The Rant Monthly | June 2022

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STATE OF EMS SIX MONTHS INTO FIRSTHEALTH'S ROLE AS EMS PROVIDER SHOWS TOUGH TRANSITION


2 | June 2022

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The RantMonthly June 2022 | Sanford, North Carolina A product of LPH Media, LLC Vol. 4 | Issue 6 | No. 39

Editorial Gordon Anderson | gordon@rantnc.com Billy Liggett | billy@rantnc.com Jonathan Owens | jonathan@rantnc.com Richard Sullins | richard@rantnc.com Advertising Brandon Allred | brandon@rantnc.com (919) 605-1479 Editorial Board Bob Odenkirk, David Cross, Jill Talley, Paul F. Tompkins, Brian Posehn, Tom Kenny, John Ennis, Sarah Silverman, Brett Paesel and Karen Kilgariff

Find Us Online: www.rantnc.com Facebook: facebook.com/therant905 Twitter: twitter.com/therant905 Podcast: rantnc.podbean.com

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The Rant Monthly JUNE 2022

SANFORD, NORTH CAROLINA

STATE OF EMS SIX MONTHS INTO FIRSTHEALTH'S ROLE AS EMS PROVIDER SHOWS TOUGH TRANSITION

ABOUT THE COVER When FirstHealth of the Carolinas assumed responsibility for EMS services in Sanford and Lee County, it was big news in a community that hoped for better service and quicker turnaround times than the previous provider, Central Carolina Hospital. But the first half year of service under FirstHealth has not meant quicker turnaround times — this edition of The Rant Monthly looks at the reasons for the bumpy transition. Photo: FirstHealth of the Carolinas

The Rant Monthly is located in beautiful Sanford, North Carolina. Please address all correspondence to LPH Media LLC, 3096 South Horner Boulevard #126, Sanford, NC, 27332. Editorial email: gordon@rantnc.com or billy@rantnc.com. Advertising: brandon@rantnc.com. The Rant Monthly is published monthly (obvs). The Rant Monthly is wholly owned and operated by LPH Media LLC, a North Carolina corporation. Submissions of all kinds are welcome. This publication is free — one per reader, please. Removal of this newspaper from any distribution point for purposes other than reading it constitutes theft, and violators are subject to public flogging and ridicule. Printed by Restoration News Media LLC in Raleigh, NC. Copyright 2021, LPH Media LLC, all rights reserved.

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4 | June 2022

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PAGE FOUR Submitted photo

SPRING'S BOUNTY

SENIOR GRADUATES WITH 13 YEARS OF PERFECT ATTENDANCE Riley McNeill was finishing the eighth grade when he first realized the impressive streak he was on. By then, he had finished nine years of school (kindergarten included) — approximately 1,665 days total — without missing a day. He graduates from Cavalry Education Center in Lemon Springs, a small private school of about 50 students, this month without a single absence. “After the eighth grade, I told myself, ‘You’ve gotten this far, you may as well go all the way,” McNeill says. “I think it’s a pretty good accomplishment — something that might look pretty good on a resume right now.” There were a few close calls along the way. McNeill says he had the flu in the sixth grade and had to leave school early one day. But the biggest close call came just with just a few weeks left in his senior year. He broke his nose and bit a small hole through his tongue while in the backseat of a car that rear ended another car in Sanford in May. The car was totaled, and McNeill’s face hit the seat in front of him pretty hard. “I thought I might have to miss a day when I was in the ER, but my mom asked the doctor if it would be OK if I went to school the next day,” he recalls. “The doctor said, ‘If he wants to, he can.’ So yeah, I was at school the next day.”

Gross Farms in Sanford begins its produce season every year in April by opening the gate to one of the area's largest pick-your-own strawberry patches. The strawberry season typically runs from April to the end of May, and this year's crop was considered "pretty good" this year by owners John and Tina Gross. Read more about Gross Farms and what Jon and Tina have planned for Gross Farms II near Broadway in this edition of The Rant Monthly on Page 26.

FOUR HISTORY'S TERRIBLE FATHERS We celebrate Fathers Day in June, so what better time to look at some of the WORST fathers in world history:

McNeill is going to take a well-deserved break after graduation by taking a gap year to get a little more experience before going to culinary school in Atlanta. He said if perfect attendance taught him anything, it’s that giving up is easy. “Be persistent in what you do, no matter how hard it is,” he says. “Just never give up.” — Billy Liggett

GENGHIS KHAN

JOSEPH STALIN

JOHN ADAMS

DARTH VADER

The ultimate absent father. Slept around so much and had so many kids, 1 in every 200 of us are a descendant. Also, he was responsible for 40 million deaths.

Criticized one son when his suicide attempt failed, saying, 'You can't even shoot straight.' He later refused a swap to free that son from prison during WW2.

Nation's second president expected his four children to be “blessings both to their parents and to mankind.” He publicly chastised them when they fell short.

Tortured his daughter while looking for Death Star plans and cut his son's hand off during a saber fight. Also let the Emporer lightning the hell out of him.


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6 | June 2022

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rantnc.com WAMPUS CAT MUSIC FESTIVAL

FEST ORGANIZERS FILE FOR BANKRUPTCY

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he Wampus Cat Music Festival, originally planned for mid-May and then postponed to early August, has been canceled indefinitely.

Organizer and promoter Indie on Air, which was also behind downtown Sanford’s Carolina Indie Fest and several other music festivals around the nation, announced on May 27 that it was filing for bankruptcy and the upcoming festival was off. There are no plans to reschedule.

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The Rant Monthly MAY 2022

SANFORD, NORTH CAROLINA

Uhm, about our last edition ...

News of the bankruptcy and Wampus Cat cancellation broke as this edition of The Rant Monthly was being assembled, and details — including whether refunds would be available to ticket holders — were not immediately available. Full details will be published at www.rantnc.com as they are made available. Back on May 7, when the initial postponement announcement was made, organizers said the festival — which had scheduled 90-plus bands including big names like Everclear, Thompson Square, Lit and Sister Hazel — was being pushed back because of potential bad weather on the weekend of May 13-15. While periods of rain did come and go over those three days, the storms were not as heavy as originally anticipated.

LOUD AND CLEAR WAMPUS CAT MUSIC FESTIVAL | MAY 13-15

EVERCLEAR HEADLINES 90-PLUS BANDS IN AMBITIOUS THREE-DAY OUTDOOR CONCERT

BAND INTERVIEWS • LINEUPS • TICKET INFO • MORE

The May 2022 edition of The Rant Monthly dedicated 16 pages to the Wampus Cat Music Festival, sharing the story behind its planning and highlighting the 90-plus bands scheduled to play at Gross Farms II in May. Obviously, the concert never happened, and this edition became obsolete very quickly (as well as several podcasts we recorded with some of the musicians). We're as disappointed as everybody, but we'll continue to promote big events and big ideas as long as people keep bringing them to our area.

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8 | June 2022

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THE LEAD HARRINGTON NAMED BIG SOUTH CONFERENCE PITCHER OF THE YEAR Thomas Harrington, a Southern Lee High School graduate and the Big South Freshman of the Year in 2021, was named the conference's Pitcher of the Year for 2022 after turning in another stellar year on the mound as a sophomore. Harrington was dominant in nearly every start this season and ended the regular season as the only pitcher in the nation with 11 wins. Along with the 11-1 record, Harrington ranks in the top-10 nationally for ERA (1.72) and WHIP (0.87). Harrington, whose next start was expected for the Big South Tournament starting on May 26, was just one strikeout away from the program record for strikeouts in a single season, a mark that has stood since 1985. He was named Big South Starting Pitcher of the Week a conference-record five times. In addition to his big honor, Campbell shortstop Zach Neto — who hit .394 with 14 home runs and 43 RBI while leading the Big South in average, OBP (.502), slugging (.776), OPS (1.278), and doubles (19) — was named Player of the Year, only the second player in Big South history to earn that honor two years in a row. And coach Justin Haire was named Big South Coach of the Year for the second consecutive year, and third time during his eight-year tenure.

Photo: Facebook @UndergroundPresents

DOWNTOWN SANFORD | JUNE 5

‘DRAG BRUNCH’ EVENT SUPPORTING LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY FACES BACKLASH By Billy Liggett billy@rantnc.com A “Drag Brunch” and “Drag Dinner” event scheduled for June 5 at Hugger Mugger Brewing, benefiting the LGBTQ+ Resource Center in Sanford and health care assistance for members of the LGBTQ+ community, is facing public protest and calls to cancel from some local pastors. Lindsey Knapp, owner of Sanford Yoga and Community Center in the Jonesboro Heights area and organizer of the drag events, said she and Hugger Mugger owner Tim Emmert were asked by Bruce MacInnes, pastor of Goldston Baptist Church and frequent columnist for The Sanford Herald, to

cancel the event during a meeting MacInnes requested in May. Knapp and Emmert declined to cancel, and MacInnes followed up with a letter published a week later in The Herald saying the event “brings darkness into our city and taints our reputation as a place for wholesome entertainment and family friendly events.” In an interview with The Rant, Knapp called the event anything but “dark.” “We’re doing this to support a community that benefits from the resources we can provide and allows a ‘safe space’ for those who need a place where they can just be themselves,” said Knapp, who is the mother of a transgendered teen. “If we’re promoting anything, it’s inclusion.”

