimes something that looks wrong or out of place is in fact absolutely normal. And in the cases of the people who ended up charged with any violation, they remain innocent until proven guilty in court. _____________________________


y first day with the drug unit is a Friday, and so the day starts with the team’s weekly breakfast at Jim’s Restaurant on Tramway Road. Five officers are present — Lt. William Sturkie, the unit’s second in command, and agents Chris Thompson, Josh Bryant, Mel Haines, and Joe Medlin. Joining them is a patrol deputy, Jordan Simons, who volunteers his time with the team when he has the opportunity in order to gain experience if and when a spot becomes available.

the work day where the team can afford to let its guard down a little bit and indulge in some lighter moments. There’s plenty of laughter, joking with the wait staff, and even a couple of citizens who stop by the table to thank the team for what they do and tell them to stay safe.

While there’s a good amount of discussion about where the day might take us — locations from which the team has received complaints, tips to run down from informants, et cetera — it’s also probably the last point in

“You want a bulletproof vest?” Sturkie asks me as we’re about to do so.

From there, it’s to the office for a little bit of paperwork and housekeeping — the team’s members meet briefly with Capt. Bryan Allen, the unit’s leader, before piling into their individual vehicles, gassing up, and heading out.

“Do I need one?” I naively reply after a long pause caused by a question I hadn’t considered, simultaneously remembering that I’d a

The Rant Monthly | 23 few minutes prior signed a waiver absolving the department of any responsibility in the event that I’m injured. “You’re probably going to want one if they start shooting,” he says. “OK,” I come back with, sheepishly. I put on the vest and we head out. _______________________ The team has received some information about some suspicious activity at an area business, and so we take a ride by. As we do, a group of people standing outside sort of slowly disperses, and Sturkie and the other agents radio back and forth, pointing out folks they recognize from prior interactions and noting that despite there being a small crowd outside, there doesn’t appear to be much actual business going on. This is the kind of thing I never notice. And while this part of the story ends without any major event — long story short, we surveil the location from a couple blocks away for about half an hour, and while Sturkie and Thompson (in separate vehicles) see some details that further their suspicions, there’s nothing actionable on this one today — one thing I keep coming back to is how much these guys pick up

on that’s hiding in plain sight. It’s pretty amazing what happens all around us every day that many of us are oblivious to. _______________________

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At one point, the team is riding up U.S. 1 toward Deep River when Sturkie gets a call that detectives have served a warrant on a suspect for non drug charges and found him in possession of what appears to be heroin. This is a common and important role for the drug unit — detectives are typically busy working the details of their cases, and the narcotics agents being available to handle that part of the process makes things run smoother for everyone involved. In this case, Detectives Bill Marcum and Neil Knight have the suspect in custody outside a mobile home park off Lower Moncure Road, and they’ve already confiscated a wallet containing small amounts of what’s alleged to be heroin. Agent Haines is already at the scene when we arrive, and as the detectives inspect a truck bed containing what they believe to be stolen goods, Sturkie joins Haines in testing the substance to confirm that it’s what it appears to be.

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Something interesting happens at this point. When the contents of the small bag are mixed with another set of chemicals, the soup fails to change color. It’s fake, something the suspect tells the officers on hand that he was planning to pass off as the real thing to someone else. Another smaller package, admits the suspect, is heroin. It’s too fine to be tested outdoors in the windy January conditions, so Sturkie takes it as evidence for later testing. A few minutes later, the suspect — sitting in the passenger seat of Detective Knight’s truck — asks for Sturkie by name. “I’m thinking I can work with you,” he says, telling Sturkie he can offer the names of people selling drugs, perhaps in exchange for some leniency on the charges. The two go back and forth, Sturkie telling the suspect that he’s always interested in information, but hinting that drug agents typically know — or have a good idea, at least — of who’s “in the game,” so to speak. Instead, Sturkie says the suspect is more likely to help himself with the detectives, who need to know the location of other stolen merchandise. If the suspect wants to talk with drug agents when he’s processed on the drug charges, that opportunity will be made available to him. “You can tell me the sun’s going to come up tomorrow morning, but I already know that,” Sturkie tells me before we leave for another location. _______________________ As we’re riding, Sturkie gets a call from an informant, someone who claims to have been given a bag of cocaine by a drug dealer at their place of employment. We go to meet them so he can collect the drugs and take down any information. “So technically, isn’t this person admitting to possession of cocaine right now?” I ask rhetorically. Sturkie says of course, but explains that — the fact that it would be ridiculous to arrest this person at this time and for this reason aside — officers have fairly broad discretion in their dealings with the public. “This is a person who doesn’t like this stuff, and they want to see us do something about it,” he explains. After collecting the small bag of (alleged, it should be noted) drugs and placing it in an evidence bag, we’re off again.

Agent Chris Thompson shows a pipe used to smoke crystal meth that the team confiscated from a driver in January.

