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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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Walking to Cape Point, banning fishing nets, and beach weather

Friday 27 May 2016 at 5:31 pm

The long Memorial Day weekend is here already, and it's starting out hot and sunny.  

The National Hurricane Center is keeping an eye on some showers and thunderstorms northwest of the Bahamas that its forecasters are giving a 90 percent chance of becoming a tropical or subtropical storm by tomorrow.

But the good news in the forecast is that the local National Weather Service Office in Newport/Morehead City says that the main issues for the Outer Banks will be an increasing chance of showers and thunderstorms and perhaps an increased threat of rip currents along our beaches.

If a tropical cyclone develops, it will likely be weak and named Bonnie. It will also likely be short-lived as it moves inland over South Carolina, meanders around and moves north or northeast over eastern North Carolina, perhaps keeping our weather unsettled until the middle of next week.

The Weather Service is monitoring the situation and Dare County Emergency Manager Drew Pearson suggests we all keep an eye on the weather and the updated forecasts at www.weather.gov/mhx/.

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Don't feed the animals -- and other things humans need to know

Friday 20 May 2016 at 4:29 pm

As many Island Free Press readers know, I volunteer -- along with many other folks -- at Hatteras Island's community radio station, Radio Hatteras, which you can find at 99.9 and 101.5 FM on your radio dial if you are on the island or via live streaming at www.radiohatteras.org if you are not.

My small contribution is an interview show with the island's newsmakers and other  interesting folks.  It's called "To the Point," and it's broadcast at 5 p.m. on Sundays. Lou Browning volunteers as the sound engineer for the show -- making sure it that all the sound levels are just right.

Recently, though, Lou and I sat down together at the table in the Radio Hatteras studio, so I could interview him about his other job -- wildlife rehabilitator, sort of the island's "wildlife whisperer."

Interestingly, that's also a volunteer job, though it takes a lot more of his time than his work at the radio station.

Lou is the founder of Hatteras Island Wildlife Rehabilitation in Frisco, a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization dedicated to the treatment and care of the island's ill and injured wildlife. Its goal is to restore animals to good health, then release them back into the wild.

First, we talked about how he got involved doctoring the island's wildlife.  Then we moved onto how he chooses which animals he helps -- or knows which ones can be helped -- and eventually we got to a more general conversation about when humans ought to intervene with wild animals.

It was this last part that I found the most interesting, and it's what I want to share with readers today.

But, first, a little background on Lou.

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'Bathroom bill' controversy just won't go away

Friday 13 May 2016 at 4:55 pm

North Carolina's new "bathroom bill" is now famous -- or infamous, depending on how you view it.

House Bill 2 was passed by the General Assembly in an emergency session in less than a day's time on March 23. Legislators rushed to respond to Charlotte's City Council's approval of an ordinance that would allow transgender people use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity.

The state law requires transgender people in public places to use bathrooms that correspond with the sex on their birth certificates. Among other things, the bill also prevents local governments from banning discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in employment and public accommodations.

The response from across the country was almost immediate -- and none of it good for North Carolina.

LGBT groups were quick to accuse the state of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender, while the governor and mostly Republican legislators who passed the bill portrayed the opposition as a "smear" campaign by liberals. The bill, they said, is all about safety and privacy -- or about protecting women and children from being molested in public restrooms or something like that.

The controversy has simmered for weeks now against the backdrop of a hard-fought re-election campaign that pits the Republican Gov. Pat McCrory against a Democratic challenger, Attorney General Roy Cooper, in what is expected to be a tight battle.

The "bathroom bill" has provided plenty of fodder for editorial cartoonists, pundits, and late-night show hosts -- and some of the speculation about the "bathroom police" has been quite amusing.  Island Free Press linked to one of them -- a satire from the Oriental, N.C., online newspaper.

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What's all the fuss about Outer Banks Catch?

Friday 06 May 2016 at 5:13 pm

The newly reconstituted Outer Banks Catch organization has gotten a lot of attention in the past few weeks in local media and on social media sites -- and some of it has not been good.

For those of you who are not familiar with Outer Banks Catch, it's an organization that was originally formed by Dare County to promote the sale of locally harvested seafood, the region's commercial fishing heritage, and the diversity of species caught off the Outer Banks.

It has also been a partner in the Outer Banks Seafood Festival, which was started five years ago to showcase local seafood and the area's fishing culture and heritage and to educate the public about commercial fishing. It was also hoped that having the festival in October -- it's on Oct. 16 this year -- would boost businesses in the fall "shoulder season."

Many Hatteras islanders are not as familiar with the seafood festival as are the folks north of Oregon Inlet.  

Part of that is geography, and part of that is because Hatteras Island has its own celebration of local watermen -- Day at the Docks -- which was started more than a decade ago and has steadily grown larger with each passing year.  It's now a three-day event.

Day at the Docks is in September -- it will be Sept. 15-17 this year -- and perhaps for that reason only a few Hatteras commercial fishermen participate in the Outer Banks Seafood Festival the following month.

The Seafood Festival also features local restaurants serving local seafood -- or maybe just some local seafood -- and I can't remember any Hatteras island restaurants participating, though perhaps some have.

Anyway, the Outer Banks Catch is a really great organization with a terrific mission that benefits not only Dare County but the region, which includes Currituck, Hyde, and Tyrrell counties.

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