The Rant Monthly | July 2022

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SANFORD, NORTH CAROLINA

MAJOR

TOM Thomas Harrington is ready for the jump to pro baseball after a stellar college career


2 | July 2022

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The RantMonthly

The Rant Monthly | 3

July 2022 | Sanford, North Carolina A product of LPH Media, LLC Vol. 4 | Issue 7 | No. 40

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 Contributors Ben Brown Editorial Board Justin Hayward, Graeme Edge, Denny Laine, Mike Pinder, Ray Tomas, Clint Warwick, John Lodge, Patrick Moraz and Janet Spencer-Turner

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 JULY 2022

SANFORD, NORTH CAROLINA

MAJOR

TOM Thomas Harrington is ready for the jump to pro baseball after a stellar college career

ABOUT THE COVER This month is a big one for Thomas Harrington, the Harrington family, Campbell University baseball, Southern Lee High School and the entire city of Sanford. "Local kid" Thomas Harrington is expected to go high (first or second round) in the Major League Baseball draft. This month, we take a look at Harrington's rise from college walk-on to Division I All-American and future Major Leaguer. Photo: Ben Brown

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 | July 2022

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PAGE FOUR SMALL BUSINESS GRANT RECIPIENTS

INDIE FEST HAS NEW LIFE Carolina Indie Fest, it turns out, isn't dead after all. After Indie on Air Records, the initial promoter of the event which first took place in downtown Sanford in September 2021, announced its bankruptcy and the subsequent cancellation of the Wampus Cat Music Festival in May, it was assumed that Carolina Indie Fest would suffer the same fate. But Tim Emmert, a co-owner of Hugger Mugger Brewing in downtown Sanford and an integral part of Carolina Indie Fest in 2021 wasn't ready to let that happen. Emmert and his business announced recently they've taken up the Carolina Indie Fest mantle and will put on a new version of the music festival which brought 12,000 people to downtown Sanford over three days. “If we're a city that's going to be promoting itself as growing and as an attraction and a place for music and the arts, you kind of have to do this,” Emmert told The Rant recently. The 2022 Carolina Indie Fest will be free to the public and feature nine to-be-announced bands playing an outdoor stage on Hugger Mugger's property over two days (Sept. 23-24). And that's not all. Emmert characterized the September event as something of a “confidence builder” on which to expand for a fuller, multi-day and multiact version of the festival at an undetermined time in the spring of 2023.

Downtown Sanford Inc. partnered with the Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce to establish a small business support micro-grant program to deploy $25,000 to local small businesses through the Duke Energy Hometown Revitalization program. Businesses that were awarded grants (such as the Purple Poodle, above) are located in downtown Sanford and downtown Jonesboro, and each have 50 or fewer employees. Other grant recipients included: Added Accents, Chef Hamm Inc., Dossenbach's Finer Furniture, Hugger Mugger, La Dolce Vita, Mrs. Lacy's, Sanford Yoga and Community Center, The Chocolate Cellar, The Flame Steakhouse, The Smoke and Barrel and Theraplay.

FOUR ICE CREAM FLAVORS July is National Ice Cream month, so here's our definitive (non debatable) list of best ice cream flavors. You're welcome.

“I don't know that anybody expected Carolina Indie Fest to bring 12,000 people downtown in 2021, but that was proof that these things can be done here,” Emmert said. Final details were at least a few days away as of publication of this edition of The Rant Monthly, so interested readers should check www.rantnc.com for details in the days coming.

COOKIES N' CREAM

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The Rant Monthly | 5

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rantnc.com THE COLD OPEN

40 MONTHS LATER, THERE'S PROGRESS

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e had been talking about creating a publication for The Rant for several few months before the first edition hit in April of 2019. These things — what with all the writing and advertising and design and printing and all — take time, of course. But we also wanted to have a solid story for that first edition, something that set the tone for what we wanted this publication to be. That story came to us in the form of the Prince Down Town motel. The Prince has been a problem in Sanford for years. This wasn't new in 2019. But very little up to that point had been done to point out this problem publicly. The Prince was Sanford's terrible secret — a nuisance to those who lived and worked near it and a constant area of attention for local law enforcement and, unfortunately, emergency response crews.

Our 2019 story pointed all of this out in a way we hadn't done previously on our Rant website or in our previous positions with The Sanford Herald over a decade ago. Time is a rare gift for a daily newspaper, but for a monthly ... it's easier to go more in-depth. We talked to law enforcement. We talked to surrounding neighbors and business owners. People staying at the motel. We were even chased off the property on a cold March morning. "The Prince Dilemma" pointed out a problem and the many people it affected in the hopes that something could be done about it. Forty months later, something is being done about it. On Page 8 (the next page) of this 40th edition of The Rant Monthly, we're happy to report that there's progress. The city of Sanford has filed a formal legal complaint against the owners of the Prince with the goal of having the motel shut down. Doing

so will ultimately rid our growing area of not only a blight, but a haven for drugs, physical assaults and prostitution, but also the site of a few murders in the last 10 years.

The Rant Monthly

Will getting rid of the Prince get rid of all of those things as well? Absolutely not. We're not naive.

THE PRINCE DILEMMA

But it is a victory for the nearby historic district, a community full of working-class families who deserve peace. It's a victory for the nearby business owners who have dealt with the problems emanating from the Prince for far too long. And it's a victory for Sanford as a whole. It shows that when citizens come together for the greater good, there are victories to be had. We will be following this story in upcoming editions. Our one hope is that it doesn't take another 40 editions to report that the Prince is gone for good.

APRIL 2019

SANFORD, NORTH CAROLINA

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The April 2019 edition of The Rant Monthly — our first printed publication — focused on the history of criminal activity and "public nuisance" from the Prince Down Town motel. Three years later, the City of Sanford is looking to shut it down.

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THE LEAD ANNEXATION APPROVED FOR NEW SUBDIVISION WITH 500+ UNITS The Sanford City Council approved in June the non-contiguous annexation and zoning of approximately 110 acres for another new mixed-use housing and commercial development. This project, tentatively called the Gum Fork Development, is located east of Colon Road and south of U.S. 1 across the four-lane from Central Carolina Enterprise Park and the Galvin’s Ridge. The site was originally purchased by Criteria Development, LLC of Spanish Fort, Alabama but was recently acquired by one of the largest home construction companies in the United States, D.R. Horton Homes, headquartered in Arlington, Texas. Although the site plan is still in the conceptual stage and subject to revision, the preliminary draft calls for 254 single-family homes and another 260 apartment units on the site. The units will be densely packed, with an average of 3.3 homes and 11.21 apartments per acre.

The Prince Down Town, as seen from Carthage Street. Photo by Billy Liggett

DOWNTOWN SANFORD

CITY FILES FORMAL ‘NUISANCE’ COMPLAINT AGAINST PRINCE MOTEL

Sworn affidavits from police, nearby residents, business owners and even former dealers and guests paint shocking picture of years of illicit activity; suit seeks to shut it down

T-Mobile's faux-pas on a billboard along Hawkins Avenue (N.C. 15-501) didn't go unnoticed. Eagle-eyed fan of The Rant Jake Wells sent us this photo in June, and we promptly reported on the grievous error. We're happy to report T-Mobile fixed the unnecessary "T" a few weeks later.

By Billy Liggett and Gordon Anderson billy@rantnc.com, gordon@rantnc.com After years of complaints from nearby residents and businesses and mounting reports of criminal activity — from drug arrests to physical assaults and even murder — the city of Sanford has filed a formal complaint

against the owners of the Prince Down Town with the state of North Carolina, calling the business a “public nuisance” and requesting a preliminary injunction that would essentially close the motel pending a trial. The official 92-page complaint — filed on June 14 against against former Prince owner Bhadresh Shah and current owner Amita

Naik and her husband (and motel general manager) Paresha Naik — includes roughly 50 pages of sworn affidavits from police officers, residents and business owners within walking distance of the motel and even former motel residents and convicted drug offenders who admitted to selling and buying illicit drugs (heroin, cocaine and crystal meth) on the property in the last five years.


The Rant Monthly | 9

rantnc.com Two testimonies allude to an April 2019 article published in The Rant Monthly that detailed a laundry list of complaints and police reports at the property over a year’s time.

rick Lipscomb, was in jail for the June 2021 shooting death of Marquas Roseboro after, she claimed, Roseboro was trying to rob him on the property.

The city is being represented by James Thornton of Raleigh-based Cranfill, Sumner and Hartzog, LLP. Shah, owner of Padmavati LLC and a Sanford resident, and the Naiks (Om Shree Hemakash Corporation) have 30 days from June 14 to appear before the state superior court and provide an answer to the complaint.

“Most of the drug dealers do not live at the property, they just go there to sell drugs,” she said. “I have personally observed people selling dope in front of Pete [Paresha Naik], and he did not do anything about it.” A woman whose daughter died from a drug overdose at the Prince in December 2021 testified that her daughter was provided a room at the Prince by members of a group called “The Heavy Hitters” or “The Weekenders,” and they would arrange for men to come by and pay to have sex with the women there.

The complaint itself is full of hard-hitting testimonies — much of it common knowledge to those familiar with the Prince and its reputation as a haven for drugs and prostitution. Some of it is still shocking to hear. A former resident of the motel from 2019-2020 (whose name we will not include in this article but is included in the affidavit) said he sold crack cocaine and heroin on the property “as many as 50 time per day” and even sold to the general manager (Paresha Paik) at times.

my room. Most of the time, he paid for the cocaine, except twice he told me to take the money out of what I paid for my room.”

“I provided crack cocaine to the manager more than five times,” he said. “When the manager wanted crack, he always came inside

The man also alleged that a woman performed a sexual act with the manager in exchange for rent.