_______________________ We’re coming up a main road between west Sanford and downtown when a vehicle pulls out ahead of us with out of state tags. It’s a vehicle the agents had already noticed once this morning, as the tags came back fictitious. But since the vehicle was on private property the first time it was noticed there was little to be done at that point. Not now. Sturkie notices the vehicle turn off into a neighborhood near Sanford’s historic district, but instead of following directly, he goes up a block before turning left, hoping to meet the driver head on. This is exactly what happens. We see the car coming toward us, and the look on the occupants’ faces is one of recognition. Still, Sturkie’s at a disadvantage, having to stop and turn around while the other driver has a chance to wind around a cluster of streets trying to throw the law off his tail. It doesn’t work. Through a combination

of communications with his colleagues, that attention to detail I mentioned before, and some aggressive-but-smart driving, Sturkie manages to catch up to the vehicle, activating his lights and stopping it at the entrance to Kiwanis Park on Wicker Street. This is the first incident on my ride along that feels tense. Sturkie at this point is by himself, although backup is on the way. The driver and the passenger are moving erratically before he’s even out of the car, and as he approaches, the driver tries to get out before Sturkie stops him. Things calm down from there, but they stay weird. Practically the whole team arrives, including Capt. Allen, as the driver says he doesn’t have a license and the passenger has only an out of state prison identification card. Out of the car, they both wait patiently — albeit erratically — as the agents separate and speak with them. The driver admits to having needles in his car (which isn’t a crime) but there’s no evidence of drugs and no probable cause to conduct a search. All Sturkie can do is offer a citation for driving without a license.

As he does, he reminds the driver that he’s eligible to have his license reinstated and tells him how to get that done. “If you’re going to be driving around, you need a license,” Sturkie tells him. It’s unclear whether it’s that helpful and non judgmental attitude or something else entirely, but the driver then offers to help Sturkie locate another person he says is selling the deadly heroin additive fentanyl. They make plans to talk more and we leave. I never learn whether that information leads to anything. _______________________ It’s not all drugs, of course. At one point, the team is headed in tandem to a neighborhood in Deep River when a 911 call comes across the radio. A man is apparently refusing to leave a house after being ordered to do so by a woman. Each of them activates blue lights and sirens and turn around — all without any communication.

The Rant Monthly | 25 “They all heard that,” Sturkie tells me as we pick up speed. “On something like this, that has the potential to turn into a domestic situation, you go to that first.” As we fly back toward the 911 call, which is off Main Street, I tell myself Sturkie knows what he’s doing, even as my not-exactly-used-to-this-type-of-thing body involuntarily braces itself in the passenger seat. We’re the first to arrive, but not by much. At the scene, there’s some yelling, but not much more. A man has been told by his aunt to leave a house that belongs to his father. The father, however, doesn’t want the son gone. It’s a personal dispute the team is able to pretty quickly diffuse, but not without a wrinkle that shows some of the aggravators law enforcement deals with on the regular. A man comes out of a house across the street, loudly insisting the other man has a right to be in the home. This man has no involvement in the situation, but approaches anyway, essentially inserting himself into a situation that’s been largely de-escalated.

Luckily, he’s convinced to go home without further incident, and we take off again. _______________________ Bryant and Simons have stopped a vehicle without tags at a church on Carbonton Road, and as Sturkie and I arrive, the two agents are talking with the car’s occupants. The backseat piled high with all manner of blankets and clothes evidences what they reveal shortly — they’re living out of the car and only driving out of absolute necessity. “They’re not real nervous, and they’re confident in their story, so I don’t think we’re going to find anything,” Simons tells me. Even so, Medlin gets Dax — the department’s drug sniffing dog — out of his vehicle to see if he detects anything. He doesn’t. The driver is cited for the vehicle not having tags, and we move on.

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_______________________ At another point, Bryant makes a stop on Spring Lane after running a tag number and discovering a young woman driving without a license. There’s what looks an awful lot like a bullethole in her windshield, as well as a faded North Carolina Narcotics Officer Enforcement Association sticker on the back. Dax comes out again, but he’s not picking anything up. The woman says she has to drive because she needs to go to the store for gas and cigarettes. “No, that’s a choice,” Sturkie tells her. She’s cited, she puts the car in neutral and moves if off the road before being told to call someone with a valid license to come and get her. We leave. _______________________ As we’re coming up Douglas Drive, Sturkie sees a newer model car sort of lurking around the dead end of a hotel parking lot on North Horner Boulevard. It

looks weird to him, so he slows down long enough to run the tag, and turns around to see what he can see. By the time we pass back by — just a few seconds later — the car seems to be long gone. That’s when Sturkie sees it taking the on ramp to U.S. 1 South, and moves to catch up. As we follow the vehicle, Sturkie notices a broken windshield, which is enough to make a stop. He finally does so on Buffalo Church Road, about three miles away from where he first spotted the vehicle. As Thompson arrives behind us, Sturkie tells the driver he stopped him because of the broken windshield, and then asks what he was doing at the hotel - a location that the drug agents frequently visit. “Well,” the driver tells him. “I was going to get a room there in a couple nights, and I just wanted to check the place out.” “Where do you stay?” Sturkie asks, as the man motions to a nearby apartment complex. “If you live right here, why would you want to get a hotel room right down the road?” “Well,” the man offers. “I just wanted to get a hotel room there.”

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The final interaction I witness with the drug unit on my ride alongs is triggered when we pull through the parking lot of the Prince Downtown Motel on Carthage Street. As we pull behind the building along the property’s edge, Sturkie notices a young woman sitting in a truck that’s backed into a parking space. It’s hard to tell what she’s doing, but she’s moving around quite a bit.

A few blocks away, the truck stops to let the second girl out. The tag comes back to a teenager who lives in a vastly different part of town, and Sturkie decides to approach the vehicle and ask the girls what they were doing at a hotel that’s been labeled by residents, neighbors and law enforcement alike as a dangerous place.

