04 – News & Views

Lou’s Views
News & Views / April Edition


Calendar of Events –

Most events have either been postponed or cancelled



.Days at the Docks Festival

April 25th
26th
Holden Beach

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The annual festival occurs in April or May and is sponsored by the Greater Holden Beach Merchants Association. It’s the Holden Beach way to kick-off the Spring and start the vacation season. In addition to the food and arts & crafts, enjoy live music & entertainment, a horseshoe tournament and the world famous “Bopple Race”. Lots of activities for the entire family!
For more information » click here

Days at the Docks Festival has been postponed



Blue Crab Festival

May 16th – 17th
Little River SC

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This will be the 39th annual world famous Blue Crab Festival. It is held on the waterfront in Little River and is one of the largest festivals in the Southeast. The purpose of this festival is one that supports and showcases the fabulous atmosphere of the local communities.
For more information » click here

Blue Crab Festival has been postponed


Events
TDA - logo
Discover a wide range of things to do in the Brunswick Islands for an experience that goes beyond the beach.
For more information » click here


Calendar of Events Island –

Most events have either been postponed or cancelled



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Days at the Docks Festival

The festival occurs in April or May of each year and is sponsored by the Greater Holden Beach Merchants Association. This year it is April 25th & 26th. It’s the Holden Beach way to kick-off the Spring and start the vacation season.

 

Days at the Docks Festival has been postponed


Pickleball Tournament
Holden Beach is hosting their fourth annual Pickleball Tournament. This year the Battle at the Beach tournament is May 1st to May 3rd.

For more information » click here
Register online » click here

Battle at the Beach Pickleball Tournament has been postponed


What is Pickleball you ask?
Pickleball: growing sport for seniors
Pickleball originated in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Washington. The ball used is a perforated plastic ball similar to a Whiffle ball. The game is easy for beginners to learn, but can develop into a fast-paced, competitive game for experienced players. The net is a couple inches lower than a tennis court net and the court is smaller too (20 feet by 44 feet vs. 36 by 78), and the paddles are oversized ping pong paddles made of plywood, aluminum or graphite. The game can be played with two or four players. Experience in tennis, badminton and ping pong is helpful, as there are similarities with those sports. There already are over 100,000 players in the United States alone. When tennis and badminton players find it difficult to navigate the larger courts, the next step is Pickleball, where there is not as much running required.
Read more » click here


Concerts on the Coast Series / 2020
The Town’s summer concert series calendar has been released! Live performances featuring local musical groups are held at the pavilion on Sunday evenings from late May to early September. The concerts are free of charge.
For more information » click here


Parks & Recreation / Programs & Events
For more information » click here


Reminders –



Yard Waste Service
Yard debris pickup will be provided twice a month on the 2ndand 4th Fridays during the months of March, April and May. Please have yard waste placed at the street for pick-up on Thursday night.

Yard debris needs to be secured in a biodegradable bag or bundled in a maximum length of five (5) feet and fifty (50) pounds in weight. A total of ten (10) items (bundles of brush/ limbs, bags) will be picked up by Waste Industries. Yard waste must be placed at the street for pick-up. No pick-ups will be made on vacant lots or construction sites.

Yard debris pickup is suspended


Hurricane Vehicle Decals
The 2020 vehicle decals were distributed with the March water bills. Each bill included four (4) vehicle decals. It is important that you place your decals in your vehicle or in a safe place. A $10 fee will be assessed to anyone who needs to obtain either additional or replacement decals. Decals will not be issued in the 24-hour period before an anticipated order of evacuation.

The decals are your passes to get back onto the island to check your property in the event that an emergency would necessitate restricting access to the island. Decals must be displayed in the driver side lower left-hand corner of the windshield, where they are not obstructed by any other items. Officials must be able to clearly read the decal from outside the vehicle.

Property owners without a valid decal will not be allowed on the island during restricted access. No other method of identification is accepted in an emergency situation. Click here to visit the Town website to find out more information regarding decals and emergency situations.



Bird Nesting Area

NC Wildlife Commission has posted signs that say – Bird Nesting Area / Please don’t disturb. The signs are posted on the west end beach strand around 1331 OBW.


People and dogs are supposed to stay out of the area from April through November

. 1) It’s a Plover nesting area
. 2) Allows migrating birds a place to land and rest without being disturbed


Mosquito Control
Current EPA protocol is that spraying is complaint driven
The Town is unable to just spray as they had in the past
. 1)
Complaint based
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Citizen request
. 3)
Proactively monitor hot spots

They recommend that you get rid of any standing water on your property that you can
Urged everyone to call Town Hall if they have mosquito issues so that they can spray

Spraying is complaint based, so keep the calls coming!


Building Numbers
Ocean front homes are required to have house numbers visible from the beach strand.
Please call Planning and Inspections Department at 910.842.6080 with any questions.

§157.087 BUILDING NUMBERS.

(A) The correct street number shall be clearly visible from the street on all buildings. Numbers shall be block letters, not script, and of a color clearly in contrast with that of the building and shall be a minimum of six inches in height.

(B) Beach front buildings will also have clearly visible house numbers from the strand side meeting the above criteria on size, contrast, etc. Placement shall be on vertical column supporting deck(s) or deck roof on the primary structure. For buildings with a setback of over 300 feet from the first dune line, a vertical post shall be erected aside the walkway with house numbers affixed. In all cases the numbers must be clearly visible from the strand. Other placements may be acceptable with approval of the Building Inspector.



BOC’s Meeting
The Board of Commissioners’ next Regular Meeting is scheduled on the third Tuesday of the month, May 19th
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News from Town of Holden Beach
The town sends out emails of events, news, agendas, notifications and emergency information. If you would like to be added to their mailing list, please go to their web site to complete your subscription to the Holden Beach E-Newsletter.
For more information » click here


Volunteers needed
The Town is always looking for people to volunteer for their various boards and committees. If you are interested in serving, please fill out a resume form and submit it to heather@hbtownhall.com.


