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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 the top five news stories of 2015

Wednesday 23 December 2015 at 4:22 pm

My last blog for December often has a year-end theme of some sort, looking back on the year that is ending or looking forward to the new one.

However, mostly I stay away from the "top news stories of the year" sort of article. For one thing, every writer or media outlet seems to do it. And also, it's challenging to whittle down a whole year's worth of news to a few stories.

This year, however, I am going to choose what I think are the top stories of 2015 for this last blog of the year -- the top five, at least. The fact that there have been some pretty important, news-making events probably makes it easier.

So here are my choices:

1. The Bonner Bridge.

2. Shark Attacks

3. Weather.

4. Hatteras Inlet Shoaling.

5. Cape Hatteras National Seashore Access

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It will take community support to spend seven days on generators

Friday 11 December 2015 at 3:53 pm

There's been a lot of news coming out of the Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative offices in the past month or so.

A Community Solar Garden is about to be constructed on Highway 12 in Hatteras village. You might see construction underway next week. And, believe it or not, CHEC says it takes only one week to complete it with 180 solar panels.

Beginning next year, CHEC has announced it will switch the outdoor security lights it provides to customers who want them from high-pressure sodium bulbs to the more dark-sky friendly LED lighting.

Also in the spring, the cooperative will start selling smart thermostats to its customers who want them to help conserve energy.

But, right now, at CHEC's offices, all eyes are on the weather and the upcoming seven days that Hatteras and Ocracoke islands will need to be on generator power to finish moving its transmission lines, so the Bonner Bridge replacement can get underway, as planned, in March 2016.

For an expected seven days, both islands will be on generator power while cables that must be severed in the process of moving the lines can be spliced back together. CHEC expects those seven days will be Dec. 16-22.

The islands have been on generator power for that long only one other time -- for eight days after Hurricane Irene in 2011.

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Reviewing the new superintendent's first year at the seashore

Friday 04 December 2015 at 5:02 pm

Dave Hallac, the new superintendent of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, has been my guest several times on my Radio Hatteras interview show, "To the Point," since he arrived here in early January.

And he will be the guest for my two new December interviews to talk about his first year as superintendent.  The first interview will be broadcast on the first two Sundays in December -- Dec. 6 and 13 -- at 5 p.m. The second will be broadcast on the third and fourth Sundays -- Dec. 20 and 27 -- also at 5 p.m.

The first interview covers the biggest issue of his first year -- meeting the requirements of legislation passed by Congress a year ago in December as part of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act.

And Hallac also addresses a few other challenging issues he's tackled, most notably stormwater -- and lots of it. Although he didn't have to deal with any land-falling tropical systems in his first year, he did face some of the worst flooding in many years in the area from Cape Point in Buxton and down to Ramp 49 in Frisco after torrential rains in late September and early October.

In the second interview, Hallac talks about the challenges of managing the Outer Banks Group of three parks -- the seashore, the Wright Brothers National Memorial, and Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. And he is joined by Lynne Belanich, the Bodie Island District Ranger who is also the Outer Banks Group's coordinator for the 2016 Centennial celebration of the founding of the National Park Service.

I'm going to try to entice you to listen to the interviews -- about 40 minutes each -- by giving you some of the highlights from the first one in this blog.

The Congressional legislation wasn't even being publicly discussed on Nov. 13, 2014 when the Park Service made the announcement that Hallac would succeed Barclay Trimble as the superintendent of the Outer Banks Group.

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