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Before long, another young woman comes out of one of the hotel’s units, gets into the passenger seat, and the truck takes off. Intrigued, Sturkie radios to Bryant, who picks the truck up coming out of the parking lot.

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The man is told to get his windshield fixed, and we’re off again.

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Medlin and Sturkie talk with a driver they've stopped near downtown Sanford.


The girls are nervous, and their stories don’t exactly match up — something about visiting a friend to get shampoo — ­ but there’s no apparent crime to investigate, so there’s not much to be done other than

let the girls know what kind of place they were in. “I just want you to make good decisions,” he tells the driver. “I know what kind of place that is, because I deal with what goes on there. So I just want you to make good decisions.” _______________________ There are probably a dozen more interactions like this I could describe for this story, including a handful I just didn’t have room to include. I didn’t see the drug unit catch any big fish in my two days with them, and there were more than a few times when things seemed like they could have bubbled into something big and turned out to be nothing at all. But I was hoping as much to witness some of the mundanity as I was much as I was hoping to witness any “action.” We see the headlines when the big busts are made, but the work I was witness to is often where those headlines originate. These guys do tough work, and were still able — in the 16 or so hours I spent with them — to treat everyone with whom I saw them come into contact with dignity and respect, even if they knew they might not always get it back. In a world where law enforcement has been so deeply politicized, the opportunity to get an unfiltered look at the work the profession does on a daily basis is one I’m glad I took.

The Rant Monthly | 27

2020 election filings 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): • • • • • • • •

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)

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

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

*Ted Budd (R) Scott Huffman (D)

Lee County Register of Deeds: •

*Pam Britt (D)

District Attorney (Lee, Harnett counties): • • •

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

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

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

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Jimmy L. Love Jr. (R)

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28 | February 2020


ENTERTAINMENT Want to include your upcoming events in our monthly entertainment calendar? Email 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. _____________________________ AN EVENING WITH FAITH BARDILL

Feb. 1 | Camelback Brewing Company | 7:30 p.m. | Free Local country singer Faith Bardill returns. HEART OF CAROLINA JAZZ ORCHESTRA

Feb. 6 | Hugger Mugger Brewing Company | 7:30 p.m. | Free This jazz orchestra has been at it three decades, though the big band and 20th century jazz numbers it plays are far older. JASON PETTY'S EVERY SONG TELLS A STORY

Feb. 6-23 | Temple Theatre | $17-29 | Tickets Actor and musician Jason Petty's Every Song Tells a Story musical delves into the trivia behind hits by the likes of Johnny Cash, Charlie Daniels, Jim Croce and so on. FIRST FRIDAY WITH HIP-HOP VIOLINIST DAVID SCOTT

Feb. 7 | Hugger Mugger Brewing Company | 8 p.m. | Free Rap's a versatile form, an umbrella under which you can fit everything from the fire of Jean Grae to the fringe weirdness of clipping, to the playfulness of Run D.M.C. to the supreme chill of A Tribe Called Quest.

Aslan Freeman and Lainey Wilson played the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville on Jan. 13, and they're scheduled to play the Grand Ole Opry on Feb. 14, alongside big names like Sawyer Brown and Terri Clark. Photo courtesy of Aslan Freeman


Sanford native Aslan Freeman plays Nashville's Ryman Auditorium; Opry next

By Gordon Anderson (Note: An earlier version of this story appeared at on Jan. 16)


hen Aslan Freeman moved to Nashville from the Triangle area in the fall of 2016, the goal was to continue making a living playing music — he just never guessed it would be country music. Today, he’s not only doing exactly that, he also in January performed at one of country music’s most iconic venues — Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. “They call it the Mother Church for country music. It’s a pretty important place,” Freeman, a Sanford native, told The Rant.

Freeman played the Ryman on Jan. 13 with Lainey Wilson, an up and coming singer songwriter with whom he’s been collaborating as bandleader for the last few years. The show was part of a charity event hosted by Nashville DJ Bobby Bones, who’d met Wilson on a video shoot for another artist. “Lainey didn’t mention that she was a singer or anything, they were just kind of hanging out,” Freeman explained. “When he eventually found out that she was, he was more impressed that she didn’t try to push herself on him. He was like ‘now I actually want to check out your music.'” Freeman, who graduated from Lee County High School in 2007 and went on to earn a degree in music composition from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, had been playing in, recording and running live sound for

rock bands for much of the 2010s when he decided Nashville was the logical next step in his music career. Although he’d had some interaction with Wilson running sound at one of her performances in Raleigh, he had little experience in country music and expected to find work more in line with some of his prior efforts, which include his band Unifier. “When I moved to Nashville I was more thinking I’d end up getting a normal job again for a while,” he said. “I had friends here in some punk bands, and my thought process was more that I liked the city. Every time we played here it was a lot of fun.” Instead, he met Wilson again at a singer songwriter “round” and was immediately impressed. “She played her song ‘Dreamcatcher,’ and I thought it was great,” he said. “I

The Rant Monthly | 29 never thought I’d be working in country music either, but I hadn’t gotten chills listening to music in a long time. I thought maybe I should try to work with her — I was new to town, and we had friends in common, and I needed work.” It wasn’t long before Freeman was helping Wilson track demos and flesh out “full band” versions of the songs she liked best. Not long after that, he was helping assemble a full band and working with Wilson on a series of EPs and singles. “At the time, I didn’t really know what a bandleader was. She just kept asking me to help, and I kept helping,” he said. “Just because of the way the whole situation was introduced, the people who came in started asking me the questions. They just naturally thought I was in charge.” Although Freeman and Wilson maintain a fairly rigorous touring schedule, he continues to pursue other musical interests, including recording other bands, occasional songwriting collaborations, and performing with friends from other musical genres. Freeman said the Ryman performance was a quick one — just a couple of songs from each act, played with a house band — and that it went well. Although plenty of “industry folks” were on hand, the coolest thing was being on the legendary stage.

