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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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What's Happening with the Proposed Insurance Increase?

Saturday 13 January 2018 at 12:51 am

By CATHERINE KOZAK

The prospect of significant increases in homeowners’ insurance was tossed on public plates three days before Thanksgiving, and with the holiday season in full tilt, it took a while for people to notice. But a reprieve this week will allow anyone who owns a year-round home in Dare County to learn important details about potential steep hikes in their insurance bills.

On Jan. 8, N.C. Commissioner of Insurance Mike Causey rejected a proposed rate increase by the NC Rate Bureau that would have spiked homeowners’ insurance costs about 25 percent for Dare County – an average of 18.7 percent statewide – and set a hearing for July 23.

“After hearing and reading the more than 9,000 comments from residents across the state and studying the figures in the filing,” Causey in a statement, “it is now necessary to hold a hearing to reach a resolution that will make the most financial sense for our residents and insurance companies.”

Remarkable grassroots response accounts for the last-minute flood of comments, said Willo Kelly, government affairs consultant for the Outer Banks Association of Realtors and the government affairs director for the Outer Banks Homebuilders Association.  Only four people – all opposed - spoke at a lightly-attended public comment session on the proposal held on Dec. 12 in Raleigh, she said. By then, a total of 94 comments had been received online by the department.

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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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