Up & Coming Weekly

November 23, 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 NOVEMBER 24-30, 2021 UCW 9 Cumberland County school bus drivers will share in additional system-wide bonuses being provided by the board of education. e school board decided on Nov. 17 to give the school district's 6,000 full-time employees $1,000 bonuses in December and again in May. Local bus drivers have been demanding better pay and have staged protests recently. More than 100 buses were idled two weeks ago because of a "sick-out" staged by drivers. Starting pay for bus drivers in the school district is $12.21 an hour. A new state budget proposal includes a provision that the minimum hourly wage for non-certified school employees be raised to $13 this year and to $15 in the 2022-23 fiscal year. e state sets the baseline for pay in public schools, and some counties "supplement" those wages. e Cumberland County school district used to have a competitive supplemental package, but edu- cation officials say they are falling behind. "Determining the full cost (local, state and fed- eral) of adjusting our minimum hourly salary to $13 or $15 ... is extremely complicated and if conducted internally could take an inordinate amount of time that we do not have given the state of the labor mar- ket," a memorandum released by the board said. Drivers say they are frustrated over a stalemate between the Cumberland County Board of Educa- tion and the county commissioners. e Board of Education develops the budget, but county commis- sioners provide the funding. "If you raise the pay for just one group, then you have many other groups within the district that did not get that same consideration," said Clyde Lock- lear, associate superintendent of business operations. Many North Carolina school districts are strug- gling to hire and retain workers because of low wages and working conditions many complain about. More than a third of Cumberland County Schools, 50,000 students, depend on bus services to get to school. CityView launches News Division CityView Media is launching a news division that will focus on coverage of local government. e new division, cvTODAY, will be led by Editor Lorry Williams, the former executive editor of e Fayetteville Observer. News stories will be available on the cvTODAY website and distributed through digital newsletters. Market House to remain fenced in Fencing around Fayetteville's downtown Market House will remain for at least another few months. City Council decided in April to re-purpose the historic landmark. A citizens committee came up with several ideas for transforming the building. e ideas include creating a museum of art and Black history displays or creating a marketplace for Black vendors. "is group is scheduled to release their recommendations in early 2022," City Manager Doug Hewett told Up & Coming Weekly. "e fenc- ing will remain in place pending the outcome of that discussion or further direction from City Council." e Market House, built in 1838, is one of North Carolina's 50 national landmarks. But historically was sometimes used to sell, trade and auction slaves before the Civil War. In May of 2020, the building was set on fire during protests following the death of George Floyd. e fire was quickly put out, result- ing in minor damage. Two months later protesters camped out at Market Square for nearly a week, demanding police reform in Fayetteville. All time high murder rate in Fayetteville is year's murder rate in Fayetteville is unprec- edented. As of Nov. 17, 43 people were killed by oth- ers. Arrests have been made in 33 of the cases. at exceeds the highest annual homicide number by 12. "ere is no one answer to what's going on," Po- lice Chief Gina Hawkins told Up & Coming Weekly. "ere are so many guns in our community." She says that people are impatient having been locked away in their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hawkins said that unlike previous years, homicides here are city-wide. "In Fayetteville, the number one reason for mur- der was drug-related robberies," Hawkins said, not- ing that murder is almost impossible to prevent. Some criminal records can be removed In the next few weeks, Cumberland County District Attorney Billy West will hold informational sessions for people who think they may qualify to be lawfully expunged. So, what in the world is expunge- ment? To "expunge" is to "erase or remove com- pletely." In the law, "expungement" is the process by which a record of criminal conviction is destroyed or sealed from state or federal records. An expungement order directs the court to treat a criminal conviction as if it had never occurred, essentially removing it from a defendant's criminal record as well as, ideally, the public record. It is im- portant to clarify that expungement is not "forgive- ness" for committing a crime. Who should be expunged? "It's someone whose license has been suspended for at least five years due to unpaid fees on a minor traffic offense that has already been adjudicated such as a stop sign offense, speeding ticket, expired registration," West said. Fayetteville criminal justice activist Demetria Mur- phy said the economic treadmill is exactly what stops people from getting their licenses again. "Someone who goes from making $8 or $9 who now can go and work for a distribution center and have their regular driver's license back ... puts them in a position to actually win," Murphy said. Under North Carolina law, a person whose record has been expunged generally does not have to disclose the arrest, charge or conviction on job applications, applications for housing and in other settings where a criminal conviction may have a negative impact. North Carolina law specifically protects people with expunged criminal records from perjury and similar charges relat- ing to failure to disclose an expunged record. Employ- ers who violate this law can be fined. e best source of information about whether your arrest, charge or conviction may be eligible for expungement is an experienced Fayetteville criminal defense attorney. For more information, contact the District Attorney's Office at 910-475-3010 or their email at Cumberland.DAEx- pugements@nccourts.org. Cumberland County School Board agrees to more bonuses by JEFF THOMPSON NEWS DIGEST JEFF THOMPSON, Reporter. COMMENTS? Editor@upandcom- ingweekly.com. 910-484-6200.

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