The Rant Monthly | August 2022

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The Rant y l h t Mon AUGUST 2022

SANFORD, NORTH CAROLINA

CHARTERED TERRITORY

NEW SCHOOLS HAVE ALTERED THE EDUCATION LANDSCAPE IN LEE COUNTY


2 | August 2022

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The RantMonthly August 2022 | Sanford, North Carolina A product of LPH Media, LLC Vol. 4 | Issue 8 | No. 41

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, Matt Ramey Editorial Board Cupid Childs, Ossee Schreckengost, Cowboy Jones, George Cuppy, Kid Carsey, Patsy Tebeau, Lave Cross, Emmet Heidrick and Cy Young

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

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. 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 2022, LPH Media LLC, all rights reserved.

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4 | August 2022

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PAGE FOUR POLITICAL CIVILITY

A NEW INDIE FEST Ten bands over two days will mark the return of Carolina Indie Fest, now organized by downtown Sanford’s Hugger Mugger Brewing. The “eclectic, multi-day, all original music festival” will be held downtown on Sept. 23 and 24, according to Tim Emmert of Hugger Mugger. “This is a free music festival open to all,” said Emmert. “We’re rocking out to independent artists performing original music from a variety of genres including pop, folk, punk, jazz and road house style country music. You will be amazed at these artists and their ability to blend styles and create that tough-to-describe music style known as ‘Americana.'” Sanford’s own Cliff Wheeler Band and national recording artist Paleface will return from the inaugural event to perform this year. They’ll be joined by Crystal Bright and the Silver Hands (self-described as “If Enya woke up in a vaudevillian nightmare wonderland”), rockabilly artists The Phantom Playboys, space punk protagonists Oort Patrol (Sanford’s own), folk/country artist David Childers and the Serpents, up-and-coming band Whoop of Raleigh (a fusion of indie, jazz, rock, reggae and hip-hop), rock/reggae North Carolina quartet Big Break, indie legend Mike Dillon & Punkadelic and Durham family rock trio Secret Monkey Weekend.

Republican Richard Porter, who was defeated on July 26 by Democrat Linda Rhodes for the at-large seat on the Sanford City Council being vacated by Democrat Chas Post, visited the Lee County Democratic Party’s election night party to congratulate Rhodes and wish her well, according to a Facebook post by Lee County Democratic Party Chairwoman Vonda Reives. The opponents appeared publicly a few days before at a local church service as well. While we're not convinced that this will be the model for local elections going forward, it’s great to see it happening at all. Congratulations to both Porter and Rhodes both for running a clean race and putting the people of Sanford before party affiliation.

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DID YOU KNOW? Roanoke Rapids High School is the largest and oldest high school still in use in North Carolina (it turned 100 years old in 2021). Famous New York City architect Hobart Upjohn designed the building’s modern gothic style, which is a reference to Oxford and Cambridge universities.

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The Rant Monthly | 5


6 | August 2022

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The Rant Monthly | 7

rantnc.com THE COLD OPEN

‘SCHOOL CHOICE’ HAS ARRIVED IN LEE COUNTY

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ne of the common complaints we see on our message boards when stories go online about the significant growth Sanford and Lee County are experiencing and expecting to experience concerns schools. How are we going to educate this influx of children? Aren’t we experiencing a teacher shortage as it is? The answer to that second question is “yes.” We are absolutely experiencing a teacher shortage, and it’s not just in Lee County. The problem is more significant in elementary schools across the state, and nobody is able to hire enough substitutes to get through a school year. But back to that first question — as many as 6,000 new homes are either in development or planned, and that will certainly mean more children entering our public and private schools.

We are advocates for public education in Lee County. Our children attend local public schools and our friends’ children attend local public schools. So news of three new charter schools in Lee County in the last four years — the third (Central Carolina Academy) set to open this fall in the old Pantry headquarters near the intersection of North Horner Boulevard and U.S. 1 — could easily rouse concern in the most ardent public school supporters who feel these schools could be taking away from our traditional public system. It’s true — students and teachers are leaving the two big high schools, three big middle schools, eight elementary schools and our specialty schools to attend Central Carolina Academy, MINA Charter School and Ascend Leadership Academy. And it’s true — these schools receive public funding, yet are operated by non-profit boards of directors. They are held accountable by the state department of public instruction, but

operate with freedom from many of the regulations that govern state district schools. So there’s worry. Or at least, the door is cracked for skepticism. The goal of this month’s cover story (Page 14), however, isn’t to criticize these schools before they’ve had a chance to grow and acclimate. Instead, we view this as an introduction to Lee County’s three charter schools — sharing their purpose and their goals. Many parents in Lee County are “testing the waters” on these new schools, and we’re not here to judge those decisions. Rather, we see the silver lining in “school choice” in Lee County, because if the population does jump as predicted, we’re in a position to handle the influx, in part, because of these schools. The next few years will reveal if these are good for our area. And like we do for our public schools, we’re rooting for their success.

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The Rant Monthly AUGUST 2022

SANFORD, NORTH CAROLINA

CHARTERED TERRITORY

NEW SCHOOLS HAVE ALTERED THE EDUCATION LANDSCAPE IN LEE COUNTY

This edition of The Rant Monthly looks at the three new charter schools that have opened in Sanford in the last four years — the most recent, Central Carolina Academy, set to open this fall. Cover photo by Matt Ramey


8 | August 2022

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THE LEAD WHAT THEY'RE SAYING "Harrington is a 21-year-old, oldest brother of five, salt-of-the-earth, North Carolina native who walked on to the Campbell baseball team in 2021 and left two years later as the school’s record-holder for single-season wins. And now, after being drafted 36th overall as a competitive-balance-round pick, and after penning a $2,050,000 signing bonus, he’s a Pirate." — Pittsburgh Post-Gazette “[Harrington] is intelligent, a learner, and can pick things up quickly. He was a two-sport athlete, which has allowed him to do some things in the past to stay athletic and make adjustments quickly on the mound. I think Harrington has some natural ability and we see plenty more tap into in many fronts with him.” — Pirates’ Senior Scout Director Joe DelliCarri

"One of the biggest things that stood out ... was the constant mention of the pitcher’s intelligence and his constant work on the most minute details. With a 60-grade changeup and a mid-90s fastball to work with, Harrington may be ahead of this Pirates’ crop of college pitchers. A changeup is the pitcher’s biggest dragon to slay, and Harrington may have the proper tools to slay that dragon. — PittsburghBaseballNow.com

Thomas Harrington signed a $2.05 million bonus with the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 22, five days after being taken with the 36th overall pick in the 2022 Major League Baseball draft. Photo: Pittsburgh Pirates

SPORTS

THOMAS HARRINGTON SELECTED 36TH OVERALL BY PIRATES, SIGNS $2.05M BONUS Former Southern Lee pitcher and college walk-on is highest-ever pitcher taken in Campbell history By Billy Liggett billy@rantnc.com

fellow Campbell Fighting Camel Zach Neto at No. 13) before Harrington’s moment arrived just after 10:30 p.m..

Family, high school classmates, college teammates and friends gathered at Thomas Harrington’s Sanford home on July 17 for the biggest moment of his life. The watch party had gone just over three hours, and 35 names had been called in the first-round of the Major League Baseball Draft (including

“With the 36th pick of the 2022 MLB Draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates select Thomas Harrington, a right-handed pitcher from Campbell U.” And just like that, the former Southern Lee High School pitcher whose senior year was derailed by the pandemic became a pro-

fessional baseball player, the highest drafted pitcher in Campbell history. Five days later, he officially signed with the Pirates and earned a $2.05 million bonus before ever throwing a professional pitch. “It's really indescribable, being with my family and close friends,” Harrington told Campbell University on the night of the draft. “Just to see all the joy and happiness in their faces was unbelievable.”


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rantnc.com Harrington was the Big South Conference Pitcher of the Year as a sophomore this season after leading all NCAA pitchers with 12 wins. He finished the 2022 season 12-2 with a 2.53 ERA, setting Campbell University program records for wins and strikeouts (111). He had the second-lowest ERA and third-lowest WHIP in the nation among pitchers with at least 90 innings. He went six innings in every start this year, and he turned in quality starts in 11 straight appearances. Harrington was also a five-time Big South Pitcher of the Week in 2022 — the only player in conference history to accomplish that feat — and in addition to being the top pitcher, he was the conference’s Scholar Athlete of the Year. He was also the first Camel to ever be named a Golden Spikes Award Semifinalist. Harrington will begin in the Pirates' farm system in 2022, though as of this publication, no announcement had been made about what level he would start at. He told The Rant in July that his dreams in pro baseball are 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. I want this to end with a speech in Cooperstown. Why not?”

Thomas Harrington sits with him mother, Tina, and father, Tommy, along with friends and family while they wait for the announcement of his first-round selection to the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 17. Photo courtesy of Campbell University

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10 | August 2022

@therant905 LEE COUNTY GOVERNMENT

SKYROCKETING COSTS HAVE LED TO MORE DELAYS FOR MULTI-SPORTS COMPLEX GOMEZ NAMED NEW CHAMBER DIRECTOR The Sanford Area Growth Alliance announced in July the hiring of Susan Gomez as director of the Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce. Gomez will develop and lead small business support programs in addition to managing membership development and engagement efforts. Gomez was born and raised in Queens, New York and moved to Sanford in 1999 after marrying her husband Gus. She earned her degree in psychology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and worked for 18 years in human resources for American Moulding & Millwork, Tyson Foods, Caterpillar and Noble Oil. Prior to joining SAGA, she served as business manager for St. Stephen Catholic Church in Sanford. “Susan brings a unique blend of management and leadership skills, developed through years of experience with some of Lee County’s largest employers,” said SAGA CEO Jimmy Randolph. "And with her practical experience managing a busy office for a local notfor-profit organization, she can relate very well to the challenges of operating a small business. Susan is absolutely the right person at the right time to lead the Chamber of Commerce.”