The “first annual” Drag Brunch will begin at noon on June 5 and will feature performers from South Carolina-based Underground Presents, a traveling showcase of entertainers performing live music and burlesque shows while in drag. Demand for brunch tickets was high when the event was announced in April and quickly sold out, causing Knapp to schedule a Drag Dinner for later in the evening (starting at 4 p.m. that same day). The LGBTQ+ Resource Center, based in Knapp’s yoga studio, was launched to provide resources and support for members of the community “to feel seen, heard and appreciated.” In addition to hosting regular social events, the center has begun a “Health Care Scholarship” fund to help pay for hormone


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rantnc.com therapy and other expenses often not covered by typical health insurance plans. Knapp opened Sanford Yoga in 2017 and previously worked as an advocate for victims of sexual violence in the U.S. Army at Fort Bragg (she is also an Army veteran). While there, she assisted transgendered soldiers navigate the mililtary red tape after a 2021 executive order allowed them to serve openly. That experience helped educate and prepare her for when her own child came out recently. The resource center is her way of extending that help to others who don’t have that same support. “She did an awesome job of explaining all of this — basic biology and the misunderstandings people have — to Mr. MacInnes,” said Tim Emmert, owner of Hugger Mugger Brewing, which hosts dozens of events and fundraisers organized by outside groups during a typical year. “Unfortunately, I felt like it fell on deaf ears.” MacInnes, who has not responded to a request from The Rant to comment for this story, has been a longtime vocal opponent of homosexuality and all things associated with LGBTQ+ lifestyles. In his letter to The Herald,

he called Hugger Mugger a business that has been “generally known for hosting concerts and other community enriching events,” but questioned why Emmert (he did not name or address Knapp) would host a drag performance. “I shared with him that inviting drag queens into his business was wrong on three accounts,” MacInnes wrote. “First, it legitimizes the sin of sexual perversion, and the men coming to perform need psychological and spiritual help, not affirmation of their sinful choices. They need help to get out of their confusion, not encouragement to stay in it.” He also said the events cause harm to Hugger Mugger by “promoting lewd behavior and charging people to come and see it.” Finally, he suggested Sanford is not “Sodom and Gomorrah,” two biblical cities destroyed by God for their wickedness. But the letter isn’t his only verbal condemnation on the subject — two previous “Bible Speaks” columns in 2022 have broached the subject, and it’s been brought up regularly for at least the last 15 years. In February, in a column titled “The Sin of Sodom,” MacInnes suggested homosexuality

was a bigger sin than murder and adultery.

types of sin.”

“Sodom was not destroyed because there were murderers, adulterers, liars and idolaters within. They can be found in every place men and women inhabit. It had to be something more to merit such a powerful and total judgment.”

Knapp said in the meeting with MacInnes, she referred to God as “all inclusive,” to which he responded, “God is not inclusive; he is exclusive.”

He went on to call it a “poison that infects whole populations and brings God’s judgment. … What was once kept in a closet for shame is now out loud and proud. Point out what the Bible says about it, and you run the risk of being hated, canceled or worse.” In a January column, he mentioned transgenderism specifically: “The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church that there were sins which, if not intentionally turned away from, would keep a soul from the eternal bliss of heaven. He mentions specifically, not exclusively, the sins of fornication, adultery, homosexuality and being effeminate (transgenderism) as being among those sins.” In that same column, he criticized a Canadian law prohibiting conversion therapy — attempts to change a person's sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression — calling it the only hope those “caught up in these

She told The Rant that language like this worries her, especially when it comes to a community of people who already battle depression and thoughts of suicide more than others. “Eighty-two percent of transgendered people have considered killing themsevles, and about 40 percent of them have attempted it,” Knapp said. “Those are horrifying statistics, and when people like Bruce MacInnes make these public declarations coming out against them and events like this, it only increases that risk. It’s very real and very documented, and as a parent, I want to ensure that my human lives.” Emmert said a different pastor in the community offered to pay Hugger Mugger the venue costs if he canceled the event (to cover potential business losses). Again, Emmert declined. He said he’s received about seven or eight emails from people in the community asking him to reconsider hosting. Emmert said he will hire security for the June 5 event.

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BUSINESS

BRASS KETTLE FORCED TO CLOSE AFTER 37 YEARS AFTER LAND SOLD Sheetz gas station expected to go up at corner of South Horner, Broadway Road By Billy Liggett billy@rantnc.com Brass Kettle Family Restaurant, the popular breakfast/lunch spot that has spanned generations in Sanford, announced it will be closing its doors at the end of July after its owner received a notice that the land it has occupied for 37 years has been sold. Owner Chris Granter, who in 2019 took over the business his grandmother started at 2401 South Horner Boulevard, said he was notified in April by local real estate agency Simpson & Simpson Inc. of the transaction and was given a few months to vacate. The Rant attempted to contact Simpson & Simpson — by email and by leaving a message with an administrative assistant — to ask about the transaction and the notice to Brass Kettle, but did not receive a response. The Sanford/Lee County Zoning & Design Review Department‘s Technical Review Committee met on May 25 and 26 to consider the three parcels of land — equaling nearly two acres — for a new Sheetz gas station. As previously reported on April 22, if the plan comes to fruition, it could become the second Sheetz in Sanford, with one currently in the planning process at the corner of U.S. 1 and Center Church Road. According to Granter, the business received a certified letter from the agency in mid April informing him of the news. He’s spent the last month-plus looking for lease options for local commercial real estate, to no avail, he says. He says the decision to close on July 31 will allow the business to have a few weeks to move out before the official deadline. Asked if he

Brass Kettle Family Restaurant will close at the end of July, according to owner Chris Granter, after the location the restaurant called home for 37 years was sold. That land will reportedly be used for a Sheetz gas station. attempted to work with the agency to buy the building or keep the land, Granter said it was never presented as an option. “Years ago, [Simpson & Simpson] tried to buy my grandmother out of a long-term lease, and she didn’t want to do it, because this was one of the most prime locations in town,” Granter says. “After that, they would never let us renew a long-term lease. So it’s always kind of been up in the air — [losing the building] is a thought I had when I took over three years ago. But then COVID hit, then staff shortages and now inflation, we’ve dealt with so many other nightmares, that I didn’t have time to worry about [the land]. But we've survived.” Brass Kettle has remained a fixture in the ever-evolving southern end of Sanford for 37 years. Several restaurants have come and

gone around it since 1985, and Granter says post-pandemic business has been good this year. “We have people standing outside the door for a long time on weekends,” he says. “Weekdays are hit and miss, but we have a loyal following and tons of regulars.”

the Brass Kettle in the under-developed southern side of Sanford — at the time, it was open 24 hours a day and served dinner as well. Eventually, the Granters dropped dinner and kept the breakfast and lunch menus, enjoying decades of business until 2022.

The news comes after a series of additions, improvements and planned improvements to the aging structure, Granter says. A new logo painted on the storefront, recently purchased grills and plans for roof repairs and new blinds were on the horizon, he says.

Granter is hesitant to call the land sale “unfair,” because he says they always knew that was a possibility. He said Simpson & Simpson have offered to help find a new location, but the current commercial real estate market is hot, and there aren’t any options available currently. The restaurant will close on July 31, but that doesn’t mean it won’t return.

The Granter family got into the restaurant business in the 1960s with a Perkins Pancake House in Mansfield, Ohio. Roland and Lucille Granter moved to Sanford and opened a restaurant at the Palomino Motel in the mid 1980s. Around that time, the family launched

“We’re hoping something works out,” he says. “We’re going to keep looking and keep trying.”


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12 | June 2022 EDITORIAL

EMS TRANSITION NEEDS TIME BEFORE TRUE ASSESSMENT A major factor complicating the discussion around a struggle with turnaround times with regard to emergency medical services in Lee County is a recent switch in the service provider made last year by local government. In the summer of 2021, and after months of debate, the Lee County Board of Commissioners voted 5-2 to award the EMS contract to FirstHealth of the Carolinas. It was a rare bipartisan vote of the board, with two of its Republicans joining all three of its Democrats in favoring the switch. Prior to that vote, Central Carolina Hospital had been the county’s sole EMS provider since the mid 1990s. This isn’t to say one party or the other is at fault for the rise in turnaround times: The most glaring issue at play seems to be a severe shortage of emergency response workers, an issue which also plagued CCH prior to the switch. And with turnaround times beginning to improve as of March, it appears that whatever glitches were responsible for keeping ambulance personnel tied up in emergency rooms and therefore not available for service were being gradually overcome. Change brings challenges. Regardless of whether you have a preference for one provider or another, they’re both likely to play some role in the care you get after calling 911. And regardless of the fact that the organizations compete with each other on a business level, we have no doubt that everyone involved in emergency medical response — from the person who dispatches the ambulance to the person who drives it to the ER doctor who ends up treating a patient — do their jobs professionally and with great care.

The Rant Monthly is published monthly by LPH Media LLC, 3096 South Horner Boulevard in Sanford, North Carolina. The Rant was founded as a weekly radio program in 2008 by Gordon Anderson, Billy Liggett and Jonathan Owens. After their program was unceremoniously banished from the airwaves by a petty local state representative, The Rant regrouped and became a web site specializing in local news in 2014. Today, The Rant Monthly has a circulation of 3,500 printed copies, and our website draws more than 1 million views yearly.

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OPINION COLUMN | BILLY LIGGETT

MASSACRE. RINSE. REPEAT.

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oments after seeing the pictures of children who were shot numerous times while huddled in a corner feeling unimaginative fear that no child should ever experience, I said good-bye to my two children as my wife drove them to their preschool/children’s center. I thought about the fact that you need a password to enter that facility … that as far as those types of places go, it’s secure as it needs to be. From what I understand, though, so was Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. It’s not a very comforting thought. In fact, it all makes you feel completely helpless. I know that feeling will go away with time. As will our sadness … at least those of us who, again, aren’t directly connected to this tragedy. Eventually … far too quickly, perhaps … life will return to normal until the next massacre. Rinse and repeat.

was excited about bringing his Pokemon cards to school the other day to show his friends a rare card that he scored in a pack he bought with his own money. I learned that the students at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde were celebrating a “Footloose and Fancy” day on May 24 to celebrate the last week of school. They were excited to wear fun shoes that day. My youngest told me last night that his second grade class learned Code Red and Code Black drills at school this week. Code Black, he says, “is for when people have a gun.” We’ve failed. Let’s stop failing. Both sides. If you think mental health is the cause of our evils, then fight. Demand our leaders spend every possible dime out there to treat people before they get to this point. Texas’ governor cut mental health funding by $211 million in April and his state ranks 50th in the nation in access to mental health care for its residents.

