The Rant Monthly | July 2019

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JULY 2019


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

2 | July 2019


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July 2019 | Sanford, North Carolina A product of LPH Media, LLC Vol. 1 | Issue 4


Editorial Gordon Anderson | Billy Liggett | Jonathan Owens | Advertising Brandon Allred | 919.605.1479

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The Rant Monthly JULY 2019


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

ABOUT THE COVER Photographer Brooke Wolfe Rouse captured newly remodeled and yet-to-be-remodeled homes with designer Ashley Davenport, owner of Sweet Southern Home & Design in Sanford. This month's edition of The Rant Monthly takes an in-depth look at the local real estate market and the art of "house flipping," as entrepreneurs like Davenport continue to find hidden gems in our city and turn them around for a considerable profit. STORY: PAGE 12

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

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4 | July 2019


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The Rant Monthly | 5

6 | July 2019


What I learned from an octogenarian in a karaoke bar


eter looks out of place in this pub full of 20-, 30- and 40-somethings.

He’s 80-something, and on this night he’s nursing a glass of ice water and a plate of fries at the bar — his light jacket and hat stick out on this muggy June evening — while behind him men and women step up to a mic and lose themselves for about four minutes before returning to their drinks. But then, it’s his turn. This is why Peter ventures out to the Brickhouse on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh on Friday nights. Or other various watering holes when they plug in a mic and let anyone with a voice and an ounce of courage take the spotlight. It’s karaoke night, and this crowd knows and loves Peter. His slow walk from his stool to the stage is accompanied by an applause nobody else in this house has earned. I don’t know Peter, and I’m clapping. The roar fades as the music rises, and Peter is performing a piece from an old musical

“Where else can you do something so frightening and so adrenaline-producing without the fear of rejection, disapproval or embarrassment.” (I’m told), a song not only foreign to me, but a complete time warp from the Uptown Funk that preceded it. He’s not “crushing it,” per se, but also … he’s in his eighties. The performance itself doesn’t matter. That he’s up there at all, living out whatever motivates him to hit the bars well after 10 and 11 p.m. and give it his everything in front of a room of young strangers … that’s what we’re cheering for long after the last note. Peter’s well known in the relatively small karaoke circles of Raleigh, North Carolina. I’m told his go-to is Sinatra — and a recent performance of “My Way” killed it a few months back. I wish I’d seen it. Peter is an inspiration. This is where I reveal that I — the quiet,

mild-mannered king of Sanford Media (eat it, Gordon) — am a karaoke junkie. I love it. I love doing it. I love watching people do it. I love it when they’re great. I love it when they’re terrible. Especially when they’re terrible. Think about it … everything else out there has an outlet for the amateur. Not an artist? There are “wine and painting” parties for you. Terrible at sports? Get in line … it’s called intramurals or “adult co-rec summer league.” Write on a third-grade level? There’s a whole internet waiting for you, friend. Karaoke is a rush. That’s why I thought I liked it so much. But it took an out-of-place old man not giving a damn about what people thought

of him to show me that I kinda love it, too. Where else can you be given the chance to do something so out of the ordinary, so frightening and so adrenaline-producing without the fear of rejection, disapproval or embarrassment? Karaoke crowds, for the most part, don’t care. The fact that you got up there, performed and owned it … that’s all you, kind human. And the great thing is that tomorrow, you’ll be the only one who remembers your four minutes. Unless you’re 80, of course. Then I’ll remember you. o You better damn well believe it that Billy Liggett, co-founder of The Rant and Olympic speed walker, will be at the mic at your next backyard karaoke party. Invite him by email at billy@ or by personal, handdelivered postcard. This column was edited by Gordon Anderson, whose cruel eyes and merciless heart made it everything it could be.

The Rant Monthly | 7

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8 | July 2019



Purple Poodle to occupy old Hi-Lites building


A local couple has purchased the Hi-Lites building on Steele Street in downtown Sanford and has announced plans to open a boutique shop there in the coming months.


Dem vice chair resigns after questions about massage license The first vice chair of the Lee County Democratic Party resigned recently after it came to light that she was practicing therapeutic massage without a license — which is a misdemeanor in North Carolina — and had donated her services to the party as a raffle prize. Sources tell the Rant that Gwendoyn Lee of Sanford resigned her position over the weekend after concerns arose surrounding gift certificates she’d donated to the party to be raffled away. Because Lee is unlicensed to practice, party leaders — who apparently did not become aware of the situation until much later — were reportedly concerned that offering or endorsing her services could be seen as participation in illegal activity. Massage therapists are required to be educated and licensed, at least in part to avoid injuries to patients. Lee had been elected first vice chair in January at the Lee County Democratic Party’s county convention. Her term runs through the 2020 election cycle, meaning the party will have to convene to appoint a replacement. Lee declined to answer questions about the situation when reached for comment. BUSINESS

Claire's Boutique opens in Sanford WalMart Claire’s Boutique, a nationwide chain specializing in jewelry, ear-piercings, fashion, beauty, and more, has opened a location inside Sanford’s Walmart, sources have confirmed to the Rant. A permit was issued by the city of Sanford in April to upfit an interior parcel inside the big box chain for Claire’s. The Rant is told that the store opened in late June.

The Landmark Breakfast Shop, currently on Main Street in Jonesboro, will open in its new location on July 9, according to a Facebook post in June by owner Robert Robichaud (which included the above photo). Robichaud announced earlier this year that in order to allow for more parking and accommodate more customers, the Landmark would relocate to a building in the Sanford Square Shopping Center on South Horner Boulevard that is anchored by Food Lion and also includes Cafe Vesuvio. And while details have been scant, reports indicate that Robichaud will continue to occupy the old location with a new lunch restaurant offering items like burgers and hot dogs.


DEQ requests test for leaks in Chatham coal ash landfill The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality has asked the owners of the recently built lined coal ash landfill in Chatham County (near the Lee County border) to hire a third-party professional geologist to check for leaks after high levels of metal and other contaminants were discovered in the groundwater and surface water, according to several published reports. On June 21, a letter was sent to Charah Inc., which developed the landfill for Duke Energy at Brickhaven, a former clay mine along the Cape Fear River near Moncure. The lined landfill, filled with millions of tons of Duke Energy’s coal ash, was permitted in fewer than seven months when it was constructed in 2015, according to

the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL), vocal opponents of coal ash storage in Chatham County. Storage areas like this one have been under intense scrutiny and under closer watch since Duke Energy reported a major spill that dumped dons of the toxic coal ash into the Dan River in 2014. According to the News & Observer, Duke Energy is digging coal ash out of some of its retention ponds and sending it to lined landfills. According to BREDL, Charah also holds a permit for a Lee County coal ash landfill, although the site has not yet been constructed. BREDL and community groups in both counties filed a legal challenge against DEQ in 2015 and continue to oppose the projects.

Nicole Allen announced on Facebook that she would be opening the Purple Poodle at 128 S. Steele St. Allen and her husband Tim purchased the building from Atkins Commercial Advisors in June. Hi-Lites announced in April that it would be closing the store. “This has been a long time coming, I just didn’t know it,” Nicole Allen wrote in her Facebook post. “We opened in February and right now it’s online only, but plans are in motion for a physical storefront before the end of the year!” The Allens haven’t announced an opening date, but those interested can visit the online store at


Triad Corrugated Metal expanding with help of grant Triad Corrugated Metal, which provides metal roofing to commercial, residential and agricultural customers, has recently relocated to 109 McNeill Road with the help of an $85,000 state grant, according to a press release from the office of Gov. Roy Cooper. TCM’s new facility — the old Whitin Roberts building — is 145,636 square feet, and the expansion is expected to create 17 jobs and represent $629,000 in private tax base investment. The grant is provided by the N.C. Rural Infrastructure Authority, which announced a total of 21 projects that are expected to result in more than 1,314 jobs and more than $123 million in private investment in rural communities across the state.

