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The Rant y l h t Mon December 2019


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2 | December 2019

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The Rant Monthly | 3

y The Rant l h t on M December 2019 | Sanford, North Carolina A product of LPH Media, LLC Vol. 1 | Issue 9

Editorial Gordon Anderson | gordon@rantnc.com Billy Liggett | billy@rantnc.com Jonathan Owens | jonathan@rantnc.com Advertising Brandon Allred | brandon@rantnc.com 919.605.1479 Editorial Board Jean Shepherd, Melinda Dillon, Darren McGavin, Peter Billingsley, Ian Petrella, R.D. Robb, Zack Ward, Tedde Moore, Scott Schwartz, Yano Anaya, Les Carlson

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The Rant Monthly December 2019


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Full disclosure. We really wanted a cover to our first Holiday edition with an image of the Three Wise Men with our faces superimposed on them. And we tried. We really did. But we just couldn't get the facial hair right. Plus, it could have been looked at as sacrilegious. So we had to settle on old reliable iStock for this image of karaoke Santa ... and image that has nothing to do with the content inside, but an image we liked nonetheless. Plus, miraculously, he was wearing a Rant shirt. Image: iStock

The Rant Monthly is located in beautiful Sanford, North Carolina. Please address all correspondence to LPH Media LLC, 3096 South Horner Boulevard #126, Sanford, NC, 27332. Editorial email: gordon@rantnc.com or billy@rantnc.com. Advertising: brandon@rantnc.com. The Rant Monthly is published monthly (obvs). The Rant Monthly is wholly owned and operated by LPH Media LLC, a North Carolina corporation. Submissions of all kinds are welcome. This publication is free — one per reader, please. Removal of this newspaper from any distribution point for purposes other than reading it constitutes theft, and violators are subject to prosecution. Printed by SunBelt Press in Dunn, North Carolina. Copyright 2019, LPH Media LLC, all rights reserved.

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According to the shirt, I'm thrilled to be 40. (Not?) By Gordon Anderson


t was around 2003 or so, and I was at a thrift shop with some friends when one of them came to me holding a t-shirt emblazoned with the phrase “Thrilled to be 40 — NOT” in the gaudy, color-clashing style we all remember so well from the early 90s. “You have to buy this,” the friend told me, and of course I did. I was like 23 years old, and the 17 years between me and 40 felt more like a million. It was, to view things through the lens of a stupid young person, absolutely hilarious. I got a lot of mileage out of that shirt, but as those 17 years crept — and then sort of started jogging and then broke into a full run — by me, so did my midsection. That is to say that even though the shirt still sits folded in a drawer somewhere, it doesn’t fit quite as well as it once did. It’s really not all that damn funny anymore either.

“Even a truthful look back at those 17 years since the shirt ... reveal a reel of film that hasn't moved nearly as fast as I tend to remember.” “Great Zuul,” I’ve thought to myself with increasing frequency in recent times. “This shirt only has three years left.” Then it was two. Then it was one. As of this writing, my thrift store purchase from all those years ago holds about 15 days of personal relevance before I turn 40. So, I’ll obviously be needing to get rid of that stupid shirt. What hilarity does it portend now? None that I can see. Now there is only doom. LOL. But it’s also a big whatever. Age is just a number and all that. Even a truthful look back at those 17 years since the shirt came into my life reveal a reel of film that hasn’t moved nearly as fast as I tend to remember. A

lot of good has happened: I changed careers twice, founding the company that publishes this here newspaper you’re holding in your hands. I met my favorite person in the whole world and we got married and bought a house together. I recorded a lot of songs and released some albums and played a lot of shows. There’s been bad too. I lost my dad and my last two grandparents and too many close friends I hadn’t seen enough of lately. All the sudden I’m describing life, right? Weird how that happens. I wonder a lot about whether the person who got rid of that shirt was thinking the same things as me when they did so (if that’s the case, that person is probably thrilled to be

pushing 60 — NOT). Who can say? Why do I waste time thinking about these things? Either way, I wouldn’t say I’m not thrilled to be 40. I mean, most people wouldn’t mind being 23 again, but I don’t think spending a whole lot of time looking backward does anybody any good. I’m thrilled to have made 40, and to have experienced all that I have up to now. I’ll pull that shirt out and wear it for my birthday. But then it’s off to the thrift store. Hopefully some other kid who thinks time isn’t gonna go by enjoys it as much as I did. o Gordon Anderson was born in San Jose, California on the same day, according to Wikipedia, that NATO offered the Warsaw Pact a mutual limitation of medium-range ballistic missiles and intermediate-range ballistic missiles. Jimmy Carter was still the president. Send taunts about his age to gordon@rantnc.com.



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The Rant Monthly | 5


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The Rant Monthly | 7


Mayor responds to opponents of Deep River vote

emails and phone calls from concerned citizens. I’ve received many that were very positive, very rational,” he said. “I’ve also received a lot that were threatening, hateful and full of allegations of impropriety on our part and on myself in person. That doesn’t help the credibility of the argument and it’s unfortunate for those that are making the rational concerns.”

City approves zoning for development that could bring 1,000 new homes at U.S. 1, Colon Road Following the 5-2 passage in November of a rezoning that will pave the way for a new high density residential development in the Deep River area, Sanford Mayor Chet Mann responded to vocal opponents of the measure, arguing that projected growth demands that the city increase its housing stock and pushing back on claims that the council had acted improperly in approving the rezoning. “Our real estate association confirmed a total of 133 homes listed for sale in Lee County,” Mann said, citing the addition of roughly 1500 jobs in the area in recent years. “Lee County has over 19,000 renters, with over 5,000 who could afford to be

The Grove 2, homes from Cary-based Withers Ravenel.

homeowners. What we have is a shortage of quality housing.” At issue is the proposed Galvin’s Ridge subdivision, which now that the rezoning has passed will add nearly 1,000 homes on about 400 acres of land on Colon Road near the U.S. 1 interchange. Opponents in the area have raised a series of objections, particularly

over that level of density, what impact it would have on infrastructure, and even suggesting impropriety on the council’s part. Mann responded to those allegations by saying they detract from any legitimate issues those in the Deep River area might have. “We’ve received lots of letters and mail,

Mann also asked people to weigh the benefits of adding a large number of new homes to the community, particularly with regards to commercial development. “The question I receive most, on a regular basis, every other day is ‘when are we gonna get this? When is Sanford gonna get that? When will we get a Target?'” he said. “The answer is when we have more rooftops. The national retailers look at number of rooftops and per capita income to determine if your city is a candidate for them. Nothing else really matters to these national retailers.”

8 | December 2019


City proposing 'Complete Street' LOCAL MATTERS Laudate first to publicly announce '20 school board run Lee County High School alumnus Jamey Laudate is entering the Lee County School Board race. “I’m extremely proud of my Lee County Public School education, and I want everyone coming through the system today to be just as proud as I am when they graduate," Laudate said. "My wife and I believe in the public school system, which is why our three children are currently attending West Lee Middle School and W.B. Wicker Elementary School. I want to help improve the experience not only for them but for all the children of Lee County. “The road to improvement starts with transparency and accountability, from the board and administrators, to faculty and staff, all the way to parents and students." In his announcement press release, Laudate called for a "more permanent and continued commitment to technology," and continued emphasis on STEAM and yearround tracks in the school system. Laudate holds a Bachelor of Science in computer science from NC State University. He is currently an R&D Manager for SAS Institute in Cary, where he’s worked for eight years. Prior to that, he was an R&D manager and principal software engineer for Verizon, working on their Network backbone. He is active in the school system, sitting on the NAF advisory board for Lee County and Southern Lee High Schools, coaching the West Lee Middle School golf team, serving as treasurer of the W.B. Wicker PTSO, and he teaches an “Intro to Coding” lesson voluntarily to fourth grade classes in the Lee County Public School system. He is also surrounded by educators in his family. His wife, Kelli, taught third grade prior to having children and tutored afterward, and his mother, Susan, taught English and Journalism for 30-plus years.

Plan adds roundabouts, medians, crosswalks, bike lanes to Carthage Stree, Charlotte Avenue A “Complete Street” feasibility study undertaken by Sanford city government calls for a comprehensive overhaul of the Carthage Street and Charlotte Avenue corridor over the next several years, including roundabouts, bricked and planted medians, enhanced crosswalks, bike lanes and more. The proposed changes are designed to make the areas more bike and pedestrian friendly and encourage redevelopment. The study was undertaken over a 10 month period by a group consisting of downtown business and property owners, city and N.C. Department of Transportation staff, and more. It relied on citizen input and included multiple meetings of stakeholders over the 10 month period. Interestingly, the project identifies the Prince Downtown Motel — the subject of a cover story by The Rant Monthly back in April — as a potential location for redevelopment.

The above rendering, provided by the City of Sanford, shows crosswalks enhancements, a brick median and other improvements to Carthage Street in from of Temple Theatre in Downtown Sanford.

“Many of the survey respondents emphasized the need to re-purpose the hotel site and create a more pleasant and safe environment,” the study reads. “The design team accepted this challenge and proposed a new site design

of mixed-use retail and residential sites.” Read the entire 99 page study and view some artist renderings of the proposed changes at www.rantnc.com.

Spring Lane Cinemas enacts weekend curfew for teens

New congressional map splits Lee County between 8th, 13th

Kids under the age of 17 are no longer allowed at Sanford’s only movie theater on weekend nights without adult supervision.

A congressional redistricting proposal approved in November by the North Carolina General Assembly splits Lee County between the 13th and 8th congressional districts, ensuring that the county will have new representation in Washington, D.C. after the 2020 elections.

Spring Lane Cinemas, which announced new ownership earlier this year, announced the policy change via Facebook back in October, stating in a follow up comment that “there have been a lot of issues with unsupervised children,” including fights. The policy says children under 17 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian older than 21 after 6 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. A person answering the phone at the theater told The Rant that the new policy went into effect on Oct. 2 and that it was something the company was “trying out” to see if it curbed the number of incidents. The person did not know if the change was permanent. A review of the Sanford Police Department’s P2C crime reporting system shows two thefts from vehicles in the theater’s parking lot in 2019, but no criminal reports regarding fights.