“I am beyond excited and eager to be part of the SAGA team. Throughout my 23 years in Sanford, I have enjoyed seeing its growth and look forward to being part of its continued expansion. My years of human resource experience, my love for Sanford and all the wonderful human connections I’ve made will be a great foundation for my new role. Making new connections and continuing the engagement of members will be my drive as I learn and grow at SAGA.” — Susan Gomez

Original $25-$30 million project costs at least $60 million; current forecast calls for project to be complete by 2028 By Richard Sullins richard@rantnc.com Lee County residents will have to wait a little longer for the heavy equipment to start up in the building of the MultiSports Complex. The escalating costs of construction and projected delays that could be caused by shortages in the supply chain caused the Lee County Board of Commissioners on July 11 to pause all planning for the project for at least the next 30 days. Lee County Manager John Crumpton reviewed with the commissioners the results of a discussion held earlier in July with the architect for the project, McAdams Civil Engineering, where preliminary cost estimates were reviewed. But even county leaders who have grown accustomed to cost overruns on construction projects seemed taken aback to learn that the estimated cost of creating the type of facility approved by taxpayers in 2020 is now more than double the original projected cost for building the complex. The total estimated cost as of July is $69,904,443, not including another $4 million for athletic lighting and road improvements, and the commissioners were told that even that amount might not be enough to finish the project. The projected costs show the county should expect a base bid of at least $60 million along with another $9 million for contingencies. The original estimates for the Multi-Sports Complex ranged from $25 to $30 million. The architects cited two primary rea-

sons for the skyrocketing estimates: continuing escalations in construction costs and the difficulty of accurately projecting the costs of materials and labor in the current and future markets.

saw, or something close to that. If we have to build it in phases, that’s fine. But whatever we choose to do, I want it to be a first-class facility.”

The property is located near the intersection of U.S. 421 and Broadway Road. The tract of land where the complex will be sited is comprised of 119.82 acres and was authorized in November 2020, when 58.59 percent of the voters approved a bond referendum for the project.

A ROLL OF THE DICE

As the commissioners discussed the challenge now facing the project, a common theme among both Democratic and Republican members was that they did not want to cut corners on quality simply as a means to save money. But Crumpton also told the board the scope of the project may need to be refined if it is to be carried out as it was sold to the voters. Crumpton said that the architects proposed giving a higher priority to rectangular-shaped fields where soccer is played because of their scarcity across the county. Playgrounds and community spaces would be completed second, followed by championship-grade soccer fields. At least four baseball fields would come after that, and the final stage of construction would be the creation of a 500-seat baseball stadium capable of hosting teams like the Sanford Spinners. Under the current McAdams projection, the project would be completed by the summer of 2028 if the timeline remains on schedule. Democratic Commissioner Cameron Sharpe said he favors a “quality before quantity” approach, even if the project has to be scaled back. “I support going forward with the rectangular fields first and not skimping on them,” he said. “Let’s make it a firstrate facility, even if we have to do it in phases. I don’t want to change anything from the original rendering of what we

Crumpton said the county has reached a point in the process where critical decisions about the complex are still to be made but “just like in chess, we also have the luxury of taking a little time to think before making our next move.” Putting the project on hold for a bit could result in significant savings if construction and the costs of building materials starts to fall. But in the same way, the price tag could get larger if costs keep going up. A pause could also allow the county staff time to look for grants or other sources of funding that might supplement existing funds, including contacting the county’s legislative delegation in Raleigh for help. McAdams says the project could be split into “zones” that could be completed as the county has funds available to pay for them, but that would delay the final completion of the project by years. Lee County Development Services Director Santiago Giraldo told the commissioners that “cost escalations are normally about 4 percent each year. But for the past couple of years, the average has been closer to 20 percent per year.” Giraldo oversees the county’s construction projects from start to finish and in the case of a huge undertaking like this one that could see as much as 80 acres of earthmoving work, he said that it makes sense to him to proceed slowly at first to minimize the risk of making mistakes that could cost the county millions over the long haul. The consensus of the commissioners was to put the project on hold until their next meeting on Aug. 8.


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12 | August 2022 EDITORIAL

WHEN RELIGION IS USED AS A TOOL FOR DIVISION It didn’t take long after the Sanford City Council did the smart thing in late July — voting to wait for everyone’s input before repealing an ordinance from the late 90s that prohibited churches in a nine-block portion of downtown — for the mask to come off those attempting to use the issue for political gain. The ordinance is probably unconstitutional and should be repealed. That much is true. But in the absence of any congregation actively trying to locate downtown, there’s zero risk to moving slowly and investigating ways to repeal the ordinance without creating new problems — parking, for example, and rules about establishments selling alcohol being located near a church — for downtown’s merchants. City Councilman Charles Taylor made a big show for 150-plus people who miraculously showed up to lobby the council in late July on an issue that wasn’t previously on anybody’s radar (well, anybody but Taylor, who we’re told had been raising the issue behind the scenes for a number of weeks). But even the economics don’t make a lot of sense — commercial rents are sky high, so the likelihood of any congregations lining up to locate downtown seems pretty low. This all culminated on July 23 (three days before the municipal election) in a Sanford Herald letter to the editor from everyone’s favorite local party chairman, Jim Womack, who lambasted the council’s majority over the vote as “cowardly” and twisted himself into knots to compare the issue, somehow, to Hugger Mugger Brewing’s recent drag show. On that matter, in which a private business held a ticketed, indoor event, Womack’s expectation appears to have been that members of the council should have had a “problem,” and presumably done something. So much for freedom. And talk about an election stunt. That election was decided on July 26 and the stunt doesn’t appear to have worked. Regardless, the City Council will look a lot different beginning in August. We hope they stay the course, repeal the ordinance in a way that protects everyone involved and decline to take cues from anyone who would use something as personal as religion to divide.

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

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OPINION COLUMN | BILLY LIGGETT

A STORY WORTH SHARING

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wasn’t supposed to write about Dr. Farishta Ali way back in December when I drove to Raleigh to watch Campbell University health science students work a free clinic for refugees of Afghanistan, where 35,000 men, women and children left their homes and their livelihood to escape Taliban rule following the United States military’s withdrawal in 2021. The focus that day was the students — providing an invaluable service to a group of people who needed it and gaining experience in their fields while doing so. Ali was among many white coats at Forest Hills Baptist Church that day, and while the young Fayetteville physician did her work from inside a Campbell mobile health clinic in the parking lot that day, she was neither a student, alumna nor faculty of the University. Ali wasn’t the story. Born in Kabul, Afghanistan, she was 3 when her father — a pharmacist and professor who was a passionate advocate for education — was killed by the Taliban. An older brother was killed a few years earlier.. When her family fled Afghanistan, they hid in a vegetable truck (her mother and seven children) to cross the border into Pakistan. They lived as refugees in Pakistan, their mother unable to go outside without a man with her. She couldn’t earn a living for her family, so Ali and her brothers and sisters sold grocery bags at the supermarket and begged on the streets. While she begged, Ali would watch other kids go to school each day, wearing backpacks and school uniforms and being children. She would sit on the other side of the windows outside of the school and watch the class — sometimes sneaking in to feel what it was like to sit at a desk. And because she couldn’t “dress like a girl” outside, she wore boys clothes, had her head shaved and introduced herself as a boy with a boy’s name to strangers. Ali talks about the small apartment with no kitchen. No plumbing. She has to take a deep breath. “The thing is,” she says, “as someone who’s passionate about psychiatry, I need to be able to process this. Instead of

suppressing it, I need to express it.” Her family made it to the welcoming arms of the United States in early September 2001. A week later, the Taliban became everybody’s enemy. After 9/11, her new country wasn’t as welcoming. It didn’t know Ali and her family shared in this pain. They didn’t ask. “How do you tell people, ‘Yes, I’m Afghan, and I know what’s going on in the news. But I suffered, too. I know all about loss,’” she says. But here’s the story. Ali had no real educational background when she took her first ESL classes and was placed in the second grade at a school in Texas. Her desire to learn kicked in, and she excelled. She was awarded for being the top reader in her elementary school. She learned English through books. What Ali learned from her childhood was that there are things in your life that are out of your control. It’s how you learn from those experiences and handle the things you can control that lead to happiness and success. High school became college, college became med school. Her MD led her to North Carolina, and in December 2021, her career led her to a Campbell mobile unit, where she treated mothers who shared her own mother’s experience and children who escaped horrors only she could understand on that day. “Being here is very, very special to me,” she said. “And I’m not trying to let it affect me, but today reminds me of everything that I went through to get to where I am now. I know the trauma these people are under and what they went through, and I know it’s difficult for them. They’re scared about the uncertainty before them. I want to help them and tell them there’s a bright future and to tell them they’re safe now. It’s possible to go after your dreams, and it’s possible to have opportunities. “These are things they need to hear.” I’m aware I cannot do Dr. Farishta Ali’s story justice. But it was a story I needed to hear, and — despite the fact that her only connection with my day job was an orange and white Campbell mobile unit — one I needed to share. o Reach Billy Liggett at billy@rantnc.com


The Rant Monthly | 13

rantnc.com READER RESPONSE TAYLOR’S CHURCH PLAY Following a public hearing that lasted for more than 90 minutes, the Sanford City Council decided on July 19 that a question of whether new churches should be allowed to locate in nine blocks of downtown Sanford should be studied further to allow more time for the issue to be explored by all stakeholders (full story, Page 26). Several Rant readers commented on the story online — nearly unanimously against Councilman Charles Taylor’s raising of the issue because he didn’t want “Sanford to be open for business but be closed for God.” ________________ Charles Taylor’s stirring up trouble for business owners in Downtown Sanford is just a cheap political play to get people riled up and for him to have an appearance of leadership — something he hasn’t demonstrated a working knowledge of in all of the time I’ve seen his name appear in headlines and articles. Thank goodness for Chet Mann, Chas Post and other level-headed folks in the room. Those are the people to whom Charles Taylor should be looking for leadership lessons if he *really* wanted to learn and help Sanford. Jennifer Hogan ________________ God doesn’t need a church to be in downtown or anywhere. We the people need the churches and these churches should be looking into the high crime areas and open there where they are needed. They can bring the word of God to the drug addicts and dealers and to the homeless. Areas like 3rd, 7th and Rose streets, to name a few. Leave the [Central Business District] for small businesses. Yenly Clancy ________________ Yes, because we don’t have churches all over the town. Leave downtown to the small businesses. They are the backbone to our town. Like Mayor Mann said, it’s not like churches have no place to operate here. I can drive five minutes from my house and literally come to at least nine churches. Churches thrive here; they are not hurting for a space to operate. Jessica Hockaday

