Up & Coming Weekly

August 25, 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 9 of 24

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM AUGUST 26-SEPTEMBER 1, 2020 UCW 9 Computer logins and digital high fives are replac- ing school bus rides and hugs for many students and teachers who started the new school year Aug. 17. More than two-thirds of North Carolina's 1.5 million public school students are going to school remotely instead of getting face-to-face instruction. Internet learning will last for at least two months and poten- tially longer if the coronavirus pandemic doesn't ease off. Cumberland County Schools Superinten- dent Dr. Marvin Connelly Jr. introduced Operation Smooth Start to ensure that remote teaching and learning are a new normal for students, educators and staff members. Teachers are to connect with students, communicate classroom expectations and host classroom-level orientation sessions to help students become acclimated to the internet learn- ing environment. District and school staff continue to ensure that laptops and tablets were delivered to schools based upon the requests from families. Eighty modem-equipped school buses have been parked around the county to provide regional Wi-Fi capabilities. New state agency to examine criminal justice in North Carolina State Rep. John Szoka, R-Cumberland, has been chosen to co-chair the House Select Committee on Community Relations, Law Enforcement, and Jus- tice. e committee is comprised of legislators and various members of the public. "It will examine North Carolina's criminal justice systems to propose methods of improving police training and relations between law enforcement and its communities," Szoka said. "I am ... eager to work with my team to identify policy reforms that help overcome discrimination, excessive force, and corruption in the North Carolina criminal justice system." Sixteen members of the North Carolina House of Representatives, including Elmer Floyd and Billy Richardson of Fayetteville, will serve on the commit- tee. irteen others have been named to the group, including Cumberland County district attorney Billy West. County Commissioner named to statewide organization Cumberland County Commissioner Charles Evans has been elected president of the North Carolina As- sociation of Black County Officials. He was sworn in during the organization's virtual meeting Aug. 15. "I am grateful and honored to be representing the citizens of Cumberland County on a state board, and I appreciate the vote of confidence by my peers on the North Carolina Association of Black County Of- ficials board," said Evans, who has also served as the second and first vice president for the organization. Evans was elected to the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners as an at-large representa- tive in 2010 and re-elected in 2014 and 2018. He served two terms on the Fayetteville City Council from 2005-2009. Evans was born in Fayetteville and attended Terry Sanford High School and Fayetteville Technical Community College. He is a disabled veteran. Military mental health care lacking A new Pentagon report says thousands of troops and family members may not have access to mental health care through their military or civilian health care providers. e Defense Department Inspector General found patients seeking outpatient mental health treatment often experienced delays or never obtained care at all due to inconsistencies in stan- dards, staffing and other shortcomings in the mili- tary's health system. In 2017, almost 14% of troops, or just over 200,000, were diagnosed with mental health disorders. e report said delays in getting service members care could affect readiness. Auditors examined appointment booking and referral data at 13 military treatment facilities from December 2018 to June 2019. e inspector general's office said an average of 53% of service members and their families served by Tricare in the United States did not receive mental health care after getting referrals. Health of- ficials in charge of tracking their care could not say why, the IG said. e Defense Health Agency agreed to develop a single systemwide staffing approach that estimates the number of appointments and personnel required to meet the demand for mental health. e agency will also establish a standard process for mental health assessments tailored to patients' needs, officials said in their response. Army museum observes 20th anniversary Fayetteville's Airborne & Special Operations Museum celebrates its 20th anniversary this month. Since its opening in August 2000, the museum has been visited by nearly 3 million visitors, according to Museum Foundation Executive Director Renee Lane. She noted the occasion is "vastly different than we had planned." ere are no flags around Iron Mike to welcome visitors and no music, food trucks or parachute jumps because of COVID-19. "We are celebrating virtually ... in the last few weeks, we provided many memorable moments on social media from when construction started right down to the ribbon-cutting ceremony 20 years ago." e facility has been closed since March. "Sustaining our mission without visi- tors has strained us financially," Lane said. School days aren't what they used to be by JEFF THOMPSON NEWS DIGEST JEFF THOMPSON, Reporter. COMMENTS? Editor@upandcom- ingweekly.com. 910-484-6200. Rep. John Szoka Commissioner Charles Evans

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