“It’s like any other type of music. Like you think of rock music and indie rock in North Carolina, and if you play at the Cat’s Cradle you know all of your favorite bands have been on that stage,” he said. And with the Ryman under their belt, Freeman and Wilson now have their sights set on the next rung in the ladder. On Jan. 16, when Freeman spoke to The Rant about the performance, he said that while playing the Ryman was great, “what everybody wants to do is play the (Grand Ole) Opry.” Fast forward to about an hour after the initial publication of this story, and it appears that dream is set to come true as well. Freeman shared on his personal Facebook page a photo of Wilson with the words “Opry Debut” and the date Feb. 14. A review of the Opry’s website shows Wilson and Freeman set to play alongside a host of well-known country music acts, including Sawyer Brown, Terri Clark, Gary Mule Deer, and more. “One down, one to go,” Freeman wrote on Facebook. For more information on Freeman’s work with Wilson and to hear their music, visit

The Heart of Carolina Jazz Society presents

The Sounds of the Modern Jazz Quartet featuring the Brandon Mitchell Jazz Quartet with the The Heart of Carolina Jazz Orchestra, directed by Gregg Gelb

Sat Feb. 29 - 7:30 PM Temple Theatre

Aslan Freeman and Lainey Wilson backstage at the Ryman Auditorium on Jan. 13. Photo courtesy of Aslan Freeman

Tickets: $20 General Admission $10 Students with ID $15 Heart of Carolina Jazz Society Members and Military

Advance tickets available at

(919) 774-4155 Temple Theatre 120 Carthage Street, Sanford,NC

30 | February 2020 Feb. 8 | Smoke & Barrel | 8:30 p.m. | Free Autumn Nicholas' powerful vocals match nicely with the full-bodied resonance of her jumbo Taylor acoustic. Expect '90s-reminiscent coffee shop folk with flavors of Joan Osborne and Tracy Chapman.



Feb. 15 | Mann Center | 7:30 p.m. | $35-$40 | Tickets: If jokes about your tax dollars, people who eat anything healthier than deep fried meatloaf, and how everything was better 60 years ago ring your buzzer, this is the show for you.

Feb. 21 | Hugger Mugger Brewing Company | 8 p.m. | Free Come for the comedy. Stay to ask Kristen Sivills about her brilliantly named podcast "And Then We Had Sex."


Feb. 28 | Mann Center | 7 p.m. | $12-$17 | Tickets:


Feb. 21 | Smoke and Barrel | 8:30 p.m. | Free This blues and boogie outfit has been at it since 1985.

In its day, big band music was an exuberant escape from the horrors of the WWII era. That context may have passed (that specific war, natch), but the music remains eminently danceable.

Brian Mathis, CFPÂŽ Financial Advisor




503 Carthage Street Suite 200 Sanford, NC 27330 919-775-4443 Member SIPC

The Rant Monthly | 31

BUSINESS New business, Home State Made, moving next door to Dairy Bar, Vineland & Hickory

Cinema announces it will allow teens back in without parental guidance, for now By Jonathan Owens


hen your kids get to be a certain age, you find out really quick that there are not a lot of things for a teenager to do in Sanford. My stepson is there. He’s 14, yearning for time with his friends away from home, but with no driver’s license to take him. If there isn’t a high school game on Friday nights, he and his friends basically left to sit in their rooms, avoiding their parents and playing video games. Their one refuge is the local movie theater. But last fall, Spring Lane Cinemas instituted a policy of not allowing kids under 17 to be dropped off at the movies. Thankfully for him and for us, that ban has now been lifted, according to the theater manager Jared Campbell, who took a punch in the face from a kid last year. “Everyone has been good recently,” Campbell joked, “We have some big PG-13 movies coming out soon and we thought we’d give them another chance. Hopefully everyone can come and enjoy the movies and have a

good time without any problems.” Campbell said he reserves the right to re-institute that ban if problems arise again. So be good, kids. I also asked Campbell about the renovations planned for the theater. He said the project is at a standstill at the moment, but he hopes it will restart soon. If you’ve been to Southern Pines lately and driven by the movie theater there, you’ve seen what Sanford’s theater could be. Their once dilapidated and even condemned multiplex has been reborn into a showpiece thanks to a large investment from Paragon Theatres, a Florida-based company. It’s pretty stunning. Here’s hoping the Spring Lane Cinema can find a similar second life, though it is owned by a different company called East Coast Entertainment. From my observations, it seems to be busy, and as one of the only games in town for teens and families to find entertainment, it seems like it would be a worthy investment. New bakery opens downtown A new bakery has opened up in downtown Sanford by the railroad tracks at 105 Wicker Street. It's called Panaderia las 7 Regiones, or "The Seven Regions Bakery," which sounds intriguing and possibly delicious. This spot has been home to several differ-

