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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!

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Reflections on Obama’s nominee for Interior secretary

Thursday 21 February 2013 at 7:20 pm

I’ve spent some time this week reading up on Sally Jewell, President’s Obama’s nominee to replace Ken Salazar as secretary of the Interior.

As Interior secretary, Jewell, 56, would oversee some 500 million acres of federal lands – from national parks, seashores, and monuments to wildlife refuges. The department also administers the Endangered Species Act, fights wildfires, and awards leases for oil, gas, coal, and even grazing through the Bureau of Land Management.

In articles about her nomination in the media, Jewell – the first woman among Obama’s second-term Cabinet nominees -- has been called a “surprise nominee,” a “political outsider,” an astute businesswoman, and a passionate lover of the outdoors.

I was looking at the articles for a hint of where Jewell might stand some conflicts about uses of public lands, such as those we’ve had here on the Outer Banks.

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A newsy week on the islands – ferries, new leaders, and surprises on the winter beach

Friday 15 February 2013 at 4:11 pm

The folks on Ocracoke Island were probably very happy today to hear that they will have the ferry to and from Hatteras back, probably late next week.

According to a media release from the North Carolina Department of Transportation Ferry Division, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last weekend identified an alternate channel that can be used while dredging continues in the shoaled up Rollinson Channel in Hatteras Inlet.

The alternate route is longer – about an hour and 25 minutes compared to 40 minutes – but it’s still faster and more convenient than a 2 ½-hour ferry to Swan Quarter and then a long drive for shopping or medical appointments on the northern Outer Banks or other points.

And it will mean that suppliers and vendors will save time getting to and from the island also. For these folks, time is money.

Ocracokers have been living without the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry for almost a month – since Jan. 18 when the ferry channel finally became impassable.  For weeks before that, ferry service was sporadic, usually running only at high tide.

Islanders have been coping with the inconveniences and public safety issues, and a few have even been frustrated or angry that it came to having to just shut down the Hatteras ferry.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has not satisfactorily answered questions about why –or if --the contract with Cottrell Contracting, owner of the pipeline dredge Richmond, called for the dredge to go to Silver Lake and areas just outside Ocracoke village before it went to the much more seriously shoaled Hatteras Inlet.

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A conversation with the new seashore superintendent

Friday 08 February 2013 at 6:21 pm

Barclay Trimble, the new superintendent of the National Park Service’s Outer Banks Group, which includes Cape Hatteras National Seashore, had his first formal meeting with local reporters yesterday.

Trimble was named in August to replace Mike Murray, who retired last July 31, after 6 ½ years as superintendent.

Trimble came to the Outer Banks after five years as deputy superintendent of the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.

He arrived here the week before Hurricane Sandy brushed the Outer Banks on Oct. 27.

He and his wife and two young children rode out the storm in their new but empty home on the Outer Banks.

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Focus of Replace the Bridge Committee could be expanded to include Highway 12

Friday 01 February 2013 at 6:49 pm

A contingent of business owners from Hatteras Island showed up in force at the Jan. 22 meeting of the Dare County Board of Commissioners to talk during the public comment period of the meeting.

On the agenda that evening was an item to create a special task force to address the problem of shoaling in Oregon Inlet.

The Hatteras islanders supported the inlet task force but they had another one in mind – one that would address the continuing issues with Highway 12.

Beth Midgett of Hatteras village is chairperson of the county’s citizens’ action committee to replace the Bonner Bridge.

“As Chair of the Replace the Bridge Now Committee,” she told the commissioners, “I see a great need for the addition of a task force at this time.  While I am confident we have reached the best solution for Bonner Bridge replacement and NCDOT’s phased approach that will bridge the hotspots, I am not confident there are solid contingency plans in place that will adequately serve our road access needs until the phases are in place.  We seem to be reacting after weather events rather than proactively anticipating them.”

Midgett noted that the all-volunteer citizens’ advisory committee on the bridge has evolved into  working with the entire Highway 12 corridor.

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