________________ The Central Business District was designed specifically for business. Sanford has spent millions to revitalize the CBD and there is still work to be done. Businesses have struggled through the renovations and through COVID lockdowns and are now trying to navigate big city investors coming in and buying up buildings and raising rents. The last thing small businesses need is for storefronts to be filled with things that are not open during regular business hours. Small businesses need to work together to coordinate hours open so that shoppers are able to take full advantage of all stores when they visit downtown. Foot traffic for one store helps other stores and restaurants. We need as many as we can get. The Republican headquarters takes up a large portion of storefront that would be nice to see utilized for business. There’s already a shortage of available storefronts for rent making it difficult to start new businesses downtown. Rose Marie

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________________ Let’s keep our valuable commercial real estate in the CBD available to business. Churches have areas in which they can establish themselves while small businesses, especially those requiring storefronts in order to succeed, are limited. Heather Quinn ________________ We are trying to get more small businesses into the area to promote growth. Adding churches to the central business district would greatly detract from that. Brittany Bronson ________________ I usually think of Charles Taylor as just being kind of a harmless — people allow him to participate so he can feel like he did something with his day, but this is pretty ridiculous. Curtis Armstead

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14 | August 2022

@therant905

ASCEND LEADERSHIP ACADEMY, MINA CHARTER SCHOOL AND CENTRAL CAROLINA ACADEMY MAKE UP SANFORD'S THREE NEW CHARTER SCHOOLS.


The Rant Monthly | 15

rantnc.com

COVER STORY

CHARTERED TERRITORY

A look at the three new charter schools have formed in Lee County since 2018, which this year will educate roughly 12 percent of K-12 students in our area. By Gordon Anderson | Photos by Matt Ramey

T

o some, they’re the future of choice-based public education and offer students and families alternative curricula and more options for learning. To others, they're a drain on North Carolina's already taxed traditional public schools or even a Trojan horse for the privatization of education. Whatever your opinion of charter schools in North Carolina — the reality is they're an ever-increasing fact of life in Lee County.

When Central Carolina Academy opens its doors to students on Aug. 15, it will become the third operational charter school in Lee County, joining Ascend Leadership Academy and MINA Charter School of Lee County. The three schools will educate more than 1,300 students — a far cry from the approximately 9,200 Lee County Schools will serve this year, but also not an insignificant number (it bears noting that the charter school population doesn't come entirely from Lee County, because any stu-

dent in North Carolina is eligible to attend any charter school in North Carolina). Charter schools are public and open to anyone — tuition free — as long as they qualify for enrollment via lottery. Unlike traditional public schools, they're outside the umbrella of the state's 115 public school districts and instead are overseen by local governing boards, which are in turn accountable to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

MINA Charter School of Lee County, which opened its doors in 2020, enters its third year in 2022. With the addition of Central Carolina Academy this fall, Lee County is now home to three charter schools, educating 1,300 students.


16 | December 2021

@therant905 They also receive all of their funding directly from the state — based entirely on enrollment — and don't require any local resources the way traditional public schools do (charters also need to come up with their own funding for capital costs, one of the reasons critics cite concerns over privatization). Additionally, operational funding being based on enrollment has led to some tension between charters and traditional public schools over the years, with the accusation that charters “take money” traditional public schools having been made. Shawn Williams, the lead administrator at MINA and a former chairman of the Lee County Board of Education, sees it differently. “Some people see charter schools as a threat,” he said. “But really we’re about the same thing — how can we all come together for the betterment of the community? The money follows the kids, and if the kid makes it through the lottery, they belong to [MINA]. I have the same responsibility to that child as any public school does.”

ASCEND LEADERSHIP ACADEMY

Ascend Leadership Academy Director Justin Smith runs the four-year-old charter school that serves students in Lee and Harnett counties and the surrounding area. ALA, whose mission is "to develop successful student leaders by growing their self-efficacy, intellectual understanding and social competence" will run at capacity for the first time since opening in 2018.

The rise of charter schools locally has been a relatively recent phenomenon. Lee County had a charter school, Provisions Academy, which operated from 2000 to 2010 before shutting down. That was prior to a 2011 piece of legislation enacted by the North Carolina General Assembly which removed the statewide cap on charter schools — back then it was 99. Today, there are more than 200 statewide, and it’s estimated that more than eight percent of North Carolina's students attend one. Provisions Academy aside, the recent rise in charter schools locally began with Ascend Leadership Academy, which opened in 2018 in a modular building near the N.C. 87/U.S. 421 split on the south side of Sanford. That year, it served just sixth and seventh graders and began adding a class each year. In the 2022-23 school year, it will for the first time feature a senior class. The campus has since expanded into a new construction multi-story building complete with a gymnasium. “As an advocate for school choice and families, I wanted people to be able to do what’s the best fit for them,” Justin Smith, a Sanford native who is the school's managing director, said of his motivation to start the school.


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rantnc.com Smith is a 2000 graduate of Lee County High School who worked at traditional public schools before making the jump to charters at Durham's K-12 Voyager Academy, where he spent seven years as an administrator becoming familiar with the concept of charter schools. “A lot of the methods and ideas we use here came from [Voyager],” he said. “For me, [the motivation] was having a school of choice in my hometown and bringing the things I'd learned back here.”

pollution. The project was judged by local Soil and Water supervisors. “We could have easily done it as a PowerPoint presentation, but it was better for our kids to do it in a way that engaged them deeper and made the stakes higher,” he said.

“One thing we do is we relieve the (traditional) public schools of the tax burden that comes with having to build another school. That's what the partnership should be. We're in here for under $5 million. Think of what it takes to build a new county school.” — MINA Charter School founder Shawn Williams

Smith said Ascend’s model is built around project-based learning, which is “designed to give real world experience.” Giving an example, he described a science project in which students tackled a real-world issue of water pollution, identifying a local stream with pollution issues and researching proposals to mitigate that

Additionally, digital media is a focus at Ascend. Smith cited a video editing project in which work was submitted to C-SPAN for judging as another element of the school's “real world experience” approach.

Ascend will serve 570 students in the coming 2022-23 academic year. The next in the parade of local charter schools was MINA, started by Williams in 2018 as a year round, K-5 school that has added a new grade in each of its subsequent years. Williams is a former chair of the Lee County Board of Education and

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@therant905 said his experience there showed him the need to address a community of children he felt weren't being served as well as they could have been. “I wanted to help a community I felt wasn't being served, and that was educationally disadvantaged students,” he said, explaining that term covers students who qualify for free and reduced lunch, English language learners, and students with disabilities or individual education plans and the school's admission lottery is weighted toward those children. “Our real focus is to stop the school to prison pipeline. What makes us unique is we know every child isn't going to college, and so we're focusing on trying to create good citizens and scholars ready for the workforce through a vocational education or the arts.”

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Finishing touches are being put on the former Pantry headquarters at 1801 Douglas Drive in Sanford for the first year of Central Carolina Academy, which will accept 288 students this year and max out at 664 in the coming years.

Williams is also proud that MINA fills another need in Lee County, which is to repurpose existing buildings that may have fallen into disrepair. The campus occupies part of the old Kendale Plaza shopping center, specifically the southern portion which in recent years had fallen into disrepair.

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@therant905 The school's subsequent renovation of the property is impressive, with many of the hallmarks of any other public school on display — including a gymnasium, a playground and more. Plans are in place for the campus to eventually expand into another portion of the old shopping center which previously was home to the old Kendale Cinema. “One thing we do is we relieve the (traditional) public schools of the tax burden that comes with having to build another school,” he said. “That's what the partnership should be. We're in here for under $5 million. Think of what it takes to build a new county school.” MINA, which opened its inaugural year with 252 students, will serve 502 this year.

MINA CHARTER SCHOOL

MINA, which stands for "More Is Now Achievable," opened in August 2020 for students entering grades K-5. In 2021, MINA converted to a yearround calendar and added classrooms for sixth graders. The 2022-23 school year will also welcome seventh graders. Specializing in small class sizes and non-traditional classroom settings, the school's technologically based educational program begins with kindergarten.

Central Carolina Academy is the most recent local addition to the charter school roster, and will serve sixth-through-tenth graders, like the other charters adding a grade each year to include high school juniors and seniors. A replication of Chatham Charter School in Siler City, the school's model is built around college and career preparedness through partnerships with institutions like Central Carolina Community College. Like MINA, CCA also repurposes an old building, in this case the old Pantry corporate headquarters on Douglas Drive. “With Lee County being so rich in business and growth, we know there are organizations out there looking for skilled employees, and we feel like this school will be a great component of that,” said John Eldridge, superintendent of CCA and Chatham Charter. “When we approached this with the leadership at CCCC, they told us, ‘Here are the areas where we're having trouble finding people. Why don't you use these as your pathways?’” Those “pathways,” or educational trajectories for students at CCA, will include bioprocessing, building and construction, health sciences, and technology. “For us, it's about complementing what's already here,” said Beth McCullough, CCA and Chatham Charter's executive director of communications and collegiate partnerships. “Lee County is just such a great place to come to.” CCA will begin with 288 students, but has a maximum capacity of 664.


The Rant Monthly | 21

rantnc.com Administrators at each of the schools agree that they all have different missions, or “niches,” and pointed to that fact as a strength of the charter school model.

dance — if they can succeed in those classes, they can succeed in general education.” Smith at Ascend said charters and traditional public schools may have “different objectives” in terms of how to educate, but also that he believes all schools have the same motives and goals.