ent restaurants and bars in recent years. My favorite was El Rancho, a Caribbean-themed place that closed about a decade ago. Here’s hoping the new bakery has success in that location. They offer sweet breads, coffee and tomales, to name a few items. For more information, please contact them at (910) 849 7088. Stretch a Buck at the old Palomino A new discount variety story named Stretch a Buck has opened in the old restaurant building near the Palomino Motel in Tramway. Steve Lovellette, the manager, said the store sells everything you can think of -- from food items to weighted blankets to diapers to household goods. It even has a motorcycle for sale. They also do volume sales by the case, pallet or truckload. He added that items in the store are typically 30 percent cheaper than those found at Walmart. That sounds like a deal! The store is open Thursday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Send me an email at jonathan@rantnc. com with your thoughts on these or any other business topic.

Home State Made, a company selling leather goods, apparel, accessories and other North Carolina-made products will open between Vineland & Hickory and the Fairview Dairy Bar in the old Big Lots building, the company announced in mid-January morning on Facebook. The store will be run by the same people who own Vineland & Hickory, according to sources.

City Council approves package to bring in 196 new jobs, $126 investment to tax base In the second party-line vote in as many days, the Sanford City Council on Jan.7 approved an incentive package to an unnamed company that, if accepted, would bring 196 new jobs and $126 million in tax base investment to the city. Republican Charles Taylor cast the council’s lone dissenting vote, while four Democrats — Byron Buckels, Sam Gaskins, Jimmy Haire, and J.D. Williams voted in favor. Council members Chas Post and Rebecca Wyhof Salmon were absent. Under the deal, the city would offer $2.42 million in tax rebates to the unnamed company, which is reported to be in the life sciences industry, over a seven year period in exchange for the job creation and tax base investment. The Lee County Board of Commissioners approved a similar package on a 4-3 vote onJan. 6, offering the company a $3.125 million incentive. Bharat Forge agreed in September to bring 460 jobs and $170 million in tax base investment to Lee County. Pfizer’s announcement, which did not require any additional tax incentive, came a month earlier.

32 | February 2020


LOCAL MATTERS Nine-year-old boy reels in rusted grenade near Vass A Grace Christian School student magnet fishing at a creek east of Vass on Jan. 20, reeled in a rusted frag grenade with the firing pin missing, according to the Crains Creek Fire Department. A team of Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians from Fort Bragg, who detonated the grenade in the woods upon arrival. Traffic was shut off at Morrison Bridge Road and Riverview Drive, about 25 miles south of Sanford, until the area was deemed safe. The student was identified as 9-yearold Kolton Decker, according to a story from The Pilot in Southern Pines. The Pilot reported Decker was testing out a magnet fishing kit he received for Christmas when he discovered the grenade. In addition to the bomb squad and Crains Creek Fire Department, emergency personnel from Moore County and Fort Bragg responded to the scene. No injuries were reported.

Lee County man charged with 58 child sex abuses offenses The Lee County Sheriff’s Office charged a Lee County man on Jan. 27, with 58 offenses related to alleged repeated abuse over eight years of a minor. Bruce Wayne Vaughn, 50, was charged with 19 counts of Statutory sex offense with a child, 19 counts of felony child abuse, 18 counts of indecent liberties with a child, and one count each of statutory sex offense with a child 15 years old or younger and incest. These charges stem from an investigation that started in August 2019 and are alleged to have taken place over a period of time between 2011-2019. Vaughn was shot by a Johnston County deputy in December 2019 in a raid by a SWAT team at a Cleveland, N.C., hotel.

D.A. CANDIDATE Q&A Suzanne Matthews faces Nicolle Phair in March Republican Primary


Republican primary for District Attorney of the 12th Prosecutorial District (Lee, Harnett counties) will be held on Tuesday, March 3. Early voting begins on Feb. 13 and runs through Feb. 29. Registered Republican and unaffiliated voters in Lee and Harnett counties are eligible to participate in this election. Democrats are eligible to participate in a number of primaries for various statewide contests, but The Rant currently limits election coverage to local offices. The Rant asked four questions of each candidate, and we’ve printed their unedited responses below. The winner of the primary will face Democrat R. Andrew Porter in November.

Suzanne Matthews Suzanne Matthews is currently an assistant district attorney for the 12th Prosecutorial District of North Carolina, which consists of Lee and Harnett Counties. She has been an ADA for 13 years and has handled the prosecution of all manner of criminal offenses. Her primary area of prosecution has been felony drug offenses. She attended Campbell University and earned an undergraduate degree in government in 2002. She then attended Seton Hall University School of Law, graduating in 2005. She worked in private practice for two years before joining the District Attorney’s Office in 2007. Matthews and her husband Brian live in Angier with their 10 year old daughter, Rebekah. They are active in their church, C3 Church, and enjoy spending family time camping. Matthews on Jan. 27 announced en-

dorsements from Lee County Sheriff Tracy Carter and Harnett County Sheriff Wayne Coats. What is the single biggest problem facing criminal prosecutions in Lee County and how will your office work to address that problem? There is a culture of silence in our communities that keeps victims and witnesses of crime from coming forward with their stories. This problem is not unique to Lee County, but it is apparent especially in cases involving violent offenses. The silence is born of real fear and I would never try to minimize that, but if witnesses don’t overcome that fear and speak out, the crime will continue. Without people who are willing to stand up and testify in court, our cases fall apart. On the other hand, if they will bravely come forward, the guilty will be held accountable for their actions.

