Up & Coming Weekly

February 18, 2020

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 15 of 32

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM FEBRUARY 19-25, 2020 UCW 15 would love you to join our creative, talented, community-oriented lineup of contributing writers. If you are interested in joining our writing team, email sample articles or questions to: j e n n a @ u p a n d c o m i n g w e e k l y . c o m For more information, call 910-484-6200. Q. There are so many ways to serve the com- munity we live in. What made you choose the route you did? A. Very candidly, this route chose me. I was in service for many years in very private ways. I'm a firm believer that we will be rewarded openly for what we do privately, and so I never sought to be the center of the city's attention. It is still a little awkward to be so regarded for just doing what comes naturally. I am grateful to the citi- zens of District 3 and the city who place their confidence in me as a representation of them. It's the best job I've ever had. Diane Wheatley Community activist and candidate for N.C. House Repre- sentative Q. There are so many ways to serve the community we live in. What made you choose the route you did? A. I have served the community pretty much continuously since before I was married. I have volunteered on over 30 boards and com- mittees through the years. I also spent 10 years on the board of education and four as a county commissioner. I have found that I have been most effective and have accomplished the most when serving in elected office. I think what has and still does motivate me comes from growing up in a military family where service and "duty, honor, country" were so important. My interest in government grew out of our family's involvement in Revolution- ary War reenacting when my sons were young. We were exposed at that time to so many historical sites and stories of the struggles the founding fathers went through to gain our independence. Personalities like George Washington, Patrick Henry, Alexander Hamil- ton and others became very real to me. I have always been struck by what strong men of faith they were and how God brought them through circumstances that would seem to have been insurmountable. I really feel my experiences have given me a unique perspective. I believe so strongly in the principles on which this country was founded. Q. What's something you wish this commu- nity knew about you? What's something about our community that you want more people to know about? A. I wish they knew how I truly do serve because I want to make a positive difference in people's lives. I see any office as both a trust and responsibility to the people of Cumberland County. I will work every day to earn that trust and fulfill that responsibility to the best of my ability. I wish people knew how much we have to offer. There is nothing that can be mentioned, whether it's culture, museums, entertainment, sports teams, dinning, parks, a revitalized downtown, shopping or whatever, that we do not have. We are the most vibrant community in the state that no one seams to know about. Elizabeth Blevins Executive director of the Hope Mills Creative Arts Coun- cil and appointee to the Hope Mills His- toric Preservation Commission and the Veteran Affairs Committee Q. What do you love about this com- munity? A. There's a resiliency in the community that I love. Hope Mills has taken a lot of abuse over the years, from corrupt politicians, weather and human nature. But the people here are still ex- cited to get up each day and try something new. They're excited to support an art council and see a new history museum in place. We love our small businesses and new res- taurants. They never doubted the dam would be back in place, and we'd have a gorgeous lake once again. And now that we have it, they're so excited to plan lakeside celebrations for every occasion. Q. There are so many ways to serve the com- munity we live in. What made you choose the route you did? A. I don't know that I specifically chose this route as much as I fell into it. I started Hope- Mills.net as a political blog. And that wasn't planned. It was a reaction to two local politi- cians who used their social media to lie to the people of Hope Mills. Several months into it, I started talking about potential community proj- ects, and suddenly people were really talking back. We held an initial interest meeting in June for an arts council, and four days later, we'd partnered with Sweet Tea Shakespeare Theater and scheduled plays in Hope Mills. The entire art council board is very civic- minded, and we design our projects to include as many local businesses and organizations as possible. We don't have galleries or a museum, so we've learned to be creative in finding ways to promote local artists. This year, one of our biggest endeavors is establishing an artists' co- op. We're partnering with small businesses of every kind to use as galleries. We get to create business opportunities, but in doing so, we also get to create relationships. This year, I was appointed to the Hope Mills Historic Preservation Commission and the Veteran Affairs Committee. I grew up in an Air Force family and we lived a very nomadic life. It instilled in me a greater appreciation for per- manence and history. Our family has been for- tunate to travel the world and visit some really phenomenal historic sites. Hope Mills could be a destination spot. As a veteran, veteran's issues are very im- portant to me. The last two years, I've had an opportunity to meet a lot of local veterans and their spouses. We have a responsibility to advo- cate for them, to educate our community and elected officials of their needs. This year my fo- cus is specifically on the caregivers of disabled veterans. They have very few resources and not nearly enough recognition. Diane Wheatley Elizabeth Blevins JENNA SHACKELFORD, Editor. COMMENTS? Editor@ upandcomingweekly.com. 910-484-6200.

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