MINA, for example, with its focus on educationally disadvantaged students, employs a model of “restorative justice” Williams says "With Lee County being so rich in “holds everyone in the business and growth, we know there school accountable. are organizations out there looking We're firm believers for skilled employees, and we feel that it's not always like this school will be a great comthe child's fault,” he ponent of that." said. “Sometimes it's the whole community — Central Carolina Academy superintendent that hasn't stepped John Eldridge up.” He also noted the school's STREAM approach to education — STREAM stands for science, technology, reading, engineering, arts, and math — as a unique element not often found elsewhere. He said there is a particular emphasis on the arts at MINA. “The arts save a lot of children,” he said. “It can give them purpose. We need some more Picassos. If they can play an instrument, or

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“We're all in it for the same reason,” he said.

Eldridge and McCullough at CCA both come from a traditional public school background, largely in Chatham County (Eldridge was a regional superintendent in Guilford County Schools as well). They each said they believe there's room for everyone in this new world of public education. “At heart we're traditional public school people,” McCullough explained. “We both worked in the public schools in Chatham County and we've always had a great relationship. It really is just about the fit — for

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@therant905 the students and for their families.”

Some charter schools, both across the state and nationwide, have come under criticism for various issues. Williams was quick to point to the difference between independent charter schools and those operated by what are called charter management organizations (CMOs), organizations which “For me, [the motivation behind run several charter Ascend Leadership Academy] was schools, usually for having a school of choice in my a profit. Each of Lee hometown and bringing the things County's charter I'd learned back here.” schools are independent. — Ascend Leadership Academy managing

Dr. Andy Bryan, Lee County Schools’ superintendent, cited the district’s International Baccalaureate (offered in just 33 high schools across the state), Lee director Justin Smith Early College, the “Our heart is really two traditional high about the kids, and schools’ eight career we don't necessarily academies, Tramway need that extra layer,” Williams said. “This Elementary’s year-round program, W.B. is not to say the public schools anywhere Wicker Elementary’s magnet program, and are failing or bad, but there is a need in Lee dual-language immersion programs across County and other communities, and that is the district as examples. the pockets of kids who for whatever reason

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Of course, telling the story of Lee County’s (and North Carolina’s) increase in charter schools isn’t possible without discussing the work done in traditional public schools, which also over the past couple of decades have offered an increasing number of “choice” options in their own right.

ith

are not being served. There is a demand out there, and charters help fill that gap. And because each of us are all unique — we have certain targets we're going after — we're all able to meet those demands.”

“We strive to serve the whole child and provide real opportunities for everyone,” Bryan said.

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The Rant Monthly | 23

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LOCAL POP!CON SCHEDULE 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 20 at Lee County Libraries in Sanford. The schedule: • 10 a.m.: Dan Combs, local NASA Ambassador • 11 a.m.: Dean Jones of Snow Camp’s Hollywood Horror Show, who was a special effects make-up artist on Star Trek • Noon: Costume Contest with judging by May Hemmer, Show Producer for Dragoncon, Crowbar Cosplay, Thread Magnet Cosplay • 1 p.m.: Bill Mulligan, Sanford-based film actor and film aficionado, and Charlotte area Cheralyn Lambeth, former Jim Henson puppeteer and cosplay aficionado, will be talking about North Carolina Cryptozoology • 2 p.m.: Mark Altman (virtually) • 3 p.m.: Al Bigley, North Carolina illustrator who’s worked for DC Comics, Disney/Pixar, CBS, Marvel Comics and more Entertainers Knightly Order of the Fiat, Sword Circle, Raven’s Keep Forge (Blacksmith), Thunder & Spice (Renaissance music), CLAWS, Bouncy house from My Pinata Lady, Raven Forge Games (Sanford), GT Arcade (Sanford), Libby McGowan (Sanford) photography, Bigfoot Festival promotion, Spirits of Sanford, crafts and kids table from Friends of the Lee County Library.

Food Trucks/Dessert/Cider/Mead Crispy Gyoza, Ella’s Eats, Safari Eatz, Medi Bites, Off the Hog, Sunshine Slushies, JAM Ice Cream, DD&J Concessions, Starrlight Mead, James Creed Cider House

Artists Ashlynne Berkebile, painter (Sanford); Al Bigley, comics illustrator; Samantha Bryant, book writer; Dan Johnson/ Cemetery Plots, comics writer; Marshall Lakes, comics writer/illustrator; Kev Lyerly/Klaws of Kreation, comics writer/illustrator; Dexter Morrill, comics writer/illustrator (Broadway); Olivia Olavarria, painter/illustrator (Sanford); Randall Christopher, book writer (Sanford); William C. Tracy AKA Space Wizard, book writer

Vendors B&C Custom Creations (Sanford), Chimerical Reaction, Cuddly Creations, Custom Creature Creations, Elden Fragrances, Eyelight Comics, Free Range Collectibles (toys) (Sanford), Galant Bee (Sanford), Glimmerfae Creations, Hunter Farm (Sanford), Ink Therapy (Sanford), James Creek Cider House, Janet Jackson Jewelry, Killettes Krafts (Sanford), Knightly Order of the Fiat Lux, Liesel’s Hat Hutch, Long Forgotten Forest, My Pinata Lady (Sanford), Oil and Water Lifestyle (Sanford), Raven Forge Games (Sanford), Raven’s Keep Forge (blacksmith), Relatively Charming (Sanford), Salvaged Cycle (Sanford), Sarah A Band (blown glass oddities), Spiral Grove Apothecary, Starrlight Mead, Sword Circle, That Fairy Hair Girl (Sanford), Thunder & Spice, Whimsical Wares (Sanford) and Zenciety Learn more: library.leecountync.gov

Award winners from POP!Con’s 2021 cosplay contest. Photo courtesy of Lee County Libraries

LEE COUNTY LIBRARIES | AUG. 20

POP!CON GOING BIGGER AFTER LAST YEAR’S SUCCESSFUL EVENT By Billy Liggett billy@rantnc.com POP!Con went big in 2021. The world was re-emerging from its COVID quarantine cocoon, and while masks were still the mandate, in-person events were returning … even if there were still a few “hybrid” elements to them. Lee County Library’s 2021 Pop!Con — an event that celebrates pop culture, science fiction, several genres of filmmaking, com-

ic books and pretty much anything considered a part of “Geek culture” — blended all of that with elements of Renaissance history, all while balancing in-person and virtual features to satisfy the ever-changing pandemic protocols. The event was a success, drawing more than 1,500 people and earning glowing reviews from those who attended. POP!Con 2022 — now entering its fourth year — plans to go even bigger on Aug. 20 with more featured in-person

guest appearances, more musicians and street vendors, more gaming, more Renaissance and more opportunities for those who love cosplay and getting recognized for their elaborate costumes. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the library grounds (indoor and outdoor), located at 107 Hawkins Avenue near downtown Sanford. “Last year completely exceeded our expectations,” said Beth List, director of library services at Lee County Libraries.


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costumes or as their favorite pop culture characters.

“We were still concerned about COVID and social distancing, but people were really fantastic that day. Masks were worn, we accommodated those who wanted to remain socially distanced, and our vendors had a great time. Nearly all of them are coming back this year, so that’s telling.

Professional cosplayer and DragonCon show producer May Hemmer and Thread Magnet Cosplay will host a costume judging contest at noon that day — split into five different categories and age groups, with novice and master-level cosplayers invited to take part.

“I really felt like it was an all-embracing event, meaning there was something for everybody — whether you like design, scifi, Renaissance, gaming, movies, comics … it hit on everything. We don’t have a ton of events like that in Sanford.” The 2022 version now has a longer official name, POP!Con 2022 Renaissance Faire & Comic Com. Featured in-person guests will include Cheralyn Lambeth, former Jim Henson puppeteer, cosplay aficionado and cryptozoology expert; local NASA ambassador Dan Combs, former Star Trek special effects makeup artist Dean Jones and DC, Marvel and Disney/Pixar illustrator Al Bigley. Mark Altman, the showrunner and executive producer for the sci-fi adventure series “Pandora” and former producer of TNT’s hit series “The Librarians,” will appear virtually from Hollywood.

“It’s just a great way for people to express themselves and the things they love from head to toe,” Sills said. “It was a natural inclusion to this event, and we have so many great, national award-winning cosplayers in this area already.” Library deputy director Brittany Newman experienced her first POP!Con in 2021 and is excited to see the event grow. (From left) Allison Sills, Brittany Newman, Beth List, Jordan Minter and Jeremy Mullins stand for a group shot at the 2021 POP!Con event. The addition of the Knightly Order of the Fiat Lux and Raven’s Keep Forge blacksmithing added the Renaissance flair at last year’s event and proved to be a popular draw, with guests enjoying the battle

demonstrations and overall atmosphere. Both groups return this year, and according to co-organizer and librarian Allison Sills, guests will be even more encouraged to come dressed in either Renaissance

“I loved seeing people from all walks of life and all ages come together and have a good time,” she said. “Truly, there was and will be something for everyone. Watching the joy on people’s faces and seeing people have a great time at the library — I hope it just keeps growing and getting better.” Learn more: library.leecountync.gov


26 | August 2022

DEMOCRATS SWEEP MAYOR, COUNCIL SEATS IN JULY CITY ELECTION Democrat Rebecca Wyhof Salmon was elected the next mayor of Sanford on July 26, winning more than 95 percent of the vote in an uncontested race. There were 102 write in votes against Salmon in the mayoral contest. Salmon is currently the Council’s Ward 5 representative, meaning the council will need to appoint someone to fill her unexpired term. She was first elected to the Sanford City Council in 2011. Meanwhile, Democrats Linda Rhodes and Mark Akinosho won their respective races by strong margins – Rhodes defeating Republican Richard Porter with 63-plus plus percent of the vote (1,101 to 630) for the at large seat being vacated by Democrat Chas Post and Akinosho topping Republican Blaine Sutton for the west Sanford based Ward 1 seat being vacated by Democrat Sam Gaskins with 60-plus percent of the vote (439 to 279). Meanwhile, Ward 3 Councilman J.D. Williams, also a Democrat, won 126 votes in an uncontested race (there were two write in votes).

