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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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ORV rulemaking is falling further behind schedule

Wednesday 25 November 2009 at 08:31 am The National Park Service is not going to meet its self-imposed deadline of releasing a Draft Environmental Impact Statement and identifying a preferred alternative for managing off-road vehicle operation on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore this fall.

“It’s likely to be available no earlier than late December or early January,” Seashore Superintendent Mike Murray said in a meeting with reporters last week. “But I just can’t tell you exactly when.”

“That is later than we had hoped,” Murray added. 

In a September meeting, Murray said he hoped that the document would be available for public review in late November or early December. Read More

SELC and friends jump on damaged highway to push again for long bridge

Thursday 19 November 2009 at 8:22 pm

It didn’t take long for the environmental groups to weigh in on the coastal storm damage to Highway 12 at Rodanthe.

Here are the headlines from yesterday’s media release from the Southern Environmental Law Center and five other groups:

Groups Call on N.C. to Build Safer Route after Sea Reclaims Outer Banks Highway
Longer Bridge Option Less Exposed and Safer for People and Refuge

Interestingly, Island Free Press reporter and videographer Rob Alderman stopped by this morning to visit Allen Burrus, vice-chairman of the Dare County Board of Commissioners and owner of Burrus Red & White Supermarket in Hatteras village.

Alderman and Burrus were chatting about last week’s coastal storm and the serious damage it caused to Highway 12 north of Rodanthe.  High tides and strong waves basically tore out the better part of 800 feet of highway.

So Alderman asked if Burrus thought the storm and its damage would be used by environmental groups to stop the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s plan to adopt an “adaptive management” approach – a short bridge parallel to the aging Bonner Bridge and addressing the problems with overwash on areas of Highway 12 as they occur.

Read More

Yet another update on replacing the aging Bonner Bridge

Wednesday 11 November 2009 at 4:32 pm The timetable for getting the construction of a new Bonner Bridge underway has slipped back in time again, though Jim Trogdon, North Carolina Department of Transportation chief operating officer, says the bridge is still scheduled to be completed in 2014.

Two weeks ago, Trogdon said in an interview that he expected a Record of Decision – the final step before such things as letting contracts and getting permits – was still expected about the end of November and that the contracts would be put out for bid in February.

You can check my Oct. 30 blog for those details and background information.

However, on Tuesday, Nov. 10, Trogdon, in a telephone conference, told the Dare County Committee to Replace the Bonner Bridge that the schedule was falling six to eight weeks behind. Read More

Battered by the recession and beach closures, island businesses need your support this holiday season

Thursday 05 November 2009 at 4:14 pm If ever there was a year to do your holiday shopping on Hatteras and Ocracoke, this is it.

It’s been a tough year for many – but not all – island businesses. And they sure could use your support as you shop for Christmas gifts for friends and family.

A slowdown in construction, real estate, and tourism has taken its toll on islanders.

I hope you will read the articles by Outer Banks Sentinel Editor Sandy Semans, which are posted on the Local News Page.

Semans is digging into the facts and figures on how the economic downturn and more extensive beach closures for nesting birds and turtles have affected Hatteras Island much more dramatically than the rest of Dare County.

Countywide, the unemployment rate is up, and there is more demand for help from the Department of Social Services. Read More