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THE KIRBY FILE: Retired community college president honored by Greater Fayetteville Chamber


Retired Fayetteville Technical Community College President Larry Keen was presented with the Realtor’s Cup honor Tuesday night as the 125th Anniversary Greater Chamber Awards was held at The Carolina Barn in Spring Lake. “I was certainly honored to receive it,” said Keen, 77, who was president of FTCC from 2007 to 2023. “I didn’t have a clue it was coming. I thought I was there for FTCC receiving an award. George Breece showed me a list of people who have received it. They are giants. I am grateful and to be among them is such an honor. It’s one of the highest awards of my lifetime.”

Keen is the 56th recipient of the honor, which dates to 1962. Past honorees include Ralph Huff, Mary Lynn McCree Bryan, Dr. Menno Pennink, Ralph Huff,  Gen.  James J. Lindsay, Olga “Bo” Thorp, J.P. Riddle, Ramon Yarborough, John Hensdale and former N.C. Sen. Tony Rand. The Realtors Cup is absolutely the most prestigious local award that is given to an individual for their outstanding contributions to the civic, economic  or cultural growth of our community,” said Nat Robertson, president and chief executive officer for the chamber. “We are so honored to present Dr. Larry Keen with this award with our partnership with Longleaf Pine Realtors. Dr. Keen has left a huge footprint in our community with his service and vision during his tenure at FTCC.”

Others honored,  according to the chamber, were Fayetteville Public Works with the Excellence in Innovation award; Ella Wrenn of the Cape Fear Regional Theatre with the Young Professional of the Year award; Marvin Connelly, the Cumberland County Schools superintendent, with the Outstanding Educator of the Year award; Mercedes of Fayetteville with the Business of the Year award; Bubba’s 33 Restaurant with the Small Business of the Year award; the Cumberland Community Foundation with the Nonprofit of the Year award; Johnny Wilson and Fayetteville Urban Ministry with the Public Service award; Miller’s Brew with the Business Beautification award; Up and Coming Weekly with the Best in Communication award; Greg Dudak of Mercedes of Fayetteville with the Military Affairs Council award; Henry Tyson of Tyson Commercial Real Estate with the Government Relations Committee award; Jordan Blake of 5 West Media Group with the Chamber Ambassador of the Year award; and Joseph “Bear” Dewberry with the Chairman’s Service award. Honored with the Chamber’s George Breece Legacy Award was Judy Dawkins, John “Mac” Healy and Tony and Joanne Chavonne. (Tony Chavonne is the publisher of CityView Media.)

“This year's annual awards ceremony truly showcased the incredible talent and dedication within our business community," Robertson, said in a news release about the awards evening that drew a sellout audience of 305 people. “We are proud to honor these exceptional individuals and organizations that contribute to the success and vitality of ‘Greater Fayetteville.’ Their accomplishments inspire us all and serve as a testament to the resilience and innovation that define our community. ”


“I share this honor with them,” Marvin Connelly Jr. said about  Cumberland County Schools’ 3,490 teachers after receiving the Greater Fayetteville Chamber award as “Outstanding Educator of the Year. “Their commitment to our students' success is the real driving force behind this recognition.” No question there. Skilled classroom teachers are at the core of every successful student. 


Lisette Rodriguez is among community activists continually calling for the city to hire a director for the City Council-approved Office of Community Safety.

“More than 120 applicants were reviewed for the role and an offer was extended to a highly qualified candidate, who ultimately declined the position for personal reasons,” said Loren Bymer, director of Marketing and Communications for the city, who apparently responded to an inquiry sent by email Wednesday to City Manager Douglas Hewett. “We are preparing to relaunch the search with the support of a well-respected recruitment firm.”

Bymer says that Dr. Gerard Tate from the North Carolina Office of Violence Prevention, per executive order of Gov. Roy Cooper, will be at Monday’s City Council work session to assist the council in developing strategic priorities, initiatives and expectations of the OCS and its director and to provide training and technical assistance to the city in addressing violence prevention, gun violence and community safety plans. The council, Bymer said, has approved $250,000 for the OCS, with the director to be paid between $120,000 to $140,000 annually. 


