Erin Zureick

Education, politics and observations from Sanford

Honeycutt retiring

Harnett County Schools Superintendent Dan Honeycutt is stepping down from his post after about 37 years with the district and more than three years on the job. I spoke with him this afternoon, and we’ll have a story about it online and in the newspaper tomorrow. Honeycutt decided to step down and retire in order to spend more time with his family and return to his past love of farming more.

His youngest son, Lance, also will be playing baseball for East Carolina University this spring, and Honeycutt hopes to be able to make his games.

This makes the second local school district that is searching for a superintendent, as Lee County Schools is also in the market for a top administrator. Both districts are facing the challenge of surging enrollment in the coming years, especially because of the area’s proximity to Fort Bragg as it expands.

Here are some facts about Honeycutt that didn’t make it into my story:

  • He is a graduate of N.C. State University and received his B.S. in Agriculture Education in 1972.
  • He is on the Board of Trustees for First Citizens Bank of Coats and Good Hope Hospital.
  • His hobbies include quail hunting, golf, watching his son Lance play baseball and
    working on his family farm.
  • When Honeycutt retired from coaching high school softball, he had the most wins record of any active North Carolina High School Athletic Association coach.

October 31, 2008 Posted by | Education | , , | Leave a comment

Getting my bearings

I am just wrapping up my first week at The Sanford Herald. So far, I have written three stories — one about early voting in Lee County, another about Barack Obama’s rally in Raleigh and another to appear tomorrow about the upcoming retirement of Harnett County Schools Superintendent Dan Honeycutt.

So far, I have only gotten mildly lost around town, though there are still a lot of places left that I need to venture on my own. The next few weekends I am going to try checking out some yard sales around the area to start furnishing my apartment, so if you know of any yard sales or any places with cheap furnishings, feel free to comment and let me know.

Also, looking forward to getting to talk to more members of the community. If you have any ideas, feel free to e-mail me at or call my office number at (919) 718-1219. My primary focus is local schools, but there are lots of other issues that interest me as well.

October 31, 2008 Posted by | Sanford Herald | , | Leave a comment

Covering Obama

Barack Obama at his rally in Raleigh on Wednesday afternoon. BROOKE WOLFE/Sanford Herald

Barack Obama at his rally in Raleigh on Wednesday afternoon. BROOKE WOLFE/Sanford Herald

I am in my first week at The Sanford Herald and my second assignment today was to cover Barack Obama’s political rally in Raleigh. This was the second time I’ve seen him at a rally. The first was during the primary election season when he made a stop at the Dean Smith Center in Chapel Hill.

At my summer internship with wire service Reuters this summer, I also got assigned the task one Sunday of following him around in Chicago in a press “pool” van. (Trust me, it’s not as glamorous as it sounds; we followed him around in a van as he got a haircut, went to the gym and attended a family bbq–but didn’t get to actually meet him).

His speech centered on the economic differences between him and Republican Sen. John McCain (read his prepared remarks here). I haven’t had a chance to see McCain in person, so I can’t speak for his live delivery. I would say Obama is usually as eloquent as he’s billed, at least he’s comparable to President Bill Clinton, who I’ve heard speak twice.

Obama supporters on the Halifax Mall lawn in downtown Raleigh

Obama supporters on the Halifax Mall lawn in downtown Raleigh

The thing I was struck by from talking to different people at the rally was the similarity in their concerns about our country. Almost everyone cited the same things: health care, taxes and the economy, with a few people also listing the Iraq War and national defense as concerns.

The other remarkable thing to me is how North Carolina is still a battleground in this election. McCain appeared in Fayettville on Tuesday to campaign–he should not even have to be here, but changing demographics have helped push the state into uncertain political waters.

Here are some thoughts from other people I spoke to at the rally that didn’t make it into my story in Thursday’s paper:

  • Tina Sisley, a Smithfield resident in her mid 60s, said she likes Obama because he represents change. “A change will come. It’s gonna take time; it won’t be overnight.” She said she attended the rally because she figured it would be her last chance to see Obama before the Nov. 4 election. “I just wanted to be a part of this great moment in history,” she said.
  • Carol Engrahm, of Cary, said she was a supporter of Obama’s health care and tax proposals. “I like his inspiration and the fact that he has a substance in his message of change.”
  • Yvonne Addison, 44, of Raleigh, said she was attending her second Obama rally. She said Obama’s economic plan was her biggest draw, particularly with his plans for tax breaks for the middle class.

Also, don’t forget that you can early vote until Saturday. Lee County has four locations where you can go.

October 28, 2008 Posted by | politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment