04 – News & Views

Lou’s Views
News & Views / April Edition


Calendar of Events –



.Days at the Docks Festival

April 27th
28th
Holden Beach

.

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 canceled



Blue Crab Festival

May 15th – 16th
Little River SC

.

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


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 –


Concerts on the Coast Series
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.

While they are still uncertain about the ability to hold concerts and will rely on outside occupancy limits established by the State of NC at the time the season starts, they remain hopeful that they can provide this popular community event in a manner that adheres to safety protocols. The schedule will be adjusted based on Covid-19 guidance. Please continue to visit the Town website and social media outlets for updates on the status of the concerts.
For more information » click here

Most events have either been postponed or cancelled


HBBC Plant Sale  
The HBBC is holding their Annual Plant Sale on Friday, May 14th and Saturday, May 15th at the Emergency Operations Center, which is beside Food Lion located at 1044 Sabbath Home Road. Landscaping plants, perennials, annuals, herbs, and gardening gloves will be available for purchase. All funds generated from the plant sale are earmarked for beautification projects on the island. Visit the Beautification Club’s website at http://holdenbeachbc.org/ if you are unable to attend the plant sale but would like to contribute.

HBBC Plant Sale has been cancelled


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


Reminders –


Hurricane Vehicle Decals
The 2021 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.



Speed Limit
Please take notice – Speed limit seasonal limitations, in accordance with Town Ordinances. Speed limit will change on OBW from 45mph to 35mph west of the general store. This change will take place on April 1st and be in effect through September 30th.



Trash Can Requirements – Rental Properties
GFL Environmental – trash can requirements
Ordinance 07-13, Section 50.10


Rental properties have specific number of trash cans based on number of bedrooms.
* One extra trash can per every two bedrooms

.

§ 50.08 RENTAL HOMES.
(A) Rental homes, as defined in Chapter 157, that are rented as part of the summer rental season, are subject to high numbers of guests, resulting in abnormally large volumes of trash. This type of occupancy use presents a significantly higher impact than homes not used for summer rentals. In interest of public health and sanitation and environmental concerns, all rental home shall have a minimum of one trash can per two bedrooms. Homes with an odd number of bedrooms shall round up (for examples one to two bedrooms – one trash can; three to four bedrooms – two trash cans; five – six bedrooms – three trash cans, and the like).


Solid Waste Pick-Up Schedule
GFL Environmental change in service, trash pickup will be twice a week. Starting the Saturday before Memorial Day through the Saturday after Labor Day: Pick-up is every Tuesday and Saturday from May 29th through September 25th

Solid Waste Pick-up Schedule – starting May 29th twice a week

Recyclingstarting May 25th weekly pick-up

Please note:
. • Trash carts must be at the street by 6:00 a.m. on the pickup day
. • BAG the trash before putting it in the cart
. • Carts will be rolled back to the front of the house


Yard Waste Service
Yard debris pick-up 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. The first pickup of the season was on March 12th. No pick-ups will be made on vacant lots or construction sites.

Debris must be placed in a biodegradable bag or bundled in a length not to exceed five (5) feet and fifty (50) pounds. Each residence is allowed a total of ten (10) items, which can include a combination of bundles of brush and limbs meeting the required length and weight and/ or biodegradable bags with grass clippings, leaves, etc.



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 1307 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
. 2)
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 18th
.


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.


Curbside Recycling
GFL environmental 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

Recycling Renewal
It is time to renew your annual recycling service. If you would like to continue the recycling service for the 2021 year, please fill out the recycling form and send it to Town Hall with the payment of $93.29 per bin no later than April 30, 2021. Any payments not received by this date will result in cancellation of the service and removal of the recycling bin. Click here to access the recycling form.

If you have any questions, contact Megan at reception@hbtownhall.com or at (910) 842-6488.


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.


Waupaca Elevator Recalls to Inspect Elevators Due to Injury Hazard

Hazard:
The elevator cab can fall unexpectedly to the bottom of the elevator shaft and abruptly stop, posing an injury hazard to consumers in the elevator cab.

Consumer Contact:
Waupaca Elevator toll-free at 833-850-7981 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CT Monday through Friday, e-mail at info@WaupacaElevator.com or online at www.WaupacaElevator.com and click on Recall Information for more information.

Recall Details

Description:
This recall involves residential elevator models Custom Lift 450# and Custom Lift 500#, shipped and installed between 1979 and 2008. The recalled elevators are used in consumers’ homes.

Remedy:
Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled elevators and contact Waupaca Elevator to schedule a free gearbox inspection and the installation of a free overspeed braking device. Waupaca Elevator also will provide the installation of a free gearbox if the gearbox inspection reveals that the gears in the gearbox have worn down.

For more information » click here

There is an issue with the gearboxes on select Waupaca Elevators that may cause the elevator to suddenly drop. In December on the island, despite having recommended gearbox inspection, the Waupaca elevator cab fell to the bottom of the elevator shaft causing serious injuries to my friends that were in the elevator cab. Affected elevators need to be checked and the installation of overspeed braking devices completed before being put back into service. Even then I still would be concerned, due to the severity of gear boxes failure the safety features are not responding as they should. I’d strongly recommend that you immediately stop using these Waupaca elevators.


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


Coronavirus –


Brunswick County COVID-19 Snapshot: as of March 19th


Novant Health announces new website for vaccine sign-ups in Brunswick County
Novant Health on Tuesday announced a new website where people who 65 years and older in Brunswick County can sign-up to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. The new website is NovantHealth.org/BrunswickVaccine. Novant officials are still encouraging people to sign up for a MyChart account to provide all necessary information, including date of birth to confirm eligibility, prior to their vaccination appointment. Recipients do not need to be affiliated with a specific healthcare system to sign up for MyChart, officials say. A spokesperson for Novant said the change was made in an effort to streamline the sign-up process for community members. “Our main priority is to provide the vaccine as quickly as possible to those who are eligible and want the vaccine. We are committed to ensuring all vaccine distribution is equitable, effective and in the best interest of public health despite unprecedented supply challenges,” the spokesperson said. Novant officials offered a reminder that appointments are available based on the limited supply of vaccine provided by the state health department and will be updated weekly. New appointments are added every Friday evening.


COVID/State of Emergency – Timeline

03/23/21
It’s been just over a year since North Carolina went into the Covid-19 shutdown, and subsequent restrictions from Gov. Roy Cooper have followed. Governor Cooper signed Executive Order No. 204 which will roll back some of them, a further easing of restrictions on maximum capacity limits for many businesses and entertainment venues. Click here to view the Executive Order details.

02/24/21
Governor Cooper signed Executive Order No. 195 which will ease but not lift restrictions in several areas of
the modified stay-at-home order. More businesses will be able to operate, some for the first time and others with increased capacity. Click here to view the Executive Order details.

01/27/21
Governor Cooper signed Executive Order No. 189 which further extends the modified stay-at-home order with a curfew that requires people to stay home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily. Click here to view the Executive Order details.

01/06/21
Governor Cooper signed Executive Order No. 188 which extends the modified stay-at-home order with a curfew that requires people to stay home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. daily. Click here to view the Executive Order details.


Coronavirus Information
The Town Hall is currently open during normal business hours. All activities, with the exception of Board of Commissioners’ meetings, scheduled in the Town Hall Public Assembly and conference rooms and the Emergency Operations Center conference rooms are canceled until further notice. The Town encourages residents to follow social distancing protocols and to seek communication options like phone, email and other online resources to limit exposure to others.

Brunswick County has developed a dedicated webpage for community assistance. Click here to view their website. Remember to seek the most verified information from sources likes the CDC, NC DHHS and the county regarding the coronavirus.
You can contact the Brunswick County Public Health Call Line at (910) 253-2339 Monday – Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
You can also email them at
coronavirus@brunswickcountync.gov.
The NC Public Health Call Line can be reached at 866-462-3821 (open 24/7).

The situation is serious; take it seriously!

You may not be interested in the coronavirus, but it is interested in you.


Upon Further Review –


Brunswick County ponders water hike next year
Brunswick County commissioners are looking into significant water rate hikes to take effect next Jan. 1. Recommended changes allocate for anticipated debt service repayments that begin in 2022 for $156.8 million in capital improvements at the Northwest Water Treatment Plant, loss in revenue attributed to pending closure of an industrial customer and expected revenue reductions from wholesale customers as well as rate increases for raw water the county buys. Wholesale customers will see rates go up from $2.89 per 1,000 gallons to $5.25, with a monthly base service charge rising $4 for all meters. County rates would still remain lower or comparable with other retail water rates in coastal North Carolina counties, Brunswick County Manager Randell Woodruff said during the regular Brunswick County Board of Commissioners meeting Jan. 19. “It’s key to compare us with other coastal communities,” Woodruff said. “When you look at other coastal communities that have similar issues that we do, under the new rates we are proposing we would still be below the mid-point. That demonstrates that while the rates will be increasing, the customers here will be receiving a much higher quality water system than any in our region.” In 2018, commissioners took action to finance installation of a low-pressure reverse osmosis system at the county’s Northwest Water Treatment Plant to remove chemicals known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances(PFAS), like GenX, from water coming from the Cape Fear River. The following year, a Raftelis financial consultant water rate study was completed, with financial forecasts developed in 2020, which was reviewed during the board meeting. According to a Brunswick County newsletter, county retail water rates have seen minimal adjustments over the past 17 years. Commissioners will review and take action on recommended changes as part of the fiscal 2022 budget process, with approved changes going into effect Jan. 1, 2022.
Read more » click here


Water Rate Methodology and Rate Increase

This is what they said in 2019:
About 84% of the county’s residential customers use 5,000 gallons of water a day or less. Accounting for the average 4,500 gallons-per-day customer, using the smallest-sized three-quarter inch meter, an average county water bill increases $3.22 from $25.73 to $28.95

This is what they are proposing in 2021:
Average retail customer billed at 4,500 gallons increases $9.85 from $24.83 to $34.68

The rate increase amount predicted of $3.22 is much less than the current proposed rate increase of $9.85. The average retail customer bill will go from $24.83 to $34.68 which is a 140% increase.


