MIAMI — Florida residents picked the shelves clean of bottled water and lined up at gas stations Thursday as an increasingly menacing-looking Hurricane Dorian threatened to broadside the state over Labor Day weekend.

Leaving lighter-than-expected damage in its wake in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, the second hurricane of the 2019 season swirled toward the U.S., with forecasters warning it will draw energy from the warm, open waters as it closes in.

It’s too early to tell what effects, if any, the storm will have on Southeastern North Carolina, said Doug Hoehler, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Wilmington. All track projections have Dorian heading for the central or southern sections of Florida.

Robeson County and the rest of Southeastern North Carolina are on the outside edge of all the projected tracks, he said. A clearer picture of where the storm will go and if Southeastern North Carolina will be affected will develop in a couple of days.

The National Hurricane Center said the Category 1 storm is expected to strengthen into a potentially catastrophic Category 4 with winds of 130 mph and slam into the U.S. on Monday somewhere between the Florida Keys and southern Georgia — a 500-mile stretch that reflected the high degree of uncertainty this far out.

“If it makes landfall as a Category 3 or 4 hurricane, that’s a big deal,” said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy. “A lot of people are going to be affected. A lot of insurance claims.”

President Donald Trump canceled his weekend trip to Poland and declared Florida is “going to be totally ready.”

Along Florida’s east coast, local governments began distributing sandbags, shoppers rushed to stock up on food, plywood and other emergency supplies at supermarkets and hardware stores, and motorists topped off their tanks and filled gasoline cans. Some fuel shortages were reported in the Cape Canaveral area.

Josefine Larrauri, a retired translator, went to a Publix supermarket in Miami only to find empty shelves in the water section and store employees unsure of when more cases would arrive.

“I feel helpless because the whole coast is threatened,” she said. “What’s the use of going all the way to Georgia if it can land there?”

Tiffany Miranda of Miami Springs waited well over 30 minutes in line at BJ’s Wholesale Club in Hialeah to buy hurricane supplies. Some 50 vehicles were bumper-to-bumper, waiting to fill up at the store’s 12 gas pumps.

“You never know with these hurricanes. It could be good, it could be bad. You just have to be prepared,” she said.

As of Thursday evening, Dorian was centered about 330 miles east of the Bahamas, its winds blowing at 85 mph as it moved northwest at 13 mph.

It is expected to pick up steam as it pushes out into warm waters with favorable winds, the University of Miami’s McNoldy said, adding: “Starting tomorrow, it really has no obstacles left in its way.”

The National Hurricane Center’s projected track had the storm blowing ashore midway along the Florida peninsula, southeast of Orlando and well north of Miami or Fort Lauderdale. But because of the difficulty of predicting its course this far ahead, the “cone of uncertainty” covered nearly the entire state.

Forecasters said coastal areas of the Southeast could get 5 to 10 inches of rain, with 15 inches in some places, triggering life-threatening flash floods.

Also imperiled were the Bahamas, with Dorian’s expected track running just to the north of Great Abaco and Grand Bahama islands.

Jeff Byard, an associate administrator at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, warned that Dorian is likely to “create a lot of havoc with infrastructure, power and roads,” but gave assurances FEMA is prepared to handle it, even though the Trump administration is shifting hundreds of millions of dollars from FEMA and other agencies to deal with immigration at the Mexican border.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency, clearing the way to bring in more fuel and call out the National Guard if necessary, and Georgia’s governor followed suit.

Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian began rerouting their cruise ships. Major airlines began allowing travelers to change their reservations without a fee.

At the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, NASA decided to move indoors the mobile launch platform for its new mega rocket under development.

The hurricane season typically peaks between mid-August and late October. One of the most powerful storms ever to hit the U.S. was on Labor Day 1935. The unnamed Category 5 hurricane crashed ashore along Florida’s Gulf Coast on Sept. 2. It was blamed for over 400 deaths.

