Written by: Elizabeth Blevins
Minutes into last night’s Special Meeting, Commissioner Larson made a motion to cancel the August 20th Public Hearing. The Board voted 4-1 to approve the motion, then disappeared into an hour-long closed session.
Terry Jung, Executive Director of Lone Survivor Foundation, took the opportunity to poll the crowd, asking if we wanted him to persevere or search for another location for their new facility. Overwhelmingly the crowd was in favor of the veteran support organization continuing this fight.
One citizen stood in opposition…local resident Brenda Cameron. Ms. Cameron cited the 1999 and 2014 PWC surveys and insisted we need the land for a future reservoir. When a member of the crowd mentioned the July 18th letter from Mick Noland, Chief Operations Officer of the Water Resource Division at PWC, which said more recent surveys indicate the water levels are sufficient and plans to use the lake bed for a future reservoir were abandoned, Ms. Cameron claimed she wasn’t aware of the letter.
She also claimed the Board had done enough for the veteran community in that they’d given the Sunshine Center to a local VFW. Kenny Bullock, Director of Parks and Recreation, stood to correct her. He said the building used for the Sunshine Center was in need of so many repairs it exceeded the building’s value. The Board moved the program into the Parks and Rec. Center which gave them more room to expand and he considered it a huge success. Once the program was moved, the Board made the old site available for sale…there were three potential buyers but the Board accepted an offer of $50,000 from the VFW.
Frustrated, Ms. Cameron exclaimed that it felt like the Hope Mills community was being raped by the Lone Survivor Foundation. It was a very unfortunate analogy in any circumstance, but more so considering LSF treats veterans who’ve been sexually assaulted.
During two separate meetings the public has made their opinion evident. Approximately 1 in 50 people are opposed to the LSF facility, and to be fair they’ve both quoted irrelevant and well disputed reasons. Our elected are supposed to be the voice of the people…and the people are speaking. Only TWO have publicly opposed this sale…why aren’t you listening?
After the Board meeting, many of the LSF supporters gathered at local brewery Dirt Bag Ales. Far from being discouraged, the group spent the evening rallying and a revolution was born. Their frustration with the Board has solidified their resolve and dozens of citizens have committed themselves to this cause. And it’s a good thing…because sources tell me at least one Commissioner declared last night’s vote the end of the line for LSF, and insisted they won’t revisit it…not even to hold the Public Hearing
-Everything I’ve posted until now has been absolute fact and a matter of public record. I’m going to suspend my own rules for a minute to share my opinion…
After Ms. Cameron spoke, many others spoke. They shared stories about their own struggles with PTSD…they shared stories about friends and family who struggled. Grown men choked on tears as they recalled how many friends they’d lost to suicide. They talked about their efforts to help their friends, to ease the pain. It was overwhelming to watch.
THIS…is the reality of Lone Survivor Foundation. This is the epidemic they struggle to stop.
I resent the Board for diverting the efforts of LSF away from their mission and insisting they play this ridiculous game. I resent them for being cowards who can’t simply say ‘we don’t like that Jackie Warner was involved in this process’ because the truth is…if anyone else had brought this proposition to the Board, they’d be fighting over who got to post about it on Facebook first. I resent that they’re clinging to the same tired excuses for NOT moving forward when they know those excuses are invalid. And I resent the hubris of these decidedly uneducated leaders in thinking they’re doing what’s best for the uninformed citizens of Hope Mills. Any one person in last night’s meeting has done more research than the entire Board has done.
Commissioner Bellflowers sent an email to my personal account on Tuesday with one line…’Thank you for the article’. It was a facetious way of letting me know he knew who was writing the blog. I hadn’t kept it a secret. Bellflowers spent 48 hours trying to puzzle out who wrote a blog…but once Commissioner Larson presented him with the 1999 and 2014 PWC surveys…he didn’t spend another minute researching the sale of this land. This was evident in his lengthy dissertation during the July 23rd meeting. He bought into the idea that Jackie Warner was colluding with Teddy Warner in some grand conspiracy.
Commissioner Mitchell took to social media last week to float his idea of collusion. In his post, he accuses Teddy Warner, Jackie Warner, Town Clerk Melissa Adams, and Town Attorney Dan Hartzog Jr of colluding with LSF.
Then he accuses Mayor Warner of losing control of the meeting. So I want to reference the notorious video of the July 23rd meeting. Fast forward to 1:31:35 and watch as Mike Mitchell interrupts the official meeting to throw out a sarcastic comment to the Mayor… ‘working on team building’. Is there anything more ironic than the man who ran on the ‘Team Hope Mills’ platform, disrespecting the Mayor, disrespecting the public gathered to watch, and disrespecting his fellow Board members, by inserting a snarky comment about Team building? And because he’s a one-trick pony…he submitted his post to the Fayetteville Observer and perpetuated his lies to a broader audience. It’s worth noting the editor of the Observer felt compelled to add a note, clarifying that it was a post from Mitchell’s Facebook page and that it had been disputed.
Commissioner Larson is also using social media to bolster her stance that the water must be protected…so sayeth the 20-year-old survey. What she hasn’t told you, is that Lisa Waring and Lisa’s mother-in-law, both own property adjacent to the property LSF is interested in. Lake front property is worth much more than dry bed property. Lisa is Commissioner Larson’s best friend and was her campaign manager.
Isn’t it a conflict of interest for Larson to vote on this issue, knowing that her good friends, the Warings, stand to profit hugely if LSF is turned away and the reservoir is established? Could that be why Larson has consistently referenced the PWC surveys calling for a reservoir? Shouldn’t Commissioner Larson recuse herself from the process?
Have concerns about these issues? Contact the Board and let them know!