May 2011 Letters to the Editor

New Letters to the Editor....05.27.2011  3:10 pm

Cape Hatteras Wounded Warriors Vacation Project gets underway

On Saturday, April 23, a local barbecue cookout was held in Buxton, and the citizens and merchants of the island and the tourists visiting the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area opened their hearts, wallets, and facilities in appreciation for the sacrifice of our Wounded Warriors of Camp LeJeune, N.C.

Despite a lean winter season and the current lagging economy, the patriotic folks of Cape Hatteras are offering some amenities and recreation to the designated Camp Lejeune Purple Heart recipients and their families. 

This event was a huge success, possible only with the generous support of the following local establishments and residents: Ace Hardware of Avon, Burrus Red & White Supermarket, Cape Hatteras Anglers Club, Comfort Inn, Conner’s Supermarket, Daiwa/Scott Rogers, Food Lion, Frisco Rod and Gun, Graphic Creations by Donna, Nedo Shopping Center, Red Drum Foodmart, Red Drum Tackle, and Steve Groves and Terry Blevins.

To all who purchased meals or raffle tickets, to the workers and servers at the barbecue, and to all the loyal residents, merchants, and tourists of the Cape Hatteras Outer Banks of North Carolina, we say: Thank you, God bless, and semper fi.

Sgt. Maj. Mac McGee, U.S. Marine Corps (retired)
Past Commander
Beirut Memorial Chapter #642
Military Order of the Purple Heart
Jacksonville, N.C.

Bodie Island Lighthouse needs more funds to continue renovation

This is sad. The last time I was at the beach we rode by there. The white stripe is rusty looking, and the windows are all covered with black plastic. It looks horrible. This is a landmark that should be taken care of.

Kristy Winslow
Elizabeth City, N.C.

In His Own Words: An Ocracoke teacher’s story of his big win on Jeopardy!

Hello Charles. My beau, Chuck, and I watched your performance on Jeopardy and were so excited to see someone from Ocracoke there!  We cheered you on and were quite proud!

We hope that we may at least say "hi" to you next time we're in Ocracoke—although there's no telling when that will be! Continued good luck to you!

Lee Anne Bruders
Kill Devil Hills

I've wanted to go on Jeopardy since I watched it as a kid. Reading your account will probably be the closest I'll get, but it feels pretty close—thanks!!! And good luck in the Tournament of Champions; I'll be rooting for you!

Anne Levy-Ward
Mississauga, Ontario

Hi, Charles...Congrats on your Jeopardy win. We have been vacationing on Ocracoke for several years, and when we are not there we wish we were! So we watched the show with much interest and were delighted you won!! Good for you!

Peg Mehalick
Mountain Top, Pa.

UPDATE: Ocracoke English teacher Charles Temple advances to final Jeopardy!

Great job, Charles! Tar Heels are proud of you. (We loved the tie too, but thought they were maritime signal flags.)  Enjoy your prize.

Judy Latham
Raleigh, N.C.

Congratulations, Mr. Temple. It is gratifying to have a small-town teacher get recognition like that and good press for the Outer Banks.

Bert Smith

I love Ocracoke and hope to come visit again. Congrats to Charles Temple. 

Jackie Crouch
Beech Grove, Ind.

Park Service will implement seasonal closures on May 15

Don't you just love the "seasonal closure" of areas that have been closed year 'round for years (i.e., Ramps 1 and 2, Buxton, Frisco, and Hatteras village beaches)?  What do you want to bet they will be "seasonally opened" come next spring?

Ted A. Hamilton (aka Salvo Jimmy)
Salvo, N.C. / Hampton, Va.

UPDATE: Cape Point is now closed to pedestrians also

I don't really understand why these birds have to have the whole island. I've been going to the Point since I was a child. I'm 38 now. I've seen the shore nesting ground grow and grow larger each year now, to the point they’ve run human life completely out. Their nesting area is plenty big enough to sacrifice the little space needed for hard working tax payers to enjoy their vacations.

Jesse Hedric
Statesville, N.C.

New Letters to the Editor....05.12.2011  11:00 am

Bodie Island Lighthouse needs more funds to continue renovation

Isn't it ironic that funds aren't available to maintain this historic landmark, yet how much money was spent on lawyers and lawsuits to restrict access to the Hatteras RECREATION Area? Where are the North Carolina legislators in all of this?