Recycling-Bin
Curbside Recycling

Waste Industries is now offering curbside recycling for Town properties that desire to participate in the service. The service cost is $93.29 annually paid in advance to the Town of Holden Beach and consists of a ninety-six (96) gallon cart that is emptied every other week.
Curbside Recycling Application » click here
Curbside Recycling Calendar » click here

 

Recycling renewal form was sent, you should have gotten e-mail letter already


Elevator - CRElevators
Most states mandate that elevator systems be tested and inspected annually. Currently the state of North Carolina does not require annual inspections to be performed on all elevator systems. The use of unsafe and defective lifting devices imposes a substantial probability of serious and preventable injury to your family and guests. It is in the owner’s best interest to minimize injuries and liability by scheduling an annual safety inspection to ensure the safe operation of their elevator system.


Library
If you need something to keep you busy in this colder weather, make sure to visit the island library. The library is in the upstairs of Holden Beach Town Hall. All the books were donated. Patrons of the library don’t have to check out a book; they are on the honor system to return it.



Neighborhood Watch –

Need to look out for each other
Call 911 if you see or hear anything suspicious
Fill out Keep Check Request Form if you will be out of town
• Submit completed Property Registration Form
• Pickup copy of Protecting Your Home


Upon Further Review –


Murder Investigation

Previously reported – May 2019
Modern technology meets old school: How law enforcement investigated the suspected Holden Beach murderer
The tiny beach town of Holden was rocked when 71-year-old Judy Brock was murdered, allegedly by her husband. Find out how authorities made their case using data stored by cell phone and internet companies.

Modern communications technology paired with old-fashioned interview tactics are helping at least nine agencies build a strong case against Phillip Brock, a 71-year-old indicted last week for the first-degree murder of his wife. From the day Brock first reported his wife missing until the first week of April, 15 search warrants have been issued. Some search warrants are what one might expect in a murder investigation: a property search, DNA and cheek swab collection, or bank transaction tracking. But others, like those with a 48-hour return directive — effectively a legal rush-order — to out-of-state companies including Yahoo!, Google, Inc. and Verizon Wireless, show how law enforcement agencies are taking advantage of ubiquitous data collection practices that are more often used to sell targeted advertising. Traditional investigative techniques, like noticing inconsistencies in an interview, opened up suspicion against Phillip Brock. Brock called 911 to report his wife missing at 3:16 p.m. on March 15. Fine-tuned location data — sourced from a cell phone — could further reveal Brock’s precise movement that day — information that could remove any doubt about his involvement in Judy Brock’s murder. And communication records, which were examined alongside cellphone use, could help the prosecution clear up any suspicion about Rhen Wise, Brock’s alleged mistress, and the extent — if any — of her involvement in the murder; initial communication records show Wise continued to communicate with Brock after his wife’s murder for five days, until his arrest on March 20. Warrants cite the pervasive nature of cell phone use as part of their usefulness in tracking behavior. Cell phones “generally geographically mirror their user’s pattern of movement over time,” multiple warrants in the Brock case state.

Suspicion
The investigation began as a missing person case. After Brock reported his wife missing, officers conducted an initial search of his waterfront Holden Beach home. No signs of forced entry were present. Initial forensics conducted on Judy Brock’s cell phone — which was left at the residence — showed her husband texted her at 8:02 and 8:03 a.m., with no response. He told investigators he left home that morning at 5:45 a.m. and that his wife was still sleeping. Forensics conducted on Brock’s phone showed data before and during March 15 had been deleted. According to the search warrant to Google Inc., issued on March 18, deleting communication records to conceal them from law enforcement can show “consciousness of guilt,” information that can help prosecutors frame motive and intent to commit a crime. Information Google Inc. provides — which according to the warrant is likely to be stored both inside and outside the U.S. — “may tend to identify potential witnesses and/or suspects” in a “chronological and geographic context.” These initial forensics also showed Google searches from two weeks prior for escort services near South Carolina. This information served as probable cause to serve the first two search warrants on March 18: the first to Verizon Wireless and the second to Google Inc. At this point in the case, Judy Brock’s disappearance was being investigated as an “endangered missing person suspected by foul play.” Investigators believed Judy Brock could still be alive. After issuing the first search warrant to Verizon Wireless on the afternoon of March 18, Major Laurie Watson with the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office re-faxed it twice the next morning, at 7:03 a.m. and at 8:51 a.m. with the urgent message: “I am requesting [range to tower records] as soon as possible in hopes of finding her alive.” According to the law firm Yavitch & Palmer, Verizon Wireless stores range-to-tower records, or RTT data. RTT data helps narrow down the distance from a device to a cell tower (or multiple cell towers) at the time of receiving or placing a call or text message. This type of data can track a device’s precise measurement to about one-tenth of a mile. But it’s only maintained by carriers for less than two weeks. Major Watson also requested the location of each of Verizon’s cell sites (equipment including antennas that transmit signals) and towers (the structures sites are attached to), including the horizontal beam widths and orientations of the cell sites.

Locking down location
It wasn’t until officers searched the Brocks’ Holden Beach property on Greensboro Street that they discovered data tying Phillip Brock to the crime. The property was searched on March 20, the warrant shows, which included a search of vehicles at the scene. Forensics from showed Brock’s 2018 Ford 150 revealed recent GPS locations in Sampson County — a location Brock told investigators he had not been to in months. The locations tied Brock to Wright Bridge Road – a 3.5-mile road that cuts around several acres of woods off U.S. 701 in Sampson County. Later that day, multiple law enforcement agencies found Judy Brock’s body in the same location, after discovering tire tracks and freshly disturbed ground off Wright Bridge Road. Phillip Brock was arrested at 5:30 p.m. following the discovery.