Lee County is currently represented by Republican Mark Walker of the state’s 6th Congressional District. The new map puts what appears to be about a third of western Lee County in the 13th, a seat currently held by Republican Ted Budd, while the rest of the county would be in the 8th district currently held by Republican Richard Hudson. At a quick glance, both seats appear to be safely Republican. Walker’s new district is one of two that Democrats see as flippable. The new maps don’t appear to have many split counties – 11 in total – but Lee and all of its surrounding counties are among them. Harnett County would be split between the 7th and 8th districts, Moore would be split between the 8th and 9th districts, and Chatham would be split between the 4th and 13th districts. Candidates for Congress will file for election beginning on Dec. 2.


The Rant Monthly | 9

10 | December 2019


Predicting the Roaring 20s By Billy Liggett


Friends of the Rant Podcast: Chas Post The latest Friends of The Rant podcast welcomes local attorney and Sanford city councilman Chas Post to talk law, local government and other fun stuff with hosts Billy Liggett and Gordon Anderson. Listen to this an all episodes at rantnc.com or find it on iTunes, Spotify and Amazon podcasts. I am trying to get health care either on the marketplace or buy outright, but the plans offered by Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina aren’t take by any doctors in Lee County, or the hospital. They only offer UNC-affiliated doctors and hospitals. The closest hospital is in Pittsboro. Is this not crazy? Same with the doctors in Pittsboro or beyond. I did find one urgent care that will accept their plan. I just wanted to know if other people are having the same issue as I am. Linda Diesfield Regarding Carthage "Complete Street Proposal: Close Prince Hotel. Demolish it. Turn it into a parking lot because we lost a good amount of parking with the last major update to the area. Roundabouts always seem to end up being a problem rather than a solution. And I may be seing it wrong but it appears that the streets will actually be smaller. I could be wrong but it appears that much of this is not going to help the situation but possibly just make it worse. Liz Carpenter Bayer


’m disappointed in the lack of flying cars, meals in pill form and killer robots roaming our countryside — but all in all, the teens have been quite a decade for Sanford, North Carolina, in terms of progress. But for all the positive changes here in the last 10 years, it’s my belief that it’ll be the next 10 years that end up defining our area for the foreseeable future. I spent two weeks recently in a Native American sweat lodge and came away with a clear vision of 2020s. The following are just some of the things Baby Yoda told me during my experience. Enjoy. GROWTH TO THE NORTH The teens were all about South Sanford and considerable retail growth along South Horner Boulevard (remember, barely any of that existed when the 2011 tornado tore through Lowes Home Improvement. The next decade will be about the north and the west — the Galvin’s Ridge Subdivision at U.S. 1 and Colon Road alone would bring nearly 1,000 homes to a large 400-acre lot, in addition to retail and other businesses. You’re already seeing some growth in this forgotten end of Sanford, with the large First Health building along U.S. 1, but there’s immense room for growth. Go further south and west and there’s Tramway, also ripe for growth and still awaiting its “super street” construction. The next Cary and Apex? I hope not. Part of Sanford’s charm is it’s not “sprawled out” with cookie-cutter homes and poorly planned traffic connections. But there is tons of room for growth here, and as great as the retail boom in South Sanford has been lately, it’s struggling on this side of town (see Riverbirch). STILL NO TARGET, BUT … We’ve gone over this before. Sanford simply doesn’t have the economy to attract a Target. It’s still a pretty fun inside joke at The Rant,

because it’s at the top of everybody’s wish list. I could be wrong — look, we did get a Starbucks — but I feel pretty safe in this prediction. That said … the 20s will see an influx in that other thing everybody here pines for — chain restaurants. I’m not sure if it’ll be an Olive Garden, a Chili’s or a Saltgrass (that’s the one I’m hoping for), but it’s coming. The success of Sanford’s new breweries, Coach’s, new fast food additions (thank you, Jersey Mike’s) shows the city can support these places. Plus, there’s that aforementioned growth. Free breadsticks, y’all. 20’S STYLE The 1920s were the first decade in our country’s history that had a “look” … thanks to the rise of movies, radio, automobiles, nightclubs and jazz. The “flapper” look defined that era, and I predict that since our current culture is more interested in copying the past than creating something new (when it comes to fashion and pop culture), the 2020s will see the return of flappers, one-piece bathing suits, zoot suits, radio dramas, organized crime and black and white movies. We’ll call it the Roaring 20s again — the only difference is we’ll have memes. ALIEN OVERLORDS This is the part of the column I almost didn’t share, but there’s still room and the sweat lodge visions demanded it. In 2024, Earth will be visited by aliens. They’ll look similar to the aliens we see in the movies, and they’ll communicate with us through complicated mind telepathy. They’ll seem nice at first, but after a while one of us will discover that their giant “How to Cook for Humans” book is actually a ploy to interfere with the United States' 2024 elections so Donald Trump Jr. can win. This will lead to a giant war that will eventually unite all nations against a common enemy. We’ll win, I’ve been told, but the cost will be great. The aliens we capture will be used for science to create only the best memes. And we will all live in harmony.

The gears of change


f Facebook comments are any indication, a lot folks in the Deep River community are upset following a decision by the Sanford City Council to rezone a 400 acre plot of land for use as high density residential subdivision. Galvin’s Ridge will eventually be the location of 1,000 homes off Colon Road near the U.S. 1 intersection, and people in the rural areas surrounding have cried foul again and again since the early fall over the prospect that their neighborhood is going to see such a drastic change. We understand that people who locate in rural areas do so for a reason, and it’s natural to resist change. But many of the arguments employed in fighting the subdivision’s approval — traffic on Colon Road will explode, we’ll need a new fire station, the schools can’t handle that type of projected growth — tend to fall apart under close scrutiny. Developers have said the project will take a full decade to completely build out. That’s a lot of time for the county to plan for student population growth (and with W.B. Wicker Elementary opening back in August well under capacity, the district starts with a little bit of wiggle room), to address concerns about the fire department’s ability to respond to incidents in that area (developers have apparently agreed to donate land for a new fire station), and to study the impact of increased traffic on Colon Road (which, logically, is most likely to take place in the half mile between the subdivision and U.S. 1). Put simply, we have a long way to go before this subdivision alone turns Deep River into another Cary or Apex. That’s not to say change isn’t coming. There have apparently been some rumblings that developers who have owned other tracts in Deep River since before the Great Recession are finally warming to the idea of building subdivisions on them. Other landowners in the area appeared before the Lee County Board of Commissioners over the summer to argue against a sweeping overlay zone surrounding the Raleigh Executive Jetport in Deep River. Their message? “We might want to develop that land for residential use one day.” It’s hard to stop the gears of change, and generally speaking, it’s hard for government to tell someone what they can or can’t do with their land. It’s a tough pill to swallow for anyone who wants to see Deep River remain a quiet, country setting for the rest of time — but doing so may be the only way to be ready for what’s ahead.

The Rant Monthly | 11

rantnc.com READER RESPONSE The Sanford City Council voted 5-2 in November to rezone a section of land that will pave the way for a new high density residential development in the Deep River area. Readers of The Rant sounded off on Facebook about a proposed subdivision, Galvin’s Ridge, that will feature 1,000 homes, townhouses and businesses. Below are some of their comments: There is a housing shortage in Sanford and Lee County, but geez, let's not grow and improve ourselves. With all these new houses, at least there will be more opportunity for people to shout "get off my lawn." Jake Wells I lived in the Deep River area for 20 years. I miss it, but not enough to buy a house crammed into a quarter-acre lot! I am wondering if this will include lots in the Deep River floodplain, and if so, how anyone can justify building there? Robyn Clark After the zoning approval, the committee took a recess. During this time, the people from Deep River left the building. The mayor’s remarks were made to an audience made up of people who were not concerned about the Galvin’s Ridge project. I wonder why he couldn’t read his letter before the recess when we were sitting in the audience. Sad to say, I am disappointed. Just glad I live in the county and not the city proper. Layne Rickard Noles “Lee County has more 19,000 renters, with over 5,000 who could afford to be homeowners. What we have is a shortage of quality

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

housing.” How about this, people DO NOT want to be homeowners! As a homeowner, I can say this, “It sucks, save your money and rent!” Kandake Mathis

____________ In the November edition of The Rant Monthly, Billy Liggett wrote a column about talking to inanimate objects and missing them when they’re gone. A few readers shared his odd ways:

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Not only do I talk to my appliances, I talk to my car, my hairbrush, my favorite nightgown, and I have a viable personal relationship with all of them. My Frigidaire at Clairmont Green made a hum just a tad off of B-flat, and I had numerous conversations with her about that. She said, “I am open to suggestions.” (Yes, appliances have gender, and the Baptists will be happy to learn it is not transgender like some of my tools are.) My fraternal grandmother, Lula Phillips Godwin (we called her LooLoo because she certainly was one), frequently talked to inanimate objects. After studying physics, I assured her that her cooking pots and broom were not as inanimate as we previously supposed.

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Every time I open the dishwasher door, two or three of the pint jars sneer at me and say, "Better luck next year when there are watermelons again. Tee hee hee." You haven't lived until you have been ridiculed by glassware named after a fraternal organization with a secret handshake. Joanna Ray You are not alone in the practice of talking your appliances (and also to myself). I consider it polite and agreeable conversation. No one disagrees with you. LOL Janet DIxon

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The Rant Monthly | 13




The Christmas season has arrived, and The Rant is here to offer guidance for the best Christmas lights, local shopping, Santa laps and holiday events in our area ... because we care.

SHOPPING While Nov. 30 was officially Small Business Saturday, it’s important to the economy that locally owned businesses make up part (or all) of your Christmas shopping throughout the entire month of December. And when Christmas shoppers spend $100 at a local business, roughly $68 stays in the local economy (compared to $43 at large box retailers, according to a recent study). We asked local retailers what the holiday months mean to them.


LIGHTS Don Perry's home on Rockwood Drive in West Sanford has been a favorite drive-by for Christmas light lookers for nearly 20 years. When he began, he didn't have a ton of competition, but today, more and more homes in our area are challenging him for the title of Sanford's Clark Griswold. Read more about Perry's impressive lights display and the story behind it and find out where else you can take in the twinkling lights during December.–





It’s hard to find free time at the holidays. Though you may be off from work, there are errands to run and relatives to visit and gifts to buy.