Sanford Police investigate a shooting death at Prince Down Town in June 2021. Photo by Billy Liggett Another witness (again, name withheld) said she frequented the Prince about two years ago to purchase $200 worth of crack twice a week. She testified knowing of “at least six or seven people overdosing on drugs at the property” and said her friend, Ded-

“They would keep all the money being paid to have sex with the girls. My daughter was one of those girls,” she said. “I know she would still be alive today if the property had tried to stop all the crime and drug use from happening. I know the reason my daughter is dead is because of the property.” Sanford attorney Jon Silverman is representing the Prince’s owners in the lawsuit and said “they’re just hard working immigrants

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10 | July 2022 chasing the American dream.” “That nuisance statute was designed for people running drug dens, liquor dens, places of ill repute,” he said. “They’re just trying to run a low budget motel.” Asked to address the specific allegations in the lawsuit and whether the owners contested, Silverman said he hadn’t read the complaint, but “I do contest that it’s a nuisance and I do contest that it’s any worse than any of the many other places in Sanford like it.” ‘A PRETTY BAD OPERATOR’ Sanford Mayor Chet Mann said the process of initiating the complaint has been ongoing for “at least two or three years,” and that Roseboro’s shooting death in 2021 “really turned up the heat.” “We called the [State Bureau of Investigation], and they were very cooperative with our police department,” he said. “They began an investigation and began conducting interviews. I think they did at least 100 interviews, and they looked at the crime records and other things. That alone took the better part of a year. You can be a pretty bad operator and the rights afforded to you can make the process pretty long.” According to Mann, the owners will have an opportunity to sell the property before it’s shut down, but also steps are being taken to ensure it can’t be used for lodging ever again. “Our joy would be to see it get bought by a well-intentioned developer or company who would want to have a higher use for the property,” he said. “That corridor is going to be modernized and updated and it’s going to be a prime location.” Local real estate broker Steve Malloy of Adcock and Associates said he’s got interest from a local buyer who “wants to see [The Prince] gone.” “I think the people we’ve heard from have a vision that’s well above a hotel like that, and they feel like changing that will help Sanford greatly,” he said. Another challenge Mann noted is taking care of the law-abiding residents who will need somewhere to stay. That process is already being looked at in conjunction with organizations like Outreach Mission and the city’s S3 Housing Connect. In April of 2019, The Rant Monthly

@therant905 published a lengthy piece on the escalating The testimonies from members of the Sanford problems emanating from the Prince propPolice Department and nearby residents offer erty. From January 2017 through February a broader look at the continuous problems 2019, more than 130 calls were made to the coming from the property. Sanford Police Department regarding comSPD Capt. Marshall McNeill said he first beplaints or alleged crimes at the motel. From came familiar with the Prince in 1999 and has those calls, more than 40 arrests were made in seen call volume from the site increase dramatithat two-year span, many of them on physical cally over the years. He assault and drug- or said members of SPD’s alcohol-related charges. “I have personally had probationers Narcotics Division The article featured an state they would live in their car have purchased illegal interview onsite with before living at the property because drugs from people on “Bob,” a man who was of the drug and criminal activity was the property on several renting a room there at so bad. In the past, I had a occasions, and they’ve the time. probationer refuse to live there been called to the

because he was a recovering addict motel several times for “It is what it is,” he and there was too much drug activity drug overdoses. said at the time. “It’s taking place in the parking lot." a place for drugs. A “Parents of overdose place for prostitution. victims have told me But it’s also just a the property is known place for some people through the comwho are down on their luck. It happens to munity as a place where addicts know they everybody. Everybody knows what’s going on can always come to purchase illegal drugs,” here, and nobody’s doing anything about it.” McNeill said in his testimony. “I have talked The formal complaint filed on June 14 adds to the mounting list of criminal activities at the Prince over the last 10-plus years. It specifies several incidents from a two-month span in 2021 alone: •

June 16, 2021: SPD responded to a drug overdose and performed CPR (and applied NARCAN) to the victim before transferring them to the hospital. June 19, 2021: SPD responded to two drug overdoses — one in a bathroom (revived with NARCAN) and another found inside a room, barely breathing, after using heroin and crystal meth. June 26, 2021: A victim was robbed on the property by a young man who pointed a handgun to his head and demanded personal items.

June 28, 2021: Two days after the June 26 assault, SPD responded to a shooting and found Marquas Roseboro, who later died of his wounds.

July 1, 2021: SPD seized marijuana and drug paraphernalia from a vehicle.

Aug. 9, 2021: SPD encountered two women involved in a fight, one armed with a baseball bat and the other with a crutch.

to Paresha Naik in the past about the ongoing drug and criminal activity taking place at the property. I don’t feel he has done anything to stop the activity.”

SPD Sgt. William Berryman said that in his experience, most of the people patronizing the motel are “drug users, drug dealers or have some type of substance abuse problem.” “There are a few people there who are hardworking people and unfortunately, they have to deal with the ongoing drug and criminal activity taking place,” he said. Both McNeill and Berryman also testified to prostitution at the Prince, with Berrman recalling a sexual assault involving a woman who was paid for sex, but she refused to prosecute the man. Another former resident of the motel testified, “Each day, the manager will come out around at 11 a.m. to collect rent. If these girls do not have the rent, they will trade sex for money so they can stay another night.”

can come back to the property and purchase drugs. From my experience as an officer, thefts are one way to support addiction.” Sanford City Councilman Jimmy Haire, whose home in the Rosemont McIver Historic District is within a block of the motel, said he and his wife have observed multiple drug transactions from their home. “People in our neighborhood have become fearful,” he testified. “My wife and I added surveillance equipment as protection specifically because people from the property were committing crimes in the neighborhood. My wife and I will not let our grandkids play freely in the neighborhood, because we have to protect them from the crimes taking place.” Two business owners on Carthage Street testified to seeing drug transactions in front of their businesses and dealing with people from the motel entering their buildings to ask for money. One business owner said she’s had customers harassed by residents of the motel and customers who have requested assistance getting to their cars out of fear. Probation/parole officer Lisa Harden said she knows some probation officers who will not go to the Prince without another officer, because “it has a history of violence.” “I have personally had probationers state they would live in their car before living at the property because of the drug and criminal activity was so bad,” Harden testified. “In the past, I had a probationer refuse to live there because he was a recovering addict and there was too much drug activity taking place in the parking lot. He was concerned about his addiction.” SPD communications supervisor Daryl Kirby said some EMS crews will not go to the Prince without being accompanied by a Sanford Police officer.

Also prominent in the affidavits are testimonies from nearby residents.

Finally, a former Sanford resident provided a powerful testimony where he described confronting a resident of the motel in his fenced-in yard, having the front door of his home kicked in by an intruder and having his mother-in-law’s home (a block over) invaded by a man staying at the Prince.

Citizens in the Sunset and Vance Street area complain about the people from the property that walk through their neighborhood,” SPD officer Raun Beard testified. “People from the property will go through this neighborhood using drugs, stealing from cars and homes. I believe they commit these crimes so they

“We poured our finances, emotion, and souls into restoring (our home), and despite all this, we were left with no choice except to move both my mother-in-law out of her home and my family out of our home,” he testified. “All because of living in a constant state of fear for our safety.”


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The Rant Monthly | 11


12 | July 2022 EDITORIAL

CCCC APPOINTMENT COMES WITH CONTROVERSY Thanks to a vote in June by the Lee County Board of Commissioners, the person who is arguably our community's most controversial political figure now has a seat at the table with regards to the governance of Central Carolina Community College. Lee County Republican Party Chairman Jim Womack, a former member of the Lee County Board of Commissioners and an author of or collaborator on such local hits as “A Call In Writing for the County Manager to be Squashed by a Tank,” “Give me the Voting Machines,” “Make Elections Partisan and Then Put Members of My Own Party on Trial for Disloyalty,” and many, many more, was appointed in late June on a party line vote to fill the term of longtime CCCC Board of Trustees Chairman Julian Philpott. The CCCC Board of Trustees isn't a public body in this community that draws much attention for being controversial, and with good reason. Although the appointments process makes it politics-adjacent, its mission is far above the political fray, and most of its members we can recall — Democrats Republicans and independents alike — have conducted themselves accordingly. Predicting the future is impossible, but Womack's track record doesn't give us much hope that he'll follow the same path. It would be a shame for politics — particularly his brand of politics — to cast a shadow on a highly respected institution like CCCC. It's our hope that the rest of the current board — again, Democrats and Republicans and independents alike — ensures that doesn’t happen.

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.

@therant905

OPINION COLUMN | BILLY LIGGETT

JOIN ME ON THE BANDWAGON

B

etween Billy Liggett's cover story on soonto-be pro Thomas Harrington and my recap of the Sanford Spinners' 2022 first half, this edition of The Rant Monthly is pretty baseball heavy. Which is great! As I've written before, my own lack of athletic talent notwithstanding, baseball has been my favorite sport ever since I was a kid. It's really cool to see a local kid so highly touted when it comes to something like the Major League Baseball draft, and I'm kind of sad that I've probably squandered the many opportunities there have been over the last couple years to watch him play on a local or semi-local field. I guess I'll have to cross my fingers and hope he's picked up by someone with a farm team somewhere around here, or at least someone whose farm teams may visit. Sigh. What I'm glad I haven't squandered, though, is the many opportunities to see Sanford's own Spinners, now in their second year with the collegiate level Old North State League. The home field at Tramway Park isn't exactly Ebbets Field, but it gets the job done (and when Lee County's multi-sports complex is done, the

Spinners should have a facility that will be among the best in their league). But it's fun, cheap ($8 for adults and $4 for kids – you can't beat that), and most importantly, the baseball is good. In their inaugural season in 2021, the Spinners posted a respectable 12-16 record, missing the playoffs by a hair. As of this writing, halfway through the 2022 season, they've already won 10 games and lost just four (two each to teams in Pinehurst and Raleigh that are starting to feel like rivals). We've seen pitching duels, blowouts, comebacks, and attempted comebacks. This is a good team, and a fun one to watch. You should expect the Spinners experience to keep getting better, but we're still essentially on the ground floor. This is as good a time as any to get on board and cheer the home team toward something big. o Gordon Anderson was a junior development executive on such baseball film classics as The Sandlot, Field of Dreams, Major League: Back to the Minors, The Natural, and Air Bud: Seventh Inning Fetch. He coached the intramural team at Miskatonic University in Arkham, Massachusetts for 36 years before co-founding The Rant. Reach him at gordon@ rantnc.com

EDITORIAL

WE SUPPORT A WOMAN'S RIGHT TO CHOOSE

T

he Rant was founded by three men and is currently owned and operated by three men. We preface with this because as men, we can't empathize with what women in the United States are going through this week after the Supreme Court's reversal of Roe v. Wade. But we can support those who will continue to fight for the right to choose and for the right to have control over their own bodies. We are husbands of strong women, sons of strong women and fathers of young women who, as of now, will grow up with fewer rights than then generations of women before them.

As men, it's easy to remain silent. We're not being told what we can or can't do with our bodies. We're not the ones facing very difficult decisions that now have far more hurdles to clear. Our freedoms aren't in jeopardy here. It's easy to say this isn't our fight. But this fight needs every voice it can get. We will be public in our stance. We will support political candidates — national, state and local — who support the right to choose, and we will fight for this right to remain in North Carolina. It's the very least we can do. But right now, every voice counts.


The Rant Monthly | 13

rantnc.com READER RESPONSE THE PRINCE DOWN TOWN The city of Sanford’s formal complaint against the Prince Down Town motel is the city’s biggest effort to date to shut down the business, which for years has been a haven for illegal drugs, prostitution and other serious criminal activity. The Rant’s story on June 21 garnered several comments from readers:

________________ I left a bad situation, and my kids had nowhere to go. We were not from Sanford, so we stayed at the Prince for five months — worst experience of my life. The crime is so bad, and the manager is not a good person. I would agree — get rid of it. It’s time. Jennifer G.

