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Community event planned Easter Sunday

Fair Promise AME Zion Church and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office are partnering for a celebration of Easter on Sunday.

“It’s just an innovative and safe way to bring the community together as we celebrate Easter,” Pastor Joseph Robbins said.

On the Rise: Easter in the Peace & Unity Garden begins at 8:30 a.m. in the community garden, Robbins said.

“I think it will be a great event, to feel the fresh air and get outside,” he said.

The agenda includes an Easter sermon, singing and special treats for the children.

The Sheriff’s Office is sponsoring the meal of fish and grits, according to Sgt. Jynn Bridges.

With the help of donations from the Broadway United Methodist Church, Bridges said, she was able to prepare 180 bags of goodies for the children.

Another 75 bags will be available to fill with water bottles, Frisbees or “whatever they want to do,” Bridges said.

The bags are meant to take the place of a traditional Easter egg hunt, which isn’t possible given the COVID-19 restrictions, she said.

“We’re grateful to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office,” Robbins said.

COVID-19 safety practices will be in effect, he said.

Those attending should bring lawn chairs for seating and social distancing will be practiced.

“And please, please wear a mask,” Robbins said.

Those wanting to remain in vehicles can listen to the service by tuning radios to 90.9 FM. The service will be live-streamed on the church’s Facebook page, Robbins said.

The Peace and Unity Community Garden is in the Hudson Avenue Cul-de-Sac off Washington Avenue.

“This is a way for us to come together,” Robbins said. “Because of the Resurrection, we can rise as a community and be stronger together.”

Temple Theatre hopes to fill more seats soon

As coronavirus restrictions ease, the Temple Theatre hopes to fill more seats for its final show of the 2020-21 season.

The main stage is now open to 100 people after Gov. Roy Cooper eased mass gathering limits in an executive order Friday, said Associate Artistic Director Gavan Pamer. It’s a welcome change from the previous restriction, which limited audiences to 25 people, Pamer said.

“I think people are ready to get out and start coming back to the theater. We hope they’re ready to come back to the theater,” Pamer said. “People have become accustomed to staying at home now. So our big task is getting them to come back out and join society again.”

Theaters must still follow COVID-19 safety guidelines, including seating people 6-feet apart and requiring face masks, but it’s a step toward full reopening. Pamer said he and Producing Artistic Director Peggy Taphorn are hopeful the theater can return to a more traditional season of plays and musicals in the fall.

They’ve begun planning for the 2021-22 season, but “we still don’t know what’s going to happen,” Pamer said. “We’re trying to provide entertainment for our patrons and families, but it’s so difficult to predict an unpredictable future.”

Temple Theater staff had hoped to run a partial season this year, including their annual production of “A Christmas Carol,” but had to backtrack when the coronavirus pandemic worsened. A full season hinges on the social distancing requirement being lifted, Pamer said.

“We’re sort of at max capacity right now,” he said. “With only 330 seats, it’s tough to socially distance people in the theater without having more space.”

One other reason the theater has not been able to put on larger performances are restrictions they’re subject to from unions — the Actors’ Equity Association and Stage Directors and Choreographers Society.

As the state eases restrictions on theaters, rules imposed by professional acting associations are still very strict, Pamer said. The theater simply can’t afford to fulfill requirements like weekly COVID-19 testing for every member of the cast and crew, he added.

Instead, Temple Theatre is closing out its 2020-21 season with the Carolina Country Cabaret, a concert-style country music performance running April 29-May 9. The show follows the theater’s successful Valentine’s Day cabaret last month, which sold out every performance.

Taphorn said she’s hoping for another round of sold-out performances next month. The theater is also running its summer conservatories for children with larger numbers of people.

Patrons who return will find the theater has changed since they’ve been away, Pamer said. Over the past few months, staff have upgraded the physical space with a new sound system, LED lighting system, paint, flooring and curtains.

“We have done so many upgrades and improvements to the facility that it’s a basically brand new theater that they (audiences) are coming to,” he said. “The entire interior of the theater has been painted, including our proscenium arch which looks brand new.”

As the COVID-19 vaccine becomes more widely available, there is a light at the end of the tunnel, Pamer said. Still, business won’t be going back to normal anytime soon. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the theater was building momentum toward expansion, Pamer said.