The initial blow did not appear to be as bad as expected in Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria two years ago. Blue tarps cover some 30,000 homes, and the electrical grid is in fragile condition.

But the tail end of the storm unleashed heavy flooding along the eastern and southern coasts of Puerto Rico. Cars, homes and gravestones in the coastal town of Humacao became halfway submerged after a river burst its banks.

Police said an 80-year-old man in the town of Bayamón died after he fell trying to climb to his roof to clear it of debris ahead of the storm.

Dorian caused an island-wide blackout in St. Thomas and St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands and scattered outages in St. Croix, government spokesman Richard Motta said.

No serious damage was reported in the British Virgin Islands, where Gov. Augustus Jaspert said crews were already clearing roads and inspecting infrastructure by late Wednesday afternoon.

Back in Florida, Mark and Gisa Emeterio enjoyed a peaceful afternoon sunbathing and wading in the ocean at Vero Beach. The newly retired couple from Sacramento, California, wanted to relax after spending the morning shuttering their home.

Mark, a retired pipe layer, and Gina, a retired state employee, planned to wait it out the storm with local friends more experienced with hurricanes.

Store shelves are empty of bottled water on Thursday as residents buy supplies in preparation for Hurricane Dorian in Doral, Fla. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Dorian could hit the Florida coast over the weekend as a major hurricane.

Store shelves are empty of bottled water on Thursday as residents buy supplies in preparation for Hurricane Dorian in Doral, Fla. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Dorian could hit the Florida coast over the weekend as a major hurricane.

Shoppers load their truck with supplies to prepare ahead of Hurricane Dorian at The Home Depot on Thursday in Pembroke Pines, Fla.

Shoppers load their truck with supplies to prepare ahead of Hurricane Dorian at The Home Depot on Thursday in Pembroke Pines, Fla.

LUMBERTON — Robeson County will benefit from state Sen. Dan Bishop’s victory in the special election to fill the N.C. District 9 seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, says the county’s resident member of […]

LUMBERTON — A senior official at the Office of the State Fire Marshal was in the city Tuesday trying to help find a way for churches to continue to house disaster-relief volunteers, at least on […]

LUMBERTON — Burnis Wilkins ran for sheriff with the pledge to “clean up crime and grime,” and he has developed a multi-layered program to make Robeson County Clean and Green. “It will take all of […]

RED SPRINGS — Highlander Academy has announced its honor rolls for the first grading period of the 2019-20 academic year.

To be included in the Headmistress’ Honor Roll a student must have a grade-point average of 90 or above.

On the roll are Daniel Cordoba-Solis, third grade, Red Springs; Gabe Hummel, third grade, Red Springs; Braxton Hunt, third grade, Lumberton; Kaitlyn Miller, third grade, Red Springs; Tanner Abendroth, fourth grade, Maxton; Giovanni Contreras, fourth grade, Red Springs; Jasmyne Penn, fourth grade, Red Springs; Watson Price, sixth grade, Red Springs; Christian Alleman, seventh grade, Red Springs; Anderson Price, seventh grade, Red Springs; Amran Hussein, eighth grade, Maxton; Caleb Currie, 10th grade, Raeford; Nicholas Locklear, 10th grade, Red Springs; and Morgan Harris, 12th grade, St. Pauls.

On the roll are are Trinity Abendroth, fifth grade, Maxton; Rico Conrad, fifth grade, Red Springs; Kenston Dial, fifth grade, Raeford; Nolan Hammonds, fifth grade, Red Springs; Hunter Chavis, sixth grade, Red Springs; Andrea Cordoba-Solis, sixth grade, Red Springs; Kaelyn McInnis, sixth grade, Red Springs; Kaleb McInnis, sixth grade, Red Springs; Dillon Pritchett, sixth grade, St. Pauls; Mattox Schmitz, sixth grade, Lumberton; Braidlan Brooks, seventh grade, Red Springs; Wyatt Locklear, seventh grade, Red Springs; Marty Priore, seventh grade, Maxton; Destiny Chavis, eighth grade, Red Springs; Alexander Hussein, eighth grade, Maxton; Barenda Govan, ninth grade, Red Springs; Ethan Quick, ninth grade, Red Springs; Ashley Chavis, 10th grade, Red Springs; Evangalena Jacobs, 10th grade, Red Springs; and Terry Powers, 10th grade, Lumberton.