“We are guilty of minimizing the impact of elementary school massacres. Elementary school massacres. Good God."

I wrote this 10 years ago, a day after 20 children (ages 6 and 7) and six adults were gunned down in Sandy Hook Elementary School. I write this now just one day after 19 children (ages 9 and 10) and two adults were gunned down by a teenager wielding an AR-15 at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

We did forget Sandy Hook. As horrific and evil and unimaginable as it was, we forgot. Life went on. Instead of doing every damned thing possible to prevent it from ever happening again, we argued about masks. We didn’t hold our leaders accountable. Uvalde is our fault. We are guilty of minimizing the impact of elementary school massacres. Elementary school massacres. Good God. Ten years ago, I had two children entering preschool and daycare. Today, I have three — one in middle school and two in elementary school. My middle kid is the same age/grade as the children killed in Uvalde. He

If you think gun control is the answer, then fight. Our country has experienced 3,500-plus mass shootings since Sandy Hook. There’s been only one common denominator in all 3,500 of them (and it’s not doors).

Real change comes when enough of us demand it and refuse to stop until it happens. It happens by holding our elected officials accountable and by making this issue top of mind when voting. Even when it’s not longer in the headlines. Real change comes from those of us who said 10 years ago that we never wanted to see this happen again actually do something about it this time. I'll end this with a quote that I included in the column I wrote after Sandy Hook. Feel free to Google the source. “Can we say that we're truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose? If we're honest without ourselves, the answer is no. And we will have to change.” Email billy@rantnc.com


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rantnc.com READER RESPONSE

________________ ________________

DEFENDING DRAG On May 19, The Rant reported on a “Drag Brunch” event scheduled for June 5 at Hugger Mugger Brewing, with professional performers dressed in drag. The event raised the ire of a few local pastors, most notably Rev. Bruce MacInnes, pastor of Goldston Baptist Church. MacInnes, a frequent columnist for The Sanford Herald who has condemned homosexuality and transgender “lifestyles” in the past, asked organizers for the event to cancel it. The following are responses from readers who used their names in their response: ________________ Kudos to Tim Emmert for declining requests to cancel these events. One’s opinion or religious beliefs does not make one “right.” And those opinions or beliefs cannot be allowed to dictate the behavior of others. There is much research and science that counters the opinions expressed by those requesting cancellation. To that point, the most simple solution is to go to the event if you wish and don’t go if you don’t agree with it. Laurie Conaty ________________ If you don’t like it, don’t go. It’s that simple. I don’t attend MacInnes’ church or agree with the teachings of his church, but I don’t think [his church] should be canceled. Differing viewpoints are what this country is all about. Stay out of my drag brunches and drag dinners, and I will stay out of your church. Sarah Craig ________________ Thanks, Rev. MacInnes, for speaking up. You’ve done your part. If they don’t listen, woe to them. If more of us had spoken up sooner, we may not have been in the situation we’re in now where perversion is embraced and gender confusion is rampant. We’ve tolerated the intolerable for too long. Daniel Dravitt ________________ I’m so proud that Sanford offers events for a diverse citizenry. I love living in a town filled with interesting, vibrant people of all races, sexual orientation and perspectives. Thank you Sanford Yoga and Hugger Mugger for your community spirit. Tana Boerger

We have larger problems in our community than a drag show. If you don’t agree with the venue, then don’t go. There is nothing illegal occuring. However, indulge me for a moment on the religious aspect, please. As a Christian, I enjoy spreading the Word of God. I’m not quite sure what led the pastor to state or suggest that God is “exclusive.” John 6:37 states, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” That sounds quite inclusive to me. As for matters of eternal judgment, Matthew 7:1-3 states “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” We all fall short of the kingdom of God because we are sinners, all of us. I feel that Pastor MacInnes was speaking from his heart, and the venue owners listened. I am grateful that a dialogue took place. If you perceive a sin is occuring, then hate the sin, but love the sinner. Don Ward ________________ OK, a reality check from a conservative. This is a “pay for” event. That means everyone who attends is a paid ticket holder. This isn’t an event that is being forced on anyone. It is not grooming children — in fact, if you read the event specifics, the second show is being held specifically for adults with no children allowed. The children who may or may not be at the first event will be there with their parents who bought tickets, and if they deem it appropriate for their children, that is their decision. Not yours. Hugger Mugger is a private business and has been the venue for many events. This event is not being forced on anyone, period. If you frequent Hugger Muggers and are so offended by their decision to let a business rent their facility for a fundraiser, then don’t go there anymore. The owners know how to run their business and make decisions based on what they think is best for their company. Let not your hearts be troubled. D. Roberts

If Bruce MacInnes is right and Heaven exists, he's doing a damn good job of making sure that he never sees it. People like him are the reason people leave church and never come back. Curtis Armstead ________________ Never once in the article did it say it was a requirement to attend. Don't agree or like? Don't go, and just keep your mouth shut about it. I'm very happy to have read that Tim Emmert plans on hiring security for the event. It's sad that it has to even be a thought, but with how some people are reacting to the event, it's a very good idea. Lauren Manis ________________ Color me rainbow, I never thought in my whole life my home town would welcome a Drag Bunch. Drag has been family theater for over 100 years in Europe (and gasp, Russia). Shake, shimmy, werk! David Cagle ________________ It would have been amazing to have events like this when I was a teenager in Sanford. I hope Mr. MacInnes’ attention ensures an even larger crowd. Also, I’m legitimately curious what he thinks a drag show is. People so vociferously opposed to drag shows seem to 1) have never been to a show and 2) be oddly focused on making it sexual. Seems like a personal issue? Jen Hogg ________________ Tim Emmert and Lindsey Knapp are doing more for the community with this event — and the inclusion they are providing — than all of the naysayers and shame dealers are doing by trying to shut it down. I won't be able to attend, but I'm excited to support their efforts in any way I can for this night and future events. Jennifer Hogan ________________ This event is disgraceful. Ricky Chappell ________________ For someone who hates drag, MacInnes is sure clutching his pearls. Allisa Mac

SKATE ON In the May edition of The Rant Monthly, Billy Liggett wrote about his experience taking his children to the skate park near downtown Apex and suggested — with the upcoming growth and addition of a new sports complex — that a similar park would be a great addition to Sanford in the coming years. Most readers seemed to agree: ________________ As we continue to grow, new opportunities for kids would be great, including a skate park. The City of Sanford has looked at a skate park a few different times over the years, and in at least one example a few years ago, made it quite far along as I recall. At one point, I believe a skate park location was discussed for the vacant block bounded by Market, Maple, South 2nd and Hickory, which is currently an open concrete slab. With all of the growth and investment in Sanford, perhaps this is indeed a good time to revisit a skate park for Sanford. Al Roethlisberger ________________ Do we really want our kids pulling 180 Ollie to switch Smiths or ripping backside Bennihanas while blasting JFA and Big Boys cassettes on an old boom box? Because that's what will happen, people. Justin Bridwell ________________ I’ve been trying to get a skate park built here for years, and so has my brother and friends before me. Skateboarding helped me form lifelong friendships and kept me from getting involved with drugs. It has also given me a different perspective and a hard work ethic that I’ve applied to other things, even to this day. Zach Large ________________ There aren't enough skate parks in central North Carolina. Everyone from Fuquay-Varina to Holly Springs to Sanford goes to the park in Apex, which makes it really overcrowded. My son has gotten discouraged from the lack of support for skaters and he has made the switch to playing high school football. It's sad that there were not enough options out there for him to be able to pursue his favorite sport. Jessica Thomas


14 | June 2022

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IN OCTOBER, FIRST HEALTH OF THE CAROLINAS TOOK OVER EMS SERVICES IN LEE COUNTY, REPLACED CENTRAL CAROLINA HOSPITAL'S FLEET.


The Rant Monthly | 15

rantnc.com

COVER STORY

EMS REVIEW It hasn't been the smoothest of transitions since FirstHealth of the Carolinas took over EMS services in Lee County, with turnaround times getting worse since the hand-off in October. Many factors are to blame, but there is optimism. By Richard Sullins

W

hen an ambulance unit picks up a patient in Lee County and transports that patient to Central Carolina Hospital, there is a period of time between the arrival of the ambulance and the acceptance by CCH of the patient for their care known as the “turnaround time.” It’s essential for a county of 63,000 that its four ambulances hand off their patients as quickly as possible to keep those units in-service for other emergencies as they occur. Those hand offs don’t always happen so quickly, though. Congestion in the ER can result in longer turnover times, which in turn reduces the availability of ambulances and increases response times to other emergencies. With Lee County’s rapid expansion, its Board of Commissioners has been paying extra attention in recent months to the performance metrics contained within the franchise agreement it awarded to FirstHealth of the Carolinas last summer for emergency

medical services within the county. Those turnaround times have been going up steadily since last October, causing a rising level of concern within some quarters in the county as to what is behind the increasing wait times that, in some cases, can take up to two hours or even longer. There’s no one answer for what’s causing the delays in handing off patients. But Lee County commissioners were told in April that since FirstHealth assumed responsibility for the county’s EMS last October, the average turnaround times they reported at CCH steadily increased, at least through March.

“We're optimistic they're working together to figure it out.” — Lee County Manager John Crumpton, on the working relationship between Central Carolina Hospital and FirstHealth of the Carolinas.


16 | December 2021

@therant905 Many factors are to blame. “Our hospital’s capacity, including in our emergency department and inpatient units, was affected during that period with the peak COVID surge happening in January, early February,” said Kara Umphlett, CCH’s coordinator of marketing and communications. “Combined with the increase in hospitalizations due to COVID-19 at that time, Central Carolina Hospital — like many hospitals and health care systems nationwide — continues to face staffing challenges, which directly affects our hospital’s bed capacity and other operational measures.”

FIRSTHEALTH VEHICLE UPGRADES Two new ambulances are in service with FirstHealth Lee EMS as of early May, according to FirstHealth of the Carolinas. The upgraded ambulances replace two older models that were part of the Lee EMS fleet. The two new ambulances are larger to allow the crew more space to stand and maneuver, and provide more storage for critical medical supplies and equipment. The new ambulances also include stretcher power loaders, an automated

feature that allows EMS staff to load a patient safely and efficiently into the ambulance in a matter of seconds at the push of a button. “FirstHealth Lee EMS is committed to providing the highest quality experience for our patients,” said FirstHealth Lee EMS Director Tim Simmons. “The upgraded ambulances equipped with the new electronic loading system are an example of our commitment to delivering the safest care.”

get the EMS crew back on the road within the standards set by the North Carolina College of Emergency Physicians (30 minutes/90 percent of the time). If EMS receives a call while in our ED and need to respond immediately, our team works to pull available resources from another department to expedite the hand off.” For Crumpton, the decrease of the turnaround times which began in March is evidence of CCH and FirstHealth working together in the face of adverse circumstances. “We’re optimistic they’re working together to figure it out,” he said. “It’s in both of their best interest, because there’s a healthcare employee shortage that starts with (ER) doctors and nurses and goes all the way down to EMS. It’s not unique to Lee County. CCH was having similar issues with staffing before the change.”

In a quarterly report to the Board of Commissioners presented by County Manager Dr. John Crumpton, FirstHealth reported just after assuming responsibility for the contract the average turnaround time experienced by patients last October was 21 minutes and 50 seconds. Crumpton said the employee shortage isn’t In November, the just limited to EMS. average time increased “I don’t think While turnaround time has to 22 minutes, but people really underDecember saw anothgotten worse, FirstHealth's stand the shortage er increase of more response time has improved. In we’ve got with regard than 10 minutes to an March, response times averto all emergency average turnaround aged 8 minutes and 36 secresponse workers,” time of 33 minutes onds, better than the 8/59 goal he said. “There was a and 13 seconds. FirstHealth set in place. time when 25 or 26 By the time the people were graduatnew year started, it ing from the (basic law was taking an average enforcement training) program twice a year. of 34 minutes and 8 seconds to hand off Now it’s a luxury to have five or six graduates in patients from EMS units to the hospital, and a year. So we’re all in the same boat, and I think that increased even further in February to 38 everybody should be trying to help each other minutes and 31 seconds. In the five months because it’s not something that’s going to fix since FirstHealth had assumed the contract, the itself easily.” average turnaround time had nearly doubled. The quarterly report also contained another The number dropped, however, in March, important metric. when patients were being handed off from For those in need of help during an emergenEMS units to the hospital in an average of 27 cy, seconds can seem like minutes and minutes minutes flat. Still, EMS units were having to can seem like hours, so the amount of time wait more than 20 minutes in the ER before necessary to get help can often be critical. they were cleared to leave and that prevented them from being able to respond to other 911 FirstHealth’s response time goal for the first calls that may have come in while they were year of the contract is to have a crew on the waiting. scene of each call received within an average of 8 minutes and 59 seconds from the time the FirstHealth declined to comment on the iscall was placed. During the contract’s first quarsue of increasing turnaround times, but CCH’s ter from October through December, response Umphlett told The Rant Monthly through its times averaged 8 minutes and 21 seconds. Firstspokesperson, “our team is acutely aware of the Health did not provide information for January vital role that EMS plays to our hospital and and February, but March average response community, and our goal is not to tie up EMS times were only slightly higher, at 8 minutes at all. We would like for them to be able to and 36 seconds, with 59 percent of all calls bed the patient, give their report and complete received being reached within their benchmark a thorough hand off of the patient’s clinical goal of less than nine minutes. care, so they are available for their next call. This helps us start our care process timely and


The Rant Monthly | 17

rantnc.com Call volume remains higher than anticipated When FirstHealth submitted its proposal for EMS services for the county in May of last year, it predicted that it would respond to an estimated 6,190 calls during its first year of service. From Jan. 1 through March 31 of this year, FirstHealth ambulances were dispatched to respond to 2,378 calls, keeping Lee among the busiest counties within its network. Combining those results with the 2,227 calls received from October to December and annualizing them projects a 12 month forecast of 9,210 calls through September 30 of this year. That's 49 percent more than FirstHealth had anticipated serving. Many of those calls were related to COVID but an even bigger factor was also at play. The emergency room remains a source of primary health care among the working poor, those on Medicaid and welfare programs, and increasingly among the elderly. For many of these people, and especially for those without reliable transportation, a visit to the emergency room by way of an ambulance is their access point to primary care.

Tim Simmons, FirstHealth EMS Director for Lee County, told Lee County commissioners in January that he believes 70 to 80 percent of those 4,600 calls were not emergencies that required an ambulance transport but could have instead been carried out by patients or families making use of privately-operated vehicles. Studies done nationwide over the past 25 years support the conclusion that inappropriate ambulance use ranges from 12 percent to 52 percent, and that's much lower than what is being seen in Lee County.

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Of the 2,378 calls received during the first three months of this year, 776 — almost a third — could be classified as “emergent” responses of critical care or trauma where situations can arise suddenly and unexpectedly, requiring quick judgment and prompt action. During the public hearings in August, several people expressed concerns that the majority of calls in Lee County would result in high numbers of transports to facilities outside the county, but that has not been the case since the contract began. Only 122 calls made within the County during the first three months of this year resulted in transport outside of it, about 5 percent of the total.

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Out-of-county transfers can be made for several reasons, including medical necessity or protocol, patient or family choice, physician-directed, local hospital on full diversion, an out-of-county facility was the closest facility, and the necessity for air transport.

be filled. Only five more applicants were said to be in the pipeline at that time.

Staffing and response times

Simmons expressed optimism despite the numbers, saying “I'm going out on a limb to say that we will have all our staffing issues taken care of within 90 days.”

The report to the commissioners did not contain information on staffing, but information provided by FirstHealth to The Rant Monthly shows that halfway through the first year of the contract, it has still not filled all of the 36 full-time positions it projected. As of April 27, only 25 full-time positions had been filled and FirstHealth is making use of 12 part-time employees to fill the gap. Those part-time staff members can work between 24 to 120 hours per month. When FirstHealth assumed the contract on Oct. 1, it had only 10 full-time equivalent positions for a staff having openings for 36. By Jan. 12, the number of full-time hires had increased to 19 — slightly over half of the number that were available to

This circumstance has become an ongoing concern. Republican Commissioner Bill Carver asked at the January meeting, “even if we had a fifth ambulance, could we staff it?”

Three months later, 11 of the 36 fulltime positions were still unfilled, although FirstHealth said in a statement to The Rant Monthly that it “continue(s) to actively recruit for full-time staff.” By the end of April, staffing shortages continued to plague the FirstHealth EMS Service. A report presented to the commissioners shows that full staffing (2 persons) was not available for at least one ambulance for 8 of the 30 days during the month due to staff shortages or COVID positive personnel. The contract that began in October also requires FirstHealth to station a minimum


The Rant Monthly | 19

rantnc.com of four ambulances and Advanced Life Support crews to decrease response times. Two crews were to be located at FirstHealth’s base on Central Drive in Sanford, with one other each sited at Northview Fire Station and Carolina Trace. In their review with the commissioners in January, FirstHealth reported having only three trucks available and staffed 24 hours a day. As of Feb. 1, that number has now increased to four trucks available staffed by crews around the clock. Earlier this year, Democratic County Commissioner Cameron Sharpe asked whether the four trucks in the contract were enough to meet the county's needs. Simmons believed a fifth truck will be necessary in the downtown area when the Northview fire station opens “because most of our calls are coming from downtown.”

Having vehicles available when emergencies arise is critical in a county with 63,000 residents, and Sharpe asked Simmons about a situation last winter when all available trucks were in use and an emergency arose that resulted in a wait of 42 minutes before help arrived. Simmons said a confluence of circumstances had occurred with some trucks out on other calls and maintenance issues on another that made it inoperable. That incident resulted in a good outcome, but it serves as an illustration of the importance of having every vehicle operational and manned. Who's to blame? The argument goes on in an April 26 letter sent to Santiago Giraldo, development services director for the county, by G. Barry Britt, chief and administrative director of the FirstHealth Regional EMS System.

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Britt said two situations that were not the fault of FirstHealth EMS were “adversely affect(ing) our dispatch-to-on-scene performance metric.” In other words, these circumstances were making their numbers look bad. First, Britt said, “The Sanford (Police Department) dispatches 911 calls to one of three Lee County districts, not to the closest available FirstHealth ambulance. If an ambulance stationed in that district is not available at the time of dispatch, FirstHealth personnel must identify and then reassign the call to the closest available ambulance.” Britt said the time required to identify the next closest ambulance and reassign the incoming call to that unit hurt their performance numbers. Britt also raised the issue of turnarounds in the CCH Emergency Department, saying that in the case of 177 dispatches received from January 1 through March 31, calls had to be rerouted to other ambulance units because other crews were either involved in patient hand offs in the emergency department or were holding or caring for a patient in an ambulance “due to ED overcrowding.”

