Up & Coming Weekly

April 07, 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 24

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM APRIL 8-14, 2020 UCW 15 EARL VAUGHAN JR., Senior Staff Writer. COMMENTS? EarlUCWS- ports@gmail.com. 910-364-6638. Hope Mills News & Views Families are a big deal in a small town like Hope Mills, and it was family ties that were behind the recent display of a sign at Hope Mills Lake aimed at boosting town morale. Valerie Reed who, with her husband Matthew, operates a sign business called Sign Gypsies, was behind the actual posting of the sign near the lake that featured the words "HOPE MILLS STRONG." Reed said the inspiration for the sign came from her in-laws, Cylinda and Jerry Hair, both longtime residents deeply involved in the town. Reed said the Hairs contacted her about put- ting up some kind of greeting that would offer an inspirational message to the town's citizens. It was right in line with the kind of work Reed, who primarily works as an occupational thera- pist in the public schools, is geared to do. She and her husband bought the local franchise for Sign Gypsies last November. Since then, they've done a variety of signs for various occasions, including birthdays, anniversaries, retirements, welcome home, baby greetings and sports accomplishments. Reed and her husband, both South View High School graduates, moved back to the town six years ago feel and feel a strong attachment to it. "We have tons of friends who are small business owners,'' she said. "We understand what a detri- ment (COVID-19) can be, and we wanted to do something to brighten everyone's spirits.'' Even though Hope Mills is much bigger than it was during Reed's South View days, she said there is still a lot of camaraderie and hometown spirit in the community. "We know people here have faced hard times before,'' she said. "We hope (the sign) will provide strength and make people think we are in this together.'' Reed said she first reached out to Hope Mills mayor, Jackie Warner, with the idea of putting the sign at Hope Mills Lake, an idea Warner was readily supportive of doing. "It's just something to show support and let people know we can get through this,'' Warner said. When Warner first thought of where to put the sign, she was thinking of a long-term location. But Reed's signs are designed to be 24-hour rent- als under normal circumstances. Since it was going to be in a central location at the lake, it was decided to take it down after dark to avoid someone coming back after hours and removing some of the letters or other decorative parts of the display. Reed said she would be willing to put the sign back up from time to time since Warner said the response to it first being displayed was so tre- mendously popular. In addition to the sign, the town has decided to temporarily turn on the lighted star that's on the far bank of the lake and is normally only used during the Christmas season. Warner said the star is on a timer, and will come on at dusk each day and shut off at dawn. Warner compared it to the lights being used to illuminate the interior of the Thomas Campbell Oakman Memorial Chapel on South Main Street. Warner feels the lights at the church and the light of the star help illustrate the town is pulling together for the good of everyone. She feels both are signs of hope and love. "There's life there,'' she said. "They are all ways of showing we're committed, we care and we're tied together. "They work together for the good of all.'' Lake sign aims to boost morale in Hope Mills by EARL VAUGHAN JR. NEWS Hope Mills town manager Melissa Adams has had to deal with two hur- ricanes as a member of town staff, one of them after she was serving as town manager. But that experience was only a small taste of the challenge she and the rest of town staff are facing now as they try to navigate the variety of challenges all of us face from COVID-19. "It's unprecedented for many man- agers, I'm sure,'' Adams said of the current situation. "It's been very try- ing and very difficult throughout.'' As much a part of trying to deal with all of the problems COVID-19 causes, Adams said, is the official face the town puts on when deciding how to react. "You want to do it in a calm, reasonable manner and not panic people,'' she said. "You have to maintain your composure.'' That's why Adams is applying some advice she got from a friend when she first took over the town manager's job in Hope Mills. "They told me flow like water and you'll be fine,'' Adams said. "That's kind of what I've tried to do.'' Adams said her biggest con- cern in the current situation is making sure what she and the town are doing it best not only for the citizens, but for the vari- ous members of town staff who are on the job while still trying to keep themselves safe from being infected with COVID-19. She called the safety of staff and citizens paramount. "Virtually everyone's job has been disrupted by this event,'' she said. "People have lost their jobs and their livelihood. For self-employed people it's been extremely diffi- cult trying to manage.'' In the meantime, Adams has been trying to keep town services running uninterrupted while at the same time having the proper amount of concern for the safety of all those people who have to be out in the field or in the office. When news first started to develop about the safe- ty precautions that might be put in place because of COVID-19, Adams began having regular staff meetings with her department heads to try and assure all contingencies were covered. This was long before the official order came down from North Carolina governor Roy Cooper that the state was declaring its citizens needed to stay at home as much as possible. "We already had things in place,'' Adams said. Many steps have been taken to cut down on public interaction. The town took a major one last Monday when it decided to close the Hope Mills Lake park to the public but still allow boaters and kayakers to use the lake for recreation. Adams hopes the citi- zens will be cautious using the lake and not force the town to take more drastic measures. If people have specific needs or concerns, Adams said they can visit townofhopemills.com or any of the town Facebook pages for updates. There are also contact numbers there. The main town number is 910-424-4555. In the event of a life-threatening emergency, people should still call 911 to reach the police or fire departments. "We are a strong community,'' Adams said. "We are small but pretty good at backing each other up and supporting each other. I would ask that people continue to do that.'' Adams faces unprecedented test guiding Hope Mills through COVID-19 by EARL VAUGHAN JR. The sign is aimed at boosting town morale. Melissa Adams

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