Thumbs Up: John Lowery became the seventh man to take on the chairmanship of the Lumbee Tribe, saying “The decisions that we make today easily touches our children and our grandchildren 100 years from now so strategically I will work with the tribal council to focus on 20 to 50 to 100 years down the road … It takes vision, creativity and the belief that tomorrow will be better than today in order for our tribal government to truly be strategic.”

Thumbs Down: “When we live in a culture of persons refusing to cooperate, or provide untruths to investigators, crimes such as this and many others in our county like it will continue to go unsolved. The common characteristic here is witnesses being non-cooperative and being loyal to the streets and not towards one’s family who seek answers and the truth. I can only imagine what they would think if this victim was their relative.”

Those were the words of Robeson County Sheriff Burnis Wilkins, whose frustrations are well deserved. Authorities are seeking help from the public to solve another senseless fatal shooting that took place on the 8000 block of N.C. 72 East near Lumberton. Cooperation from residents is required if we expect safe communities to return to Robeson County.

Thumbs Up: The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has urged K-12 schools to promote vaccination and boosters for students and staff. “Research and lived experience in this pandemic have shown it is essential we do everything we can to safely keep our students in the classroom,” said NCDHHS Chief Deputy Secretary Susan Gale Perry.

Thumbs Down: Too many people are flooding emergency rooms for non emergency issues; it’s a problem compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. Robeson County hospital resources are stretched thin and patients are forced to wait for care for non-emergency issues.

“When patients come to the emergency room and it is not a true emergency, it makes it harder for us to assess and treat those in more dire situations,” said UNC Health Southeastern president/CEO Chris Ellington.

Thumbs Up: A pocket park in downtown Lumberton will be a welcome addition to the downtown revitalization efforts there. The proposed design of the pocket park, which will be between murals on the sides of adjacent buildings on either side, includes two sidewalks spanning the length of the park, multiple seating areas and benches, several trees and bushes throughout, and an open area in the center.

Thumbs Down: If you can’t complain about the weather, you can always complain about gasoline prices. It’s been getting colder outside and gas prices have ticked up slightly. Gas prices around the state have fallen a bit, but here in Robeson County, they’ve seen a slow steady rise. Of course, we’ve got it better here than in some parts of the country, where temperatures are frigid and gas prices are through the roof.

Thumbs Up: Money made available in the most recent state budget signed by Gov. Roy Cooper promises $5 million to build a state-of-the-art planetarium to replace the facility lost during Hurricane Matthew.

Earlier this year, Sen. Danny Britt placed the funding item in the senate’s budget proposal, but it was cut during negotiations. Rep. Charles Graham got the issue into the House version, which made it to the governor’s desk.

“I was very happily surprised it made it through negotiations, said Robeson Planetarium Science Center Kenneth Brandt.

Thumbs Down: While the unemployment rate has shown continued improvement during the last few months, help wanted signs are still a common sight in local businesses. Robeson County, like other counties throughout the state, has seen too many people leave the workforce. We need workers to return to work.

If you have a suggestion for the Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down column, contact Executive Editor David Kennard at [email protected]