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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What Can be Done with Dredged Material from Hatteras Inlet?

Saturday 18 November 2017 at 01:54 am


With shoaling problems in Hatteras Inlet channels addressed by recent dredging, charter boat captains and other inlet users can be thankful, at least for the time being, to have safe passage.

An unusually brief meeting in Manteo this week of the Dare County Waterways Commission lacked the sense of crisis and brimming frustration that has often been reflected in members’ remarks. Instead, the focus was more on what has to be done in coming months to permit necessary dredging.

“The channel is pretty good right now,” Steve “Creature’ Coulter, a Hatteras charter boat captain, said in an interview after the meeting. “It’s hard to say if it’s going to continue to be clear.”

But there is another looming challenge to add to the heap of bureaucratic headaches involved in the inlet’s dredging projects: Where to put the dredged material?

“We don’t have any place to dump sand here, except Cora June Island,” Coulter said. But that island, located in Pamlico Sound near the Hatteras ferry dock, is almost at capacity.

For instance, the Corps is scheduled to start its regular maintenance dredging in February of the federal Rollinson Channel used by the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferries, said Roger Bullock, the Corps’ deputy chief of operations. Not only is Cora June almost filled up, he said, parts of Rollinson Channel are comprised of unsuitable silty sand.

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The Repeal of the Plastic Bag Ban – What’s Happening and What’s Next?

Friday 03 November 2017 at 9:21 pm


It’s been a month since the plastic bag ban on the Outer Banks was repealed by the North Carolina General Assembly, and a number of retailers on the Outer Banks have been in a bit of a self-imposed holding pattern on what to do next.

The plastic bag ban was a subtle part of a larger environmental bill, House Bill 56, which was passed by the General Assembly in August, but which was vetoed by Governor Roy Cooper. On October 4, during a special session of the General Assembly, the veto was overridden with a House vote of 70-44 and a Senate vote of 30-9.

Once that occurred, grocery stores and chain retailers were free to re-introduce plastic bags at their Outer Banks locations, but the change back to plastic has been gradual, with a bit of backlash along the way.

As a little background, the plastic bag ban repeal went into effect in 2009 by then then-Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight of Dare County. It was an effort to reduce litter on the beaches, as well as to protect sea turtles which often mistake floating plastic bags for jellyfish - one of their favorite local food sources.

There were certainly loopholes to the original law. Durable plastic bags with handles that were at least 2.25 mils thick, and which were specifically designed and manufactured for multiple reuse, were allowed. And stores that had less than 5,000 square feet of retail or wholesale space, as well as less than five stores in the state of North Carolina, were exempt. (You can see the full and original 2009 bill here: But after a while of getting used to the bulky paper bags, the bill became a way of life for roughly eight years.

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Goodbye, Frisco Pier

Friday 20 October 2017 at 9:06 pm


Even in its wretched, storm-battered state, the teetering Frisco Pier is still an Outer Banks celebrity, with photographs of it all over the Internet, and Facebook pages dedicated to it.

But by the end of the year, the remains of the iconic 55-year-old yellow pier house and rickety pier will be gone – or at least, close to it.

Contractors are expected to start removing the wooden structure and its hundreds of pilings by the end of November or early December, said Dave Hallac, superintendent of the Cape Hatteras National Park Service.

Contractor Charlotte-based DOT Construction – it’s pronounced like polka dot and has nothing to do with NCDOT - is currently building a new ADA boardwalk to the beach at Ramp 55 across from the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum. When that is completed, Hallac said, the contractor will move its operation up to Frisco.

When a survey was conducted last year, he said, a total of 263 pilings were counted, most of them submerged. Of them, only 124 are above water. Divers were needed to find all the broken-off and buried pilings, and divers will also be needed to remove them.

Depending on the weather, the superintendent said, the $496,000 project is expected to be completed in about a month or two.

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