The Rant Monthly | 9 BUSINESS | OLLIE'S

The Newest Experience in Apartment Living The Rant has received multiple questions as to whether the Ollie’s/Planet Fitness project at the old K Mart building on South Horner Boulevard remains in progress, as work appears to have slowed in recent months. City and county officials have confirmed the project remains in progress, and that demolition work was performed first, with upfit for various tenants (including the possibility of an indoor storage facility) ready to proceed as they sign leases. Additionally, it’s anticipated that developers will continue submitting modifications to allow for at least one more fast food outparcel at the location (including Popeyes).

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10 | July 2019


Let's agree on this — we care a lot about restaurants

OPINIONS Dunrovin Country Store Greg and I live in California, and every time we come to North Carolina, we make sure we visit Patrick and his fabulous store. And each time, we see more bird cages being built and more birds living and thriving in this beautiful place. You can tell the whole place is a labor of love. Laurie Drodz

Riverbirch shopping center I want to bulldoze the whole area of Riverbirch — even the McDonald's and the BP Station — and start over, since the parking lot of the McDonald's wasn't EVER done correctly and the BP station and the Subway area is a mess. My thought is to have something like North Hills East, where there is a Harris Teeter and apartments above it. Imagine people living above where they work. What a concept ... just on a smaller scale! C.J. Steffens

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. All we ask is that you keep it clean, don’t get personal with your fellow citizens and keep it short. Also, no fake names (include your a phone number with each letter so we can confirm it’s really you and not your ex-husband). The Rant reserves the right to edit whatever you send for grammar and length — we will NOT, however, add our own subliminal messages to your finely crafted words. Email us (addresses on Page 3) or send a message to our Facebook page. We’ll do our best to get you in the next Rant Monthly.


alories are one of those non-negotiable requirements for sustaining human life. You gotta eat. But let me tell you, friend, there’s no news that mobilizes this community quite like restaurant news. Like, dang. When we published a web story in late June about the closure of the Sagebrush Steakhouse it quickly became one of our most-read stories of calendar year 2019, and the accompanying Facebook post garnered hundreds of reactions, comments and shares. It was weird to see Sanford so galvanized by … the Sagebrush Steakhouse closing its doors. Most of this activity (aside from a few people misreading our snide Facebook comment about Sanford losing a culinary giant, but that’s another story) focused on which particular chain steakhouse should inhabit the Sagebrush location going forward — it should be a Tex’s Steerhouse, people said, or an Alamo Roadshack, or the Great Lone Horn, or whatever else. I invented these names to avoid maligning anyone’s personal favorite or getting caught up in any business-crippling litigation. Maybe the thirst for chains makes some sense. Sanford being a smaller city, it can seem a little lacking in the type of franchise eateries you’d find in Raleigh or Cary or any other larger community. But without knocking any particular chain — even Sagebrush! It had been a few years since I darkened that establishment’s doorstep, so I can’t really say much one way or the other about its level of quality — I just have to be a little baffled by their allure. It’s not even that they’re bad or anything. A grilled chicken sandwich smothered with KC Masterpiece will get the job done in a pinch after all, but there’s a bigger pleasure for me in finding a hole in the wall that there’s only one of, or eating

at a nice restaurant whose owners know your name and what new thing they have that you’ve gotta try right this minute. I mean, have you had a burger at Jeff & Lisa’s Brickhouse Grill? Have you been to Cooper’s for dinner or brunch yet? Would you tell a friend visiting town to try a biscuit from Big T’s, or from McDonald’s? Better yet, if you found yourself living somewhere else, would you miss more — the chains or your local favorites? I have a lot of hope in the other direction as well though. The reaction was nearly as big — a day after we broke the Sagebrush news — when we reported on the existence of Taste of India, which I can only assume is Sanford’s first Indian food restaurant. I had lunch there that day, it was absolutely awesome, and I felt like I got a chance to speak with virtu-

“It was weird seeing Sanford so galvanized by ... the Sagebrush Steakhouse closing its doors.” ally everyone working in the restaurant, including the owner. And in 2018, when we spent half the year publishing a series called The Rant for Lunch, people reading these pieces seemed genuinely proud to see all of the places that exist here — and only here — get recognition for all the great food they put out each day. And look, when Cowboy’s Saloon (another invented name) or whatever opens its doors in the old Sagebrush location, I’m sure I’ll try it. More than once. But for the long term, give me something that’s not just in the town where I live, but also of it. That’s the really good stuff. o Gordon Anderson has eaten at restaurants in at least five states, including South Carolina. You did not see him in the Hardee's drive thru last week. Contact him at

Taxes lowered, no thanks to some


here's talking about it and being about it. And while the Lee County Republican Party's downtown headquarters bears a sign on the entrance outlining the demand to “lower my taxes” (talking about it), their elected officials who have a say in determining our local budgets — with the notable exception of County Commissioner Arianna Del Palazzo — have completely failed to be about it. That's right. When governing bodies for both Lee County and the city of Sanford voted last month to adopt budgets which each lowered your property taxes by two cents, Del Palazzo was the only elected Republican on either board to cast her vote in favor (and good for her – the Rant has been critical of her votes elsewhere). Commissioner Kirk Smith voted against the budget without offering any serious explanation for his objection, and Commissioner Andre Knecht and City Councilman Charles Taylor were absent from the meetings in question altogether. Knecht and Taylor may have had good reasons for missing those meetings, but neither can claim credit for passing budgets which include decreases to the city and county's property tax rates. Of course, not every person in the county will find the budgets completely satisfactory. The city raised some fees, and there are questions about a recent revaluation that resulted in many property owners — particularly those in the commercial sector — having significantly higher values than they did just a year ago. But both budgets hit the mark for revenue neutrality, and many, many homeowners will remit a smaller amount of money in the form of property taxes to the city and the county than they have in recent memory. It's clear that the ability to decrease property tax rates at this time comes from the work on tax base expansion that both entities have put in over the last several years. This includes economic incentives, which seem to be a pill many elected Republicans don't enjoy swallowing, but also decisions about improving Lee County's quality of life that come from vision and understanding that it takes more than just a low tax rate to make a community livable. As you can see from a story about the local housing market in this publication, that vision has worked, and hopefully will continue to. Neither party will always get everything right. But if you're an elected official who is part of an organization that makes lowering taxes your evergreen issue, you probably owe the public an explanation if you're not there when the rubber hits the road. Otherwise, you're just talking about it.

The Rant Monthly | 11

Broadway Hardware & Supply Co.

RESPONSE | DOES SANFORD NEED A SPORTS COMPLEX? There are other priorities that need to be addressed other than a sports complex. Our streets are still bad in some locations. Those who want a sports complex, pay for it with your own money. Claudia Lee

____________ If Sanford doesn't do it, another local town may step up and do it before us, and then our town will have missed this huge money-making opportunity. We already have players wanting/ needing a place to play. Erin Bisson Editor's Note: The June edition of The Rant asked the question — does Sanford need a new sports complex to not only provide a service to our growing population, but also drive outside revenue from various traveling teams who'd visit? Many of you had strong opinions on this. The following are some of your views:


I’m all for this, as my son just finished his first year of T-ball at Northview, and his little brother (age 2) is also showing interest in the sport. Sanford does need more sports-related places. Sanford also needs an indoor play place or arena. As a stay-at-home mom (and I’m sure for any parent), it’s frustrating to have to Wake County or Moore County to escape the heat in the summer and the cold in the winter to find indoor entertainment. Jump Street in Cary is a great example. Play Escape in Aberdeen is another great example. I can’t tell you how many new residents who move to Lee County complain about the lack of children’s places. Yes the new playground/splash pad at Kiwanis is going to be great (for summer), but we can’t take our kids there in the winter. Amy Lewis

____________ Why can't this sports complex be funded by private funds or donations? Why are taxpayers expected to fund things that are only going to be used by a few? I, for one, would be willing to pay higher fees for a quality program and facilities through a private organization. Kenneth Gilstrap


____________ I'm for it. I do travel softball, and the money that these tournaments bring in on a weekend is crazy. We just played in Virginia for a twoday tournament, and their rooms were $250 for two nights, and each team had to pay $600 to play. There were eight teams — that's $4,800 for just one age group. And that’s considered a small tournament. The money that the sports complex would bring in would help the county.

