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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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Dewey Parr (Commissioners get…): Ray Midgett, I think you have brought up a good point when it comes to the Buxton Beach Nourishment P…
bbc (Commissioners get…): Something needs to be done in the short term and then a long term plan needs to be put in place. Th…
Ray Midgett (Commissioners get…): Now that the beach nourishment bids for the KH, KDH and Duck projects have come in over the estimated…
Anonymous (Commissioners get…): Thank you for pointing that out about Mirlo, SJ. Before nourishment of Buxton is finalized, the Cou…
salvo jimmy (Commissioners get…): And the S-Curve nourishment project was completed in Sep 2014 at a cost of about $20M.
salvo jimmy (Commissioners get…): The nourishment advocates should note that overwash in the S-Curve area, where there was recent nouri…

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Commissioners get an earful from Hatteras islanders

Friday 05 February 2016 at 5:47 pm

Hatteras islanders packed the gymnasium at the Fessenden Center in Buxton on a particularly rainy, nasty, and foggy Thursday night to tell the tell County Board of Commissioners what is on their minds.

The official count is that 250 islanders attended, along with 30 or so county employees and department heads.  

Six commissioners attended.  Commissioner Margarette Umphlette was absent because of an illness in her family.  

The commissioners listened attentively for almost two hours as 28 islanders came to the microphone to speak to them without time limits -- including three who came back for a second round of comments. Then each board member made some brief comments.  The meeting, which started at 6:30, did not break up until after 9 p.m.

The crowd was respectful, but enthusiastic and very eager to share their thoughts, concerns, and suggestions with their county leaders.  

Almost all of those who spoke mentioned how much they appreciated the board members traveling to Hatteras Island for the meeting. And several made the point before the evening was over that they hoped the commissioners would come back -- and more often.

The issue mentioned most often was the possibility of a "sand tax" -- a special tax district to pay for beach nourishment in north Buxton.  And almost every one of the islanders who spoke on the issue, opposed a tax increase.

The county has asked the National Park Service for a special use permit to nourish the beach in Buxton to protect Highway 12 from the encroaching Atlantic Ocean and frequent ocean overwash.   Woodard said last night that the permit is expected to be issued, and the project is on track to begin in late spring or early summer.  

The estimated cost is about $25 million, and most of it will be paid for with funds from a 2 percent occupancy tax that is earmarked for county beach nourishment projects, including those in four towns on the northern beaches.

Woodard emphasized last night that the board has made no decision on Buxton nourishment but is considering its options, which include a special tax district to help fund the project.  For some, it's an issue of fairness -- property owners in the towns will be taxed to help pay for nourishment and Hatteras islanders should then have to contribute also.

And, while the sand tax was mentioned often, the comments were more broad and general than just beach nourishment and whether islanders should pay for it. Many speakers expressed a general concern for the island's transportation corridor -- including issues of erosion, hotspots, overwash, and bridges.

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Why you need to be at the Commissioners' town hall meeting on Feb. 4

Friday 29 January 2016 at 5:01 pm

The members of the Dare County Board of Commissioners are coming to Hatteras Island next week on Thursday, Feb. 4. They are coming to hear from their constituents at a town hall meeting at 6:30 p.m. at the Fessenden Center.

And all of us who live on Hatteras -- or live elsewhere but own property here -- ought to be there.  We ought to pack the house.

The reason why we should attend is that Dare County's long-planned beach nourishment project in north Buxton will apparently start in late spring or early summer.

The restoration of the beach is waiting for several state and federal permits. The most important of them is a special use permit from the National Park Service, which owns the beaches in the seashore. The permits are expected to come through in time to start pumping sand in just a few months time.

And before the sand starts hitting the beach, the commissioners will decide whether or not Hatteras islanders will help pay for the project, which is expected to cost between $20 and $27 million.

So if you pay taxes on Hatteras Island, you ought to attend the town hall meeting on Thursday and tell the commissioners you don't think it's fair to ask islanders to pay for sand to protect Highway 12.

Or tell them that you think it's just fine to help pay for sand on the Buxton beach.

However, you had best say something because the commissioners have already had a presentation on the creation of a special tax district to pay for the project by county manager Bobby Outten. That happened back in November, and board chairman Bob Woodard says he is just giving all of his fellow commissioners time to digest the material before they discuss it -- and then vote on it.

It's probably a safe bet that the commissioners will discuss a "sand tax" at their board retreat in February and at their budget workshops after that.

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Starry Nights on Hatteras Island

Friday 22 January 2016 at 5:14 pm

I woke up early in the morning, well before daylight, earlier this week during Hatteras Island's Arctic outbreak.

I know our friends up north aren't impressed, but it did get down to 25 degrees one night and barely got above freezing the next day. Actually, it's been cold all week until today when it's warmed up but started raining and will soon get very windy.

Anyway, before I went back to bed, I glanced out the window.  The night sky was breathtaking.  I was reminded how beautiful the skies are on really cold, clear nights on Hatteras and Ocracoke.

Our dark night skies are something to behold year-round, but, somehow, there's nothing quite like the winter night sky here.

And all of us -- residents and visitors -- will have a special chance to not only view it -- we hope -- but also to learn what we are looking at on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 12 and 13, when the Hatteras Village Civic Association presents its first annual Starry Nights On Hatteras Island event.

Belinda Pla-Willis is organizing the event with fellow villager Tracy Shisler.

"Tracy and I have been thinking about it for a couple of years," says Belinda, who owns Lee Robinson General Store with her husband, Virgil.

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