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Legislative Update:  Bill aims at opportunities for Oregon Inlet Lifesaving Station

While the North Carolina House of Representatives wrestled with its version of the budget this week, the N.C. Senate continued moving other bills forward, amending many along the way.

A bill seemed designed to quasi-privatize some public properties had been dormant until it came alive on May 20 when it was amended and moved forward in the process.
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Dr. Beach chooses Cape Hatteras as No. 5 on Top 10 list

Dr. Beach’s 25th annual list of the Top 10 U.S. beaches was released yesterday, just before the Memorial Day weekend, and Cape Hatteras  Beach in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore is again on the list.

This year the seashore beach ranks No. 5 on the list – up one from last year’s No. 6 spot and up three from No. 8 in 2012.
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Notorious church, labeled ‘hate group,’ plans demonstration at FFHS

The Westboro Baptist Church, an organization characterized by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “arguably the most obnoxious and rabid hate group in America,” is planning a protest at First Flight High School in Kill Devil Hills, according to an article posted yesterday on the Outer Banks Sentinel's website.

The protest is planned for the morning of Tuesday, June 1, between 7:40 and 8:10 a.m.  
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School funding battle may loom in Dare County’s FY '16 budget

Despite hopes of avoiding another school funding showdown this year, there were signs of an impending school budget battle when County Manager Bobby Outten presented his recommended Fiscal Year 2016 budget at the May 18 Dare Board of Commissioners meeting.

The crux of the issue, raised by Dare Board of Education Chairman Ben Sproul at the meeting, is about a half million dollars to fund pending state-mandated teachers’ raises that is not currently included in Outten’s recommended budget. Sproul said that, if the county does not allocate that money, the schools would be left trying to cope with “a huge cut.”

Read the story in the Outer Banks Sentinel.


UPDATE:  Recordings available for two county inlet panel meetings

Two Hatteras islanders who attended meetings of the Dare County Oregon Inlet Task Force and the Dare County Inlet and Waterways Commission on Tuesday, May 19, have provided recordings of the proceedings for anyone who is interested in more details than are provided in the story below.

Click here to listen to a recording of The Oregon Inlet Task Force meeting.

Click here to listen to a recording of the Oregon Inlet and Waterways Commission meeting.

Dare's Inlet and Waterways Commission votes not to disband after all

Instead of being dissolved, the Dare County Oregon Inlet and Waterways Commission is being reinvigorated with a more direct approach to Hatteras Inlet’s issues. 

At its meeting in Manteo on Tuesday night, the seven-member panel voted unanimously to recommend to the county Board of Commissioners that it continue to function. The panel also agreed to ask the board to seek funds for an economic study of Hatteras Inlet, and in the future, to consider renaming the group with a more inclusive moniker.
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Two sides clash at meeting to discuss merger of inlet panels

The proposed consolidation of the Dare County Oregon Inlet and Waterways Commission and the Oregon Inlet Task Force has been met with strong pushback from users of Hatteras Inlet, who fear their needs will be swamped by Oregon Inlet’s continual woes.

At a contentious meeting on Thursday of the ad-hoc committee appointed by the Dare County Board of Commissioners to discuss details of a merger, Commissioner Allen Burrus, a committee member, insisted that Hatteras Inlet be specifically included in whatever committee, legislation and funding is employed to address inlet dredging.  
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Wildfire on Alligator River Refuge now under control

A wildfire that may have been started yesterday by lightning is now apparently under control on the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and N.C. Forest Service personnel responded about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday to a report of smoke in the refuge along the shore of Croatan Sound, north of Point Peter Road and south of Callahan's Creek.  
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Two fire departments in tri-villages are planning to consolidate

Plans are moving forward to consolidate operations of the two volunteer fire departments in Hatteras Island's  tri-villages, according to board members of the Salvo Volunteer Fire Department and the Chicamacomico Banks Fire Department.

Both stations will remain open but will operate under one set of guidelines and be governed by a single board of directors.
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Joining hands on Ocracoke against offshore drilling

Allison Williams and Tony Chambers were happy to participate in the Hands Across the Sand protest of offshore oil drilling on Saturday, May 16, because they’ve had experience swimming in oceans with oil spills.

The two, of Raleigh, were among about 100 islanders and visitors who joined hands at the Lifeguard Beach at noon, and the group was among many others participating on Saturday in the United States and eight countries worldwide to protest offshore drilling, according to Dede Shelton of Boise, Idaho, one of the national organizers of Hands Across the Sand.
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Coast Guard to discontinue navigational aids in Hatteras Inlet

Coast Guard Sector North Carolina is scheduled to temporarily discontinue numerous navigation aids in the vicinity of Hatteras Inlet due to shoaling on Thursday, May 21.

Recent hydrographic surveys indicate shoaling in Hatteras Inlet between Buoy 9 and Buoy 13.  The current navigational aids in this section of the waterway do not accurately mark navigable water because of limited channel depth and reduced channel width. 
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Westbound Wright Memorial Bridge reopens

The N.C. Department of Transportation reopened westbound U.S. 158 over the Wright Memorial Bridge at the Currituck and Dare County line to traffic on Wednesday, May 14. All work on the bridge deck project is now complete.
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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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Newest board idea for dredging not legal, Cook aide says

At its meeting on Monday, the Dare County Board of Commissioners requested that the General Assembly approve using $5.5 million from the beach nourishment fund for dredging Oregon Inlet.

