Local News

Collaboration committee says county, cities already working together

If a consensus emerged during the Nov. 20 meeting of the Dare County Consolidation Committee, it was that local officials need to do a better job telling the public about the extent to which they already collaborate on services.

“A lot of folks thought there was inconsistency [in services] and started hollering that we need to consolidate,” said Kitty Hawk Mayor Gary Perry, at the close of the meeting. “The public needs to know that we’re already working together.“
This is not the first time the county has examined the idea of consolidating services in order to save money and instill efficiency. This round was triggered by Dare Board Chairman Bob Woodard who, at the Aug. 17 commissioners meeting, called for the creation of a committee — comprised of a mayor, commissioner and manager from each town — to explore consolidating functions between the county and its municipalities.

Read the story in The Outer Banks Sentinel.

Program helps Dare residents with energy costs

This is the time of the year where Dare County residents begin to prepare for the cold winter months that are approaching. Much work is done to prepare our homes for winter and thermostats are turned up. Winter heating bills can be an overwhelming cost to many families. Fortunately, help is available to those who meet eligibility requirements.
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Governor says Mid-Currituck Bridge timeline to speed up two years

Gov. Pat McCrory announced last week that construction of the long-planned Mid-Currituck Bridge between the mainland and Corolla could be accelerated by two years and begin as early as 2017, due to transportation funding changes in the state budget approved in August.

The most recent estimate had construction of the 7-mile long toll bridge over Currituck Sound starting in fiscal year 2019 and completion by 2025, at a cost of at least $410 million.

Read the story in the Outer Banks Voice.

New rules to ease sandbag restrictions

Proposed new rules will make it easier for beachfront land owners to build sandbag walls and leave them in place for longer periods.

Members of the state panel directed by the N.C. General Assembly to create the rules expressed fears this week that the new, looser restrictions could result in hardened beaches along the entire North Carolina coast.
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CHEC will relocate line to prepare for Bonner Bridge replacement

The Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative, in cooperation with North Carolina Department of Transportation, will begin work to relocate its 115kV transmission cable south of Oregon Inlet to allow DOT needed space to begin construction of the Bonner Bridge replacement. 
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Dredging in Hatteras Inlet scheduled to start this week

Dredging will start this week in a shoaled section of channel in Hatteras Inlet, a project that will provide much-needed relief to ferry and private vessel traffic to and from the Atlantic.

Working off a recently completed survey, the state Ferry Division will use the state dredge Carolina  to clear about 700-800 feet between the inlet gorge and Sloop Channel, a section that currently has as little as 3.5 feet of water. 
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The Hidden Epidemic: The social safety network helping OBX’s needy

Kindness is woven into the fabric of the Outer Banks, as is quickly evident when people living or visiting here find themselves in trouble. But where to get help is not always obvious, and it may be limited in scope or difficult to access.

Over the last fo
ur decades of rapid growth in Dare County, a patchwork network of organizations — many of them nonprofit and community generated — has sprung up to address gaps that cohesive families once filled.

Read the article, the third and last in a series by Catherine Kozak, in The Outer Banks Sentinel.

The Hidden Epidemic:  For 'working poor,' a constant battle to make ends meet

About one-in-ten (11.1%) of Dare County residents lived below the federally established poverty line in 2013, the last year for which data are available. But that doesn’t tell the whole story.    

Nearly one-third (29%) of the county’s residents are considered low income, earning less than twice the federal poverty level. Still others fall into a more amorphous category of “working poor,” those who live at the economic edges because of the unique characteristics — low wages, high costs of living and seasonal economic swings — that define life on the Outer Banks.

Read the article, the second in a series by writer Catherine Kozak, in The Outer Banks Sentinel.

The Hidden Epidemic: In resort setting, some Dare residents struggle with poverty

Officially, Dare County is one of the richest in North Carolina. Our tourism-based economy last year raked in $1.2 billion from visitors, behind only mega-wealthy Mecklenburg and Wake counties. Our real estate is valued in the billions and we sent about $90 million combined in state and local tax receipts to Raleigh in 2014.

But Dare County, and its residents, are by no means immune to economic distress. In 2013, the last year for which data are available, about 20 percent of Dare’s children lived in poverty. Of our year-round population of roughly 35,000 people, about 3,000 of them fell below the poverty rate. According to March 2015 numbers, 8,365 people requested public assistance for needs that included housing, food, child care, transportation and utility costs.

And the percentage of poor people in Dare County has grown steadily. In 1989, the rate of children under 18 in poverty was 8.3 percent, less than half of what it is today. According to NC Child, during the 2007-2008 recession, 26 percent of Dare’s school children qualified for the free or reduced lunch program. In June 2015, nearly half — 43 percent — of Dare’s students qualified, with the highest percentages in Manteo and Hatteras Island schools.

Read the article, the first in a series by Catherine Kozak, in The Outer Banks Sentinel.

BOC takes up paying for nourishment, ferry tolling, zoning

Topics of interest to Hatteras Island dominated the Dare County Board of Commissioners meeting on Monday, Nov. 16.

The members of the board decided not to reconsider their resolution favoring ferry tolling and not to make changes to the current S-1 zoning in the tri-villages, received information from the county manager on creating a special tax district to help pay for Buxton Beach nourishment, and voted in favor of a Tourism Board grant of $50,000 to the Hatteras Island Ocean Center.  
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David Oaksmith, stalwart of Dare County education, dies

David E. Oaksmith, a passionate advocate of education and the former chairman of the Dare County school board, died over the weekend at his home in Southerm Shores. He was 83.

Combining 14 years as a math teacher at Manteo High School, eight of those as department chair, and more than 16 years on the Board of Education with 13 years as chairman, Oaksmith served in education for more than 30 years in Dare County.

Read the story in The Outer Banks Voice.

Warren Judge announces he will seek Tine's House seat

Dare County Commissioner Warren Judge of Kitty Hawk has announced his candidacy for the North Carolina House of Representatives District 6 seat being vacated by Paul Tines.  Judge, a Democrat, was the long-time chairman of the seven-member board until Republicans took control in last November's general election. 
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Coast Guard removes passengers from grounded ferry

On Monday afternoon, the U.S. Coast Guard was removing passengers from a ferry that ran aground on an ebbing tide between Ocracoke and Hatteras islands. Crews from the N.C. Department of Transportation Ferry Division were also aiding in evacuating passengers from the ferry, the M/V Roanoke. 
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Judge travels to Hyde County to apologize for ferry vote

Warren Judge, a Dare County commissioner, apologized to Hyde County Monday night for voting to approve the concept of tolling the Hatteras ferry.

“I own the vote,” Judge told the commissioners in person when he attended the Commissioners meeting Nov. 2 in Swan Quarter  about the action that the Dare body took Oct. 19 unbeknownst to Hyde County officials.
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Contract awarded for new temporary bridge on Pea Island

Construction will begin soon on the new interim bridge along Highway 12 at Pea Island in Dare County.

The N.C. Department of Transportation today awarded a $14.3 million contract to T.A. Loving Co. of Goldsboro, N.C., for the construction of a new concrete bridge that will replace the existing metal temporary bridge constructed in 2011 at New Inlet following Hurricane Irene.
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Residents of tri-villages shout down zoning proposal

Property owners from Hatteras Island’s northern villages came out in force Wednesday night to tell the Dare County Planning Board in no uncertain terms that they did not want to change their current zoning.

A vocal and at times raucous standing-room-only crowd filled every seat and lined the walls of the Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo Community Center to provide feedback on a proposed zoning map that would create new commercial and residential zones for property in the tri-villages.   Read more