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Fayetteville Group Hopes To Put End To City's Negative Publicity

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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Fayetteville's high-crime image is one of many things a new organization is trying to combat. There is a new initiative to try to stop the bad rap.

In the last few months, Fayetteville has been referred to as Fayettenam and Fatalville in many publications. With that kind of talk, Rosie Melendez is the first to admit she was nervous about moving to the area when her husband was transferred to Fort Bragg.

"It didn't take very long for me to realize it's just what people say," she said.

Melendez is now heading a new group that is trying to head off unwarranted hype. It is called FYI Fayetteville and is the brainchild of Greater Fayetteville Futures.

Along with counteracting negative publicity, FYI Fayetteville is also trying to promote good news like the improvements in the downtown area.

In December,

Vanity Fair

called it "a bloody summer" at Fort Bragg. The magazine was referring to the rash of domestic murders involving soldiers. A Virginia newspaper said while there are nice neighborhoods, they are outnumbered by "the rows of shotgun shacks downtown."

Upon hearing that, Melendez got on the phone right away.

"I called them and said to them, 'Give us a chance. Come down and visit and let me tell you what's going on in this community,'" she said.

C.R. Blackmon has lived and worked in Fayetteville for 40 years. He works on Bragg Boulevard, once referred to as "a place filled with pornoramas," in the

New Yorker

magazine. He said it is time people realize this is not the place it was many years ago.

"We are outliving that. It's a better place to live. It's not like it used to be," he said.

A rapid response team will undergo training this month. The team will include everyone from police officers to church members. FYI Fayetteville wants them all in place to be able to counteract negative publicity as soon as it happens.