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Hi, and welcome to my "Editor's Blog"! In this space I'll be attempting to keep our readers informed on fast-breaking news and issues affecting our islands. Visit often. There's a lot going on!

Enjoy the Island Free Press and, even more importantly, enjoy our wonderful barrier island!!!

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Anonymous (The pressure is o…): Closing the Buxton refuse and recycling center would be a disaster that would significantly increase …
Ray (The pressure is o…): Here’s a way to get new money for the county. www.eyeondare.blog spot.com/2015/0..
Billfish (The pressure is o…): Denny, Don’t bother. The sequester passed by house, senate and signed by the president already decide…
Tom Cain (The pressure is o…): Beth Saylor, the ferries are part of the NC highway system. By your logic, out of state travelers sho…
salvo jimmy (Catching up on se…): Another thing that needs changing in the ORV permit is to make the annual permit a true annual permit…
Denny in Dayton (The pressure is o…): @ BuxtonResident, boaters do pay a Federal and State excise tax on their fuels already as well as oth…

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The pressure is on the Dare County commissioners

Friday 27 March 2015 at 6:26 pm

Toward the end of his comments at today's special meeting and just before the Board of Commissioners voted on a resolution to ask the General Assembly to authorize a quarter-cent sales tax increase without a referendum to pay for inlet dredging, Chairman Bob Woodard asked the sheriff's deputies in the meeting room to turn out the lights.

"Cut every one of them off," he said.

"How do you feel in the dark?" he asked his fellow commissioners and the large crowd in the room.

"How do you feel Mary Helen and Neel?" he asked two reporters.  "Can you write?"

"Do you feel uncomfortable?" he asked the crowd again.

After the lights were turned back on, Woodard said, "That's how half of you in the audience feel every day."

He was referring to the boat captains and fishermen and their supporters who came to support the resolution to help deal with the dangerous, badly shoaled, and almost closed Oregon Inlet.

Further addressing the watermen, he said they feel that way because "you haven't been able to drive on the highway on your way to work" -- an allusion to the channel in the inlet that leads to their work in the ocean.

It was a dramatic gesture in what was an impassioned speech by Woodard -- not only about the inlet but about other issues that threaten the county's economic stability.

"These folks have lives," he said. "These folks have families....They've waited 40 years.  It's time to make this happen."

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Catching up on seashore issues

Friday 20 March 2015 at 3:14 pm

These late March weeks promise to be quiet ones on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.  Pre-nesting closures for some birds are already up, and park staff members are reportedly busy working on the seashore's response to legislation passed by Congress in late December.

The seashore's new superintendent, Dave Hallac, has promised public meetings in mid-April to preview how exactly the seashore will respond to Congress' demand that the Park Service take a new look at buffer distances around bird and turtle nests and, in some cases, provide access though areas closed for resource protection.

So I will take the opportunity in this week's blog to catch up with some seashore issues that I've written about in the past and to pass on a few bits of news.

CIRCLE OF STONES

The story of the so-called "circle of stones" has now come full circle, so to speak. Though the circle is now a semi-circle, this is apparently a case of all's well that ends well.

The circle of stones refers to the large granite blocks carved from the original foundation of the 1870 Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in 1999 when the National Park Service moved it to its new location to save it from the encroaching Atlantic Ocean.

These heavy stones -- the lightest weighs 3,000 pounds -- were arranged in a circle to mark the historic site of the lighthouse.  The Outer Banks Lighthouse Society paid about $12,000 to have the stones engraved with the names of the keepers of both the 1803 and 1870 lighthouses.

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The first 90 days of new leadership

Friday 13 March 2015 at 10:11 am

When Republicans took control of the Dare County Board of Commissioners in last November's election, they promised change. After they were sworn in on Dec. 1, the new chairman, Bob Woodard, talked more about the changes he hoped to see.

Along the way, Woodard has made repeated references to getting much of the work of change done in the first 90 days.

"This board has tackled issues in these first 90 days," he said at last week's board meeting. "We've been willing to look at things and willing to make decisions and move and go forward."

That meeting was on Monday, March 2, exactly 90 days after the new board took over the reins.

That marathon meeting, which lasted from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. with a lunch hour and one shorter break, was remarkable -- although perhaps not in the way that some or all of the five Republicans on the seven-member board had in mind.

Just about the entire meeting from its start until the 2 p.m. lunch break was dominated by a discussion of a bill that has been introduced in the North Carolina General Assembly that would allow the commissioners to use funds from the county's 6 percent occupancy tax to dredge Oregon Inlet. (You can click here to read the story on the meeting.)

The bill, Senate Bill 160, was filed this week in Raleigh by Republican Sen. Bill Cook. The short title is "Enhance safety and commerce for ports/inlets."  It would, among other things, help create a path for state and local governments to fund the dredging of shallow-draft inlets -- without the requirement for cost-sharing with the feds.

The handwriting has been on the wall about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers funding for dredging these waterways, including Dare County's very important Hatteras and Oregon inlets. Federal funds for dredging have dwindled to almost nothing over the past several years, while the navigation problems in the inlets have gotten only worse.

It has been clear that the state and local governments were going to have to step up to the plate.

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