Training program for fire departments begins The Rant Monthly also obtained information from FirstHealth about their plan to offer tiered training at county fire departments, offering members the opportunity to receive training in emergency medical response from basic first aid through more advanced levels. A pool of trained first responders can be an important part of the county's emergency response network. Since fire departments are generally located more closely to scenes where emergency situations develop, they can typically arrive quicker and deliver the types of assistance that could be lifesaving in many instances. In addition to basic first aid, the initial level of training will include trauma first responder training, stop the bleeding and use of tourniquets, and “pit crew CPR,” where responders initiate chest compressions as soon as they identify a patient in cardiac arrest. A second tier of training will center on airway insertion (for EMTs only) and a third level will include intramuscular epinephrine (also for EMTs only) and Narcan administration. The first of two training programs has been conducted at the Northview, Deep River, Northwest Pocket, and Tramway fire departments, and planning is underway to schedule training soon at the Carolina Trace fire department.

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The Rant Monthly | 21

rantnc.com

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22 | June 2022

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WEST SANFORD

Flooding fears become reality for homes near subdivision construction site Quick, strong storm on May 14 led to previously unseen flooding for homes in Westlake Downs community, neighboring new Glen at Cool Springs construction By Billy Liggett billy@rantnc.com When residents of the Westlake Downs community in west Sanford first voiced their opposition in November 2020 over plans for a neighboring community of 131 homes on just 51 acres, their biggest concern was the “high density” nature of the designs — the Glen at Cool Springs, they said, was “out of character” — built cheaper and more stacked together compared to their existing homes. Further down the list of complaints were drainage and flooding concerns and a perceived disregard to environmental studies on stormwater management. Fifteen months after the Sanford City Council approved construction of the community despite resident objections and a unanimous vote by the Sanford Planning Commission recommending they reject the plans, residents along the north side of Wellington Drive have launched an investigation into the cause of recent severe flooding at multiple homes and a neighborhood playground along the construction site. Heavy rainfall that lasted approximately one hour on May 14 led to waist-high flooding in James and Pamela McCarthy’s backyard, and had they not risked injury that day to remove sticks and other debris from an adjoining drainage pipe, things could have been worse, they say. The McCarthys are adamant the flooding was a result of land grading and the clearing of

51 acres worth of trees behind their home, and as of this writing, they have not been in contact with contractors or the landowners. “There’s a lot of growth going on in Sanford, and we understand that and our concerns at the beginning of all of

A photo submitted by Wellington Drive resident James McCarthy shows extensive flooding behind his home after a heavy storm on May 14 that lasted approximately one hour. McCarthy and neighbors contend the flooding is a result of the clearing of land nearby to make way for the Glen at Cool Springs subdivision.


The Rant Monthly | 23

rantnc.com this were represented quite eloquently,” McCarthy said. “So we’re not against the growth, but if you’re going to do the work back here, how about you make sure that the planning is all properly handled? Make sure this type of situation does get to this point in the first place. That’s really our issue at this point.” The Glen at Cool Springs is one of several new subdivisions either in the early construction or planning phases in what’s becoming a “population boom” unseen in Sanford in decades. In all, there are roughly 6,000 single-family home lots either being built or under some level of review locally. On Jan. 19, 2021, the Sanford City Council annexed 53 acres of land off Cool Springs Road between Westlake Downs and Southern Road for the Glen at Cool Springs after a zoning request was submitted by developer Dan Koeller of North Carolina-based Atlantic Coast Land Development. The north end of the subdivision will run alongside Southern Road, which features a handful of homes, each situated on several acres of land. The southern end

James McCarthy (right) and his wife Pamela talk with Westlake Downs residents Tom Wilder and Derek Borrell on their back deck, a week after their backyard experienced severe flooding after a May 14 storm. The group claims the flooding is the result of poor drainage management at the construction site of the nearby Glen at Cool Springs subdivision.

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@therant905 of the Glen will run parallel to Westlake Downs, whose homes currently run anywhere between $400,000 and $800,000, according to current market estimates. The first community meeting on the proposed annexation and zoning was held on Nov. 19, 2020, with 26 people in attendance to voice their opposition. Among their concerns: increased traffic for those “cutting through” Westlake Downs and the adjoining Brownstone subdivision, the possible decrease in surrounding property values, the perceived lack of cohesive design with surrounding communities, the absence of a buffer between the properties and whether or not existing sewage lines could handle an additional 131 new homes, and finally, draining/flooding issues that could be created or made worse by the development.

The view from the McCarthys' backyard on Wellington Drive. What used to be thick forest is now 51 acres of cleared land for the Glen at Cool Springs subdivision. Runoff from the land exceeded their creek bed after a May 14 storm.

Despite objections — citing the aforementioned concerns — by the Sanford Planning Board, made up of citizens appointed by the city council, the city voted 5-2 to approve the plans, calling them “reasonable and in the public interest” as a “large-scale single-family development that

is walkable with a high degree of transportation between neighborhoods.”

the 1980s, so it clearly needs to be updated or rebuilt and addressed.”

In a May 20 letter to the Westlake Downs Homeowners Association, McCarthy officially called on the HOA to investigate the flooding behind his and his neighbors’ homes, as well as the vacant lot west of his and the adjoining playground on Wellington Drive. In the letter, McCarthy described the hour of panic as he and his family worked to prevent the water from reaching his back door (a rock-lined creek bed runs across his backyard, under a small footbridge).

McCarthy asked the HOA to provide recommendations to the state environmental office to “rectify the situation.”

“The main culvert/storm drain next to our property became completely blocked with a large log, broken branches and other loose debris from the site causing overflow and flooding,” McCarthy wrote. “At the risk of our own lives, we (three family members and I) had to go out and try to remove the blockage in rushing waist-deep water as there wasn’t time to call for help from the city. … The area behind our homes was not designed to handle that much runoff. The current drainage was approved and put in place all the way back in

Tom Wilder, a longtime Westlake Downs resident who led the original petition calling for changes in the subdivisions plans in 2020 and 2021, said the May 14 storm gave the residents a sense of urgency regarding the need for immediate flood controls until permanent stormwater controls are put in place. “Since their controls are complex — with three environmental holding ponds to be built, pipe and drain installation and extensive use of retaining walls — that might take quite a while to complete,” Wilder told The Rant. “Right now, we are concerned about all rain events while no protective measures are in place.” Wilder called current conditions — stripped land, downed trees and no protective measures in place — a “worst case scenario” for extreme flooding. Derek Borrell, McCarthy’s neighbor to


The Rant Monthly | 25

rantnc.com the east, also saw worse-than-usual flooding in his backyard on May 14 (though nothing that approached his home). He noted that the color of the runoff — a light brown — was the color of the exposed soil at the new subdivision site. He said in his 12-plus years as a Westlake Downs homeowner, he’s never seen flooding like May 14 — again, from a strong storm that barely lasted an hour. “The last time we had anything even close was Hurricane Matthew,” he said, and that was a slow-moving storm that dumped more than seven inches of rain in Lee County over several hours. The Rant reached out to Taylor Morrison Homes, Iron Horse Contractors and Eco Turf Inc., as well as Koeller and Atlantic Coach Land Development for comment for this story, and only Taylor Morrison responded with a statement: “Taylor Morrison is developing Glen at Cool Springs in general conformance with approved Construction Drawing plans,” the statement read. “We have made land development personnel available to address questions and concerns from neighboring

property owners and have not heard of any recent flooding concerns from them. We remain committed to being a respectful neighbor to Westlake Downs.” McCarthy said all he’s asking for from the builders and contractors is full transparency. In addition to the flooding problem, Westlake residents have endured several “dynamite blasts” on the land that have shaken their foundations. On May 24, smoke from burning trees made its way to several homes, causing another nuisance. Wilder and McCarthy reiterated that the community has accepted the subdivision is happening and there’s no stopping its progress. But he, too, is asking for transparency and giving a warning to other communities certain to see new nearby construction in the coming months and years. “Progress is progress, but they need to take their neighbors into consideration, update their plans accordingly and fix these problems,” McCarthy said. “That’s all you can ask at this point.”

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John and Tina Gross in their popular strawberry patch at Gross Farms in Sanford. Photo by Billy Liggett

Cancellation of Wampus Cat Fest won't deter Gross Farms from coupling agriculture and entertainment on their farmland(s).

@therant905

AGRICULTURE

MORE THAN A FARM Gordon Anderson gordon@rantnc.com

While the Wampus Cat Music Festival might be off, the venue that was slated to host the three day event is still very much here. Gross Farms has two sites in Lee and Harnett counties — their main facility on Pickett Road off N.C. 87 south of Carolina Trace, and Gross Farms II, a nearly 200acre pasture near Seminole which was until recently slated to be the venue for Wampus Cat. While owners John and Tina Gross

had partnered with organizer Indie on Air as the event's venue, they weren't a part of the decision to postpone and ultimately cancel the event. The cancellation does shine a light, though, on what's called “agri-tourism,” something many farms both regionally and across the country have turned to as a way of diversifying income as agriculture has changed over the years. Gross Farms has been at the tip of that spear for a long time. Long before the Grosses ever considered being the venue for something like a multi-day music festival,

they'd made their working farm open to the public in many ways over the last two decades-plus — a strawberry patch that's open to the public during the spring, a 10-acre corn maze in the fall, a sunflower patch, a produce market, hayrides, a pumpkin patch, and much, much more. “Costs have skyrocketed,” explained Tina. “I think many farmers want to diversify. You have to think outside the box and figure out how to generate revenue in different ways.” The Grosses were able to obtain the Gross Farms II property — which had been in the family for generations – from some distant


rantnc.com

The Rant Monthly | 27

relatives of John's about six years ago. They've grown soy there, and it's also been used for tobacco, but that “think outside the box” mentality led the Grosses to begin viewing it as something more. “It will always be a working farm,” said Tina. “But we thought it could be cool to have a music festival of some kind out there. Nothing permanent.” Indie on Air came into the picture about three years ago and helped validate what John and Tina believed about the property. And while Wampus Cat specifically is no longer in the cards, the Grosses still see the same potential for the property. “Ideally I would like to see a smaller, one stage type of event a couple of times a year,” Tina continued. “We're doing some research into things people in the community will enjoy and we hope we can still make (Gross Farms II) into a place where people can come to see music.” In the meantime, the Gross Farms facility on Pickett Road will continue to offer all kinds of family fun throughout the year. For more information, visit grossfarms.com or facebook.com/grossfarmsnc.

