Shooting The Breeze


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 Rules of the Road for Golf Carts, and What’s Happening Now, Part II

Friday 24 August 2018 at 6:24 pm


On August 20, the Dare County Board of Commissioners (BOC) unanimously voted to allow golf carts in Buxton on a number of side streets that curl around the borders of N.C. Highway 12, and where the speed limit is 35 mph or less.

Allowing golf carts in Buxton has been a controversial issue since it was first presented to the BOC in 2011, and there are locals on both sides of the fence when it comes to whether golf carts will help or hurt the village.

Per the resolution, golf carts may now be operated in Buxton Village on the following streets where the speed limit is 35 mph or less: Old Lighthouse Road; Cape Point Way, Diamond Shoals Drive, Buxton Back Road, Dippin Vat Road, Cross Way Road, Lost Tree Trail, Rocky Rollinson Road, Webb Lane, Middle Ridge Trail, Crooked Ridge Trail, and Light Plant Road. So essentially, this includes the Hatteras Pines subdivision, and the side streets that border Buxton Woods and the northern motels.

“The good outweighs the not-so-good. For example, you have people who live in Hatteras Pines, and they don’t want to crank up the Suburban or pick-up truck to head to the clubhouse,” said Commissioner Danny Couch in a post-meeting interview. “Visitors will also now be able to take a golf cart [along Lighthouse Road] to Red Drum without clogging up the road and the parking lot.”

“You also have a number of people trying to get their kids to school in the morning, and this reduces the traffic in that area,” he added. “The benefits are there for the local people, no question about it.”

But there’s one concern that looms large for locals – the potential for golf carts on N.C. Highway 12.

Several county officials, (including the sheriff and planning director), noted that golf carts should not be allowed on Highway 12, and while this is indeed the case per the resolution, a number of folks are concerned that this is going to be ignored.

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Could pathways, trams, and the passenger ferry mean more visitors for Hatteras?

Friday 10 August 2018 at 11:33 pm


Back in May, Hatteras village residents overwhelmingly approved a special referendum on the primary elections ballot that allows its tax district revenue to be used to build a multi-use path.

But now there’s a decent chance that a federal BUILD grant award will be able to pick up that tab and provide a little extra to pay for trams like those Hyde County just acquired for Ocracoke.

Voila! Pathways + trams = activities on the Hatteras side for visitors using the new passenger ferry system.

But Ricki Shepherd, chair of the Hatteras Village Community Center Tax District, said it would be premature to count on the funds. The application for the $1.8 million grant was just submitted on July 17, and the award won’t be announced until December.

“At this point, we’re going to see if we get the grant,” she said in an interview. “There’s no point in getting too carried away.”

In the meantime, the HVCCD has hired Albemarle and Associates - the same engineering firm that did the work on the Rodathe-Waves-Salvo and Avon multi-use paths - to do the preliminary plan for the village.

One way or another, Shepherd emphasized, Hatteras will be getting its bicycle/pedestrian path – either with the tax district funds, or with the grant funds.

A walk-in session for the public to get information and provide input about the initial planning work will be held on Aug. 15 from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Community Building.

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Are There More Rip Currents This Summer, or Just More Attention?

Friday 27 July 2018 at 9:26 pm


Ask anyone who follows news and conversations about Hatteras and Ocracoke islands, and they’ll attest that one of the biggest topics for the summer of 2018 is rip currents.

With this recent rash of heavy rains, Hatteras and Ocracoke islands have had a moderate or high risk of rip currents on a near-daily basis, and in late June, the Cape Hatteras National Seashore (CHNS) made national headlines with a total of four drownings occurring within the park boundaries.

You could argue that it was after these June fatalities that the conversation about rip currents started to heat up, and has been ongoing ever since. Free local classes that teach newcomers about identifying and getting out of rip currents have received a wave of media attention, while multiple websites, social media pages, and news organizations are offering daily rip current forecasts for visitors, (our paper included.)

So this noticeable increase in rip current conversations across the board begs the following question: Are rip currents a bigger threat this summer than in previous years, or is there just more attention to the topic?

To save you some time, let’s go ahead and answer – The number of rip currents may be above average this summer, but it’s very hard to tell for sure.

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