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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Enough, already, on gasoline prices!

Friday 25 September 2015 at 5:18 pm

Hatteras islander Jarvis Williams, who owns an Exxon gas station in Buxton, went to Manteo last Monday to tell the Dare County Board of Commissioners what he thinks of their continued hammering on gas prices in Dare County.

He hadn't signed up to speak during the time the commissioners set aside to hear from gas distributors, so he came home without uttering a word in public.

However, he was happy to share what he would have said if he had been allowed by Board Chairman Bob Woodard, who did invite him to come back another time.

"I don't think it's any of their business what I charge for gas," Williams said in a phone interview, adding that the state's Attorney General had been asked to investigate charges of high prices and perhaps price gouging in the county.

"Let the Attorney General do his job," Williams said. "It may take a long time.  It's very complicated.

"To me, (the commissioners) are overstepping their bounds. There's just not a problem, but they are making it a problem."

Complaints about gas prices are long-standing on the Outer Banks, where they are consistently higher than in neighboring counties.  Last winter, the complaints escalated on social media and some who were posting online began calling for the county and/or the state to investigate.

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Updates: Little libraries, turtle nests, an IFP milestone

Friday 18 September 2015 at 4:51 pm

I am squeezing three topics into this week's blog.  Two have been on my mind for a couple of weeks and are updates -- on the Little Free Library and on The Island Free Press website.  The third is an update on turtle nesting and buffer changes that deserve a few more words.


The Little Free Library in Waves that we wrote about last summer added a new section -- for kids -- in the spring.

Little Free Library is a movement that is sweeping not only the county but also the world since the first one was established in 2009 in Hudson, Wis. It's based on a very simple concept of "take a book, leave a book."

Pam Strausbaugh of Waves established Hatteras Island's first Little Free Library next to the multi-use path behind her house in the spring of 2014. She says she first learned of the Little Free Library from a magazine article and loved the idea.  She commissioned her own little library, which was custom built by Rodanthe craftsman Steve Thompson, last December.

"I'm a huge book person -- huge," she says.  She has an iPad, but she says "There's nothing like a book, the feel of the pages, the smell of it."

Strausbaugh's library is a little wooden house with an A-frame roof standing at about eye-level on two white support posts. It's painted yellow and has a window in the front. Through the window of the little house, you can see a pile of books. And next to it is a bench painted yellow and green.

She said she has had a tremendous response to her Little Free Library.  Her husband put a counter on the door of the little building, and it was opened 278 times during one week this summer.

She said she hasn't had to use any of her own books for the adult library since the blog appeared last summer.  She purchases Little Free Library literature and bookmarks to put in the library.

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Watch for baby turtles crossing the sand...WITH VIDEO

Friday 11 September 2015 at 4:59 pm

Back in the spring when Cape Hatteras National Seashore natural resources staff members were considering what modifications they could make to wildlife buffers to meet the requirements of legislation passed by Congress in December, they had no idea what they would be in for come mid-summer.

One of their modifications that became effective in mid-June was a change to how the Park Service protects sea turtles nests.

For most of the nests' incubation, posts and string are erected around a 10-by-10 meter area to warn pedestrians and vehicles away. When the nests approach hatching, a dark filter fence is expanded to the ocean to make a corridor for the baby turtles.

If there is enough room behind the nests -- between the dune and the nest -- vehicles and pedestrians can bypass them that way. However, neither folks on foot nor ORVs have been allowed to pass in front of the nests -- even on the hard sand between the end of the fencing and the water.

In some cases, this meant that long stretches of beach were closed to public access. For instance, a turtle seems to nest every year just east -- to the left -- of Ramp 49 in Frisco. When that nest got ready to hatch, it would be expanded and access to several miles of a beach that is very popular with locals and visitors would be closed for a week or 10 days or more in the middle of summer.

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Are passenger-only ferries in our future?

Friday 04 September 2015 at 5:37 pm

Ed Goodwin, director of the North Carolina Department of Transportation's Ferry Division is what you might call "bullish" on the idea of running passenger-only ferries between Hatteras and Ocracoke villages.

He enthusiastically endorsed the idea while he answered questions from curious citizens and members of the media who attended two public meetings earlier this week for an update on the state's feasibility report on solutions to the congestion and long-waiting times on the Hatteras-Ocracoke route.

“There are a lot of moving parts here, but if they all come together, this (passenger-only ferries) could solve a lot of the issues for Ocracoke visitation,” said Ferry Division Director Ed Goodwin. “It would ease the backups we have on the car ferry route, and bring more visitors with fewer cars into the village. On the surface, it seems like a win-win all around.”

When asked if he thought the state's General Assembly -- which has not been in much of a mood to endorse spending projects lately, especially in the eastern part of the state --  would fund the passenger ferries, he answered quickly.

"Yes, ma'am!" he said.

Running a passenger-only ferry on the popular Hatteras-Ocracoke route is an idea that state officials are pursuing because of the extreme shoaling problems in Hatteras Inlet.

After World War II, Hatteras villager Frazier Peele transported cars on a small, wooden ferry boat -- three or four autos at a time -- from Hatteras village to Ocracoke, according to Outer Banks historian David Stick.  Stick says that Peele sold out to the state in 1957, which started up ferry service between the islands.

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