Now, “we’re looking at a five-year (re)building process to get back to where we left before the pandemic started.”

Visit templeshows.com for tickets to the Carolina Country Cabaret, which can be seen in-person or online.

Litter removal picks up, ushering in statewide sweep

SANFORD — State transportation officials and their partners have ramped up roadside litter removal and all people are encouraged to join the effort during an upcoming clean-up initiative.

N.C. Department of Transportation crews, contract forces, Adopt-A-Highway and Sponsor-A-Highway groups and other volunteers have already collected nearly three million pounds of trash statewide this year.

N.C. Board of Transportation Division 8 Representative Lisa Mathis gained a first-hand perspective of the situation as she joined Division Engineer Brandon Jones and company on Tuesday to pick up trash along U.S. 421 Bypass in Sanford.

“Litter is an issue that affects everyone,” Mathis said. “Our roadsides are our front door to the world and the wildflower program draws visitors from all over. Let’s not trash it up carelessly. It’s important that we all act responsibly and do our part to keep North Carolina looking it’s best. We urge everyone to have some pride and put trash in its proper place. We also encourage people to supplement our efforts by volunteering for a clean-up event.”

NCDOT traditionally schedules two-week periods in April and September to amplify litter clean-up across the state. Residents can visit www.ncdot.gov/littersweep to get more information about next month’s spring Litter Sweep, set for April 10-24, and contact a local county coordinator to get involved.

NCDOT maintenance offices in Division 8 — which consists of Chatham, Hoke, Lee, Montgomery, Moore, Randolph, Richmond and Scotland counties — will provide volunteers with supplies such as trash bags, gloves and safety vests.

“We welcome all the help we can get but just like we tell our own work crews, anyone who heads out to volunteer needs to be mindful of their surroundings alongside roadways,” Jones said. “Cleaning up our roadsides is a commendable undertaking, but safety is most important.”

Another way to get involved is through the Adopt-A-Highway program, an initiative in place since 1988 where groups can adopt a two-mile section of roadway to clean up to four times a year.

New legislation means changes in local development ordinance

The state’s General Assembly has adopted updated planning and development regulations that must be used by cities and counties across the state.

Members of the Lee County commissioners, Sanford and Broadway town councils and planning boards for each of the three jurisdictions learned Tuesday what steps must be taken before July 1.

Charlotte lawyer Mac McCarley, who also serves as an assistant general counsel to the N.C. League of Municipalities went over the steps and how the changes will affect the Unified Development Ordinance that governs development and zoning regulations for the three entities.

The new law is in effect now, McCarley said, but governments have until the end of the fiscal year to adopt the changes. The delay is the result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The legislation, Chapter 160D, brings city and county ordinances that apply to development regulations into a single code and applies statewide, according to McCarley.

There are about 500 changes in the ordinances, he said, but most involve minor revisions or changes in wording, he said.

While there are no major policy changes, some areas of the regulations have been tweaked, McCarley said.

Lee County Commissioner Kirk Smith asked about downzoning, a practice that allows a neighbor who is upset about the use of nearby property to stop the proceedings.

With the changes, only landowners can make downzoning changes, McCarley said.

Another new directive deals with conflicts of interest for staff members. Such conflicts must be made known, he said.

The changes will also allow the use of email for official notifications instead of the certified mail process, McCarley said.

Staff members will also be given authority to make minor revisions without coming before the elected boards, he said.

Notes between McCarley and board attorneys appear in the margins to help readers understand the thought process in making a particular change, he said.

2 charged with killing Raekwon Quick
  • Updated

Two men have been charged in the murder of Raekwon Devante Quick, according to a Lee County Sheriff’s Office release.

Quintavius Kentrell Lee, 19, and Daquan Antonio McCutchen, 26, both of 227 McIver St., Sanford, were arrested Wednesday afternoon, the release said.

Quick, 25, of 658 Love Church Road, Sanford, was driving on Broadway Road near Cozy Hollow Drive on the night of March 18 when he was shot multiple times by a passenger in his car, the release said.

A passing motorist spotted Quick’s vehicle in a ditch the next day. Quick’s body was found outside his vehicle, the release said.

Lee and McCutchen are being held without bail in the Lee County Jail.