DR. JOHN DEMPSEY – SANDHILLS COMMUNITY COLLEGE – ONLINE ‘FAST TRACK’ PROGRAM

Dr. John Dempsey has been the President of Sandhills Community College since 1989.

In that time both the college and Moore County has undergone vast changes.

John discusses new programming at the college to accommodate the ever changing lifestyles and educational requirements of many who live and work here.

His observations about our current day life situations and his perspective over his 31 year tenure makes for a compelling conversation.

171 Kennedy Hall
3395 Airport Road • Pinehurst, NC 28374
910-695-3995
sandhills.edu

Online Fast Track Program – Ryan Riggins – Dept of Recruiting – 910 246-5365

Fast Track

  • Allows for the completion of an Associate in Arts degree in as fast as one year.
  • Especially good for transfer students — can mean the earning of a bachelor’s degree in three years.
  • Classes are online and take five weeks to complete. Can take two classes each five weeks.
  • Classes begin virtually every month.
  • Program is approved for Financial Aid and Veteran’s Benefits.
  • sandhills.edu/fast track
  • People can enroll now.
  • Upcoming start dates: May 27, June 9, or July 1.

Curriculum/College Credit Summer Semester

  • All class delivery will be online
  • Sessions begin May 27 and June 30
  • New students can apply online(sandhills.edu) and orientation will be online
  • Returning students can self-register using self-service

Continuing Education Summer Semester

  • Classes begin as soon as May 12 and throughout the summer
  • Many will have face-to-face class delivery with safe social distancing implemented
  • Other classes have been adapted to online delivery
  • Ed2Go has been hugely popular during the quarantine. Classes begin each month and hundreds of classes are available.
  • Check the Continuing Education section of sandhills.edu for class listing.

Reflections on COVID-19 from local business owners

Michael Alojeil, the owner of the middle eastern restaurant, Grape Leaf Bistro, joins Rachel Jurgens, owner of Pony Espresso and real estate broker/owner, Kristy Snyder of Everything Pines Partners to discuss the ways their businesses are navigating through the state’s ‘Stay at Home’ order while still trying to provide viable services to the public it serves.

Moore County Veterans Service Office updates, Farina Integrated Therapy and Burleigh-Stroker Chiropractic

The Moore County Veterans Service Office provides up to date information during this period of stay at home orders for veterans in Moore County. (see their current guidelines below).

Massage therapist Mary Alice Farina of Farina Integrated Therapy and Chiropractor Dr. Scott Stroker of Burleigh-Stroker Chiropractic talk about their disciplines and their essential vs non-essential state decreed work orders.  They also both give some valuable tips to patients and clients who are staying at home as they work thru their day to day issues.

What’s new with the VA and our veterans during the pandemic.

Moore County Veterans Service Office:

The County has taken many steps to protect staff and their families as well as the public who may be visiting the offices. As part of this mandate, the Moore County’s Veterans Service Office is operating with a skeleton crew. All non-essential programs and activities have been postponed and staff are being encouraged to work from home and to stay home.

Jim Pedersen, Director of the Moore County Veterans Service Office, gave an update on what’s happening at the VA during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said many services are still available through the local office:  • Information and status updates: Veterans who have questions about an existing claim can call 910-947-3257 to speak to a Veterans Service Officer for information and status updates. If the phone does not answer, leave a message and calls will be returned.  • Some appointments are being done by telephone. For those who require a face-to-face visit, appointments are being scheduled into May. • Veterans who are having trouble accessing basic necessities during the crisis can call for a referral to the appropriate community resource to help them with that need. • Assistance with completing the Department of Motor Vehicles veterans license plate form is available by phone. Veterans need to provide proof of disability rating. • Because the office is operating with a bare-bones skeleton crew, they ask for your patience. Every attempt will be made to answer calls within 48 hours.  What’s closed: • The Regional Office is not validating Property Tax Exemption forms for veterans who are 100% permanently and totally disabled. The county office can assist veterans with completing the forms and will hold them until the regional office begins processing them again. • The National Archives is not accepting any non-emergency requests for DD-214 discharge documents.  Online Options:

The VA has expanded virtual services to assist veterans during the COVID-19 pandemic.  • The Moore County Veterans Service office is updating their Facebook page with pertinent information at least weekly. Find them on Facebook at Moore County Department of Veterans Services.