D. Lyons
Pittsburgh, Pa.

Cape Point closes to off-road vehicles

How can a "National Seashore Recreation Area" be turned into a National Wildlife Refuge without it being illegal? Aren't there any attorneys who can get together to challenge the banning of people on the beach in favor of some birds? Start a fund, and I'm sure that many will support the lawsuit. Soon the only people on the Outer Banks will be the rich folks in their condos who don't care to surf fish or drive to the beach....or maybe that's the idea?

J. Lyons
Pittsburgh, Pa.

UPDATE: Cape Point is now closed to pedestrians also

I sold my trailer at Buxton Oaks to good friends. Now, thanks to the Park Service, Judge Boyle, and the SELC, I feel like I've really done them wrong, as it looks like the season is over this year before it even started.  We intended to go back with our camper and visit with them for some relaxing times at the beach, but those days are gone and shall never return, just like the many past visitors to the area once known as the Cape Hatteras National Seashore Recreational Area.  It's for the birds now.  Humans, you're welcome to look at pictures.

Bill Stavenger
Chesapeake, Va.

Cape Point being closed completely for two pairs of piping plovers and one pair of oystercatchers, just exhibiting nesting behavior? Well, it has all been so well said on here so many times before. We have been coming to Hatteras for 16 years most of the time two times a year, and love the island more than a second home. It just truly sickens me to read The Island Free Press all the time to keep up on island news and to see this issue always in the forefront!

For almost 200 hundred years, isanders and nature have been thriving. With a little time, effort, and education, 99 percent of visitors can know exactly what can and should not be done and understand beach and island etiquette and do the right thing. Why in the world cannot smarter and cooler heads prevail and allow it to exist how it has for hundreds of years. Access for all -- beaches, fishing, shelling, etc.

James Weisenberger
Clarksburg, W.Va.

When does Cape Point usually open back up to foot traffic?  We’ve been coming in June and it’s been closed. If we come in July or August, will we have better luck?

Clyde, Ohio

(Editor’s note:  Cape Point has reopened to foot traffic in early to mid-July the past few years and to ORVs later in July. The exact dates depend on when the birds finish nesting.)

Charging a toll on Ocracoke-Hatteras ferry

ECONOMICS 101: My family, along with our visiting guests, have taken a day trip to Ocracoke every summer for the past 35 years. Part of the fun is the free ferry ride. Shopping, eating and renting bikes have always been part of the fun once we have arrived in Ocracoke. Ocracoke, like the rest of the Outer Banks towns, relies on it's tourist-based economy. Adding a $30 round trip ticket to that "free" ride will certainly affect an economy that is already hurting. Please think this through folks.

Jim Leng

What we have here is a classic case of Be Careful What You Wish For.  Most of you voted Republican last fall.  Now they're in absolute control in Raleigh, and guess what?  You're gonna get ferry tolls!  Well, hello, tolls and taxes are essentially the same things -- except that tolls are targeted taxes that harm certain people (us) way more than others.  Why not charge $100 per person entry toll for people to use this park?  And a $20 road toll to drive down Highway 12?  There are endless toll/fee possibilities to be exploited!

And, oh, by the way, Republicans are directly responsible for the beach access problem we are now suffering with.  The original ORV regulations were submitted to Washington during the (Nixon) era, when "regulation" was literally a dirty word, and any employee who was stupid enough to submit a regulation to a Republican appointee could forget his or her career.  So about 30 years ago, the draft regs were thrown in the trash.  And the rest, my friends, is history.

Clayton Davis

Please let's set the record straight. Darlene Styron, although supportive and helpful, was not the reason that the amendment (prohibiting tolls on the Ocracoke ferry) passed. It was the incredible work of the authors of the Facebook, Twitter and blog pages. It was the work of an Ocracoke visitor who happened to be a lobbyist in Raleigh. It was a citizen's grassroots organization that took the initiative and knew they couldn't wait for the county. This amendment passed because of the ability of social networking to get 1,800 people, residents and loyal visitors alike, to write e-mails, call, Twitter and share information in an incredible fast moving environment. Ms. Styron was not a part of that movement at all. She and her committee were days behind us.


Hatteras Islands Scenic Byway gets $1.95 million federal grant

Great news! Mary Helen Goodloe-Murphy deserves all the accolades for this becoming a reality. She is truly a great asset for the Outer Banks/Hatteras Island. Please when you meet or talk to her, thank her for all she has done to improve the quality of life here.

Mike Martin

I'm looking forward to riding the trail someday. It’s my favorite vacation destination. Thanks!

Chris Gedeon
Parma Heights, Ohio

Island Living: Learning to love thy beach neighbor

This is a great article.  It is funny and very well written. Anyone reading it can put themselves in her shoes.