Ongoing investigation, expanded focus
New search warrants show the focus has expanded to Brock’s suspected mistress, who continued to communicate with him for at least five days after Judy Brock’s suspected time of death. Bank records revealed a financial relationship between Brock and Wise, in which Brock paid Wise’s phone bill, provided her with credit cards, and gave her funds and covered other expenses. The two also met in several hotels since 2018, according to an April 4 warrant for Wise’s Yahoo! records tied to her email account. Holden Beach Police Department, which still is handling the case according to a Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson, did not respond to multiple inquiries. It’s not clear whether Wise is a suspect — as of April 29, Wise has not been arrested by the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office. It appears that, from an investigative side, the state has more than what it needs; after a review of Brock’s court file Wednesday, no new search warrants have been issued since April 4. On April 15, a grand jury returned a bill of indictment after hearing evidence presented by Watson and Detective John Duncan of the Holden Beach Police Department. Brock’s murder marks the first for the small beach town, home to less than 1,000 residents.
Read more » click here

Update –
Holden Beach man accused of killing wife to stand trial Nov. 16
The husband of Judy Brown Brock, who was murdered more than a year ago, is set to go to trial on a first-degree murder charge Monday, Nov. 16. Phillip Harry Brock, 72, was charged with murder in March 2019 and has been incarcerated at the Brunswick County Detention Facility since his arrest. Brock was indicted on a first-degree murder charge April 15, 2019, said assistant district attorney Glenn Emery, the lead prosecutor on the case. If Phillip Brock is convicted of first-degree murder, he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole, Emery said. Brunswick County Detention Facility records show Phillip Brock was booked into the jail at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 20, 2019, on a first-degree murder charge on no bail. The Holden Beach Police Department was the arresting agency. According to a Holden Beach Police Department news release, law enforcement agencies found Judy Brown Brock’s body in a wooded area in Sampson County on March 20, 2019.A Silver Alert was issued for her the previous Saturday by the North Carolina Center for Missing Persons. The Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, Ocean Isle Beach police, the North Carolina DMV License and Theft Bureau, Tri-Beach Volunteer Fire Department, Brunswick County Search and Rescue, the Sampson County Sheriff’s Office, Garland Fire Department and District Attorney Jon David assisted in the investigation, which is ongoing. Brock made his first court appearance at the Brunswick County Courthouse the morning after his arrest. District Court Judge Scott Ussery assigned Brock attorney Teresa Gibson of Shallotte as Brock’s provisional lawyer and denied Brock bail at the request of Assistant District Attorney Glenn Emery. Oak Island-based lawyer Ed Geddings is now representing Phillip Brock on the first-degree murder charge. Emery told Ussery in court in March 2019 that it appears Brock put out the Silver Alert for his wife to cover up his tracks, and law enforcement learned she had no cognitive impairments. Emery said Brock then turned off the GPS in his phone and attempted to turn off the GPS in his 2018 Ford F-150 but was unsuccessful, leading law enforcement to track his vehicle to Sampson County where his wife’s body was discovered.
Read more » click here


Dog Park
The dog park will remain closed for the foreseeable future. The Town needed to use the land at the dog park to place material from the canal dredging project as the dredge spoils area. It is unknown when it will be returned to a useable state as a dog park again. They are currently looking at other options for a dog park on the island.

Four people spoke during the Public Comments session at the January BOC’s meeting, all in favor of creating a new Dog Park area. The park was utilized by people daily. We no longer have anywhere on the island to walk a dog safely. The nearest dog park for off leash activity is in Shallotte. I think we should make every effort to provide an area for dogs on the island. My recommendation is to utilize existing town property. The Town actually owns quite a bit of property. For instance, we have two parcels between BAW and OBW, across from Marker Fifty-Five, that were platted as streets but never put in; between High Point Street and Neptune Drive. We had previously discussed the possibility of creating parking areas out of them, one of them could be made into a dog park. Parking should be on the BAW side of the park, so it doesn’t get taken over by guests going to the beach. The designated area would be an additional recreational opportunity as well as an option for having dogs off their leashes instead of in unauthorized areas like the beach strand. As for allocating funds the cost should be paid for by the canal POA’s. You ask: Why? In April of 2014 we established the Dog Park on Town owned property at Scotch Bonnet Drive, at a cost of $19,000 sourced from BPART account. The Canal Dredging Project was mostly paid for from the Water Resources Development Grant of $1,439,922 which we secured in December 2017. According to Town Manager Hewett, “the Canal Dredging Project is paying all costs for the reconstitution of the Scotch Bonnet site to include installation of dog park facilities at that location.” That’s all well and good but meanwhile we do not have a dog park. It is my humble opinion that the right thing to do is for them to pay to create a temporary replacement dog park too.

NRPA Park Pulse: Americans Agree Dog Parks Benefit Local Communities
Local parks and recreation agencies provide dog parks for the areas they serve
Each month, through a poll of Americans that is focused on park and recreation issues, NRPA Park Pulse helps tell the park and recreation story. Questions span from the serious to the more lighthearted. With this month’s poll, we look at the possible benefits dog parks bring to their communities.

91% of Americans believe dog parks provide benefits to their communities.

Availability of dog parks is especially popular among millennials (94 percent) and Gen Xers (92 percent) followed by baby boomers (89 percent) who agree dog parks provide benefits to communities.

Top 3 Community Dog Park Benefits:

      • 60% Gives dogs a safe space to exercise and roam around freely
      • 48% Allows dogs to socialize with other dogs
      • 36% Allows owners a chance to be physically active with their pet

For more information » click here


Corrections & Amplifications –


Holden Bridge Safety Railing Project

Previously reported – August 2018
Agenda Packet –
Safety Railing for the Holden Beach Bridge
It is the intent of the Department of Transportation to provide a bicycle/pedestrian railing atop the Town’s concrete bridge barrier, as an added safety improvement. They would like feedback from the Town on a preferred option for the safety rail. It seems as though they need an answer sooner than our normal meeting schedule allows.

I don’t think it is the manager’s call on this and feel the Board should review and make the recommendation.  Please see the attached pictures and let me know if you have any questions.

Bridge Health Index
NCDOT is committed to measuring and improving its overall performance. One of the department’s goals is to make the state’s infrastructure last longer by setting a target for at least 70 percent of bridges rated to be in good condition or better. Good means that the bridge can safely carry the typical-sized commercial or passenger vehicles for that route. To achieve this goal, the department uses a data-driven strategy to improve the overall condition of all bridges in North Carolina by focusing taxpayer dollars where they’re needed most.

North Carolina Department of Transportation selected Holden Beach bridge as a High Value Bridge. They have allocated funding to make safety improvements and improve the expected life expectancy of the bridge. Work includes adding bicycle / pedestrian railing a safety improvement and also do basic repair to the substructure. NCDOT will pay the entire estimated $1.5 million to $2.0 million cost of the project. Work on the bridge is scheduled to begin in September. The estimated time frame to complete the work is the better part of eighteen months.

Chad Kimes Deputy Division Engineer informed the Board that NCDOT intends to install a bicycle / pedestrian railing on top of the concrete bridge barrier, which does not meet current safety standards, as a safety improvement. He asked the Board for feedback regarding what look did they want. The Board was given the opportunity to choose whether the rails would be vertical or horizontal and also select the color. 

The Board chose to have three horizontal railings with an aluminum finish atop the concrete bridge barrier.

A decision was made – Approved (4-1)

Town Manager David Hewett said the bridge was never intended for bicycle and pedestrian traffic and putting up the railing up may give people the wrong impression. Commissioner Butler agreed with David and voted against the motion essentially saying we were creating an attractive nuisance. David asked whether the funds could be used to pave Ocean Boulevard West. Chad said the monies for resurfacing and for the bridge project are separate, so NO.

Previously reported – December 2018
Bridge Rehabilitation Project
As you may recall a couple of months ago, we presented two bridge railing options at your Commissioners meeting in reference to the Holden Beach bridge rehabilitation project, for your review and consideration. The Town chose the three horizontal rail design as shown in the attachment titled “Holden Rail Retrofit ­ Options 1 and 2.” Upon further consideration, we requested our design consultant provide a third railing option for the bridge rail retrofit, which I have attached, titled “Holden Rail Retrofit – Option 3.” The idea for this option came from the latest Surf City bridge design, which includes a smaller vertical “picket” than the option provided at the council meeting and may provide greater visibility. The support posts in this option are modified slightly as well.

The Town’s prior decision is still a perfectly valid option and it is not our intent to complicate matters with this proposal, we just wanted to extend this option to you, since it is also being extended to Ocean Isle Beach. We are currently under contract with Coastal Gunite Construction to perform the rehab work and will need to provide them with your choice of the 3 options.  If you will please review the attachments and provide us with a response by Friday, December 14, 2018, if at all possible, it will be greatly appreciated and can help the project stay on schedule.

The contract has been awarded, NCDOT plan to spend 3.3 million dollars rehabilitating the bridge, part of the High Value Bridge Program, including adding safety railings which brings the wall from 27” to 48” to meet current safety criteria. The project is scheduled to start in January and is expected to take through October of 2019 to complete. The BOC’s selected the new third option which includes two horizontal aluminum bars with thin vertical pickets.

A decision was made – Approved unanimously

The Surf City railing shown below is what we are getting minus the top horizontal bar.

Previously reported – February 2019
Planning Director Tim Evans met with the NCDOT to get more information about the project and made the presentation tonight. Most of the Towns concerns about activities being compromised during bridge maintenance project were addressed.

Previously reported – October 2019
The work on the bridge will not be finished until at least March of 2020 due to the decorative guard rail we selected.
Contract was awarded October 29, 2018 with the completion date for the contract to be October1, 2019

Update –
Traffic Alert
The contractor for the Department of Transportation is scheduled, weather permitting, to remobilize on Monday, April 27th to begin the rail retrofit work on the Holden Beach Bridge. Work will be conducted 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Mondays – Thursdays and 7:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. on Fridays. Drivers should expect delays due to lane closures during these times and should use caution in the work area.


EVACUATION, CURFEW & DECALS
Previously reported – February 2018
Reminder of Decal Distribution and Re-entry Policies for Owners
For more information » click here


NC General Statute 166A-19.22
Power of municipalities and counties to enact ordinances to deal with states of emergency.

Synopsis – The governing body may impose by declaration or enacted ordinance, prohibitions and restrictions during a state of emergency. This includes the prohibition and restriction of movements of people in public places, including imposing a curfew; directing or compelling the voluntary or mandatory evacuation of all or part of the population, controlling ingress and egress of an emergency area, and providing for the closure of streets, roads, highways, bridges, public vehicular areas. All prohibitions and restrictions imposed by declaration or ordinance shall take effect immediately upon publication of the declaration unless the declaration sets a later time. The prohibitions and restrictions shall expire when they are terminated by the official or entity that imposed them, or when the state of emergency terminates.

Violation – Any person who violates any provisions of an ordinance or a declaration enacted or declared pursuant to this section shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.


Vehicle Decals
The 2020 vehicle decals were distributed with the March water bills. Each bill included four (4) vehicle decals. It is important that you place your decals in your vehicle or in a safe place. A $10 fee will be assessed to anyone who needs to obtain either additional or replacement decals. Decals will not be issued in the 24-hour period before an anticipated order of evacuation.

The decals are your passes to get back onto the island to check your property in the event that an emergency would necessitate restricting access to the island. Decals must be displayed in the driver side lower left-hand corner of the windshield, where they are not obstructed by any other items. Officials must be able to clearly read the decal from outside the vehicle.

Property owners without a valid decal will not be allowed on the island during restricted access. No other method of identification is accepted in an emergency situation. Click here to visit the Town website to find out more information regarding decals and emergency situations.