________________ The biggest crime is that people are living in those conditions. I feel positive that the location they find to provide housing for these residents can only be a step up. The conditions of the rooms are deplorable. We would be doing the law-abiding residents a favor by finding them alternate housing. Melissa Palmer ________________ I've had clients who stayed there while waiting for housing and staying at this dump costs as much as an income based apartment. Beth Whitehead Bray ________________ Somebody definitely has their eye on this property. This area has been screaming for attention and resources for years. It should not be lost on anyone that they are only now willing to do something because there's money on the line. What's really unfortunate is that you might get rid of the hotel, but the people who are desperate for food and housing — who are already engaging in criminal activity to get their survival needs met — will still do it, but now with a little more urgency. Things are gonna get a lot worse before they get any better. Jacque Lynn ________________ I have to pass the Prince every morning on my way home from work. One morning while at the stoplight between the Prince and the bank, a woman was beating on a man’s truck window [offering sex for money]. And this was at 8 in the morning. That man ran the red light just to get away from there. That place should have been closed down a long time ago, along with a few other places in our area. Susan McGehee

A CLEAR-CUT PROBLEM In the June edition of The Rant Monthly, we reported on homes in the Westlake Downs subdivision experiencing extensive flooding, which they say it attributed to construction on a new high-density subdivision on the adjoining property. Many readers say they’ve experienced or seen similar problems before: ________________ I’ve lived here for five years, coming from the mid-Atlantic. I’ve lived in Delaware, Maryland and D.C. and have never seen the construction of neighborhoods like I do down here. They just don’t clear cut/burn massive tracts of land at once. My sister is an engineer who specializes in water resources and stormwater management. Her firm works on projects with counties and cities to monitor and work with construction crews for new developments, structures and roads to mitigate environmental risk, especially water-related. She was visiting me down here, and we drove through Holly Springs. She saw all of the clear-cut land for new developments and told me that that would be illegal in Maryland. When building new properties, you cannot clear all of the land at once. You need environmental protections put in place before cutting down trees for precisely this reason. Seems the state’s regulations are too relaxed down here. Paige Scholes ________________ [The flooding] was behind my next door neighbor’s house. The two creeks run through our lot, and we’ve never seen them as high as they were after this rain event. The planning board certainly took these real concerns into account when they voted unanimously against this project. Ironically, it sailed through a city council vote with no problem. This is why local elections are so important. Erin Borrell

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14 | July 2022

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THOMAS HARRINGTON WAS NAMED BIG SOUTH CONFERENCE PITCHER OF THE YEAR AND LED THE NATION WITH 11 WINS. PHOTO BY BEN BROWN


The Rant Monthly | 15

rantnc.com

COVER STORY

MAJOR TOM

Just two years after seeing his high school baseball career cut short by the pandemic and starting college as an unheralded walk-on, Thomas Harrington has transformed into a solid first-round Major League prospect whose life is about to change on July 17. By Billy Liggett

H

e expected the six-year plan for college — a degree in kinesiology and a few years of graduate school, followed by job interviews and eventually a career in physical therapy. But the job interviews are coming much sooner for Thomas Harrington. And the career path now laid before him is the stuff of dreams.

On July 17, just six days after he turns 21, Thomas Harrington will be a professional baseball player. And it’s putting the cart before the horse, counting chickens before they hatch or any other idiom suggesting the young man’s draft prospects are wishful thinking. He’s on the first- to second-round radar of just about every Major League Baseball draft card — ProspectsLive.com has him going as high as 16th in the first round, while MLB.com and other mock draft sites have him going late in the first round, early in the second round in the 30-40 range.

Going that high in the draft typically means a $2 million signing bonus before a player ever throws a professional pitch. Going that high in the draft means Harrington will — according to history — have a 66 percent chance of taking the mound in the big leagues some day. Whether that’s in Cleveland, which several sites have the 6-foot, 2-inch righthander landing, or any other Major League city remains to be seen in just a few weeks. Regardless of where he lands, the journey that got him to this point — solid though

Thomas Harrington reacts to a strikeout during the first round NCAA Regional against Georgia Tech. The Campbell University sophomore held the high-powered ACC squad at bay in the Camels' 15-8 upset win.


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@therant905

2022 was a remarkable year for Thomas Harrington at Campbell University. Only a sophomore, Harrington was a Gold Spikes Award semifinalist (top collegiate ballplayer in the country), a Collegiate Baseball All-American, Perfect Game second-team All-American, COSIDA Academic first-team All-American, ABCA/Rawlings Div. I All-Region and was both the Big South Conference Pitcher of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Harrington led all college pitchers through the NCAA Regionals with 11 wins and set a Campbell program record with 107 strikeouts.

unheralded prospect coming out Southern Lee High School, walk-on at Campbell University, last-minute addition to the pitching rotation as a freshman, Big South Conference Freshman of the Year, first-team All-American and conference Pitcher of the Year as a sophomore — is nothing short of remarkable. “Two-years-ago me would have probably been pretty proud,” says Harrington, fresh off of a trip to San Diego for the MLB Draft Combine, which wrapped up on June 20. “This is all so different than where I thought I would be right now. I get to be a baseball player now. The physical challenges I’ve overcome. The mental challenges I’ve overcome. "Yeah, my younger self would be pretty happy with all of this.”

'HE DEFINITELY HAS THAT FIRST BORN PERSONALITY' Nathan Cochrane was one of Thomas Harrington’s football coaches at Southern Lee High School during his first two years. While baseball was Harrington’s ticket to college athletics and (soon) professional sports, football looked like a possible future for the strong-armed quarterback at one time. He threw for 892 yards and 9 touchdowns as a junior in 2018 and was posting bigger numbers as a senior before a hand injury derailed his season and pushed his focus solely on America’s original pastime. During Harrington’s sophomore year, Cochrane joined the coaching staff in baseball — “Coaching is an exaggerating term when it comes to me and baseball,” he says, “But I was on the staff.”

He recalls sitting in the locker room with Harrington and a group of his teammates “talking trash” back and forth as the players made fun of Cochrane’s ability to hit grounders during fielding practice. Cochrane told the players he would “hit bombs” against any of them at the plate. A challenge was made and accepted, and before he knew it, Cochrane was at the plate holding a bat. His first test was Harrington.

Most impressive about that story — Harrington wasn’t even a pitcher. At least not yet.

“He made me look absolutely ridiculous,” Cochrane says. “Standing in the box against a legitimate college prospect like Thomas Harrington was truly eye-opening experience for a football guy like me. Many people don’t realize how fast and how quick the entire process is from the ball being released to hitting the catcher’s mitt. Every sport has its impressive facets. I got to see just how impressive baseball pitchers were when I faced Thomas.”

“I think he figured out that he didn’t hit well enough and didn’t have the range to play shortstop in college,” says Tommy, a health and P.E. teacher and athletics director at SanLee Middle School. “Pitching is where he would have the best chance to play.”

According to his parents, Tommy and Tina Harrington, pitching was never on their son’s radar in Little League and his first few years of high school. During some really deep tournament runs with some really good Deep River Northview squads in the 2010s, Harrington was a shortstop with a really good arm and an above-average bat.

Thomas credits Southern Lee baseball coach David Lee for pressing him to pitch as a junior. It seemed to work out well for both of them — he posted a 4-0 record with


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rantnc.com a 0.32 ERA, striking out 54 hitters and allowing just 18 hits in 43 innings. He pitched just one game as a senior — giving up one hit in five innings — before the pandemic canceled the 2020 season. The oldest of five children, Thomas told his parents early on that he either wanted to be a baseball player or football player when he grew up. Those are the dreams of most kids, his father Tommy says, but by the time his son got to high school, college athletics became a real possibility. “His journey has been unique,” says Tommy, who got a little national attention of his own during the NCAA Regional tournament when he wore a giant baby mask (for good luck) to his son’s game against Georgia Tech and the following day against top-ranked Tennessee. “His senior year was cut short, he was a walk-on at Campbell, and we were just thrilled to see him make the team. Then he told us he may get to throw a few innings. Then he became the Sunday starter. It’s still unbelievable to us, but he got the opportunity and he took advantage of it.” “He’s always been a leader in our family and among other kids in the community,”

says his mother, Tina, who points out that her decision to have a “summer baby” nearly 21 years ago is the reason Thomas is draft eligible this year by just six days. “He definitely has that ‘first born’ personality. He’s a leader who works hard.” Cochrane says Harrington’s greatest attribute is his brain. Very rarely, he says, is there a time when Harrington is not the smartest person in the room or on the field, regardless of the sport (he was named Big South Conference Scholar-Athlete of the Year in baseball this season). When Harrington was his quarterback, Cochrane says he was one of the quarterbacks he’s coached who could give him live in-game feedback on what the opposing defenses were doing. He says he isn’t surprised by the young man’s success and has no doubt he can succeed at the next level. “He’s an incredibly intelligent, even-keeled young man who never gets too high or too low,” he says. “Another attribute that will lead Thomas to success is his character. He’s the type of young man that will always do the right thing. His parents did an amazing job raising Thomas and all their children.”

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Thomas Harrington (left) didn't become a regular pitcher until his junior season at Southern Lee High School (and his senior season lasted just one game because of the pandemic). As a junior, he went 4-0 with an impressive 0.34 ERA and gave up just 18 hits in 43 innings. He's pictured with his brother, Blake.


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@therant905 ‘THIS GUY MIGHT BE PRETTY SPECIAL’ With no senior year resume to build off of, Harrington’s options for pitching in college were limited in the fall of 2020. He had scholarship offers at North Carolina Central, North Carolina A&T and UNC-Asheville, but his sights were set on the small Division I school with a growing national reputation for good baseball just 30 minutes down U.S. 421. Campbell University was coming off a 37-win season and a trip to Greenville for the NCAA Regional in 2019 and a 35-win season and Athens, Ga. regional appearance in 2018. Harrington said he was partially drawn to the program’s recent success, but more interested in working with the coaching staff at Campbell and becoming part of an atmosphere he described as a “tight brotherhood.”

Tommy Harrington on his son, Thomas: "Thomas wasn’t a 5-Star recruit. He didn’t go to a Power 5 program. The moral of this story is that every dream is alive if you work hard and are disciplined." Tina Harrington on the upcoming draft: "It makes me happy for Thomas. It’s everything he has worked for, and he is deserving. He will represent our community well. Hard work pays off."