Mary Canfield
Burlingham, N.Y.

Hi, Joy. I've known your brother for about a dozen years and followed his link to your article.  I really enjoyed it.  Creativity and humor must run in your family.  I just had one critique with the article.  The Bible does not say "Do unto others," but rather, "Love they neighbor as thy self."  Of course, any rule/saying/law/verse/song/poem/quote that urges us to be more civil to each other is a good thing.

Good luck in your future endeavors, and may the Amish be with you...

Terry Evans
Oswego, N.Y.

Joy, I loved your article and it is so true. Brings back lots of beach memories, I'm sure, for all of us. You do have a wonderful view of life and always have been such a special person, like no one I've ever met. So glad to have met you as a child and seen you grow into a wise and very well read young lady. I too remember a really different beach meeting of a grown woman and a sweet little girl on the beach, and a cheery "hello" and a "Joy" hat that brought two strangers together for a lifetime. That was you and me and so glad that we didn't just pass each other by. Your friendship has always meant the world to me, and I hope to be at your wedding, on the beach, in North Carolina. Love you and thanks for bringing us such an important message in life.

Joy Hooks
Virginia Beach, Va.

Joy - An entertaining and very well written article!  Thanks for sharing it. 

Montclair, Va.

I totally love the article. I, along with my son, his family and mother-in-law only get to visit once a year, but I feel so at home and there have been days when I have felt the same way (people invading my privacy). One day I hope to move to OBX.

Liz Parfit
Bovard, Pa.

Joy, while I appreciate your thoughts about not letting a neighbor "rain on your parade," please take a moment to learn facts and write in a respectful manner. You probably didn't see Amish -- they travel only by horse and foot and are concentrated in the Midwest, so it was likely the people you saw were of the Mennonite faith. The Amish do not use electric so computers/internet absolutely does not occur. Quakers and Amish are two distinct faiths and the "ankles are lovely" comment is so disrespectful. Their choice of clothing is an expression of their faith. It's not a faith I follow. However, I do respect their right to dress as they feel called. If someone was wearing a cross as a necklace, would you make a comment about that? In future posts- if there are any - please stop the rambling to learn about the topic and write in a respectful manner.

Cincinnati, Ohio

Thanks for writing this. I've really needed this type of reminder lately -- applicable to situations at home, at work, and on vacation. I too am a recovering neighbor hater.

Lilburn, Ga.

Ocracokes Charles Temple will compete in first Jeopardy! Teachers Tournament

I am a graduate of Ocracoke School, so proud that a teacher is representing the sSchool.  Go, Charles!

Michelle Hawkins
Fountain, N.C.

Great to hear that Hyde County has the caliber of teacher that is able to compete on a national level . Best of luck!

Sandy Ridge, N.C.

We are all so excited for Charles.  It doesn't matter if he ever answers another question - - we are so proud!  Congratulations, Charles!

Leslie Monticone

Kinnakeet potluck introduces Saltwater Connection team to Avon

Several folks from other communities were at the Avon meeting and spoke mostly about the NPS access issue that has caused economic distress on the island.
John Couch represented the Outer Banks Preservation Association very well. He encouraged the group to continue organizing and meeting to accomplish the goals they have set in order build a community organization, much as Hatteras village has done. He reminded them that they cannot ignore the influence of the NPS and its effect on their economy. He pointed out that visitors come here for the beach. When the best beaches are closed, visitors are not as interested in coming here. The motels, rental cottages, tackle shops and others and all their employees suffer. People will not rent cottages that are not beachfront if the only beach open is in front of the beach cottages and must be accessed by parking illegally and trespassing through beachfront property with all their gear to reach the beach. He emphasized that the NPS and the consent decree are the cause for the economic problems.
It was pointed out, for instance, that the businesses at the Buxton curve are in serious trouble since the consent decree. Carol Dillon said that her tax receipt records show a decline every month.
Bob Davis mentioned that the Cape Hatteras Anglers Club Fishing Tournament brings in over 700 visitors every November. He suggested that the Civic Association might consider having another Avon tournament, in addition to the NCBBA , formerly Frank and Fran’s, in order to promote visitation in Avon.
I told them the state needs to do some things to help us. For instance, the American oystercatcher made a scrape at Cape Point that closed the area to access recently. A scrape may be a mating, nesting activity. The NPS and the consent decree require closures for such an activity by this bird. The oystercatcher is a state listed bird, neither threatened nor endangered. The state needs to delist this bird. The state could build oyster reefs on the soundside for oystercatcher foraging. The state could work with the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge channels along the sound in back of the island and create dredge spoil islands, which are prime bird habitat.
Bob Davis stated that dredging in the sound would improve boat access for fishing. He urged the state to take action to help our islands. We can't do these things for ourselves.
Remember the consent decree is seen as a temporary agreement to prevent closing all the beaches. The NPS went along with the DOW, SELC, and Audubon proposals and have failed to expeditiously develop the required regulation. The ORV plan which may come out this year will not be acceptable. There will need to be a court challenge. All sides may oppose the plan, at which time the consent decree will continue. The only solution in the foreseeable future lies in intercession of Congress.

