Up & Coming Weekly

March 15, 2022

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 11 of 32

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM MARCH 16 - 22, 2022 UCW 11 e Cumberland County Board of Commissioners met last week to startling news — there are currently 733 children in foster care in the County — the highest number for an individual county in North Carolina. Another concerning number commissioners learned, or a number that should be larger was that Cumberland County only has 51 foster families. Delores Long, the assistant director of Social Ser- vices, told the board that out of the 733 children who are in foster care, 275 have been placed out of county and 42 were placed out of the state. "So you can see with the number of children we have out of county and out of state, there's truly a need for foster families within Cumberland County," Long told the commissioners. When asked what could possibly be the cause for the high number of foster children, Long said it largely has to do with having a large military installation in the county. "We have a lot of families who come here and they do not necessarily have direct, natural support here in the community. So that has the tendency to increase the number of times children have to enter foster care because they lack the natural supports in the commu- nity to prevent it," Long said. Fort Bragg Spokeswoman Sharilyn Wells responed to this statement explaining not only are there many resources provided to support Fort Bragg families, but that many families are themselves in a position to foster. "[ere are many military families that foster chil- dren and provide a safe harbor for children. ere are quite a few perceptions that military family place- ments may not be feasible due to the transient nature of the military, aka PCS, deployments, etc., it can be complicated to navigate the system. However, military family placements are actually pretty amazing due to their own experiences in moving and adjusting to new places and living arrangements," Wells said in a state- ment to Up & Coming Weekly. e Department of Social Services is collaborat- ing with the county for a "Not Perfect … Just Willing" campaign. is campaign aims to create more aware- ness in families and adults in Cumberland County to inspire them taking an interest in being foster families. e goal is to raise the number of foster families from 51 to 115. Long told Up & Coming Weekly that they are working hard to increase the number of fam- ily foster homes here in Cumberland County and this would include families located at Fort Bragg. e campaign will kick off on March 26 at the "Vax Your Vet, Vax Yourself 2.0" event with informational tables, but they will have a bigger launch in May. "To be a foster parent, you don't have to be perfect. You just have to be willing," Loren Bymer, the Deputy Public Information Director, said. "Our goal is to increase foster families within Cumberland County so we don't have to send anyone outside our county." 300 additional Fort Bragg troops to deploy to Germany Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III ordered 500 more U.S. service members to be deployed; 300 of those troops will come from Fort Bragg. e troops from Fort Bragg will form a modular am- munition ordnance company, according to Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby. ey will be heading to Ger- many to provide additional logistic support to the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division already on the ground. Kirby said the movement is temporary and the added personnel are being positioned "to help rein- force and bolster deterrence and defense capabilities of the NATO alliance." "[We're] going to adjust our posture continuously as the conditions require. And as has noted before, we are not and will not send forces into Ukraine," Kirby said. Additional service members will also be coming from Fort Stewart, Georgia. Cape Fear Valley Medical Center to add 2 new floors Cape Fear Valley Medical Center will be adding two new floors on top of the Valley Pavilion section. is expansion, worth $110 million, will add 100 beds — 40 of which will be designed as ICU beds — 187 full-time positions and two rooftop helipads. CEO Michael Nagowski said this expansion has been an anticipated part of the health system's long- term planning, and that the health system has been saving funds in preparation for this. "We recognized that we need this expansion to meet the growing needs of our community, and to provide meaningful assistance to reduce delays in our Emer- gency Department," Nagowski said. "We expect that this will dramatically improve wait times in the ER." e rooftop helipads were designed specifically to help emergencies, specifically because of the short distance from Fort Bragg. Currently, the hospital's helipad is located on the front lawn. "Our plan is that one of the helipads will be struc- tured to accept Blackhawk helicopters," said Nagowski. "We want to make sure we have complete readiness if it was needed, because of our proximity to Fort Bragg." e construction is expected to start in the fall and will be completed in the fall of 2024. Little Diversi- fied Architectural Consulting and Rodgers Builders, Inc. were chosen to do the construction because they wouldn't shut down or close the entrance of the hospi- tal or the ER while building the two stories. "It was a major consideration because we need to be adding onto this facility while it's occupied," Nagowski said. "During different phases of construction, there may be some traffic pattern adjustments around our entrances, but they will remain open. We don't expect the project to affect traffic on Owen Drive or Village Drive at all." Cumberland County School Board approves reassignment plan Cumberland County School Board approved a reassign- ment plan for students at T.C. Berrien Elementary school last week. e board voted on Plan A, which would divide the 178 students that attend T.C. Berrien Elementary School amongst Ferguson-Easley Elementary and Lucile Souders Elementary school. According to Cumberland County Schools, Lucile Soud- ers currently has 284 students with a building capacity of 400 students. is plan would add 52 students to Lucile Souders. Ferguson-Easley Elementary currently has 195 students, with a building capacity of 396 students. e reassignment plan would add 126 students to Ferguson-Easley. e approved plan will create the least amount of move- ment for students, as only those who normally attend T.C. Berrien are affected by the reassignment, according to the district. e district says the furthest distance that students would have to travel is 2.9 miles, compared with 9.9 miles currently to W. T. Brown Elementary. Some of the board members had concerns about changes in diversity and economic index for these reas- signment plans. For Lucile Souders, the economic index would go down to 4.8 and 2.7 for Ferguson Easley. e board approved the closure of T.C. Berrien Elementary school unanimously; it will close at the end of the school year. Cumberland County faces foster family shortage by HANNAH LEE & JESSICA MAY NEWS DIGEST

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