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____________ One thing people will pay for is sports. This would bring jobs and revenue to Sanford far beyond just what happens at the complex. It will help local hotels, local restaurants and other businesses. I worked for parks and rec in Rock Hill, South Carolina. When they built their softball complex years ago, it put them on the map. Watching all of those families travel in no doubt it helped the local economy.

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I'm totally for it. I've lived in areas that have one, and it is a great place for kids to participate in sports. It brings in people for tournaments. They spend money on food, lodging and essentials. Vikkie Berggren Annabel

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12 | July 2019


The Rant Monthly | 13



Sanford's once-struggling housing market is on the rise again as more and more buyers come here for location, new amenities, lower costs and 'flipping' potential. Story by Billy Liggett | Photography by Brooke Wolfe Rouse


tepping inside this old single-story brick home on Spring Lane — with its kitchen floor stripped to the base boards and its bright red 60s-era floral patterned wallpaper … walls torn down to the beams and bathrooms in need of several modern amenities — and most of us would see a nightmare. Ashley Davenport sees “solid bones.” Functionality. Potential. She sees the makings of a dream home. Davenport is founder of Sweet Southern Home & Design in Sanford, and for the past two years, she’s been in the house-flipping business — taking older, mostly forgotten houses and transforming them into HGTV-worthy homes with many of the creature comforts important to today’s discriminating buyers. Her projects are bought at prices considered low for their surrounding neighborhoods and resold at prices more in line

with the going rates of newer homes in the area. A former marketing professional in the pharmaceutical business, Davenport has picked the right time to get into this game. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, house flipping has reached popularity levels not seen since 2006 — the peak of the U.S. housing boom before the industry came crashing down to Earth later that year and in 2007. Nearly 11 percent of the homes sold in the U.S. last year were flips (defined as having been owned for less than two years), and flippers today are coming away with much larger profit margins — they’re nearly twice as profitable as they were 13 years ago. But the other reason Davenport’s timing is impeccable — Sanford is hot. And it’s not just the real estate market. More retail is coming in, new restaurants are being built, more schools are being added, and there’s just a better overall “vibe” to the

city than even four or five years ago. Davenport’s family is new to Sanford (her husband’s a native, but they didn’t plant roots here until three years ago), and she says the area is becoming more attractive to those who want quick access to the Triangle, but aren’t keen on paying (much) more to live there. “When we moved here, if you would have told me that in three years, Sanford would be home to two new breweries, a splash park for the kids, a Starbucks and Hobby Lobby, bars you can hang out at downtown … I would have said you’re crazy,” Davenport says, standing next to a kitchen sink set down in the living room of the Spring Lane project. “You go to Durham or Pittsboro or Apex, and you see their downtown areas are being revitalized, and there’s this eclectic, hipster feel to them. Sanford’s getting there, too … I think people are starting to really appreciate this city and what it has to offer. And we’re becoming an attractive place to live.”

14 | July 2019



lied (and relies) heavily on manufacturing jobs, when the cost of labor went up, many lost their jobs, consumer confidence went down locally, and houses simply weren’t moving.

Flipped houses are doing really well in Sanford. In fact, it's considered the best place to flip. According to a recent article in the Triangle Business Journal — using numbers obtained from Attom Data Solutions — the 27330 area code led North Carolina in terms of percentage of profit for flipped homes (this data defined a “flip” as a home owned for one year or less). The 30 homes in Sanford sampled for the study showed a return on investment of a whopping 113 percent locally. The median purchase price of those homes was considerably low — about $53,500 on average — and were sold for an average of $113,750. The study didn’t take into account money put into refurbishing or additions to these homes, and the prices suggest these homes aren’t necessarily the same high-level flips like Davenport and her business are performing. John Ramsperger, owner of Sanford Real Estate, says many of these less expensive homes are being snatched up by investors who don’t need financing. While many are investing in slight improvements to the homes before reselling them, they’re by no means putting in

Sanford’s neighbors to the north in Wake and Chatham counties recovered more quickly, but around 2015, Ramsperger says the housing market up there hit a “minor speed bump,” and people began looking at Lee County, where home prices were still low and the price per square foot was a much better deal.

Ashley Davenport and Sweet Southern Home & Design's current project is a single-level brick home with a massive front yard just off of Spring Lane in West Sanford. Davenport says she looks for "good bones" and potential in her "house flipping" projects.

an effort on par with Davenport and a handful of other full-time flippers in the area. “You try to do this in Wake County right now, and you’re not going to get near as much of a return,” Ramsperger says. “So these people are coming to Lee County — Sanford, Broadway, Carolina Trace — and they’re finding

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great deals and buying them left and right. They’re smarter than most of us living here who didn’t realize the equity these homes had.” When the country’s housing bubble burst with real estate reaching record lows in 2012, Lee County was hit harder than most areas, according to Ramsperger. In a county that re-

“People were amazed at what they could get here for $150,000, $200,000 and $225,000,” he says. “Now we’re in 2019, and we’ve had two to three years of good sales. I’d say Lee County has a balanced market — it’s both a good market for buyers and sellers. Houses below $200,000 are going fast … barely staying on the market for a week. We’re seeing multiple bids and all-out bidding wars on houses now. “Sanford’s not a secret anymore. Homes are selling for more now, so while it’s nice that we’re leading the state in flipped housing profit percentages, you’re not going to see that going forward. Recent appraisals are justifying higher prices.”

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The Rant Monthly | 15

The interest in Sanford is real

are more expensive.

There has been a lot of interest in residential real estate in Sanford in the last two years. This is mainly because the metro areas around us are growing fast, and their housing prices

As the Triangle grows, housing becomes scarce. Scarcity creates demand, and demand pushes prices up. To put it another way, more people are moving to the area than the existing housing inventory can handle. This creates a seller’s market. Good for the seller — bad for the buyer.

Harnett County’s not a secret anymore, either, says Ann Milton, owner of Ann Milton Realty in Fuquay-Varina. Milton’s agency sells a lot of homes in and around Lillington (her new billboards can be found along U.S. 421 between the town and Sanford), and she says the northern part of the county is really taking off. “Many of our buyers are moving to this area from out of state, but we also see an increase in the number of folks venturing beyond Raleigh due to affordability,” she says. Milton says home values in her areas are increasing, in most areas by as much as 4 percent. She says sellers are at an advantage in today’s market because many have the luxury of waiting to identify their next property to purchase before putting their home on the market (as homes are going fast). “It’s creating an interesting trend in the marketplace,” she says. Last decade’s military Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) — which brought an influx of jobs and, therefore, families to Fort Bragg — was expected to have a big impact on Lee and Harnett counties, but the timing of it (in conjunction with the housing bubble) couldn’t have been worse. Still, Milton says, BRAC did create a “mini-town” off of N.C. 87, about a half hour south of Sanford in the Spout Springs community.

One of Sanford’s newest neighborhoods – Rosemont, located off of Carbonton Road near downtown — will eventually contain 20 single-level homes ranging from 2,119 to 2,700 square feet aimed at the 55-plus community. Several of the homes are already under contract. The neighborhood is being developed by George R. Perkins III and T.L. Stewart Builders. Stewart also developed the Hampton Ponds neighborhood off Wilkins Drive in the 1990s, as well as Carter’s Grove, Brighton Park and Carbonton Cove. The companies acquired much of the 11 acres off Carbonton Road for Rosemont in recent years and have been formally “introducing” the neighborhood since late 2018, when a number of open houses at the model home drew interest. “Distinctive living in the heart of North Carolina” is the development’s tagline, and the homes are being sold based — in addition to buyers being able to choose from a number of floor plans and virtually limitless options for customization — on their proximity to a number of amenities, including Central Carolina Hospital and other medical facilities, the Ingram Family YMCA, Sanford’s Greenway Trail, downtown Sanford and even U.S. 1.