Barbara Ackley

Storm damage prompts lawmakers to temporarily lift plastic bag ban

What a wonderful change to our island's roadways since the plastic bag ban.  I hate to see it repealed for any reason.

Mary B. Williams

The Love Boat in Frisco is a destination house for a destination wedding

We will be returning to The Love Boat the last week of October, 2011.  Our family stayed there two years ago, and we've not stopped talking about it since then.  My son-in-law spent his first OBX experience there with us and thoroughly enjoyed it.  At his request, I booked it for this year and we will again be mesmerized for a week staying in The Love Boat.  Thank you for sharing such a perfect place for our family to enjoy each others company.

Cindy Bullen
Middletown, Del.

Letter writer sets the record straight

The reason for contacting you is to correct the misinterpretation of my comment posted after your article about ferry fees and beach access as a comment directed towards pro-access folks, which it was not intended to be! (See Letters of March 18, 2011) My comments were directed the North Carolina local government, National Park Service, North Carolina government at the state level, and, to be quite frank, anyone NOT pro-access! I understand after re-reading my comment how it could have been misunderstood that was why it was so important for me to correct the record.

I am pro-access, always have been always will be. Additionally, we have a place in Buxton where we spend more time than at home in Fredericksburg. Also, I am physically challenged, and the current closures prohibit my access even further and my enjoyment of a resource that we all should be able to utilize. I am involved in the effort to try and regain and keep what little access we have through many ways and will continue to do so as long as I and my wife are alive!

I would appreciate it you would set the record straight, and, in the future, if I comment on one of your articles, I will make it crystal clear where my comment is directed and to whom! I won't ramble on any further but I will say that I pray someone of reason realizes how important beach access is for everyone, including the elderly and physically challenged that cannot get to certain areas even if access is allowed by foot.  I also pray someone of reason realizes what a unique area the inlets are and how much revenue these areas generate to the local and eventually state level incomes.

Thank you for the opportunity to set the record straight and also for your effort for the fight for the right to access the areas God intended for us to use during our short stay on this planet!

Mark Lamphier
Fredericksburg, Va.

A treatise on beach access

The National Park was created by Congress for the purpose of recreation. The towns adjacent to the park and all the business in them developed alongside the park with a dependence on the tourism it generates. For multiple generations, the tourists have visited the island specifically because of the undeveloped beaches in the park and all the recreational activities it provided. Locals, as well, made it a part of their lifestyle and personal freedom to fish, swim, surf, tan, cook out, socialize, walk their dogs, relax, etc. in what was promised to them by Congress to be an open park.
But Judge Boyle, a federal judge with hundreds of reversed decisions took it upon himself, based on pseudo-environmental propaganda, to close the park by decree. The judicial branch is not supposed to be creating or overturning laws. The pretext the judge used was a now 40-year-old Executive Order from President Nixon. It is equally unconstitutional for the executive branch (especially one from seven presidents ago) to use an executive order to change a congressional law as well. But that is what happened.
Furthermore, the executive order was actually about the use of off-road vehicles in parks in general. It talks about snowmobiles and trails, none of which exist on the beach in North Carolina. Yet the park is not only closed to off-road vehicles, it is closed to foot traffic as well. People cannot even walk on the beach.

