Shooting The Breeze

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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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The Stories We’re Keeping an Eye on for 2018

Saturday 30 December 2017 at 8:40 pm

By JOY CRIST

This is a bit of a complementary blog to the last entry, which was a wrap-up of all the stories that grabbed our attention in 2017.

Suffice it to say, it’s an interesting time on Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands, as there are a number of projects that are in process, and which are worth watching now and in the months to come.

So with that in mind, let’s take a peek at the stories that are carry-overs from 2017, which we expect to heat up or stay in the headlines for a chunk of 2018 as well. From widened beaches, to disappearing piers, to bridges being erected before our eyes, 2018 is already shaping up to be as interesting as 2017.

So what can we expect to see in 2018? Let’s start with one of the literal largest changes in the landscape.

Completion of the Bonner Bridge

On March 6, 2016, construction finally began on the new Herbert C. Bonner Bridge, and while it took more than a decade to get the project off the ground, actually finishing the bridge is turning out to be a significantly faster process. The new Bonner Bridge is scheduled to be completed by the fall of 2018, and considering that the construction of the incline sections that will combine the existing three ramp and inlet sections together is on the horizon, a 2018 completion date for the new bridge certainly seems feasible. This story will likely linger for another year or two also, as in 2019, the 1963 original bridge will be torn down, except for a southern section that will be used for fishing.

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A Year in Review – the Stories that Grabbed our Attention in 2017

Friday 15 December 2017 at 11:24 pm

By JOY CRIST

It’s that time of year again when we carry on Irene’s annual tradition of looking back at the stories that grabbed – and held – our attention in 2017.

And this was certainly a busy year that was filled with unforeseen crises, ongoing projects, controversial legislation, and one particular infamous sandbar. (Guess which one?)

So let’s get right down to business, and start with what was easily one of the most nationally covered stories of our local year…

Shelly Island Sandbar

So I don’t know if you heard about this, but apparently in the late spring, a sandbar surfaced just off of Cape Point.

Many islanders were in disbelief that the news of a “new island,” and a striking drone photo taken by visitor Chad Koczera, truly went viral.

National and international papers picked the story up within days, and the newly designated “Shelly Island” brought waves of visitors to the Cape Point all summer long.

And the story didn’t just last a news cycle or two either, because the story kept changing. There was a short evacuation due to an old unexploded ordnance washing up on the beach. The island disappeared, then reappeared after a series of storms. And there were questions about ownership, and jurisdiction, and what constituted an island, and all the while hordes of beachcombers clamored out there day after day for the namesake piles of shells - (yours truly included.)

At time of publication, Shelly Island was still there, sort of. The sandbar/island/what-have-you is more or less connected to Cape Point now, with a large saltwater pond in the center. But if there’s one thing you can count on when it comes to our island surroundings, it’s that things will change. And we likely haven’t reached the end of the Shelly Island saga just yet.

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Could Hatteras Island Turn into a Year-Round Destination?

Saturday 02 December 2017 at 12:53 am

By JOY CRIST

The week of Thanksgiving has historically been considered the last big bang for a number of island businesses. It’s typical to see a flutter of activity leading up to the weekend after Turkey Day, and then relative quiet as restaurants and shops close for the season, and spend a couple months gearing up for the spring’s new wave of visitors.

But if you’ve been out and about on Hatteras Island this past week, it certainly doesn’t feel like the off season has officially arrived.

The temperatures have been deceiving to be sure, but there’s also still plenty of “open” signs up and down the island, even in the wee hours of the night – (also known locally as around 8:00 p.m.)

So is it our imaginations, or is Hatteras Island gradually turning into more of a year-round destination?

To effectively notice the increase in wintertime business, it helps if you remember the winter landscape of the islands in the 1980s and 90s. Personally, I recall coming down for weekends in December and January while I was in school in Raleigh, and frequenting two spots that were reliably open – the relatively new Food Lion, and this ridiculously neat Avon hang-out that, to the best of my recollection, was a mechanic and body shop by day, and a hopping bar by night.

Outside of personal experience, it helps even more to look at the numbers.

A series of statistics provided by the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau are a reliable indication that we are definitely becoming more popular in the wintertime, but it’s been a gradual process with a couple of speedbumps along the way – i.e., 2011’s Irene and 2012’s Sandy.

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