Up & Coming Weekly

June 08, 2021

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 JUNE 9-15, 2021 UCW 9 e North Carolina Highway Patrol has sworn in a new commanding officer. Colonel Freddy L. Johnson Jr. has been named the 28th commander of the S.H.P. He is a Cumberland County native and has been in public safety work all his life. After graduating from South View High School in 1989, Johnson was hired as a full-time firefighter and since 1996 has served as deputy chief of the Stoney Point Fire Department. Colonel Johnson attended Fayetteville State Univer- sity and earned a criminal justice degree. He joined the North Carolina Highway Patrol as a State Trooper in 1995 and was assigned to Robeson County while maintaining his volunteer firefighter responsibilities. Johnson's promotion ceremony on June 4 included remarks from Governor Roy Cooper, and N.C. Public Safety Secretary Erik Hooks. Local coronavirus cases down Cumberland County improved from a Substantial Spread of COVID-19 to a lesser tier on May 27, according to the N.C. Department of Health of Hu- man Services county alert system. is is based on the case rate, positive percentages and hospital im- pact scores. Cumberland County is one of 41 coun- ties statewide that improved from Orange Tier (Sub- stantial Spread) to Yellow Tier (Significant Spread). e County Alert System is updated biweekly. e Cumberland County Department of Public Health is offering the COVID-19 vaccine to indi- viduals ages 12 and up at locations throughout the county. According to the state, 309 Cumberland County residents have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. ere have been 29,531 cases in Cumberland County reported since the onset of the pandemic. President proposes VA budget increase President Joe Biden is recommending a $269.9 bil- lion budget for the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2022, an increase of 10% from 2021. His overall bud- get proposal totals $6 trillion. VA Secretary Denise McDonough said Biden's budget indicates the high priority that he places on the VA. "I think the presi- dent has put together a budget ... that underscores to me the high priority that he and the vice president place in the veterans of this country," McDonough told reporters. He will be tasked with defending the proposal on Capitol Hill and has already faced ques- tions from Republican lawmakers about why the VA needs another increase after receiving $17 billion from the American Rescue Plan earlier this year. Biden's VA budget consists of mandatory and dis- cretionary spending. Mandatory spending includes entitlement programs and does not go through the congressional appropriations process. Mandatory spending represents an increase of $14.9 billion or 10.8% over 2021. McDonough said the increase in mandatory spending is largely because veterans are using private-sector doctors through the VA's com- munity care program. Weekly market held at Festival Park e Cool Spring Downtown District has launched the District Summer Market at Festival Park. is combined farmers and makers market is scheduled to operate from 4-8 p.m. every ursday through Aug. 26 (except July1). Mar- ket wares, food, bever- ages, free entertainment and other activities will be available. Vendors are selling a variety of wares and products at the market each week including locally grown produce, meat and seafood as well as locally made artwork and artisan goods. Food and bever- age trucks are selling meals and drinks. Canned beer from Bright Light Brewing Company and Lake Gas- ton Brewing Company will be available at the Cool Spring Downtown District tent. Mini Dogwood Festival set for June 11-12 e Dogwood Festival's mini-fest which was post- poned earlier this year is being held June 11-12 at Festival Park off Ray Ave. Live music from the row- back Collaboration Band and On e Border will be staged on day one. e second day features a car and motorcycle show, as well as scaled-down collec- tions of arts and crafts. Food vendors will provide snacks. "We're all very excited for this opportunity," said Sarahgrace Snipes, who was recently named Dogwood Festival Executive Director. e scaled down mini-fest is among the first events being held at Festival Park since the COVID-19 pandemic began early last year. e festival runs from 5-11 p.m. Friday and from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free. Donations are being accepted. Highway deaths surge in Robeson County Preliminary 2021 figures are indicating a surge in highway deaths in Robeson County. In the first four months of the year, 24 people died in vehicle crashes across the county, according to figures compiled by the N.C. Department of Transportation's Mobil- ity and Safety Division. During the corresponding period last year, 17 people died. Vision Zero Task Force officials say they are intensifying education ef- forts that stress the importance of wearing seat belts. Of the 24 highway deaths so far this year, 58% of the motorists were not buckled up. Speed-related deaths in the county are also up — 40% this year. "is is not the trend we want to see," said Grady Hunt, who leads the task force as the area's representative on the state Board of Transportation. e task force, which was formed in 2017 with a cross-section of community leaders, seeks to change driving behaviors. Local man named head of State Highway Patrol by JEFF THOMPSON NEWS DIGEST JEFF THOMPSON, Reporter. COMMENTS? Editor@upandcom- ingweekly.com. 910-484-6200. Col. Freddy L. Johnson Jr.

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