Local News

Legislative Update: Budget conference committee faces challenges

Proposed legislation about specific issues is popping up in multiple bills in the General Assembly, including House Bill 97, which is the proposed budget, in stand-alone bills, and intertwined with other legislative topics.

This will be one of the many challenges faced by the members of each chamber appointed to a conference committee that is tasked with coming up with a version of the budget acceptable to both chambers and also likely to gain the governor's signature.  
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DOT Secretary Tata is guest on Radio Hatteras interview show

North Carolina Department of Transportation Secretary Tony Tata will be the guest on the Radio Hatteras interview show, "To the Point," on two consecutive Sundays, July 5 and July 12.

In the interview, Tata discusses the negotiations to end the legal impasse with environmental groups over the replacement of the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge and answers questions about what comes next in the continuing efforts to assure a safe and reliable transportation corridor to and from Hatteras Island.
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Swimmer on Ocracoke bitten by shark

A swimmer on Ocracoke was bitten by a shark this afternoon while swimming off a beach in Ocracoke. According to the National Park Service, the incident was reported about 12:30 p.m. near the lifeguarded beach.
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Second shark attack in two days reported on Hatteras

An 18-year-old man was transported to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital late this afternoon after having apparently been bitten by a shark while swimming off the beach in Waves in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. 
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Man is apparently bitten by shark off Avon beach

A 47-year-old man was apparently bitten by a shark shortly before noon today about 1 mile north of the Avon Fishing Pier.

According to the National Park Service,  a caller reported at 11:41 a.m. that a person was apparently injured by a shark. NPS rangers, Hatteras Island Rescue Squad, the Dare County Sheriff's Office and Dare County Medical Service responded to the scene. 
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Chairman updates citizens on Dare issues

Bob Woodard, chairman of the Dare County Board of Commissioners, issued a letter to citizens last week to update them on developments in some important developments facing the county.

Woodward has made a "Chairman's Update" at the first of each of the two monthly
Commission meetings one of his hallmarks. Since there is only one board meeting during July, Woodard said he decided to issue a letter to citizens. 
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Shark experts say warm water, plentiful food figure into spate of shark attacks

“They were at the wrong place at the right time,” said Frank Schwartz, a marine zoology professor at University of North Carolina’s Institute of Marine Sciences in Morehead City. “A lot of things came together at the same time. It was a kind of perfect storm for shark attacks.”

Two attacks last week on swimmers – a 47-year-old man in Avon, and an 18-year-old man in Waves – followed four attacks on swimmers earlier this month off the southern coast of North Carolina.
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State official endorses bond proposal that includes funds for Hatteras museum

Long-sought funds to finish the Graveyard of the Atlantic in Hatteras could be provided soon, but it might not be smart for supporters to hold their breath.  The money would be forthcoming only if the General Assembly this session backs Gov. McCrory’s “Connect NC” $2.85 billion bond proposal, agrees to put it to a public referendum in November, and the public votes to approve it.
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Demolition begins at Avon Motel, cause of fire still unknown

This afternoon Earl Younce, owner of the Avon Motel, was waiting for the contractor to arrive to begin the demolition and cleanup of half of his business, which was destroyed by fire yesterday.

"It's completely gone -- all 26 rooms," he said about the north building of the motel. "It's got to be leveled." 
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Fire destroys part of Avon Motel

A late morning fire has just about destroyed the north side of Avon Motel and several outbuildings and may have damaged a residence on Highway 12 in Avon.

The fire was reported about 11:40 this morning.  The Avon Volunteer Fire Department responded, along with engines from Buxton, Salvo, and Frisco and firefighters from Chicamacomico Banks and Hatteras Village.
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July 4 celebrations and events scheduled for Hatteras and Ocracoke

Fireworks are again scheduled on Hatteras Island on July 4 at Avon Pier, and both Hatteras village and Ocracoke have events and activities scheduled all day long on Saturday, July 4, including the traditional and very popular Old Time Parade in Ocracoke and the newer but popular Golf Cart Parade in Hatteras. 
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State official to visit Graveyard Museum, discuss bond proposal to finally finish it

North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources Secretary Susan Kluttz will host a discussion of Gov. Pat McCrory's  new "Connect NC" bond proposal on Thursday, June 25, at 11 a.m. at a celebration of the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras village.

The governor's proposal, which must be approved by voters in November, includes $3.5 million to fabricate and install the permanent exhibits in the museum, which has been in the planning stages longer than the Bonner Bridge replacement. 
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UPDATE: Sen. Cook explains why he opposes 1/4-cent sales tax for dredging

In a statement this evening, Sen. Bill Cook explained why he opposes a 1/4-cent sales tax without a referendum that has been requested by the Dare County Board of Commissioners to pay for dredging of the county's inlets. 
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Tine convenes pow-wow to discuss funding dredging projects

State Rep. Paul Tine used some tough talk with a roomful of Dare County movers and shakers concerned about long -term solutions for the county's inlets when he told them this morning that they’d better rally the troops if they want to be heard in Raleigh.

