As new manufacturing companies come to Lee County, dozens of new jobs are becoming available every month, many of them in construction and production.
Central Carolina Community College has a pivotal role in preparing people for those jobs, according to Felicia Crittenden, director of Continuing Education and associate dean of Workforce Development & Continuing Education.
Over the past year, the college has seen a sharp increase in demand for construction workers, Crittenden said. Much of that is due to the construction of new manufacturing facilities and shell buildings in Central Carolina Enterprise Park, as well as other new commercial projects around the area.
“We have seen a huge increase, particularly in Lee and Chatham counties, with interest in construction (continuing education),” Crittenden said. “Some of the other things we’re seeing is (interest in) vehicle escort training. Anytime a heavy vehicle is moving, it has to have an escort. Outside of that, just general building and construction.”
The college’s YouthBuild program in Lee County has grown since its inception several years ago, Crittenden said. The program targets people ages 16-24 who have not completed school. YouthBuild students earn their high school diploma or GED along with certifications in a particular trade.
“It is a great way to get young people involved early and expose them to the various construction occupations,” Crittenden said. “Some of the other areas we’re seeing an increase in, in construction, is HVAC and electrical wiring. So we’re seeing the entire gamut, not just the nails and hammers, we’re seeing the entire process (growing).”
The college also recently launched the Central Carolina Manufacturing Institute, an eight-week program to prepare students for some of the new manufacturing jobs coming to Lee County from companies like Bharat Forge and Pentair.
The institute teaches students about general safety, quality assurance and manufacturing processes, Crittenden said. Graduates will earn credentials and become eligible for some manufacturing jobs in the area.
“The manufacturing institute was actually born out of employers reaching out to us,” she said. “They told us what skills they needed. They told us what issues and concerns that they had. Because we had so many employers involved, they sort of agreed on a baseline that each and every one of them could use in their respective industries.”
In addition to the technical skills, all of the employers agreed they wanted to have applicants with skills like communication, Crittenden said.
“What we’re trying to do moving forward is tailor our programs and curriculums to ensure that they’re fitting the needs of local employers,” she said. “The manufacturing institute was kind of the first drop in the bucket, but I can foresee us doing the same thing with construction-related industries.”
An annual event that raises funds for a local organization to donate supplies and provide scholarships to schools and give books to children born in Sanford has been canceled for the second year in a row due to COVID-19, and organizers hope they can raise the funds to help complete the task.
Members of the Delta Rho chapter of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International have been helping the community since 1996 and have held the annual March “Beginning Life with Books” spelling bee for more than two decades. The project is the group’s major fundraiser, according to Linda Truitt, the spelling bee registrar.
“We raise money to purchase a book to give to each newborn baby at Central Carolina Hospital,” Truitt said. “We also fund eight $200 grants to Lee County teachers. We give baskets of supplies to first-year teachers and we give them a copy of our literacy grant.”
Delta Kappa Gamma members also adopt new teachers and send them cards of encouragement and gift cards that can help purchase supplies they need or take care of themselves.
“I sent gift cards to local restaurants to my teachers,” Karen Huey, a Delta Kappa Gamma member said.
“We get them something little — everybody has their own thing,” Truitt said. “Seasonal papers, pencils, Valentine’s Day items, Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day items. Each member donates.”
The group also offers a $1,000 scholarship/grant to a Lee County senior planning to attend college in education.
“Since 2008, we’ve given 13 grants,” Truitt said. “Our big fundraising project is our Beginning Life with Books spelling bee and it’s truly a fun evening. It was always held the fourth Monday in March. This year would have been the 22nd. We were hoping we could have it this year — hopefully we can have it next year.”
Truitt said as many as 25 teams enter each year and their entry fees, along with other part of the evening, go to help the group fund its projects.
The book, “Goodnight Moon,” is presented in English or Spanish along with pamphlets encouraging parents to prepare their children to read.
“We worked with the hospital to purchase 800 books this year,” Truitt said. “We’ve already given out about 400 of them. We’ve raised more than $110,000 since the spelling bee began. We’ve had 58 teams participate since the beginning.”
The teams are made up of local clubs, businesses, churches, organizations and even groups of neighbors.
“It’s such a fun event,” Huey said. “It’s a good event. We have about 200 spectators too. It’s held at the Civic Center each year.”
With the event not going on this year, organizers hope to appeal to the public to donate to help keep the programs alive.
“We’re asking for the people who have received books to pay it forward,” Truitt said.
Truitt added that 10 different local teams have won the spelling bee in the past including Pfizer, which has won several times, and Trinity Lutheran, which has won five consecutive times.
“We would love to see people donate what ever they would like,” Truitt concluded.
To mail a check, send it to:
Terry Norris (Treasurer)
604 Tidewater Dr.
Sanford, NC 27330
For more information, email Truitt at email@example.com
Great strides have been made in the past few months in vaccinating our communities to protect against COVID-19, but there is still a lot of work to do. There are many people who need and want to be vaccinated.
As of Friday, the Lee County Health Department has administered over 20,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine — this includes individuals that live in Lee County and surrounding communities.