RALEIGH — Leaders of the North Carolina General Assembly are inviting North Carolina high school students to apply for the 50th annual Youth Legislative Assembly Conference that will be held April 3 to April 5 in Raleigh.

“North Carolina’s Youth Legislative Assembly offers students a unique opportunity to learn first-hand about the legislative process and to develop leadership skills that will help them succeed in life,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore in a statement. “We are proud to continue this long tradition of helping prepare our state’s future leaders.”

The Legislative Services Office, under the North Carolina General Assembly, is ccepting applications for the conference until Jan. 31. It can be fond at

The Youth Legislative Assembly teaches high school students about state laws and the lawmaking process.

“YLA provides the opportunity for North Carolina’s youth to engage with peers from across the state in a structured, positive, youth-focused environment,” said Erica Gallion, Youth Legislative Assembly coordinator, in a statement.

The YLA program is open to students in North Carolina who are in good standing at a public, private, charter or home school. For more information , contact Gallion at or call 919-301-1372.

PEMBROKE – Your Heart’s Desire General Store held its grand opening Thursday at 214 Main St. in Pembroke.

In attendance were Pembroke town officials, the Pembroke Chamber of Commerce and a multitude of businesses, family and friends.

The general store is full of goodies for the perfect wedding, baby shower and other specialty gifts with a unique touch. The other half of the store is the quaint community shop with brewed coffee, frappes, lattes and specialty drinks served with premium cakes and pastries. The shelves are also stocked with teas and Carolina Coffee Company products.

Kyle Lowry Malcolm, a Pembroke native and graduate of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, is the owner and operator. She is familiar with the space of her business because she was also the owner/operator of Heart’s Desire Hair Salon for just shy of 18 years over a decade ago. During that break, she moved with her family as a military spouse several times, but her family returned home to their roots.

The general store operates six days a week, Mondays through Fridays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

PEMBROKE — Four new members of the Board of Trustees at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke were recently sworn into office.

They are Jesse Thomas, vice president of Medicaid and CEO of Healthy Blue for Blue Cross NC; Ed Brooks, managing attorney with the Law Office of Edward Brooks; UNCP alumna Dr. Bobbi Locklear Stanley, owner of Stanley Dentistry in Cary; and Thomas Crowe-Allbritton, Student Government Association president.

Prior to joining Blue Cross, Thomas served as CEO of Trusted Health Plans Inc. in Michigan and CEO of Coordinated Health Mutual in Ohio. He has served as executive director of United Healthcare Illinois AmeriChoice; president and CEO of HealthPlans of America; and as board president for the Illinois Association of Medicaid Health Plans in Chicago.

Brooks, a native of Pembroke, began his career as a trial attorney focused on civil litigation in the areas of general tort liability and cases involving sovereignty of Indian tribes. He was a partner with the law firm of Patterson Dilthey until 2013, when he opened his own law practice in Pembroke. Brooks previously served as legal counsel to the Lumbee Tribe.

A Robeson County native, Dr. Stanley was born and raised in the Saddletree community. She is the principal dentist of Stanley Dentistry and an adjunct professor in the Department of Prosthodontics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Dentistry and co-founder and senior instructor at Stanley Institute for Comprehensive Dentistry.

LUMBERTON — A Maxton teenager was critically injured Saturday morning when he was shot, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies received at call at 12:34 a.m. of a shooting at 1031 Mt. Olive Church Road, which is where Saddletree Community Center is located, and found Marvin Strickland, 19, suffering from a gunshot wound. He was transported to an undisclosed medical center and is listed in critical condition.

