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‘Y’all are doing a lot of amazing stuff’: Cumberland County praised at county association meeting


Cumberland County commissioners touched on the county’s biggest achievements and concerns — highlighting in particular ongoing issues such as opioid abuse and water contamination by “forever chemicals” — during a gathering of a three-county coalition at Fayetteville Technical Community College on Tuesday. 

The annual meeting convenes members of District 6 of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners, officials said. District Six comprises Cumberland, Harnett and Sampson counties, though representatives from Harnett and Sampson counties were not present Tuesday. Cumberland County Board of Commissioners Chairman Glenn Adams serves as chairperson of the district organization. The entire board, except for Commissioners Jeannette Council and Michael Boose, was present at Tuesday's meeting.

At least 20 attendees, including Sen. Val Applewhite (D-Dist. 19) and Rep. Frances Vinell Jackson (D-Dist. 45), sipped on lavender lemonade and enjoyed a four-course meal prepared by FTCC culinary students as they discussed some of the biggest projects the county has taken on and hopes to undertake.

Adams and fellow Cumberland County Commissioners Veronica Jones, Marshall Faircloth and Jimmy Keefe named the following issues as priorities for the county:

    • Opioid abuse. According to the N.C. Dept. of Health and Human Services, Cumberland County had 50.1 overdose deaths per 100,000 residents in 2022, higher than the statewide rate of 38.5 deaths per 100,000 residents. Keefe said he was especially troubled by the lack of opioid education in schools, noting that it “has been a battle” to try to implement such programming.
    • Broadband expansion. “We are urban, but we’re also rural,” Adams said, adding that the county began to notice issues with internet access during the Covid-19 pandemic, when school buses had to travel to neighborhoods to provide internet hotspots for children. 
    • Retention and recruitment of county employees. Adams said Cumberland County often loses staffers to New Hanover, Durham and Wake counties because they can provide higher salaries and more benefits.
    • PFAS contamination in the water supply. 
  • Lack of affordable childcare.
  • Lack of affordable healthcare. “All of us do not have enough doctors to go around,” Adams said, noting that he hoped the new Methodist University medical school in collaboration with Cape Fear Valley Health will mitigate the problem.
  • Time limits in place for American Rescue Plan Act funds. The county has until Dec. 31 to use its funds, but Adams said that has been difficult for projects like the Crown Event Center given supply chain issues and the high cost of and demand for construction workers in the wake of the pandemic.

When asked to highlight the county’s recent achievements, commissioners emphasized the following:

  • The homeless support center, which broke ground at 344 Hawley Lane in Fayetteville last week. “It’s one thing to have a shelter, but a shelter does nothing for your homeless population,” Adams said, explaining that the new center would provide people experiencing homelessness with resources in addition to temporary shelter.
  • The fire and rescue training center that opened in September 2022 in collaboration with FTCC.
  • The opening of a 24/7 childcare facility for county employees, which Adams said was partially motivated by the results of last year’s compensation study.
  • New restrictions on vape and hemp shops that passed in January, preventing such shops from opening within 1,000 feet of existing stores or places like schools, parks and rehabilitation centers. Adams said the county was inspired to pursue the restrictions after learning about a similar Wake County ordinance at a North Carolina Association of County Commissioners meeting.
  • The Methodist University medical school that will open in July 2026 in partnership with Cape Fear Valley Health.
  • The county’s Uber program, which started in 2022 and provides free Uber rides for services at the health department.

Kevin Leonard, executive director of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners, praised Cumberland County for its efforts.

“Y’all are doing a lot of amazing stuff,” he said. 

Reporter Lexi Solomon can be reached at lsolomon@cityviewnc.com or 910-423-6500.

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Cumberland County, Cumberland County Board of Commissioners, Fayetteville Technical Community College