Up & Coming Weekly

October 31, 2023

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 4 of 24

4 UCW November 1 - 7, 2023 WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM STAFF PUBLISHER Bill Bowman Bill@upandcomingweekly.com OPERATIONS DIRECTOR Paulette Naylor accounting@upandcomingweekly.com EDITOR Alyson Hansen editor@upandcomingweekly.com ASSISTANT EDITOR Sam Olsen assistanteditor@upandcomingweekly. com ART DIRECTOR Courtney Sapp-Scott art@upandcomingweekly.com GRAPHIC DESIGNER Isaiah Jones graphics@upandcomingweekly.com STAFF WRITERS Aubrette Reid Amber Little Hannah Lee Carrie Jackson Lena Simmons Kathleen Ramsey Jamie Bishop Sheila Barker CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Cindy Hamilton, Margaret Dickson, John Hood, Christian Little, Linda McAlister, Ashley Kelsey MARKETING ASSOCIATE Linda McAlister linda@upandcomingweekly.com SALES ASSISTANT Sheila Barker salesassistant@upandcomingweekly. com COVER Cover design by Isaiah Jones Photo courtesy of Gladys Knight media kit Up & Coming Weekly www.upandcomingweekly.com 208 Rowan St. P.O. Box 53461 Fayetteville, NC 28305 PHONE: 910-484-6200- FAX: 910-484-9218 Up & Coming Weekly is a "Quality of Life" publication with local features, news and information on what's happening in and around the Fayetteville/Cumberland County community. Published weekly on Wednesdays, Up & Coming Weekly welcomes manuscripts, photographs and artwork for publication consideration, but assumes no responsibility for them. We cannot accept responsibility for the return of unsolicited manuscripts or material. Opinions expressed by contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. The publisher reserves the right to edit or reject copy submitted for publication. Up & Coming Weekly is free of charge and distributed at indoor and outdoor locations throughout Fayetteville, Fort Liberty, Pope Army Airfield, Hope Mills and Spring Lake. Readers are limited to one copy per person. © 2020 by F&B Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction or use of editorial or advertisements without permission is strictly prohibited. Various ads with art graphics designed with elements from: pexels.com, Metro Creative Connection,, vecteezy.com and freepik.com. Association of Community Publishers For years, there has been a small group of silent, disgruntled individuals who have been waging a guerilla-style war against Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner and those who advocate for progress and growth in the beautiful town of Hope Mills. Unfortunately, the unintended con- sequences are that innocent citizens are often caught up in the nastiness of it all. I do not know Cindy Hamilton, nor have I ever met her. However, I admire her moxie for standing up to those who threatened her First Amendment rights and then dared to share her experience with the Hope Mills Mayor and Town Commissioners. Now, in her letter below, she wants to tell her story to the entire community. Hope Mills and Cumberland County need more involved and concerned citi- zens like Cindy Hamilton. ank you for reading the Up & Com- ing Weekly community newspaper. — Bill Bowman, Publisher is letter is to share the horrific as- sault on free speech and democracy in the Town of Hope Mills. I recently helped organize a Candi- date's Forum Meet and Greet for those running for office in the Town of Hope Mills. I responded to an online post ask- ing for volunteers and decided to help. Little did I know what a firestorm of discourse I would create! With all good intentions, I joined Hope Mills residents Harriet Horner, Sally Bailey, and Phyllis Hales to orga- nize a Candidate Awareness Campaign for Hope Mills's citizens. We organized it, prepared the five questions to be presented to the candidates, promoted it, and distributed a general information flyer to local business. Collectively, we paid for everything. e discourse and firestorm started when we asked Meg Larson of the HopeMills/CumberlandCountyMat- ters Facebook site if we could post Forum information on her site. Larson insisted that she wanted to know who was hosting the event and who would be the moderator. To my surprise, the following comment from Meg Larson was emphatic: "I'm not supporting any- thing that has that racist piece of sh** involved!" I advised her that we were still looking and deciding on that, and Up & Com- ing Weekly newspaper and Bill Bowman were not even a consideration. is is when I realized there is a small but vocal faction of discontented Hope Mills resi- dents (e Chatter Group: former Hope Mills Commissioner Meg Larson, Lisa Carter Waring and Mike Smith, (who is not a resident of Hope Mills) that share several unscrupulous common bonds: ey have all have weaponized social media sites specifically designed to disparage Hope Mills progress and defame Jackie Warner, undermine her leadership and disseminate informa- tion to their online audiences that are anti-media, anti-Up & Coming Weekly newspaper, and anti-U&CW Publisher Bill Bowman — honestly, we had no idea this was going on. is is when I began receiving mean, hateful, and threatening texts. I was told in no uncertain terms that: "Everyone (Larson, Smith & Waring) has already stepped up to do something better for this community. Now that you [the committee of concerned residents and forum organizers] have gotten involved, it somehow negates the decades [of work] that some of us have done." Larson refers to the ongoing attempts to undermine Mayor Jackie Warner's leadership and diminish her accom- plishments as Mayor over the years. Larson also accuses Mayor Warner of creating the Candidates Forum for her benefit. Nothing could be further from the truth. I believe the assault on me and the event was caused because the Chatter Group perceived that Mayor Warner engineered the Forum to garner support for her reelection. is is not the case. To mitigate the rumors and accu- sations and set the record straight, I attended the Board of Commissioners meeting on October 16th. I spoke direct- ly to the Mayor and Town Commission- ers about my concerns and the hateful way our committee was being treated for trying to do something valuable and good for the entire community. It was also disappointing that the next day, Commissioner Joanne Scarola conducted an online "fireside chat," advising everyone on the chat that our event was thrown together haphazardly [sic]and poorly executed. is seems like highly unethical behavior by a Hope Mills Town official. She identifies herself as a member of the Chatter group. e response to our Candidates Forum by Mike Smith, Joanne Scarola, Meg Larson and Lisa Waring has been so outrageous and un- professional that I can only believe it is an ongoing attempt to discredit me, the Forum committee and Mayor Warner. To sum it all up, I genuinely believe that initially, they were so frightened and distraught at the thought that May- or Warner and newspaper publisher Bill Bowman from the Up & Coming Weekly were behind organizing the event that they panicked and attempted to destroy it by discrediting its organizers. is is sad and alarming. Until now, we had no idea this sys- temized misinformation network and unethical behavior was happening in our community. Now, the Candidate Forum committee and I have experi- enced it firsthand while exposing those individuals who have weaponized social media sites into a three-tiered net- work of lies, slander, and misinforma- tion: Mike Smith: e Hope Mills Bee, Meg Larson: Hope Mills/Cumberland County Matter and Lisa Waring: e Hope Mills Chatter. ey discredit Bill Bowman and his weekly newspaper and vigorously work against Mayor Jackie Warner's success, progress, and achievements, those who support and admire her, and those who genuinely love the Hope Mills commu- nity. e proof is the quality of life we experience daily living and working in the lovely Hope Mills community. — Cindy Hamilton, Hope Mills Hope Mills resident calls out bad behavior OPINION

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