Water Rate Changes
The Brunswick County Board of Commissioners received information on recommended changes to the county’s water rates during its regular meeting this Tuesday, Jan. 19. The Board of Commissioners will review and take action on the recommended changes as part of its Fiscal Year 2022 (FY 2022) budget process. Approved changes would go into effect Jan. 1, 2022. Brunswick County retail water rates have seen minimal adjustments over the past 17 years. The only increase occurred in FY 2015 when the monthly retail base rate was increased by $1. Meanwhile, volumetric rates for retail customers were decreased by $0.90 in both FY 2004 and FY 2020. With the proposed changes, the County’s FY 2022 recommended rates would still remain lower or comparable with other retail water rates in other coastal North Carolina counties. The recommended changes address the anticipated debt service repayments that will begin in 2022 for capital improvements at the Northwest Water Treatment Plant, loss in revenues due to the recent closure of an industrial customer, expected reductions in revenue from wholesale customers, and expected rate increases for raw water the County purchases. The proposed rate changes considered recommendations from the Raftelis water rate study completed in 2019 and subsequent financial forecasts developed in 2020 and reviewed this month. The rate methodology used in the water rate study is in accordance with procedures outlined in the American Water Works Association M-1 Manual, which is the industry standard. In 2018, the Brunswick County Board of Commissioners took action to finance the installation of a low-pressure reverse osmosis system at the County’s Northwest Water Treatment Plant to remove PFAS contaminants like GenX from water from the Cape Fear River. All Brunswick County water customers receive all or part of their water from this facility. The project at the Northwest Water Treatment Plant broke ground in Summer 2020. The facility will increase its conventional treatment capacity from 24 million gallons per day to 45 million gallons per day by Spring 2022. The first five units of the low-pressure reverse osmosis system are expected to begin treating water in Summer 2023 with the final three units anticipated to go online by Fall 2023. Brunswick County has joined other utilities in the region to sue DuPont and Chemours. The County is seeking monetary damages from Chemours to hold it responsible for the millions of dollars it is spending to install a new treatment system necessary to remove PFAS contaminants. The lawsuit remains active and ongoing.
Read more » click here

County should lessen impact of proposed water rate increase
In January 2021, the Alliance of Brunswick County Property Owners Associations (ABCPOA), which has a membership of 24 residential communities in Brunswick County, be-came aware of the proposal for a significant increase in retail and wholesale water rates proposed by Brunswick County. Our concerns extend to every individual, business and industry that relies on water from the county system. If you turn on your tap for a glass of water, you are affected! Since January, the AB-CPOA has been in communication with county officials to gather information, understand the issues, and share ideas for lessening the impact of a proposed 81% increase of wholesale water rates that will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022, if approved by the commissioners as proposed. The circumstances that the county cites for increasing the water rates demonstrate the need for meeting the costs for upgrading the water treatment plant, providing low pressure reverse osmosis for secondary filtration, and the loss of two large customers. However, with a range of available options for “lessening the sting,” the initial proposed rates seem to indicate a preference for only one option; pass it along to the consumer in one fell swoop. We find this to be short-sighted due to the risk of long-term damaging consequences for individuals, existing business, and future economic development. Two defenses for the cur-rent proposal that have been presented include: “Our rates are now comparable with other water systems providing secondary level purification,” and “It’s only a $9 increase.” With regard to the first defense, while it is true water rates were below the median for similar coastal counties providing secondary purification, it is also true that they did not get to their current rate levels in one billing cycle. As an enterprise fund with large capital investments, depreciation, and the need to upgrade should have been a part of long-range planning and, the Northwest Treatment Plant didn’t turn 40 years old in one year. The Chemours dumping into the Cape Fear River did create an immediate unforeseen need but with aggressive legal action by the county, what recompense might our residents and businesses expect in the future? As far as the “It’s only $9” argument goes, it’s important to remember that water billing is structured on a tiered system that starts with a set base rate (increasing with this proposal) plus usage that bills based on usage per 1,000 gallons with the price per 1,000 gallons increasing when usage exceeds the prior tier limits. Perhaps a residential user of 1,000 gallons per month might only see a $9 monthly ($108 annual) increase but we suspect there are few customers that meet this description. We urge you to check your own personal usage to gauge the impact. Irrigation and industrial fees are similarly structured. We are particularly fearful of the impact of these rate in-creases on small businesses, particularly those struggling to recover from the pandemic induced recession. During our meetings and exchanged communications with the Brunswick County Commissioners, the AB-CPOA has offered a range of suggestions for lessening the impact of these proposed rate increases. We encourage commissioners to reject the initial proposal and deter-mine a course of action that meets their financial needs while not unduly burdening their customers, the residents, industries, and businesses who rely on them for this service. A meeting between county, impacted municipal leadership and staff to brainstorm viable solutions would seem to be a useful first step. The ABCPOA is willing to participate in such a process
Brunswick Beacon

Calabash OKs letter addressing 81% water hike
Town commissioners last week approved drafting a letter expressing concern about a proposed countywide 81% water-rate hike poised to take effect next January. Akin to concerns recently expressed in Shallotte, commissioners informally agreed at their monthly March 9 meeting that the increase will have impact on Calabash and its renowned restaurants and other businesses, which have already been struggling during the pandemic. Town commissioner Forrest King cited a recent letter penned by the town of Shallotte outlining the effect the hike will have on its own restaurants and businesses. “We can assume it’s going to have exactly the same effect here … significant increases on everybody,” he said. Mayor Pro Tem Jody Nance suggested they “piggy-back on the Shallotte letter.” “We need to adopt some-thing pretty close,” King said, favoring a suggested alternative that the county impose the increase in steps “rather than hitting us all at one time with it.” He noted Shallotte suggested spreading the increase over a two-year period, which he deemed “bearable.” “But all at one time, especially with the environment we’re in right now, I think is a little bit crazy,” King said. A study presented to the county board in January pro-posed the hike to help pay off $156.8 million in capital improvements for the Northwest Water Treatment Plant, with wholesale water rates increasing from $2.89 to $5.25 per 1,000 gallons and a monthly base service charge rising $4 for all meters. It also proposes a 40% hike to $34.68 per 4,500 gallons for retail and irrigation customers from the current rate of $24.83.Commissioners estimated the climb could amount to thousands of dollars for a restaurant and several hundred dollars for a single-family home. They also wondered how sewer rates will be affected. Town Administrator Chuck Nance said he’s not sure about that but speculated the water hike should not have an effect on sewer un-less the county votes on it. “I know what (county officials) have said and why they’re saying they have to do it, but it is a very steep increase,” he said, referring to the water rate rise. “It’s not so much the increase as the design going about it,” said town com-missioner Michael Herring, also favoring spreading the increase over a greater period of time. Commissioners approved having Chuck Nance draft a letter to be sent to county commissioners. “A two-year span is something we could live with,” Jody Nance said.
Read more » click here

