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City Council hears request to fund sports hall of fame

The chairman of the E.E. Smith High School Alumni Sports Hall of Fame committee asks the City Council to help with the proposed project.

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Editor’s note: This story has been updated to clarify that the chairman of the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners provided contact information to the E.E. Smith High School Alumni Sports Hall of Fame committee. The county has not provided any funding for the project.

The Fayetteville City Council on Monday night was asked to financially support a proposed E.E. Smith High School Alumni Sports Hall of Fame that initially would be online.

LaVar Wright made the request during the council’s regular monthly meeting at City Hall. No action was taken.

“Anything you can help raise would be helpful,” Wright said.

Mayor Mitch Colvin and council members Shakeyla Ingram and D.J. Haire were absent from the meeting.

Wright is chairman of the E.E. Smith High School Alumni Sports Hall of Fame committee. He made a similar request to the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners earlier this month.

“I told the county commissioners that I needed their support. I’m kind of telling you guys I need your help,” Wright said. 

Wright said Commissioner Glenn Adams provided contact information for potential donors. Adams is chairman of the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners, which has not provided money to the project at this point.

Wright asked the council to consider providing $10,000 for the project.

“It’s not like the impact of the school has not been felt,” Wright said. “Doing the hall of fame is only natural. … Out of all the schools in North Carolina, E.E. Smith has been the only school to deliver the most NFL players to the league.”

 There are six coaches and 15 players among its proposed first class of inductees. Coaches include D.T. Carter, Bill Carver, Ike Walker Sr. and Dee Hardy. The players include Charles Baggett, Aaron Curry, Joe Harris, Nick Jeralds, Jimmy Raye and Doug Wilkerson.

In an interview later, Wright said the only piece missing from the project is the memorial and how it will be set up and displayed.

“Those details have not been decided because the school’s future has not been decided,” Wright said. “It starts out of plaques and grows out of a digital kiosk. Initially, we’ll do the plaques. The downside is we want to do bigger stuff for the inductees.”

The principal at E.E. Smith has said the school’s technology and curriculum have outgrown the building, which has been in the area since 1953. Alumni and advocates have asked for the Cumberland County Schools to improve the school. The school system’s capital improvements plan includes a $90 million replacement of the school.

Wright said that while they could fill a brick-and-mortar hall, he didn’t think they were quite there. He also said that while a sports hall of fame, it also will feature educators, soldiers and five-star generals who walked the halls of E.E. Smith.

“This is a sports hall of fame,” he said, “but it’s a hall of fame and will have branches as it grows.”

Wright said organizers have raised more than $40,000 for the project. A fundraiser for the proposed project is scheduled for May 29 at the Ramada by Wyndham on Owen Drive. Proceeds will help fund plaques, certificates and an annual hall of fame banquet, according to publicity materials for the event.

Wright did not have an estimated cost for the hall of fame.

“We have not gone that far,’’ he said. “We have not even gotten to the bones of that. So many moving parts to that thing.”

He said the committee would like to have the hall of fame operational in the 2022-23 school year.

Publicity materials for the proposed hall say its mission “is to recognize and honor the noteworthy achievements and contributions of student athletes, teams, coaches, school staff and volunteers who donated extraordinary amounts of time and talent to the athletic program at E.E. Smith …”

In other business, the council approved a special-use permit for the expansion of a veterinary clinic to allow dog kennels in a limited commercial zoning district at 2921 Ramsey St.

“We will be receiving a beautifully aesthetically-pleasing structure in that part of town,” Councilman Antonio Jones said.

As part of the consent agenda, the council also voted to adopt a resolution accepting $10.5 million in American Rescue Plan funding from the N.C. Division of Water Infrastructure to help with stormwater drainage improvements.

Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at mfutch@cityviewnc.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.

Fayetteville, City Council, hall of fame, E.E. Smith High School

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