Now the image most people have of a typical beach is a narrow strip of sand, and most people would not want any vehicles in such an area anyway. This is not the case in North Carolina.  Our beach is more than a mile from the closest road. It resembles a desert more than a thin strip of sand. Because it is a park that is closed to development, people cannot just walk from their hotels to the beach. This was a public beach open to all people not open to development. We had a beach accessible to anyone, not just the rich who could afford a second home or those paying for beachfront hotels. This was a place for rich and poor to enjoy nature.
Because of distance to the ocean from the nearest road, most people opt to drive to the water front in four-wheel drive vehicles. A lot of the elderly, people with children, the disabled, or people with things to carry (coolers, chairs etc.) wouldn't be able to make the walk over hot sand in the summer even if they wanted.
How a judge has been allowed to overturn a congressional law is beyond me. How he could use an executive order to do so is also beyond me. They have ruined the island economy and an annual vacation spot for millions, and wrecked the island way of life. I can't take my son to the beach the way my parents took me. That's a problem.
The environmental groups that pushed for this nonsense have attacked other areas under the same pretexts. Their so called "cause" is a bird called the piping plover. It is not endangered and it is not indigenous to the island. And there isn't any actual scientific evidence to show that people being in the park has any negative effect on the birds population. Moreover, it’s not a wildlife preserve it's a park. You might as well count squirrels in central park and close it down to New Yorkers when there are not enough.
The presence of people in the park naturally protected the birds from predators, and that's the last sad thing about the situation. Just like they have done in Yellowstone and other national parkses, the Park Service has been playing the game of predator "control" where they murder all the fox, raccoons, geese, feral cats, opossums, etc. that dare enter the park. Hundreds of these natural animals have been killed supposedly to protect literally eight to 10 birds. As a result, the island economy has been destroyed, people found other places to vacation, and hundreds of innocent animals have been brutally trapped and shot.
The cost is the final sting. The NPS has been paid more to police the beach than to keep it open. It is the National Park Service, which violated the executive order, but it's the public being punished. The NPS was supposed to come up with a plan for off-road vehicles. They never did, as the residents regulated that on their own. People used the park every day for over 40 years without a problem. Suddenly, in 2007, there is a problem with how people reach the beach, and so the Audubon Society (which was founded by a bird-murdering artist), the Southern Environmental Law Center, and some activist who do not live in the area affected decided to close our beach over their own personal special interest. But it was never really about the birds. It's a pretext to close the park and re-open it only under the conditions that the NPS can charge people for permits to use it. The environmental groups sold property for $25 million, just an hour north of the island, that they had acquired as a bird sanctuary to developers to build condominiums.
Our local government was bullied into signing the consent decree because they were afraid that if they did not comply with beach closures in the summer months, those interest groups would sue to close them down all year. We can't get enough attention for this issue. The powerful environmental groups push this like they do global warming -- with a lot of fear and no facts. They frame the issue as if it were a development vs. preservation issue. It is not. In fact, they are the ones guilty or commercializing beach fronts. They take a picture of the busiest day of the year and pass that crowd shot off as if it were the normal traffic on the beach. They have proclaimed in their newsletters to their readers that there wasn't any negative economic effect to the people living on the island. This was before they even bothered to conduct an economic study. They just declared it. A study really doesn't need to be done.   Businesses open for generations are now closed. People are running with the minimal number of employees. And it is not from the general recession. In the month of August when the beaches re-open, business returns to normal. But that they are closed in May, June, and July has a crippling effect.
We need someone who cares about liberty, property, and happiness to stand up for Americans. This isn't just a North Carolina issue. Tourists from all over the Northeast, as well as Canada, have been affected by this police state. It's our NATIONAL Park, and they have stolen it from us.

I've written details about the history of how the park was formed and all of the laws. There is also an independent video that was made, called "Piping Mad," that can be seen free on YouTube, which shows the devastation the decree has had on the people living there. I personally had to move because the economy was so bad. I work in Japan (despite radiation) because I fear a collapse of the dollar, and because my family could not make it on the island. Cape Hatteras wasn't Cape Hatteras anymore. My wife and child cannot experience the joys of the park that I had when I grew up on the island.

 The solution is fairly simple. A new bill needs to be written saying simply this: The Cape Hatteras Recreational National Seashore was created for the purpose of allowing American people to enjoy the uncrowned, under-developed beaches for purposes of enjoyment for all people, including the handicapped, elderly, and children. The Pea Island refuge was set aside for birds and animals at the same time this park was created. Closing a beach on an island, even to foot traffic is unconstitutional and must be reversed immediately. The economic devastation that this ruling has created is widespread on an island that has co-existed with nature for hundreds of years. This is the birthplace of America and it has literally gone to the birds.

One more season of closed beaches will close the businesses that have hung on by a thread. This is the third year that our beaches have been closed. The National Park Service closed our beaches this year a month earlier than last year, and is murdering innocent animals every day because they see them as a threat to bird eggs. I know the power of the Audubon Society and the Southern Environmental Law Center They said loud and clear in their newsletters that they have stopped the politicians who may consider helping the people of the Outer Banks regain access to their beaches.

Ryan Dawson
[email protected]

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