“The developmental side was the biggest thing for me,” he says. “I knew if I could develop, there was a chance I could be sitting where I am today. Obviously, now, that looks like a great decision.” Fighting Camels head coach Justin Haire


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rantnc.com says his assistant coaches first noticed Harrington during recruiting trips, but his first view of his future ace came during a showcase at Jim Perry Stadium in Buies Creek. Haire said he noticed the kid’s athleticism and a “clean, athletic delivery and path” to the plate, but it was clear early on that Harrington needed to bulk up before facing Division I hitters. “We certainly thought he had potential to develop over time and become a guy that we could count on in big situations,” Haire says. “But to say we ‘knew’ he would be as elite of a college pitcher that he became would be untrue. We knew he was going to work hard and put him in a position to be successful, and that’s all you can hope for with your guys.” Harrington’s first fall at Campbell was the “COVID fall” of 2020, meaning far fewer practices (only five) and opportunities to work together than in a normal season. Harrington saw his first action during a few preseason scrimmages before the 2021 season, and immediately, he caught Haire’s and his coaching staff’s eye. “Tommy was really good,” Haire says. “His velocity had made a jump, he had

gotten significantly stronger, and the athleticism and ability to pitch was all still there. That was the first time we looked at each other in the office and said, ‘This guy might be pretty special.’” In his first collegiate game — the third game of the year against a Liberty University team that would go on to win 41 games that season — Harrington pitched five strong innings, giving up just one run on two hits and striking out six in a 3-2 win. He would go on to post a 6-3 record with a solid 3.45 ERA as a freshman — his strongest game coming a complete game one-hitter against USC Upstate. In his final outing of the season in an elimination game against eventual College World Series champion Mississippi State, Harrington went five innings, gave up four hits and just one run in a tough 6-5 loss. The accolades were many at season’s end. In addition to being named Big South Freshman of the Year, Harrington was second-team All Big South, a College Baseball Newspaper Freshman All-American, a thirdteam Baseball America Freshman All-American and a first-team D1 Baseball Freshman All-American. His performance, particularly

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20 | July 2022

@therant905 against Mississippi State, also got his name on a few early MLB Draft lists in February. Still, heading into the 2022 season and an opening day start against Appalachian State, draft potential and talk of the big leagues were the furthest thing from Harrington’s mind. But when he took the mound on Feb. 18 at home against the Mountaineers, something was very different.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING On June 27, Dodgers Digest published a lengthy analysis of Thomas Harrington and his skill set. Here's a portion of what they had to say: "He’s athletic and has a clean, loose delivery that he repeats well. That helps scouts to throw above-average-to-plus future command/control grades on him. His listed build is exactly the same as [Dodgers' ace] Walker Buehler‘s — 6-foot-2, 185 pounds — but, Harrington probably isn’t going to be the top-ofthe-rotation guy. Still, he’s a solid starting pitching prospect who could thrive in the right system."

“I look up and behind home plate, there’s 40 scouts watching me [many holding radar guns],” he says. “That’s when it all kind of hit me. But, you know, you have to learn to accept it. You have focus and make sure none of that changes who you are as a pitcher. I blocked it from my mind — ‘They’re just fans. They’re just watching the game.’” The mindset worked. Harrington gave up just one hit and nearly set a Campbell record with 13 strikeouts in a 9-0 win. The lone hit against him came from App State catcher Hayden Cross, a former teammate of Harrington’s at Southern Lee. After suffering a loss to nationally ranked Maryland in his second game — despite only giving up two hits and a run in seven

innings in a 4-0 loss — Harrington became Mr. Automatic for the Camels. He reeled off 10 straight wins in his next 11 starts (the lone non-win was due to a rain delay that limited him to just one inning against Winthrop) and ended the regular season with an 11-1 record, the only pitcher in college baseball to reach 11 before the conference tournaments.

tionships that will last forever. And these coaches, they’re amazing. I told them, I was super blessed they gave me an opportunity at a time when even I didn’t believe in myself. So I’m blessed to have been here. And I’m thankful for my time here.”

His lone rough outing came at a tough time in the Big South Tournament opener, a 7-6 loss to Charleston Southern. But Campbell bounced back to run the table in that tournament to earn an NCAA berth, and Harrington’s win against offensive power Georgia Tech was his redemption.

“He worked extremely hard in the weight room with Coach Matt Rodriguez, he dominated the classroom and all those requirements of Academic Coordinator Liz Holman, and he worked really hard with Coach Tyler Robinson on figuring out a throwing plan and a program that worked specifically for him,” Haire said. “To be successful in our program, you have to commit yourself to doing the work. We call it ‘being a pro.’ I think in his first year, Tommy really found the right groove of balancing all the things that are required of collegiate student-athletes while showing up every day with an attitude to improve daily and a work ethic to match it.

He finished his sophomore year 12-2 with a 2.53 ERA. In his 92 innings pitched, he set a Campbell record with 111 strikeouts while walking only 18. In 370 batters faced, he allowed just one home run, and the opposition batted just .204 against him. Elite numbers. And he was just a sophomore. “Campbell has been everything I could ask for in a program,” he says. “I’ve made so many good friends and so many rela-

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“The consistency for him paid huge dividends.”


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rantnc.com ‘A COMBINATION OF STUFF AND STRIKES’

laughing. “I mean, that’s a pretty unique question.”

Thomas Harrington flew 2,500 miles in June to attend Major League Baseball’s Draft Combine at Petco Park in San Diego. The Combine invites the nation’s Top 300 draft-eligible players and provides them an opportunity to participate in medical and performance assessments and sessions to help them prepare for a career in pro baseball.

The answer was no, of course. As unexpected as that question was, the entire 2022 season has been an unexpected, surreal dream come true for Harrington, whose life will change the moment his name is called this month.

Fresh off a 60-game season, Harrington chose not to pitch in front of scouts in San Diego (they had plenty of opportunities to see him in Buies Creek this year). But he did sit down for several interviews with teams showing a real interest in drafting him on July 17. The experience felt a lot like a job interview — questions about his hometown, his family and baseball. Some questions were a little more personal, dealing with his morals and beliefs. But none of them were “super weird,” he says, like other interviews he’s endured during the pre-draft process. “I was once asked whether I keep peanut butter in the fridge,” Harrington says,

So where will Harrington land? Even after San Diego, his guess is as good as any. ProspectsLive.com, a website run by baseball writers, former scouts and fantasy baseball experts, seems to be highest on Harrington’s chances to go early. The site, as of its June 6 update, has Harrington going 16th in the first round to the Cleveland Guardians (and mentions that the L.A. Angels at 13th are also high on him. The site writes: “Harrington has seen his stuff tick way up this season, and scouts have taken notice. He’s in play higher than this, though the Guardians should be able to maximize him.” MLB.com, which didn’t have Harrington going in its Top 40 on June 1, added him to its mock draft on June 8. The most recent

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version (on June 22) has him going 37th in the first round (supplemental picks), also to the Guardians, though it states that the Atlanta Braves at No. 20 also have interest. MLB writes: “He has moved up draft boards this spring with a combination of stuff and strikes that have enabled him to rank among the NCAA Division I leaders in several categories. If he can display more consistency with his slider, he could pass Seth Johnson (40th overall, 2019) as the highest-drafted pitcher in school history. He offers one of the higher floors in the 2022 college pitching crop, as well as the ceiling of a No. 3 starter.” The Athletic did an in-depth piece on Harrington’s rise from walk-on to potential first rounder on June 15 and described his mechanics and how they’ll translate at the professional level. In just four years as a full-time pitcher, Harrington has already built up an impressively deep arsenal of pitches. His two-seam fastball is his primary offering, but he also features a curveball, changeup and slider, and he added a four-seam fastball this season so he could work up

in the strike zone more often. The pitch, which has touched 96 mph, is still a work in progress, though Robinson said when Harrington had it working, it was an effective offering. Harrington’s slider is his best breaking pitch — he got a 43 percent whiff rate on it this season, and opponents hit only .145 against it. Robinson said Harrington’s curveball took a big step forward midway through this season, as well. He noted having two different breaking balls made Harrington an even more difficult matchup for opposing teams. Mechanics aside, Haire says what makes Harrington so effective as a pitcher goes deeper than his right arm. “Tommy is a low heart-rate guy,” Haire says. “Yes, he’s passionate about his craft, and can show some emotion from time to time, but when he is in the midst of the chaos of competition, that guy is locked in and focused unlike many that I have been around in the last 19 years. It was always so impressive to me to see him work through a big jam, or navigate a dangerous lineup and

come off the field with a little grin on his face as if to say, ‘I had that the whole time.’ That’s a quality that sets him apart from so many guys.” Haire says the most impressive thing about Harrington is his ability to adapt and adjust quickly without overthinking it. “Pro ball is a long road and journey that can be windy and challenging, being able to adapt and adjust to his surroundings, his development and the ups and downs of his journey will be key to his success,” he says. “I think that he has the base of experience to be able to handle the adaptation and adjustments necessary to be successful at just about anything he come in contact with.” Harrington’s trip to San Diego was eye opening, and not just because of the scenic beaches, low humidity and “freaking phenomenal” fish tacos. He got a taste of the big time. He learned a little about what Major League teams are looking for before they invest millions in a guy who may or may not pan out. And he learned that the mock drafts and pre-draft write-ups mean very little when July 17 finally arrives.

pay attention to it. It’s people’s jobs to guess and create content for baseball fans. I’ve just learned to let it go and let it all work itself out. Just be the best baseball player I can be,” he says. And in the end, for Harrington, that’s all this is about. He gets to keep playing baseball. A game he’s loved since playing on the dirt infields in the parks at Deep River. “I don’t plan on stopping any time soon,” he says. “I just love the game, and I love getting to practice and be around a bunch of guys and people that I love. I’m blessed that I get to keep doing this.” As for his goals at the next level, Harrington isn’t shy about dreaming big. “If I’m going to do this, I want to win a bunch of World Series championships and be a Hall of Famer some day,” he says. “I want this to end with a speech in Cooperstown. Why not?” o Jonathan Owens of The Rant and Evan Budrovich from Campbell University contributed to this story.

“Everybody has opinions, and I try not to

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24 | July 2022

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LOCAL LAUDATE APPOINTED TO FILL SCHOOL BOARD SEAT VACATED BY SMITH The Lee County Democratic Party voted on June 21 to appoint Jamey Laudate to fill the unexpired term of Dr. Lynn Smith, who resigned from the Lee County Board of Education last week. Laudate, who works for the SAS Institute as a research and development manager, ran unsuccessfully for the school board in 2020. The term expires in 2024. "I'm excited for the opportunity to serve a county and a cause that I love so dearly," Laudate said. "A strong public school system is beneficial to every single resident of Lee County, and we have a solid system today that is facing many challenges. Obviously my wife Kelli and I believe it's the best education in Lee County with the most opportunity for all students — if we didn't, we wouldn't have our three children at Lee County High School, West Lee Middle School, and WB Wicker Elementary School." Laudate said there is "room for improvement" with the school district and said he would work to "get back to the basics" of supporting teachers, administrators and staff toward a common goal. "I don't run from challenges, and I can't wait to work with the other school board members and our community partners to strengthen the Lee County public school system," Laudate said.

The mural outside of the new Fonda Lupita on South Horner Boulevard. Photo by Billy Liggett

BUSINESS

Fonda Lupita to open new location soon; offer larger menu, new bar By Billy Liggett billy@rantnc.com The big, bright mural revealed the news a few weeks ago that Fonda Lupita — picked by Eater.com as one of the 11 best new restaurants in the United States in 2021 — was moving to a new (nearby) location this summer. Owner Biridiana Frausto told The Rant in June that the bigger location could be ready to start serving customers by early July.

The new building is the former home of Pizza Inn and, most recently, Oishii Sushi & Hibachi, which opened in 2015 before closing roughly a year later. Completely renovated to fit their needs (and add color and flair to the dining experience), the location — at 1952 South Horner in the Sanford Crossing shopping center — will allow Frausto to seat dozens more customers than the current restaurant on Main Street in the Jonesboro Heights area and will allow her to create a more stable menu instead of a rotation of favorites.

“It’s six times larger than our current spot, and that alone is going to be so much better for our customers,” Frausto said. “Not everybody liked doing takeout — they prefer their food warm and fresh when it’s served, rather than taking it home. And a lot of our customers didn’t like the long lines or the way. We’re hoping the new location gets those issues fixed.” As for the menu, she said the quality and the dishes will remain mostly the same, only now most menu items will


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rantnc.com be available on a daily basis (rather than certain days of the week). “We’ll be able to offer sopas every day, and enchiladas Mondays through Fridays. Most everything else is what we’ve been doing so far,” she said. “For those who’ve asked us for things like hard-shell tacos or more ‘Americanized’ offerings, that’s not really our style. But the good news for them is we’ll be adding a queso dip and guacamole with chips — we’ve done these things in restaurants we run in Raleigh, so it’s not really ‘new.’” Fonda Lupita burst onto the scene in Sanford in 2021, part of a revival of new businesses in the Jonesboro Heights area. Business was good, if not great, for that first year, Frausto said, as her restaurant offered “Mexican comfort food,” different from what many “Tex-Mex” style restaurants offer in North Carolina. Late that year, however, tragedy struck Frausto and her family when her father was hospitalized with COVID-19, dying shortly after. As Frausto was going through one of the most difficult times of her life, the Eater.com article hit in November.

"[The new location] is six times larger than our current spot, and that alone is going to be so much better for our customers." — Biridiana Frausto, owner of Fonda Lupita

Everything changed. “It was like this huge, sudden sunshine emerging in the storm,” she said. Business picked up immediately. Local customers were finally discovering the hidden gem, and foodies from around the state (and the country) were coming by to see what all the fuss was about. “We thought it would help business, but we thought it was going to be Sanford customers,” Frausto said. “Nobody’s going to drive an hour or more to eat here, right? But they did — and we just tried to keep up, staying consistent with the quality of the food and getting better with our timing. We learned to adapt.”

The new location is born from the success of the past year and a half, but Fonda Lupita isn’t abandoning the “hole in the wall” location when the move is complete. Once “Fonda Lupita 2.0” is ready, the old location will become Las Tortas by Fonda Lupita, a diner and takeout spot offering all kinds of tortas — Mexican sandwiches filled with number of different choices, from asada to breaded chicken, carnitas to ribs. Even eggs. As for the new spot — the biggest addition will be the bar, serving fresh-made margaritas and the ever-popular micheladas (Mexican beer and tomato juice cocktails). Frausto said the move wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the Sanford community, both before and after the national accolades. “I want to thank everybody who helped us through the difficult times and supported us during the good times. Everybody was understanding when we had to close, and they’ve endured the long lines and the waits. This whole community has accepted us, and we’re very excited about this next step.”

Fonda Lupita was named one of the top 11 Best New Restaurants in the U.S. by Eater.com in 2021. The unexpected publicity led to big business for the small restaurant, leading to the new, larger location this summer.


26 | July 2022

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PLANT BREEDING COMPANY TO OPEN NEW RESEARCH FACILITY The Plant Pathways Company, a plant breeding company specializing in improving crops, with a focus on food and medicinal plants, announced in June the opening of research and development facility in Sanford. This project, a partnership between Plant Pathways, NC State University and other private industry leaders, will conduct innovative research with the goal of replacing sugar with stevia, a natural sweetener and sugar substitute, in soft drinks. The research and development facilities, located at 1042 Dalrymple Farm Road, currently grows stevia in roughly 1,000 square feet of greenhouses, and 40 to 45 acres of field space. The Plant Pathways Company was formed as a result of eight years of breeding, genetics, agronomic, biochemistry and consumer sciences research at NC State and PepsiCo. The three founders of the company, Gabe Gusmini, Todd Wehner and Mercedes Murua, bring a combined 85 years of experience in corporate and academic crop improvement, and utilize 10 employees, with three open positions, plus an active board of directors and advisors with four highly experienced entrepreneurs and executives from agriculture and finance. “We are very enthusiastic about establishing our headquarters and core R&D facility in Sanford. For us founders, this new adventure is the peak of our careers,” said Plant Pathways CEO and co-founder Gabe Gusmini. “We got involved in plant breeding with a common goal: making a difference in securing nutritious food for everyone, regardless of where they live or who they are. When it comes to making a big difference in nutritional content, we truly believe that nothing can be more impactful than getting sugar and artificial sweeteners out of the picture.” To learn more about The Plant Pathways Company, visit plantpathco.com.

Brittany Bronson's video of her brother, Colton Roberts, calmly removing a pileated woodpecker that was stuck in her hair went viral in June. Two versions of the video had a combined 18 million views of TikTok through June 25.

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'WOODPECKER CAUGHT IN HAIR' VIDEO GOES VIRAL ON TIKTOK, UP TO 18M VIEWS By Billy Liggett billy@rantnc.com It’s one thing to get a baby woodpecker stuck in your hair and to have the whole thing captured on video. It’s another to have that video unexpectedly go viral (nearly 13 million views on TikTok alone), leading to interviews on CNN and Inside Edition and appearances on evening newscasts around the world. That’s the rollercoaster ride Brittany Bronson of Sanford has experienced in June after the run-in with the young pileated woodpecker, one of the largest breeds found in North Carolina. Bronson said she had walked outside of her west Sanford home on Monday after hearing a “bang” on her sun porch and found the bird hanging on to a window sill. The bird jumped, flapped its wings and went straight for her hair, getting its feet tangled

almost immediately. “I tried to get him back off my head on my own, but his feet had gripped onto my hair,” she said. “So I did the ‘walk of shame’ to my front porch and rang the doorbell.” Ringing the doorbell activated her Ring camera, which then captured the ensuing effort to remove the bird. Her brother — who was visiting with his girlfriend for a Memorial Day dinner — walked outside to help while a phone camera caught it all from a different angle. “What is going on?” her brother, Colton, asks as he answers the door. “Why is that thing on your head?” Calmness — on the part of Bronson, her brother and the bird — is what has the internet most impressed by the video. Nobody freaks out while he removes the bird (gently) by the neck and sets it down.

The responses on TikTok are quick to point that out: “The calmness of that man to remove the screeching bird and his precision… brilliant.” “Why does it look like this happens everyday? You are both so calm like this is a normal thing.” “Ok but this man was very gentle with the bird. Even when he put it down so props to both of you for being calm n nice.” Others enjoyed the humor in it. “Bird is screaming like he ain’t the one causin drama.” “When being a Disney princess gets real.” “Sooo that episode of the staircase and the owl is true ?”


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rantnc.com Bronson said she “popped the first video right on TikTok” afterward, because she thought it was a funny thing to share. A regular TikTok contributor with more than 200 posts in the past two years, she said the video started gaining traction quickly as viewers began asking questions and requesting more “in-depth coverage.” The cell phone video, as of this posting, is nearly 7 million views, and the Ring doorbell angle is up to nearly 6 million.

On May 30, she posted a video of the bird at its new home at Holly’s Nest, and on June 1, she posted a one-minute video touting Holly’s Nest and the work it does to rescue animals (a post with 21,000 views).

Subsequent updates range anywhere from 10,000 to 500,000 views already.

Bronson is amazed at the response her video has received. Outside of the TikTok views, Google search results for “woman with woodpecker in hair” spit out dozens of stories from news stations and wire services around the world. Articles now appear on Independent UK and Daily Mail UK, and Bronson has been contacted by the Today Show on NBC for a potential interview.

Those updates have mostly been about the status of the bird. The morning after the incident, Bronson checked on the bird outside and saw it sleeping alone. She worried about its well-being, so she was put in touch with Holly’s Nest — a local wildlife rescue and rehabilitation center — to find a temporary home. “They confirmed, because it was so young, that it needed help,” she said. “So in those videos, I added links in hopes that people would donate to them as we have done.”

As the hits mounted on her TikTok videos, Bronson was contacted by CNN for a short remote interview about her experience. Next, it was Inside Edition, which did a nearly two-minute piece on Bronson and the bird.

“It’s just crazy the people it has reached,” she said. “Now it’s global, and it’s just mind blowing. My brother and I are still trying to figure out why it has been so popular. I definitely was humbled by the power of social media, and I’ve learned it really doesn’t take much for a video to skyrocket.”

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LOCAL GOVERNMENT

COUNTY'S BUDGET CUTS PROPERTY TAXES, HELPS CCCC tional revenue to meet needs in the Sheriff’s Office.

By Richard Sullins richard@rantnc.com Commissioners adopted a $90 million budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year inJune, a spending plan that cuts property taxes by 3 cents and expands funding for Central Carolina Community College, but leaves local public school teachers without a supplemental pay increase for another year. The plan on the agenda was for a public hearing and comments from interested citizens, but when no one appeared to speak either for or against the proposal, the commissioners voted to suspend their own rules and vote on the budget during the same night. The spending plan cuts the tax rate by 3 cents, from the current 76 cents per $100 valuation in property to 73. The initial budget plan released last week had called for a 72.5 cents rate, but an amendment offered by Republican Commissioner Dr. Andre Knecht changed it to 73 cents and moved that addi-

.

Commission Chairman Kirk Smith, a Republican, said “we were focused since January to provide the taxpayers of Lee County relief in these trying economic times of high inflation and rising energy costs.” The additional half-cent for the Sheriff’s Office created another $331,176 in revenue and that will be combined with $116,964 from the county’s fund balance. The purpose of these changes is to add two additional road deputies to the sheriff’s staff and to address staffing issues in the county jail. Interim Sheriff Brian Estes will work with County Manager John Crumpton and Finance Officer Lisa Minter to allocate $150,710 for salaries, fringe benefits, and equipment; $116,964 to purchase new vehicles; and $180,466 in salaries, fringe benefits, and equipment to the jail. The last-minute boost brought home an

NEW BUSINESS. NEW JOBS. EXPANDED TAX BASE.