Workers pick and bundle fresh strawberries at Gross Farms in Sanford in May. John and Tina Gross are working to make their farmland in Lee and Harnett counties both agriculture and entertainment attractions. Photo by Billy Liggett


28 | June 2022

@therant905 LEE COUNTY GOVERNMENT

'THE ANSWER IS NO' — COMMISSIONERS UNLIKELY TO FUND TEACHER SUPPLEMENTS By Richard Sullins richard@rantnc.com

CCCC TRUCK DRIVING PROGRAM RECEIVES $500K FOR TRAINING

As a critical moment came in the budget development process for the 2022-23 fiscal year, it became clear that teachers and staff in Lee County will not get an increase in their local supplements in the coming school year from their county commissioners.

The Golden LEAF Board of Directors has awarded Central Carolina Community College $498,924.36 for training equipment for a regional truck driving and logistics program providing commercial truck driver and short-term logistics courses.

The commissioners on May 23 had been working for the past month to assemble a revenue and spending plan for the coming year that will keep the county’s growth on the upward trajectory that began almost two years ago when growth at the Central Carolina Enterprise Park triggered increases in property and sales tax revenue that filled the county’s coffers to levels never seen before.

This award is part of a collaborative effort by Central Carolina, Sandhills, and Randolph community colleges, which will be using a scaled shared-resources model to incentivize collaboration. This project will serve Chatham, Harnett, Hoke, Lee, Moore and Randolph counties. "This is a unique opportunity for three community colleges to work together to ensure that high quality, in-demand training is available across a wide region of central North Carolina," said Margaret Roberton, CCCC Vice President for Workforce Development. "Truck drivers are in high demand in North Carolina and the country and quality truck driver training is an expensive program to operate." The truck driver training program provides instruction in both theory and practical — hands-on behind-the-wheel operation of tractor-trailers preparing students to safely operate tractor-trailer vehicles on the road to and from pickup and delivery points. Emphasis is placed on defensive driving, federal motor carrier safety regulations, trip planning, cargo handling, vehicle systems, hours of service and accident prevention. Upon completion, students should be able to demonstrate the skills required for the commercial driver's license and employment. — CCCC.edu

The board used most of those gains last year to cut the county property tax rate by one and a half cents per $100 of property valuation, and though there was unanimous agreement this past January that another round of tax cuts should be a goal again this year, its three Democratic members lacked a single Republican vote necessary to support increasing the local supplement from county funds. Commissioners held a joint meeting with members of the Board of Education on May 23 to hear their request, and Lee County Schools Superintendent Dr. Andy Bryan made it clear at the outset that the school board’s highest priority next year was to provide an increase for its teachers and staff. Noting the commissioners had been generous with the Lee County Schools district over the years, Bryan said “to continue to be competitive with districts to the north that are offering anywhere from 18 to 24 percent supplements that they fund from local dollars, our first priority is to provide an increase that makes the supplements that we can offer to seem more competitive to teachers who are considering teaching in our schools. We want to be able to offer our students the best educators that we can offer both inside and outside the classroom.” Democratic Commissioner Cameron

Sharpe asked Bryan whether all four Democrats and three Republicans on the school board had supported the request for the increase, and Bryan indicated it had been adopted by a unanimous vote. Sharpe then chose to seek an answer from a fellow commissioner, Republican Bill Carver, on whether he supported the increases. Carver serves as the liaison from the commissioners to the school board and attends their meetings to keep his members apprised of any issues raised there. “Last year, I was a proponent of the increase, and I am again this year. But like always, I don’t know how that’s going to turn out,” Sharpe said. “Let me ask (Carver) what he thinks. Do you support the supplement increase?” “I will tell you that the answer is no,” Carver replied. “I think we need a clear idea of how we are measuring improvement.” That exchange effectively killed any hopes the Democrats might have had to pick up the one vote they need to use county funds for an increase in supplements this year. Republican Chairman Kirk Smith said last spring he didn’t support an increase in the supplement because of what he termed the “mediocre performance” of the county’s schools. Republicans Andre Knecht and Arianna Lavallee have not supported the issue in the past and do not appear to have changed their positions over the past 12 months. Bryan explained that the average raise provided to teachers during the current year was 5 percent. Teachers had last seen a significant raise from the state legislature in 2008, and those salary increases are paid from state dollars because funding for teachers comes from Raleigh. The school board had to move money around last fall to cover identical raises for non-state paid employees, such as custodians, bus drivers, and cafeteria workers. Because the county did not fund an increase in the supplements last summer, Lee County Schools was able to use funding from federal ESSER (Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief) funds that will run out in September 2024. Permanent raises

would run out then. “What we are providing this year are retention bonuses, or one-time supplements,” Bryan said. However, Crumpton said, as The Rant reported earlier this month, “eventually, those dollars will run out in 2024 and that expense could come to us.” The issue is more critical, though, for keeping up with raises that were granted by the state to county teachers. “As they are giving raises to locally paid employees to keep pace with what the teachers are getting, that cost will eventually come to the county,” Crumpton said. “The school board didn’t ask for those increases. They just have to come to us and ask for funds to keep treating locally paid employees just as fairly. We just have to keep an eye on it for the next couple of years. It’s like compounding. It may not be that big of a number now, but it gets bigger as years go by with cost-of-living increases.” Middle school facilities discussed The school board is also requesting $1,347,500 for its capital outlay budget to pay for the costs of renovations, repairs, and maintenance. Two items not being requested through the budget process for the coming year are significant improvements to the gymnasiums at the East and West Lee middle schools. Crumpton told the commissioners that because of the large dollar amount involved for those projects, he will be recommending they be considered for funding through the bonding process at a future point. “(The gyms) are getting old – both were constructed in 1978. The gyms need more seating at both locations. The bleachers are wooden and are not cleanable. The three-point line is located almost at the out of bounds markers because they are not full-sized courts,” he said. “The vision that we have in mind would give each of them a full-sized court with new locker rooms and two new classrooms that could be used for physical education purposes.”


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rantnc.com What happens next School board Chair Sandra Bowen, a Republican, doesn’t begrudge those Lee County teachers who give up their teaching positions in Sanford and Broadway to work instead in other counties. In fact, she said she totally gets it. “Our county ranks 17th on the list of 116 school districts in the state in terms of the local supplements that are paid,” she said. Last year, Lee County was 14th on that list. “Those ahead of us in the supplements they pay to teachers are also those that are to the north of us,” she continued. “It’s simply a geography thing. If I can drive 20 minutes up the road and have $8,000 more in my pocket than what I was getting at home in Lee County, I totally understand why they do it.” According to the North Carolina Department of Commerce, Lee County Schools is second only to Caterpillar as being the largest employer in the county. According to DOC’s data, the district employs more than 1,000 persons, so any decision made by the commissioners in the coming weeks will impact a lot of families.

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After the Board of Commissioners’ Republican majority voted last June not to fund the increases in the local supplements, Bryan and his finance office began work on a plan to come up with the funds from another source. They found the necessary dollars contained inside the school board’s allocation of federal ESSER funds and over a series of three meetings, the school board was able to allocate a portion of those resources to cover a bonus. All full-time teachers and classified staff who were employed as of November 15 received a $2,000 bonus. All permanent part-time employees, again both certified and classified, who worked less than six hours per day and who were employed at of November 15 also received a prorated bonus.

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The Board of Commissioners now has just under 40 days to make a decision on funding supplement increases for teachers and staff. At their next scheduled meeting on June 6, commissioners will hear the proposed allocation of funding and tax rate from Crumpton, and they are expected to take final action to adopt the budget resolution on June 20. According to state law, all counties are required to adopt their budgets before June 30.

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30 | June 2022

GOP CHAIR ASKS AGAIN FOR ACCESS TO VOTING MACHINES; FOLLOWS CAR CARRYING BALLOTS

@therant905

ELECTION

As the 2022 primary season came to a close in Lee County, Jim Womack – chairman of the local GOP – was at the center of a finish that further raised eyebrows among political observers. Womack appeared at one of Lee County’s two early voting sites at the end of early voting on May 14, after earlier in the day leaving a message for the county’s chief elections officer about “imaging” the results from the voting machine used there. He also followed, in his personal vehicle, the car carrying the ballot box to the Board of Elections and walked behind it as it was carried inside. Lee County Elections Director Jane Rae Fawcett said she received a call earlier that day from someone claiming to represent the National Council on Election Integrity. This individual suggested that there was some confusion in Lee County about the “tapes,” or tabulation summaries, that are run after the polls are closed to determine vote totals for individual candidates. Fawcett told the caller “there is no confusion in Lee County, that there are no tapes run at the end of One Stop Voting. They are neither run nor tallied until after the polls are closed on Election Day. The machines are shut down and are stored under lock and key in rooms that are monitored constantly by surveillance cameras until the day of the election when the board counts the absentee ballots.” Womack told The Rant, “There is no ‘National Council on Election Integrity'” (although one does, in fact, exist as part of a bipartisan group of 37 government and civic leaders created by the nonprofit group “Issue One”. Womack is president of another group with a similar name, the North Carolina Election Integrity Team. When asked whether it was odd for a party chairman to follow a locked ballot box by automobile back to the Board of Elections office, Fawcett said, “Yes, it was. Very odd. Very strange.” — Richard Sullins | Full story at rantnc.com

Mark Akinosho, left, currently holds a one-vote lead over Ken Britton with all votes accounted for in the Democratic primary race for Sanford City Council Ward 1. The final tally will be announced on June 1 after a recount.