Consumers are now looking a little down the road (southwest of the Triangle) at Sanford and Lee County. They note that the distance is only about 30 miles. If they get in their car and drive, they note that the trip down U.S 1 is rather serene and much less congested that I-440 and I-540. Once they arrive in Sanford, they note the small-town feel. They see a thriving downtown. They see people on the sidewalks and lots of cars parked in front of the local establishments. These don’t see lots of franchises downtown (another plus). This all adds up to a homey feel with charm and character. Finally, they see the list prices of the homes and they can’t believe how far their dollar goes. I have lived in Sanford 20 years — I moved from Raleigh. I guess I was ahead of the curve. Sanford has changed a LOT in 20 years. Twenty years ago, we were too far away. Twenty years ago, Fuquay-Varina and Pittsboro were also too far away. Now, all are viable commutes for people relocating to the Raleigh area. The difference is ... Sanford is still less expensive than Fuquay-Varina and Pittsboro. Sanford also has its own identity. I have never considered Sanford a suburb of Raleigh. I think we are our own town that happens to be close to Raleigh, Fort Bragg and Pinehurst. And hey ... we've even got our own alternative news magazine!

o John Ramsperger is the owner of Sanford Real Estate. He lives here with his wife, Tawny, and two teenaged boys. He grew up in Rochester, New York, and loves calling Sanford home.

16 | July 2019


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“So it definitely changed the landscape of Harnett County and had a huge impact on our emergency services and schools,” she says. “But it didn’t have quite the ‘boom” they expected, and for a long time, the southwest portion of the county was overbuilt, leaving inventory sitting longer than desired. I think that’s balanced out now, and we are seeing more new construction [north of Fort Bragg] up toward Sanford. Sanford’s growth has made it a go-to for many families in Harnett County, because of the ease of entry and traffic compared to Cumberland or Wake counties.” Local builder Brad D. Cummings, owner of Lillington-based Brad D. Cummings Construction Co. Inc., says that while flipped homes and similar revitalization projects are doing well in Sanford, the overall housing market in Lee, Harnett, Chatham and Moore counties is strong — and that goes for the construction of new homes as well. “We have current projects going and several coming up — all custom homes,” Cummings says. “Jobs and incomes are stable, interest rates are at near-record lows, and material prices are on a downward

trend. Those are all perfect conditions for the housing market. “Plus, labor is up, and their continues to be a shortage of qualified trades and laborers. So the jobs are here, too.” THE PLACE TO BE John Ramsperger isn’t from Sanford — he was born and raised in Rochester, New York — but he’s been here long enough (20 years) to the see the ups and downs, the good times and the bad times, of the city he calls home. The last four or five years, he says, have brought more change than the previous 15 years combined. Sanford, he says, has been revitalized. “I’ll be sitting next to people I’ve never met before at a food truck at Hugger Mugger [downtown Sanford’s brewery], and I’ll learn that they’ve come here from Durham or Apex. Sometimes Raleigh,” Ramsperger says. “And I’m not used to that. I’m not used to the idea that people are coming down here to take in what we have to offer. I’ve always known a Sanford where we travel to Raleigh or south to Southern Pines, spend $60 and then come home. That’s becoming

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The Rant Monthly | 17

“I've always known a Sanford where we travel to Raleigh ... and spend $60, then come home. That's becoming less and less the case today.” — John Ramsperger less and less the case today.” All around Lee County, there are signs of growth. The south side’s retail growth began approximately 12 years ago with the addition of a new WalMart, and there’s no end in site for new businesses where N.C. 87, U.S. 421 and South Horner Boulevard meet (Wilkinson, one of Sanford’s largest and most established car dealerships, announced last month its leaving its location on U.S. 1 for this prime spot). A bit further up Horner Boulevard — where a tornado cut a devastating path, destroying several buildings and businesses only eight years ago — the tracts of land are

nearly full with shopping centers, restaurants, new grocery stores and car washes. The Tramway area is awaiting a new “smart highway” at U.S. 1 and Tramway Road — construction that should “open new lanes,” so to speak, for more retail and commercial construction. And downtown Sanford, thanks to a 2013 bond referendum that led to a complete streetscape overhaul and other improvements, continues to trend upward with new bars, restaurants, shops and other businesses, all while highlighting the city’s growing arts scene and its murals initiative.

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If a lack of those amenities was the reason families were willing to pay more to live elsewhere, Sanford keeps chipping away at that reason.

Target may still be a pipe dream, but the Starbucks is here. For Davenport, that’s a good start. “I think the people who’ve lived here their whole lives appreciate it, too, but it’s the people who are moving here with a fresh perspective who are really talking about Sanford and seeing its potential,” she says. “It’s a great location. It’s growing. And yet, it still has that small-town feel. They aren’t putting loopty-loops at ever intersection and tearing down a bunch of trees for new shopping centers.

“And 20 years ago, they may have thought 40 miles to Raleigh or 20 miles to Apex was too far away,” Ramsperger adds. “But roads are better now. Cars are better now. Gas is cheap. Twenty miles today is closer than 20 miles 20 years ago. The moral of the story is we’re becoming viable — in both quality of life and distance. Sanford is on the map.” And not just for home buyers, says Steve Malloy of Adcock & Associates Real Estate and Auction in Sanford.

“And the people here seem to care. Drive through the historic district, and more and more families are working on their homes. And while some of them might be doing it for a flip, many of them are choosing to stay.”

“Much like the families moving here who don’t mind the commute to Raleigh,” Malloy says, “you’re seeing commercial and industrial buyers and tenants from that area who are deciding it’s not such a bad drive to come to Lee County daily, too.”

Ashley Davenport's most recent complete flip is a two-story home on Lynwood Circle in West Sanford (Photo of new kitchen on next page).

Before Ashley Davenport moved to Sanford, she had a mental checklist of the things she felt the city she lived in should have (she referred to it as “basic

girl stuff”). Tops on the list was a Target, and No. 2 was a Starbucks. These weren’t dealbreakers, per se — neighborhoods,

church, friends and family played a bigger role in the ultimate decision — but these quality-of-life wishes were still important.

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The Rant Monthly | 19

Ashley Davenport of Sweet Southern Home & Design's and her various levels of current and completed work at homes on Lynwood Circle (above and left) and Spring Lane (below and right) in Sanford. Learn more about her work by searching "Sweet Southern Home & Design" on Facebook or on Instagram.

20 | July 2019 to the recently built toll road set to extend that way in the coming years. Holly Springs, she says, was becoming a town where they “just knocked down perfectly nice forests and put up communities of track homes.” “They’re nice, but they just somewhat lose their personality,” she says. “Your house ends up looking like your friend Joe’s house down the street.” Sanford was part of Davenport’s region in her previous marketing position, so that coupled with her husband growing up here meant she became familiar with the lay of the land and the various neighborhoods. She fell in love with communities like the Rosemount-McIver Historic District and Westlake Valley in West Sanford. “Cute homes with great established neighborhoods,” she says. “Homes with lots of great character.” Her decision to go full-time into interior design and house flipping began with a white brick home on Chisholm Street in the historic district. Davenport doesn’t claim to be a professional