  • The answers to many questions are available by contacting the appropriate VA department directly. A Google search for the department needed is the fastest way to get the contact information to call directly. • Answers to many benefits questions are available at www.benefits.va.gov.  • Veterans can use the VA’s My Health-e-vet (Pronounced My Healthy Vet) secure message system at www.myhealth.va.gov, to order prescription refills, message their physician, make and cancel appointments. They can also speak directly to individual departments like the prosthetics lab where they can apply for a HISA (pronounced Hissa) grant for bathroom and other upgrades to accommodate their physical disabilities. • At www.ebenefits.va.gov (pronounced E Benefits) veterans are able to manage their disability claim, add or remove dependents, apply for VA Healthcare, education benefits, pension benefits and other VA services. Emergency services: • The Veterans Service Office cannot provide emergency medical help or referrals for medical emergencies. For medical emergencies, veterans should call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room or VA Hospital emergency room and follow their instructions for accessing care.  • The Veterans Suicide Hotline is operating 24/7 to help veterans who are having thoughts of suicide. The hotline number is 1-800-273-8255 and select option 1 Or they may call 911 for local assistance.  New claims: • Veterans who wish to file a new claim can still reserve the earliest possible date for their claim by calling 1-800-827-1000 and asking to create an Intent To File. The intent to file stays open for one year. If the veteran does file a claim, the intent to file preserves the earliest possible date for payments to begin if the claim is decided in the veteran’s favor. If the veteran does not file within the year, the intent to file simply runs out. VA Compensation and Pension (C&P) Exams:

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Veterans Benefits Administration has discontinued face-to-face exams which are used to decide disability claims. They will continue to complete as many examinations as possible using virtual means that do not involve a face-to-face examination.  •  For some disabilities, in-person examinations are required and cannot be completed through an alternate method. For example, if a veteran is being examined for a back condition, they will still have to visit an examiner at a later date to complete a range-of-motion test. • C&P examinations can also be completed using a process called Acceptable Clinical Evidence (ACE), whereby a medical provider reviews the evidence of

record and determines that the evidence is sufficient to decide the claim without an additional examination. Sometimes a telephone conference with the veteran is required for clarification or to answer questions.  • A third way of completing C&P examinations is through video or tele-C&P examinations. Tele-C&P examinations are suitable for the completion of some exams, most commonly for mental health conditions. Tele-C&P examinations enable the Veteran to remain in his or her home and teleconference with the medical provider so the provider can see and speak to the Veteran. Changes to Disability Benefits Questionnaires (DBQs) • For many years, both Veterans Health Administration (VHA) clinicians and VBA contract vendors have conducted C&P examinations using Disability Benefits Questionnaires, commonly known as DBQs. Disability Benefits Questionnaires, are standardized forms used by clinicians when performing disability examinations to ensure the clinician performing the exam captures and records all the information needed by VBA claims processors to make a decision on a Veteran’s claim.  • The VA has discontinued making DBQs available for public use. What does this mean? Previously, veterans could have a private health care practitioner complete the DBQ form and could submit the completed form to the VA for a decision. However the VA now only accepts DBQs from Veterans Health Administration and VA Contracted clinicians. • The removal of public-facing DBQs is a permanent change, not just one mandated by the COVID-19 guidelines. Why are DBQs no longer available for public use? • The VA has modernized and is updating their disability requirements. The formal process to update any public form is at least a year, which means veterans could submit an outdated form from a private doctor and then be required to complete a VA C&P exam anyway.  • The VA has increased their capacity to conduct C&P exams in more places than just traditional VA Medical Centers and Outpatient Clinics. The contracted clinicians can provide wider coverage, especially in rural areas, in federal and state prison facilities and in 33 countries overseas where the Veterans Health Administration does not have a presence. Fraud • The third reason the VA has discontinued the use of public DBQ forms is to prevent fraud. In the past few years, the VA has seen growing industry of individuals and companies marketing the service of completing DBQs for Veterans. Some have provided honest, valuable service, however, many of these companies are engaged in questionable or fraudulent practices. This includes

charging high prices for completing DBQs or submitting DBQs with findings that are vastly different than the other evidence in the Veteran’s claims folder. These companies are often not accredited by the VA and therefore, the Office of the Inspector General for the VA has no authority over them.  • It is a requirement that DBQs submitted by a private provider must be based on an exam conducted in person. VA’s Office of the Inspector General recently issued an audit report about providers who were completing DBQs for Veterans remotely and recommended that VA revisit its practice of making public-facing DBQs available. • Veterans with PTSD claims are often targeted by these fraudulent companies. In many cases, companies are conducting mental health examinations by i phone, which does not allow them to see the veterans entire body. Viewing the veteran’s body in order to check for verbal clues or body language is one of the requirements examiners must meet when doing DBQ exams for mental health. • Now that the VA has expanded its network of contracted clinicians and examiners, it will make it easier for veterans who live in rural areas or overseas to access a contracted claims examiner. • Veterans who have claims underway through the county office will see no change in the claims process due to this new regulation. They will continue to receive exam appointments as the VA requires them for their claim.