The Rant Monthly | 33 The District Attorney’s Office is committed to helping victims and witnesses understand and feel comfortable in the court process. We will continue to help victims access resources through the Victims Assistance Network, SAFE, and other programs to make their experience easier. What are your plans to curb the opioid epidemic in Lee County? There is no one “silver bullet” solution that will fix the opioid epidemic in Lee County. Rather, any solution must be collaborative. There certainly must be a law enforcement aspect. We must continue to investigate and prosecute those distributing dangerous drugs in the community. In addition, there must be treatment and rehabilitation options for those who are seeking help to defeat their addictions. Finally, there must be education. Our students, teachers, families, in fact all citizens, must be educated on the dangers and the reality of opioids. It is a difficult topic, but the ugly truth of overdoses must be discussed openly so that the risk is understood. I would absolutely support and assist in presenting educational programs to the community on these topics. We must all work together to overcome this epidemic. What are your plans to fight regularly occurring gun violence in Lee County? The District Attorney’s Office must continue to foster relationships with various law enforcement partners, to include state and local agencies and the federal government, to combat gun violence. Project Safe Neighborhoods is a fantastic program through which to build those relationships. PSN identifies those individuals who are involved in violent crime, seeks to enforce the laws against those responsible, and most importantly, through community involvement, offers a way out of that lifestyle with job assistance, education, and support. Furthermore, any successful program to curb violence must include an educational aspect. There are programs available that will teach our children how bad decisions, even one, can affect their futures. As District Attorney, I will not only continue to make the prosecution of violent offenders a priority, but I will work to present educational programs so that our students understand the consequences of their actions, whether good or bad.

Several attorneys have mentioned to us that traffic enforcement, particularly in DWI cases, has declined significantly in Lee County in recent years. How concerned are you about this and how will your office work to change that perception? If there has in fact been a decline in traffic enforcement, I believe that it is simply a result of limited resources that causes a need to prioritize. Officers can only be one place at a time. If an officer who is responsible for traffic enforcement responds to a serious collision, that officer will be off the road for awhile. If additional officers are not available, then for that period of time, traffic enforcement will be in a lull. Furthermore, departments must focus their resources on priority cases: violent offenses, property crime, domestic matters. Those cases necessarily take officers away from traffic enforcement. The District Attorney’s Office will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to seek and receive additional funding through local, state, and federal grants, as well as seek legislative action, to ensure that our departments have the resources they need to efficiently enforce the traffic laws.

Nicolle Phair Nicolle T. Phair received her early education in the Harnett County school district. She later received her undergraduate degree in English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Attorney Phair then continued her education at North Carolina Central University School of Law, where she earned her Master's Degree in Library Science and Juris Doctorate. Her campaign Facebook page is “The Fair Choice: Nicolle T. Phair for District Attorney.” What is the single biggest problem facing criminal prosecutions in Lee County and how will your office work to address that problem? A huge problem is the lack of resources and staff to quickly and effectively complete serious felony cases such as murders, assaults and sex offenses. As District Attorney, I would address this by continuing to build relations with local lawmakers to get money, education, and community involvement to increase efficiency. I would work to Recruit interns from nearby Law schools to help.

What are your plans to curb the opioid epidemic in Lee County? I will work with law enforcement, church and community leaders to address these issues. I plan to also work with the existing Opioid Commission in Lee County to get practical ideas and solutions. I support Drug treatment programs and clinics to help educate victims. It is so important to administering programs for children and families impacted by the epidemic. I will continue to Work with people addressing underlying issues such as mental health to stop the cycle of criminal behavior. What are your plans to fight regularly occurring gun violence in Lee County? It’s important to reach out to community leaders, schools, and to partner with law enforcement to mentor kids. I will support programs to have incentives for people turn in illegal guns and get them off the streets. I will be Proactive with schools on dropout prevention so children can finish High school and take advantage of employment opportunities in this community. We need to all come together create positive alter-

native for the children and young adults of Lee County. Several attorneys have mentioned to us that traffic enforcement, particularly in DWI cases, has declined significantly in Lee County in recent years. How concerned are you about this and how will your office work to change that perception? I am not part of the current establishment in the District Attorney’s office related to statistics on DWI’s. However, If there is a decline in traffic offenses being presented, I support law enforcement in Lee County is doing an adequate job on the streets. There are so many other important issues to focus on such as helping to enforce the new laws for 16-18 year old first offenders. In addition, being the wife of a retired Veteran, I would focus on making Veterans Court more active in Lee County to give alternative to prison and help make our community better. I will have a direct line of communication with people in the community and families affected by crime in Lee and Harnett Counties.

34 | February 2020


LOCAL MATTERS Southern Lee student arrested after social media post shows handguns, alleged threat A 17-year-old Southern Lee High School student was arrested on Jan. 21 after allegedly sharing what authorities deemed a threat against the school on social media, Lee County Sheriff Tracy Carter has confirmed. The student, whose name has not been made public because he is a juvenile under state law, was charged with communicating a mass threat, Carter told The Rant. A screenshot of the post obtained by The Rant shows two handguns and a variety of messages including “Be safe y’all,” “Don’t come to school tomorrow,” and “Ima let yall know n***** posting this on (Facebook) stay safe bro” among others. Because the screenshot received by The Rant appears to have been reshared multiple times on the social media platform Snapchat, deciphering who wrote what is difficult. The Rant has edited the photo to obscure some offensive language. According to Carter, deputies with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office investigated the situation on Jan. 21 and found no evidence that the student was actually planning to carry out any action against the school or any fellow students. He said his office took the situation seriously regardless. “I hope parents will have conversations with their kids about putting stuff on social media, because if we see something like that, even at 3 in the morning, we’re coming to get you,” Carter said. Carter said deputies didn’t locate any weapons when the 17-year-old was arrested at his home.

Former Wilrik head turns self in Robert Woods suspected of embezzlement of more than $100,000 from hotel Robert William Woods, who was indicted in December on a charge of felony embezzlement by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, turned himself in at the Lee County Courthouse on Jan. 21. The case involves Woods, 46, and his stewardship of the Wilrik Hotel’s governing body, the nonprofit Sanford Affordable Housing Development Corporation. The nonprofit reported to Sanford police in 2017 that someone had taken more than $100,000 from its fund between June 1, 2016 — the same date the Woods-led SAHDC assumed sole ownership of the building following a lengthy and confusing back and forth between the private nonprofit and the federally-funded Sanford Housing Authority — and August of 2017. According to the indictment, Woods “did embezzle and fraudulently and knowingly misapply and convert to his own use … United States currency, belonging to the Sanford Affordable

Housing Development Corporation,” of which he was “the agent, officer, servant and fiduciary.” Public documents show Woods turned himself in around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday with an attorney present. He was initially held without bond pending a hearing, after which bail was set at $300,000 secured. His next court appearance is set for February 17. Prior to serving as a director for the SAHDC, Woods spent time on the board of the Sanford Housing Authority following a nomination by Sanford City Councilman Charles Taylor. He wasn’t reappointed to the board after a 2014 shakeup surrounding an attempt by some of its members to hire a director who had a felony record. Woods has been at the center of local controversy more than once in recent years. 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 sometime prior to early December. It was unclear at the time of the indictment’s issuance whether Woods remained in the area. The North Carolina State Board of Elections at that time showed him registered to vote at a Sanford address, but he had not participated in any elections since 2016. When he turned himself in Tuesday, he listed an address on Brookhaven Drive near the Jonesboro area of Sanford.

The Rant Monthly | 35

Lee County promotes heart month with Red Tablecloth Initiative Courtesy of N.C. Cooperative Extension


Social Media Contest: By simply sharing or commenting on each week’s post you will be entered to win a 1-hour massage through FirstHealth Fitness Sanford. Visit the N.C. Cooperative Extension's Facebook page to learn more.

In North Carolina, one person is hospitalized for heart disease every five minutes. Every hour, there are two deaths related to heart disease, making it the second leading cause of death in our state. February is American heart month, a time of year to bring awareness to heart disease and remind us to take care of our heart. The N.C. Cooperative Extension, Lee County along with LEEding Toward Wellness are promoting heart health by implementing the red tablecloth initiative throughout our community. Anywhere you see a red tablecloth, it symbolizes that foods on this table promote heart health. To celebrate heart month and kick off the Red Tablecloth initiative LEEding Toward Wellness will host both a social media and event contest throughout February:

Event Contest: If you are interested in hosting a Red Tablecloth Event, N.C. Cooperative Extension in Lee County is lending out toolkits. These toolkits include a red tablecloth, signage, handouts, a script to read at the beginning of the event, and a quick survey for those attending. Those that complete a survey at the event will be entered to win an educational extender bundle to help them on their heart health journey. If you are interested in having a red tablecloth at your event contact Alyssa Anderson, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, NC Cooperative Extension, Lee County Center,


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Chad focuses on sales of Auto, Home, Business and Life Insurance. He serves as a Board Member for the Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce and Lee County Parks and Recreation. At home, he enjoys playing music, being outdoors, and spending time with his family.

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Central Carolina chapter of national organization celebrates milestone 25th year


s the Boys & Girls Club of Central Carolina celebrates its 25th year in operation, Daniel Simmons is looking to the

Since coming on board as CEO in 2015, the club has expanded its services from just Lee County into both Chatham and Harnett, merging with the Siler City’s Wren Family Center in 2016 and opening the new Robin Paige Club in Lillington in 2019. The Sanford club operates at its O.T. Sloan Park facility. Between the three facilities, the club serves nearly 500 kids each day.


amir Wright of Siler City was named the 2020 Youth of the Year on Jan. 30 by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Carolina, which serves children in Lee, Chatham and Harnett counties.

Simmons said the recent mergers and expansions are aimed at not just serving a broader community, but also working in concert with the organizations that will serve the area’s children as they move through their education.

The Youth of the Year title is a prestigious honor bestowed upon an exemplary young person in recognition of leadership, service, academic excellence and dedication to live a healthy lifestyle. Now in its 73rd year, the Youth of the Year program honors the nation’s most awe-inspiring young people on their path to great futures and encourages all kids to lead, succeed and inspire. Wright will go on to contend for the North Carolina Youth of the Year title and a $5,000 college scholarship from the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. This year’s North Carolina Youth of the Year will be hosted in Sanford by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Carolina.