The shooting occurred after a fight started between two groups who were attending a party at the location.

Sheriff Burnis Wilkins is asking anyone involved in the shooting to come forward now. He said that investigators will be pursuing criminal charges on anyone who was involved in the altercations that led to shooting.

The Robeson County Sheriff’s Office Homicide and Criminal Investigation Divisions are investigating the shooting. Anyone with information should call 910-671-3170 or 910-671-3100 to provide it.

LUMBERTON — With the cutting of a ribbon at 5:30 p.m. Friday, a formality at the Robeson Regional Agricultural Fair was done and the fun can begin.

Cutting the ribbon during a ceremony at the McDonald’s Midway Stage at the Robeson County Fairgrounds was Sue Bennett, wife of the late Morris Bennett, who was involved in the fair for 58 years before his recent death. Morris Bennett was honored during Friday’s ceremony and in a separate ceremony on Aug. 6. This year’s edition of the fair preview book was dedicated to him.

A number of local and state officials were present for the cutting of the ribbon. Among them were Robeson County Sheriff Burnis Wilkins, Lumberton Police Chief Michael McNeill, state Reps. Charles Graham and Garland Pierce, and Robeson County Board of Commissioners Chairman Jerry Stephens.

Graham commended the efforts of fair organizers. He said the fair is an educational experience for Robeson County children that gives them the opportunity to learn about the economy through agricultural.

Graham described the fair as “a bright light” that brings promise and excitement to the county each year.

“The fair is a good venue for our county to be on display,” Graham said. “To demonstrate that there’s a lot of good happening in our county.”

He also said the fair gives Robeson County children the opportunity to socialize with each other and display their talents and crafts.

Fair President Allen Faircloth welcomed the people attending the ribbon cutting. He said the fair “is the safest place in Robeson County besides the Sheriff’s Office” because of the large law enforcement presence. He thanked Wilkins and local law enforcement for the security provided to fairgoers.

Wilkins reflected on his experiences attending the fair growing up, calling it “a successful event for many years.” The sheriff said he looks forward to helping provide optimal safety for all in attendance.

The fair will run through Oct. 5, and will feature 36 rides, about 80 food vendors, and a number of business and entertainment booths, home and agricultural exhibits, livestock shows, and arts and crafts exhibits. There will be contests of all kinds, ranging from pumpkin decorating to praise dance to baking.

The food and entertainment offerings are expected to draw many people, Faircloth said. Fair organizers are working to draw 100,00o people and to eclipse the past attendance record of 90,000.

Among new additions to the fair this year are Johnny Rockett’s Cycle Circus and LEW-E’s Comedy Circus, both of which will provide daily entertainment to fairgoers. A 9/11 Never Forget Mobile Exhibit will be on-site Sunday through Tuesday. Jim Quick & Coastline will provide live entertainment during beach music night on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

The fair is presented by Big Rock Amusements. The traveling amusement park serves the states of Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia, North Carolina and Florida, according to its website.

LUMBERTON — A complaint against the Robeson County Board of Elections chairperson is on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting of the State Board of Elections.

The board will hear the complaint against Tiffany Peguise-Powers during the meeting scheduled to start at 11 a.m. in the boardroom on the third floor of the Dobbs Building, located at 430 N. Salisbury St. in Raleigh.

“I absolutely intend to be there, and we shall see,” Powers said. “I have never been to a state board meeting, and I look forward to discussing the issues with the board.”

On Aug. 20, Shannon resident Julius Locklear filed a complaint accusing Power, a Democrat, of violating state law and state board policy against public comments or actions and social media postings that can be interpreted as an endorsement of a political candidate.

If the state board rules against Powers she will become the fourth member to leave the Robeson County Elections Board since the new five-member board was sworn in in February.

