At its meeting on Monday, Aug. 1, the Dare County
Board of Commissioners heard from the chairman and the
vice-chairman about Hatteras Inlet issues and later got an update
from the county health director on the Zika virus.
"We've been working diligently for a number of
weeks now to get (Hatteras) inlet open, and we're closer than we have
been in the past" said Commissioner Bob Woodard during his chairman's
remarks at the beginning of the meeting.
Woodard also talked about the county citizens'
group that is charged with advising the commissioners on Hatteras Inlet
issues -- the Oregon Inlet and Waterways Commission.
Woodard noted that the terms of three commission
members expired in June. At their June 6 meeting, the board
unanimously reappointed Allen Burrus of Hatteras village to the
waterways group until his term as a county commissioner expires later
this year. The board also reappointed Hatteras charter boat captain
The third member whose term was expiring, Jim
Tobin, did not wish to be reappointed, so Woodard nominated, and the
board unanimously approved, one of the four applicants for the
commission, Holly White.
Woodard said at Monday's meeting that White's
background and occupation as a biologist would be an asset to her on
the waterways commission. However, a month after the appointment,
Woodard said, White e-mailed the county that she couldn't serve because
she no longer lives in Dare County.
White had filled out the application in February
2014 when she lived in Kill Devil Hills. Woodard says the county
keeps applications for its advisory groups on file for three years.
In addition, Woodard said that Waterways Commission member Arvin Midgett wishes to step down for health reasons.
That gives the board two seats to fill on the
eight-member board, the chairman noted. And he urged the board to
agree to discuss filling them at the next board meeting on Monday, Aug.
15, so that the new members can attend the next Waterways Commission
meeting, which has been moved to Tuesday, Aug. 16, at 7 p.m. at the
Fessenden Center in Buxton.
Woodard noted that the advisory panel has
not had a quorum at its last two meetings -- in June and July -- and
that he didn't want another month to go by without a quorum of members
at the meeting.
Woodard also said he had stressed to other members of the Waterways Commission how critical their attendance at meetings is.
He urged anyone who is interested in serving on the commission to fill out an application on the county website, http://www.darenc.com/gov/brdcomm.asp.
Vice-chairman Wally Overman noted that the
application must be turned in by the time the agenda for the next
meeting is published, which should be on Wednesday, Aug. 10.
The board agreed to take up the appointments at the Aug. 15 meeting, which is at 5 p.m.
Later in the meeting, Overman gave an update on
the county's effort to get dredging done in the shoaled up Connecting
Channel, which is critical for mariners for travel to and from the
Hatteras village docks and the Atlantic Ocean.
Recent short-term dredging by the N.C. Department
of Transportation's Ferry Division has only been partially successful
and has had to stop for safety reasons.
Overman said that the county continues to work
with an engineering firm it has recently hired, Coastal Planning &
Engineering of North Carolina, to obtain permits for long-term dredging
of the Connecting Channel.
He also said that the state continues to work
with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on a memorandum of agreement so
the Army Corps can use its dredges in the Connecting Channel to do the
work for the state.
In addition, Overman said, the county
contacted a local dredge company on Hatteras Island to see if that
company could help with dredging the east end of the channel. The
local dredger, Overman said, said he was unable to do it for safety
"He likened it to bringing a knife to a gun fight," said Overman.
Meanwhile, local captains have brought to the
county’s attention that there is an "opening" on the old short ferry
channel. If about 300 yards in this area is dredged, Overman said, "it
would provide our mariners with a short route to the Gorge and would
get them out there faster."
The area will be surveyed by the Army Corps,
Overman said, to see if it can be dredged. If the area can, in
fact, be dredged, and if it is covered by federal permits, there is
federal money available, Overman said, and the job can perhaps get done
However, he stressed that whatever happens with
the possibility of opening up part of the old ferry channel, the county
will continue to forge ahead with its long-term plans for dredging in
the Connecting Channel.
Dare County Health Director Sheila Davies gave the commissioners an update on the Zika virus.
Zika is a mosquito-borne emerging arbovirus that
was first identified in Uganda in 1947, and which is related to dengue,
yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, and the West Nile virus. Since
2007, the world has seen Zika outbreaks in Gabon, Micronesia, and
French Polynesia, and since 2015, there have been endemic transmissions
in Central and South America.
The virus is primarily transmitted through mosquitoes, but may also be transmitted through other means, such as sexual contact.
Symptoms like headache, fever, and joint or
muscle pain can appear within two to seven days of being infected and
are “as uncomfortable as the flu,” according to Davies, although only
one in five people may actually experience symptoms once they have
contracted the virus.
For most people, contracting Zika is not
life-threatening, but the big concern is the impact on pregnant women
since the virus can cause birth defects in children, which is what
brought it into the public eye.
Davies noted that Zika had been in the news over
the weekend, even as she prepared her report for the
commissioners. Officials in Florida have now identified 14 cases
of people in the Miami area who they believe were infected with the
virus by mosquitoes in the area. Until last week, all of the
cases in the U.S. were thought to have been contacted by travelers to
other countries where the mosquito-borne virus is prevalent.
She reported that there have been no locally acquired Zika cases in North Carolina.
Davies said that the county health department
staff members regularly participate in statewide conference calls about
the virus, stay informed about reporting requirements and testing
protocols, and issues news releases when necessary to keep the
The health department has provided a Zika virus web page, www.darenc.com/zika. And a video about the virus has been produced by Government TV.
Click here to see the Zika video.
The health director also stressed the importance
of preventing the virus through taking such steps as eliminating
standing water around your home, keeping mosquitoes out of your house,
preventing mosquito bites with EPA-registered insect repellent, and
repairing cracks, gaps and open vents on septic pipes and tanks.
Dare County has a mosquito control program at www.darenc.com/mosquito.
Hatteras Marinas: Closest to the Gulf Stream.