Odds & Ends

Large great white sharks ‘converging’ off Carolinas. Is the weather a cause?
A sudden convergence of great white sharks is taking place off the Carolinas — from Cape Hatteras to Charleston — proving the apex predators are being mysteriously drawn to a tight strip off the coast. Satellite tags reveal seven great whites are within that area, with an eighth hovering at the South Carolina-Georgia border, near Hilton Head. Most (five) are sitting off Southport, near Wilmington.
Read more » click here

Tracking site » click here

Cluster of sharks in one spot off Carolinas coast grows more intense
The clustering of great white sharks off the Carolinas coast is growing more pronounced and mysterious, based on satellite tracking data shared Saturday on social media. Eight tagged great white sharks are now practically on top of each other along the border of North and South Carolina — and they represent the only sharks currently tracking along the East Coast, according to a map posted on Facebook by OCEARCH. Researchers began noticing a convergence of great white sharks off the Carolinas in late January, but the group was more spread out. Now the sharks are exhibiting a clear preference for the same spot off Southport, near Wilmington, the data shows. OCEARCH says the tagged sharks, ranging in size from 8 feet to nearly 13 feet, represent a tiny sampling of what is actually off the coast, meaning waters could be full of great
Read more » click here

Update –
There Are 15 Sharks Swarming The Outer Banks Of North Carolina Right Now
Read more » click here


 Sharks of North Carolina
Read more » click here

Shark Attack
The chances of being attacked by a shark are very small compared to other animal attacks, natural disasters, and ocean-side dangers. Many more people drown in the ocean every year than are bitten by sharks. The few attacks that occur every year are an excellent indication that sharks do not feed on humans and that most attacks are simply due to mistaken identity.

Your chances of being attacked by a shark are just 1 in 11.5 million!

What Are the Odds? Long, Most Likely
Not everyone is at risk of a being bitten by a shark. 1 in 11.5 million is the rate of attacks in one year at 68 U.S. beaches and is based on attendance figures at the venues.
Read more » click here


This & That


Carolina Bays Parkway (SC 31) Extension

NCDOT preparing to narrow down route options for CBP Extension
The North Carolina Department of Transportation will soon narrow down its list of route alternatives for the Carolina Bays Parkway Extension, a half-billion-dollar proposed highway project proposed to streamline traffic between southern Brunswick County and North Myrtle Beach. In December, NCDOT released nine route alternatives for the project that’s been studied since the mid-2000s. Shortly after, NCDOT hosted a pair of public meetings in Little River and in Sunset Beach to present information on the project and hear feedback from stakeholders. So far, the project has already received pushback from some factions of the community, including Sunset Beach Town Council, Brunswick County Board of Commissioners, and a multi-generational farm, Indigo Farms.

Concerns have been raised that progress on the Horry County side of the project will outpace North Carolina’s, thereby locking in NCDOT to a route that the public hasn’t endorsed. Also, local tourism dollars are likely at stake, given the project would increase traffic flow to the Grand Strand. South Carolina is further along in funding the project, having already dedicated $125 million to it via a 2016 Horry County capital project sales tax referendum. Right-of-way acquisitions on the South Carolina side of the project will begin in 2022 ; NCDOT has not dedicated any funds for right-of-way acquisitions for its portion of the project. In all, the 19-mile proposed project will cost an estimated $552 million combined, with NCDOT required to cover roughly two-thirds of the total cost (14 miles of the project would run through North Carolina). Each of the nine proposed route alternatives would replace roughly 6 miles of existing roadway on Highway 17 and ultimately converge at the existing terminus in South Carolina between the existing Carolina Bays Parkway S.C. 31 at S.C. 9 (view all route alternatives).

Public comment
The public comment period on narrowing down the nine proposed alternatives ended Jan. 10 at midnight. Comments submitted before this deadline will be considered part of the public record, according to an NCDOT spokesperson, and comments submitted after will still be considered but not in the public record. Weigh in on the routes via a detailed project website, which includes the option to draw suggested lines, provide commentary, and rank alternatives. Once comments are analyzed, NCDOT will rule out a few of the proposed alternatives to narrow down which routes will be further studied in a detailed environmental analysis. NCDOT will narrow the routes down this spring; a Draft Environmental Impact Statement is expected this winter. Once the environmental study is available, a new public comment period will open, including public hearings. A preferred alternative (not the final decision, but the last step before it) could be selected by summer 2021.
Read more » click here


Factoid That May Interest Only Me –


Summer Will Come; Crowds Are Still a Maybe
Hotels and amusement parks brace for a lost high season. Even if they get the go-ahead to open, will people come?

There is little sense whether, even if restrictions are lifted, a general apprehension of crowds or travel will prevail in the wake of the pandemic and how that could hurt seasonal businesses. If the peak summer months are lost, said Mr. Callewaert, who runs his family’s business on Mackinac Island, there is no way to get them back. “You’ll never catch up. Hopefully you’ll live to fight another day, that’s what you have to do,” he said. “You have to be in survival mode right now.”
Read more » click here

Summer tourists want to know: Will East Coast beaches open?
Maybe, but with some changes.

Realtor Michele DeRose had hoped the novel coronavirus pandemic would be subsiding by now so that residents and business owners in this popular beach town along the Jersey Shore could start to prepare for the crush of summer tourists. What’s begun instead, she said, are the phone calls that real estate agents and property owners dread: Some customers are asking for their money back amid signs that this summer could be the first in more than a century that vacationers are not welcomed on some of America’s most storied beaches. “We’re not getting any new requests for rentals right now,” she added. With the travel season less than six weeks away, would-be tourists and entrepreneurs alike are struggling to decipher whether the East Coast’s beach towns will open by Memorial Day — and if they do, how social distancing guidelines implemented to combat the spread of the coronavirus could reshape what is, historically, one of the country’s most communal activities. That’s the challenge confronting elected leaders from North Carolina to Maine, as the pandemic threatens to upend dozens of local economies in ways previously unthinkable, except for perhaps from an early season hit by a major hurricane. Over the past month, as the coronavirus spread, state and local officials banned sunbathing on beaches, shuttered boardwalks and pleaded with taxpaying second-home owners to stay away from their seasonal properties. Police in Dare County on North Carolina’s Outer Banks even blocked roads leading from the mainland to keep tourists away. For now, elected officials in many of these places say it’s still too soon to say when their beach towns may open to visitors as the number of infections and deaths continues to rise, including more than 75,000 coronavirus cases in New Jersey.
Read more » click here


Hot Button Issues
Subjects that are important to people and about which they have strong opinions


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Climate
For more information » click here
There’s something happening here
What it is ain’t exactly clear


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Development Fees
For more information » click here
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CFPUA wants customer input on proposed system development fee increase
The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) is looking to raise its ‘system development fees.’ These fees, which new customers pay when they ‘connect’ to the water and sewer system, help fund overall improvements and expansions. The fees have also been cited as a factor in driving up the cost of housing.

New rates have been proposed to come into effect on July 1, 2020, and would increase both the water and sewer system development charges. “The system development charge (or SDC) is the fee that new customers pay to ‘buy-in’ to the water and sewer system. The proposal includes an increase in the water SDC from $1,880 to $1,920 and an increase in the sewer SDC from $1,930 to $2,070,” according to a memo from CFPUA. The rate changes are not yet approved or finalized and CFPUA has opened an online form to receive public comments on the issue.

According to the utility provider, “The objective of CFPUA’s system development charge is to assess new customers their proportionate share of the cost of infrastructure improvements benefitting the new customer that were paid for by past or existing customers.” The logic and reasoning behind the proposed rate change is that new customers drive the need for new infrastructure and using existing customers’ payments to pay for this is not the most equitable way to fund it.

“CFPUA’s SDC calculation seeks to allocate the equity in existing infrastructure assets to new water and sewer customers. “Equity in existing infrastructure” is defined as the assets funded with rate revenues that will benefit new customers less [with] outstanding debt used to acquire or construct those assets,” according to the memo. While the rate increases could potentially hinder future affordable housing construction in the area, CFPUA does have a responsibility to its ratepayers as well to make sure everyone is paying their equal share and hopefully keeping rates low.
Read more » click here

Supreme Court Construes Local Law to Allow “Availability” Fees to be Charged Against Developed Property and Undeveloped Property
Infrastructure fees are a common battleground between landowners/developers and local governments. The Supreme Court decided a case this week that counts as a “win” for the local governments, reversing a Court of Appeals decision. That is, the Supreme Court determined that the unambiguous language of a State law granted to the local government broader powers than the Court of Appeals otherwise thought. Let’s dig in.

The Facts
The Town of Oak Island constructed a sewer system at a cost of $140M. In 2006, the North Carolina General Assembly enacted a local act – which is a State law that relates to one or more local governments – designed to assist the Town in reducing its outstanding debt for the sewer system. The law authorized the Town “to impose annual fees for the availability of sewer service within” its sewer treatment district.

Then Town’s sewer lines run in front of both developed and undeveloped parcels in the district, but the system had the capacity to serve all parcels in the district. Beginning in 2009, owners of developed parcels began paying fees as an additional charge on their monthly sewer bills. Owners of undeveloped parcels began paying fees in 2010, with charges appearing on their real property tax bills.

The Trial Court
In 2015, certain owners of undeveloped property filed suit against the Town challenging the authority to assess the sewer service availability fees against undeveloped properties. In 2018, the trial court granted summary judgment to the Town, which the property owners appealed.

The Appeal
On appeal, the North Carolina Court of Appeals was divided. In a published decision, the majority concluded: “[A]lthough the Session Laws do not define the term “availability” for purposes of imposing the sewer service availability fees, it is clear that the enabling Session Laws do not, as a matter of law, apply to Plaintiffs’ undeveloped property.” The majority determined that the language of the State law was unambiguous, requiring the Court “to give effect to the plain meaning of the statute” and leading the Court to a dictionary definition of “availability” that read: “the quality or state of being available” and ““present or ready for immediate use”. The Court determined that the “complex, costly additional requirements—many of them conditional— that the owner of an undeveloped lot must fulfill in order to benefit from Oak Island’s sewer services foreclose any conclusion that such services are ‘present or ready for immediate use’ by those owners”, such that undeveloped lots did not have the “availability of sewer service” as compared to developed lots; therefore, “annual fees for availability” were not chargeable to the undeveloped lots under State law.

The dissent agrees that the statute is unambiguous and cites to the same dictionary provisions as does the majority, however, the dissent spends more time than does the majority on the Session Law, itself, and reaches a different conclusion as to what “availability” means.

Originally adopted in 2004 (S.L. 2004-96) as applied only to the Town of Holden Beach, the local act was amended in 2006 to apply both to the Town and the Town of Holden Beach. The actual law, as amended, provides: (1) “A municipality may create a fee-supported sewer treatment district for all properties that are or can be served by the sewage collection and treatment plant serving properties within the Town”, (2) “The Town may impose annual fees for the availability of sewer service within the district”, and (3) “Said fees shall be imposed on owners of each dwelling unit or parcel of property that could or does benefit from the availability of sewage treatment”. The dissent focuses on the language of the Session Law, that “fees shall be imposed on owners of each dwelling unit or parcel of property that could or does benefit from the availability of sewage treatment. That is, to the dissent, the statute clearly authorizes the charging of fees to developed property (does benefit) and undeveloped property (could benefit). More to the point, however, the dissent is concerned that the majority’s analysis “would require terms be added to the Session Law, while rendering the terms ‘can be served [,]’ ‘within the district[,]’ and ‘parcel of property that could . . . benefit’ superfluous”, which the dissent notes neglects the judicial duty “not to delete words used or to insert words not used” when construing laws.

The Supreme Court’s Decision
On March 3, 2019, the Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals “for the reasons stated in the dissenting opinion”. That is, the Supreme Court agreed with the dissent’s analysis and conclusion regarding the meaning of “availability” and the ability of the Town, pursuant to the local law, to charge sewer system fees to owners of developed and undeveloped properties, alike.
Read more » click here

NC Supreme Court sides with Oak Island in sewer system dispute
North Carolina’s highest court has sided with the town of Oak Island, reversing a lower court’s decision on whether the town has the right to levy sewer fees on undeveloped properties.

The case, which was heard on Feb. 4 with an opinion filed Feb. 28, began when Bobby Boles filed a lawsuit against the town in 2015.

In that suit, Boles argued the town did not have the right to collect the fees established to help offset the cost of the town’s new sewer system — fees made possible by a 2004 action by the North Carolina General Assembly — from the owners of undeveloped properties.