@therant905 SANFORD

CITY WEIGHS CHANGES TO DOWNTOWN CHURCH ORDINANCE AT COUNCILMAN’S BEHEST By Richard Sullins richard@rantnc.com Following a public hearing that lasted for more than 90 minutes, the Sanford City Council decided on July 19 that a question of whether new churches should be allowed to locate in nine blocks of downtown Sanford should be studied further to allow more time for the issue to be explored by all stakeholders. The matter had been raised not because a new religious organization had requested approval to locate in downtown Sanford or Jonesboro, but because Council Member Charles Taylor didn’t want “Sanford to be open for business but be closed for God.” One of the largest crowds in recent memory — about 150 people — filled the council chambers, many representing conservative churches and expecting a decision to be made that night. But Mayor Chet Mann made it clear that the gathering was a public hearing only and that the issue would be heard by the Planning Board next before returning to the council. “I want to make it clear to everyone that a show of force tonight does not force our hand,” he said.

IMPRESSIVE SEASON ENDS IN ROUND 2 OF PLAYOFFS FOR SPINNERS

In fact, Taylor was the only member of the council present who seemed ready for a vote. The remaining five plus the mayor reached a consensus to get data and hard information instead of being swayed by the emotions of the crowd.

The Sanford Spinners’ 2022 came to an end on July 27 with a 14-6 loss against the Sandhills (Pinehurst) Bogeys in the second round of the collegiate level Old North State League playoffs.

The budget resolution adopted by the council last spring included a provision for increased enforcement of city ordinances. Taylor said Downtown Sanford Inc. (DSI) reached out to him about ordinance enforcement and that in that spirit, he took it upon himself to review all the laws on the city’s books to see if there were some that might need to be removed.

The Spinners’ Facebook account congratulated the players for “an incredible season” and noted that despite the loss, the team finished with a league best record of 21-8. Editor’s Note: The Rant is already looking forward to Season 3 in 2023.

Taylor said he came across an ordinance adopted in 1999 that had allowed existing churches to stay in the nine block area considered to make up downtown, while

new churches would be required to locate in other parts of the city. According to closed session minutes of a City Council meeting held on May 3, the 1999 ordinance was enacted after issues had arisen in both Sanford and Jonesboro inflamed a small number of people who marched around City Hall and “chanted in the hallways while the meeting was going on.” The council at the time reached a compromise that churches within the central business district could stay but new ones would have to locate elsewhere. A federal law passed the following year, the Religious Land Use Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) held churches and religious organizations couldn’t be held to a different standard than other groups when it came to the use of land. Courts later upheld the law, saying cities and towns couldn’t put more substantial burdens on churches because citizens had the rights to assemble and worship as they see fit. RLUIPA does contain a “safe harbor” provision allowing governments to “avoid the preemptive force of any provision … by changing the policy or practice that results in a substantial burden on religious exercise.” Although the 1999 ordinance is still on the books, city staff have chosen not to enforce it because of the difficult position it puts them into because the language is not specific as to its enforcement mechanisms. READY TO DO BATTLE

Bob Joyce of the DSI Board of Directors was the only public speaker to recommend further study. Joyce said the board “wants everyone to be good neighbors of each other and help downtown to prosper.” He pointed to the revitalization that has taken place downtown during the past 20 years with the near doubling of property values to almost $70 million. Only one empty retail space exists at present and retail sales have bounced back to their preCOVID levels among downtown shops.

Joyce brought up Molly Stuart, an attorney with Morningstar Law Group in Raleigh, who has been a consulting lawyer on similar cases for years. Stuart believed the board could build a solid legal case on which to stand, should it choose to do so. Stuart said there was no need to rush into action on the issue and recommended taking time to involve stakeholders and to study best practices from across the country. But Pastor Dale Sauls of Life Springs Church in Sanford suggested his and other churches “have sought preliminary legal counsel and (the existing ordinance) does appear to be discriminatory. They have indicated they would like to move forward, but we love this city. We don’t want to do that.” Instead, Sauls said his church “prayed for this day and we’ve done prayer walks through the downtown on this issue, although we haven’t always been received with welcoming arms.” Another speaker, Angela Cook, also intimated at legal action. “A lawsuit would be an ugly thing to see by people looking to come here,” she said. “Remove this ordinance and let justice stand. Let it stand, and you will have hell on your hands.” Lisa Ragan, who was recently unsuccessfully nominated as a Central Carolina Community College trustee by two Republican members of the Lee County Board of Commissioners, suggested a different course of legal action. “If you break your oath of office, you break your surety bonds,” she said. “Ministers might be forced to make a complaint against them.” Surety bonds guarantee a public official will carry out the duties of their office honestly and faithfully. While they are required of most federal and state officials, claims made against surety bonds have risen over the past two years as a result of responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. The claims that have been filed during that period were generally by right-wing groups against school


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rantnc.com board members but because the process can be a very lengthy one, there is virtually no data by which to judge their potential for effectiveness. WORKING TOWARD A SOLUTION?

The meeting had two distinct feels. One was that of a city’s elected governing body attempting to craft public policy that all could live with. The other was a religious rally of mostly married couples, some of whom brought their Bibles. Several speakers from this second group quoted or read from lengthy Scripture passages they used in molding their point of view. Nina Tomlinson believed the council was planning to kick churches out of downtown and drew applause and cheers when she said that she was only 17. That same response appeared later in her remarks after she said “you want to take out churches, but you want to leave demonic places like Hugger Mugger. There’s a lot of witchcraft going over there. But you guys haven’t spoken about that.” But there were some who used their time to express a willingness to work with those

having different points of view to forge a common solution. Pastor Greg Davenport of the local Assemblies of God church believes there will only be one or two churches who will seek to locate downtown over the next five to seven years.

among the majority that more information was needed in order to make the best decision possible.

seeking to clear the air about any incorrect assumptions about the nature of the City Council and its intentions.

“I urge you to be gracious to them,” he said. “They will be grateful to you, and the good will afforded to them will come back to you many times over.”

Council Member Chas Post, a Sanford attorney, made an impassioned plea for finding the facts and being prepared. “Every day when I step into the courtroom, I am the most prepared person there. If not, me and my client get bitten in the rear,” he said. “Preparation is important. We need to do our due diligence on this, like we do on everything else, so that we don’t get bitten in the rear.”

“I am a baptized Christian, and we have a duty to be fair and equal to everyone,” he said. “If I thought for one second that there wasn’t a place to worship in this city, that you could only do it in nine blocks, I would have called this council to pass an ordinance to open up the downtown to any church that could get there. But that’s not the case. I don’t understand why the issue came up because we really didn’t have an issue. One was created and came before us tonight that could potentially gin people up to be pitted against one other, but that’s not what we want to do.”

Davenport said keeping the ordinance on the books, along with a decision by council to enforce it, “would make God and his church second-class citizens.” The speakers were exclusively Christian, and none addressed how they might feel if members of some other faith were to request space in a downtown storefront. MANN CLEARS THE AIR

As Mann opened the floor for council members to share their thoughts after hearing from the public, a consensus began to emerge to allow the issue to proceed through the process that other changes to ordinances must follow and there was a strong sense

In a statement provided to The Rant after the meeting, DSI responded to Taylor. “Our mission is to champion downtown through promotions, design, organization and economic vitality — which helps foster smart growth,” it read. “When it comes to changes that could affect small businesses in the municipal service district, we feel it is prudent to work with the city, local stakeholders as well as concerned citizens to move forward in a way that allows us all to be good neighbors.” Mann brought the public hearing to a close after an hour and a half, but not before

DSI was optimistic that the council’s choice to stick to its processes for considering issues before making changes, is the right one. “We are pleased with council’s actions last night because it gives us the opportunity to work with downtown businesses and the faith community to craft an ordinance that supports small business while at the same time recognizes the importance of faith-based organizations in downtown and throughout all areas of Sanford,” the statement said.

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AG MARKETPLACE AWARDED RURAL TRANSFORMATION GRANT Sanford government was awarded $900,000 by the Rural Transformation Grant Fund to develop the Sanford Agricultural Marketplace in downtown Sanford. The marketplace is planned for the former King Roofing, Heating and Air building on Charlotte Avenue, next to the old City Hall building and will serve as a multi-functional space for civic events and gatherings; including 4-H meetings, farmer education courses, a food donation hub and bi-lingual classes on food safety, budget planning and cooking. The Rural Transformation Grant Fund is a new source of support for rural economic development projects in North Carolina funded by the federal American Rescue Plan. The goal for the fund is to help local governments overcome challenges that limit their economic competitiveness. “North Carolina’s rural communities are our heart and soul, and we are committed to helping them grow and become more competitive,” Governor Roy Cooper said in a June 16 announcement.

BUSINESS STARTUP WORKSHOP AUG. 16 The Central Carolina Community College Small Business Center will host a Business Startup Summit at 9 a.m. Aug. 16 at the Harnett County Resource Center and Library in Lillington. During this half-day summit, attendees will understand the basics of starting a business in North Carolina, including where to start and what forms are needed. Presenters will include Holly Yanker from the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina (EDPNC), and special guest speaker North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall.

@therant905

BRIEFS BOWLING ALLEY OWNER, ALLEGED ACCOMPLICE CHARGED WITH ARSON Two Sanford men have been charged in connection with a 2021 fire which catastrophically damaged the Kendale Lanes bowling alley and an adjacent business, according to the Sanford Police Department. Kay Choosakul, 52, of Sanford, faces three felony counts of arson, felony obtaining property by false pretense, felony conspiracy, and soliciting another to commit a felony. Meanwhile, Charles Banet, also of Sanford, has been charged with two felony counts of burning of buildings, a felony count of burning personal property, and felony conspiracy. Chooksakul was identified by Sanford police as the owner of the Kendale Lanes bowling alley at 139 Rand St., which was heavily damaged in a 2021 fire that began in the middle of the night. The fire also caused damage to United Refrigeration, a business in the same building, which was subsequently demolished. The Sanford Police Department’s press release, sent Saturday evening, indicates that an arson investigation began “just after midnight on June 3, 2021,” when the fire broke out. SPD indicated that the Sanford Fire Department and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation assisted in the probe. In addition to having owned the bowling alley, Choosakul appears to have been involved in competitive fishing over the past several years. According to a Major League Fishing profile, he’s competed in 21 professional fishing events since 2018, finishing in the top 10 four times and winning a total of $3,756. Choosakul was placed in the Lee County Jail under $200,000 secured bond. Banet was jailed under $100,000 secured bond.

