Local News

Coast Guard rescues Pinterest investor and crew from sailboat off Hatteras....WITH VIDEO

The U.S. Coast Guard made international news this weekend with the Friday rescue of five people from a disabled sailboat about 220 miles off Hatteras.

One of those rescued has been reported by national and international media as prominent millionaire Brian Cohen, an original investor in Pinterest.  Some of the other four rescued were said to be members of his family.
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Dare County says Attorney General will investigate Outer Banks gas prices

Dare County announced today that the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office has launched an investigation into high gas prices along the Outer Banks, as formally requested by the county Board of Commissioners last week.
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Legislative Update: And they are off -- sort of

The North Carolina General Assembly convened on Jan. 14 to begin its current session and to choose the leadership in both the House and Senate chambers. Phil Berger (R-District 26) will remain the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and Tim Moore (R- District 111) is now Speaker of the House, replacing former Speaker Thom Tillis, who was elected to the U.S. Senate in November, beating Kay Hagan.

The legislative members returned to work on Jan. 28 and 29 to complete legislative housekeeping issues, such as committee and seat assignments and to file the first of what is expected to be a long list of bills over the coming months.
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Sheriff's office warns residents about phone scam

The Dare County Sheriff's Office is warning residents about a phone scam in which a caller, identifying himself as a Dare County deputy sheriff, tells them that they owe money and tries to make arrangements for payment.

According to Chief Deputy Steve Hoggard, the caller tells the person that he or she owes a fine or a tax or some other amount of money.  Hoggard said the caller proposes a meeting at which the fine can be paid or asks for credit card or other financial information.  
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Feds announce Atlantic drilling plan

The Obama Administration did the expected Tuesday and announced plans to potentially open portions of the Atlantic coast, including offshore North Carolina, to oil and natural gas drilling for the first time in almost three decades.

In keeping with Obama’s all-of-the above approach to energy development, the federal Bureau of Energy Management, or BOEM, yesterday released a draft five-year leasing plan that would begin in 2017 for offshore drilling. BOEM last week started the process to lease portions of federal waters off the North Carolina coast for commercial wind energy.  
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Feds move closer to offshore wind in North Carolina

The federal government last week took the next significant step toward developing commercial wind energy off the N.C. coast by releasing an environmental assessment that supports the potential lease sale for more than 300,000 acres in three areas, one off the northern Outer Banks and two near Wilmington.

“We are really pleased that the administration is continuing down the offshore wind path,” said Nancy Sopko, an ocean advocate with Oceana, a nonprofit group that advocates for world’s oceans and supports offshore wind development. “This is a big step forward, especially for North Carolina because of its abundant wind.”  
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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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UPDATE: Dredging, re-marking channel will aid boaters in Hatteras Inlet

The federal dredge Merritt is scheduled to arrive at sand-clogged Hatteras Inlet on Saturday, although there’s a good chance that the project may be delayed by a strong, fast-moving coastal low. 

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says that the Merritt has been scheduled to work a half-day on Saturday and all of Sunday, followed by a layover of three days. Work would then resume on Jan. 29 and continue through Feb. 4. The dredge will be primarily focused on clearing sand between buoys 14 and 15 in the Rollinson Channel, the portion of the former “short channel” still used on ferry runs between Hatteras and Ocracoke islands.  
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Hatteras Inlet faring poorly also, but isn't viewed yet as dire

Hatteras Inlet is faring nearly as poorly as its counterpart to the north, with similarly difficult-to-resolve shoaling issues. But it is not yet viewed as an equally dire situation.

“Hatteras Inlet has a problem,” said Hatteras charter boat captain Ernie Foster. “Oregon Inlet has a disaster.”  
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Jones asks Corps to allot more money for Oregon Inlet

Congressman Walter B. Jones, R-N.C., has called on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to allocate additional funding to dredge Eastern North Carolina’s Oregon Inlet.  In a letter to Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy and Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick at the Army Corps of Engineers, Jones explained that the inlet’s main channel has shoaled from its authorized depth of 14 feet to under 3 feet in some places. 