Mayors from county water customer towns meet with officials about rate increase
A contingent of Brunswick County’s mayors whose towns are Brunswick utilities customers met with county officials April 12 to lobby for taking the sting out of water rate increases expected to kick in next January. County commissioners are looking at water rate hikes as part of the fiscal 2022 budget process. A study presented to the county board Jan. 19 proposed to pay off the debt for $156.8 million in capital improvements to the Northwest Water Treatment Plant. The study presented examples of Wholesale customers rates increasing from $2.89 per 1,000 gallons to $5.25, with a monthly base service charge rising $4 for all meters and a proposed water rate of $34.68 per 4,500-gallon usage for retail and irrigation customers, a $9.85 hike from the current rate of $24.83. County commissioners will discuss the proposal during budget talks, which begin with a goals and budget workshop from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 3, prior to the county’s first board meeting of the month. At Monday’s meeting, Shallotte Mayor Walt Eccard was joined by Ocean Isle Beach Mayor Debbie Smith, Holden Beach Mayor Alan Holden, Northwest Mayor James Knox, Navassa Mayor Eulis Willis, Carolina Shores Mayor Joyce Dunn and Bolivia Mayor Ella Jane Marston. “There were several county officials including Commissioners Randy Thompson and Mike Forte” Eccard said.
“Whatever the water rate increase will be, it’ll be decided and included in the budget that will be adopted in June of this year. And the rate adjustment will take place in January of 2022.” Eccard said the mayors asked the commissioners about using some of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding, which will provide Brunswick County with $26,699,060 to help offset the increase. They indicated that they’re currently reading of the guidance, which is a bit preliminary, is that they can’t use money to repay previously incurred debt,” Eccard said. The bonds were (already) issued to fund the construction. So they aren’t certain, and they seem to think they won’t be able to use it for that. I think it is fair to say that everybody is waiting for some guidance from Treasury. I read the authority to spend money on water and sewer infrastructure a little broader than they do. But I’m also prepared to be cautious and say we need to have more guidance from Treasury. There are other provisions in the bill that talk about not using money to repay debt. I’m not sure how those two provisions completely interact. “I probably have a slightly more aggressive take, but I could be wrong, and they could be right. The fact is unless guidance comes out prior to the budget being adopted, they said the budget rate decision will be final. So I just have to assume that if they don’t get guidance and in their current plan, they would be reluctant to use that money, that they won’t use it. But it’s their decision. My sense is that they’re reluctant to.” Eccard said there was no talk of allocating an equivalent amount of money from other county funds to use for the debt if the rules say they can’t use the ARP money. “We didn’t go into that in-depth. They did say that their staff is preparing recommendations for the commissioners on how to use the $28 million – $14 million this year, $14 million next year – and their current thinking is to use the money on general fund projects and also for some transmission lines for water and wastewater,” Eccard said. “Theoretically, I guess if you save some money there, you could look to save some of that savings. But we didn’t get good clarification on that point.” Eccard said the mayors pressed a number of alternatives and suggestions of things that could moderate the rate increase impact. “One is to review the capital recovery fees and see if some increase in capital recovery fees could, which is new growth, offset the cost to the existing ratepayers,” he said. They committed to look at that. “We also requested they consider using what we would call a more current growth rate assumption. They are currently using a 10-year average. And that’s a conservative approach. We think that with the knowledge they have on the amount of building that’s going on in Brunswick County that it really would pay benefits to look at (again). You could fairly and not wildly assume a somewhat larger growth rate, which again would reduce the impact. So we raised that point.” Eccard said the county officials are concerned about the rate increase impact on businesses. “They’re looking at how they can help them in a way that would mitigate the increase, but there were no specifics and how they plan to do that,” he said. “They’re also looking at breaking the increase over two years, rather than all of this in one year. In previous conversations, to me, the majority of the commissioners are not in favor of that. But they did agree to look at that again.” The county officials told the mayors any recovery they get from a lawsuit against Chemours would be used to benefit the ratepayers. “Of course, that settlement probably isn’t going to happen anytime soon,” Eccard said. But whenever it happens, if they get an amount of money that’s roughly equivalent to the cost of the reverse osmosis plant, the general commitment was to return that money, in one form or another, to the ratepayers. The county said they’re going to consider if there’s a way to adjust some kind of payment plan. We didn’t get specific on it, but the idea is the county ratepayers pay monthly, Shallotte ratepayers pay every other month. They’re going to see if there’s some way of having a payment structure that would let people pay over time in a different way. I don’t know how that would work, but they’re going to look at if there’s some way, they can use some kind of payment mechanism. “The towns in Brunswick County, some of them, like us, are wholesale purchasers of water from the county and we run our own water system. A number of them, perhaps even a majority, have the county run their water system. So the whole question of wholesale rates doesn’t really impact them because they’re not a purchaser of water. They probably purchase water for their own operations, but not for reselling to customers.” Eccard said they did not discuss the higher prices wholesale customers would face compared to retail customers. “That’s one topic we didn’t get to. We covered a lot of ground, but we didn’t get to everything. That’s a point we’ve been scratching our heads on also,” Eccard said. The mayors intend to keep pushing for changes to the water rate increase as the county has proposed it through communication with the county commissioners but also by keeping their residents up to date on the interactions the response, they receive from the county officials. “We’ve raised a number of points and they said they’re going to look at some of them. We appreciate that. But with the schedule they’re under, we’re going to reach out to all of our citizens to alert them in case they haven’t become aware of this coming change and what the impact on them would be,” Eccard said. “At a minimum, we don’t want to have our ratepayers surprised and be mad at us for not even telling them this was going to happen. We’re going to make sure we let them know what’s going to happen. We’re going to continue to urge the commissioners in whatever way that we can that they need to find some ways to reduce the impact, the one-year impact of this.” “I think the mayors are going to huddle to find the most effective way of continuing to communicate our views and concerns. Whether that takes the form of another meeting or some other mechanism, I honestly don’t know at this point. But we’re not going to be silent about this. Shallotte will not be silent and I’m pretty sure that other towns will not be silent.” Eccard couldn’t gauge how receptive county officials were to the ideas brought to them by the mayors. “I think the fairest way to say it is, the fact that they agreed to look at whether the capital recovery rate is set appropriately given the amount of costs thy are incurring. The fact that they’re willing to try to find a way to help businesses and the way that they’re at least willing to consider using of ARP funds if they get legal guidance. It indicated they were listening,” Eccard said. I don’t really have a good sense of what they’re going to do about the growth rates. I think they may look at that, but I don’t know if they’re going to make any adjustments. Similarly, although they’re going to look at breaking the payment over two years, I don’t have any clarity on whether they’re going to do that or not so. So I guess the fairest view of it is they heard what we were saying. They’re going to review a few things. And that’s all positive. But I didn’t come away with a feeling that we found a solution at all to the problem. “If I could be so bold, I guess my overall statement is one of appreciation that they’re willing to listen and consider some of the suggestions we made. But my deep concern remains about the impact of the proposed increase,” Eccard said.
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.

    Previously reported – January 2020
    Dog park was utilized for canal dredging spoil site. We did some site ditching prior to Hurricane Dorian storm event to facilitate draining of the pond.

    Intent is to reestablish pre-dredge capabilities which in order of priority are as follows:
    . 1.
    Permitted primary disaster debris management area
    . 2.
    Public Works lay down yard
    . 3.
    Dog Park

    Must maintain compliance with environmental permit and monitoring
    Safety is the priority for this site, at present it is not ready for use


    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

  • Previously reported – July 2020
    BOC’s are cognizant that the residents want a dog park. The Board went with Option #2 – Request the Parks and Recreation Committee to include a new dog park in their upcoming Master Plan development efforts and recommend a possible site.


    Corrections & Amplifications –


Hurricane Vehicle Decals
The 2021 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.

EVACUATION, CURFEW & DECALS

What is a State of Emergency?
A proclamation by the Town which enacts special ordinances and/or prohibitions during emergency situations to protect the public, public health and property. These prohibitions can include limitations on movement, curfews, directing of evacuations, controlling ingress and egress to the emergency area, alcoholic beverages, and more. State of Emergencies are issued in accordance with N.C.G.S. 166A-19.22.

What is a curfew?
A curfew is an order, typically during a State of Emergency, which requires all persons in the affected areas to remain on their own property. During a curfew, you are not free to move about public domain areas or on others’ property. Violations of a curfew could lead to arrest in certain situations.

What is a voluntary evacuation?
A voluntary evacuation creates a recommendation for all parties in the affected area to get their affairs in order hastily and evacuated.

What is a mandatory evacuation?
A mandatory evacuation means you must leave the area in which an order has been issued. With recent changes to the laws in North Carolina, you no longer have the option of staying in an area under an order of mandatory evacuation.

Why is the sewer system turned off during a storm/event?
Often the sewer system is turned off during storms which have the potential to create significant flooding on the island. The system is turned off to protect its integrity. If it were left on, it could pose a significant threat to the public health. When the system is manually shut down, it also greatly reduces the time needed to bring it back up after an event which equates to getting residents and guests back on the Island much faster.

Why is there a delay for decal holders to get back on the island once a storm ends?
After a storm, many things must occur before even limited access can be allowed. Some of those things include making sure the streets are passable; the sewer system must be restarted to comply with State laws; the utilities (water, sewer, electricity, propane supplies) must be checked to ensure no safety risk are present; and the post-storm damage assessment team needs to perform an initial assessment.

Where can I get up-to-date information during and after a storm or State of Emergency?
You can sign up for the Town email service by clicking here. The newsletter, along with the Town’s website will be the main sources of information during an emergency situation. Links to the Town’s official Facebook and Twitter pages can be found on the website. You can also download our app for Apple and Android phones by accessing the app store on your smart phone and searching Holden Beach.

Please refrain from calling Town Hall and Police Department phone lines with general information questions. These lines need to remain open for emergencies, storm management and post-storm mitigation. All updates concerning re-entry, general access, etc. may be found on the Town’s website and other media outlets.

Why do I see others moving about the island during a curfew?
If a curfew order is in place, you must stay on your own property. You may see many other vehicles moving about the Island. We often receive assistance from other local, state, federal and contract personnel during events. It is likely these are the personnel you are seeing, and they are involved in the mitigation process for the event. Please do not assume that a curfew order has been lifted and/or you are free to move about the island.

Can I check my friends’ property for them?
If a curfew order is in place, you may ONLY travel to your personally owned property. Traveling about the Island to check on others’ property is not allowed. is in place, you may ONLY travel to your personally owned property. Traveling about

Who can obtain decals?
Only property owners and businesses who service the island can obtain a decal.

How do I get decals for my vehicle…?

If I am an owner?
Decals will be mailed out in water bills to property owners before the season starts. Those owners who need additional decals can contact Town Hall. A fee may apply, please check the current fee schedule.

If I am a renter?
You must contact the owner of the property to obtain a decal.

If I am a business owner on the Island?
You must contact Town Hall to obtain a decal.

If I am a business owner off the Island that provides services on the Island?
You must contact Town Hall for eligibility and to obtain a decal.

When does my decal expire?
All decals expire on the last day of the calendar year as indicated on the decal.

Where do I put my decal on my car?
Decals must be displayed in the lower left-hand corner of the windshield, where they are not obstructed by any other items to include window tinting, other decals, etc. Officials must be able to clearly read the decal from outside the vehicle. Please note that re-entry will not be allowed if a current, intact decal is not affixed to the windshield as designated.

How do I replace a decal if I get a new vehicle?
If you trade a vehicle or otherwise need a replacement decal, you may obtain them from Town Hall during normal business hours. A fee may apply, check the current fee schedule.

Can I obtain a decal right before an emergency occurs?
While most of the storms we deal with are tropical in nature with some type of advanced warning, we do experience many other types of events that could create a State of Emergency without warning. All eligible parties should obtain decals as early as possible each year to avoid being denied access to the Island. Decals shall not be issued during the 24-hour period prior to an anticipated order of evacuation so staff can concentrate on properly preparing the Town for the storm/event.

Can I use a tax bill or another document for re-entry?
No. You MUST have a decal to re-enter the Island until it is open to the general public.

How does re-entry after a storm during a State of Emergency work?
The bridge is closed to all vehicle access, except for official vehicles. Once those with proper decals are allowed access, they must conform with the current rules in place by the specific State of Emergency Order. After all hazards have been rendered safe, the bridge will be opened to the general public. A curfew could remain in effect however, to ensure the safety and security of the Island and its residents and guests. Please understand this process typically takes days to evolve and could be significantly longer, depending on the amount of damage sustained. Please refrain from calling for times for re-entry, as those are often not set on schedule. Instead, stay tunes to local media outlets and official social media accounts for accurate updates.

How can I check on my property if access is limited to the Island?
Once it is safe, property owners with valid decals will be allowed back on the Island after a storm/event. At this point, you can travel to your property, in accordance with the rules of the specific State of Emergency Order currently in place.

If you live out of the area, please do not travel to the Island until you are certain you will be allowed access. Stay tuned to those media outlets and email services that are of official nature for this information. Also, be certain you have your current, valid decal properly affixed to your vehicle.

It is a good idea to be sure your contact information is current with the Town tax office as this is the location Town officials will use in the event you need to be contacted.
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.


Ocean Isle Beach’s terminal groin lawsuit will be heard by Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals next month
It’s a lawsuit four years in the making, and one the Town of Ocean Isle Beach hopes is resolved soon so constriction of a terminal groin (a type of jetty) can move forward, conservationists hope that does not happen. The town hopes to protect its beaches and properties along the ocean while conservation groups have argued plans for a terminal groin would be detrimental to the environment and filed suit to stop the project. In August of 2017, the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of the Audubon North Carolina bringing a halt to a proposed terminal groin project. Now, after being dismissed by a federal judge in September of 2019, the lawsuit is ready to be heard by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals.

So what exactly is a terminal groin, and what is the concern? In the most basic sense, a terminal groin is a type of rock wall built on the shoreline, extending into the water that are used to help grow beaches and slow erosion. “A groin is built perpendicular to the coast and works similar to the way a jetty works. But groins are usually smaller than jetties and built on straight stretches of beach, not near inlets or channels. They are often built in a series of parallel structures on one section of beach and can be made of wood, concrete, steel or stone. Terminal groins are relatively new concoctions. They are the name proponents have given to small jetties built at inlets — the terminus of islands,” according to the N.C. Coastal Federation.

Proponents of these projects say groins help stem erosion from the beaches and help project properties, however, there are environmental concerns when it comes to installing hard structures. “While they can protect roads, beach homes and other buildings threatened by erosion, hard structures usually cause increased erosion further down the beach. Both jetties and groins, for example, act like dams to physically stop the movement of sand. They work by preventing longshore drift from washing sediment down the coast. As a result, they cause a buildup of sand on the side protected by the structure — which is precisely what they’re intended to do,” according to the N.C. Coastal Federation.

However, the buildup of sand comes at a cost for other properties. “…Areas further “downstream” on the coast are cut off from natural longshore drift by these barrier-like structures. No longer replenished by the sand that usually feeds them, these areas experience worsened erosion,” according to the group.

North Carolina has a history of avoiding the problems brought to other communities through the use of hardened structures and a ban on them was in place for years, since 1985 — until it was repealed in 2011. Senate Bill 110 authorized the construction of terminal groins and repealed the efforts of conservationists.

When the Town of Ocean Isle Beach decided it wanted its own terminal groin in 2017, the lawsuit was filed. The conservationist group claimed that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the town’s plan for a terminal groin would be detrimental to the environment. “We’re in court because the Corps failed to fairly consider alternatives that would cost Ocean Isle less, manage erosion, and protect the natural beach on the east end of the island when it approved this destructive project,” said Geoff Gisler, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center at the time the lawsuit was filed. “Federal law requires the Corps to choose the least destructive alternative; with the terminal groin, it approved the most destructive.”

Even U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agreed that the project would be detrimental to the ecosystem. “A project of this nature will destroy the ecological functioning of this inlet and the surrounding areas. The science is unequivocal. I see no unique issues or areas of significant uncertainty in need of further evaluation. We oppose this project. There is nothing more to discuss,” Pete Benjamin, an employee of the federal agency wrote about the project in 2011, according to emails obtained by Coastal Review Online.

However, proponents of the groin want to move forward. After the decision was entered by the federal judge to dismiss the case, the National Audubon Society filed an appeal with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. According to the town, they are scheduled to have their arguments heard next month. “The Town has been informed by our attorney that the oral argument before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has been scheduled for December 8, 2020. We are hopeful that a final decision on this matter will be rendered by the judge shortly after the oral argument is completed. We will post additional updates as they are made available to the Town,” according to a Facebook Post from the town.
Read more » click here

Ocean Isle Wins Appeal on Terminal Groin
A recent court ruling now opens the way for Ocean Isle Beach to build a terminal groin at the east end of its ocean shoreline and plans are underway to kick off construction later this year. A three-judge panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed a lower court’s decision that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers fairly considered the alternatives included in an environmental impact statement examining the proposed project. The judges rendered their opinion March 26. Their decision ends a year’s long fight stretching back to August 2017, when the National Audubon Society filed a lawsuit challenging the Corps’ approval of the proposed project. The town was included in the lawsuit shortly after the suit was initially filed. Ocean Isle Mayor Debbie Smith said in a telephone interview last week that she expected town commissioners to approve engineering contracts in the coming days. She said the town will have updated information on the present condition of the shoreline, including surveys and beach profiles, before soliciting bids. “All that has certainly changed since our original bid opening,” she said. Smith said the town is aiming to start construction on the project in November. Ocean Isle Beach had both a North Carolina Division of Coastal Management-issued Coastal Area Management Act, or CAMA, major permit, and the necessary federally approved permit by the end of February 2017. Those permits remain valid. The Department of the Army’s authorization is effective through Dec. 31, 2027. As long as the town adheres to the permit conditions and does not request to modify the permit, the town will not have to reapply for federal authorization, Emily Winget, a public affairs specialist with the Corps’ Wilmington District, said in an email. The town’s CAMA major permit will expire Dec. 31. A spokesperson with the Division of Coastal Management said the town will not have to apply for a new permit or provide additional information to the state unless the town changes the project from what is currently permitted. The town had advertised for bids on the project, which will include construction of a 750-foot-long terminal groin of large armor rock, before the lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Wilmington. The lawsuit claimed that the Corps had approved the multi-million-dollar project without fairly considering other alternatives that would be cheaper for the town’s taxpayers, adequately protect vulnerable properties and maintain wildlife habitat at the east end of the barrier island in Brunswick County. The Southern Environmental Law Center, which filed the suit on behalf of Audubon, alleged that the Corps failed to fairly evaluate project alternatives in the EIS, and secondary effects of the alternatives presented in the study. The lawsuit also alleged that the alternative selected by the engineering firm hired by the town to complete the EIS and approved by the Corps was not the least environmentally damaging alternative and that the Corps did not independently evaluate environmental information submitted by Coastal Planning & Engineering of North Carolina Inc. Geoff Gisler, senior attorney with the law center’s Chapel Hill office, said the appellate court’s decision is disappointing. “I think one of the things that is important as we go forward is that part of the reason the decision came out the way it did is that the court deferred to the Corps that there would not be harmful effects on the eastern end of the island,” he said. “If the town chooses to go forward with the project, we’ll be watching to make sure that is the case.” The terminal groin, a wall-like structure built perpendicular to the shore, would be designed to mitigate erosion along 3,500 feet of the town’s oceanfront shoreline west of Shallotte Inlet. About 264,000 cubic yards of sand dredged from that inlet will be placed behind the structure once it is complete. A wall of sandbags 15 feet tall and at least 1,500 feet long stretches along the east-end shore to protect private properties, roads and public utilities from erosion, Smith said. “And I’m ready for them to be covered up and never seen again,” she said. “The town of Ocean Isle has worked diligently for a lot of years to try to make this a reality. They’re proven structures when properly installed.” Those efforts began more than 10 years ago in a pursuit to get North Carolina legislators to ditch a decades-long ban on terminal groins, hardened erosion control structures that, opponents argue, may cause increased erosion down the beach from where they are constructed. The North Carolina General Assembly in 2011 passed Senate Bill 110, which repealed a 30-year-old ban on hardened structures and allowed four test terminal groins to be built on the coast. That number was later raised to six. Since then, only one town – the Village of Bald Head Island in Brunswick County – has built a terminal groin. North Topsail Beach in Onslow County is in the process of having an environmental study prepared for a proposed terminal groin at New River Inlet.
Read more » click here


Odds & Ends –


Bipartisan group pushes for offshore wind energy
A bipartisan group of North Carolina U.S. representatives has strongly endorsed federal efforts to develop offshore wind energy with seven members of Congress – more than half the delegation – requesting a personal briefing later this month and stating they wanted to act quickly and avoid a decade-long moratorium on new wind energy leases imposed by former President Donald Trump set to begin July 2022. The letter from two Republicans and five Democrats acknowledges a recent study commissioned by the N.C. Department of Commerce that found tremendous potential for growth in offshore wind generation. The study stated, in part, that North Carolina could generate far more energy than the state is projected to use in 2035 and could capture future investments exceeding $100 billion in the wind energy business. The study, conducted by industry consultants and N.C. State University, details how North Carolina’s existing ports and other infrastructure could support expansion of wind energy and provides a blueprint for long-term improvements. The letter from the Congress members asks the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to promptly and responsibly advance existing lease areas and identify new ones, if possible. “We look forward to working with BOEM … to move these processes forward, capture the massive economic potential of this nascent industry and meet the clean energy goals outlines by both President (Joe) Biden and our home state,” wrote Republican representatives Richard Hudson and David Rouzer and Democrats Deborah Ross, Alma Adams, G.K. Butterfield, David Price and Kathy Manning. “This is a great example of bipartisanship and how we can work together in North Carolina,” said Randy Sturgill, campaign organizer for the nonprofit environmental group Oceana. “North Carolina is particularly well-positioned to meaningfully contribute to the offshore wind industry,” the Congress members wrote. “We rank first among East Coast states in both technical potential for offshore wind generation capacity and manufacturing workforces… “For North Carolina to realize its full potential in the offshore market, BOEM must expeditiously begin leasing (wind energy areas) … We respectfully urge BOEM to take swift action to hold lease sales for two of our (areas) – Wilmington East and Wilmington West – so that lease agreements can be executed in advance of the July 1 (2022) deadline. We also respectfully request that the Biden-Harris administration take all available measures to remove the impending decade-long moratorium on offshore wind leasing … “As our country begins to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative that we capitalize on growth opportunities that will provide both near and long-term benefits for our communities and our economy,” the representatives stated. “BOEM has the opportunity to accelerate this recovery by bolstering an industry that is poised to provide billions in economic development and hundreds of thousands of new living-wage jobs.”
Reaction
“This report confirms what we’ve known for some time, that North Carolina stands to make major economic – and environmental – gains by developing its offshore wind energy sector,” said Erin Carey of the N.C. Sierra Club, in a prepared statement. “Our environment, our manufacturing industries, our work force and our communities will all benefit from offshore wind development. We’re heartened by the (Gov. Roy) Cooper administration’s commitment to clean energy expansion in our state.” Environmental groups, including Oceana, praised the shift toward renewable energy. A recent Oceana analysis stated that ending new leasing for offshore oil and gas could prevent more than 19 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions as well as more than $720 billion in damages to people, property, and the environment. Additionally, the analysis found that ending new leasing will also safeguard the U.S. coast economy, which supports around 3.3 million jobs and $250 billion in GDP through activities like tourism, recreation, and fishing. “By permanently protecting our coasts from dirty offshore drilling and advancing clean energy sources like offshore wind, we can simultaneously combat climate change and safeguard our clean coast economy,” said Sturgill. “President Biden has an incredible opportunity to act on climate change and protect our coasts once and for all by closing the chapter on future offshore oil leasing. “If enacted, President Biden’s campaign commitments to tackle the climate crisis and protect our waters from new offshore oil drilling will ensure we build back better, keep coastal economies safe from oil disasters and support a transition to clean, renewable energy.” The report further evaluates North Carolina’s position in areas that include business climate, workforce, infrastructure, and location. The state recognizes that it has a number of competitive advantages specific to the offshore wind supply chain that include:

      • Pro-business climate
      • Strategic geographic location
      • Relatively large electricity consumption (nine percent of East Coast states’ electricity) and growing demand for renewable energy
      • Relatively low CO2 electricity footprint
      • The North Carolina Clean Energy Plan goal of 70-percent reduction in power sector greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and a carbon-neutral power sector by 2050
      • The major electricity provider to most of North Carolina, Duke Energy, has set a near-term carbon reduction goal of at least 50-percent by 2030 and long-term goal of net-zero by 2050.

The report, titled “Building North Carolina’s Offshore Wind Supply Chain,” is available at https://www.nccommerce.com/documents/report-building-north-carolinas-offshore-wind-supply-chain 
Read more » click here

Rep. Rouzer, Ross urge Biden Administration to support NC offshore wind industry
On April 12, U.S. Reps. David Rouzer (NC-07) and Deborah Ross (NC-02) led the North Carolina delegation in sending a letter to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Amanda Lefton expressing support for the Bureau’s efforts to promptly and responsibly advance lease sales of existing wind energy areas (WEAs) and identify new WEAs off the coast of North Carolina. The state has the potential to be a national leader in offshore wind energy generation capacity, research, and manufacturing. The letter read in part, The offshore wind industry is projected to invest nearly $140 billion in the U.S. by 2035 for the manufacturing, construction and maintenance of offshore wind projects. As a new industry for the U.S., offshore wind presents the opportunity to develop a substantial domes-tic manufacturing supply chain, create well-paying jobs and infuse new manufacturing investments and tax revenues across the country. North Carolina is particularly well-positioned to meaningfully contribute to the offshore wind industry. We rank first among east coast states in both technical potential for offshore wind generation capacity and manufacturing workforce. Together with an established land-based wind industry supply chain, world-class university and community college network, robust intermodal transit system, and deep-water port infrastructure, North Carolina’s unique set of strengths stand to accommodate all facets of the industry. Gov. Roy Cooper said, Ensuring that North Carolina is best positioned to take advantage of wind energy to create good new jobs and decrease carbon emissions is the right thing to do for our community and state and I appreciate the work of congressional leaders to make progress in this area. Offshore wind presents an unparalleled economic opportunity to create well-paying jobs, invest in our region’s ports and infrastructure, and expand upon the state’s existing manufacturing strengths, said Katharine Kollins, president of the Southeastern Wind Coalition. The Southeastern Wind Coalition deeply appreciates the leadership of Congress members Ross and Rouzer and other signatories in elevating the need for further leasing on the North Carolina coast, a critical step in realizing the benefits of this industry for the state. Heather Zichal, CEO of the American Clean Power Association (ACP) said, North Carolina is set to continue its strong standing as a clean energy development and manufacturing hub. North Carolina is the #2 state in the U.S. for solar energy, has 25 manufacturing facilities for land-based wind, and now has the opportunity to lead in offshore wind manufacturing and deployment. According to the North Carolina Department of Commerce, offshore wind represents a $100 billion market opportunity that will leverage North Carolina’s manufacturing and infrastructure presence to create an offshore wind supply chain. ACP applauds this bipartisan coalition of North Carolina representatives advocating for more offshore wind jobs and economic output in their state. The letter was signed by Reps. Alma Adams (NC-12), G.K. Butterfield (NC-01), Richard Hudson (NC-08), Kathy Manning (NC-06), and David Price (NC-04).
Brunswick Beacon


 

A Starter Kit for Aspiring Wine Lovers

You don’t need much. This guide will show you which equipment to invest in, what to avoid and how to learn more about the wine styles you most enjoy.

 

 

The terrible human and economic cost of the pandemic cannot be ignored. It has forced many people to test the limits of their creativity and endurance. And maybe, for a lucky unburdened few, all that time at home has provided an opportunity to explore new interests. It may have been cooking or knitting. Sales of guitars shot upward in 2020 as people found relief in playing music. Or maybe you discovered that you love wine, and you have become curious enough to want to learn more about it. Many great books can help to broaden your knowledge, yet with wine, the best way to begin the journey is by drinking. Whether you prefer to do that systematically or randomly is up to you. But whichever you decide, you’ll want just a few tools to enhance the experience. Let me explain that. You really don’t need anything to enjoy wine short of a corkscrew (you don’t even need that if the bottle has a screw cap) and a glass (no, do not drink wine out of the bottle unless you’ve just won the World Series). But while those are the bare essentials, a few practical items will heighten your enjoyment. This starter kit is simple. You need wine glasses, a corkscrew, a decanter and, of course, some wine. Later, you can add to your equipment. (Fair warning: It has the potential to become a money pit.) But initially, if you choose wisely, the investment will be small. The potential for pleasure, though, is great. Here is what you need to get started.

Corkscrew
You cannot drink wine without opening the bottle (unless you have a boxed wine). Though screw caps are welcome and easy additions to the range of wine closures, most bottles are still stoppered with a cork. For that you need a corkscrew. This is an easy selection. Forget about your Swiss Army knife or the double-winged man whose arms you squeeze together to extract the cork. The single best corkscrew is what you’ve seen in countless restaurants, sometimes called the waiter’s friend. It’s essentially a knifelike handle with a spiral worm for inserting into the cork, a double-hinged fulcrum for resistance and a small, folding blade for cutting the foil that protects the cork. This sort of corkscrew, which was deemed the top choice a few years ago by Wirecutter, a product review site owned by The New York Times, is compact and inexpensive, $10 or $12 or so. Wine shops often carry them, as do many online markets. It pays to buy a few if, like me, you habitually misplace them. With a bit of practice, it is easy to use.

Wine Glasses
You need a vessel for drinking the wine. Good, stemmed glasses are essential equipment. It’s tempting to think of stemmed glasses as fussy. What’s the point? You’ve been to bars or restaurants, perhaps, that serve wine in tumblers, and that works well enough. Many companies now offer stemless glasses, too. Don’t succumb to the temptation. You can relish a wine served in a squat juice glass, but you will enjoy it even more drinking it out of a proper stemmed glass. Good wine is sensitive to temperature. Both white wine and red needs to be served cool, certainly cooler than the temperature of your body. A stemless glass requires you to hold it by the bowl, thus transmitting the heat of your hands to the glass, warming it and the wine. That is the reason good wine glasses have a stem. The proper way to hold a wine glass is by the stem so that you don’t heat up the bowl. This may seem pretentious. Wine drinkers in popular culture often hold their wine glasses by the bowl, by design, I suspect, to avoid appearing pompous to the audience. If you grab a wine glass by the bowl, it’s not the end of the world. Those who gasp in dismay prove themselves to be the snobs. Ideally, you want to make use of the built-in functionality of the glass. So try holding it by the stem. It’s worth taking the trouble to do this for another reason, too. The color of good wine is both beautiful and revealing. Over time, you will learn to discern some important characteristics of the wine. A white wine may get darker over time, or if it has oxidized. A red wine, by contrast, may lighten around the edges as it ages. Holding the bowl with your fingers smudges the glass, obscuring the clarity of the wine. To assess the wine, the glass needs to be clear, not colored, beveled, or otherwise decorated in such a way that blocks your view. Choosing a glass is a lot simpler than you might think. For one thing, you need only one set. While the wine industry, and especially glass manufacturers, have promoted the notion that each sort of wine requires its own specially designed glass — not just red, white and sparkling, but pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, riesling and so on — the truth is that one set of all-purpose glasses will serve you well. Good all-purpose glasses ought to be vertically shaped with a tall bowl that is wide at the stem and tapers gently inward toward the lip. This shape channels aromas upward, amplifying them as you swirl and sniff. You’ve probably seen many wine lovers swirling the glass before they sniff. I do it habitually, believing that the action increases the wine’s exposure to air and activates the aromas. Chances are you will be doing this before long, too. To avoid sloshing yourself with wine, good glasses need to be large enough to hold a decent amount when filled one-third of the way up. A few years ago I joined some colleagues at Wirecutter to review wine glasses. We concluded the best all-around value in wine glasses was the Libbey Kentfield Estate Signature All-Purpose, which sells for $35 to $40 for a set of four. Last December, Wirecutter revisited wine glasses and reaffirmed the selection of the Libbey. That’s a pretty good endorsement. They are not the only possibility, but they offer a good example of a well-shaped, all-purpose glass. How many will you need? What’s your style of entertaining? I know the pandemic has us all out of practice, but I think eight is a pretty good number for a start. Good wine glasses are not fragile. Don’t hesitate to put them in a dishwasher, though of course you should be careful how you position them. One more point: Despite the long tradition of using special glasses like flutes, tulips or coupes for Champagne and other sparkling wines, many wine professionals and I prefer ordinary wine glasses, which better show off the beauty, aromas, and flavors. Nonetheless, because sparkling wine is so often opened for celebratory occasions, use these stylish glasses if you think they more clearly convey a sense of ceremony. Sometimes style wins out over functionality.

Decanter
A decanter is not essential. But it’s useful, simple and can enhance youthful wines by opening up their aromas and flavors by exposing the wine to air. What is decanting? It simply means to pour the wine from the bottle into another container before serving. Many people assume decanting is only useful for older red wines, which might accumulate sediment over the course of long aging. But I like to decant young wines, too, both white and red, particularly those that might be high in acidity or tannins. I definitely do not always decant. But I like to do it occasionally. You can spend a lot of money on fancy decanters. That’s unnecessary. An iced-tea pitcher works great, so long as it is big enough to comfortably hold the contents of a 750-milliliter bottle. At home I use one-liter Erlenmeyer flasks, which have a certain mad-scientist charm to them.

Things to Avoid
Wine abounds in useless gadgets: Advertisements tout the virtues of aerators, which purport to age your wine in a matter of seconds, and similarly magical wands, said to eliminate the possibility of headaches. Save your money.
You will also encounter pumps, closures and other tools said to protect a partly consumed bottle of wine from spoiling. Avoid them, too. Good wine — by which I mean carefully made, not expensive — is much harder than people think. You can safely leave unfinished wine in the bottle for two or three days. Just put the bottle someplace cool and out of the sunlight.

The Wine
All of this paraphernalia would be useless without wine. If you are investing in the proper equipment, you also need to commit to serving good wine, made from conscientiously farmed grapes and painstaking winemaking.
The single best way to achieve this goal is to develop a relationship with the best wine shop in your vicinity. Unlike supermarkets and the equivalent, which generally sell popular brands regardless of quality, good wine shops carefully select their inventory, picking wines that they can stand behind. How can you tell if a shop is good? It will be hospitable; its inventory will reflect a point of view and the wine will be well stored and displayed. Generally, it will be a place that makes you comfortable, that you want to visit. In selecting wine, the best values are most often in the $15 to $25 range. Some wines, particularly the most famous names, will be more expensive. You will have to pay more for a good Champagne, Barolo, or Napa Valley cabernet. But plenty of great, less expensive bottles exist. The best way to start out, once you identify a good shop, is to ask for a mixed case of wine. Tell the merchant your budget and parameters, say, half white, half red, with two sparkling wines, or a few rosés. Or, if a case is too much of an investment, just get a bottle or two at a time. As you drink the wines, note which ones you like and which ones you do not. Keep in mind that you can learn something from every bottle as you begin to identify your personal taste. When you finish, go back to the merchant with your notes, and ask for another mixed case with selections based on your reactions to the first set. Your learning journey has begun. As long as you continue to love wine, it will never end.

Future Considerations
As your interest deepens, you may want to augment your equipment. You might want to buy better, more beautiful glassware, for example, or raise your budget on wine purchases. If you begin to accumulate bottles, you need to consider wine storage, especially if you are buying bottles to age. Nothing is worse than investing in good bottles and aging them for years only to see them spoiled because of poor storage. The solution depends partly on your living situation. If your house has a cool, dark, tranquil basement, you are in luck. Throw some shelves in a corner, add bottles, and let them sit. If you are in an apartment or don’t have a basement, you might want to consider a wine refrigerator, a unit intended for wine bottles that keeps them cool, generally somewhere from 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Wirecutter offers some excellent advice on choosing a fridge. Two things are important to know right away. First, buy the best one you can afford. You are entrusting your wine to this device, and you don’t want it to fail you. Second, go big. No matter what size fridge you buy, chances are you will outgrow it before long.
Read more » click here
 

Wine Top Picks – Red * Lou’s Views

Wine Top Picks – White * Lou’s Views


This and That –


Residential real estate inventory hits record low in a frenzied sellers’ market
Months’ supply has reached a record low in New Hanover County, as a frenzied sellers’ market eats up available inventory within days of listing — regardless of price point. The region has had a low inventory problem for years, but the pandemic exacerbated an already insatiable demand for homes. Inventory is as low as area experts have ever seen it. “It physically really can’t get any lower,” said Tom Gale, president of Cape Fear Realtors. “We’ve gone off the deep end at this point.”

A new dynamic
A measurement of how long it would take the market to consume all available properties if no new units are listed, months’ supply is at 0.8 months as of March. It’s the lowest figure in Cape Fear Realtors’ 16-year database, down 79% compared to last March. Healthy markets hover around four and six months of supply; less than four, sellers have the advantage, and more than six, buyers have more negotiating power, according to Showing Time, a real-estate market research firm. Last month, there were just 328 homes for sale under $300,000 in the tri-county region (population: 440,000 people), down 74% compared to last year. “When you have that much of a shortage, it definitely skews things,” Gale said. Soaring population growth paired with pandemic restrictions boosted real estate interest beyond already strong pre-Covid levels. “We artificially constrained supply,” Gale said about the period of reduced activity last spring. “Ever since then, we haven’t been able to get caught up.” Inventory of both existing and new homes has bottomed out. Sellers are tempted — rightfully so — to list and collect on an escalating price tag: At $295,000 last month in the tri-county area, the median sale price has grown by $35,100 (13%) in just a year. Despite the temptation, the reality of selling is more complicated. A well-priced home in good condition is likely to sell in a matter of days (Gale said the actual window is much tighter than the median days on market figure last month — 18 — reaching a 15-year low, with deals already in place while parties wait for loans to close). Even if a seller was interested in listing, it’s as hard as it’s ever been to find a home because of the severely low inventory. “So now we’ve really reached the point where the market has seized up,” Gale said. “Whatever activity there would be is not happening because the chicken and egg of people don’t want to list their home because they can’t find it, and no one can else can buy your home because they can’t find it.” On the buyer side, the shriveled-up supply has prompted bidding wars, with multiple offers over asking price becoming a norm. “You get some people if this is their sixth or twelfth offer that they’ve written, some people are just desperate and they’re willing to overpay versus what the previous comps were just because they’re done continuing to try to get the offer accepted,” Gale said. Buyers are asking agents what to offer in order to lock down a contract and escape the deflating feeling of losing out on multiple bids. “All bets are off,” Gale said. “If you want to keep looking for the next four months, we can keep looking. But, unfortunately, at every turn, prices are only going higher. So if you miss out on this one, the next one’s going to be listed for a higher price.” The predicament puts both buyers and agents in a tough spot, at risk of advising or paying more than a house is actually worth, above its appraised value. “When people are desperate and making rash decisions, that’s when you have market volatility. I want to make sure people are making smart, financially measured decisions,” Gale said. Tim Milam, owner of Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage, said if a seller’s chances of finding a new home (in this market or elsewhere) are dire, his agents have sometimes advised them to wait it out — even though sale prices are at an all-time high. “I’m proud when that happens. The reality is, what they want to buy, they can’t find,” Milam said. “It’s a dynamic that’s new to the market.” The typical means of buying and selling have flip-flopped. In a more relaxed market, buyers would often make an offer contingent on the sale of their own home — a once-common move that’s now far less attractive today. “Here’s what it used to be: Put my house on the market, get it under contract, now I go find a house and make it subject to my house closing,” Milam said. “Well, it’s kind of reverse now. You might want to go find your house, put it under contract, and then come back and list your house.” Milam said buyers are writing more personal letters to sellers than ever before, hoping to win them over emotionally instead. “When you write an offer for 10 or 15 or $20,000 more than the asking price, and you lose, you can’t help but ask yourself, ‘How did I lose this?’” he said. There’s more out-of-market demand than ever, further intensifying competition for local buyers. Milam said Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage’s website has seen its highest-ever traffic, with visitors from the northeast and California homing in on this market, with comparatively cheaper homes and lower taxes. “We’re just no longer a hidden secret like we were 20, 25 years ago,” he said.

Above asking
In a multiple-offer scenario, cash buyers are prioritized (really, regardless of market conditions, cash buyers are preferred); this puts median-to-low-income buyers using a lending service at a disadvantage when competing at the same price point. Oftentimes, loans are contingent upon appraised value. Buyers who intend to borrow need to be prepared with the ability to access more capital — and quickly — if they plan to pay above asking. “You really need to be prepared to make an offer, not only the first time you view a house, but you have to have your offer basically in hand. It’s every price point,” said Ariana Jo, an agent with Intracoastal Realty. “It’s really tough especially for these first-time buyers who have never been through the experience to have to make that impulsive decision to move forward and to be willing to pay over the list price.” Buyers are also offering more cash down as due diligence. These non-refundable fees get paid upfront, showing a seller the buyer’s seriousness during the inspection phase and get attributed to the closing cost. If the buyer chooses to back out before the sale closes, the seller keeps the money. It used to cost just a couple hundred dollars to lock in a contract. Now, it’s normal to see due diligence fees in the thousands. “It happened overnight,” Jo said. In the triangle area and in larger metropolitans, it’s not unusual to see due diligence fees in the double digits, according to Jo. Increased fees and shorter due diligence periods are just part of the overall portfolio buyers are using to make their offer stand out. An expensive rental market means prospective buyers are also struggling to find housing at a price point where a mortgage begins to make more sense. “They’re also competing at a high level for a high amount for something they don’t build equity in,” Jo said.