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Investment

Jobs Created

$500,000,000+

700

$170,900,000 $109,400,000

460 209

$213,000,000

325

$11,800,000

235

$1,005,100,000+

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increase for the Sheriff’s Office of just under $1.35 million. But even that amount is still far short of Estes’ initial request of $7 million in new funding. Central Carolina Community College has much to celebrate in the new budget year, with a total increase in its budget of $1,243,205. The coming year’s budget includes a special appropriation of $920,000 to get the Moore Center up and running for training needed by car manufacturer VinFast next summer, as well as another $323,205 in current expense funds to pay for increased salary costs for locally paid employees. Not every department that depends on the county for a portion of its funding got good news from the meeting. For the second year in a row, the four Republican commissioners refused to budge on the issue of granting increases on local supplements to teachers and classified staff in the county’s schools. The Lee County Board of Education had asked for $1.6 million to grant a 2 percent raise in the supplements and keep local schools competitive in attracting and retaining new teachers. There was no discussion of the issue at the June meeting because positions had been made clear when the commissioners met with school board leadership and District Superintendent Dr. Andy Bryan on May 23. The total amount of the coming fiscal year’s budget is $90,838,408, or $6 million more than the current year. It projects to raise just over half of that amount through ad valorem, or property, taxes ($48 million) and $23 million in revenues from the local option sales tax. CITY'S BUDGET WILL MEAN INCREASE IN WATER, SEWAGE BILLS

The council also gave final approval to a budget of $64,202,816 for Fiscal Year 202223. The revenue and spending plan for the coming year keeps the property tax rate at 62 cents per $100 of valuation. Sanford has seen an increase in the costs for providing water and sewer services, and the budget would raise those rates by 10 percent and 6 percent, respectively, meaning the average household would see their water

and sewer bill go up by about $4.23 per month. Solid waste fees would increase by $10 per year. City workers would see their paychecks increased through a 4 percent cost of living adjustment and they would be eligible for an additional merit increase of up to 2 percent. The city proposes one new position for the coming year, that of an additional building inspector needed to help with the booming construction taking place. An existing part-time customer service representative position in utilities would be converted to full-time status, and three other positions (another building inspector, a grants analyst, and utilities and engineering director) would be funded as full-time for their first full year. The budget focuses its revenues on accomplishing the five strategic goals adopted by the council last month: economic prosperity for all, preserving and creating affordable housing, vibrant downtown, planning and infrastructure for growth, and engagement. City Manager Hal Hegwer said in May that meeting that these goals “anchor the city’s objectives and provide a tool to prioritize spending and resource allocations.” SANFORD OK'S PLANS FOR TWO HOUSING DEVELOPMENTS

The Sanford City Council gave approval in June to preliminary design plats for two new housing developments that will make available nearly 1,000 new homes inside the city limits. Both developments had previously been zoned, but the conditional zoning district designations under which they were created require the council to approve the design plats and any future modifications that may be requested by the builders. The first of these is the Midtown Village South subdivision, a 288.74-acre tract that has frontage on Colon and Lower Moncure roads north of the city’s center. This project, which is among the largest housing developments currently under consideration in Lee County, will create up to 732 single-family homes and 171 townhouses for a total of 903 units.


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rantnc.com Mark Lyczkowski of Sanford is the developer of Midtown Village South and told the council it will be developed in three phases. Documents submitted to the city indicate that 84 acres of the tract will be preserved as open spaces. Brick Capital Community Development Corporation also submitted a preliminary plat, this one for a 15.45-acre tract to be known as the Washington Avenue Subdivision. This site is proposed to be home for 45 single-family homes that will help meet the needs for affordable housing in Sanford. The Washington Avenue project, just across from the newly renovated Horton Park, is in the second phase of the project’s design. “I am very excited for Brick Capital,” said Democratic Councilman Byron Buckels, who is also mayor pro tem. “Washington Avenue will be a bright spot for our citizens there, especially with the improvements

recently made at Horton Park.” The availability of affordable housing is key to the city’s growth. The median sale price of homes during May in Sanford ranged from $225,000 to $300,000, depending on the website consulted. It’s at least a third higher in the Triangle, where the median sale price last month stood at $400,000 in Raleigh. Outgoing Mayor Chet Mann called the Washington Avenue subdivision “a perfect example of what happens when people work together — just a fantastic project.” The council took the first steps with two other projects where annexation into the city limits has been requested. The first is a 611.9-acre tract at the intersection of Ammons Farm and Rod Sullivan roads across from the Raleigh Executive Jetport north of the city, a request for non-contiguous annexation conveyed by Stephens Enterprises LLC and Justin Matthew Stephens as its principal.

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30 | July 2022

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Veternation Inc. recently announced #ProjectVETS in Sanford — a community mobile shower program. Central Carolina and the Fort Bragg are are home to more than 100,000 members of the Armed Forces, veterans and community members. The organization's mission is to assist veterans who are without proper hygienic care by providing hot showers, food and clothing vouchers, dental hygiene kits and more. Member of the organization and supporters in Lee County gathered on May 25 for a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new mobile shower.

LEE MAY BE REMOVED FROM MOTOR VEHICLE INSPECTION PROGRAM Lee County residents may soon no longer be required to get an emissions test on their vehicle when renewing their registration, thanks efforts from the state and federal governments. The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to approve a State Implementation Plan revision submitted by North Carolina to remove Lee, Onslow and Rockingham counties from the state’s motor vehicle inspection and maintenance program. Most other counties in the state already don’t require emissions tests. The revision was published in June by the Office of the Federal Register. The state estimates for this action to become effective Nov. 1.

BRIEFS SANFORD 101 RETURNING, NOW REGISTERING FOR SUMMER

FIX-IT PLUMBING STARTS PLUMBING SCHOLARSHIP

After a two-year hiatus, the City of Sanford has announced Sanford 101 — previously called Sanford Citizens’ Academy — is now registering for a 2022 session.

Central Carolina Community College graduate Neil Coggins has established the Fix-It Plumbing Scholarship Endowment at his alma mater. The scholarship will benefit students in the Industrial Systems or Building Construction Technologies programs.

First conceived in 2014, Sanford 101’s mission is to educate residents about how their city government functions. At the end of the program, participants should have a greater understanding of how and why municipal decisions are made. The ultimate goal is for residents to be more engaged in and knowledgeable about the decision-making process. The 2022 session will run on Monday evenings for 12 weeks starting July 18. Each week will feature a different department, including police, fire, parks, and economic development. Some standout sessions include trips to the Raleigh Exec Jetport, Sanford Municipal Golf Course, and Central Carolina Enterprise Park.

Fix-it Plumbing Services began in 1982 as a part-time job for Coggins while he was enrolled at CCCC. “CCCC is definitely special to me and close to my heart being that the two years I was enrolled directly helped me to be where I am today,” said Coggins. “The knowledge and skills obtained through the two-year Industrial Maintenance program opened the door to qualify and obtain a great job after graduation.” Coggins points out that his foundation in plumbing skills is due to the investment

of time, energy and resources of one of his high school teachers, Donnie Brafford. SANFORD COULD PROVIDE SEWER, WATER TO CHATHAM PARK If you’ve driven north to Chapel Hill along U.S. 15-501, then you’ve passed through the heart of one of the largest developments in central North Carolina. Once completed, Chatham Park near Pittsboro will exceed 7,000 acres in size and will have up to 22,000 homes. Groundbreaking for this huge residential area began in 2014 and the target date for completion is 2045. The Sanford City Council has agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding with Chatham Park Investors that could result in the provision of water and sewer services to the development. One of Sanford’s greatest assets is its ability to provide those services and the MOU stipulates that


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rantnc.com Sanford will assess its capability to provide up to 3 million gallons per day of both water and sewer services to the development.

was restored several years ago and is being purchased from the Progressive Development Corporation.

Assuming the city can meet these demands, it will determine the costs for doing so while Chatham Park looks for funding to make it a reality. If both those objectives can be accomplished, Chatham Park Investors will install infrastructure that will allow interconnection with lines belonging to the city. A wastewater connection would have to be made to the city’s Big Buffalo Wastewater Reclamation Facility.

The city of Sanford will continue to utilize space in portions of the building for at least four years. The same is true for the Sanford Area Growth Alliance, whose current contract won’t expire for another decade. The building is now home to SAGA, as well as joint city and county planning offices that provide zoning, building inspections, strategic mapping and neighborhood development.

COUNTY BUYS BUGGY FACTORY

FIRSTHEALTH CARDIOLOGY WELCOMES PA TO SANFORD

The Lee County Board of Commissioners approved a plan to purchase the Buggy Company building on Chatham Street for $5.125 million. The county will make a down payment of $1.5 million and pay the balance in 48 monthly installments of $75,520.83. The structure was built in 1907 as home to the Sanford Buggy Company, an employee-owned offshoot of the Tyson & Jones Buggy Company in Carthage. The building

FirstHealth Cardiology-Pinehurst Medical Clinic welcomed Lesley Pritchard, MPAS, PA-C, to its cardiology team in Sanford. Pritchard joins Drs. Mahmoud Aiteh, Michael Gillespie and Lukas Jantac. Pritchard has almost 10 years of experience in the medical field which has allowed her to serve as an EMT/paramedic and a physician assistant at a cardiovascular center.

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GOP CHAIR WOMACK APPOINTED TO CCCC BOARD OF TRUSTEES Lee County Republican Party Chairman Jim Womack was appointed by county commissioners in June to fill a vacancy on the Central Carolina Community College Board of Trustees. Womack was named to replace Julian Philpott on the trustees’ board, but Philpott’s absence as a trustee could be short-lived. The shuffling of appointments will continue at the commission’s next meeting in July, when it’s expected to act again to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of trustee (and Republican Lee County commissioner) Bill Carver from the trustees’ board earlier this month. When he spoke to The Rant in June, Carver believed his position would be filled alongside those already on the agenda on Monday. But he said discussions between commission Chairman Kirk Smith, a Republican, and others prior to the meeting led to a postponement of the filling of the second vacancy. Carver said this decision was made in order to create a second application window for interested citizens to apply. Four others, including Philpott, expressed interest in the original appointment. They were registered nurse Rebecca Yarnell, Central Carolina Hospital Director of Physician Services Oscar Moreno, and retired U.S. Army Lt. Colonel David Bernard. Carver said “it is refreshing to see all the numbers who people who have applied to serve on these boards. I just hope they won’t be disappointed if they don’t receive their first choice.” Smith said the commission’s goal was to limit the number of boards or committees an individual could serve on during a calendar year to two, preserving the opportunity for others to participate. — Richard Sullins | Full story at rantnc.com

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ELECTION Q&A: SANFORD CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES FOR JULY 26 ELECTION The race for one of two at-large seats on the Sanford City Council will be a matchup between Democrat Linda Rhodes and Republican Richard Porter. The winner will take the seat currently held by Democrat Chas Post, who is vacating the seat this year. These answers are published as submitted by the candidates without edits. ____________________ The City Council faces significant turnover beginning in August and the winner of this race will become one of three new members. What are two or three issues or items you believe will allow you to bring to the city's attention, and how will you work with your colleagues to address them? Linda Rhodes (D): This will be a time of significant membership and role changes on the City Council. But, let me remind folks that at some point, everyone was the new person on the Council. Even Michael Jordan had to earn his way into the lineup! I am earning my way into the lineup and already have working and community relationships with current board members. Those relationships will serve me well in being able to work productively and respectfully with my fellow City Council members. I look forward to working with everyone as we continue to address the issue of growth and its impact on our community, the continued revitalization of downtown Sanford and Jonesboro, and we must work together and acknowledge the opioid crisis that we are witnessing in our neighborhoods. Richard Porter (R): First of all, I am grateful to the citizens of Sanford for this opportunity to serve on the Sanford City

Council. I believe the City Council has done a very good job and should be commended for the good work. Chas Post whose his seat I’m running for, has done an excellent job. Chet Mann has done a wonderful job as Mayor with his “open for business” agenda. Under his leadership the city is growing and is poised for future growth. Our best days are ahead. We must embrace our past as well as continue to shape our future. I’m lifelong resident of the Sanford and Lee county. I went to city schools here- starting at McIver school furthering my education at Sanford junior high school, Sanford central high school and CCTI. I’ve owned and worked at a number of businesses in Sanford and Durham- managing as many as 175 employees. I’ve been in the roofing business for over 50 years. I feel like I bring a strong business acumen to the city Council which by the way the city is a huge business. My experience over the years has prepared me to continue to work with all walks of life. As a elected city official we need to continue to strengthen the relationship with county and identify areas of overlap to save both entities money. We need to work as a community setting aside our personal differences and agendas. We are much stronger together than divided. I intend to seek the input of all the citizens of Sanford who I will serve. Everyone’s opinions matter. ____________________ By the same token, what issues facing the current council would you like to see addressed more expansively or differently? Linda Rhodes (D): I will continue my thoughts on the opioid crisis with this question. I believe we need to broadly expand our approach to addressing and lessening the use of narcotics throughout our communities. We must acknowledge a problem does exist and it will take all of us to develop a solution. And that solution will not be a simple “flow chart” of steps to take and all will be good.

