Sunday, July 14, 2024

Upfront: Shining lights from Moore County’s dark days

I’ve called Pinehurst home for the past 27 years and am always proud of our Eden in the Pines. 

But, I was especially proud of the Sandhills during the nearly weeklong power outage in early December. So much so, I practically popped a couple of buttons off my shirt. 

That’s because our service-above-self ethos was on full display — along with a heaping helping of resiliency — when villains attacked two electrical transmission stations and plunged us into darkness. 

The attack happened on a Saturday night. It took most businesses the better part of Sunday to get the word out about what had happened and to make a plan for the workweek. In true Sandhills fashion, that plan was all about philanthropy. 

From First Bank (headquartered in Southern Pines) partnering with The Country Bookshop (part of our company) to dole out free books to 500 stunned and suddenly unplugged children, to the Chamber of Commerce grilling hot dogs at the Southern Pines Growler Co. when hot meals were in short supply, we helped each other cope with the deeds done by society’s darker elements. 

Caring communities like ours don’t happen by accident. They’re built by businesses devoted to the community’s betterment.

The assault on our electrical infrastructure couldn’t have come at a worse time for the small businesses in our small towns — in the middle of the Christmas season. They call the day after Thanksgiving Black Friday for a reason. That’s when most retailers hit profitability. This nefarious act moved the goalpost for financial sustainability that much further away. 

So, the best thing you can do to help is to come visit our charming central North Carolina community, shop in our unique shops, play golf on our world-class golf courses and dine in our eclectic restaurants.  

In the midst of the crisis, our Convention and Visitors Bureau created the Moore Miracles advertising campaign. CEO Phil Werz and his able crew built a website and directory of independent retailers, restaurants and accommodations as well as allocated $50,000 for a national and statewide advertising blitz to raise awareness of these negatively impacted businesses. 

You can see their impressive work here:

This unforeseen disaster occurs as Moore County is enjoying some notable gains. FirstHealth of the Carolinas will cut the ribbon on a $70 million cancer center in a few weeks; Pinehurst Resort is riding the wave of golf’s post-COVID resurgence; the United States Golf Association is building its second headquarters in Pinehurst; and Sandhills Community College just opened a $30 million nursing and health sciences building. 

We have plenty to be grateful for here in the Sandhills. No doubt, this attack shocked our community. But, it also gave us the opportunity to demonstrate to the entire state our gumption and grace under pressure. 

We didn’t let that opportunity go to waste. We remained unbowed and unbroken. 

As I reflected on the events of early December, I remembered then-Vice President George H.W. Bush’s speech accepting the Republican Party’s presidential nomination in 1988. 

Here in the suddenly darkened Sandhills, we did our best to live up to his pledge “to keep America moving forward, always forward — for a better America, for an endless enduring dream and a thousand points of light.”

   — David Woronoff is president of Old North State Magazines. He lives in Pinehurst and says his golf handicap is ridiculously high.

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