We’re calling it now — snow is in the forecast for Sanford on Dec. 16. And lots of it … at least in the area of the Lions Club Fairgrounds, between the hours of 5 and 10 p.m.

With the Christmas season comes the new year. And with the new year, invariably come resolutions — very often to live healthier, to get in shape, etc.

A visit with Santa can be something mom wants to mark of her list as quickly as possible. Broken Plow Farm is one place to find the jolly old elf, and while you're there, take in the lights, music and wonder of season on a hayride.


Organizers of Sanford’s first Winter Wonderland will be cranking out the white stuff (man made, but snow nonetheless) for the free event — there will be hills for sledding and an area for smaller children to make snow angels and build snowmen.


In his year-plus as the facility director at FirstHealth’s fitness center in Sanford, Phillip Williams has already seen it once, and expects to again. Learn about what FirstHealth has to offer and see a list of Sanford's growing fitness center offerings.


14 | December 2019


CHRISTMAS SHOPPING Support these small business retailers who support The Rant this holiday season (and look for their ads in this edition):

Added Accents Downtown Sanford boutique shopaddedaccents.com

The Purple Poodle Co. Downtown Sanford boutique thepurplepoodleco.com

Mockingbird Blues Online women’s clothing boutique mockingbirdblues.com

Sanford Antique Mall Downtown Sanford antique store sanfordantiquemall.com

Your CBD Store Award-winning CBD health products cbdrx4u.com

Broadway Hardware & Supply Co. Locally owned and operated broadwayhardware.net

Mid-Pines Hosiery Sock Outlet Socks for everyone on your gift list mid-pineshosiery.com

The Cabana Beauty, mass and sunless studio thecabananc.com

The Chocolate Cellar Gourmet chocolates and gifts thechocolatecellarshop.com

J.R. Moore and Son Country store with a little bit of everything | jrmooreson.com

Ashley Whitaker greets a customer at Added Accents in Downtown Sanford, one of several small businesses in the area with special merchandise for the holiday season. Photo by Billy Liggett

THINK BIG, SHOP SMALL Local retailers bank on big holiday season for overall success

By Billy Liggett


his will be Ashley Whitaker’s first Christmas shopping season as owner of Added Accents in Downtown Sanford. She’s fully aware of the weight the final two months of the year carry when it comes to running a small business. “If you don’t get the customers in November and December, then you’re going to struggle next year,” says Whitaker, who purchased the boutique in August. “December’s a huge month for us, but it really got started on Nov. 2 with Downtown Sanford’s Holiday Open House. It progressively gets busier and busier from there.” While Nov. 30 was officially Small Business Saturday, it’s important to the economy that locally owned businesses make up part (or all) of your Christmas shopping throughout the entire month of December. According to the

U.S. Small Business Administration, there are more than 28.8 million small businesses (500 employees or fewer), making up 99.7 percent of all businesses in the country. They accounted for 64 percent of all new jobs created in the U.S. between 1993 and 2011. And when Christmas shoppers spend $100 at a local business, roughly $68 stays in the local economy (compared to $43 at large box retailers, according to a recent study). Whitaker, a certified public accountant, might be new to owning a small business, but she’s no stranger to retail. Her grandfather ran a clothing store in the Kendale Shopping Center in Sanford in the 1960s, and her uncle owned Ron’s, a downtown men’s and women’s clothing store that ran for decades. “Retail has always been in my blood,” she says. “Becoming a business owner was kind of my next big step.” The merchandise at Added Accents —

clothing, jewelry, home decor and much, much more — becomes much more festive during the holiday season. Despite the change in ownership, the merchandise has remained true in terms of theme. “Added Accents has made a name for itself here, and I wanted to stay true to that,” Whitaker says. “So it’s more of the same, but with my own little spin on it. We’ve brought in new vendors and tried new things.” One thing that’s changed is their neighbors — The Purple Poodle Co. next door at 128 S. Steele St. is a self-described “whimsical boutique” offering clothing and an ever-changing variety of accessories and housewares (they don’t restock when items sell out, to keep the merchandise “fresh and different”). Owners Nicole and Tim Allen opened the store in November, meaning they jumped right in to an important stretch of the retail calendar. “It’s important because it’s our first months as a business, and the holiday season is a

The Rant Monthly | 15


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Famous Brand Name Work Boots and Clothing driving force for the entire year,” says Nicole, whose merchandise is a blend of local and national vendors (Made in the USA is important to the Allens). Added Accents and Purple Poole Co. are among a handful of boutiques downtown that have taken advantage of Downtown Sanford’s annual Holiday Open House in early November and the recent business boom over the last few years.

made my decision [to buy the business] so much easier.” “We’ve seen the changes downtown, and that played an important role in our decision to come here,” Allen adds. “Things are moving in the right direction here — the other day we met a customer who found us because they came in from Cary to eat at Smoke and Barrel. It’s exciting to see people from other cities come in to see what we have to offer.”

“The foot traffic downtown has grown tremendously,” Whitaker says. “That growth

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16 | December 2019


CHRISTMAS LIGHTS There aren’t a ton of neighborhoods in our city that get together to purposely wow the local citizens, but there are several homes and businesses around Sanford that would do Clark Griswold proud. Below are a few of our favorites.

Carolina Women’s Fitness Interactive fun — three spots outside of the gym on Center Church Road in Tramway where you can drive up, turn your dial to the FM station posted in front of those lights and watch them blink and play along with the music. The highlight is the reindeer quartet singing Christmas songs.

Carbonton Road David and Kay Ward’s house on Carbonton Road is also a wonderland of Christmas lights and inflatables, and it’s worth slowing the traffic behind you to take it in. They’re also starting to go all out for Halloween and Thanksgiving, too.

Holiday Road Not far from Don Perry’s House is another impressive display (more tactifuly done, Perry admits) on Holiday Road in West Sanford. And yes, you now have that song stuck in your head. You’re welcome.

Broken Plow Farm Unlike the previous entries, this one costs money ($9 a person), but your ticket includes a hayride and visit with Santa. The hayride takes visitors through a nice assortment of lights.

Mockingbird Lane Mockingbird Lane, in the Quail Ridge community, has several homes that do pretty well when it comes to lights. It’s one of the few local neighborhoods where they seem to try to outdo each other.

"I’ve always said if I can bring a smile to someone’s face, then none of this is work. If this brings a little joy to someone’s heart, then that’s what this is all for," says Don Perry, whose home on Rockwood Drive in West Sanford is one of the area's best Christmas light displays every year. Photo by Billy Liggett

SANFORD'S GRISWOLD Don Perry's West Sanford home a must-see for local Christmas light lookers

By Billy Liggett


round the time everybody starts thinking of what costume they’re going to wear for Halloween, Don Perry is thinking Christmas lights. It’s his own fault, he’ll be the first to admit, but if he’s going to maintain his unofficial title of “Sanford’s Clark Griswold,” Perry has to start unraveling those lights and stringing them around his front yard trees and bushes and along his driveway — thousands and thousands of little bulbs — in October. The inflatables — dozens and dozens of them — go up around Thanksgiving. It all gets turned on Dec. 1 (if he makes it in time). His home on Rockwood Drive in West Sanford (you can’t miss it at night) is a sight to behold.


And for Perry, all the hard work is worth

“I’m 61, and I don’t get on the roof anymore … my son-in-laws do that now. And it’s not always easy to go out at night and cut everything on by hand, because I’m still not using those automatic on and off programs. And it’s certainly not fun to do it when it’s raining,” says Perry. “But I’ve always said if I can bring a smile to someone’s face, then none of this is work. If this brings a little joy to someone’s heart, then that’s what this is all for.” Perry’s home can be seen from several blocks away — Rockwood Drive can get backed up on some nights as drivers with children and dogs crammed in the back seats slow to a crawl so everybody can “ooh” and “aah” the decorations and catch the small details. Outhouses with Santa peeking out … snow globes … Will Ferrell’s Elf … nativity scenes are just a few of them.

He started decorating his home in the mid-90s — the finished product was tame then compared to today’s standards. It began with the lights, then as a gag, Perry bought a six-foot-tall blow-up Santa Claus (back before they were popular, he adds). “As the children got older, they got to liking it,” he says. “So every year, I added more. Lights started going on the bushes and on the roof. Then we started going higher in the trees. By 2000, it kinda got out of control. And every year, I’m adding more.” He enjoys the comparisons to Clark Griswold from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. In fact, one of his nativity scenes is the same Chevy Chase used in the classic movie. When he began, not a lot of homes in his neighborhood were decorating, but today, he’s starting to see competition spring up around him. He notes one nearby house on the aptly named Holiday Road and

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another home on Carbonton Road. “They’ve gone overboard, too,” Perry says. “But they do theirs with a lot more organization. Mine’s just a bunch of tacky colors.” He does have a favorite piece among the Christmas cacophony — an eight-foot plywood sign painted by his sister-in-law a few years ago. The sign features the names of

Perry’s entire family, and since its creation, he’s started adding his grandchildren’s names to it. “Hopefully it’s something we’ll keep adding to,” he says. “It’s the neatest thing.” The Perry home will be lit up beginning Dec. 1, and the lights will stay on through the New Year.

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18 | December 2019


SANTA CLAUS In 2017, one of The Rant’s most popular holiday-themed online stories stated that there just weren’t many places to see Santa in Sanford. That’s not the case this year. In addition to Broken Plow Farm, there are plenty of opportunities to see the Jolly Old Elf this month in the Sanford area.

Christmas parades Lee County is blessed with two of the best Christmas parades in the state. The Sanford Christmas Parade, hosted by the Central Carolina Jaycees, is one of the longest-running nighttime parades in the country. The parades feature beauty queens, elected officials, floats from local business and churches, marching bands and ROTC groups from both Lee County and Southern Lee, and whole bunch of fire trucks and lights and stuff the kids will love. Santa usually brings up the rear on a fire truck as well. This year’s Sanford parade will take place at 7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 2. If you want a good seat, you should get downtown by 6. Broadway’s Old Fashioned Christmas Parade is every bit as awesome. Put on by the Broadway Lions Club, it starts at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 14, though the Christmas celebration starts at 10 a.m. that day.