The Sanford Moose Lodge Chapter 2429 hosted a free event on July 16 aiming to help children and adults be prepared in the event they become lost or missing. Through the Safe Surfin Foundation, children and adults of any age were able to obtain an E.Z. ID thumb drive. Collected on it are identifying information including fingerprints, pictures, physical descriptions, and more, all necessary to assist law enforcement in the event a person goes missing. Organizer Chris Cogar along with Sanford Lodge volunteers, the Durham Moose Lodge and the Roxboro Moose Lodge #2005 met with 75 plus attendees, and they hope to make the event an annual one. “It’s about (the Sanford Moose Lodge) giving back to the community, getting involved and keeping our children and adults safe,” Cogar told The Rant.

DEEP RIVER PARK ASSOCIATION LAUNCHES FUNDRAISING LECTURE SERIES The Deep River Park Association announced in July a series of fundraising lecture events throughout late summer and into fall to continue upkeep at the two parks it oversees on the Lee-Chatham county line. The next lecture, on Native American culture, myths and legends, is set for 7 p.m. on Sept. 24 at the old Cumnock Fire Station. Speakers are Jeannie and Mike Crawford. Entry is $10.

Two events are set for October, with a “Ghoul Bus Ride of Local Lore” with Haire, Jeff Spivey, and Johnny Jackson at 7 p.m. on Oct. 14 ($20) and “Sanford Ghost Walks” set for either 7 or 9 p.m. on Oct 21 ($20) in downtown Sanford. Finally, a Bigfoot Conference is scheduled for Nov. 12 at 2 p.m., again at the old Cumnock Fire Station. Speakers will discuss local cryptid sightings and food will be available from food trucks. Entry is $10. The first lecture in the series was held on July 30 and covered the history of the Cumnock area and the 1925 mine explo-


The Rant Monthly | 29

rantnc.com sion. All proceeds raised will go to the Deep River Park Association, a local nonprofit that maintains parks at the Camelback Bridge and the former Carbonton Dam site. Visit their Facebook page at www. facebook.com/DeepRiverParks or email deeprivernc@gmail.com. MEALS ON WHEELS OF SANFORD IS LOOKING FOR NEW CLIENTS Meals on Wheels of Sanford is looking to provide weekday meals to Sanford residents who are unable to prepare their own meals and have no one living with them that could do so. Residents must reside within the Sanford City limits. Hot lunchtime meals are provided every weekday, including holidays and are tailored to the client’s dietary needs. Central Carolina Hospital prepares the meals and there is a nominal cost. The local Meals on Wheels nonprofit is a church-sponsored organization started by five Sanford area churches in 1973. It was incorporated in 1987 and is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. These five churches provide volunteers for meal delivery. To be considered for delivery, call the MOW of Sanford phone answering service, (919) 708-4181, and leave a message. A telephone interview will be scheduled to provide more details about the program, including the costs. An in-person follow-up interview will be conducted, if appropriate. Messages are retrieved regularly. For more information, call (919) 7084181 or www.mowsanford.org. OMI AWARDED $900,000 GRANT FOR CONSTRUCTION OF WORNOM COMMUNITY SHELTER Outreach Mission Inc., which currently operates men’s and women’s shelters for people experiencing homelessness in Sanford, has been awarded a $900,000 grant from the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency for the construction of a new community shelter. The shelter, which will be named in honor of local businessman Sam Wornom, will be 7,000 square feet and replace the current men’s and women’s shelters that are 100 plus years old. It will be located at 507 S. 3rd St. and be capable of serving 76 clients. Multipurpose rooms will be available for

collaborations with additional community support agencies. The total cost of the shelter is expected to be $2.8 million when construction begins in early 2023. OMI also received a total of $630,000 in funding from Sanford and Lee County governments, and has raised an additional $200,000 through a private donor campaign. “We’ve been working on getting a new shelter building for almost three years,” said OMI President Hamer Carter. “As we’ve grown, we’ve gotten in a much better financial position and have better organizational structure, so our grant funders are starting to look at us different.” MEALS ON WHEELS OF SANFORD IS LOOKING FOR NEW CLIENTS Lee County Government is the proud new owner of the old Buggy Factory Building located at 115 Chatham St. The Lee County Commissioners voted at their June 20 meeting to finalize the purchase of the Buggy Factory Building and the County officially closed on the property on June 30. The Buggy Factory, which was previously owned by Progressive Development Corporation, has been leased in part by Lee County and the City of Sanford since 2016 to provide a one-stop shop for residents and developers to access consolidated services for Environmental Health, Planning and Community Development (providing permits, land use, and zoning assistance) and Strategic Services. Community partners including the Sanford Area Growth Alliance and Sanford Chamber of Commerce will also continue leasing space within the building. The Sanford Buggy Company was formed and the brick factory built in 1907. At the time, the building was only two stories tall and produced buggies, light two-seated vehicles and one-horse rockaways. In 1924, the building was converted to the Brown Buick automobile showroom and garage, then the Sanford Furniture Company acquired it in the 1940s. Around 1970, Cascade Fibers moved in and produced table linens until 2001, when Progressive purchased the building. Lee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Kirk Smith said, “This purchase represents the County’s commitment to providing accessible services in a centralized location.”

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CCCC BOARD OF TRUSTEES REAPPOINTS CHAIRMAN PHILPOTT

ELECTION

Central Carolina Community College Board of Trustees Chairman Julian Philpott was reappointed to a seat on the board on July 11 with unanimous support from Democrats on the Lee County Board of Commissioners.

Q&A: MAYOR-ELECT REBECCA SALMON

Philpott’s reappointment to the board was in question in June after his term expired and the Board of Commissioners voted to appoint Lee County GOP Chairman Jim Womack to the seat he had formerly occupied. At the same time, Republican Commissioner Bill Carver resigned his seat on the college’s trustee board, creating a second vacancy. On July 11, Philpott received three votes from Democratic members Mark Lovick, Robert Reives Sr. and Cameron Sharpe. Republicans Kirk Smith, Andre Knecht, and Arianna Lavallee split their votes between Central Carolina Hospital employee Oscar Moreno (Smith) and local hairdresser Lisa Ragan (Knecht, Lavallee). Carver was absent from the meeting, allowing Philpott to be appointed with a three vote majority. Ragan, whose hairdressing business is located in the same building as the GOP headquarters, has posted at least one blatantly anti-semitic comment on Facebook, writing “the majority of Jews” are children of “Lucifer.” “There is a division among Jews … Jesuits & Messianic Jews,” she wrote in a comment in June of 2020. “The majority of Jews are Jesuits … who’s (sic) father is Lucifer.” Ragan’s application to serve on the board, submitted to the county the day of the meeting, indicating that she had “the ability to communicate an innerstanding (sic) for positive growth for both the school & it’s (sic) enrolled students thereby elevating our local community & families to live our best lives.” She listed Womack as one of her references.

The Rant Monthly sat down with Sanford Mayor-elect Rebecca Wyhof Salmon in late July to talk about her upcoming tenure as mayor. This conversation has been edited for length. ____________________ The Rant: What are some of the things you’re feeling in the wake of the election? Rebecca Wyhof Salmon: It’s been a very exciting few weeks and months for me and for the community. I’ve just had to sort of take a step back and sort of assess where we want to go and what we want to do. I feel very motivated and excited, and I feel like the community has sent a very clear message about the type of leadership they’re looking for. Let’s talk about the electoral aspect of it. You still ran a campaign even though you were uncontested in the general. What was your thought process there? Salmon: A couple of things. The first thing is when I commit to do something, I just commit to do something fully. I still feel like one of the unfortunate results of having partisan elections is that our Republican residents as well as, our unaffiliated residents who choose to vote on Republican tickets don’t get to have a say then in the results of that Democratic primary. I feel like standing out there and campaigning equally to everyone gives our whole community a chance to interact with their elected officials and to have their questions answered. I feel I owe it to our community to continually be able to put myself out there to be as accessible as possible. And I also feel like you never know what’s going to happen and I feel like turnout is a really important issue. I think that continuing to campaign keeps the election hopefully a little higher

Rebecca Wyhof Salmon will begin her first term as Sanford mayor on Aug. 16. on people’s radar so everyone who wants to participate gets out and has a say in the community’s future. Talk about your decision to go for this seat. Mayor Mann’s decision not to run came kind of late in the process and surprised a lot of people. So what went into your decision making process? Salmon: It wasn’t a decision that I took lightly at all. And it wasn’t something that I had aspired to do prior to the mayor choosing not to run. I had to think long and hard about what I thought I could offer the community and I really feel like when I was taking stock and trying to make this decision, I had to analyze the qualities that I think I brought to leadership and the community. I think I bring a specific temperament, skills, and experience, and just a perspective and a way of looking at things and being able to listen and to work with people that I think would be advantageous to sort of some of our future demands.