“There’s so much potential in Sanford. It’s a great spot, a great community and it has great people. Sure, it’s not perfect, but every city has its flaws.” — Ashley Davenport designer, and by no means is she an architect, so she admits that first home was a challenge. But she had a plan. Her first step on all of her homes is to take anything not up to code and bring it up to date. Next is a deep clean. Then, she studies how to make the home functional. “Thanks to HGTV, everybody is knocking out walls and going with open concepts,” she says. “I’ve already knocked down a lot of walls.” She hires professionals for HVAC work,

electric and roofing needs. But for the most part, it’s all her. And much to her surprise, that first home on Chisholm sold before it ever officially went on the market. The easy sell was both a blessing and a curse for Davenport — it gave her the confidence that she could do this, but it also set up high expectations for future homes. Her second project — a single story brick home on a large corner lot on Brookwood Trail in west Sanford — was her most ambitious. So many walls were removed, she had to have engineered


wood beams installed. She turned the two-car garage into a fourth bedroom — a true master bedroom with large bathroom and walk-in shower and closets. She completely refinished the hardwood floors. And on the kitchen, she “went big” with quartz countertops and enough cabinets to store the equipment needed for a cooking show. “You see this in Raleigh homes, and the people who are leaving Raleigh and looking for homes in this area — these items are what they’re looking for in a home,” Davenport says. That house (it’s featured on the cover of this print edition of The Rant Monthly) went on the market in April and remains unsold. In 2012, it was listed at $125,000, according to Zillow, and today Davenport is asking for $290,000. The two-story, 2,500-square-foot home on Lynwood Circle went on the market in May and is currently listed on Zillow at $298,000. Where the Brookwood home took approximately 10 months to complete, the Lynwood home was finished

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The Rant Monthly | 21 in about four months. It’s located on a cul-de-sac, is surrounded by trees and has a large front yard — its biggest “fixes” were the kitchen and sunroom (pictured in this publication) and the master bedroom, which now has a walk-in shower that (upon our estimates) can fit about 12 people. She’s just begun with the project on Spring Lane, and when that’s done … it’s on to the next one. Davenport is dug in, and Sanford’s hot real estate market has helped make her entrepreneurial dream a reality. “Interior design has always been a passion of mine, but this has become a business,” she says. “And I’m able to do this because there’s so much potential in Sanford. It’s a great spot, a great community and it has great people. Sure, it’s not perfect, but every city has its flaws. When I hear people ‘dog’ this city, I ask

them what they’re doing to make it better. “If I can improve one house at a time, I feel like I’m doing my part to help make Sanford better … make it a better place to live. How great would it be if more and more people worked to improve Sanford one house at a time? This city can only go up, and if I can help in any way, I want to be a part of it.”

Ashley Davenport stands in the remodeled kitchen (complete with quartz countertops) of her flipped home on Brookwood Drive in west Sanford. The 1,929-square-foot single-story brick home (four bedrooms and four baths) is listed at $290,000 on Zillow.

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City guidelines demand higher level of quality in new homes By Gordon Anderson

laying the groundwork and guidelines for future developments.”

When the Sanford City Council rejected a petition for voluntary annexation in January by an Apex-based developer who had hoped to put several hundred new homes on 168 acres of land off Valley Road just outside the current city limits, it gave a glimpse of what municipal leaders envision when it comes to the construction of new housing tracts.

In the case of the Valley Road development, many of the most public objections came from neighbors in the area who didn’t think a high density development fit with the surrounding area. But city leaders also had concerns that the project in question would lead to lower-valued homes that might not otherwise fit with the vision many of them have for Sanford’s future. There’s a desire among those leaders to see amenities including a variety of floor plans and materials, curb and gutter, sidewalks, green and shared spaces, and a level of density which makes all of those efforts as cost effective as possible.

It’s not that the city doesn’t want or need this type of development, as the main story in the newspaper you’re holding makes more than clear. In fact, the opposite is true, as the city sees this type of residential growth by developers who want to be in the city limits as one of the best ways to continue expanding its tax base. And so it’s a matter of guiding — managing, even — that development toward a specific standard of quality. “I can say with some confidence that the amount of subdivisions that will be built in

Interior of a newly constructed home at the Rosemont subdivision on Carbonton Road.

Lee County in the next few years will be on the rise, both ‘big box’ and custom,” said Brad D. Cummings, a local home builder. “On a positive note, zoning and restrictive

covenants are in place to help ensure that new developments would be an asset to the surrounding communities. The city of Sanford’s leadership has done a great job in

So as residential developments in Sanford’s city limits are announced and begun in the coming months and years, you can expect to see a specific level of quality which should bring a level of change — for the better — for those looking to purchase a home here.

The Rant Monthly | 23

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Drones a 'force multiplier' for county Emergency responders turn to drones for searches both by air and water

(Left) Lee County Emergency Management Specialist Tim Lawson (left) and Moore County Public Safety Deputy Director Scot Brooks with a Deep Trekker DTX2 underwater vehicle. (Below) Lee County Det. Steve Freeman with a Yuneec model H520 drone purchased by the department earlier this year.

By Gordon Anderson Back in March, while investigators with the Lee County Sheriff's Office had a suspect in custody in connection with the murder of an 80-year-old woman in her home off Lower Moncure Road, a small drone was flying over downtown Sanford. That drone — a Yuneec model H520 purchased by the sheriff's office earlier this year for around $8,000 — was busy doing the work that other investigators would normally be responsible in a situation like that, namely confirming many details of the suspect’s story.

probably one of the most dangerous operations a firefighter or rescue personnel do. You're putting people below the surface, often in what we call black water, where there's zero visibility. The Sherrill's Ford Fire Department lost a firefighter in a dive operation just a week prior to our presentation to our DPR group, and (the vote on the underwater vehicle) was a unanimous decision.”

“There was some evidence disposed of near downtown,” said Det. Steve Freeman, one of two member’s of the sheriff's team who is trained to use the drone. “Previously, we would have had to use Google Maps or call someone from the SBI to bring a helicopter in. This is an easier alternative, and we can get access to it a lot quicker than a helicopter.” While Freeman and Det. Bill Marcum, the other deputy licensed to fly the drone, couldn't get into the specifics of the case as the outcome remains pending, they both said having the drone was an enormous advantage in a case that might otherwise have proven difficult for any number of reasons. “I think of it as a force multiplier,” Marcum said, using the military term that describes, well, how force multiplies when various combinations of weapons come into play. “If we have to go up on a rooftop to look for an item or piece of evidence, that can take time and manpower. With the drone, we can set it up and send it into the air in a matter of minutes.” The use of advanced technology like the Yuneec H520 isn't limited to the sheriff's office. Lee County Emergency Management has a similar drone, as well as remote tethered

underwater vehicle — essentially a little submarine — that can be used for all kinds of search and rescue functions. Just over a month ago, the department assisted others in locating the body of a teenager who had drowned in the Eno River Rock Quarry in Orange County. The remote tethered underwater vehicle is able to replace a diver and, with its sonar capabilities, able to see in conditions that a human just wouldn't be able to. “Even though it's housed in Lee County and we own it, we could get a call from another county, places like Anson County or Gaston County, and we can be an asset to them when they have an operation going,” said Emergency Management Director Shane Seagroves.

Seagroves said Lee County came into possession of the remote tethered underwater vehicle — a Deep Trekker DTX2 — in a somewhat unusual fashion. Lee County is part of what's called a Domestic Preparedness Region (DPR) consisting of several other counties. Each DPR in the state gets funding from the federal Department of Homeland Security, which is then divided evenly between the member counties. Often, each county uses its allocation for a specific need, but in this case each of the region's counties agreed that spending the roughly $100,000 on the Deep Trekker, as well as a smaller version, would be worth the expense. “We wrote (the grant) as a proposal for our whole region,” Seagroves said. “Diving is

For the sheriff's office, while the drone is a great tool that allows for amplification of manpower and visual cataloging of an entire investigative process, there have been steps taken to ensure that it is used in ways that limit potential for privacy invasions. For example, uses outside specific “predetermined categories” including lost persons, fires, and rescue have to be approved on a case-bycase basis by Seagroves. Drones operating at night must be lit, operators are required to keep the vehicles in their sight at all times, and every flight has to be followed by a detailed flight report. “This isn't something that can see through walls,” Marcum explained. “But in something like a hostage situation, or a missing person – being able to use Google Maps is great, but there's nothing like being able to see what the situation on the ground actually looks like.”

