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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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salvo jimmy (Dare County gover…): This item has obviously made it to Dare politics. Tobacco Smoke Enemas (1750’s-1810’s) The tobac…
Beth Midgett (Dare County gover…): Thank you for identifying the attendees. Although I knew many, I did not know all. I know early on …
Bud (Dare County gover…): Pea Island beaches were the widest on Hatteras, over 300’. Now the ocean is at the foot of dunes at h…
Buxton Resident (Dare County gover…): Beth Midgett said and I quote “only 28 private and charter fishing vessels are participating in the 2…
Ray Midgett (Dare County gover…): Lynne, I assure you that I have no criticism to offer towards Beth’s involvement at that meeting. Per…
Lynne Foster (Dare County gover…): Around 5pm all this week Hatteras village was abuzz. Trucks, trailers, autos parked anywhere they co…

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Dare County government needs more transparency on inlet issues

Friday 15 May 2015 at 4:37 pm

Wrestling with the never-ending issue of shoaling in Dare County inlets has brought the need for more transparency in county government to the forefront in recent months.

 More transparency is what the new chairman, Bob Woodard, promised when he was sworn in at the Dec. 1 meeting of the board shortly after a sweep in the November general election gave the Republicans a majority on the board for the first time in decades.

However, that's not what has happened.

As the county and two of its advisory panels pushed for long-term solutions to the problem of keeping inlets, especially Oregon Inlet, open to boat traffic, two problems have become apparent.

Not only have the solutions been pursued largely out of public view, but now some are questioning who is really in charge of this pursuit at the county level -- the board or Oregon Inlet stakeholders who hold most of the seats on the advisory panels.

And, to make matters worse, the inlet discussion has reignited another issue that many thought was put to rest decades ago -- the issue of Hatteras Island's parity with the rest of the county.

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A new day for the park and the people?

Friday 08 May 2015 at 5:59 pm

A good-size crowd of residents and regular visitors came to the Cape Hatteras Secondary School auditorium on Tuesday evening, May 5, to hear about and comment on the National Park Service's plan to adjust wildlife protection buffers in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore in response to legislation passed in December by the U.S. Congress.

And, for the first time in a long time, the meeting was cordial.  It was polite and respectful, and by the end, it bordered on downright friendly -- with some folks even cracking a joke or two and getting a few laughs.

According to the National Park Service, 86 people attended. Seashore Superintendent David Hallac opened the meeting with a PowerPoint presentation on the Environmental Assessment document that details the proposed new buffers for nesting birds and turtles.

Hallac noted that the meeting was scheduled from 6 until 8 p.m., but added that he and seashore staff members would "stick around as long as you want to talk."

He also had an informal "question-and-answer" period before members of the audience came to the microphone to make their formal comments, which also contributed to the more positive and relaxed tone of the evening.

When the meeting ended after almost two hours, some residents and regular visitors hung around to talk with seashore Superintendent Dave Hallac and members of his staff.  Some huddled around maps and had serious conversations about various access issues, and others just engaged in a little small talk and exchanged pleasantries.

The evening was certainly a far cry from other meetings in the past decade about off-road vehicle planning and public access to the seashore's beaches -- meetings at which the tone ranged from contentious to downright hostile.

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An update on the Bonner Bridge and other news bites

Friday 01 May 2015 at 5:17 pm

There was a lot of news on the islands in April -- news about public access to the seashore, our troubled inlets, and trial runs of a passenger ferry.

The public can have input on all three of those issues at meetings next week -- and more about that later.

First, let's talk about the issue that was absent from the news again in April. That would be the replacement of the decrepit Herbert C. Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet.

Coincidentally, several readers e-mailed me this week asking for an update on the bridge.

The update on the Bonner Bridge replacement is that there is no update.

It's been almost nine months -- 233 days -- since the N.C. Department of Transportation announced it was stopping work on the new, permanent bridge at Pea Island Inlet -- part of its long-term plan to replace the span over Oregon Inlet and deal with the "hotspots" on Highway 12.

Several days later, DOT and the Federal Highway Administration announced they were at the table with the Southern Environmental Law Center and its clients to try to negotiate an end to the long legal battle over the plan.

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