Karen Nance, a Democrat, resigned on Aug. 30, via a letter sent to Katelyn Love, general counsel for the State Board of Elections. Nance also had been named in the complaint filed by Locklear.

Olivia Oxendine, a Republican, resigned on Aug. 21. She was the target of a complaint filed with State Board of Elections earlier in August. The complaint, heard by the county Elections Board during its Aug. 14 meeting, charged Oxendine with having multiple signs from the Dan Bishop campaign in her yard. Photos of the signs were attached to the complaint.

On Sept. 5, the State Board of Elections appointed Democrat Marion Thompson and Republican Wilton Shooter to the county board to fill the seats left vacant by Nance and Oxendine.

Steve Stone, a Republican, left the board on June 1, saying the time needed to perform Elections Board duties was making it hard to operate his construction business effectively. He was replaced on the board by Jack Moody, a Republican who narrowly lost a race for District Court judge in November 2018.

Townsend and Powers were members of the county board when it and every elections board in all North Carolina counties and the state Board of Elections were dissolved in December 2018. The previous nine-member state board was dissolved after a court ruled it was unconstitutional. County elections boards were caught up in the ruling.

The five-member board format for the state and county boards was a result of the court action. Boards now have three Democrats and two Republicans. The party that controls the Governor’s Mansion gets a majority on the boards.

Members of the public may listen to state board’s proceedings on Tuesday by dialing 562-247-8422 and using code 783-635-855.

CHARLOTTE — A former North Carolina House member is returning to the General Assembly as a senator to fill out Dan Bishop’s term because he was elected to Congress.

Mecklenburg County GOP leaders in the 39th Senate District chose Rob Bryan on Thursday to complete Bishop’s two-year term through 2020. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is now obligated to appoint Bryan to the seat.

The Charlotte Observer reports Bryan would be living in a different Senate district for 2020 elections should a redistricting plan approved by legislators this month be upheld.

“Congratulations to Rob Bryan,”said Michael Whatley, North Carolina Republican Party chairman. “Bryan has a proven conservative record as a state House member and will undoubtedly bring the same effective leadership to the Senate on behalf of his constituents.”

Bryan began his career as a member of the Teach for America corps, teaching a bilingual class of second- and third-graders in Lynwood, California, according to information from the state Republican Party. He interned at the Center for Education Reform before enrolling in and graduating from the Duke University School of Law in 1998. Bryan then went to work for several law firms in Charlotte, landing at Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, the largest law firm in North Carolina. Bryan is the former chairman of the Mecklenburg County GOP and a former two-term member of the state House of Representatives, and currently serves on the University of North Carolina Board of Governors. Bryan currently lives in Charlotte with Dottie, his wife of 22 years, and their six children.

In other Bishop news, the congressman’s office announced Friday that he will be serving on the Committee on Homeland Security and the Committee on Small Business for the 116th Congress.

“North Carolina has one of the fastest growing economies in the United States, and I’m eager to get to work on the Small Business Committee pushing policies that cut red tape and help NC-09’s job creators flourish,” Bishop said in a statement. “Top priorities on the Homeland Security Committee will be securing our border and ensuring the prompt and effective distribution of disaster relief and capacities to respond to future natural disasters.”

Bishop’s appointment to the Committee on Small Business follows his work advocating for small businesses in the North Carolina General Assembly, according to the news release from his D.C. office.

RALEIGH — Two Robeson County men were sentenced Friday to about 10 years each in prison for an armed robbery of a Fayetteville gas station last year.

Chief U.S. District Judge Terrence W. Boyle sentenced Daniel Thompson, 22, of Fairmont, to nine years and four months in prison and Elijah Mitchell, 24, of Lumberton, to 10 years and five months, according to U.S. Attorney Robert J. Higdon Jr.

According to a release by the U.S. Department of Justice, Thompson and Mitchell were named in a two-count indictment on March 6. The first of the two-count indictment was interference with commerce by means of robbery and aiding and abetting, and the second count charged both men with brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence and aiding and abetting.