“We endeavor to cover the same footprint as Central Carolina Community College,” he said, explaining that while the daily services offered to kids are highly important, the broader picture calls for educational and workforce development opportunities for everyone, and so it’s important to be on the same page as institutions like CCCC.“What I see when I walk into these doors every day is a group of kids who are either going to be productive or aren’t. I want them to know they can be successful, and they don’t need to leave this area to do that.” The organization’s main facility at O.T. Sloan is also experiencing upgrades. Through a partnership with Planet Fitness, Simmons said the club will receive free gym equipment to give kids the opportunity to exercise while at the facility. It’s innovations like this this that Simmons said will keep the club - which has a budget of $1.2 million and operates entirely on private donations - moving forward. Fees for participation, mean

“I am so proud of Jamir and all of our Youth of the Year candidates. They truly represent the best of the Boys & Girls Clubs,” said Daniel Simmons, CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Carolina. Jamir Wright will go on to contend for the North Carolina Youth of the Year title at the state meeting hosted this year in Sanford.

while, are $52 per year for the school year, and $300 for the summer camp - about $1.34 per day, if your child attends yearround. These fees are often waived for folks who just can’t afford them, Simmons said. “You’d be shocked at how many people

come in here and say ‘I just can’t afford it,’” he continued. “What scares me more is people who don’t ask.” For more information on the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Carolina, visit www.

“They are resilient, intelligent, compassionate, and motivated for success. I’m proud of my staff at the Clubs who have helped shape these wonderful young people into who they are today. This is a true reminder that great futures really do start at the Boys & Girls Clubs.” Wright is a member of the organization’s Wren Family Center Boys & Girls Club in Siler City. Through the club, he has found a home away from home, said

The Rant Monthly | 37

he feels empowered to lead by example, and that he has made lasting friendships with his peers. “I know I can always count on the Boys & Girls Club to uplift me,” Wright said. “I could go to the club in the morning and be either upset or frustrated about something but the positive atmosphere at the Wren Family Center would do nothing but put a smile on my face. "The club is an empowering place to be. Staff members always give me advice and tips on life and I have formed some of the closest and tightest bonds with new friends. I know that if I ever need anything, they’ll be there for me. Without the club, these friendships would not have been formed.”

Five regional winners will advance to Washington, D.C. in fall 2020 to compete for the title of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Youth of the Year. The National Youth of the Year will receive an additional scholarship of $25,000, renewable each year up to $100,000. The Youth of the Year recognition program is presented by The Walt Disney Company, which has supported the Boys & Girls Clubs of America for more than 50 years, empowering young people to reach their full potential and providing youth with access to the tools they need to build the great futures they imagine. Toyota is the Signature Sponsor of the National Youth of the Year program.

If Wright wins at the state competition, he will compete for the title of BGCA’s Southeast Region Youth of the Year and an additional $10,000 college scholarship, renewable for four years up to $40,000.

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Services Include: • Maintenance Programs • Custom Home Installations • HVAC Tuneup & Inspections • Troubleshooting & Repair • Service Geothermal Systems We Service All Makes and Models!

P.O. Box 1317 Sanford, N.C. 27331

38 | February 2020


LOCAL MATTERS 'A Grand Affair' to raise money for local foster children The Lee County Kiwanis Club will host “A Grand Affair” to ring in the new roaring twenties and raise money for foster children in Lee County. The 20s themed party — era-appropriate attire required — will be held at the Sanford Elks Lodge 910 Carthage St. on Feb. 29 and feature heavy hors d’oeuvres from Cooper’s Restaurant and Wine Room, and a cash bar. General admission is $55, and VIP sponsorship packages are available, but only 300 tickets will be sold. To purchase tickets, visit In addition to the food and drink, there will be a champagne toast upon guests’ arrival, live music, a DJ, a commemorative professional photo and a photo booth.

Cheer Extreme in Sanford brought home three top spots from the Beast of the East cheerleading competition in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in January. Team Coldfront (pictured) took the top spot in its division and brought home national championship jackets. Team Smoke earned second place in its division, and Team Hail earned a third-place finish. Nearly 300 teams, representing 10 different states, competed in the event.

Truck slams into GOP's downtown headquarters A light pole was taken out and a brick pillar damaged after a truck ran into the Lee County Republican Party’s headquarters in downtown Sanford on the morning of Jan. 11. Witnesses told The Rant the truck struck the building at a relatively low speed, and that no injuries were reported. It’s unclear who was driving the truck, and whether they were cited for any traffic violation.

The Rant to celebrate one year as a publication We're hiding this announcement because we're still working on the details ... but rest assured — The Rant is going to throw a party in Downtown Sanford sometime in April to celebrate one year as a monthly publication, and you're all invited. Details coming March. (Let us know you really read everything)

Pinehurst Surgical Clinic urologist Dr. Greg Griewe received the UroLift Center of Excellence designation, recognizing exemplary care of men suffering from urinary tract symptoms. Urolift is a procedure used to treat prostate issues that limits recovery time, provide successful outcomes and improve patients’ quality of life. Griewe is a board-certified urologist who completed his residency at the world-renowned Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

The Rant Monthly | 39

40 | February 2020


Profile for The Rant

The Rant Monthly | February 2020  

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

The Rant Monthly | February 2020  

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

Profile for rantnc

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