Kringle & Kompany at Riverbirch If you want a good “retail Santa,” one of the best in the area can be found at Kathryn’s Hallmark over in Riverbirch Plaza. Bring in the whole family for pictures, or stop by while you’re shopping. From Dec. 3-Dec. 20, Santa will be available from 6-7:45 p.m. on Mondays-Thursdays, Fridays from 5-7:45 p.m. and 1-6 p.m. on Sundays. On Dec. 7 and 21, he will be available from 10 a.m.- 8 p.m., and on Dec. 14 from 5-8 p.m. Consult his schedule on Kathryn’s Hallmark’s Facebook page.

A visit to Broken Plow Farm in Sanford during the month of December also means a visit with Santa Claus for your children. Tickets are $10 for children ages 2 and up. For more information, visit brokenplowfarm.com.

HOLIDAY ON THE FARM Santa, animals and hayrides part of Broken Plow's Christmas charm

By Jonathan Owens


t’s hard to find free time at the holidays. Though you may be off from work, there are errands to run and relatives to visit and gifts to buy.

A visit with Santa can be something mom wants to mark off her list as quickly as possible. But if you do have an afternoon free and want a wholesome family Christmas down on the farm, you don’t have to drive far. Tucked in between Sanford and Broadway, on Avents Ferry Road, is Broken Plow Farm, possibly one of the coolest places around spend time with Santa. The farm has been in the Gillis family for generations. Today it’s owned by Richard and Debra Gillis, who work the land with their daughter Amanda and her husband Todd Anderson.

BROKEN PLOW FARM 1851 Avents Ferry Rd Sanford | (919) 770-6223 brokenplowfarm.com FB: brokenplowfarm 2019 Dates: Dec. 6, 7, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21 & 22 Time: 5:30-8:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for 2 years and older, includes the hayride and visit with Santa. Play area, animal barn and food trucks available each night.

At Christmas, Broken Plow comes alive with a hayride through a farm full of Christmas lights that would make the Grinch gush. And if a photo with Saint Nick is what you desire, their setup is second-to-none. Santa has his own little building, and each family gets to spend a few minutes of quality time

with him – alone. Best of all, you can take your own pictures! They also take pics of each visit to post on their Facebook page. In addition to the hay rides and Santa visits, the farm also has a play area, petting zoo and food trucks to feed the hungry crowds nightly. And if you’ve been before, don’t worry. “We are always looking for ways to add new displays or change things up,” Todd Anderson said. “This year our trail is a little bit different and we have added some new displays.” Broken Plow still grows soy beans, corn, pumpkins, vegetables and some cotton. It also hosts Easter, Halloween and Christmas events, and recently added a wedding and event barn called Daniel’s Ridge. They started the Christmas celebration four years ago after the success of their Easter and Halloween events showed there was an appetite for “agritourism” here.

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rantnc.com Tree lighting events Broadway gets the holiday festivities under way on Dec. 1 this year with “Christmas in the Park” at the North Carolina Veteran’s Memorial, including its annual tree lighting ceremony. The event starts at 4 p.m. Sanford will light up the train and tree in Depot Park on Dec. 6 in what has become a tradition for downtown. Santa will arrive at 6 p.m. with a little help from the Sanford Fire Department and will stick around until every kid’s had a chance to go over his or her list.

Santa visits City Hall Before Santa can go on his magical journey, he has to get all the proper permits of course. That means a trip to City Hall. From 4-7 p.m. on Dec. 5, city residents can greet Saint Nick in the lobby of Sanford’s City Hall, located at 225 E. Weatherspoon St. Bring a camera to snap your own photos, or get a professional photo for $1.

CCCC tree lighting Santa Claus will be at Central Carolina Community College Dec. 5, enjoying the CCCC Foundation's Annual Christmas Tree Lighting. The free event takes place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, in the Lee County Campus Plaza, located 1105 Kelly Drive, Sanford.

children and have his picture taken with them. The CCCC Foundation will post the photos on its website, www.cccc.edu/santapics/, the following day, where they can be downloaded for free.

Love Santa and fire trucks? Who doesn’t? You can see both from 1-5 p.m. on Dec. 8, as the Tramway fire department will be hosting a photo session with Santa and its old truck at the fire station located at 5900 McDaniel Drive. in Sanford. Families can get professional photos with Santa for $20 per session, with proceeds going to the Lee County Firefighters burned children fund.

Santa’s Reindeer Roundup Express

The Lee County Partnership for Children will host a floating event on the first floor in the Mann Center at 507 N. Steele St.. Activity stations will be available for the kids, and everyone will have a chance to take photos with Santa. Visit facebook.com/LCPFC to reserve a spot.

Ride the rails with Santa Claus at New Hope Valley Railway in Moncure. The all-volunteer railroad is continuing its holiday tradition of Santa Claus and train rides with its Santa's Reindeer Roundup Express on December 7, 8, 14 & 15. Trains will depart at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. during each ride day. Tickets cost $13 for adults, $12 for seniors (ages 60+), $11 for children (ages 2-12) and children under two years old are free when sitting in the lap of an adult ticketholder.

CARA’s ‘Santa Paws’ Fundraiser Your dogs might like Santa, too. You never know. Go find out at the annual fundraiser for Carolina Animal Rescue Association from 1-4 p.m. Dec. 7 at Big Bloomers Flower Farm at 275 Pressley Foushee Road in Sanford. Kids are welcome, too.

Tickets are available for purchase now at www.TriangleTrain.com.

“Breakfast with Santa” fundraiser Family Promise of Lee County, which provides assistance to homeless families locally, will host its annual “Breakfast with Santa” fundraiser in two sessions beginning at 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7 at St. Luke United Methodist Church in Sanford. A $5 ticket (available by calling 919-718-1540) gets you all you can eat pancakes, crafts, cookie decorating and a photo with Santa. All funds generated will benefit homeless families in Lee County.

A Downtown Sanford Tradition Depot Park

Tree and Train Lighting December 6 at 6pm

Santa loves to read

The Lee County High School Marching Band kicks off the festivities as the band parades through campus, accompanying Santa to the plaza. The jolly old elf will greet children of all ages and be available to take Christmas wishes back to the North Pole. Santa is ready and eager to meet all of the

All are welcome at Santa's Holiday Extravaganza at the Lee County Library, located at 107 Hawkins Ave., Sanford, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Dec. 14. The event will feature games, crafts, holiday stories from around the world, milk and cookies, and of course Santa.

Agritourism has become common in the last decade, as more and more family farmers look to diversify beyond the fields to sustain their business. From celebrations to fruit-picking experiences to holidays, pumpkin patches and corn mazes, it is one of the fastest-growing segments of the farming industry both nationally and locally – to which Broken Plow’s family can attest.

“It takes us around three weeks to decorate,” Anderson said. “There is a narrow time frame to get the farm ready for Christmas. We have to first take up the Halloween decorations and then we can begin decorating for Christmas.”

“Our attendance over the past few years has really been growing,” Anderson said. “We started over eight years ago for the Halloween events with only one hay ride. We now have three hayrides out on the trail at a time and this year we decided to build a new hayride that could accommodate more guests.”

“We enjoy seeing those families that have decided to make it a tradition to come out each year. We also love meeting new families as well,” he said. “We just want to thank everyone for the support they have given us over the years and to let them know how much we really enjoy seeing all the happy families each night.”

Though farmers welcome the income, it can lead to some long work hours.

Cookies with Santa

He added it has been worth the work to be able to share their family’s farm with others.

Join us as we set Depot Park & the Locomotive aglow with Christmas lights and decorations! Photos with Santa - Sledding in the park Tuesday Night Music Club A Christmas Village - Crafts - Treats

20 | December 2019


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CHRISTMAS EVENTS Gathering with friends, family and neighbors makes the holiday season even brighter. Our area has several public Christmas-themed events planned in the coming weeks. Here are a few highlights:

Depot Park Tree and Train Lighting Dec. 6, 6 p.m. An annual tradition where hundreds gather in Depot Park to see the Christmas tree, locomotive and old train station come to life for the holiday season. Santa Claus will arrive again by fire truck and will stick around for free photos. Snow My Yard will be on hand to provide sledding, and the Tuesday Night Music Club will perform on the Depot stage.

Annual Christmas Parades Sanford | Dec. 2, 7 p.m. Broadway | Dec. 14, 2 p.m. The Sanford Christmas Parade, hosted by the Central Carolina Jaycees, is one of the longest-running nighttime parades in the country. Both parades feature beauty queens, elected officials, floats from local business and churches, marching bands and ROTC groups from both Lee County and Southern Lee, and whole bunch of fire trucks and lights and stuff the kids will love. This year’s Sanford parade will take place at 7 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 2. Broadway’s Old Fashioned Christmas Parade, put on by the Broadway Lions Club, starts at 2 p.m. on Dec. 14, though the Christmas celebration starts at 10 a.m. that day.

CCCC Tree Lighting Dec. 5, 5:30 to 7 p.m. Central Carolina Community College's free annual Christmas Tree Lighting will feature pictures with Santa Claus, the Lee County High School Marching Band, hot cocoa and cookies and Christmas carols from the Temple Teens, followed by the tree lighting.

Organizers for the first Winter Wonderland at the Sanford Lions Club Fairgrounds on Dec. 16 have hired Raleigh-based Snow My Yard to provide the snow for sledding and building. The company has provided the sledding at recent downtown Christmas events.


Snow, vendors and Santa himself to appear at first Winter Wonderland By Billy Liggett


e’re calling it now — snow is in the forecast for Sanford on Dec. 16. And lots of it … at least in the area of the Lions Club Fairgrounds, between the hours of 5 and 10 p.m.

DEC. 16 | 5-10 p.m. Sanford Lions Club Fairgrounds


Organizers of Sanford’s first Winter Wonderland will be cranking out the white stuff (man made, but snow nonetheless) for the free event — there will be hills for sledding and an area for smaller children to make snow angels and build snowmen. More than 50 vendors, Santa Claus himself and a few more Christmas characters will be on hand for the event. Admission will be free, but guests will be encouraged to donate non-perishable food items for the Christian United Outreach Center of Lee County. The Winter Wonderland is the brainchild of Lee County Sheriff’s Deputy

Snow machines, sledding, Santa Claus and more than 50 vendors. Event is FREE, but donations of non-perishable food items will be accepted to benefit Christian United Outreach Center of Lee County.