I felt I had something to offer and it takes a lot to step up and put yourself out there. I think the process helped me to know that I really do think the community supports the type of leadership that I was putting out there. You’ve been on the council since 2011. So you’ve served under two mayors. What are some of the lessons that you’ve taken from both Mayor Mann and Mayor Olive before him? Salmon: Both of them have provided incredible examples for me of how to be a good mayor. It’s a very specific job that requires bringing people together and really being able to listen, to bring out the best in other people. Competing interests sort of look two sided sometimes and they’re really not. And I think it’s necessary to try to figure out a way to find that third way, or even a fourth or fifth way if that’s what’s required. We have an incredible community of people that love, love, love Sanford. I’ve learned from both of them that those are some very


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rantnc.com powerful attributes in good times and bad times. But being you know, a steady hand I’ve just learned a lot from them. It’s a lot of big shoes to fill. I’m going to do my very best. You’ll be sworn in on Aug. 16. What does that first meeting look like? What are the things you want to accomplish coming out of the gate? Salmon: The first thing is, people need to know there’s nothing in Sanford that is slowing down. This election happened midstream on a huge number of really large projects. So the first thing that we’re going to need to tackle as a new team is bringing everybody up to speed on the projects we’ve been working on and getting everyone on the same page. We have the water treatment plant projects going on, VinFast, we got the ARPA money that we need to figure out how we want to use for our community defining projects and what those are going to be. We have economic development projects. I’m looking forward to that process of incorporating the new ideas that the folks are going to be bringing in. It’s an exciting time. We have some outstanding public servants

joining the council. “Open for business” has been a big theme around here for the last decade. Taking the reins of that — what does it mean for you to move that forward in your way? Salmon: To me “open for business” is a philosophy ingrained into how we approach our work. These tenets that were a part of the open for business agenda — job creation, sense of place, community pride, tourism — these things are part and parcel of the underpinning that builds a strong community. You’re never going to be able to do anything on top of that until you’ve secured those foundational elements. We’re never going to lose sight of what it means to support those activities. And then it also involves how we interact with our citizenry, with economic development partners. We want people to be able to come here and find a community that is welcoming, that’s easy to access, and that is service focused. The next steps will be to build on that and we’ve set out a strategic framework for our next program of work.

You may be the first mayor I can think of, at least in modern times, that’s not born and raised here. What does it mean to you to have lived somewhere else and then become part of this community? What do you think that brings to your leadership style?

Sanford and the county government, we sort of have divided government just in terms of partisan makeup. How do you go about developing the relationship with county leaders who may have different priorities in terms of their partisan affiliation?

Salmon: Well, first, it is really humbling, having been given that trust. It means a lot to me, and it’s something that I will care for very, very deeply. This community has such a strong history. And it’s what makes it so easy to fall in love with. I’ve lived a lot of places and when I came here, it felt like home. It’s been a wonderful opportunity to be a city council member, and it is something that I’m so excited to be able to continue as mayor.

Salmon: I truly believe we want the same things. We want a community and a county and a city that work for everybody that allows people to achieve their full potential and to live a wonderful life. I think if we can coalesce around those things we have in common, we don’t have to agree necessarily on all the individual pieces along the way to get us there. Continuing to refocus on our shared values as a community will work to keep us strong.

I think I can recognize some of those things that are so unique and special. I don’t take them for granted, because I’ve been places that didn’t have them. So it makes some of them even more special to nurture, protect and expand because we don’t want to lose that.

I’ve had an opportunity to serve on the interlocal committee since it came into existence, and that has strengthened our relationship with the county so much. It’s a chance for us to share information to make sure that we get rid of misinformation, and that we can work through some of some of the things that may have been stressors on our relationship. That foundation will be a big part of our success.

One of the things that is unique about Sanford and Lee County is that we’re a very small sized county with one mid sized municipality and one very small one. Between

I don’t like to view things through the lens of partisanship. It’s just not where I think we

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32 | August 2022 start building a strong relationship. I really think we need to start where our values are shared, and then build from there. It sounds like what you’re telling me is that when it comes to local government, it’s a lot more about where can we put a project like the splash pad or what can we do for this or that project that’s going to impact people’s lives than it is about what the Democrat said to the Republican or the Republican said to the Democrat? Salmon: Absolutely. I would say the vast majority of the issues are just the issues. People say things like “potholes, they’re not partisan.” They just need to be filled. And if you can

@therant905 We went to over 1,400 homes. We had amazing conversations. People have a lot of concerns obviously about things like growth or affordable housing or access to public transportation.

character to keep building on top of that. One of my favorite comments that someone shared with me about the future direction of our city is that they felt that sometimes we just don’t dream big enough.

Throughout the campaign you talked to a lot of voters across the spectrum. What kinds of things do you hear about the state of the city and where people want it to go?

But more than anything, the thing that struck me the most is the love and the optimism that people have for our community. People have wonderful ideas. From quality of life projects to community appearance to obviously, retail stores they’d like to have, but people see a community that has all kinds of different things for all kinds of different folks as a real asset.

And it really struck a chord with me because it made me realize that if you don’t ask the questions, if you don’t imagine a possibility – just the process of asking the question with a room full of folks that also love the community can really change how you view the possibilities.

Salmon: I could talk about this all day. This has been such a wonderful experience.

We can really build on the things we have now. It doesn’t take away from our core

see the community benefit to any of these projects, you usually can get a team on board. I mean, look at the collaboration that the city and the county have done on things like (the Sanford Area Growth Alliance). The proof is in the pudding. Our economic development has blossomed when we actually worked together to make something that worked for the whole community.

We don’t need to be afraid of asking questions. We need to make very strategic choices about what we choose to do, but I don’t think that there’s a problem with dreaming big.

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The Rant Monthly | 33

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Q&A: CHET MANN, OUTGOING MAYOR The Rant Monthly sat down with outgoing Sanford Mayor Chet Mann in late July to talk about his two terms leading the city council. This conversation has been edited for length. ____________________ The Rant: What are your thoughts about leaving this position after almost nine years? Chet Mann: I feel a sense of accomplishment and pride in the fact that we got so much done. At the same time, I feel like there’s still more work to be done. I worry a little bit about people railing against some of the some of the success we’ve had, and how the new council will balance all that with new people coming in. But mostly just sort of bittersweet about leaving. Chet Mann’s tenure as Sanford mayor will end this month after nine years in office. Submitted photo

What are you looking for in terms of positive leadership out of the new council?

Mann: One of the biggest concerns that I have is just partisanship and divisiveness. We’ve been able to get more done when we were together. Even in the last eight or nine years, we had periods of divisiveness where the city and county struggled to work together. And then we had periods where we just worked together really well, and the partisanship seemed to have melted away. So my biggest concern is that more partisanship comes into play where we’re spending more time on that rather than community building. I hope that the new council, once they get oriented and sort of set in, they’ll see that staying on task, continuing the “open for business” agenda is the key to moving Sanford forward. We’ve got so many positive things happen that need to be finished. What advice have you given (Mayor elect Rebecca Wyhof Salmon)? Mann: I basically told her to be her own person. She is intelligent, articulate, quick on her feet, and she’s got great instincts. I think Rebecca is a community builder. All she needs is a council to work with her


34 | August 2022 and a council that will listen, and she will be successful. I’ve encouraged her to keep moving on the things we’ve been working on, and to stick to those vision goals. Going back to 2012, 2013, whenever you first made the decision to run for mayor. What were some of the things that went through your head back then when you were weighing the decision to run? Mann: I really thought I’d find somebody else to run for mayor. I didn’t really think it would be me. I had served in every nonprofit and every board capacity that could, and it just came to me that if I didn’t have a vote or influence in the elected leadership, the way we were headed back then probably wouldn’t change. I felt like if I didn’t (run), others wouldn’t, and we wouldn’t get the right team together to move Sanford forward. We were not in a very happy place in 2013 and Sanford had had so many years of negative or flat growth, and downtown was old and tired. None of my relatives and friends and younger cousins were even considering coming back to Sanford, and when they

@therant905 did come back to visit, they made a lot of negative comments.

percent. Sanford has changed.

That’s that stayed with me pretty hard. If I was going to live here most of the rest of my life and if I was going to care about it, I needed to run.

If you could talk to yourself, having just been elected for the first time and getting ready to take office, what would you tell yourself about how to prepare for the next nine years?

What are some things that you know that you feel like you know about this community that you didn’t nine years ago?

Mann: Have even more time in your schedule. That it’s really important to get buy in and be a better listener. Most of the people in Sanford want more, deserve more, and are willing to work for more if you can show them the benefit.

Mann: I’ve learned that in times of crisis Sanford will rally. I’ve also found out that about 90 percent of the people agree with you, and they never tell you. So you really do have to work hard to get consensus and feel the need to learn where people are in their minds. But it also learned the city and the county sometimes have different perspectives, and you have to really balance those out. I’ve also learned that people in Sanford care. They’re very loving and open to helping people. But sometimes you have to show them and you have to gain that consensus. I’ve learned that I used to be able to walk into a restaurant and know 75 percent of the people in the room. Now when I walk into a restaurant, I know less than 25

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People in Sanford have a good heart. I’ve never had to worry about people being disingenuous. In politics you always have some of that, but as far as the community goes, I wouldn’t trade with anyone. Another thing I would probably tell myself is don’t even have a Facebook account. Because social media is the only place where people just say anything. I know 90 percent of my constituents are happy. But it’s the 10 percent that get really loud and can tear a community apart. I learned not to take it personally.

Has there been any issue or action taken by the council that you can look back at and say “that was a mistake. I need to do this different next time.” Mann: That’s a fair question. I’m sure there is. But I don’t know of anything I would do different with the information we had. I don’t know that I have any regrets. One of the things that we struggled with and maybe could have done different was on the Unified Development Ordinance getting in things like sidewalks and residential improvements, where we’re requiring builders, developers to put in sidewalks and do upgrades and build things. Where we really struggled was getting the community to understand that they were no longer a rural, agricultural base community, and that we’d been slowly but surely making this transition to something more urban. Our whole goal was to try to lift Sanford up, get it out of the place that had been and create some jobs and get some growth coming and some tax base expansion so that everybody would have more opportunities.

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rantnc.com Your last meeting is Aug. 2. What does the rest of the year look like for you? Mann: I’m sure that will be a little bit emotional because I have enjoyed every day. There’s been some tough days and some bad days but the good outweighed the bad every single day. I’m going to have about 15 or 20 hours a week to find something else to do. I’m not making any big decisions on how I’m going to spend my time yet. I want to do some things that move my business along a little faster. So I’ll probably spend more time building my team at work and also a lot more time on Tuesday nights at home. Do you want to keep using your voice as you know a former mayor to talk about issues or do you want to give Mayor Salmon and the new council space?