Furthermore, the  $800,000 provided for the project in President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget request has already been spent.  As a result, the jobs and economic impact related to the inlet are in serious peril. 
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Dare residents share concerns with commissioners at special meeting

In what was the first town-hall meeting of Dare County’s new Board of Commissioners, citizens filled every seat and stood along the wall in the board meeting room in Manteo Wednesday night to listen or tell commissioners what was on their minds.

About 20 or so people came to the microphone to specify their concerns, with members of the board often offering a response. Bob Woodard, the board’s newly elected chairman, told the audience that he organized the meeting as a way to reach out to people and involve citizens in their government.
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Passenger ferry trial run is set for spring

As part of the feasibility study to see if a passenger ferry option should be added to the Hatteras-Ocracoke car ferry runs, trial runs are planned for this spring, Ed Goodwin, the N.C. Ferry Division director, announced Monday at a public meeting in the Community Center.

“I attend monthly meetings in Raleigh and this is the fastest moving transportation initiative in the state,” Goodwin said. “Everyone I have spoken to has been supportive. Hopefully, the feasibility study we are doing will confirm this.”  
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UPDATE:  Two recent Hatteras fires are ruled accidental

Dare County fire marshal Steve Kovacs has determined that fires at two Hatteras Island businesses during November were accidental. The first was the Nov. 18 blaze at the main office of Outer Beaches Realty in Avon and the second was on Nov. 23 at Lee Robinson General Store in Hatteras village.
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Motions handled, schedule set in tort claim against DOT by Buxton motel owners

At a pre-trial hearing last week, a deputy commissioner for the North Carolina Industrial Commission handled several motions and set a schedule for proceeding in the tort claim complaint that Carol and Dave Dawson of the Cape Hatteras Motel in Buxton have filed against the Department of Transportation.

The Dawsons are asking that DOT pay $1 million for damages to their motel that they say were caused by the agency's negligence. That is the maximum amount available under the Tort Claims Act.  
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UPDATE: NCDOT asks for fifth time extension, no end in sight to negotiations

If you thought perhaps the parties involved in negotiating a settlement to the long legal battle over replacing the aging Herbert C. Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet would finally  reach an agreement after the holidays, you will probably be wrong.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration  today asked for the fifth extension of the time in which they can ask the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Va., for a rehearing of an August ruling in a case brought by the Southern Environmental Law Center, on behalf of its clients, to stop the planned bridge replacement.
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Tine Switching To Unaffiliated, Will Caucus With Republicans

North Carolina Rep. Paul Tine of Kitty Hawk, one of the few Democrats to survive the Republican sweep in Dare and the other counties he represents in November's general election, announced today that he is switching his registration to unaffiliated and will caucus with Republicans in the General Assembly.  
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Some flu cases reported on Hatteras, but it's not epidemic yet

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Monday that this season's influenza activity is high or widespread in 43 states, including North Carolina, where the flu was declared epidemic last week.

However, health providers say that Hatteras Island hasn't reached that level yet.

"North Carolina is an epidemic state, but we are not in an epidemic on the island," said Dr. T. Bentley Crabtree Jr. of Vidant Family Medicine in Avon.  
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Coast Guard proposes new regulation at Oregon Inlet, but won't restrict boat traffic for now

Mariners will be not be stopped by the U.S. Coast Guard from transiting Oregon Inlet under a new navigation regulation, unless conditions become hazardous enough to justify issuing a notice to mariners. 

Exacerbated by a recent northeaster, even alternate channels under the Herbert C. Bonner Bridge are barely navigable because of sand build-up, but the Coast Guard is not, for now, restricting boat traffic, said Lt. Lane Monroe with Coast Guard Sector North Carolina.
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NCDOT crews are busy moving sand on Pea Island

North Carolina Department of Transportation crews have been busy on Pea Island since last week both repairing damage to dunes caused by last week's northeaster and building a dune berm to reduce ocean overwash on Highway 12 at the temporary bridge at the inlet, opened by Hurricane Irene in 2011.
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