Brian Estes and Honda/Suzuki of Sanford sales manager Brian Phillips. “It was back during the summer when Dusty and I began talking about this,” says Estes. “He usually organizes an event during Christmas, and I asked him to help come up with an idea for something bigger. He’d done something on a smaller scale at Broadway Baseball Park, and a lot of people attended that and had a great time. “Our idea was to do the snow on a larger

level — invite people in the community and most importantly, make it free. There are children here who’ve either never seen snow or don’t get to see it very often, and we wanted to make this magical for them.” The snow will be the big draw, of course. Organizers have hired Raleigh-based Snow My Yard, the same company that has provided a hill and sledding at recent Christmas tree lighting ceremonies put on by Downtown Sanford Inc. at Depot Park. The steep hills near the soccer fields will provide natural sledding areas and up to five lanes at a time, Estes says. That’s important, because he’s expecting a big crowd, weather permitting (rain is the only thing that could force a postponement … snow, on the other hand, would be very welcome). And unlike most local Christmas events, which take place either in late November or early December, the Winter Wonderland is

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just nine days out from the big day. Estes says he understands a lot of people are traveling then, but a lot of people are also looking for activities for their children. “We want it to feel like Christmas out there, so we love that it’s so close,” he says. “We hope everybody comes away from this feeling like a kid.”

In addition to Estes and Phillips, organizers for the first Winter Wonderland include Ashley Estes, Wendy Phillips, Brandy and Tommy Garner, Teresa and Mike Kelly, Regina and James Emerson and Ella and Ashley Wilson.

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HOLIDAY FITNESS The Rant reported back in October that a permit was placed on file with the Sanford-Lee County Planning Department indicating that plans are in place to convert the old Rite Aid building at 2045 S. Horner Boulevard for use as a Workout Anytime (in addition to a Smoothie King). Workout Anytime, which has locations nearby in Cary, Aberdeen and Asheboro, is scheduled to open in 2020. Rates will run between $10 and $39 a month.

“Our biggest job is to keep people engaged,”says First Health fitness center director Phillip Williams.. “We preach member engagement here. We’ll call people if we haven’t seen them in 30 or 60 or 90 days. If people feel like the staff really cares, they’ll be more apt to keep coming in." Photo by Gordon Anderson

Sanford Fitness Options Planet Fitness ($10-$22.99/month, plus one-time $1 and $39 annual fee): City's newest fitness center, located next to Ollie's in former K-Mart store near Broadway Road and Horner Boulevard. Ingram Family YMCA ($33.51-$88.30/ month, plus one-time $50 fee): 1907 K.M. Wicker Memorial Drive, Sanford Anytime Fitness ($29.99-$34.99/month, 7 day free trial available): 2563 Hawkins Ave., Sanford SNR Express ($38-$50/month, free pass available): 2629 Dalrymple St., Sanford Carolina Women's Fitenss (no initiation fees; special rates for individuals, families, corporations, state employees, federal employees, students and seniors ... membership plans include daily, monthly and annual plans). Olympic Fitness Club (the co-ed club run by the people who run Carolina Women's Fitness). Located at 1701 Broadway Road. Offers free orientation for those interested in membership.


First Health's new facility among Sanford's growing list of fitness centers By Gordon Anderson


ith the Christmas season comes the new year. And with the new year, invariably come resolutions — very often to live healthier, to get in shape, etc. In his year-plus as the facility director at FirstHealth’s fitness center in Sanford, Phillip Williams has already seen it once, and expects to again. “Last year we saw a little bump after Christmas, as well as an increase in traffic from our current customers,” he said. “But it’s really mid-January before we see the big increase, and we expect that to last until about March.” But Williams said that the company’s fitness center, which opened in October 2018, is really all about changing that

dynamic, or at the very least giving its customers the resources and opportunities to avoid a mid-spring relapse and live healthier throughout the year.

To that end, the vast facility not only offers a range of fitness options — free weights, machines, a piece of equipment called the Synrgy 360 or more commonly, “the adult jungle gym,” a walking

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rantnc.com track, a pool, and even a children’s center — it also engages customers by making available to them more than 40 classes each week. “Our biggest job is to keep people engaged,” Williams explained. “We preach member engagement here. We’ll call people if we haven’t seen them in 30 or 60 or 90 days. If people feel like the staff really cares, they’ll be more apt to keep coming in.” Many gym memberships are made up of a mix of folks who join to achieve fitness goals and others who are referred by a doctor for physical therapy or cardiac rehabilitation, but FirstHealth’s facility is unique in that the staff is medically integrated, meaning everyone on hand is knowledgeable about the range of resources available to folks whatever the reason they’re there.

company had previously had some presence here through individual doctor’s offices, but the medical and fitness center is its first brick and mortar effort locally — it was the first experience with FirstHealth for as much as 75 percent of members. “FirstHealth really looks at this building as a gateway to all of the other services we offer,” he said. Monthly rates at FirstHealth Fitness run between $39 and $61 per month, with a variety of options and discounts (seniors, veterans, corporate rates) available depending on the circumstance.

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ENTERTAINMENT Want to include your upcoming events in our monthly entertainment calendar? Email gordon@rantnc.com and let us know the event, the date, the time, the location and any other pertinent information you want to include. Get even more noticed by including a high-resolution photo. _____________________________ AWAY IN THE BASEMENT: A CHURCH BASEMENT LADIES CHRISTMAS

Dec. 5 - 22 | Temple Theatre | $17 - $29 Tickets and times: www.templeshows.com Away in the Basement takes us to 1959 and centers on preparations for the Sunday School Christmas Program. The ladies in their witty, down-to-earth style create their own memories from Christmases past and present. When they’re faced with surprises, they step in to save the day with their hilarious antics and subtle charm. MUSIC BINGO WITH DJ MIKE C.

Dec. 5 | Camelback Brewing Company | 7 p.m. | Free THE GRAND OLE UPROAR

Dec. 6 | Smoke & Barrel | 8:30 p.m. The Grand Ole Uproar’s musical gumbo conjures up the Texas twang of Waylon Jennings and Doug Sahm, the electric carnival of Dylan, the improvisational impulses of the Grateful Dead, and the laid-back swampy sound of J.J. Cale, as well as many other artists in the American tradition. Continued, Page 27

Britton Buchanan has been working hard in Los Angeles on several new songs, some of which will be heard at his Dec. 20 concert at the Mann Center in Sanford with Taylor Phillips. Buchanan spent several months in 2018 recording an album after his experience on "The Voice," but scrapped the record. "I realized I could do something that was still me but would also be more accessible." Photo by Billy Liggett


Buchanan, Phillips step away from L.A., Nashville careers for Sanford concert By Gordon Anderson


he last couple of years have been big for both Britton Buchanan and Taylor Phillips. So big that — if you’re from Sanford anyway — you’d have to have been living under a rock to have missed the success each has experienced in the music business. For Buchanan, it all started in the late winter of 2018, when the young singer got on a stage in Los Angeles and absolutely blew away the judges for NBC’s “The Voice” with a rendition of

BRITTON BUCHANAN & TAYLOR PHILLIPS DECEMBER 20 MANN CENTER, SANFORD Show begins at 7 p.m. $25 — manncenternc.org Ray LaMontagne’s 2014 hit “Trouble.” That performance led to a roller coaster ride that ended with Buchanan, then a senior at Lee County High School, being named the runner up on the

show’s 14th season, eventually moving to Los Angeles, and beginning a career as a singer. For Nashville-based Phillips, who also hails from Sanford, it goes back to 2016. That’s when country singer Luke Combs released “Hurricane,” a song which Phillips had co-written and which eventually reached number one on the Billboard Country Music charts, launching Phillips onto a path which has since seen the 2018 release of his Six Strings Attached EP. On Dec. 20, both Buchanan and Phil-

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Dec. 7 | Mann Center | 3 p.m. 7:30 p.m. | Free, donations accepted Under the direction of guest conductor Wojciech Milewski, the Lee County Community Orchestra presents a program of nostalgic melodies and holiday tunes, including Debussy’s “Reverie,” “Hungarian Dance #5” by Brahms, and many more. ROB’S ROCKABILLY REVIVAL: A ROCK AND ROLL CHRISTMAS

Dec. 10 | Temple Theatre | 7:30 p.m. | $10/$20 | Tickets: templeshows.com Rob Matthews and his band bring a variety of Christmas tunes, covers and original music with their own unique rockabilly twist. This is an all ages family friendly show. HEART OF CAROLINA JAZZ ORCHESTRA

Dec. 12 | Hugger Mugger | 7:30 p.m. The award-winning Heart of Carolina Jazz Orchestra led by saxaphonist Gregg Gelb brings its big band sounds to Hugger Mugger Brewing.


Dec. 13 | Smoke & Barrel | 8:30 p.m. These boys out of Statesville whip up some savory old-school blues, mixed in with some sweaty, gritty, steady-rockin, party-down sounds that come together for straight up musical dynamite. FAITH BARDILL

Dec. 14 | Camelback Brewing Company 7:30 p.m. | Free SWEET POTATO PIE’S 7TH ANNUAL HOMEGROWN CHRISTMAS

Dec. 17 | Temple Theatre | 7:30 p.m. | $20 | Tickets: templeshows.com Sweet Potato Pie has been entertaining audiences for nearly two decades with a classy blend of Americana, bluegrass, country, and gospel they call “sweetgrass”. Their show revolves around their beautiful 3-part harmonies, hard driving instrumentals and down home humor and storytelling. Their music is rich both in blue and new-grass, coupled with a spirited southern heart and good clean fun for the entire family.”

lips will be home to perform together at The Mann Center. And while the two operate in different spheres of the musical world, it’s not the first time they’ve shared the stage. That happened in early 2019, and the duo promises a show full of originals, special arrangements of popular favorites, and even some “extra special musical presents” just before Christmas. Buchanan says the show is more of a “round,” in which he and Phillips will take turns telling stories and then playing songs, than a collaboration. “I don’t see (Phillips) a whole lot because every time I’m in Nashville, he’s somewhere else,” Buchanan explained. “But we do keep in touch and I think we share a lot because we’re both from the same place. We never plan much really, but it still always comes together. I think that’s the Sanford in us.” Buchanan spent several months

throughout late 2018 recording and mixing an album he now says “will probably never see the light of day.” “We got to sit with it for about a month, and I realized — man, this just doesn’t feel right,” he said. “It’s an album I feel insanely good about, but it was a very niche record. It was only for a certain audience, and I realized I could do something that was still me but would


Dec. 20 | Camelback Brewing Company 1 p.m. | Free Features live music from Whiskey Pines featuring Mary Stone. COREY LEUTJEN AND THE TRAVELIN’ BAND

Dec. 20 | Smoke & Barrel | 8:30 p.m. From nearby Asheboro, Cory is an accomplished musician with a passion for progressive and classic blues artists like Robert Cray, Eric Clapton, BB King, and T Bone Walker. BRITTON BUCHANAN AND TAYLOR PHILLIPS

Dec. 20 | Mann Center | 7 p.m. $25 | Tickets: manncenternc.org Hometown favorites Britton Buchanan (runner-up on Season 14 of NBC’s The Voice) and Taylor Phillips (multi-platinum selling songwriter and co-author of Luke Combs hit “Hurricane”) will take the stage for a night of original songs and special arrangements of some of your favorites.