The Moore County Veterans Service Office encourages veterans to guard against fraud during the pandemic. Veterans who have questions about whether or not something they hear or receive in the mail is fraudulent are urged to call the county office at 910-947-3257.

 

THE PLIGHT OF RESTAURANTS AND THE HOSPITALITY BUSINESS

MARK ELLIOTT - MARVA KIRK - CURT SHELVEY

These business owners and businesses are well known: Elliott's on Linden, Sly Fox, The Roast Office, Kirk Tours & Limousine, Curt's Cucina. These three individuals share the unbelievable financial pressures and the pain of letting staff go in this time of shutdown in Moore County due to COVID19, and what the recovery after the fact may look like.

This letter from Mark Elliott to Tim Moore eloquently expresses their position:

Dear Tim Moore:

I live in the small North Carolina town, Pinehurst. It’s predominantly built on tourism, and where I have built up 3 restaurants from scratch, employed over 100 people, and actively brought economic growth to my community for 20 years. Governor Roy Cooper’s pandemic closure mandate has crumbled the foundation of my businesses, and threatens to force me into bankruptcy along with hundreds of small businesses in Moore County alone. My name is Mark Elliott, I love this town and I need your help.

My ordinary life with family and friends has turned upside down. Perhaps you’ve not witnessed the invisible disaster upon us, as there is no viewable physical damage. I’ve furloughed 80% of my employees. I’ve lost $190,000 in revenue in 14 days. The take-out model fails to cover my fixed costs, forcing me to charge payroll to credit cards. At the current rate, I’ll be forced to cease operations completely within the month or file bankruptcy. Maybe if my building burned to the ground, or a tornado ripped through our downtown businesses, state leaders would better understand the scale of our devastation. The hospitality business as you know it has been targeted single-handedly, and will not survive this pandemic.

The truth is, our situation worsens with every passing day. Estimates show 3 million restaurant workers were immediately laid off, and another 5 to 7 million people face job instability – a staggering number. North Carolina’s hospitality industry generates $23.5 billion in sales to support the state’s economy and employs 13% of the state’s workforce.

My dire situation is amplified a thousand times across the restaurants, hotels, breweries, and other service businesses who provide those billions. We see progress with the CARES act, but its measures will not sustain my town for another month, let alone the entire nation. Because individual states are handling the nuances of closures, we are looking to you for action. Call back the house to pass realistic measures for our state’s economy and protect your workers.

Consider deferring sales tax payments. Forgive payroll matching, grant filing date extensions, or at the very least promise zero penalty and interest for payroll tax payments. We have obligations to the state and federal government and basically zero income.

Hold insurance companies accountable. After 20 years of paying into business interruption coverage, I’m denied when I need the funds most. Work with the financial services industry to encourage them to defer business related loan payments for at least 30 days, if not more, without penalty. This deferral should include landlords as well as tenants, who are both under strain from this order. Provide financial assistance directly to actual operators (i.e. business or franchise owners) to cover ongoing fixed costs.

The North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association (NCRLA), Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC), and National Restaurant Association (NRA) are aligned with our mandates. Unlike other small businesses, the hospitality industry is completely dependent on current business to stay afloat. We are the backbone of the tourism industry and the spirit of our communities. When we’re gone, what will be left?

I have often wondered if I would hesitate, should I be standing on a bridge and saw someone drowning. Where is my industry’s lifeline? Can you honestly tell me you’ve done everything? I urge you to take action now for restaurants, cafes, hotels, wineries, farmers, grocers, caterers, and other food vendors. Every day, my ability to rehire furloughed staff withers. Every day, my small business inches toward closing forever.

Respectfully,
Mark Elliott

www.elliottsonlinden.com
www.theslyfoxpub.com
www.roastofficecoffee.com

www.Kirktours.com

www.Curtscucina.com

Our Retailers’ Plight in the era of Coronavirus

Betsy Saye of Eloise Trading Company, Leslie Habets of Jack Hadden Floral & Event Design and Lily Rose, Amanda Jakl of the Purple Thistle and Haley Sumner of Pink in the Pines represent a good cross section of retailers in the So. Pines, Aberdeen and Pinehurst areas.

They speak about the unspeakable damage this virus has done to their businesses during what would normally be the strong spring selling season.

www.eloiseandcompany.com
www.jackhadden.com
www.purplethistleshop.com
www.pinkofthepines.com