When the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners gets around to considering the county school board’s recommendation of Stryker Golf Course on Fort Liberty as a potential site to relocate E.E. Smith High School, you can be sure those Golden Bulls alumni will be watching with keen interest just where Glenn Adams stands on the golf course location. “The Commissioners are still evaluating and reviewing the proposal,” said Andrea Tebbe, clerk of the board. Adams is chairman of the county commissioners board and a 1977 graduate of E.E. Smith.  


“Adding artificial intelligence capability to our already upgraded camera system will help school staff maintain a safe and orderly environment," Kevin Coleman, associate superintendent of Cumberland County Schools’ Auxiliary Services, said in a news release about the school system receiving a $103,400 safety grant from the N.C. Dept. of Public Instruction’s Center for Safer Schools. “AI will allow us to take advantage of technologies that utilize facial recognition, people detection and vehicle detection. Providing school administrators with these tools will help them utilize new technologies to help protect our students and staff.” 


Community residents still are wondering when the city parking garage adjacent to Segra Stadium on Hay Street will have an elevator. Loren Bymer, the city spokesman, told me a Request For Quote for design and construction was issued by the city on Monday, with a deadline of Feb. 29. That’s interesting. City Manager Douglas Hewett told me in March 2022 that an elevator was on order and would be installed sometime in 2022. And Bymer said in May of 2023 that an elevator shaft had been purchased, was in storage and the city was awaiting an installation cost.  


Oysters galore was the scene on Jan. 27 at the Massey Hill Lions Club on Camden Road. “With members, volunteers and assistance from the young men that came from the Lions Cottage at the Boys and Girls Home at Lake Waccamaw, we had about 600 people in attendance,” said Michael McCaskill about the 51st Annual “Shucking For Sight” event, with many longtime supporters participating to include Robert Breece, Corey Breece, Mel Melton, Greg Melton, Grace McGrath, Billy Johnson, David Fonke, Al Wheatley, N.C. Rep. Diane Wheatley (R-Dist. 43), Randy Barber, Terry Barber and David Barber.

“Approximately 575 paid customers came through the door,” McCaskill said, and consuming “approximately 175 bushels of oysters yielding over 2,000 pounds of oyster ‘meat.’” And hush puppies by the numbers.  


So, Taylor Swift is practicing witchcraft, we keep following the news, the LVIII Super Bowl scheduled for Feb. 11 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs is rigged in favor of the Chiefs. That includes Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, who is the 34-year-old Swift’s boyfriend. Oh, please. Taylor Swift is a singer. And the Super Bowl is not rigged.  


Sad to learn about the passing of Bryant Holmes, a devoted member of Westminster Presbyterian Church and one of the last old-timers who worked at the Fayetteville Observer back in platemaking. “ He was a second father to me,” said Lynn Haithcock, a church member. “He was the oldest member of our church. He is missed.”

A Celebration of Life is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Feb. 24 at Westminster Presbyterian Church, with visitation at noon. Bryant Holmes died at age 93 on Jan. 23.  


Lucy Jones always is there when it comes to improving the quality of life in this community, and she’s chairing the United Way of Cumberland County committee with plans to raise funds from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 13 by sending “Over the Edge” volunteer rappelers down the Cape Fear Valley Health Medical Arts building in downtown Fayetteville.

“United Way traditionally raises funds through employee workplace campaigns but with workplaces changing post COVID, we were looking at new ways to raise funds and re-introduce United Way to our community,” said Carolyn Justice-Hinson, a United Way board member and Communications & Community Relations officer for the Fayetteville Public Works Commission. “We had a great response last year and made about $40,000.”

This year’s goal is $100,000. “This past Friday, my boss, Tim Bryant, took our employees’ challenge to do Over the Edge/Toss the Boss,” Justice-Hinson says about the PWC chief executive officer and general manager. “Instead of the $2,500 goal, he challenged our employees to raise $5,000 to send him over the edge. We hope that leaders around the community follow his lead for this great cause.” 

You can register to raise a minimum of $1,000, according to the United Way website, or as a team to raise a minimum of $2,500. Visit the United Way website at www.unitedway-cc.org, send an email to  unitedwaycc303@gmail.com or call (910) for 483-1179 for more information. “Don’t you want to challenge Tony,” Justice-Hinson wanted to know about our CityView publisher Tony Chavonne. I’ll leave that little nugget of a request, Mrs. Justice-Hinson, to others at our CityView offices.   

Next: Remembering Tryon Lancaster. 
Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at billkirby49@gmail.com or 910-624-1961.

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