Dec. 21 | Camelback Brewing Company 7:30 p.m. | Free BILLY O’BRIEN

Dec. 28 | Camelback Brewing Company 7:30 p.m. | Free TOMMY EDWARDS AND THE BLUEGRASS EXPERIENCE

Dec. 31 | Temple Theatre | 8 p.m. $20 | Tickets: templeshows.com Tommy Edwards leads The Bluegrass Experience, one of the southeast's most respected traditional music groups. Edwards was twice named world champion bluegrass guitarist and has worked with bluegrass luminaries such as Jimmy Martin, Bobby Hicks, Peter Rowan, Jimmy Mills, Dan Crary, Jack Lawrence, and Mike Cross. .

also be more accessible.”

every night.

It was a realization Buchanan said he’s thankful for, since it gave him the opportunity to write some new songs and take new approaches to older ones. He said a single is definitely forthcoming in January, and he hopes to follow it with two more in February and March.

“When you’re opening up for a musical act, you’re probably going to be in the same genre,” he said. “These were comedy audiences, not music audiences. They might have been into EDM, or classic rock, or metal. But I feel like I was able to connect with them every night. Some people came up to me and said ‘we don’t really listen to country, but we loved you!’ Which I thought was funny, because I don’t play country.”

“The album for me is the ultimate art form, but singles are back in full force. That’s really the main way people are consuming music now,” he said. “I think people think they want a record, but this is a time now where you can put out singles and get attention and build a buzz — and then putting out a record is the way to go. I still feel like we’re writing for a record that will come out at some point.” Buchanan spent a good part of 2019 touring with comedy duo Rhett and Link, the latter of whom is his cousin. That experience, he said, was different

It’s been about a year since Buchanan played his hometown, and he said he’s excited to bring lots of new material with him. “It’s a bunch of new songs that I’m very excited to play,” he said. “Being in front of an audience in your hometown is very comforting.” Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at www.manncenternc.org.

28 | December 2019



A look at the big stories in The Rant Monthly's first year of existence


hen The Rant launched a monthly publication back in April, it did so with the idea that each edition would revolve around a cover story — and as often as possible, that cover story would deal with issues and news important to our community.

The April 2019 edition of The Rant focused on the problems coming from The Prince Motel in Downtown Sanford.

To mark the end of The Rant Monthly's first calendar year, we're including a look back at the first eight cover stories and the impact they may have had on the community. Send us your ideas for future cover features by emailing billy@rantnc.com or gordon@rantnc.com. And now, the cover features:

APRIL: The Prince Dilemma

The Rant Monthly’s very first cover story focused on the Prince Downtown Motel, which has been the source of complaints about criminal and drug activity from neighbors for years. Additionally, folks community-wide were upset about the hotel’s run-down appearance, and those involved with providing food to families in need who are staying there told The Rant that conditions inside the rooms are substandard. In the days following publication of the story, some readers reported seeing ownership — who declined to talk for the story and kicked two reporters off the property — putting a new coat of paint on parts of

the building and cleaning up some trash in the parking lot, but to many eyes conditions don’t appear to have changed. Elsewhere in this issue, you’ll see the city’s plans for addressing the Carthage Street corridor, which include enhanced pedestrian options. Here’s hoping those efforts continue to put pressure on the Prince’s ownership to further clean up its act or recognize the commercial value of the property and sell to an owner with different plans. MAY: A New Leaf

Hemp farming’s rise in North Carolina has been rapid. In 2017, Broadway Hemp

The Rant Monthly | 29


The Rant Monthly MAY 2019


A NEW LEAF North Carolina farmers are banking on industrial hemp to be the next big thing

The May edition focused on North Carolina's growing industrial hemp industry and the impact this "next big thing" will have on the local and state economy.

founder Ryan Patterson became just the 38th farmer in North Carolina to receive a hemp license; as of May 2019 that number had grown to more than 700. Patterson told The Rant that the company grows 50,000 square feet of hemp under greenhouses and makes the product available for a variety of uses - including

the production of CBD products, which have been used to treat a wide variety of ailments and are themselves one of the faster-growing industries in the country. Since our story, hemp’s dominance has only increased. Anecdotally, we’ve heard of more and more area farmers switching from tobacco - which was once king - over to hemp. There’s no indication of the trend stopping anytime soon. Additionally, CBD products continue to become more widely available.

Broadway Hardware & Supply Co.

JUNE: A Place To Play

Youth sports have always been a hot ticket in Lee County. Between baseball and soccer alone, there are easily a couple thousand kids playing ball in the area. But Lee County has also traditionally lacked a centralized location which can host multiple games - or even multiple sports - at the same time. In soccer’s case, Lee has had as many as 750 kids playing in recent years, and even boasts a semi-professional team, but there’s not a single regulation field in the county.

Your locally owned and operated hardware store for Lee and surrounding counties 305 N. Main St. Broadway, N.C.

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Where Old Fashioned Service Is Still In Style!

June’s cover story discussed the probabil-

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30 | December 2019 ity that local voters will be asked in 2020 to weigh in on a bond initiative that would fund a $30 million mutli-sport complex at the intersection of the U.S. 421 bypass and Broadway Road. Not only would such a complex give kids and parents a centralized location for youth sports, it would also give Lee County a chance to get in on the $9 billion youth sports tourism industry. Families who come here for sports tournaments, the thinking goes, will eat in our restaurants, fill up at our gas stations, and stay in our hotels, boosting the local economy in the process.

@therant905 There was some public discussion about the proposed facility by the Lee County Board of Commissioners in November, and while a final decision about whether to place the bond initiative on the 2020 ballot hasn’t been made, it appears more likely with each passing day. Expect to hear plenty more about this issue in 2020. JULY: Flipped

Ashley Davenport of Sweet Southern Home and Design was at the center of

July’s cover story about Sanford’s housing market, which is booming in part thanks to companies like hers, which specializes in “flipping” (buying, renovating, and selling) old houses. According to a recent article in the Triangle Business Journal, the 27330 area code led North Carolina in terms of percentage of profit for flipped homes, and the 30 homes in Sanford sampled for the study showed a return on investment of a whopping 113 percent locally. There’s another reason Sanford’s housing market is so hot, particularly with flips there just aren’t a lot of homes available. Ask any realtor locally, and you’ll be told they just don’t have enough homes to sell. And with the addition of hundreds of new jobs via economic development agreements in the last couple of years, that problem will only become more visible going forward. So flipping may reign for the moment, but expect to see an increasing number of newly constructed homes throughout Lee County in the coming years. Several have been approved recently,



The Rant Monthly JUNE 2019


4 y a l P o t e c a l AP COMPLEX W SPORTS WHAT A NE


The June edition took a close look at the proposed sports complex potentially coming to Sanford and the impact it could have on youth sports in our community.

including the controversial, high-density Galvin’s Ridge slated for Colon Road, and there’s little reason to believe the trend will reverse.


CHAD SPIVEY Insurance Agent

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

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The Rant Monthly | 31

rantnc.com AUGUST: The Wicker School

Lee County’s ninth public elementary school opened to students in August. It may sound like a paradox, but the W.B. Wicker Elementary School on South Vance Street near downtown Sanford is both Lee County’s newest and one of its oldest schools. Wicker began its life in 1927 as the Lee County Training Center, a school for black students that had been funded at least in part by Chicago-based philanthropist Julius Rosenwald during a time when he was contributing to the progress of education for African Americans across the country. Renamed for its founding principal, William Bartelle Wicker, in the 1950s the school continued to serve black students










The Rant Monthly JULY 2019



Lett’s Set a Spell! AlexSandra “Sandy Lynn” Lett celebrates the release of Timeless People Making A Difference For more information

Sanford's real estate market is trending upward, thanks in part to house flippers like designer Ashley Davenport

Southern Books & Talks 919-499-8880

The July edition featured home designer Ashley Davenport and took a close look at the local real estate market, which has been on the rise in the last five years.

AlexSandra Lett

LettsSetaSpell@aol.com www.atimelessplace.com www.AlexSandra Lett


Thursday, Dec. 5 - 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Yarborough’s Ice Cream and Grill 132 McIver Street, Sanford Friday, Dec. 6 - 6 to 10 p.m. Depot Park Tree and Train Lighting Christmas Market Hosted by Downtown Sanford, Inc Sunday, Dec. 8 - 1 to 4 p.m. Yarborough’s Ice Cream and Grill

Thursday, Dec. 12 -11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Yarborough’s Ice Cream and Grill

Friday, Dec. 13 - 4 to 7 p.m. Temple Theatre, 128 Carthage Street, Sanford Saturday, Dec. 14 – 1 to 5 p.m. Broadway Christmas Parade

In a society that often associates power with fame and fortune there are greater values that measure impact and influence – love, loyalty, integrity, commitment and service. Through AlexSandra Lett’s diverse communications career and her “Lett’s Set a Spell” column the writer has interviewed hundreds of fabulous folks who have nurtured families, built businesses, created towns and changed communities.