‘It’s a state and national issue’
The simplest solution to low inventory is to introduce new homes on the market. Sellers in existing homes are hesitant to list and builders aren’t able to meet demand. “The challenge is in keeping up,” said Cameron Moore, president of Wilmington Cape Fear Home Builders Association. “It’s not just here — it’s a state and it’s a national issue.” Covid-19 clogged homebuilders’ supply chain, resulting in price increases and delivery delays that persist today. Windows, doors, roofing, siding, cabinets, flooring, paint — “pretty much anything that goes into the house right now is having some type of delay,” Moore said. A typical lumber-framing package for a 2,200 square-foot house, valued at $12,000 to $15,000 before the pandemic, now costs more than $30,000, Moore explained. Thirty-year interest rates hit all-time lows in January, at 2.6%, and remain attractively low this month, at about 3%. Though the low rates mean more buying power, the wiggle room disappears when it covers increased costs. “Money isn’t going as far,” Moore said. Builders have begun adding escalation clauses into their contracts to cover cost increases on the supply side, a risk many buyers are willing to take. “Consumers are still buying houses,” Moore said. “It’s not deterring the house-buying process from what we can tell.” Some builders with the means to do so are stockpiling products in storage facilities to lock in prices and secure supply in anticipation of future builds — a new market trend. While the increased demand may on the surface seem positive for builders, Moore said the industry is bracing through the cost increases. “I have builders right now that for all practical purposes could very well be building for free just to keep the employee base moving,” he said. “It’s not even a question of margins anymore. It is literally a question right now of survival. That’s what this comes down to: is surviving everything that’s going on in the market right now and trying to figure out where you can put the next product on the ground.”
Read more » click here


BFA marks 40th year helping neighbors in need
For the past four decades, Brunswick Family Assistance has been extending a helping hand to people in need.
This year, in commemoration of the nonprofit’s 40th anniversary, BFA is seeking help of its own in the form of monetary donations. Now well known in Brunswick County as BFA, the private 501(c)(3) began as the Volunteer Information Center back in 1981. Its initial purpose was to provide information on volunteer opportunities in Brunswick County. But with the harsh reality of an increasing poverty rate in the county, the organization started seeing an influx of requests coming from people in need of help. With limited funding and needs rising, staff and volunteers quickly realized there was a gap in services that needed to be filled. From this realization, the beginning stages of community-based service programs were set in motion, ones that would soon become a familiar comfort for those seeking assistance in Brunswick County. In 1998, the agency was incorporated, and the familiar Brunswick Family Assistance Agency name was born. Over the years, the need for assistance has continued to grow and so have programs offered by BFA, which now offers a wide variety of coordinated programs and services to meet the needs of the community. These programs include two emergency food pantries in Shallotte and Leland; financial assistance for rent, utilities, prescriptions, emergency shelter, transportation, etc.; monthly “commodities” food distributions; a back-to-school book-bag program; an annual Angel Tree Christmas program; a summer food program for children; and many more. BFA is dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families in crisis in Brunswick County who are willing to help themselves by providing emergency assistance, educational and skills development programs. As BFA leaders and their dedicated team of volunteers celebrate 40 years of service, they said they remember the poor and destitute, elderly, and sick, families and individuals who rely on their programs to make ends meet. With community support, they hope to have many more years providing these critical life-sustaining programs to help ensure everyone in the community has access to a nutritious supply of food, water, and adequate resources to sustain themselves. “On behalf of the BFA’s board of directors, staff, volunteers and, most importantly, the clients we serve, thank you for believing in our mission for the last 40 years,” BFA executive director Stephanie Bowen said. “It is only with the support and kindness of our community that we can meet the needs of those living in poverty.” To donate to BFA’s 40-year anniversary campaign, mail a check to P.O. Box 1551, Shallotte, NC 28459 or call the Shallotte office at 754-4766 to make a credit card donation. BFA also has many volunteer opportunities, which can be found on its website at brunswickfamily.org under the “volunteer” tab.
Read more » click here


Factoid That May Interest Only Me


The ‘brown gold’ that falls from pine trees in North Carolina
There is a saying among some farmers in the Carolina Sandhills: “A man would have to be a fool to cut down a longleaf pine.” It’s not because the gangly-limbed tree is particularly beautiful. The pine doesn’t have a magnolia’s flowers or an oak’s shade. And it has nothing to do with the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker that calls the tree home. The longleaf pine’s most obvious attribute is its strong, straight timber — perfect for utility poles.

But the reason that longleaf pines are prized around here: their needles. The dropped needles are in such demand that a lucrative business has grown up around raking, baling, and selling them to landscapers and homeowners as mulch. Three varieties of pine needles are farmed, but the discarded debris of a longleaf pine is the most sought-after — and fetches the best price — because of its unusual length and high resin content, making it an attractive, water-retaining ground cover for gardens. Some even call it “brown gold.” And like anything valuable left just lying on the ground, theft is a problem. That’s why North Carolina made it a felony to steal pine needles.

It’s a case of one man’s trash being another man’s treasure — and, in this case, generating an estimated $200 million in annual sales across the Southeast. The pine straw industry, as it’s known, also helps preserve existing longleaf pine forests and supports the creation of new tree stands out of former tobacco fields and peach orchards. The bargain does have an ecological cost. Leaving the pine needles on the ground is ideal. But increasingly there is support for conservation efforts that acknowledge nature can’t be locked away behind museum glass and allowing that some measured uses can offer protection, such as permitting cattle to graze on prairie lands to keep them open and free of woody vegetation. “It shows a reasonable compromise between exploitive uses and conservation,” said Jeff Marcus, a scientist with the Nature Conservancy who works on the restoration of North Carolina’s longleaf pine ecosystem. The ability to profit from pine needles has benefited longleaf pine forests that for decades have been decimated by logging and development. “You can only sell the timber once. The pine needles come every year,” said Mike Wilson, who runs a pine straw operation here, two hours east of Charlotte.
Read more » click here 


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


..
Climate
For more information » click here

There’s something happening here
What it is ain’t exactly clear

The Trump Administration Rolled Back More Than 100 Environmental Rules. Here’s the Full List.
Over four years, the Trump administration dismantled major climate policies and rolled back many more rules governing clean air, water, wildlife, and toxic chemicals. In all, a New York Times analysis, based on research from Harvard Law School, Columbia Law School and other sources, counts nearly 100 environmental rules officially reversed, revoked or otherwise rolled back under Mr. Trump. More than a dozen other potential rollbacks remained in progress by the end but were not finalized by the end of the administration’s term.
Read more » click here


.

Development Fees
For more information » click here
.
.


Draft System Development Fees Report
Calculation of Water and Sewer System Development Fees for FY2022

Agenda Packet –
The System Development Report herein has been developed by Raftelis in accordance with Board direction to develop an update prior to the expiration of its five-year shelf life. Representatives from Raftelis will provide an introductory review of the report for the Board in addition to outlining the statutory process for consideration and adoption.


Draft System Development Fee Report

The Town, like Brunswick County, has chosen to assess its system development fee for its customers based on the number of bedrooms.

Step 5 – Scale the System Development Fees for Various Categories of Demand
The system development fees for various bedroom sizes were calculated by multiplying the system development fee for one bedroom by the number of bedrooms. The resulting water and sewer system development fees for up to 4 bedrooms are shown in Table 7.

Table 7. Water and Sewer System Development Fees by Bedroom
Bedroom Size Water Fee Sewer Fee Total Fee

1 Bedroom $960 $2,240 $3,200
2 Bedrooms $1,920 $4,480 $6,400
3 Bedrooms $2,880 $6,720 $9,600
4 Bedrooms $3,840 $8,960 $12,800

The water and sewer system development fees shown represent the maximum cost justified level of system development fees that can be assessed by the Town.

Schedule 3: Summary of Current and Proposed System Development
Total System Development Fee
Bedroom Size Current Fee Proposed Fee Diference $ Difference %
Cost 1 Bedroom $2,800 $3,200 $400 14%
Cost 2 Bedrooms $5,600 $6,400 $800 14%
Cost 3 Bedrooms $8,400 $9,600 $1,200 14%
Cost 4 Bedrooms $11,200 $12,800 $1,600 14%

System Development Fees Report
Click here to view the draft System Development Fees Report prepared by Raftelis in accordance with HB 436. The Board will schedule a public hearing prior to considering the adoption of the analysis. Information on the public hearing will be provided when available.  


.

Flood Insurance Program
For more information » click here
.


National Flood Insurance Program: Reauthorization
Congress must periodically renew the NFIP’s statutory authority to operate. On October 1, 2020, the President signed legislation passed by Congress that extends the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP’s) authorization to September 30, 2021.

Congress must now reauthorize the NFIP
by no later than 11:59 pm on September 30, 2021.


Flood-prone homeowners could see major rate hikes in FEMA flood insurance changes, new study finds
With a major overhaul of the nation’s flood insurance program just months away, new data released Monday by the First Street Foundation suggests hundreds of thousands of homeowners in the riskiest locations across America could face massive rate hikes starting in October. The Brooklyn, New York-based research group estimates the average rate needs to more than quadruple on the nation’s most flood-prone homes under the ongoing effort to make the federal flood insurance program solvent and ensure homeowners most at risk are paying their fair share.

