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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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A fond farewell to Buxton's Old Gray House

Friday 30 September 2016 at 5:42 pm

This week, I want to give a shout-out to my old friends, Dewey and Mary Parr, who today closed their "retirement dream," a shop called the old Gray House in Buxton.

It's a sad time for Dewey and Mary and for all the many friends they have made in the past 25 years, but they knew, at age 85, it was time to move on to a new retirement plan.

Dewey grew up mostly on Hatteras Island in the old Gray House, which then belonged to his uncle, Kendrick Gray. During World War II, Dewey's father was sent to Huntington, W.Va., as a Navy recruiter. After the war was over, Dewey's parents returned to Hatteras Island -- his mother was an island girl. Dewey stayed in Huntington, where he met and married the love of his life, Mary, and pursued his career in education. Dewey served as teacher, principal, and central office administrator. Mary was an accountant at Marshall University.

Mary also loved crafting, and, as a retirement gift, Dewey gave her the Old Gray House, so she could pursue her passion with the artwork and crafts that she sold in the shop. Meanwhile, Dewey took over the outside part of the property, turning it into an entity all its own, with plantings and pathways and little buildings, many of which housed the shells that were Dewey's passion and that he sold to visitors.

"The whole idea was not to make money," Dewey said this week.

The idea was to meet people -- folks who loved Hatteras. Mary shared her love of crafting and Dewey shared his love of shells. Dewey also has a passion for Hatteras Island and its culture and history, and he loved sharing that with visitors most of all.

And the visitors just kept coming.

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A big 'thank you' to Dare Public Works

Friday 23 September 2016 at 3:39 pm

This week's blog is a big "thank you" card to Dare County's Department of Public Works, which made really quick work of the debris left behind by Tropical Storm Hermine's soundside flooding on Sept. 3.

The storm surge was on the higher end of what the National Weather Service had forecast and what even many storm-saavy islanders had expected -- so perhaps we had not picked up and prepared as well as we might have.

Anyway, when the floodwater receded, it left behind literally tons of debris, especially in the southern Hatteras Island villages of Frisco and Hatteras, where it was highest.

Yards were covered with wet, smelly eel grass, lumber, docks, trash, chairs, tires, picnic tables, kayaks, canoes, and just about everything you can imagine. Some folks, in Hatteras village especially, got water into their homes, or their storage areas, so some mattresses, furniture, rugs, appliances and the like were added to the storm debris.

Dare County's estimated $5.4 million in property damage didn't reach the threshold to quality for federal funds for the cleanup, but at their meeting on Sept. 6, the county's commissioners gave the Public Works Department the go-ahead to pick up the storm debris.

The commissioners asked those who could or wanted to clean up more quickly, to take their own debris to the transfer stations -- tipping fees were suspended.

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A Follow-Up On Early Voting

Friday 16 September 2016 at 2:44 pm

Donna Elms, chairman of the Dare County Board of Elections, appeared before the Dare County Board of Commissioners at its meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 6, to explain the early voting schedule that the elections board approved late last month and sent on to the state for its approval.

The Board of Elections has been criticized for not adding more hours, especially early morning hours at satellite early voting sites and weekend hours. I was among the critics -- I wrote a blog about the board's early voting decision last month.

Elms noted that the press had written "ad nauseum" about the early voting situation.

This is true. Early voting has gotten a lot of coverage statewide because of a U.S. Court of Appeals decision striking down North Carolina's new elections law, which included, among other things, requiring voters to have an ID and reducing the time for early voting.

Furthermore, media outlets wrote about a memo to local boards from the state Republican Party chairman recommending ways to restrict early voting -- limit Sunday voting, provide fewer voting opportunities and don’t include sites at college campuses.

Elms was at the Board of Commissioners meeting because she had been invited to appear to explain the elections board's decision.

At their meeting on Aug. 15, the commissioners were asked by spokesmen for two non-partisan groups -- the Dare County League of Women Voters and Democracy NC -- to consider a resolution to ask the Board of Elections to reconsider its decision on early voting.

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Sept. 11, 2001: Lest we forget...

Friday 09 September 2016 at 5:18 pm

On Sept. 11, 2001, part-time Hatteras islander Mike Regan was a member of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department.

Sept. 11 was a workday for him -- the first day of a three-day tour. He arrived at Rescue Company No. 39 as usual about 7 a.m., and the first task was to check out the equipment on the trucks.

Next was a team planning meeting, and during that meeting, the wife of one of the squad members called to say that a plane had flown into one of the buildings at the World Trade Center.

Regan and his squad members ended the meeting to watch on television what was happening in New York City, which happens to be his home town -- he's a "Brooklyn boy."

That's pretty much where all of America was on that morning -- in their homes, at work, at businesses.

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