“If y’all have a position, you really need to engage your people,” he said.  “If it’s going to go to a referendum, you really need to do a lot of work to organize. If you’re going to go to the people, they’re going to have to understand how important Oregon Inlet is, how important Hatteras Inlet is.” 
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BOC approves budget, lashes out at Senate's sales tax plan

The Dare County Board of Commissioners passed a $102 million budget for the next fiscal year that requires no increase in property taxes at its meeting on Wednesday, July 17.

And then the board members turned around and denounced  the N.C. Senate's budget plan, which would take $10 to $12 million in sales tax revenue from future county budgets and cause the county to raise taxes by as much as 8 cents or to drastically slash employees and programs. 
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Six seniors receive diplomas at Ocracoke graduation

Ocracoke’s six graduates contributed to many of the achievements the school garnered this academic year.

One of the smallest public schools in North Carolina with 168 students in grades pre-K through 12, Ocracoke gained a lot of attention by obtaining an "A" rating from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI).  This was the highest rating for any school on the Outer Banks and in mainland Hyde County.

And with only 42 students in varsity sports, Ocracoke's teams managed to beat their share of large schools and play competitively at games they lost.
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UPDATE: Avon wildfire probably caused by human activity....WITH SLIDE SHOW

The wildfire that burned 15 to 20 acres north of Avon over the weekend was "most likely human caused," according to David Hallac, superintendent of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

Hallac said this evening that he had just received the results of the preliminary investigation from Bert Plante, fire management officer for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and incident commander for the fire. 
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NPS takes steps to streamline Buxton beach nourishment

The National Park Service announced today that it will prepare an Environmental Assessment -- instead of a more complicated Environmental Impact Statement -- to streamline its assessment of a Dare County project to nourish beaches in north Buxton.

The county's project will involve Cape Hatteras National Seashore beaches. Therefore, it requires a special use permit from the Park Service.
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UPDATE:  Audio of bridge settlement news conference now available

A Hatteras islander who attended yesterday's press conference on the Bonner Bridge settlement has provided the  Island Free Press with a recording of the proceedings. It is about 17 minutes long. Click Here To Listen

At long last, a new Bonner Bridge will be built

After a quarter century of planning, studies, bickering, and finally legal challenges from environmental groups, the decrepit 2.7-mile Herbert C. Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet will be replaced with a new parallel span.

The announcement came in a news release about 1:30 this afternoon that the North Carolina Department of Transportation, along with the state Department of Environment and the Federal Highway Administration, had reached a settlement with Defenders of Wildlife and the National Wildlife Refuge Association, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center.
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State and federal officials reach agreement on bridge replacement

The North Carolina Department of Transportation, N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Federal Highway Administration have reached a settlement with environmental groups to end the legal wrangling over the replacement of the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge.
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38 seniors receive diplomas at Cape Hatteras Secondary School....WITH SLIDE SHOW

Thirty-eight seniors received their diplomas at Saturday evening's graduation ceremony at Cape Hatteras Secondary School of Coastal Studies. Friends and family members of the graduates filled William P. Dillon Gymnasium on a hot and humid night as thunderstorms threatened but didn't rain on the parade of the Class of 2015. 
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County board, school board reach an agreement on schools' budget

The Dare County Board of Commissioners and the Board of Education appear to have reached an agreement on the schools' budget for the 2016 fiscal year.

Last evening, in the last of two budget workshops, the commissioners signed off on a plan to trim the county's proposed $101.9 million budget by another $400,000 to help the Board of Education fund state-mandated salary increases for beginning teachers.

That's $114,000 short of what the school board would like, but the compromise will apparently work for both sides. 
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Rift opens in push to shift tax money from beaches to inlets

Two e-mails and several Facebook posts from a Dare County commissioner and the owner of the Pirate’s Cove Yacht Club have inflamed an already sensitive subject — paying to dredge Oregon Inlet with money from a fund now restricted to beach nourishment.

The e-mails and posts emerged from earlier conflicts between using money from the Dare County Shoreline Management Fund to dredge the inlet or pushing for legislative authorization to levy an additional quarter-percent local sales tax, which now appears unlikely.

Some are questioning their timing and rationale: The Board of Commissioners seemed to have settled the issue when it voted unanimously June 1 to pursue the Shoreline Fund option, which would require the General Assembly to amend a state law.

Now, apparent miscues and political arm-twisting have put some community leaders in a position of choosing sides between beach nourishment and inlet dredging.

Click here to read the story in The Outer Banks Voice.

Residents, business owners and non-resident property owners urged to verify re-entry credentials

Hurricane season began June 1, and Dare County Emergency Management urges residents, business owners and non-resident property owners to ensure they have the proper re-entry credentials. There are no changes to the Dare County re-entry procedures in 2015.

“Now is the time to verify you have the proper re-entry credentials to return to Dare County in the event of an evacuation. This will allow you to focus on securing property and belongings during those few critical days we have to prepare before a storm impacts the area,” said Emergency Management Director Drew Pearson. 
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DOT offers hints to avoid long waits at Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry

The North Carolina Department of Transportation's Ferry System switched to its full summer schedule of 36 daily round-trip departures between Hatteras and Ocracoke this week, calling on summer day trippers to strongly consider going as early in the day as possible to avoid wait times in the peak season.  
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