The funds were collected to use for beach nourishment under a 1-cent sales tax before it was repealed through a ballot measure in 2006. What is left of the money collected is part of the larger beach nourishment fund, currently sustained by 2 cents in occupancy tax, and is used for such things as sand fencing and planting dune grass.

But on Thursday, Jordan Hennessy, Sen. Bill Cook’s legislative aide, responding to press questions on behalf of the senator, said that won't fly because the purpose of the money can’t be changed under the North Carolina Constitution’s Article V Sec. 5 which states: “Every act of the General Assembly levying a tax shall state the special object to which it is to be applied and it shall be applied to no other purpose.”  
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County board tables inlet issue on agenda and takes up one that isn't

Dredging and how to pay for it dominated the Dare County Board of Commissioners meeting on Monday, with members tabling one issue while unexpectedly tackling another. 

Within minutes of starting, the board agreed to remove a controversial agenda item on consolidation of Oregon Inlet and Waterways Commission and the Oregon Inlet Task Force.

And shortly before ending, it took action on another controversial dredging issue that was not on the agenda. The board split 4-3 on a motion seeking authorization to tap county funds collected from a now-defunct 1-cent sales tax dedicated to beach nourishment  to use for dredging. 
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Passenger ferry makes stops at Hatteras and Ocracoke.....WITH SLIDE SHOW

Many Ocracoke islanders who visited the passenger ferry, the Provincetown III, on Tuesday, May 5, were heartened.

“I’m greatly encouraged,” noted Leslie Lanier, owner of Books to Be Red, as she noted the bicycle racks on the bow.

“It’s an answer to our economic future,” said Mickey Baker, owner of Mermaid’s Folly. However, so is going back to the short route, she continued.  
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Congressman talks about Hatteras issues and more on radio show...WITH AUDIO

U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., was the guest on the most recent edition of the Radio Hatteras interview show, "To the Point," which was broadcast on May 3.

Jones, who describes himself as an "independent Republican," is serving his 11th term representing 22 coastal counties, including Dare, in the U.S. House of Representatives. During his two decades in the House, he has been active in supporting issues of importance to Hatteras Island, including public access to the seashore, dredging inlets, and commercial fishing -- just to name a few.  
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266 runners of all ages compete in Ocracoke races....WITH SLIDE SHOW

It was sports day on Ocracoke Saturday as 266 runners of all ages competed in the Foothills Brewing 5K/10K races in the morning and children competed on the new ball field in the afternoon.

Keith Gray, 50, of Buxton, won the 10K in the men’s division, with a time of 37:25. It was his first win, besting Alfonso “Chito” Guerrero of Ocracoke, the defending champion who won the race last year with a time of 38:58.

“I’ll take it,” Gray, 50, said as he cooled down in front of Gaffer’s Sports Pub where the race ended.  “The older you get, the better you are at longer distances.”  
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DOT wants public feedback on 10-year transportation plan

 The N.C. Department of Transportation wants public feedback on its Draft 10-Year State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). This is the first STIP developed under the new Strategic Transportation Investments law, which established the Strategic Mobility Formula.

 NCDOT is asking the public to provide feedback on the process to develop the STIP and ideas for improvement and the variety and geographic diversity of the projects.  
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County declares six houses on Buxton Beach unsafe...WITH SLIDE SHOW

A Dare County building inspector has put up "unsafe structure" notices on six oceanfront houses on the beach in north Buxton. Planning Department inspector I.G. Scarborough said that power has been disconnected to the houses, which are not allowed to be occupied.
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Ocracoke occupancy tax board says 'no' to fireworks

There will be no fireworks on Ocracoke for the July 4 holiday this year. Earlier this month, the Ocracoke Occupancy Tax Board declined to fund the more than $31,000 it would take for the island to have these aerial displays.

“It’s just too much money,” said Frank Brown, chairman of the board.  “It’s a tough decision.”
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Community Foundation now accepting grant applications

The Outer Banks Community Foundation is now accepting grant applications from qualified nonprofits for several different grant programs, including the David Aycock Loy, Pauline Wright, Aviation Education, and Community Enrichment grant programs.

Applications must be completed and submitted online by Friday, May 1, through the Community Foundation’s website: www.obcf.org.  
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BOC chairman sends another letter on Dare County gas prices

Bob Woodard, chairman of the Dare County Board of Commissioners, has sent a second letter to state Attorney General Roy Cooper asking for him to investigate gas prices in Dare County.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Justice said this week that the department's Consumer Affairs Division continues to investigate the complaint.  
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Gas pricing on Hatteras Island is topic of radio interview...WITH AUDIO


Bryan Perry, owner of Frisco Shopping Center and Frisco Rod & Gun, where he sells, among other things, gasoline, was the guest on this week's edition of "To the Point" on Radio Hatteras.

In the interview, Perry, who has been selling gas at the store since 1975, gives some straightforward answers to questions about how he determines the price of gas at his pumps and how much profit he makes on it. 
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UPDATE: Appeals Court grants request for mediation

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit today granted a request by all of the parties involved in the legal wrangling over replacing the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge for the assistance of a mediator in their effort to negotiate a settlement in the case.
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Bonner Bridge down to one lane for concrete repairs

Starting Wednesday, Jan. 28, weather permitting, the North Carolina Department of Transportation will close a section of one lane of the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge on Highway 12 over the Oregon Inlet.

The lane closure will enable crews with Precon Marine Inc. of Chesapeake, Va. to begin repairs to the concrete along the underside of the bridge deck. The project is expected to be complete by mid-June. 
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