Shooting The Breeze


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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Devildog (Protecting N.C. H…): Steve, Devildog, it is not a philosophy, but proven facts that Mr. Scott speaks of.. Negative. Dr…
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Steve (Protecting N.C. H…): Devildog, it is not a philosophy, but proven facts that Mr. Scott speaks of..
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Taking back the night sky

Friday 26 September 2014 at 5:13 pm

There is a theft ring here on Hatteras and Ocracoke islands.

It's made up of locals and tourists alike. They are stealing a precious part of life here.

They are stealing the night.

They are stealing the night from stargazers and lovers, from porch-sitters and beachgoers, from young and old.

They are stealing the night by flooding it with light, light that threatens our view of the spectacular Milky Way, the constellations that dip to the horizon, the shooting stars.

And it's unnecessary.  Unnecessary and uneconomical and unwise.

We're all to blame. Businesses aim spotlights up from the ground to illuminate their signs, but they light up the heavens as well.  Homeowners add security lights to their residences, but they light up the night as well.  Visitors turn on porch lights, pool lights, and spotlights at all hours, but they light up the neighborhood as well -- or the beach if the house is on the oceanfront.

It doesn't have to be this way.

We can take back the night.

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Waterfall Park, Part II

Friday 19 September 2014 at 4:02 pm

Dare County officials have been working for much of this year to get Waterfall Park, Hatteras Island's biggest eyesore, cleaned up, but it still looks just about exactly as it has since Hurricane Irene three years ago.

You can see the sorry state of the former water-themed amusement park in a slide show that appeared with a blog I wrote last May on the efforts by the county to solve the problems with the property.

Now, the county is fed up with the lack of response from the Merjos family of Virginia Beach, which owns the land, and is taking some steps to reach a final solution to the mess.

In its heyday, Waterfall Park in Rodanthe was a busy place filled with families using the waterslides, bumper boats, a bungee tower, go-carts, and other amusements.

However, after the death of one of the owners, the park was closed for several seasons before soundside tide from Hurricane Irene dealt it a fatal blow in 2011.

The 14.5 acre park is a prime property in the tri-villages, with land on both sides of the highway that extends from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pamlico Sound.

It's one of the first things that visitors to the island see as they head south on Highway 12, and for the last three years, what they have seen are falling down structures and fences, putrid pools and ponds, old tires and other debris, and overgrown shrubs and grass.

Ongoing efforts by the county to enforce its current ordinances and by the Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo Civic Association to buy the property have gone nowhere.

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The Sound of Silence: DOT is mum on reason for work stoppage

Friday 12 September 2014 at 4:35 pm

There's not been another word from the North Carolina Department of Transportation about the reason for abruptly stopping construction at the Pea Island bridge Wednesday morning.

We promised our readers more information when we posted a cryptic, three-paragraph media release from DOT Wednesday.  However, there's been nary a whisper from anyone.

Usually, a reporter can call those who probably or surely know more and get a little background or off-the-record information -- maybe some hints or speculation or nudges in the right direction.

But here, there is nothing.  No one at any level in DOT is saying anything, and local officials claim they don't know a thing.  Furthermore, some say they can't even imagine a reasonable scenario that would prompt DOT to make this move.

It's clear that, as one person noted, "there's a lot going on." And it obviously has something to do with the unrelenting legal battle that environmental groups are waging to stop the Bonner Bridge replacement and all related projects on Pea Island.

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The Island Free Press: Our story so far

Friday 05 September 2014 at 3:40 pm

One morning in late July 2007, I was sitting on my back porch with dog, my coffee and my morning newspaper when the telephone rang.

It was an advertising manager in The Virginian-Pilot's office in Norfolk calling basically to tell me I was fired from my job of 16 years as editor of The Island Breeze, a free monthly newspaper serving Hatteras and Ocracoke islands.

Let me digress to share some of the back story here.

I went to work for Tony McGowan as editor of his fledgling newspaper, The Island Breeze, in 1992 -- a year after having moved here after a career in journalism at The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky.

The Breeze was aimed at visitors to Hatteras Island and the advertisers who wanted to reach them.  And together Tony and I built it into a terrific little local newspaper, read by locals and visitors, and filled with interesting stories and analysis of issues.

The Island Breeze grew from a skinny little paper that published only in the tourist season to a year-round newspaper that published all year and grew to 84 or 88 pages in the summer months.

It was very successful financially and popular with readers, and Tony sold it to The Virginian-Pilot, a Norfolk-based newspaper looking to expand its North Carolina presence, in 2000.

I continued as editor, but reported to the advertising division, not the news division, since the Pilot apparently considered the monthly shopper/newspaper a money-making endeavor only.

But that was okay at first.  The advertising bosses in Norfolk and the Nags Head office barely knew where Hatteras was and, for the most part, didn't bother us down here as long as we continued to do our jobs and make them money.

Then came two very ambitious, thirty-something ad managers who apparently didn't like that after my 40 or so years in the business, I knew more than they did about some things like press layout or color page placement -- and the Hatteras market.

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