Brian Mathis, CFP®


Financial Advisor

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

edwardjones.com Member SIPC

Sunday, Dec. 15 - 1 to 4 p.m. Railroad House Museum, 110 Charlotte Avenue, Sanford Timeless People Making A Difference AlexSandra shares stories of some special heroes in her seventh book. Timeless Moons Seasons of the Fields Timeless Moons

Seasons and of the Fields Matters and of the Heart Matters of the Heart First Edition, Hardcover, Copyright (c) 2004 AlexSandra "SandyCopyright Lynn" Lett First Edition, Hardcover, (c) 2004 AlexSandra "Sandy Lynn" Lett ISBN 0-9613649-5-5

ISBN 0-9613649-5-5 All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No of this book may be used reproduced manner Allpart rights reserved. Printed in theorUnited Statesinofany America. whatsoever without Moonsof the No part of this book may written beTimeless usedpermission or reproduced in author, any manner Seasons of the Fields exceptwithout for excerpts in permission reviews or articles. whatsoever written of the author, and of the Heart except for excerptsMatters in reviews or articles. DISCLAIMER: The remedies discussed in this book are set forth First Edition, Hardcover, Copyright (c) 2004 AlexSandra "Sandyas Lynn" Lett as folklore and not recommended medical treatment. DISCLAIMER: The remedies discussed in this book are set forth ISBN 0-9613649-5-5 as folklore and not recommended as medical treatment. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author, except for excerpts in reviews or articles.

Published by

In a society that often associates power with fame and fortune there are greater values that measure impact and influence – love, loyalty, integrity, commitment and service. Through AlexSandra Lett’s diverse communications career and her “Lett’s Set a Spell” column the writer has interviewed hundreds of fabulous folks who have nurtured families, built businesses, created towns and changed communities. AlexSandra shares stories of some special heroes in her seventh book.

Timeless People Making A Difference Timeless Moons Seasons of the Fields Timeless Moons Seasons and of the Fields Matters and of the Heart Matters of the Heart

AlexSandra Lett Published by

919-499-8880 Southern Books & Talks Southern Books & Talks

DISCLAIMER: The remedies discussed in this book are set forth as folklore and not recommended as medical treatment.

Published by

1996 Buckhorn Road Southern Books & Talks Sanford, NC 27330-9782 1996 Buckhorn Road USA Buckhorn Road Sanford,1996NC 27330-9782

www.atimelessplace.com Sanford, NC 27330-9782 USA USA www.AlexSandraLett.com LettsSetaSpell@aol.com LettsSetaSpell@aol.com www.atimelessplace.com

www.atimelessplace.com LettsSetaSpell@aol.com For more information contact: www.atimelessplace.com For more information contact: AlexSandra “Sandy Lynn” Lett

For more information contact: (919) 258-9299

AlexSandra “Sandy Lynn” Lett AlexSandra “Sandy Lynn” Lett (919) 258-9299 (919) 258-9299

32 | December 2019


until desegregation and was used for a number of other purposes for a couple of decades after that. Selected in September 2015 as the site for Lee County’s next public elementary school (it had been in use by Central Carolina Community College since a renovation in 2006), the school’s original campus was renovated and added to beginning in 2018. It boasts a STEAM science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) curriculum and operates on a mixed neighborhood/lottery model. Just as importantly, it’s a point a pride for many in the black community who attended school there in generations past. James French, a trustee at CCCC who attended Wicker in the 60s said in August that “all the future students who are given the opportunity to attend this school can look forward to a quality education. I am sure that Mr. Wicker and all our teachers are looking at this beautiful structure with a big happy smile.”







The Rant Monthly August 2019













The Rant Monthly September 2019











The Rant Monthly October 2019






In August, The Rant Monthly started the school year with a longform feature on the history of Sanford's oldest school, which was renovated to become the city's newest school this fall.

The start of football season meant the start of the season year for one of the country's top young recruits — Lee County defensive end Desmond Evans, featured on the cover of The Rant's September edition.

October is often associated with beer, and The Rant celebrated its own Oktoberfest with a cover feature on the city's budding bar and brewery scene.


County High School — considered one of the Top 25 high school football recruits in the country and the top prospect coming out of North Carolina this year — threw followers into a loop by announcing on Aug. 23 his Top 5 college choices on Aug.

23 with a tweet at 8:40 p.m. that night.

When Lee County High School’s varsity football team began the 2019 season, Desmond Evans was the Yellow Jacket everyone was talking about. The five-star defensive end from Lee

UNC. South Carolina. Virginia Tech. Tennessee. Florida. Most following know what happened next: During a pep rally at Lee Senior on Oct. 18 Evans told a gymnasium packed not just with students but also with sports reporters from across the state that he’d be playing next fall for Mack Brown’s Tar Heel team at Carolina. Meanwhile, Evans has continued to impress as a Yellow Jacket, helping lead the team to a No. 1 seed in the conference playoffs and, as of this writing, wins in the first two rounds. OCTOBER: Brew City

It wasn’t a coincidence that beer featured heavily on the cover of The Rant Monthly during the month in which Germans and millions of others worldwide celebrate Oktoberfest. But even if Sanford’s status as a location not just for craft breweries but also for those selling craft beer of all types wasn’t brand new in October, it was still in its infancy. The young life of Sanford’s craft brew scene has gone quickly, though. Hugger Mugger opened in January 2018, cementing its status as the city’s first craft brewery. The road to Hugger Mugger’s debut was paved by others dabbling in craft beer - Local Joe’s, the Smoke & Barrel, and Libations 139 among them - and not long after, Camelback Brewing Company opened on Spring Lane a few months later, and in 2020 we’re expected to see Wild

The Rant Monthly | 33









The Rant Monthly November 2019



market — was evident. And while it’s hard to know if more businesses will step up to grab a share of the craft beer market locally, the explosion has been something of a microcosm for Sanford’s recent growth as a whole. Cheers to that.


Pfizer's $500 million investment in its gene therapy operation will mean 300 new jobs and a new distinction for Sanford

NOVEMBER: Gene Addition

In November, The Rant featured Pfizer's $500 million investment in gene therapy at its Sanford facility.

Dogs Brewing begin operations on Steele Street. In terms of craft beer — and nightlife in general — Sanford’s rise has been pretty dang quick. Most striking about this rise has been that it appears to be built more on camaraderie than competition. In interviews with all involved, the desire to see each other succeed — and even to see more enter the

Sanford has long been known as the world’s brick capital, even if it hasn’t really been the case for years. But recent growth at Sanford’s Pfizer location — highlighted on The Rant Monthly’s November cover — means Sanford has an opportunity to be known for something else. That something else is gene therapy, a relatively new treatment option which attacks various diseases by injecting patients with genetic information that’s lacking. Pfizer’s work is aimed at treating hemophilia and DMD, but for the layperson what’s important is that the company is investing half a billion dollars and bringing hundreds of new employees to the Sanford plant. Not only does that have implications for the tax base, the local economy and local culture, it also has the potential to serve as a catalyst for further growth of this type.

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34 | December 2019


Crime initiative up for debate LOCAL MATTERS District attorney for Lee, Harnett won't seek re-election in 2020 Vernon Stewart, the top prosecutor for Lee and Harnett counties, will not seek another term as district attorney when filing opens in December, according to a report in The Dunn Daily Record. From The Daily Record: Vernon Stewart has served the people of District 11A as its chief prosecutor for nearly 10 years, but Stewart says he will not be seeking another term. “At the end of my current term on Dec. 31, 2020, I will be retiring as district attorney for Harnett and Lee counties,” he said in a press release. “At that point I will have served as the district attorney for 10 of the 35 years I have practiced law.” When asked about the decision, Stewart said he had a goal of spending 10 years in the office and now wants to establish a private practice. Filing for the 2020 elections began on Dec. 2.

Sanford, Lee County discuss renewal of program that some fear is 'inherently racist' toward blacks

Assistant U.S. Attorney Rob Lang gave a presentation to the Sanford City Council in mid-November about Project Safe Neighborhoods, a crime fighting initiative which aims to either rehabilitate or lock up repeat violent offenders by taking their cases through federal court. PSN was put in place locally in 2014, and the U.S. Department of Justice announced in October multiple jail sentences issued through the program. But it’s come before both the Sanford City Council and the Lee County Board of Commissioners recently as the bodies seek to renew the program and hire a staffer to coordinate between city and county government, the court system, and providers of rehabilitative services. Lang’s presentation appeared at least in part designed to allay concerns brought up earlier in November by City Councilman Chas Post when the council had most recently discussed the hiring of a coordinator. Post said at the time that the program was “inherently racist” and questioned the selection process for inclusion in PSN.

Lang said in his presentation that PSN had been successful in not just removing repeat offenders from the streets, but also in putting people on a better path. “Out of a field that eight out of 10 (PSN participants) continued to commit felonies, I’ve been informed that 54 percent of all the people we’ve worked down here have not been re-arrested,” he said. “This is a partnership-based, data-driven, violence reduction strategy.”

Lang said the project has also been a success in multiple other communities, including in Rowan, Alamance, Rockingham, and Cabarrus counties, the last of which he said has seen a 64 percent reduction in crimes such as aggravated assault and robbery with a firearm since 2007. Post said that he could support PSN if it were implemented as presented, but he still worried about the selection process. “I think Project Safe Neighborhoods could work if it is applied fairly across the board using specific metrics for inclusion,” he said. “African Americans and other minorities were disproportionately affected by federal prosecutions last time around. I believe however that can change if we use an objective and transparent selection process.” Post also expressed concerns about whether the rehabilitative programs PSN touts have

been as available as advertised.

“Can anyone name one rehabilitative program … that was set up and offered to PSN offenders the last time we implemented the initiative?” he asked. “You can’t, because it did not happen. Not one rehabilitative program or community resource was set up or offered despite a promise that they would be. I hope that changes this time around.” Councilwoman Rebecca Wyhof Salmon said she shared some of Post’s concerns and hoped that hiring a PSN coordinator would address that. “I think the missing piece might have been that we didn’t have this coordinator,” she said. “One tool alone is going to end up with that result – just locking people up. We need a comprehensive program and I’m hoping this coordinator can facilitate that.” Councilman Byron Buckels said he appreciated a discussion about African Americans being disproportionately impacted, but also that the African American community has been eager to see crime addressed head on. “On PSN, I supported it in 2014, and I support it also today,” he said. “The (people) I know and represent, they want the streets cleaned up. Who would want 10 percent of the population messing up for the other 90 percent?” Mayor Chet Mann said the program had been effective and would continue to be.