The successful and effective solution will involve law enforcement, ministers, the legal community, teachers, social workers, mental health professionals, parents, addicts, medical professionals, and business leaders. In other words, we all have a stake in the solution. Just like other communities, we are losing too many people and the safety of our neighborhoods is being impacted by the distribution and use of these drugs. And I want to take a moment and commend the City on the recent action taken against The Prince Motel. For those readers that may not be familiar with it, the City has filed a lawsuit against the motel and has asked that it cease to do business due to it being a nuisance in the community. I agree with the actions taken by the City and thank those in the Rosemount-McIver neighborhood that spoke out and worked with our local law enforcement to bring us to this point in making our neighborhoods much safer. Richard Porter (R): 1.) Public safety, infrastructure improvements. 2.) Managing future growth 3.) Lowering the tax rate and being a good steward of tax payer dollars. Public safety is a very important department as we grow. I want to point out that I feel that our chief of police Ronnie Yarborough and his administration have done a outstanding job for a number of years. Pursing accreditation and completing the task is something in which community should be proud. ____________________ Do you think it's necessary for City Council elections to be held on a partisan basis? Why or why not? Linda Rhodes (D): The fact is that our City Council worked quite well for decades on a non-partisan basis. And is there really anyone out there that believes we need more partisanship injected into our government?! There are a few that will defend the parti-


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rantnc.com san approach, but those people tend to exist because of the drama and the self-importance that goes with partisan politics. You know what they say about big fish and little ponds. What they don’t tell you is that the “big fish” always ends up getting fried… sometimes by the little fish. I think we have had our share of partisanship. Now is the time to forget about electing individuals that are held hostage by their party leadership; let’s elect real public servants based on their commitment and qualifications for the position. We need more genuine and common-sense adults in public service and not more big fish looking for a little pond. Richard Porter (R): No answer.

____________________ It's been reported that thanks to Sanford's role in the VinFast deal, the city will receive millions of dollars over the next 50 years, all of it going to the unrestricted general fund. Do you have any proposals for the use of this revenue? Linda Rhodes (D): There are so many different scenarios for this. But first, what a great predicament to find ourselves in! Our local governments have done an outstanding job partnering with industries like VinFast and securing a bright future for the citizens of Sanford and Lee County. The revenue collected from VinFast and other incoming industry will provide us the opportunity to

carefully plan for and provide affordable housing for the families we are welcoming to our city. And because of partnerships like VinFast, generations will benefit from the foresight and planning on the part of our local and state governments. We have a lot to be proud of. Regardless of how the expected revenue is used, we need to consider the local taxpayers’ burden over the years and make certain we do not increase that burden. Our citizens have exercised great care for our city and county and our taxpayers, especially those senior citizens living on fixed incomes, deserve consideration when deciding where revenue will be focused. Instead of me having predetermined areas for this anticipated revenue, I think it would serve me better to hear from our citizens and take

into consideration their feedback. Richard Porter (R): We’ve done a great job of recruiting companies and being a regional player as evident in the latest announcement with VinFast. The Vinfast revenues will be $22.2 million over 20 years in water alone. This money must be spent to support infrastructure related to the utility fund for expansion and rehabbing of our water and sewer infrastructure. We will get spillover growth from Vinfast in Lee County in the form of housing as well as support companies for VinFast which will strengthen our tax base. Editor's Note: All answers were written by the candidtes and unedited by The Rant Monthly.

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Q&A: SANFORD CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES FOR JULY 26 ELECTION The race for the Ward 1 seat on the Sanford City Council will be a matchup between Democrat Mark Akinosho, a pastor and former chairman of the Lee County Board of Education, and Republican Blaine Sutton, a retired educator. The winner will take the seat currently held by Democrat Sam Gaskins, who is vacating the seat this year. These answers are published as submitted by the candidates without edits. ____________________ The City Council faces significant turnover beginning in August and the winner of this race will become one of three new members. What are two or three issues or items you believe will allow you to bring to the city's attention, and how will you work with your colleagues to address them? Mark Akinosho (D): The mayor and the two retiring members have done a good job to market Sanford as “open for business”

@therant905 and a place to invest for the future. I would like to thank them for their service. I have served on boards that had similar experiences of turnover. I feel like I bring a solid track record of positive leadership and decision-making. As chair of the Lee County Board of Education, I proved I can deliver results for our citizens, employees and stakeholders. I will consider all aspects of every issue before I vote. I am not beholden to anyone but the citizens of the City of Sanford. I will be your voice for slow, smart, sensible growth. This means developments should complement existing homes and neighborhoods and take environmental issues into consideration. Infrastructure upgrades are necessary for moving forward. I'm a strong supporter of our police, fire, and the city employees. Their welfare will be one of my priorities. Land use, water, city facilities, parks, healthcare, fire, police, and first responder facilities are all necessary parts of the infrastructure investments and should not be considered separate issues. It is critical that these areas of our infrastructure grow as our city grows.

Blaine Sutton (R): There are many different challenges facing our Sanford City Council today. These include: 1) Lowering taxes without reducing services, 2) Attracting industry and jobs for a steadily increasing population, 3) Retaining and rewarding governmental personnel and staff (including first responders) at a time when neighboring counties offer better financial packages, and 4) maintaining the wholesome integrity of a small town while strategically adhering to land use policies and preparing the infrastructure for an immediate and ongoing population increase. As a thirty-year career educator, I had many opportunities to interact with individuals with different points of view, backgrounds, levels of knowledge, and experiences. This ongoing journey instilled in me the value of attentively listening to others and asking questions later. I have learned each individual has something meaningful to share and their point of view must be respected. Through open communication and

meaningful conversations across political party lines, better decisions will be made. Through this ongoing process, the Sanford City Council will achieve more collaboratively and ultimately make our community a better place to work and raise a family. Together, we can achieve more! ____________________ By the same token, what issues facing the current council would you like to see addressed more expansively or differently? Mark Akinosho (D): Homelessness and crime are serious issues that need to be addressed as we move forward. It must be done in conjunction with the county. It seems the current board has studied the issues and have started to implement some solutions via recommendations of the S3 Connect task force. I would like to continue this and expand on the mental health side of homelessness. I'm also concerned with increasing crime and mental health issues due to drug abuse. Furthermore, I would like to study ways to reduce property tax rates for a lot of our citizens who may not be able to stay in their homes as the city grows and their property values increase. Blaine Sutton (R): Taxes in the city of San-

PAID FOR BY THE COMMITTEE TO ELECT RICHARD PORTER


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rantnc.com ford rank among the highest in central North Carolina. We pay 62 cents per $100 property tax value whereas the property tax rate is 40 cents per $100 property value in Southern Pines and only 37.5 cents per $100 property tax value in Raleigh. We must do better than this by eliminating waste. For many citizens of our community, these are tough economic times. They are struggling to make ends meet, including making the decision to buy medicine or putting money aside to pay their annual property tax. I have walked the majority of neighborhoods in Ward One and have heard this on several occasions. I am personally troubled to hear this from our elderly citizens. In short, the high property tax rate is a burden for too many people. I believe it is important to be a faithful servant of your hard-earned tax dollars. This will be achieved through reducing and eliminating unnecessary taxes and fees (such as the $30 vehicle fee) for Sanford residents. We can and must do a better job of budgeting our fiscal affairs and managing that budget with a reduced tax burden for everyone. Unfortunately, our quality of life does not match those oppressive tax burdens we presently have. It is my personal goal to improve the professionalism and fiscal responsibility of the current city council by advocating for eliminating unnecessary taxes and fees on your behalf. When this is achieved, Sanford will evolve into a family-friendly, business-friendly town with an abundance of opportunities for everyone. As Sanford grows, we need to use intelligent long-range planning by integrating proper land-use procedures, infrastructure, and economic growth planning into an ongoing strategic plan for the city. We should provide water and sewer to all developed areas before selling those services to neighboring counties. We need to attract new companies with business-friendly permitting and inspections, lower taxes, and more frequent contact with economic development leaders. Their presence will help us better manage modernization projects like street lighting and curbing initiatives. I aspire to do whatever it takes to make Sanford a family-friendly and business-friendly environment where people can work and raise a family. It will be an honor to represent you on the Sanford City Council. ____________________ Do you think it's necessary for City Council elections to be held on a partisan basis? Why or why not?

