December 6, 2016
Newly elected and re-elected Dare
commissioners are sworn in
By IRENE NOLAN
newly elected members of the Dare County Board of Commissioners and two
re-elected members were sworn in by board clerk Gary Gross at
yesterday's regular meeting.
In addition, the board chose its chairman and vice-chairman for the
coming year and concluded the meeting with yet another discussion of
the Hurricane Matthew debris collection, which Dare County Bobby Outten
has called the most "frustrating" experience the county has had in
recent years with cleaning up after storms.
Danny Couch, a Democrat of Buxton took the oath of office from Gross
with his hand on a family Bible held by daughter, Susanna. Other
family member joined Couch for the occasion, including his wife,
Sherry, their sons, Gideon and Griffin, and his brother, John.
Couch fills the Hatteras Island, District 4, seat that became vacant
when Allen Burrus decided after 10 years on the board not to run for
re-election for health reasons.
Also sworn in were newly elected District 3 commissioner Steve House
and re-elected commissioners Wally Overman and Bob Woodard
respectively. All three are Republicans.
That leaves Couch as the only Democrat on the seven-member board, which
also includes Jack Shea, Margarette Umphlett, and Beverly Boswell.
Boswell will serve on the board until next month when she heads to
Raleigh to fill the District 6 seat in the state House of
Representatives. Dare Republican leaders will choose her
replacement on the Board of Commissioners.
For the third year -- since Republicans took control of the board in
the 2014 general election, Bob Woodard was elected chairman by his
colleagues and Wally Overman will serve again as vice-chairman.
The votes were unanimous.
By the end of the relatively brief meeting, the discussion turned to Hurricane Matthew recovery, specifically debris removal.
Overman said he and Outten attended a meeting of state boards of
commissioners and representatives from such groups as FEMA in Raleigh
last week to discuss recovery efforts.
Outten noted that the Dare delegation noted FEMA's slow response to get
the ball rolling on Matthew recovery efforts, especially debris
collection. Part of that is that Matthew hit a large area,
increasing demand for such companies as debris removal contractors.
While county officials and FEMA officials usually meeting a week or 10
days after a storm to lay out a work plan, that meeting didn't take
place for almost two months after Matthew caused record storm
surges in some areas of Frisco and Hatteras villages.
Outten also said that FEMA and county officials could make certain
agreements before the storm season that would hasten the burden after a
storm strikes -- such as what roads will be included in debris
collection and hiring a secondary contractor to move the work along.
Once again the commissioners and the county manager stressed that the
debris contractor, TAG Grinding, is making a last pass on Hatteras
Island, beginning this week -- and depending on the weather.
"We don't need people to put anything out behind the trucks," Outten said.
"This is the last pass...We need to stop putting out stuff that isn't storm-related," said Woodard.
Edward Mann, director of Dare County Public Works, said that his staff
members will be moving through behind the contractor's crews to do
final tidying up.
"This has been a very frustrating process," he said. "This has
been something we have not been happy with, but we have done all we can
The county is required to choose the lowest bidder on debris
contractors, and county officials said TAG and other contractors have
been stretched thin.
In other action, the board:
Unanimously agreed to set a public meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec.
19, for a zoning change that would allow indoor recreation as a
permitted use in the C-2 zoned area of Avon.
- David Perez, on behalf of Woodcat LLC,
proposes to convert an existing retail building at 40194 Tuna Terrace,
at the intersection of Highway 12, into an indoor amusement facility.
Perez already has an indoor recreation facility
in Kill Devil Hills and is building one in Rodanthe -- the large steel
building with the "saucer" on its roof.
According to published reports, inside the Rodanthe building will be an
arcade along with laser tag, mini-bowling and a snack bar. Outside, a
climbing wall will be built around the east and north sides of the
building with a circular installation to mimic mountain climbing.
Outside, a miniature golf course and zip line are planned. Over the
golf course will be a ropes course.
- Approved four restricted grants requested by
the Dare County Tourism Bureau. They are Duck's pedestrian path,
$447,887; Kill Devil Hills' multi-use path, $340,215; Nags Head's Dowdy
Park, $226,750, and the Outer Banks Gun Club, $22,675 for a
special-purpose range. The vote was unanimous.
- Passed a resolution agreeing that the county
would participate in a grant program of the N.C. Division of Water
Resources to control aquatic weeds -- specifically alligatorweed in the
East Lake area of the mainland. The motion carried unanimously.
- Reminded Dare residents that Jan. 9 is the
last day to sign up for individual FEMA assistance. Officials
urge all residents affected by the storm to at least sign up to be on
the safe side