Mann: It’s a delicate balance. I’m always going to be an advocate for Sanford, and you know, once a leader always a leader. But I’m not going to hang around City Hall and tell (Salmon) how to do her job. She knows she can call me any time, and I’m happy to be an advisor to anyone. I’m not leaving, and I’ve still got the Mann Center and the Lee County Education Foundation and other nonprofits that I can use my voice with. Hopefully I’ll be a voice of good reason. I’ve got to thank everybody for supporting me. I hope everyone understands how much I appreciate their support. For every one complaint there were 20 thank yous. This is a that cares and supports good ideas. I’ve also got to thank the city staff. They have been so awesome to me. Just wonderful, professional people to work with.

When can I choose retirement?

I

f you’re like most people, your work has been a central part of your life. So, wouldn’t it be nice to have the flexibility to decide when you no longer want to work? Many people of retirement age have achieved this type of control. In fact, two-thirds of workers ages 65 and older say they work primarily because they want to, not because they have to, according to a 2021 study by Edward Jones and Age Wave. But that means that one-third of workers in this age group feel financially compelled to work. This doesn’t necessarily mean they dislike the work they do — but it’s probably fair to say they would have liked the option of not working. How can you give yourself this choice? You can start by asking yourself these questions: • When do I want to retire? You’ll want to identify the age at which you wish to retire. You may change your mind later and move this date up or back, but it’s a good idea to have a target in mind. • What sort of retirement lifestyle do I want? When you retire, do you anticipate staying close to home and pursuing your hobbies, or do you hope to travel the world? Would you like to spend your time volunteering? Open your own business or do some consulting? Clearly, some of these choices will require more resources than others, so you’ll want to

follow a financial strategy that aligns with the retirement lifestyle you intend to pursue. • Am I saving and investing enough? As you chart your course toward your retirement journey, you’ll want to assess the sources of income you’ll have available. If you think you may be falling short of achieving your retirement goals, you may need to consider saving more. • When should I start taking Social Security? You can begin collecting Social Security benefits as early as 62, but your monthly payments will be much bigger if you wait until your “full” retirement age, which will likely be between 66 and 67. Your decision about when to take Social Security will depend on several factors, including your other sources of income and your family history of longevity. You might want to be fairly conservative in estimating how much Social Security can contribute to your retirement income. By addressing the above questions, you can get a clearer sense of when you might reach the point at which work is optional. But you’ll also need to consider other factors, too, such as how much you enjoy working or when your spouse or partner is planning to retire. In any case, the sooner you start planning for this next phase of your life, the better position you’ll be in when it’s time to make the transition.


36 | August 2022

@therant905

EVENT CALENDAR

AUGUST 6 | HOUSE IN THE HORSESHOE WAR RE-ENACTTMENT The House in the Horseshoe will host its annual reenactment of the Tory and Whig skirmish at the site 241 years ago. The event highlights the struggles of the backcountry as the Revolutionary War engulfed North Carolina. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with the battle reenactment at 2 p.m. Activities and demonstrations throughout the day. Admission is $5 (cash only).

SATURDAYS

AUG. 2

AUG. 6

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.

Tramway Community Day will run from 5:30 to p.m. at Tramway Volunteer Fire Department on McDaniel Drive. This is a family event with activities for all ages.

High Cotton Couture in downtown Sanford is celebrating its second anniversary from 10-4 p.m. Live music, refreshments and free gifts will be part of the fun.

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.

AUG. 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.

AUG. 3 Tramway Baptist Church Vacation Bible School will run from Aug. 3-5 at the church, located at 2401 U.S. 1 in Sanford. Food will be served at 5:30 p.m., and Bible School will run from 6-8 p.m. Children ages 2 through the sixth grade are invited to attend.

AUG. 4 Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet will run from Aug. 4-6 with showtimes at 7:30 p.m. for all three shows. He show is the culmination of a three-week Shakespear intensive course for local teens. Tickets are $15 and are available online at templeshows.com.

Veternation Inc. presents Lee County Field Day, a free outdoor event at VFW Post 5631 from 1 to 4 p.m. Bounce house, face painting, music and dancing, arts and crafts, games and more will be available for all who attend. Food trucks will also be on site for an additional cost. Learn more by emailing programs@veternation.org.

AUG. 7 Hugger Mugger Brewing will host Yoga & Beer at 11 a.m. in collaboration with Sanford Yoga Center. Cost is $20 and includes a drink of choice. Register on the Sanford Yoga app or at linktr.ee/sanfordyogacenter.


The Rant Monthly | 37

rantnc.com AUG. 8 A Prison to Community Re-entry Simulation will run from 10 a.m. to noon at the Public Works Facility at 601 5th St. in Sanford. Join the Lee County District Attorney's Office and the United States Attorney's Office as they bring awareness to the challenges and barriers individuals experience during the first month after they are released from prison.

AUG. 9 City Electric Supply celebrates 25 years with product demos, promos, food, raffle prizes and more from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 300 Wilson Road in Sanford. Representatives from nine vendors will be on site to discuss their newest products and to answer questions. Redneck BBQ Lab will be serving lunch, and there will be a raffle for a Traeger Pro 780 Pellet Grill.

AUG. 10 Downtown Sanford will offer a free showing of “Zootopia” at Depot Park at 7 p.m. Brink a chair or blanket so you can watch comfortably on the lawn.

AUG. 11 The City of Sanford’s Summer Music Series will feature Tonk Honky and Big Time Shine at Depot Park in downtown Sanford at 6:30 p.m. 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-quality local ingredients with a variety of textures and flavor profiles. The Mann Center on North Steele Street will host a screening of “Paper Tigers,” a documentary that follows six high school students as a new trauma-sensitive program is implemented. Showtime is 11 a.m.

AUG. 14 The Central Carolina Wedding Showcase will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center in Sanford. The showcase is a one-stop shop for wedding venues, floral designers, photographers, DJs and more. Tickets are $15 and available at eventbrite.com. Seva Yoga in downtown Sanford will host The 7 Chakras — Heart Chakra from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Cost is $20 for the workshop,

handouts and a crystal to take home.

AUG. 17 Downtown Sanford will offer a free showing of “Shark Tale” at Depot Park at 7 p.m. Brink a chair or blanket so you can watch comfortably on the lawn.

AUG. 18 The City of Sanford’s Summer Music Series will feature The Main Event Band at Depot Park in downtown Sanford at 6:30 p.m.

AUG. 24 Downtown Sanford will offer a free showing of “Remember The Titans” at Depot Park at 7 p.m. Brink a chair or blanket so you can watch comfortably on the lawn.

AUG. 25 Temple Theatre will host the Sanford Music Circle at 7 p.m. on Aug. 25. Eldorado Road Productions, in collaboration with the Sanford Music Circle, will film the event for a documentary with guests Chris Mulkey (award-winning actor, writer and musician); musicians Briton Buchanan, Frank Bruno, Paige King Johnson and John Norris and songwriters Jason Adamo, Jesse Fox and H.G. Murrell. VIP tickets are $35 and regular admission is $25.

AUG. 26 Tim Hair with Indian Outlaw — a Tim McGraw Tribute Experience — will perform at 7:30 p.m. at Temple Theatre. Tickets are $15 at templeshows.com. Theraplay in downtown Sanford will host a Back-to-School Bash to celebrate the end of summer. A food truck, fire truck games and more will be on hand throughout the day.

AUGUST 27 Beatlesque, a Raleigh-based Beatles tribute band, will perform at 7:30 p.m. at Temple Theatre. Tickets are $15 at templeshows.com.

SEND YOUR EVENT The Rant Monthly's community calendar has returned, and we're doing our best to track down everything going on in Sanford and Lee County. Send us your events by email at billy@rantnc.com and include the date, time, location and a brief description.

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38 | August 2022

@therant905 CROSSWORD: THE 1970S ACROSS 1. Come clean, with "up" 5. *_____-a-Soup, launched in 1972 8. Hefty volume 12. Maui party 13. Detective's assignment 14. One that insists 15. Seed covering 16. Dull pain 17. Waltz, in France 18. *Francis Coppola's "The ____" 20. Part of an eye 21. H. pylori consequence 22. Labor org. 23. *"Feathered" 1970s icon 26. One who delivers coal 30. *1978's "Night Fever" spent 8 weeks in this Billboard slot 31. Fire-breathing monster, Greek mythology 34. Type of list 35. Open-mouthed 37. Acorn producer 38. Glossy fabric 39. Denim innovator 40. Enlist or talk into (2 words) 42. Golf accessory 43. Gracefully thin 45. Meat and vegetable stew 47. Stumblebum 48. One way to prepare an egg 50. Chicken pox mark 52. *Type of 1970s shoes 56. Top dog 57. Laughing on the inside, in a

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text 58. Bye, to Sophia Lauren 59. *1971's "Sooner or ____" by the Grass Roots 60. *"Beneath the Planet of the ____" 61. Very light brown 62. Research facil. 63. *Progressive rock band of "Roundabout" fame 64. Fishing pole spool DOWN 1. Capture the ____ 2. Continental capital 3. Aforementioned 4. Substance w/ rotten egg smell

5. Secret stash 6. Theater employee 7. Jury member 8. *Olivia Newton-John's 1978 co-star 9. Eye amorously 10. Table hill 11. Before, to a bard 13. Can't-get-it-off-one's-mind kind 14. Throat dangler 19. Winged 22. Charge carrier 23. Young horses 24. *One of three 1970s TV crime-fighting women 25. Plunder 26. *"I'd like to buy the world a ____" 27. "Semper Fidelis" to U.S. Marines, e.g.

28. Bye, to Edith Piaf 29. Group of nine singers 32. *"Rich Man, ____ Man" 33. As opposed to mishap 36. *Salvador Allende successor 38. Chow down 40. Game official, for short 41. Inflammation of iris 44. Capital of Senegal 46. Footstuffs merchant 48. North face, e.g. 49. Intensely dislikes 50. Architectural drawing 51. Prefers 52. *Neil Simon's "The Sunshine Boys," e.g. 53. *"Interview with the Vampire" author 54. Kate Winslet as ____ of Easttown 56. *"Thrilla in Manila" winner


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40 | August 2022

G.Y,...,...� POST FOUSHEE PATTON

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