potluck introduces the
Saltwater Connections team to Avon
On Tuesday evening, May 3, a group of Avon
locals met at
the fire station for a community potluck dinner, one of many that are
orchestrated throughout the year and sponsored by the Kinnakeet Civic
But on this occasion, the 30 to 40 locals in attendance had some
special guests. The dinner was a stop for the Saltwater Connections
resource team, which was taking a week-long tour of Rodanthe, Waves,
Salvo, and Avon.
The goal of the Saltwater Connections team was to talk with local
residents and get a feel of what issues were prevalent in the
community, what goals they hoped to accomplish in the future, and then
process this information into a list of obtainable suggestions and
recommendations for short-term and long-term action items.
The visiting team included John Morck, Chuck Halsall, and Brad Hufford
from the North Carolina Department of Commerce; Sally Peterson from the
North Carolina Arts Council; Pat Long from the East Carolina University
Center for Sustainable Tourism; Jimmy Johnson with the
Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program; Sara Mirabilio with North
Carolina Sea Grant; Susan Sachs from Starfire Consulting; Karen
Amspacher from Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center, and
Mikki Sager from the Resourceful Communities Program.
Throughout the week, the team took a walking tour of Avon Village,
stopped by the Village Grocery, both post offices, and the
Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station. Schedules of their visits were
disbursed throughout the community so that everyone would have an
opportunity to stop by one of the team’s locales, and chat with them,
one on one, on their concerns and suggestions.
But the well-attended potluck dinner was a particularly special
stop. Not only did the team have a chance to chat with a wide
range of Avon residents, but the evening featured a “conversation with
village elders,” or as KCA President Jenn Augustson put it in her
introduction to the session, “seasoned natives.”
After a feast of homemade dishes, ranging from fresh pasta salads to
fudge, the room received a brief introduction to the Saltwater
Connections team from member Mikki Sager.
“We’re about getting coastal communities to come together over shared
interests and goals. The idea is how you can build on what
got to create economic opportunities,” explained Sager. “This is about
the wisdom coming from the community itself… In a month or
we will come back with a report that says ‘This is what we heard, and
this is what we recommend.’
“There will be funding available at the end of this so villages can
start some projects,” Sager added.
After the introduction, moderator Scott Dawson lead the discussion and
asked the seasoned natives, Manson and Vera Meekins, Lori O’Neal,
Gloria O’Neal, and Carol Dillon to share their stories of growing up on
The folks in the room smiled at their memories of livestock roaming
free around the village, driving up and down the beach to get to the
ferry that would take them over Oregon Inlet, and fun nights at local
dance halls in Avon and other villages.
Vera Meekins even recalled connecting with one particular gentleman at
the dance hall. It was Manson, whom she married and spent the next 68
Throughout the conversations with the seasoned natives, locals would
pipe up with their suggestions and concerns for the future of Avon
village. These suggestions, both big and small, were a wide spectrum of
ideas and on-the-spot brainstorming and included:
major concern in the room when it came to the future of Hatteras Island
was beach access.
brochures of the community, pointing out lesser known community
home-based businesses in the village, similar to Ocracoke Island
Avon village as a town and the benefits of tax monies going back into
the community versus the cost of providing town police, trash removal,
and other county sponsored services
local history, as remembered and narrated by the seasoned natives
the Avon harbor, and the local graveyards
Buxton visitors Bob Davis, Barbara Ackley, and John Couch, all spoke up
and alerted the Saltwater Connections team to issues the island has had
with the National Park Service and beach access, from the initial
promises of the National Park Service when the National Seashore was
established to the struggles and loss of income local businesses are
currently facing with the recent full closure of Cape Point.
The room became grave as everyone chimed in on their frustration with
the issue, from the mass killings of local geese, foxes, and other
wildlife for the birds’ protection to the folks who grew up learning to
swim in the waters just south of the Point and are not able to teach
their children how to swim the same way.
Throughout the discussion, the Saltwater Connections team listened
attentively and clearly heard the locals’ concerns.
Though the beach access issue may have ended the evening on a more
somber note, the event was still a successful sharing of ideas and
potential projects and an informative introduction to the history,
spirit, and possible future of Avon village.
The Saltwater Connections team will continue its tour with later
visits, probably in the fall, to Buxton, Frisco, and Hatteras.
After its visit this week, the team will begin working on a report on
what the members heard, and what they recommend as far as next steps,
and ways to achieve these long-term goals.
For more information on Saltwater Connections, contact Susan West at