26 | July 2019



Extension's weekly farmers' market a small, but growing display of locally grown food By Gordon Anderson

recent months to help boost the organization’s small but more than respectable profile.

There’s fresh pork, ranging from link sausage to ribs and pork chops. There’s chemical free natural compost. There’s all kinds of staple vegetables — think broccoli, carrots, and more — as well as more exotic ones like Hakeuri (sweet turnips) and Mizuna, a Japanese mustard green that are difficult to find in bigger locales.

“Every product sold is 100 percent local. There’s no buying and re-selling of produce or other products. Everything available was produced in Lee or a surrounding county. I think there’s this belief that you have to go to Raleigh to source quality meat and product, when in reality it’s right in our backyard,” Coffin added.

And they’re all available every Saturday between April and October from 9 a.m. to noon at the North Carolina Cooperative Extension at 2420 Tramway Road.

And there’s plenty of room for growth. Any farmer living within a 75-mile radius of Sanford is welcome to submit an application (it costs a measly $25) to be a vendor. To get an application, visit sanford-farmers-market/. In addition to being open on Saturdays, the market’s vendors set up at the Lee County Enrichment Center at 1615 S. 3rd St. from 10 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays beginning in July.

“It’s still quite small, with about five or six vendors showing up every week, but what the market lacks in variety, it more than makes up for in quality,” says Sara Coffin, who has been working with the Sanford Farmers Market in

Small, farmer-operated markets like the one every Saturday in Sanford provide extra income for many small farmers and gardeners while supplying consumers with a bountiful supply of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables.

The Rant Monthly | 27

AT THE MARKET Just a few examples of the offerings at the farmers' market every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon at the North Carolina Cooperative Extension at 2420 Tramway Road in Sanford: •

Pork from the Hargrove Family Farm located on Pyrant Road in the Tramway Area of Lee County, who raise antibiotic-free, pastured pigs and produce sausage, ribs, bone-in pork chops and more.

A whole bevy of veggies from Field Sparrow Farm, which is located on N.C. 87 in southern Lee County

Chemical-free compost from Larry’s All Natural Compost to help your garden grow bigger and better. Larry’s All Natural Compost is located on Farrell Road.

Photos courtesy of Sara Coffin

28 | July 2019




Challenging trails, gorgeous vistas and a giant boulder make Raven Rock worth the short drive Story, photos by Billy Liggett First-time visitors to our area's lone state park (located almost exactly in between Sanford and Lillington along the Cape Fear River in Harnett County) often know there's a "Raven Rock" at the end of the mile-and-a-half trail from the parking lot, but few quite expect such an enormous, out-of-place rock when they reach the trail's end.

The actual Raven Rock at Raven Rock State Park stands at 150 feet tall at its peak and stretches for three miles along the Cape Fear.

Raven Rock is impressive — an immense crystalline structure that rises to 150 feet and stretches for more than a mile along the river. It got its name in 1854, inspired by the sight of large ravens that roosted on the rock's ledges. So, yes. It's very large. But in the end, it's still just a rock. If it was the only

attraction of Raven Rock State Park, it would ultimately be a disappointment for the avid outdoorsman or woman. Fortunately, it's not the only reason to don your most comfortable shoes, a good walking stick and backpack and drive 20 miles east for a reward outdoor adventure. Raven Rock is full of surprises — from outlooks that provide impressive views of the river and its natural surroundings to access points to the mighty Cape Fear. There are number of trails that range from easy to quite challenging, there's camping, there's a fairly new information center, and there's wildlife to be seen. If you favor "mountains" in the great North Carolina "beach vs. mountains" debate, Raven Rock is worth your time. It's the closest thing you'll get to mountains this close to Sanford. And it's free.

According to North Carolina State Parks, one of the best reasons to visit Raven Rock is the exceptional beauty of its wildflowers. A variety of species reveal magnificent blossoms in early spring. Raven Rock also has a diverse topography. Along the river are high bluffs and low floodplains. Some of the largest trees in the park are found in the floodplain where common species include river birch, beech and sycamore. The diverse wildlife is also unlike anything you'll see in our area. The park's many streams create an ideal habitat for aquatic invertebrates and fish. Salamanders and large turtles are particularly at home along the river bluffs. The spring migratory season brings many species of birds to the park. At the

The Rant Monthly | 29

peak of the season, it is possible to see as many as 20 species of warblers in a single day. Wood ducks nest in hollow trees along the river and many other species such as hawks, owls and woodpeckers are also found. Mammals in the park include whitetailed deer and eastern cottontails. Weasels, raccoons, mice and shrews inhabit the woodlands, while beavers and muskrats are at home along rivers and creeks. Several

species of bats may be seen as they hunt for insects. Raven Rock State Park is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. through August and then until 9 p.m. during the fall months. In addition to camping and hiking opportunities for guests, the visitor's center offers several events and programs for children and adults throughout the year. Visit the Raven Rock homepage at to learn more.

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CALENDAR OF EVENTS Want to include your upcoming events in our monthly community calendar, email and let us know the event, the date, the time, the location and any other pertinent information you want to include. Get even more noticed by including a high-resolution photo. _____________________________ LIAM & THE NERDY BLUES July 5 | Hugger Mugger Brewing | 9-10:30 p.m. (Free) Liam & The Nerdy Blues is the featured act at Hugger Mugger’s July First Friday event. The blues and soul trio will join craft vendors and a featured food truck to kick off the brewery’s first full summer weekend. BIG CITY July 12 | Smoke & Barrel | 8:30-11 p.m. (Free) Members of groups including the B Sides, Nantucket, and the Backsliders, as well as musicians who’ve played with the likes of Tanya Tucker come together with some of the best country and western swing you’ll hear in central North Carolina. BAND GEEKS July 12 -14 | Temple Theatre | Times vary | $10/$16 In the tradition of “Glee” and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee comes a celebration of the tribulations of the millions who’ve spent football halftimes performing with the school band. There are a total of four matinee and evening performances over the course of the weekend. Purchase tickets online at


Beach music titans to perform July 17 in the second of three summer concerts put on by the Sanford Arts & Vine Festival Distinctive hats. Multilayered harmonies. A series of soul, r&b and beach music hits spanning the 1960s, 70s and even 80s. The Tams — named for the unique Tam o’shanter style hats the group’s five members wear on stage — have been performing in some configuration or another since 1960. On July 17, they’ll perform at the Mann Center in Sanford, part of the summer-long Sanford Arts & Vine Concert Series that began last month with beach music legends Chairmen of the Board. In August, the series will conclude with Jim Quick & Coastline. Even if you think you don’t know the Tams off the top of your head (unlikely if you grew up in the southeast and are of a certain age), there’s a good chance you’re still familiar with their songs. This iteration of the Tams is technically referred to as the Original Tams, but you can expect them to perform hits like “What Kind of Fool (Do You Think I Am?),” “Hey Girl

Don’t Bother Me,” “I’ve Been Hurt,” and “Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy.” The Tams have been honored with two gold records and in 1986 received the coveted award and title “Beach Band of the Decade” at the Beach Music Awards. In 1988, The Tams were spotlighted as the Outstanding Black Musical Group by the Atlanta Black History Awards. In 1992, they were inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. Proceeds from the Arts & Vine performances will continue to fund upgrades to the Mann Center of North Carolina, a multi-functional venue that houses office space for nonprofit organizations, showcases local and regional artists at the Miller Art Gallery, provides community and corporate meeting spaces, and hosts this year’s concert series in its 300-seat Pomeranz Auditorium. Tickets to see The Tams are $10 or $15 and can be purchased online at


“What Kind of Fool” | Their first national hit record, bringing them into the households of millions through a tremendous amount of airplay.

“Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy” | This song is The Tams’ greatest U.S. chart success, selling more than 1 million copies..

“Hey Girl Don’t Bother Me” | Three weeks at No. 1 in England; also has the distinction of being the No. 1 song of the year in the UK.

“I’ve Been Hurt” | Perhaps their biggest regional hit ever (based on sales and airplay).

The Rant Monthly | 31 DOWNTOWN ALIVE! WITH MOLLY STEVENS July 18 | Steele Street Downtown Sanford | 5 - 9 p.m. (Free) Nashville-based country songwriter Molly Stevens, who appeared in 2018 on season 14 of television’s “The Voice” will play Downtown Alive! concert with songs featuring raw, real lyrics, and a depth of heart. DAVID QUICK’S JAZZ July 19 | Smoke & Barrel | 8:30 - 11 p.m. (Free) Known primarily for his work as the frontman of the Swang Brothers, North Carolina jazz musician David Quick’s jazz combo will present a night of smooth jazz and dance music. WHISKEY REVIVAL July 20 | Smoke & Barrel | 8:30 - 11 p.m. (Free) Sanford’s own Brandy Heldt and Adam

Beck combine their talents to form Whiskey Revival, playing a combination of classic country and rockabilly. THE B SIDES July 26 | Smoke & Barrel | 8:30 - 11 p.m. (Free) Whether they’re performing drinking songs, songs of struggle or trucker tunes, the B-Sides are tight and always put on a great show. Drawing influence from artists like Waylon, Willie & Merle, you’re in for a great night of genuine country and honky tonk. THE CLIFF WHEELER BAND July 26 | Hugger Mugger Brewing | 8 9:30 p.m. (Free) Award-winning southern rock from Lemon Springs. Set will feature up tempo original music and acoustic songs. Influences include SRV, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Willie Nelson, Dwight Yoakam, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, and Johnny Cash

NORTH AMERICAN COMEDY BREWERY TOUR July 27 | Hugger Mugger Brewing | 8 10 p.m. | $15 The North American Comedy Brewery Tour brings comics from across the country to breweries and wineries for a night of drinks and laughs. A portion of proceeds support animal welfare organizations working on rescue, protection, fostering, and adoption. Purchase tickets online at TWELFTH NIGHT July 31 - Aug. 3 | Temple Theatre | 7:30 p.m. | $10/$16 Shakespeare’s comedy classic, named for the night of festivity preceding the Christian celebration of the Epiphany, combines love, confusion, mistaken identities, and joyful discovery. There are a total of four evening performances over the course of the weekend. Purchase tickets online at


For more information on how you can support our Clubs and to learn more about upcoming volunteer opportunities visit our website website: or contact Jaslyn Walker, Club Director or 919-776-3525 @bgccentralcarolina @centralcarolinaclubs @BGCCCarolina

Chris Black


32 | July 2019


A Taste of India is delicious, and you should try it right away By Gordon Anderson Sanford’s newest restaurant may seem a little different than what you’re used to getting in a small southern city, but boy is it good. Taste of India opened last week at 143 Rand St. in the Jonesboro area, and we’ve been getting all kinds of calls and messages about the quality of food there. So we decided to check out their lunch buffet, and the hype is true — this place is great. The lunch buffet ($12) consisted of a variety of items ranging from chicken tikka masala (chunks of boneless chicken smothered in a creamy, tangy sauce) to saag paneer (a paste-like concoction of spinach and cheese), chicken curry, and even a spicy fried cauliflower dish that we think is called pakoras. Everything was the bomb, and as soon as you sit down they bring you a basket of naan, a flatbread that’s buttery and delicious and perfect for scooping up all of that sauce on your plate.

If all of this sounds new to you, think of it as southern home cooking with a different set of spices. There’s rice, there’s some heat, there are fried foods, there are rich sauces — it’s different but familiar at the same time. All of these items and more are available on their pretty extensive dinner menu, so a return trip seems likely. Taste of India is open from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch, and from 5 to 9 p.m. for dinner. On Friday and Saturday, they’re open until 10 p.m. They can be reached at (919) 292-6344. Delivery and catering services are available.

A Taste of India's lunch buffet features chicken tikka masala, saag paneer, chicken curry and something we think is called "pakoras." It's the bomb.

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The Rant Monthly | 33

Wilkinson dealership moving to new building on N.C. 87 “It will be a big change to move to the new location,” Wilkinson said. “But with our pick up and delivery service, we will still be able to serve all of our customers in the area just as we always have. We will have expanded customer leisure areas with digital connectivity and the increased efficiency in the shop will expedite service times.”

By Gordon Anderson After more than 45 years on Douglas Drive in west Sanford, Wilkinson Cadillac Chevrolet Buick GMC is moving to a new facility along Highway 87 on the south side of town next spring, according to a press release. “The over 55,000 square foot facility includes a new maintenance shop, expanded showroom and customer spaces,” reads the press release from Carolina Commercial Contractors, which won the contract to construct the new facility. “It will be the largest automobile complex in Lee County. The project has broken ground and its completion is scheduled for spring 2020.”

The over 55,000 square foot facility includes a new maintenance shop, expanded showroom and customer spaces, according to Carolina Commercial Contractors.

Wilkinson has operated on Douglas Drive since 1974, and before that had been located on Wicker Street in downtown Sanford since 1953.

son. “We are just running out of room and need more space. We have run out of room for inventory, for parts and equipment, and for employee workspaces.”

“This location and all of Lee County has been good to us,” said owner Wil Wilkin-

The new facility will nearly triple the size of the dealership and allow the showroom

and maintenance shop to “service more customers more efficiently.” Modern features will include drive-over plates to check tire alignment and tread depth, a climate-controlled service department, and waterborne paint booths for the body shop.

Carolina Commercial Contractors is a family-owned and managed commercial construction business that has operated in Sanford for more than 20 years. The company specializes in senior living and multi-family communities and has completed projects across the southeast. Local projects include the Oaks Apartments, the Capital Bank building on South Horner Boulevard and the South Park Village apartment complex. “We love our hometown and are very pleased to be working on this project for Wilkinson,” said Carter Keller, the company’s manager.

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34 | July 2019

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County volunteer criticized over racist social media post NEWS YOU CAN REUSE IN BRIEF

Woman charged with shooting neighbor's barking dog A Lee County woman has been charged with animal cruelty after allegedly shooting a dog that “kept barking.” Cynthia Susan Gunter, 58, of Steel Bridge Road, faces counts of cruelty to animals and injury to personal property, according to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office. She was charged on Tuesday. According to Lee County sheriff’s deputies, Bradley Beavers reported on May 28 that he had been “practicing with his dog,” a coon hound, “on leased property” and found the dog shot behind Gunter’s home on Steel Bridge Road. After questioning, Gunter “admitted shooting the animal because it kept barking,” deputies said. Cruelty to animals is a class 1 misdemeanor in North Carolina, punishable by up to 120 days in jail and/or a fine.

Southern Lee Principal named assistant superintendent Southern Lee High School Principal Chris Dossenbach has been named Lee County Schools’ assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. The move was announced at a meeting of the Lee County Board of Education Tuesday night. The position he’s filling has been vacant for some time. Dossenbach, a 2003 graduate of Lee County High School, has spent his entire career in education at Southern Lee, first as a student teacher and then as a full time English teacher beginning in 2006. He them became an assistant principal and was named school’s principal in the fall of 2013. He was named the district’s principal of the year in 2018.

A post by a county volunteer on the San Lee Park Mountain Bike Trail Facebook page criticizing a “Mexican” bicyclist and immigrants “who flood into our country illegally” was taken down in mid June after it was met with accusations of racism and insensitivity. The post, written June 17, detailed damage done to one of the trails after the volunteer said he notified three young riders that they were in violation of a rule requiring them to wear helmets or face a $100 fine. “It’s unfortunate that our politicians allow these people to flood uncontrolled into our country,” read the now-deleted post. “They certainly lack American values and respect.” The rider in question was identified elsewhere in the post as a “Mexican boy” and it was noted that he and his friends “acted like they didn’t understand English.” The message was signed “Donn.” The post garnered dozens of comments – many of them calling the comments insensitive and racist. “I’m Latino and have full respect of our trail rules/closures in the Greensboro area,” one read. “Youngsters are going to act foolish regardless of their nationality.” “I may not speak for all those in our area, but this racism and xenophobia are not shared by the greater Lee County ridership,” read another.