Filing period begins Dec. 2 The filing period for elections across the state in 2020 begins at noon on Dec. 2 and runs through noon on Dec. 20. Check rantnc. com for updates about who’s filed to run. Local races on the ballot will include the following offices: •

Lee County Board of Commissioners

Lee County Board of Education

North Carolina House of Representatives District 51

North Carolina Senate District 12

Lee County Register of Deeds

District Attorney (Lee, Harnett)

District Court Judge (six seats)

Lee County Soil and Water Conservation District supervisor

Two women from Sanford received the Honorary Life Membership Award on Nov. 17, at First Presbyterian Church of Sanford. Nancy Kimble and Jeannine Romines were presented with this award by Bunny Paderick, moderator for the Presbyterian Women. Pictured from left to right, Nancy Kimble, Bunny Paderick and Jeannine Romines.

The Rant Monthly | 35

rantnc.com Large apartment complex planned for Pendegrass Road in Tramway Plans on file with local government show two separate apartment complexes proposed for land along Pendergrass Road just off U.S. 1 in Tramway. The plans for one complex, with the proposed name Kendall Creek, show a single four story building with 72 units specifically for senior living. Kendall Creek’s plans show amenities including outdoor seating, a multipurpose room, storage space for tenants, an exercise room, and a computer center. Plans for the other complex, with the proposed name Sandhills Court, show 83 units across three buildings, with one, two and three bedroom apartments. Although some type of work appears to have begun at the site – grading, and possibly the construction of a road that will lead into the apartment complexes – The Rant was unable to find any construction permits for the buildings themselves.

National podcast explores creation of Tobacco Road course The Golfer’s Journal, a nationally known and respected golf publication and podcast,

explored the career of the late golf course designer Mike Stranz, with particular attention paid to his masterpiece, Tobacco Road Golf Club in Sanford. The episode launched in November and is available wherever you get your podcasts. The podcast is a a fascinating look at the course, which is consistently named among the hardest and most fun golf courses in the country by prominent golf publications.

Man arrested for shooting at another man's car A 66-year-old Sanford man was arrested for shooting a pistol into the car of a man who was in his driveway to pick up a girlfriend at 4:45 a.m. on Nov. 5. Tommy East Sr. of Deep River Road was arrested at noon Tuesday, just over seven hours after discharging his gun at the vehicle and telling Tracey McKay of Kendale Road, “It’s time for you to leave.” The arrest report courtesy of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office did not state whether McKay’s girlfriend was related to East in any way. According to the report, McKay was not struck by the gunfire, nor was he injured in the incident.

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36 | December 2019


LOCAL MATTERS Spring Lane Cinemas announces curfew for children under 17 not accompanied by an adult Kids under the age of 17 are no longer allowed at Sanford’s only movie theater on weekend nights without adult supervision. Spring Lane Cinemas, which announced new ownership earlier this year, announced the policy change via Facebook back in October, stating in a follow up comment that “there have been a lot of issues with unsupervised children,” including fights. The policy says children under 17 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian older than 21 after 6 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. A person answering the phone at the theater on Monday told The Rant that the new policy went into effect on Oct. 2 and that it was something the company was “trying out” to see if it curbed the number of incidents. The person did not know if the change was permanent.

Cooper's Restaurant, Camelback Brewing to host fundraiser for local Boys & Girls Club Cooper’s Restaurant and Wine Room is teaming up with Camelback Brewing Company to host a five course dinner in December that will raise funds for the Boys & Girls Club of Central Carolina. Each course will be paired with a tasting glass of beer brewed by Camelback owner Mike Stec. Tickets for the meal, set for 6:30 p.m. Dec. 9 at Cooper’s in downtown Sanford, are $85 per person, and seating is limited. Patrons may be asked to make an additional donation at the dinner. To purchase tickets, contact Elizabeth Colebrook of the Boys & Girls Club at (919) 776-3525 or elizabeth.colebrook@centralcarolinaclubs.org.

Students and local leaders gathered at the new W.B. Wicker Elementary School on Nov. 3, to celebrate the opening of the school and to honor the school's namesake, William Bartelle Wicker. Photo by Billy Liggett


County celebrates opening of elementary school by honoring namesake


he faculty and students at W.B. Wicker Elementary School have had over two months to settle into their new digs. They gathered at the new school on Nov. 3 to finally celebrate its opening. Donning yellow and blue school shirts, the group was joined by city and county officials and community members to not only cut the ribbon the school, but to celebrate the building’s history and significance. Long before it became Sanford’s newest school, W.B. Wicker was the Lee County Training Center, born in 1927 as a school for black students, funded in part by Chicago-based philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, who helped establish more than 5,000 similar schools across the south at the time. It was renamed for William Bartelle Wicker, former principal of the South Sanford Graded School and later the Lee County Training Center before it was renamed for him in the 1950s. After de-

segregation was implemented in 1969, the campus served for another two decades as one of Lee County’s middle and elementary schools before closing altogether in 1990. It fell into disrepair fairly quickly, but found new life in 2006 after Central Carolina Community College renovated the original classroom building for use as an auxiliary campus. A decade later, the push began to renovate the historic building to serve Lee County’s growing student population. The school opened its doors to roughly 700 students in August. “W.B. Wicker was a dedicated educator who had a vision — a vision of excellence,” said Barbra Matthews Partridge, a descendant of Wicker (and 1968 graduate) speaking on behalf of the family on Sunday. “And he fought to bring a culture and a sense of pride to his students who lived in a world that was not entirely welcoming during that time.”

She was preceded at the podium by Margaret Murchison, longtime newswoman and radio personality and Wicker school alumna. “This was our little piece of Heaven,” Murchinson said of the school. “And I sincerely hope that the students who are here now will some day consider it a piece of Heaven for them.” The renovations to Wicker are certainly impressive. The “old” side of the school has been refinished and updated, while the new side boasts a dance studio, Maker Space studio, modern classrooms and more. The school is unique in its STEAM approach that focuses more on science, technology, engineering, arts and math. It hasn’t all gone smoothly — construction pushed occupancy in the building to about a week before classes began, and not everything (such as the gymnasium and playgrounds) was complete at the beginning of the semester. Some of the lower grades (K-2) lack the learning equipment (such

The Rant Monthly | 37

rantnc.com as computers or tablets) their peers in other elementary schools are currently using.

future is is our people. The opportunity to provide our community with a STEAM education — to jump start their creativity, their ingenuity and their curiosity … it’s something to be truly proud of. Sanford is undergoing a renaissance. We are attracting industries, our small businesses are flourishing and people are choosing our community to build their careers and raise their families. It’s quality of life, strong schools and a well-trained, highly motivated work force that are the key drivers that make people choose to live in Sanford and Lee County. And this continued success is going to hinge on all of us working together on projects like the W.B. Wicker School.”

“It hasn’t always been easy,” Lee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Amy Dalrymple said. “But, honestly, truly great things seldom are. Educating children in this day and age is increasingly a challenge with all the things competing for their interests. As a community, it’s important that we support education opportunities of all kinds and for all students — to nurture each one’s special talents and abilities. W.B. Wicker is going to be one of those places, working together to sew the seeds of love and learning and sharing knowledge with one another.”


Lee County Board of Education Chairman Patrick Kelly called the school “a dream that became a reality.” “Here we stand in front of a beautiful school,” Kelly said, “a school that has survived time and closure and has been born again.” Rebecca Wyhof Salmon on STEAM education: “The heart of what our

Principal Wendy Hughes Carlyle: “How privileged we are to be the first staff of the new W.B. Wicker School. It truly is a new beginning for each of us. We are very happy to unite the past to the future, and we hope to continue the legacy of excellence as we move forward.”

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38 | December 2019


Fast Food Review: Popeyes' new chicken sandwich


t’s gotten a little crazy, hasn’t it, folks?

replaced by animal instinct, and I ate the thing in about three minutes. The previous paragraph is about all I could remember from the experience.

The Popeyes chicken sandwich has become a thing, and by “a thing,” I mean — it’s a thing. People are fighting over it. Killing each other over it. Even worse — waiting in line for an hour for it.

So, yes. It’s a damned good sandwich, as far as fast food chicken sandwiches go (and I’m a fan of many of those). PDQ does a great chicken sandwich. Chick-fil-A can, at times, make a great chicken sandwich. Neither are on this level.

The sandwich — launched earlier this year and returning last week after a brief hiatus — has been declared the best thing the fast food industry has to offer. And with Sanford set to get a Popeyes in the not-so-distant future (despite rumors, we have no tangible evidence to believe this news has changed), we felt it was our obligation as Sanford citizens and warm-blooded Americans to venture out and try this sandwich ourselves and report on our findings. Is it really the best fast food sandwich out there? Does it really blow Chick-fil-A out of the water? Is it worth waiting in line? Is it worth losing your life over? The short answer is: Yes. Except for the death part … that’s certainly debatable.

And at $6 for a combo, it’s not a bad deal either. I was — as I am with many things — skeptical when I pulled up to the Popeye’s on Old Stage Road in southern Wake County at 10 a.m. recently. Despite it being nowhere near lunch time, I was still fifth in line at the drivethrough. Still, I ordered my sandwich with zero hassle and nary a broken bone.

But then I took a bite. The disappointment grew wings and flew far away. It was replaced by golden flaky goodness, a chicken breast so juicy I didn’t need a drink, warm bread that served its purpose but didn’t get in the way and the perfect pickle/mayonnaise ratio that I only assume took three years to develop.

And I unwrapped it already with the mindset that I was going to be disappointed.

It was fantastic. The idea that I was going to take notes and tear this thing apart was

I’m sure the long lines and the fighting will eventually fade, but Popeyes has just about made the perfect fast food chicken sandwich (understand, “fast food” is a necessary qualifier here … there are better chicken sandwiches out there, I’m sure). So go early and get one. Or wait until Sanford joins the party (if it does), and get one then. — by Billy Liggett, photo courtesy of Popeye's

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The Rant Monthly | 39

40 | December 2019


Profile for The Rant

The Rant Monthly | December 2019  

The December 2019 edition of The Rant Monthly, a product of LPH Media LLC in Sanford, North Carolina

The Rant Monthly | December 2019  

The December 2019 edition of The Rant Monthly, a product of LPH Media LLC in Sanford, North Carolina

Profile for rantnc

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