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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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Reviving the Commission for Working Watermen in Dare County

Friday 07 September 2018 at 10:08 pm

By JOY CRIST

Editor's Note:  The Commission for Working Watermen reorganization meeting scheduled for 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 13, 2018 is cancelled due to the possibility of bad weather associated with Hurricane Florence.

On Thursday, September 13, a meeting will be held at the Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo Community Center at 7 p.m. to discuss the reorganization the Dare County Commission for Working Watermen.

Open to the public, (and especially commercial fishermen with new voices to add to the conversation), the meeting is the first step in reviving a commission that has been quietly overlooked for years.

This new interest in jump-starting the commission began with Susan West.

West, a journalistand researcher with a particular focus on commercial fishing communities, was fresh off a project for North Carolina Sea Grant, where she interviewed and talked with commercial fishermen, community leaders, and elected officials from Colington to southern Brunswick County. (A fantastic article by West about the project, which was called Next Generation Coastal Communities, can be found online here: https://ncseagrant.ncsu.edu/coastwatch/previous-issues/2018-2/spring-2018/charting-the-course/.)

During her extensive research, West uncovered a few themes that directed her focus to the Commission for Working Watermen – a commission that she actually used to cover regularly for, (you guessed it), Irene Nolan and the Island Free Press.

“[The commission] has been at the back of my mind for the last couple of years,” she said. “What happened to the commission? Why haven’t they met?”

“During [the project], I interviewed a lot of community leaders and elected officials, and something I heard over and over again from elected officials is that they often don’t hear about issues or problems until fishermen have been working on them for months, if not years.”

“This is a great way for the county to be more proactive in working on ideas to sustain the fishing industry in North Carolina well into the future,” she added. “The county does a great job supporting commercial fishermen on local issues, but a more proactive approach really would be valuable at this time.”

After talking with Hatteras Island County Commissioner Danny Couch, West spoke during the public comments section of the August 20 Board of Commissioners (BOC) meeting in regards to revisiting the Commission for Working Watermen.

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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

By JOY CRIST

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

BY CATHERINE KOZAK

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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