[ In split decision, appeals court sides with property owners ]

From 2010 to 2017, the fee program resulted in developed property owners paying a total of $4,478.57 in fees, while undeveloped property owners would have paid $3,978.08. The appellate court whose decision the supreme court overturned had pointed out in its ruling that from 2015 to 2017, the owners of undeveloped properties were actually paying more per year than those who owned developed lots.

Property owners argued that because their lots were undeveloped and not connected to the sewer system, the sewer service was not truly “available” to them, and therefore they should not be required to pay the fees.

The Court of Appeals ruled in a split judgment on May 2, 2018, in favor of the property owners, but that result has now been reversed. The reversal was just one page and says: “We reverse the decision of the Court of Appeals for the reasons stated in the dissenting opinion.”

Judge Allegra Collins disagreed with her two fellow judicial colleagues, arguing the opposite with regard to the “availability” language.

Collins argued that just because property owners would have to go through the development process in order to connect to the sewer system, doesn’t mean that it isn’t “available” to them.
Read more » click here

Stay tuned …


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Flood Insurance Program
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National Flood Insurance Program: Reauthorization
Congress must periodically renew the NFIP’s statutory authority to operate. On December 20, 2019, the President signed legislation passed by Congress that extends the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP’s) authorization to December 20, 2019.

Congress must now reauthorize the NFIP
by no later than 11:59 pm on September 30, 2020.

FEMA and Congress have never failed to honor the flood insurance contracts in place with NFIP policyholders. Should the NFIP’s authorization lapse, FEMA would still have authority to ensure the payment of valid claims with available funds. However, FEMA would stop selling and renewing policies for millions of properties in communities across the nation. Nationwide, the National Association of Realtors estimates that a lapse might impact approximately 40,000 home sale closings per month.

NFIP reauthorization is an opportunity for Congress to take bold steps to reduce the complexity of the program and strengthen the NFIP’s financial framework so that the program can continue helping individuals and communities take the critical step of securing flood insurance.

The level of damage from recent catastrophic storms makes it clear that FEMA needs a holistic plan to ready the Nation for managing the cost of catastrophic flooding under the NFIP.

Flood insurance – whether purchased from the NFIP or through private carriers – is the best way for homeowners, renters, business, and communities to financially protect themselves from losses caused by floods.
Read more » click here


 

GenX
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CFPUA: Chemours’ vague and inadequate corrective plan ‘falls far short’
The company responsible for the contamination of the Cape Fear River with the chemical known as GenX has proposed a ‘corrective action plan’ to the state — a plan that the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority says falls short. “Chemours’ proposed corrective action plan (CAP) to address decades of PFAS releases from its chemical plant on the Cape Fear River consists largely of vague promises of PFAS reductions to be realized years into the future and is inadequate to protect downstream water users, CFPUA wrote in comments submitted today to state regulators,” according to a CFPUA press release.
Read more » click here

NCDEQ requiring Chemours to make extensive changes to Corrective Action Plan
The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality announced Tuesday that it is requiring Chemours to make extensive revisions to the proposed Corrective Action Plan the company submitted in December. “The proposed plan is clearly deficient and fails to address the fundamental purposes of a corrective action plan,” said Michael S. Regan, DEQ Secretary. “Chemours will not receive approval from this department until they address appropriate clean up measures for the communities impacted by the contamination and meet the terms of the Consent Order.” DEQ officials say that based on their initial review the proposed Corrective Action Plan “lacks a thorough technical basis, including an adequate assessment of human exposure to PFAS compounds and a thorough evaluation of on- and off-site groundwater contamination.” State officials also said that the plan does not provide for appropriate remediation of on-site groundwater or off-site contamination. The DEQ received more than 1,240 public comments on the plan. “The vast majority of the commenters believe the proposed plan from Chemours is not sufficient to address community concerns, the requirements of state law and the Consent Order,” the NCDEQ stated in a news release. The public comments can be seen here. The February 2019 Consent Order and related documents are available online at https://deq.nc.gov/ChemoursConsentOrder.
Read more » click here


 

Homeowners Insurance
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Hurricane Season

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AccuWeather’s 2020 Atlantic hurricane season forecast is out

About two months from now, the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season will officially begin, but AccuWeather meteorologists have already been hard at work examining the factors that could influence tropical activity this year. Forecasters are anticipating another busy year for the Atlantic Basin in 2020, on the heels of an active 2019 season. Led by Dan Kottlowksi, AccuWeather’s top hurricane expert, meteorologists this week released a 2020 Atlantic hurricane forecast. Kottlowksi’s team is calling for 14-18 tropical storms during this upcoming season, which runs from June 1 through Nov. 30. Of those storms, seven to nine are forecast to become hurricanes, and two to four are predicted to strengthen into major hurricanes. “It’s going to be an above-normal season,” Kottlowski said. “On a normal year, we have around 12 storms, six hurricanes and roughly three major hurricanes.” The 2019 season marked the fourth consecutive year of above-average activity in the basin and was tied with 1969 for the fourth most-active hurricane season on record. Featuring hurricanes Dorian, Lorenzo and Humberto as well as Tropical Storm Imelda, the 2019 season resulted in 18 storms overall and caused more than $11 billion in damage. And there’s reason to believe the 2020 season could be every bit as active. As part of the method for formulating this season’s predictions, forecasters have drawn comparisons to previous years with comparable weather conditions — also known as analog years. This year, AccuWeather meteorologists have looked closely at the years 1980 and 2005.
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CSU forecast for the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season: active
Meteorologists with Colorado State University issued their annual Atlantic Hurricane Season outlook Thursday, suggesting 2020 will be an active year for tropical storms and hurricanes across the Atlantic Basin. An average year in the Atlantic Basin features 12 named tropical systems, including 6 hurricanes and 3 major (Cat. 3+) hurricanes. The 2020 CSU forecast for the Atlantic Basin suggests there will be 16 named tropical systems, including 8 hurricanes and 4 major hurricanes. Seasonal tropical weather outlooks naturally elicit cynicism from some consumers, but such forecasts have shown some skill over time. CSU says potential contributors to Atlantic tropical cyclone activity include: the expectation of a weak or absent Pacific El Nino and much warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures across portions of the Atlantic Basin, like the Gulf of Mexico. What no seasonal tropical forecast can say with any provable, repeatable skill is what coastlines will be impacted by tropical activity. One might argue that the Bahamian and Southeast U.S. portions of the Atlantic Basin are, at least statistically, due for a break after Hurricanes Joaquin, Matthew, Irma, Florence, Michael, and Dorian have ravaged the region since 2015. A break is indeed worth hoping for, but you never know until the actual season arrives and the individual storms develop. The best course, in any year and with any forecast, is vigilance and preparedness. Atlantic Hurricane Season officially begins June 1.
Read more » click here