At about 6:30 a.m. on Sept. 9, 2018, Thompson and Mitchell entered a Murphy USA gas station in Fayetteville, according to information from Higdon. Thompson approached the store clerk and displayed a firearm while demanding money from the cash register.

Mitchell then jumped over the counter and stood by the clerk as she removed money from the cash registers. In addition to the money, cartons of cigarettes and other tobacco products were stolen.

Surveillance video captured the robbery, and law enforcement disseminated still shots of the robbery, which ultimately led to identification and arrest of Thompson and Mitchell.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina. Since 2017 the United States Department of Justice has reinvigorated the PSN program and has targeted violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.

LUMBERTON — City residents have become better at not placing contaminated garbage in their recycling bins, but they need to get much better at it if Lumberton is to keep the program.

“It’s getting moderately better,” said Rob Armstrong, Public Works director. “But it has not changed the fact that all our trucks are getting charged the contamination fee.”

The city is charged $60 per ton of recyclable material by Pratt Industries in Fayetteville if the garbage received is deemed contaminated, he said. Contaminated garbage includes items such as pizza boxes with meat and/or cheese stuck to the inside of the box or milk jugs with curdled milk, even a small amount, inside the jug.

The fee is being paid for out of the city’s Solid Waste Fund, which is supported strictly by the $22.12 monthly garbage collection fee paid by city residents, he said. The fund was not structured to support the contamination fee, which means if the city can’t reach a point where the fee is avoided, city leaders will have to decide what to do to avoid the cost.

The decision-making point is eight or nine months from July 1, when the city’s current fiscal year began, he said. At that time, if the problem of contaminated recyclables has not been solved, City Council will be asked what is to be done.

Public Works has begun an education program to address the problem, he said. The department has been distributing fliers that detail what can and can’t be placed in a recycling bin. The fliers were distributed by having people follow collection trucks and hanging a flier on each recycling bin found along city streets.

Items that can be recycled include plastics Nos. 1 and 2; paper; aluminum cans; metal cans; clean pizza boxes; cardboard; and aseptic packages such as milk cartons.

Among to the items that should not be placed in the recycle bins are glass, including bottles, windows and mirrors; plastics Nos. 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7; aerosol cans; aluminum foil; food waste; food-tainted items such as paper plates; ceramics and kitchenware; plastic wrap; packing peanuts and bubble wrap; Styrofoam; hazardous chemicals and containers; plastic toys and sporting goods; wood; and grass clippings.

Public Works personnel will begin attending community meetings in October, he said. They will speak to people at the meetings about proper recycling practices and about the recycling program in general. It is hoped that the people at the meetings will spread the information presented throughout their communities, and that the meeting attendees will provide good ideas about improving and preserving the recycling program.

About 6,800 customers in the city pay for the collection of household and recyclable garbage, and lawn waste, according to Armstrong. Most of the participants are households, but about 800 small businesses receive the service.

Those customers have reduced the amount of recyclables being collected, he said. And that is a good sign. It indicates the customers are being more conscientious about what they are placing in the recycling bin for collection.

Pixie, a female, adult shepherd mix, is available for adoption at the Robeson County Animal Shelter. She is about 4 years old and is friendly and easygoing. The adoption fee is $25, cash or check, which includes the rabies vaccination. Adoption hours are noon to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. The Robeson County Animal Shelter is located at 255 Landfill Road in St.Pauls. The shelter’s telephone number is 910-865-2200.

LUMBERTON — A section of Hezekiah Road near Maxton will be closed Monday through Thursday so a pipeline beneath the roadway can be replaced.

The section will be closed to traffic from both directions when work on the maintenance project begins at 7 a.m. Monday, according to the N.C. Department of Transportation. The work is scheduled to be completed at 4 p.m. Thursday. Work is scheduled to take place 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday.

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