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Bill Kirby Jr.: Downtown visionaries Menno Pennink, late Harry Shaw to be honored

The Downtown Visionaries luncheon also will include updates on the Cape Fear Regional Theatre, the Crown Event Center, the N.C. Civil War & Reconstruction History Center and the Cool Spring Downtown District.


Bianca Shoneman, president and chief executive officer of the Cool Spring Downtown District, will deliver the State of the District report today at the sold-out second annual CityView Downtown Visionaries Luncheon honoring businessman Menno Pennink and the late Harry Shaw at Segra Stadium.

The state of downtown celebrates individuals, businesses, investments, events and organizations whose contributions are making a significant impact on downtown Fayetteville,” Shoneman says. “Join us and be the first to hear in-depth market analysis and trends of Fayetteville's Central Business District shared through compelling data, visuals and real stories.”

The luncheon, scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., will include updates from Assistant County Manager Brian Haney on the proposed Crown Event Center; from Mary Kate Burke, the artistic director of Cape Fear Regional Theatre, about the newly-renovated theater; and from Mac Healy on the progress of the N.C. Civil War & Reconstruction History Center.

Pennink will be honored for his vision to revitalize downtown, while Shaw is being honored for his civic leadership in developing Cross Creek Linear Park.  


The city has its 24th homicide of 2022, according to the Fayetteville Police Department, after officers responded Sunday to a shooting on the 1600 block of Veanna Drive. The 30-year-old man was taken to a hospital, where he died.  


If you drive along the Military Business Park along I-295 you’ll notice the Amazon distribution center is coming along, with its scheduled opening in 2023, according to Robert Van Geons, president and CEO of the Fayetteville Cumberland Economic Development Corp. The center, Van Geons says, will provide a minimum of 500 full-time jobs with a $16 million annual payroll and annual tax revenue of approximately $1.5 million for the city and county. 


“Bill, I enjoyed reading your interesting article about Joe Quigg on Lenny Rosenbluth,” Dr. William Freccia writes in an email about our June 24 column on Quigg remembering his days as a teammate of the late Lennie Rosenbluth, the All-America basketball standout who led the University of North Carolina to a 54-53 triple-overtime victory over Kansas for the 1957 NCAA National Championship and 32-0 season. “I was too young to remember them as high school players in Brooklyn and ‘Da Bronx,’ or even what they accomplished at UNC. 

“I attended St. Augustine Diocesan High School on Park Slope in Brooklyn and graduated in 1963. My wife Millie went to Catherine McAuley High School, a Catholic girls’ school, only three blocks from her house and graduated in 1964. One of my best friends and a classmate of Millie’s was Kathy Brennan, who had three older brothers who were very good basketball players — one of whom was Pete Brennan, by far the best of the three. Kathy would frequently tell me that Pete, who was at least 10 years older than her (and me), graduated from St. Augustine, played for North Carolina and then played with the Knicks for a while before moving back to North Carolina to sell men’s clothes. And that was about it, with never a mention about North Carolina winning a national championship while Pete was there. After many years, Millie and I finally had the opportunity to meet Pete at little Joe Quigg’s wedding reception in Chapel Hill. We had a very pleasant discussion. Sadly, Pete passed away several years ago and his funeral was in Chapel Hill. I was not aware of it at the time; and Kathy apologized later for not letting us know or we would have attended.”

It was a storybook season for the Tar Heels of ’57, including Joe Quigg’s final second free throws to preserve the undefeated season. Lennie Rosenbluth died at age 89 on June 18 in Chapel Hill. Pete Brennan died at age 75 on June 8, 2012, in Durham. 


“This was a great piece, my friend,” local radio icon Jeff Thompson writes in an email about our column on Rosenbluth. “At my age, if we didn't have wonderful memories, life wouldn't be worth living. I'm 80 now and have you to thank for rekindling those memories.” 


“Mr. Kirby, just read your excellent article on the county budget,” John Caldwell writes in an email about our coverage of Cumberland County commissioners giving the green light to a 2022-23 fiscal budget just under $553 million that keeps the property tax rate at 79.9 centers per $100 valuation. It appropriates $362 million for general fund expenditures, a $22 million increase over 2022. “Was there any dialogue or action taken in regard to the pledged $7.5 million for the N.C Civil War and Reconstruction History Center?” Not to my knowledge, Mr. Caldwell, but commissioners do plan to review their pledge for the center with a newly-proposed name of the N.C. Civil War, Emancipation & Reconstruction History Center. 


“Your article provided invaluable strength and comfort, indeed a kiss from God to say my dad is complete and blissfully happy,” Sharon Hinton Smith writes in an email about our June 19 column about her father, Donald L. Hinton, who died at age 81 on May 18. “Thank you for honoring his memory, his legacy and letting the community know how special he was to all those who knew him.” 


“Thank you so much for the article on my Uncle Don,” Tim Hinton writes in an email about our column on Donald Hinton, the Hinton family patriarch. Donald Hinton was a gem of a man and a wonderful husband to his wife and daughters. I wish, Mr. Hinton, I had known your uncle. 


The 2021 Holly Day Fair raised $278,853.85 for the 55th annual event held at the Crown Expo in November, according to the Holly Day Fair Committee of the sponsoring Junior League of Fayetteville. “The funds raised from the Holly Day Fair support community grant funding, support and initiatives,” a Junior League spokesperson says. “It also supports the training of women volunteers to serve in our community.”   

Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached atbillkirby49@gmail.com or 910-624-1961. 


Column, Bill Kirby Jr., Downtown Visionaries Luncheon, Menno Pennink, Harry Shaw, Cumberland County budget