ABSENTEE BALLOTS PUSH AKINOSHO TO ONE-VOTE WIN FOR CITY COUNCIL The Lee County Board of Elections tabulated four absentee ballots for Mark Akinosho in the Sanford City Council Ward 1 Democratic primary on May 27, putting him in the lead over Ken Britton by just one vote out of 491 cast. Britton, a corporate strategist who led by three votes going into the day, has submitted a written request for a recount, which will be conducted on Wednesday, June 1 (the results of this recount will be available that day on rantnc.com). "I'm excited about it," Akinosho

said when contacted on May 27. "I'm looking forward to facing (Republican Blaine) Sutton in the fall." Akinosho, a pastor, business owner and former chairman of the Lee County Board of Education, had previously told The Rant he would "absolutely" ask for a recount if he was still behind when all the votes were tallied. On Friday, he said he was aware of Britton's request, and predicted that "nothing will change." "I just want to thank all the voters of Ward 1 for everything," he said. For his part, Britton said he was disappointed but looked forward to the recount. “Obviously I’m disappointed,” he said. “What are the odds that you’re up by three votes at the end of Election Day, and four absentee ballots show

up before the May 20 cut off date, and all four go to your opponent? We will have a recount this coming Thursday and we’ll see if we can get some luck our way.” The absentee votes tabulated Friday were ballots that arrived at the Lee County Board of Elections by 5 p.m. on May, 20, but had been postmarked on or prior to Election Day, which was May 17. The Ward 1 seat on the Sanford City Council, which covers most of west Sanford, is being vacated by Democrat Sam Gaskins. The Sanford Municipal Election will be held on July 26. The Ward 1 race will be the only contested race on the ballot.


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rantnc.com

SALMON TOPS GASKINS IN PRIMARY MAYORAL RACE Rebecca Wyhof Salmon appears poised to be Sanford’s next mayor after defeating her fellow Democratic city councilman Sam Gaskins in the primary race for the seat on May 17 by a nearly 40 percentage point margin. No Republican filed for the seat, meaning the winner of the May Democratic primary is likely to succeed Chet Mann as Sanford’s next mayor after the municipal general election in July. Wyhof Salmon earned 1,109 votes to Gaskins’ 495.

The municipal general election will be held in July. _____________________________

GASTER, RUMMEL, DAVIDSON EMERGE FROM GOP SCHOOL BOARD PRIMARY Republicans Chris Gaster, Alan Rummel and Eric Davidson emerged from the May 17 primary as the top choices of Lee County Republicans for three spots on the November ballot for the Lee County Board of Education, with Kenna Wilson trailing by several hundred votes.

With all precincts reporting unofficial vote totals, Gaster led the field with 2,486 votes, followed by Rummel with 2,312 and Davidson with 2,205. Wilson had 1,558. The three will face Democrats Walter Ferguson, Christine Hilliard, and Pat McCracken in November, with the top three vote getters taking office. _____________________________

ESTES EARNS GOP NOD FOR SHERIFF, BURGIN HOLDS ON Incumbent interim Lee County Sheriff Brian Estes won the Republican primary for his seat on May 17 with more than 88

percent of the vote, setting up a match between him and Democrat Carlton Lyles, a former major with the office, in November. With all precincts reporting, unofficial tallies showed Estes receiving 3,262 votes to Smith’s 439. Meanwhile, in the state senate primary for District 12, which encompasses Lee and Harnett counties and parts of Sampson County, incumbent Republican Jim Burgin defeated primary challengers David Buboltz and Ernie Watson with 6,044 votes to Buboltz’s 4,159 and Watson’s 1,230. Burgin will face Democrat Richard Chapman in the fall.

Call or Text

(919) 775-3638


32 | June 2022

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The Rant Monthly | 33

2022 Pavilion Summer Series June 22, July 20, August 24 Join us in June, July and August for fresh air, refreshments and free entertainment! Enjoy relaxing under our beautiful outdoor pavilion and unwind to the sounds of Sanford’s most talented musicians! In 2021, the SHIIP Program at The Enrichment Center of Lee County assisted 466+ Lee County Medicare Beneficiaries with a cost savings of $425,000. This valuable program is provided at no charge on behalf of the NC Dept. of Insurance Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program. If you have questions about your Medicare benefits, Lee County residents may call (919) 776-0501 Ext. 2206. Anyone in NC on Medicare call 855-408-1212.

Wednesday June 22, 2022 5:30 p.m. Refreshments 6:00 p.m. Music

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34 | June 2022

CANDIDATE'S ETHICS COMPLAINT AGAINST BOARD MEMBER FAILS A complaint alleging ethics violations by three members of the Lee County Board of Education failed to get the necessary votes for a formal investigation at the board's May 10 meeting. Alan Rummel, one of three Republicans that primary voters elected to run for the board in November, filed a complaint with the board following a meeting of its Curriculum and Instruction Committee on April 6 at Southern Lee High School, claiming that Democratic member Patrick Kelly made a “personal and false accusation/attack” against him after he made remarks at the end of the meeting. The committee’s chair, Democrat Christine Hilliard, and chair of the board, Republican Sandra Bowen, were also cited in the complaint because they “were in attendance and did nothing to stop this verbal attack.” Since Kelly, Hilliard, and Bowen were named in Rummel’s complaint, they did not participate in the discussion or the vote on the matter. Kelly told The Rant he believed that the issues between him and Rummel and been cleared up as well, and that when he learned that Rummel had filed an ethics complaint against him the next day, “I was just stunned. Completely surprised.” Rummel also believed that the air had been cleared between the two but thought a formal complaint was necessary based on principle. “On a personal level, I believe my conversation with Mr. Kelly and his apology were sincere and sufficient,” he said. “I think we came to a consensus on views and facts, and he apologized. I accepted that apology. That said, I filed the complaint because the act of Mr. Kelly calling out a parent by name and making an easily proven false accusation at an official board meeting is not acceptable and I believe it is an ethics violation.” Womack’s motion failed in a 2-2 tie vote, and at least for the moment, the issue seems dead. — Richard Sullins | Full story at rantnc.com

@therant905 LEE COUNTY SCHOOLS

SUPERINTENDENT ACTS TO ENSURE PARENTS HAVE ACCESS TO SCHOOLS By Richard Sullins richard@rantnc.com After hearing from two mothers who spoke during the Lee County Board of Education meeting on May 10 that some parents were being prevented from entering their child’s school because of restrictions put into place two years ago at the start of the COVID pandemic, Superintendent Dr. Andy Bryan acted early the following morning to make certain that there was no confusion that those restrictions had been lifted. “Most schools had already lifted visitation restrictions, but I sent out an email to principals Wednesday morning clarifying that there should no longer be any COVID visitation restrictions in place,” Bryan told The Rant. Bryan said the restrictions were not the result of any action taken by the Board of Education, but rather as a result of directives issued at the beginning of the pandemic by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. About 25 parents attended the meeting to show their concern for not being able to visit their children in the schools they attend, but several said after the meeting they were afraid to speak their minds because they feared retaliation against their child. Ariola Hassan, who lives in Holly Springs but whose son lives in Lee County with his father, asked the board during the public comments period of the meeting “why am I not able to come into my son’s school in Lee County? I want to work hand in hand with the teachers who love their students, but you have to make that happen.” “What is the meaning of this policy?” she continued. “If we can’t come into the schools to talk to you, where are the plans and the ideas? I want to be able to be active inside my son’s school to assist his teachers, but it’s up to you to make that possible now that the worst of the pandemic has passed.” Another speaker was Tommi McCurry of Sanford, who said keeping parents

out of schools, despite the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, was simply government overreach by the Board of Education that made them “knowingly guilty of an abuse of power.” McCurry said parents don’t know what is being taught in the district’s schools, although she claimed that students are being sexually groomed and exposed to child pornography there. She said that because of their child’s age, some parents have never been allowed to visit in their child’s school. “What’s going on in there that you don’t want parents to see? I’ll tell you what it is. It is kids being jabbed by teachers with a vaccine that doesn’t work,” she said. “If parents can’t go into those buildings, then kids shouldn’t go into them either.”

About 25 parents attended the meeting to show their concern for not being able to visit their children in school, but several they were afraid to speak their minds because they feared retaliation against their child.

Republican Sherry Womack was the only member of the board to comment on the matter. In a written statement to The Rant, Womack said “I had only heard complaints from parents taking their children to school for the first day. More specifically, the first graders on their first day with parents complaining they wanted to see the classroom and take pictures. A few were very uncomfortable ‘dropping off their child at the curb’ and many simply did not want to miss this precious milestone of their child.” “I immediately reported it to the Superintendent, and he reassured me that he would ‘look into it.’ You are correct – that was the first I knew ANYTHING about the CONTINUED restrictions, particularly after the masks were voted optional,” she went on.

“I have attended various schools and actually seen parents with their children, so, yes, the complaints came as a huge surprise. Parents and care providers are vital for a student to succeed and should always be welcome in our public schools.” COVID funding update In relation to the COVID outbreak, Bryan presented an update on the status of the $36,509,091 in federal ESSER (Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief) COVID relief funding Lee County Schools has received since March 2020. Of that total amount, just over half ($19,411,769.61) has been spent. $16,952,326.17 remains to be spent and another $144,995.22 has been encumbered, meaning purchase orders have been issued for those amounts, but no checks have yet been written. The bulk of the remaining funds will expire at the end of September 2024 and Bryan is confident that the district will be able to expend all the COVID relief dollars by that time. Of the roughly $17 million in unspent funds, about $9.8 million are dollars that will expire on September 30 during the final year of federal funding. The only funds spent so far from that last year’s allocation was the $591,289.24 spent for teacher bonuses paid last fall. The board approved a listing of $2,100,300 in capital expenditures from COVID relief funds during the meeting, including $250,000 in upgrades to Trane air controls systems at nine County schools and repairs or upgrades to HVAC units at eight schools. The list includes expenditures of $360,000 to replace valves for the air handler and fan coils at Broadway, Deep River, Tramway, and BT Bullock elementary schools that are almost 25 years old. The two biggest ticket items are $640,000 for new security entrances at the three middle and two high schools, and $400,000 for the replacement of the chiller at Lee County High School.