According to the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 Dashboard (covid19.ncdhhs.gov/dashboard), just
under 13,000 Lee County residents
are at least partially vaccinated
against the virus.
The county has worked hard to ensure the fair and equitable access and distribution of COVID-19 vaccine in our community. Recent data from NCDHHS indicates that while we still have some work to do, we are making strides in vaccinating historically marginalized and minority populations.
Per the dashboard, when looking at ethnicity, Lee County’s population is 80.4% non-Hispanic and 19.6% Hispanic. County vaccinations have been 87.6% non-Hispanic, 10.6% Hispanic, and 1.8% undisclosed.
When considering race, the county’s population is 75.9% white, 20.9% African American, 1.7% Asian and 1.5% American Indian. Of those vaccinated in the county, 74.9% are white, 15.9% African American, 0.9% Asian, 0.4% American Indian, and 7.9% other or undisclosed.
A fully vaccinated community remains the best defense against COVID-19 and the best path toward a return to normalcy. But even with the great strides made in vaccinations, we are not out of danger yet.
As the number of those partially and fully vaccinated grows, we must ask — what does it mean to be fully vaccinated?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, people are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the second dose of a two-dose vaccine, like Pfizer or Moderna, or two weeks after a receiving a single-dose vaccine like Johnson & Johnson.
While evidence shows the vaccines are effective in helping to prevent people from getting sick, we are still learning how vaccines affect the spread of the virus — i.e. can a vaccinated individual spread the virus to others? Since we are still learning about the full effects of the vaccine on the virus spread and due to the fact that the majority of our residents have not yet received their vaccines, people should remain vigilant and continue practices to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
To learn more about the most up-to-date CDC recommendations for those individuals fully vaccinated, please visit cdc.gov/coronavirus.
The public, vaccinated or not, are reminded to continue practicing the 3 W’s when in public to help slow the spread of the virus.
Please continue to wear a face mask to cover the mouth and nose, wait your turn and maintain distance, and wash hands thoroughly and frequently.
And remember, even if you are fully vaccinated, you must follow the guidance and rules regarding COVID-19 precautions set by businesses frequented and at your workplace.
The Lee County Health Department continues to register individuals for the COVID-19 vaccine in Groups 1, 2, 3 and 4 of the NCDHHS vaccine rollout plan — covid19.ncdhhs.gov/vaccines.
The Lee County COVID-19 Vaccine Registration Call Center may be reached at (919) 842-5744 and is open Monday through Friday from 8 AM until 4:30 PM. To register in Spanish, please call (919) 718-4640 option 8. An on-line pre-registration form is also available at leecountync.gov/covid19.
A body was found next to a vehicle in Broadway on Friday afternoon, according to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.
Someone called the sheriff’s office and reported a vehicle in a ditch in the 2800 block of Broadway Road and someone lying next to it, a news release said.
The time of the call was not given.
The person, identified as Raekwon Devante Quick, 25, was dead at the scene, the release said.
The body was sent to the medical examiner’s office to determine a cause of death, the release said.
Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 919-775-5531.
The starting pay for Sanford police officers is being boosted in an effort to hire the best candidates possible, City Manager Hal Hegwer said Friday.
“If we’re going to recruit and retain (officers), we have to be willing to make the change. Our citizens deserve the best officers we can have,” Hegwer said.
The Sanford City Council on Tuesday approved the move that will increase the annual starting salary from $40,000 to $47,000.
The adjustment was discussed during council’s retreat in February, Hegwer said.
The move is needed because of a smaller pool of applicants locally and nationwide than in the past, according to Hegwer.
“We’ve looked at how we can become more competitive, he said. “We’re trying to hire the most educated and professionally trained candidates.”
After looking at entry-level salaries at area police departments, Hegwer sought to have Sanford’s beginning pay hiked.
“In order to compete and hire the best, we have to pay more,” Hegwer said.
A study of beginning pay at 10 area police departments found that Durham, at $38,750, was the only municipality paying less.
The Apex Police Department topped the list, paying beginning officers $50,822, according to Hegwer.
The list also included Cary, Holly Springs, Garner, Knightdale, Fuquay-Varina, Pittsboro, Raleigh and Chapel Hill.
“We’ve been much lower than a lot of these cities for years,” Hegwer said.
The Sanford department has 86 sworn officers, he said, and it’s becoming harder to find qualified candidates.
“Officers today have a tremendously interesting set skill,” Hegwer said.
The job requires extensive training and education, he said.
“It’s a tough profession to be in and it requires a set skill that’s unique.”
A Sanford man was arrested Wednesday on sexual assault charges from an incident that occurred in 2020, according to the Sanford Police Department.
Leonard Stephan Stanley, 25, of 2747 Mallard Cove Road, is charged with second-degree forcible rape and second-degree forcible sex offense, according to Detective Capt. Bradley D. Upchurch.
Stanley was arrested after he was indicted by the Lee County grand jury, Upchurch said.
The alleged incident happened April 6, 2020, Upchurch said. The victim was known to Stanley, but Upchurch declined to give the nature of the relationship.
Stanley was arrested in Moore County, where his mother lives, and booked into the Moore County Detention Center.
Bail was set at $500,000.