Hurricane amid pandemic: ‘Nightmare scenario’
For coastal communities like Wilmington, the June 1 start of hurricane season couldn’t come at a worse time

Emergency managers run drills on handling multiple catastrophes at once, such as a cyberattack during a tornado or a mass shooting amid a destructive flood. But most disaster plots don’t involve a months-long pandemic sapping resources globally from aid groups and governments while so much of the nation is shut down, self-isolating and unemployed. Yet this is where officials find themselves in the run-up to the 2020 hurricane season, which leading forecasts predict will be the fifth consecutive year of above-normal activity. A forecast released Thursday suggests we could see four major hurricanes develop. The U.S. may still be battling the coronavirus outbreak when hurricane season officially begins June 1, and waves of infections could follow during peak months for storms in late summer and early fall.
Read more » click here
 


 

Inlet Hazard Areas
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Lockwood Folly Inlet
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Another speaker gave updated rates for the dredges as follows:
. • Murden – $1,700 per hour
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Currituck – $1,500 per hour
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Merritt – $2,292 per hour
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Snell – $1,500 per hour
Rates are based on a minimum10-hour day for scheduling purposes


Sand build up in LWF Inlet causing issues as waterway waits for dredging
The narrow passage between Oak Island and Holden Beach is even more narrow than usual as sediment buildup has left Lockwood Folly Inlet at critically shallow depths. According to the Feb. 3 survey by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a majority of the inlet is less than six feet deep at low tide, with localized spots barely having three feet of water. “About any boat that’s going to come in and out of there is going to scrub the bottom at the moment,” said Cane Faircloth, who is president of the Lockwood Inlet Association. Faircloth said before Hurricane Dorian, the inlet was in the best shape it has seen in decades after it was dredged following Hurricane Florence. “We had it, it was about eight feet at low tide, and then Hurricane Dorian hit, and it pumped that thing full of sand,” he said. “And that’s just how mother nature works. You know, you have events you have erosion, so we end up with a lot of sand in it, and then now we’ve been playing catch-up.”
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Seismic Testing / Offshore Drilling
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Solid Waste Program

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Things I Think I Think –

Dining #2Eating out is one of the great little joys of life.

Restaurant Review:
Dinner Club visits a new restaurant once a month. Ratings reflect the reviewer’s reaction to food, ambience and service, with price taken into consideration.
///// November 2019
Name:            The Library    
Cuisine:         European Continental
Location:      6613 North Kings Highway Unit D, Myrtle Beach SC
Contact:        843.448.4527 / http://www.thelibraryrestaurantsc.com/

Food:              Average / Very Good / Excellent / Exceptional
Service:         Efficient / Proficient / Professional / Expert
Ambience:    Drab / Plain / Distinct / Elegant
Cost:               Inexpensive <=$18 / Moderate <=$24 / Expensive <=$30 / Exorbitant <=$40
Rating:          Three Stars
Established in 1974 this is the most formal and classic restaurant along the Grand Strand and ranks among the finest of Myrtle Beach’s upscale dining establishments. A couple of years ago they moved from downtown Myrle Beach to a new location in a strip mall just a bit north. They have a limited menu that only offers about a dozen entrée choices. The food is excellent but a little pricey, not your any-night-of-the-week restaurant. It was a Four-Star establishment, unfortunately that is no longer the case.  It is still one of the few quality dining options in Myrtle Beach, significantly better than most of the other restaurant offerings in the area.

 ///// February 2020
Name:            Vintage Twelve  
Cuisine:         Southern Low Country
Location:      9800 Queensway Blvd., Myrtle Beach, SC
Contact:        843.497.7300 / https://www.vintagetwelve.com/

Food:              Average / Very Good / Excellent / Exceptional
Service:         Efficient / Proficient / Professional / Expert
Ambience:    Drab / Plain / Distinct / Elegant
Cost:               Inexpensive <=$18 / Moderate <=$24 / Expensive <=$30 / Exorbitant <=$40
Rating:          Three Stars
Vintage Twelve is a fine dining restaurant located in the Embassy Suites Hotel inside a gated beach resort community the Kingston Resorts. Southern Low Country cuisine is presented in a refined dining space. The décor is understated, focusing on the spectacular panoramic sea views. They have a very limited menu, that only offers about a dozen entrée choices following the trend of menu simplification. It’s a little pricey, but the food was excellent and well worth the price, so not your
any-night-of-the-week restaurant.      


North Carolina governor bans dine-in service at bars, restaurants
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper will close all bars and restaurants in the state to dine-in customers, only allowing take-out and delivery food services to operate as the state works to stop the spread of COVID-19.


Book Review:
Read several books from The New York Times best sellers fiction list monthly
Selection represents this month’s pick of the litter
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AMERICAN DIRT by Jeanine Cummins
The story is about the ordeal of a Mexican woman who had to leave behind her life, after a drug cartel murders the rest of their family, and escape as an undocumented immigrant to the United States with her son. Cummins novel brings to life the ordeal of migrants, who risk everything to try to cross into the U.S., looking for a better life.
 


.That’s it for this newsletter

See you next month


HBPOIN / Lou’s Views

.          • Gather and disseminate information
.          • Identify the issues and determine how they affect you

.          • Act as a watchdog
.          • Grass roots monthly newsletter since 2008

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