Mark Akinosho (D): In my opinion there is no benefit to partisanship. The needs of our citizens have no partisan label. Partisanship prevents a lot of good people from participating. It is very difficult for those registered as unaffiliated to run for office. Blaine Sutton (R): Since the Sanford City Council is currently a partisan board, I support the cooperation of all members of the city council to work together, regardless of their political affiliation, for the good of the city and its citizens. ____________________ It's been reported that thanks to Sanford's role in the VinFast deal, the city will receive millions of dollars over the next 50 years, all of it going to the unrestricted general fund. Do you have any proposals for the use of this revenue? Mark Akinosho (D): I'm not going to speculate on the millions that are not available at this moment. 50 years is a long time. I think it's just common sense to address the needs of Sanford as they come up, and try to plan ahead the best we can with the resources we have at that time. Blaine Sutton (R): By all accounts, the VinFast deal will become a lucrative windfall for the city of Sanford. On March 29, VinFast announced a two-billion-dollar electric car factory would be built near Sanford. Approximately 150,000 cars are expected to be built each year and provide thousands of high-paying jobs for citizens within driving distance of Sanford. With millions of dollars being given to the city of Sanford over the next fifty years, I advocate using some of this revenue for the following: A. Lower taxes (by lowering the tax rate). B. Provide more substance abuse services. C. Create more greenways, which will connect neighborhoods since many people now feel isolated. D. Employ more first responders. E. Construct an indoor swimming facility. I believe all children need to learn to swim. F. Improve recreational opportunities for people of all ages. G. Community policing. H. Provide more eldercare services. I. Provide water and sewer to developed areas. J. Promote services that attract industry and jobs. K. Create a “rainy day fund” for the future. L. Create policing substations throughout the city

Understanding 'crypto'

W

ith cryptocurrencies so much in the news, you might be wondering if you should invest in them. But “invest” may not be the right word — because cryptocurrencies, or “crypto” for short, may be more speculation than investment. But what’s really the difference between a speculator and an investor? Probably the main factor is the differing views of time. A true investor is in it for the long term, building a portfolio that, over many years, can eventually provide the financial resources to achieve important goals, such as a comfortable retirement. But speculators want to see results, in the form of big gains, right now — and they’re often willing to take big risks to achieve these outcomes. There’s also the difference in knowledge. Investors know that they’re buying shares of stock in a company that manufactures products or provides services. But many speculators in cryptocurrency don’t fully comprehend what they’re buying – because crypto just isn’t that easy to understand. Cryptocurrencies are subject to truly astonishing price swings, with big gains followed by enormous losses – sometimes within a matter of hours. What’s behind this type of volatility? Actually, several factors are involved. For one thing, the price of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies depends heavily on supply and demand

— and the demand can skyrocket when media outlets and crypto “celebrities” tout a particular offering. Furthermore, speculators will bet on crypto prices moving up or down, and these bets can trigger a rush on buying and selling, again leading to the rapid price movements. And many purchasers of crypto, especially young people, want to see big profits quickly, so when they lose large amounts, which is common, they often simply quit the market, contributing to the volatility. Also, unlike the traditional financial markets, the crypto marketplace is largely unregulated. This lack of oversight has contributed to the growth of “scam” exchanges, crypto market manipulation, excessive trading fees and other predatory practices. The cryptocurrency market is still relatively new, and it’s certainly possible that, in the future, crypto can become more of an investment and less of a speculation. In fact, Congress is actively considering ways to regulate the cryptocurrency market. But for now, you may want to approach crypto with caution.any 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 | July 2022

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EVENT CALENDAR

RIVER CITY CITIZENS Temple Theatre's summer conservatory series kicked off in June with "Music Man Jr.," starring a cast of nearly 40 teens and pre-teens from Sanford and the surrounding areas. July will feature "101 Dalmations Jr." from the Advanced Junior Music Conservatory, "Bye Bye Birdie" (teens), and "Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet" (Shakespeare Intensive). To learn more or to purchase tickets, go to templeshows.com.

SATURDAYS The Sanford Farmers Market will be held from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Saturdays throughout July and into November. Farmers and merchants from throughout the area will sell fresh fruits and vegetables and other homemade products behind the Buggy Factory at 115 Chatham Street in downtown Sanford.

MONDAYS Every Monday night at 7 p.m., Circle M City comes alive with plenty of pickin’ and singi’. Guitars, mandolins, banjos, fiddles, bass and and their players of all ages gather in the Livery Stable. Listen or join in. The Monday Jam starts at 7 p.m.

JULY 1 Temple Theatre presents “101 Dalmations Kids” at 7:30 p.m. on July 1 and 2 and 7:30 p.m. on July 2. The show is

part of Temple’s Advanced Junior Music Theatre Conservatory.

JULY 9 Sanford’s very own Big Up will be live in concert at Dreams Cafe in downtown Sanford. Doors open at 8 p.m. Show is 21+, dress to impress. Security will be enforced. Learn more at (919) 231-9227. Veternation will host a Military Resource Fair for veterans, active duty , Reserves and National Guard from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the VFW Post 531 at 1500 Webb St. in Sanford. Bring your DD214 and resume. Join Chef Shauna for a Gourmet Charcuterie Board Class starting at 7 p.m. at 241 Wicker St. in downtown Sanford. Tickets start at $55 and can be purchased at uNation.com. Guests will learn how to build a gourmet and visually stunning charcuterie board featuring a bounty of fresh, high-qual-

ity local ingredients with a variety of textures and flavor profiles. The chef will also show you how to prepare a deeply flavored olive tapenade, as well as homemade hummus to pair with garlic naan and crackers.

JULY 10 Yoga & Beer returns to Hugger Mugger Brewing at 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 10. Cost is $20 and includes a drink of choice. Register at Hugger Mugger or on the Sanford Yoga app.

JULY 14 Guy Unger Band will perform at Depot Park at 6:30 p.m. as part of the City of Sanford’s “Summer of Music” program. Admission is free, and more concerts will be planned throughout July and August. To stay updated on the series, follow the parks department’s Facebook page @ CityofSanfordParks.


The Rant Monthly | 37

rantnc.com JULY 15 Temple Theatre presents “Bye Bye Birdie” at 7:30 p.m. on July 15 and 2 and 7:30 p.m. on July 16. The show is part of Temple’s Advanced Teen Musical Theatre Conservatory.

JULY 16 Cars & Culture, presented by Phantom Nation, will be held from noon to 5 p.m. at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center. Show off your ride and drive away with trophies, food, amazing pictures and videos of your car. Tickets ($20 adults, free for children 12 and under) available at phantomnation.club.

Yoga and Community Center in Jonesboro Heights. Price is $20 and includes a 24-ounce boba tea. Drop by or sign up on Facebook. Event is sponsored by the Sanford Yoga Community Center and the LGBTQ+ Resource Center. The NextGenGolf City Tour — a golf tournament series for amateur golfers, ages 21 and older and of “all swings” — will come to Tobacco Road Golf Club in Sanford. Tee time is 1 p.m.

JULY 25

Bottle Share at Hugger Mugger Brewing begins at 7 p.m. on July 20. Bring your favorite bottles, cans and growlers of craft beer to share with like-minded beer lovers. Admission is free.

Christmas in July with myDSI will kick off in downtown Sanford. The weeklong event will feature “summer holiday sales” from downtown merchants. Every purchase in any participating downtown store will equal a punch on your downtown shopping incentive card. Fill up to receive 10 percent off the item of your choice. Pick up your card at the Visitor’s Center (106 Charlotte Ave.), and get a shopping bag and free gift.

JULY 23

JULY 29

JULY 20

Hugger Mugger: Kids Dance Party at Hugger Mugger Brewing runs from 3 to 5 p.m. This month’s party will be pirate themed. D.J. Peluso provides the hits, Kim Kirkpatrick will have face painting and there will be a couple more surprises in store. A Motown Tribute Show, “Shadows of the 60s” will begin at 7 p.m. (doors open at 6) at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center. “Shadows of the 60s” pays tribute to the legacy of Motown’s super groups such as The Temptations, The Four Tops, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder and many more. Tickets are $42.50 for general admission and $52.50 for VIP and can be purchased at myevent.com/shadowsofmotown. A Doggone Good Time Pet Fashion Show will be held at Wild Dogs Brewing at 136 N. Steele St. in downtown Sanford from 4 to 6 p.m. Entry is a $20 donation or $20 value in pet supplies for a local no-kill rescue shelter. Happy hour will run from 4 to 5 p.m. and showtime is 5 to 7 p.m. Live music by Car Crash Pool Party and D.J. DGroove. Hosted by Mary Shepard. Proceeds will benefit Lee County Arts Council programs.

JULY 24 Boba Buddies Yoga & Boba will be held at 2 p.m. on July 24 at the Sanford

Whiskey Bent will perform at The Smoke & Barrel in downtown Sanford at 8:30 p.m. The artists are a three-piece acoustic rock/modern country cover band featuring Travis ZInn, Gibb Lum and Gale Watson.

JULY 30 The Going Beyond Your Dream Fashion Show & Hair Show will be held at the Mann Center at 507 N. Steele St. in Sanford. The artist preshow featuring local talent will begin at 4 p.m., and the show will start at 5. Show will feature models from Dynamite Modeling and How it Seams. Enjoy vendors, fashion, hair and fun.

SEND YOUR EVENT Now that events are back and have been running for several months now, The Rant Monthly's community calendar has returned. We'll do our best to track down everything going on in Sanford and Lee County, but we need your help in keeping this calendar updated and relevant. Send us your events by email at billy@rantnc.com and include the date, time, location and a brief description of what's going on. Thank you!

You can view our jobs at Expresspros.com/sanfordnc

Stop by and meet with our recruiting specialist.

307 North Horner Blvd. Sanford (919) 775-1292


38 | July 2022

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SANFORD SPINNERS

HOT START HAS SPINNERS ATOP ONSL'S EAST DIVISION defeated against the remainder of the league's east division, which in addition to Southport, Raleigh, Fayetteville, and Pinehurst, includes the Swepsonville Sweepers.

By Gordon Anderson gordon@rantnc.com The Sanford Spinners charged out of the gate in the first half of their two month season, winning four of their first five games and going 10-4 overall (the final game of the month, played against the High Point Hushpuppies, wasn't played until after the print deadline for this edition of The Rant Monthly). The Spinners are a part of the collegiate level summer Old North State League and feature players from college teams across the country. The current iteration of the team is in its second year (the 2021 squad went 12-16 and missed the league's playoffs by a hair), but is named for a minor league team which operated here in the 30s, 40s and 50s. Their home field is at Tramway Park next to Southern Lee High School, although they're expected to move to Lee County's multisports complex when it's completed.

The Sanford Spinners are off to a great start in their second season, 10-4 overall through 14 games and laeidng the Old North State League's East Division. The Spinners opened the season with four consecutive wins over the Sandhills (Pinehurst) Bogeys, the Fayetteville Chutes, the Brunswick (Southport) Surfin' Turfs, and the Oak City (Raleigh) Gliders. The team experienced its first loss in a rematch against the Bogeys, who topped them 5-1 on June 12.

The Bogeys were one of just two teams who had dealt the Spinners their accumulated four losses as of June 26. The Bogeys also won 4-3 over the Spinners on June 14, while Oak City beat the Spinners 4-1 on June 22 and 4-3 on June 25. The Spinners at the end of June were 2-2 against each team and un-

June highlights for the Spinners included multiple games against Brunswick and Fayetteville in which they scored in the double digits (13-2 over the Chutes on June 6, 17-4 against Brunswick on June 15, and 13-2 over Brunswick again on June 19). As of June 26, the team's pitching staff led its division in a number of pitching metrics, including strikeouts per nine innings, earned run average and hits and runs allowed. Playoff eligibility is determined by weighted “conference” games, in which the Spinners were 7-3 as of June 26, leading the league's east division.The team has home games on July 1, July 3, July 11, July 15, July 20, July 21, July 22, July 23, and July 24 (the final day of the regular season). Admission is $8 for adults and $4 for children.

12 Premium Craft Beers on Tap! Live ! Music

• Great Bourbon Selection! • House-smoked pork & brisket • Deli-style sandwiches • Daily specials including ribs & chicken • Much more!

Sanford’s premier neighborhood spot for food and fun. C’mon out and see your friends!

120 S. Steele Street Sanford, NC 27330 919-292-1374

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Harris Post Social Security Disability Advocate

919-775-5616

harris@centralcarolinalawyers.com


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Thank you for allowing Pinehurst Medical Clinic to serve your healthcare needs since 1952. w w w . p i n e h u r s t m e d i c a l . c o m


40 | July 2022

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