Parks and Recreation facility, the San Lee Park Mountain Bike Trail Facebook page is a private one managed by a volunteer, according to Jamie Brown, the county’s public information officer. “This person is not a county employee,” Brown said. “He does volunteer with the park, but he is not authorized to speak for the county, and in no way were those comments reflective of the values of Lee County Government. We are reviewing our policies to ensure that all users of the park feel welcome at all times.” Brown said that she began receiving messages about the Facebook post on Tuesday morning and immediately notified “the appropriate individuals.” “We have a social media policy for the county which we are in the process of updating that all county employees are subject to, but our current policies do not cover volunteers,” she said. Brown also said that while county policy does require riders to wear helmets, she’s aware of no local ordinance that outlines any kind of fine for not doing so. In a follow up post June 18, the person who wrote the initial one apologized “to those whom I might have offended by my comments” and clarified that his remarks do not reflect Lee County government.

Lee County's Chalmers signs on for football at UNC Lee County High School football star Jayden Chalmers, a rising senior, jumped at the chance to play for his favorite college Monday, committing to Mack Brown and the University of North Carolina. According to 24/7 Sports, Chalmers grew up a UNC fan and received a scholarship offer just after attending UNC’s summer football camp. He committed immediately. Chalmers is a three-star prospect according to 24/7 Sports and held scholarship offers from East Carolina, Appalachian State, Army, Air Force, and others. At Lee County last season he had four interceptions, 22 tackles and returned a fumble for a touchdown. He also returned kicks and played sparingly on offense. Chalmers is one of a few Yellow Jackets projected to play at the next level, led by defensive end prospect Desmond Evans, who ranks among the best recruits in the country. Evans has yet to commit to a school, but announced his Top 10 list in May consisting of Alabama, Clemson, Duke, Florida, UNC, NC State, Ohio State, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia Tech.

While San Lee Park is a Lee County

Sagebrush Steakhouse is currently 'closed' Recent visitors to Sanford’s Sagebrush Steakhouse have been greeted with a sign stating that the restaurant — located on Dalrymple Street off South Horner Boulevard — is “currently closed.”

means the closure is permanent. The location, which opened in the late 1990s, is still listed on the parent company’s website, and a phone call to the location rang without any answer or recorded message.

“Thank you for visiting Sagebrush Steakhouse of Sanford,” the sign reads. “Unfortunately this location is currently closed.”

If Sagebrush is permanently closed, the location would seem ideal for another restaurant to occupy, given its proximity to a hotel and to the city’s main thoroughfare.

There’s no word as to whether that

The Rant Monthly | 35 IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

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The June edition of The Rant Monthly featured the Dunrovin Country Store in Vass and its unique tropical bird sanctuary, home to about 80 toucans, cockatoos and more. The story was one of our most read features in June, and owner Patrick Milcendeau says he has seen an uptick in visitors from the area since the story published. Check out the story online at Dunrovin is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

collectibles or a special gift, we probably have it. I mean, c’mon…this place is huge. It’s the most fun you’ll ever have recycling!

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36 | July 2019


Podcast revisits case of local couple murdered in 1971 Editor's Note: This story was originally published in July 2018. "The Long Dance" podcast turns a year old this month.

ary 1971 and found murdered a few short weeks later. Their killer or killers have never been found, and for a time it was one of North Carolina’s most high profile unsolved mysteries.

By Gordon Anderson

It’s a fascinating story that examines an unspeakably brutal crime, life in North Carolina in the early 1970s, the politics of jurisdiction and law enforcement, and more.

If you’ve paid any attention at all to the media landscape in the last few years, you’re probably familiar with the recent resurgence of the “true crime” genre as it intersects with various forms of new media. Leading the way was “Serial,” a public radio-backed podcast whose first season in 2014 dealt with the controversial conviction of a young man suspected in the 1999 murder of his high school girlfriend. A year later, HBO and Netflix each released similar long form documentaries — the former with series “The Jinx,” in which a New York real estate heir appeared to confess to a murder for which he’d avoided prosecution, and the latter with “Making A Murderer,” which told the story of Wisconsin man Steven Avery and his controversial conviction in the 2005 murder of a young photographer.

Patricia Mann and Jesse McBane were murdered in February 1971. Their case remains cold to this day. In July 2018, Durham was at the center of not just one, but two new productions. First was Netflix’s “the Staircase,” a miniseries which examines the case of Durham author Michael Peterson and his involvement in the 2001 death of his wife.

Another — podcast “The Long Dance,” which was released in its entirety on July 1, 2018 — purports also to be about Durham. And it is. It examines the case of 20-year-old Patricia Mann and 19-year-old Jesse McBane, who were kidnapped from a lover’s lane near the Orange-Durham county line in Febru-

But it’s also a story about Sanford and about Pittsboro. Mann, a student at Durham’s Watts Nursing School at the time of her murder, was born and raised in Sanford. Her boyfriend McBane, then a student at NC State, hailed from Pittsboro. Their friends and family members — many of whom remain prominent in their home communities — are featured at length in the podcast’s eight episodes, discussing their memories of the crime, their respective communities’ reaction to it, and their search for answers more than four decades on. They include Carolyn Spivey, who retired as Story continues on Page 38

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Continued from Page 36

conjunction with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, which reopened the case in 2010.

the director of Lee County’s Coalition for Families in 2018, and her husband David, one of the owners of downtown Sanford’s Jones Printing Company. Carolyn was a first cousin and best friend to Mann, and when Mann began dating McBain, Carolyn met David, his best friend. Also featured is two-term former Sanford Mayor Cornelia Olive, who knew both families growing up and later covered the case as a reporter for the Durham Herald Sun in the 1970s.

And while it has its issues — the sound quality throughout can be inconsistent, and Adamek and Pruitt’s dry and sometimes a little hokey presentation doesn’t quite match their apparently incredible investigative skills — the story itself is gripping from the start. It touches not only Sanford and Pittsboro and Durham, but also places like Florida, Chicago, and South Carolina, and even involves in very small ways some of the same people who investigated the Watergate scandal.

“The Long Dance” is the work of investigative reporter Drew Adamek, crime fiction author Eryk Pruitt, and producer Piper Kessler, who apparently spent several years investigating the case on their own, and eventually in

In the course of discussing the background of the victims and the crime itself, and identifying and looking into people who were and are known suspects, the podcasters do a great job of drawing listeners in, particularly with

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regard to the narrative structure. With each passing minute and each episode, you feel not only invested in learning who the killer or killers are, you also feel like you’re getting closer all the time. There are times when the podcast gets too “in the weeds” on some things. And on more than one occasion we had to make sure we were on the right episode because it repeated interviews and information. The story could probably have been told in 4-6 episodes with ease. But unlike some podcasts that are clearly made to cash in on the latest “fad” of true crime, it’s obvious that the narrators have a passion for the subject and went the distance in their research. We won’t say much about the content — mostly because we wouldn’t like it if someone

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stole our hard work. Suffice it to say, though, that you’ll be surprised by the lengths the podcasters are willing to go. They even name multiple suspects, and make the case for and against each. And all three are compelling cases. In the end, one stands out. Closure in this 47-year-old case may come after all. We won’t say any more. Just listen. The production also has an Instagram account that should be of interest to anyone who finds themselves listening. You can find the episodes on podcast outlets like iTunes or Spotify, but if you’re not a regular podcast listener, the easiest thing to do is visit the Long Dance Podcast website (thelongdancepodcast. com) and listen to the episodes there.


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40 | July 2019


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