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rantnc.com

Last review of mask policy for 202122 academic year The last day for students on the traditional calendar this year is June 9, and as the board revisited its policy for face coverings for May 10 through its next meeting on June 14, this review of the policy would effectively be its last for the 2021-22 school year for traditional students. In August 2021, as the Delta variant was surging through the county, more than 100 parents crowded into the board’s meeting room at Lee County High School to listen as the school board considered what the policy should be as the school year began. Nine months later, the issue hardly drew more than a yawn as the board voted unanimously to continue its policy of allowing masks to be voluntary among those who felt the need for the protection they provide. The last wave of COVID-19, the Omicron variant, was both the strongest and the shortest. But it is another characteristic of Omicron that has scientists and microbiologists worried as the summer is set to begin. Starting with the Omicron variant, the latest mutations of the virus have shown that it is becoming smarter and more able to adapt to the vaccines scientists have developed and create their own defenses to them. That means that even those who have been vaccinated and boosted multiple times are still vulnerable to being infected multiple times by the virus. Last summer, the Delta wave began just as students were finishing up their end-ofthe-year exams as the school year came to a close. As they prepare to hit the pools and beaches this summer, yet another subvariant – BA.2.12.1 – is beginning to sweep the country and could force school boards into another tough decision as classes start again in the fall. Already, this subvariant accounts for 40 percent of all COVID infections taking place in Lee County this week. The number of cases reported within the county is again on the increase, with 147 cases recorded within the past two weeks. Ninety of the state’s 100 counties remain in the “low” risk category, but there is a cluster of eight counties in the central portion of the state, including Lee, that have risen to a level of “medium” risk. These include Lee, Alamance, Chatham, Franklin, Orange, Durham, and Harnett.

What investors can and can't control

A

s an investor, you can easily feel frustrated to see short-term drops in your investment statements. But while you cannot control the market, you may find it helpful to review the factors you can control. Many forces affect the financial markets, including geopolitical events, corporate profits and interest rate movements – forces beyond the control of most individual investors.

fundamentals and are still appropriate for your needs. If you can avoid decisions based on short-term events, you may help yourself in the long run. •

Your commitment to investing – The financial markets are almost always in flux, and their movements are hard to predict. If you can continue investing in all markets – good, bad or sideways – you will likely make much better progress toward your goals than if you periodically were to take a “time out.” Many people head to the investment sidelines when the market tumbles, only to miss out on the beginnings of the next rally. And by steadily investing, you will increase the number of shares you own in your investments – and the larger your ownership stake, the greater your opportunities for building wealth.

Your portfolio’s level of diversification – While diversification itself can’t guarantee profits or protect against all losses, it can help greatly reduce the impact of market volatility on your portfolio. Just how you diversify your investments depends on several factors, but the general principle of maintaining a diversified portfolio should govern your approach to investing. It’s a good idea to periodically review your portfolio to ensure it’s still properly diversified.

In any case, it’s important to focus on the things you can control, such as these: •

Your ability to define your goals – One area in which you have total control is your ability to define your goals. Like most people, you probably have short-term goals – such as saving for a new car or a dream vacation – and long-term ones, such as a comfortable retirement. Once you identify your goals and estimate how much they will cost, you can create an investment strategy to help achieve them. Over time, some of your personal circumstances will likely change, so you’ll want to review your time horizon and risk tolerance on a regular basis, adjusting your strategy when appropriate. And the same is true for your goals – they may evolve over time, requiring new responses from you in how you invest. Your response to market downturns – When the market drops and the value of your investments declines, you might be tempted to take immediate action in an effort to stop the losses. This is understandable – after all, your investment results can have a big impact on your future. However, acting hastily could work against you – for example, you could sell investments that still have solid

The world will always be filled with unpredictable, uncontrollable events, and many of them will affect the financial markets to one degree or another. But within your own investment world, you always have a great deal of control – and with it, you have the power to keep moving toward all your important financial objectives.


36 | June 2022

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SANFORD MAN CHARGED WITH DRUG, GUN OFFENSES A Sanford man is facing multiple drug and weapons charges after Lee County sheriff’s deputies found heroin, crystal methamphetamine and three rifles in his home. Allen Aldridge, 36, of 511 N. Horner Blvd. was charged with three counts of possession of a firearm by a felon, trafficking heroin by possession, possession with intent to sell and deliver methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine, possession with intent to sell and deliver a schedule III controlled substance, maintaining a dwelling for drugs, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Deputies reported on May 26 that they executed a search warrant at Aldridge’s home on May 19 and found a “trafficking amount” of heroin (defined as four or more grams), two grams of crystal methamphetamine, and buprenorphine hydrochloride, a schedule III controlled substance. Aldridge was taken into custody without incident and placed in the Lee County Jail under $250,000 secured bond.

SHEETZ EYES LAND ON SOUTH HORNER An agenda for the Sanford/Lee County Zoning & Design Review Department‘s Technical Review Committee meeting on May 25 and 26 revealed that the nearly two acres of land at the corner of South Horner Boulevard and Main Street in Sanford is being considered for a Sheetz gas station. As previously reported on April 22, if the plan comes to fruition, it could become the second Sheetz in Sanford, with one currently in the planning process at the corner of U.S. 1 and Center Church Road. The TRC agenda calls for the “proposed construction of a 4,966-squarefoot Sheetz convenience store, restaurant with drive-thru and 12 fueling stations (the agenda incorrectly lists it as within Broadway’s town limits).

If you add the number of approved single-family homes and apartments that are either under construction or soon will be, that's a total of more than 9,600 new dwelling units or lots in Sanford.

SANFORD

NEW PETITIONS FOR ANNEXATION CONTINUE CITY’S EXPLOSIVE GROWTH

THE FIRST FRAMES HAVE GONE UP AT THE NEW 78 SOUTH SUBDIVISION ON TRAMWAY ROAD IN SANFORD. PHOTO BY BILLY LIGGETT

By Richard Sullins richard@rantnc.com Sanford was recognized in 2020 as the fifth fastest growing micropolitan area among 100 other similar-sized cities in the United States. And for the past three years, the City Council has tried to manage that growth through its processes for annexation and application of the Unified Development Ordinance it shares with Lee County. But even so, a steady stream of petitions continues to find its way onto the council’s agenda as the city continues to expand, and in May, the council held public hearings on three new petitions for contiguous annexation into the corporate limits. The new annexations would add another 83 acres into the city’s land mass. The first petition was filed by Forge Investment Group LLC and Swartz Properties for a 29.429-acre tract with frontage along South Franklin Drive near the intersection of Wicker Street, and a second petition from MAD M&R, LLC Properties requests the

annexation of 21.067 acres off Kelly Drive near Calcutta Lane and Winslow Drive. Both of these tracts are managed by developer Mark Lyczkowski and would be zoned for residential use. A third petition is for another 32.719 acres along West Main Street in Jonesboro near the intersection with Lemon Springs Road. This tract, owned by Kelly, Foushee, and Boles Properties, was approved by the Council several months ago as part of a project called West Main Townhomes. Despite the impact of COVID on its public meetings in 2020, the council has been very active in its consideration of requests for zoning reviews. Mann told a recent joint meeting with the Broadway Town Board and the Lee County Board of Commissioners that during the three year period that began in 2019 and ended in 2021, the council approved more than 6,200 single-family dwellings to be constructed within the City. Today, 1,453 homes are now under construction, another 2,793 have been approved to be built. Still another 1,983 homes are in review.

And that’s just single-family homes. Multi-family units (apartments) are also seeing an explosion in growth. From 2019 to 2021, the city approved 1,054 units that are now under construction, 1,436 others have been given approval, and 970 more are under review. That’s a total of more than 3,400 new multi-family units under way in the City. If you add the number of approved single-family homes and apartments that are either now under construction or soon will be, that’s a total of more than 9,600 new dwelling units or lots. Think about that for a minute – 9,600 new places for families to live in Sanford. That number includes the construction that is continuing on the 995 lots that will soon make up the Galvin’s Ridge development at the intersection of Colon Road and U.S. 1, and work will begin this year on two other large developments approved in Sanford last year – Ashby Commons with 800 homes just off South Horner Boulevard, and another 900 single-family dwellings and


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rantnc.com townhome development at Colon and Lower Moncure roads called Midtown Village South.

its intersection with U.S. 1 to the Village of Cumnock and Brookshire developments.

There is another large development approved on N.C. 87 just south of South Park Village Apartments. This one, to be called Laurel Oaks, is another Lyczkowski project that will add 600 homes in the city’s strip mall district.

To the south, future development is forecasted along Tramway Road from U.S. 1 all the way to the intersection with Horner Boulevard in Jonesboro. Likewise, the same is predicted for the region that lies between South Horner Boulevard and Lee Avenue near the location where the U.S. 421 bypass begins.

Growth areas So, where will Sanford see growth coming by 2030? Mann’s presentation to the joint board meeting points to areas in both the northern and southern edges of the city. One of the hottest growth regions will stretch from U.S. 15-501’s intersection with U.S. 1 northward to the Colon Road area, encompassing Galvin’s Ridge, Central Carolina Enterprise Park, new economic developments along Colon Road, and the city’s fifth fire station. Another follows U.S. 421 north from

Many dimensions are involved in city growth, particularly when it comes to infrastructure, and the City Council took steps to begin planning based on recent and projected growth by approving the Public Works Department’s request to apply for grant funding. The state of North Carolina now has $80 million in planning funds and will give each municipality that applies up to $400,000 to determine its capacity needs and explore what options to meet them are available.

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