William R. Toler

William R. Toler

“To Kill a Mockingbird.” “1984.” “Catcher in the Rye.” “Brave New World.” “The Lord of the Rings.”

What do all these books have in common?

Aside from being classic works of literature, they each have been challenged or banned for themes that some people find offensive in some way, according to the American Library Association.

Libraries in Richmond County and across America are celebrating Banned Books Week by prominently displaying copies of controversial titles.

“Every year, a list comes out of the top banned or challenged books,” said Shannon Hearne, supervisor of Leath Memorial Library in Rockingham. “And they might not necessarily be banned in locations but they’re all challenged … and it’s all for various reasons.”

Those reasons, according to the ALA, include: violence; being un-American; perpetuating sterotypes or racisim; having lesbian, bisexual, gay or transgender themes; foul language;  and occult references.

Promoting Banned Books Week, Hearne added, is to raise awareness about censorship and freedom of speech.

ROCKINGHAM — A clothing manufacturer has its eye on Richmond County and a survey could help it decide to locate here.

Economic Developer Martie Butler is asking residents, and those of surrounding counties, to take a few minutes to fill out the online survey “to assist recruiting this company to Richmond County.”

According to the survey, the company would bring hundreds of full-time jobs and offer benefits including paid time off, a company-supported retirement plan and up to 50 percent on individual and family health insurance plans.

The majority of the jobs would be be “cut and sew” assembly positions and pay $10.50 an hour with opportunities for overtime and bonus pay, according to the survey. The company would also train applicants with no experience in the textile industry.

ROCKINGHAM — Call it a wall-breaking ceremony.

Instead of golden shovels, local dignitaries and representatives from several foundations wielded golden hammers to strike the wall of a former men’s clothing store that will soon be the site of Richmond Community College’s downtown campus in Rockingham.

“What a great day for Richmond County, Rockingham and Richmond Community College,” RCC President Dr. Dale McInnis said at the start of Monday’s ceremony.

McInnis lauded how the campus was “a different kind of project,” with the way it was funded and because the city actually took the lead.

“It takes a team to make anything happen and we’ve got a great team here,” he said.

Rockingham Mayor Steve Morris said the idea for the downtown campus came about five years ago when Brian Collier, executive vice president of the Foundation for the Carolinas, took local leaders on a bus tour to Hartsville, South Carolina, and they saw how Coker College had impacted that town.

In 2015, McInnis said he was approached by Morris and Mayor Pro Tem John Hutchinson about building a satellite campus in the downtown area.

CORDOVA — Although separated by 800 miles, two groups of firefighters formed a camaraderie in the midst of Hurricane Florence.

A FEMA-credentialed swiftwater task force comprised of firefighters from several departments in New Hampshire made the drive to Richmond County last week to work with Cordova Fire and Rescue.

“People have come up to help us in the past, so we’re just returning the favor,” said Patrick Laforge of the Goffstown Fire Department said Monday while waiting to try Eastern North Carolina-style barbecue at the East Rockingham Fire Department.

Joining Laforge from Goffstown was Chris Couturier as well as: Keith Folsom, Jon Strong and Capt. Ben Selleck from the Bedford Fire Department; Jeff Chickering, Dustin Holmes and Brad Keay from the Keene Fire Department; Tom Defina and Mike Meehan from the Manchester Fire Department; Cal Weichert and Darren Schriever from the Amherst Fire Department; and Garrett Meador and Chad McCarthy from the Conway and North Conway Fire Departments, respectively.

Although they weren’t needed much in Richmond County, last Sunday night they rescued more than 30 people from homes and cars in Laurinburg as the parts of the city began to flood.

HAMLET— While Richmond County was spared the type of destruction experienced by other counties in North Carolina from Hurricane Florence, some first responders are doing what they can to help others.

At noon Thursday, the Hamlet Police Department began filling its enclosed traffic trailer with donated supplies. Although officers haven’t yet determined where the supplies will be going, Capt. Randy Dover said residents in Robeson County will more than likely be the recipients … again.

“We did it for Hurricane Matthew and the community really turned out for that,” Dover said, adding that the trailer “was pretty full” in 2016.

Scotland County, which is also dealing with flooding, is a possibility, but Dover said Robeson County is “the main concern.”

Dover was born and raised in Scotland County and said he’s “never seen flooding like this.”

HAMLET— Two men are facing theft charges following a chase with police late Wednesday night.

Sgt. Robert Carlisle was patrolling the area around Rollins Avenue when he saw a Nissan Altima on the side of the road, according to a police report. When he got closer, the car pulled out and turned right onto N.C. 177— with the left rear door still open.

The report notes that Carlisle could see something lodged in the door, but couldn’t tell what it was. 

He caught up with the Altima near Oak Street and turned on his lights to make a traffic stop. Instead of pulling over, the driver allegedly accelerated to between 75 and 80 mph.

Thursday, 20 September 2018 22:23

NWS: Florence Remnant Could Return to Carolinas

ROCKINGHAM— Florence may not be finished with the Carolinas just yet.

A remnant of the once-Category 4 hurricane that devastated parts of North and South Carolina over the weekend could be headed this way.

According to the National Weather Service, a low pressure system left over from Florence has looped back around and currently has gale-force winds. As of 8:07 p.m. Thursday, the system was 100 miles northeast of Bermuda heading southwest at 15 mph.

While the probability is only 20 percent, meteorologists say the low could develop tropical characteristics over the next five days.

ROCKINGHAM ― Mayor Steve Morris had a bit of paperwork to sign following a special meeting Thursday evening after the City Council approved a resolution to accept the conditions set forth by the USDA on a permanent financing loan for the Richmond Community College downtown campus.

The vote was unanimous with Councilman John Hutchinson giving his “aye” over the phone.

Larry Sampson, a loan specialist with the USDA, rapidly went over the conditions for the $6.75 million loan which the city will have to pay back over a 25-year period at 3.875 percent interest. Sampson said if interest rates decrease during the span of the loan, then the rate will also. However, the loan rate is locked at 3.875 percent and will not go any higher.

ROCKINGHAM — There are currently nine roads closed in Richmond County in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

Some of the roads could be open as early as this week, while others may take a month or two to repair.

Derby Road is closed due to flooding between McBride Road and Sycamore Lane north of Hoffman. DOT officials expect it to be open again by Sept. 27.

As I watched WCTI news anchor Valentina Wilson give a tour of the station live on Facebook on Wednesday, I felt a few bits of moisture start to well up on the inside corners of my eyes.

The storm-driven adrenaline had worn off.

No longer could I see the devastation wrought in my hometown by Hurricane Florence with nerves of steel.

I spent six and a half years of my professional career at that station before coming to Richmond County. Most of that time was as a video editor, but I also ran the sound board, rolled video, operated the teleprompter and cameras in the studio, newsroom and out in the field.

During my time there, we went through several hurricanes. The most memorable one was Irene in 2011, when I was stuck at work for three days during wall-to-wall coverage helping, in my many capacities, to give updates on the storm.

When I finally got to go home, the power was still out and I had to go to someone else’s house to take a shower.

It’s one thing to see storm damage in a place you’ve never been.

It’s quite another to see familiar places partially destroyed or under several feet of water.

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