First Street data projects that the majority of homeowners won’t see big rate changes, and others could see premiums decrease. But for some 265,000 properties, annual premiums would need to climb $10,000 or more to match the actual risk. Those with more expensive properties are estimated to see the biggest premium increases. Any actual rate hikes adopted by the federal government would be slowly phased in for existing policyholders.
Read more » click here

Flood Insurance Costs Vastly Underrated by FEMA, New Report Says
At a Glance

    • A new report takes into account the cost of damage.
    • FEMA doesn’t currently factor that in to flood insurance premiums.
    • The fee structure for the federal flood insurance program is set to change this year.

Hundreds of thousands of homeowners across the U.S. would pay considerably more in federal subsidized flood insurance if rates accurately reflected the risk, according to a new report from research group First Street Foundation. The report comes at the same time the Federal Emergency Management Agency is working to revise premiums for the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA says the new premiums will be more in line with real-life costs. If the First Street data is any indication, that could mean rates more than five times higher than what they currently are. First Street, a nonprofit research and technology group, identified 4.3 million residential properties as having substantial flood risk that would result in damage and financial losses. Under current FEMA rules, flood insurance rates are based mostly on whether or not a property is within a designated Special Flood Hazard Area, which requires flood insurance if a homeowner has a federally backed mortgage. The rates don’t take into account a home’s value, estimated cost of damages in the event of a flood and other factors, according to Matthew Eby, founder, and executive director of First Street. That means the cost of flood insurance for a $300,000 home could be the same as for a million-dollar home. “The rates are really low for some properties that have substantial risk,” Eby told weather.com in a recent interview. “And the reason for that is because FEMA does a zone-based approach to flood risk.” The foundation calculated annual estimated losses over a 30-year-period to determine what homeowners should be paying for flood insurance. About 2.7 million of the properties identified by First Street are outside of an SFHA. The foundation estimates that under the current system, flood insurance costs would need to increase by 5.2 times, which would bring annual premiums up to about $2,484 a year. Those inside an SFHA would face premium increases of 4.2 times, costing $7,895 a year. Costs would vary once other factors are thrown into the mix. And the prices would go up as climate change increases costs and makes flooding more likely, according to the report. The total expected loss from flooding this year is $20 billion. But that goes up to nearly $32.2 billion in 30 years. FEMA is expected to raise rates for flood insurance on Oct. 1. The agency says people should not assume that the First Street estimates are the same as the new NFIP rate structure, called Risk Rating 2.0. “Any entity claiming that they can provide insight or comparison to the Risk Rating 2.0 initiative, including premium amounts, is misinformed and setting public expectations that are not based in fact,” David I. Maurstad, who runs the flood insurance program for FEMA, said in a statement, according to the New York Times. The NFIP is operating under a loss of more than $36 billion, according to First Street. First Street introduced a new tool last year called Flood Factor, which is an interactive website that lets people look up flood risk by address. As part of its new report, the foundation added estimated costs of flood damage and losses over the course of 30 years to the tool.
Read more » click here

Big flood insurance rate changes are coming to NC. Will they be fair?
Climate change denial isn’t just the domain of recalcitrant contrarians. It’s baked into the way the risks and costs of flooding are calculated in North Carolina and around the nation. Government-backed flood insurance – often the only option for homeowners along the coast and near rivers – is based on outdated flood maps that fail to reflect how climate change is increasing the regularity and scale of flooding. Those maps have skewed insurance rates downward and left wide swaths of land where properties should be insured against flooding but are not.

Fortunately, that’s about to change. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is preparing to unveil the sweeping changes in assessing flood risk and setting insurance rates. The new approach, called Risk Rating 2.0, will begin Oct. 1. In North Carolina, with its long coast and many flood-prone areas within its coastal plain and mountain region, the changes will have a major impact. There will be a shift in rates – higher for some, lower for others – and more accurate risk assessments could show more property owners that they need protection against flooding. NFIP rates will no longer be based on zones. Instead properties will be individually rated depending on updated weather patterns and individual aspects of a specific property. Amanda Bryant, director of the website myfloodrisk.org, said that will mean higher rates for more vulnerable homes. “The new risk assessment will show the majority of coastal properties in North Carolina are at more risk,” she said. Former North Carolina insurance commissioner Wayne Goodwin said the rate increases come after Congress has long postponed setting premiums high enough to cover the actual risk. “The longer you wait to correct something, the greater the pain and that’s what’s happening here,” he said.

FEMA is not saying yet how much the new risk assessment will drive up rates and when. Annual premium increases are capped by law at 18 percent, but the escalation over time could change who can afford to live in coastal areas. An analysis by the First Street Foundation, a non-profit that assesses flood risks, projects that some properties could face massive rate hikes. The predictions of rate shocks for expensive homes should not obscure that the changes will benefit owners of more modest homes, said Don Hornstein, a University of North Carolina law professor who specializes in insurance law. The current system sets rates too broadly, he said, and that leads to lower-income homeowners subsidizing the cost of flood insurance for higher-income homeowners. Hornstein said the rate changes are “going to fix that by eliminating these cross subsidies that go the wrong way.” As a result, he said, more homes will get price decreases than price increases. But also more homes should get flood insurance. “Climate change is indeed driving the flood risk up for everyone,” said Rick Luettich, director of the Center for Natural Hazards Resilience at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Luettich, who develops flooding models, said the new risk assessments will be helpful to homebuyers. “There’s an aspect of it being good news if you have a better understanding of what the hazard level is and you can make a better decision about whether you want to live there,” he said. Meanwhile, North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey sees an option to higher federal flood insurance rates. He is pushing to have private insurers get back into the flood insurance business they fled in the 1960s, necessitating the creation of the NFIP. Causey said during a meeting with Carteret County officials last year that private insurance policies could be “far superior to anything under the federal program.” He also wants more homeowners to buy flood insurance regardless of whether they are in a designated flood zone. “My message to everybody is if it rains where you live, you need flood insurance,” he said, “We’re all in a flood zone, it’s just a matter of whether you’re in a high-risk flood zone or low risk.”
Read more » click here

FEMA pauses flood insurance rate update after Schumer pushback: report
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has paused an impending update to flood insurance rates, aimed at making the country more prepared for risks of climate change, after objections from Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), The New York Times reported Thursday. FEMA was reportedly set to announce new rates on April 1 to better factor in climate risks, a move that aimed to reduce construction in areas with significant threats but could have increased some costs for people who live in those areas. The Times reported, citing anonymous sources, that Schumer fought the changes, and that his efforts halted FEMA’s action. Neither FEMA nor a spokesperson for Schumer immediately responded to The Hill’s request for comment. Schumer spokesperson Alex Nguyen told the Times that the agency should consult Congress before taking action and called for “affordable protection.” “FEMA shouldn’t be rushing to overhaul their process and risk dramatically increasing premiums on middle-class and working-class families without first consulting with Congress and the communities at greatest risk to the effects of climate change,” Nguyen said. “Congress and the Biden administration must work together in a collaborative and transparent process.” An agency spokesperson told the newspaper that FEMA will continue to work with Congress to carry out the plan and its changes will “better reflect an individual property’s unique flood risk.” When he was on the campaign trail, President Biden’s climate plan included provisions saying he wanted to help make the country more resilient to the impacts of climate change. His plan also notes, however, that resilient efforts “must consciously protect low-income communities from ‘green gentrification’ ” in a section that noted that some mitigation efforts can raise property values. Schumer, meanwhile, publicly pushed back on proposed FEMA flood insurance changes in 2019, saying they “unfairly put a bullseye on the backs of Long Island and New York homeowners,” and that the agency should “halt.”
Read more » click here

U.S. rolls out first update to flood insurance pricing in 50 years
Hundreds of thousands of Americans will pay significantly more to insure their homes in coastal areas and flood zones under new rules released on Thursday by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the first major update to its pricing system in half a century. The agency said that, over the coming year, it will phase in a price-setting method that marks an epochal shift in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which was set up in 1968 to cover property in flood-prone areas. New premiums will be based on a property’s value, risk of flooding and other factors, rather than simply on a property’s elevation in a flood zone. They will take effect on Oct. 1, 2021, for new policies and April 1, 2022, for the rest, FEMA said. The NFIP currently provides $1.3 trillion in coverage through more than 5 million policies in the U.S. but has been losing money for years and is currently $20.5 billion in debt. The new rules will mean hefty increases for expensive properties in wealthy coastal enclaves, said Jeremy Porter, head of research and development at First Street Foundation, a Brooklyn-New York based nonprofit that studies flood risk. Current flood zone-based pricing was “basically a subsidy to people,” Porter said. Under FEMA’s new system, “pricing is based on your insurance risk.” FEMA said it expects 4%, or more than 200,000 policies, will see significant premium increases, while about 1.15 million will see decreases, noting the change makes prices “more equitable.” In a study released in February of flood-prone properties rather than policies, First Street determined that more than 4 million would face increases and the average premium in flood zones would be $7,895 a year. The numbers in First Street’s study are higher than FEMA’s because only about 30% of flood-prone properties carry NFIP coverage, Porter noted. The changes mark the first update to FEMA’s pricing methods in 50 years and are based on updated technology and FEMA’s evolving knowledge of flood risk, the agency said.
Read more » click here

Millions to see rate hikes under new flood insurance plan  
More than 1 million people who buy flood insurance from the federal government will see their premiums drop next year under a new system that will end decades of overpayments by making insurance rates more accurately reflect a property’s flood risk, officials said yesterday.  At the same time, premiums charged by the National Flood Insurance Program will rise sharply for about 200,000 policyholders, many of whom own expensive homes in high-risk flood zones and have been paying too little, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said.  The vast majority of NFIP policyholders — roughly 3.7 million people — will see moderate rate increases, according to FEMA projections released yesterday.  “This will address inequity that has built up over time and must be corrected,” said David Maurstad, who runs the flood insurance program for FEMA. “Property owners with lower-value homes are paying more than they should, and those with higher-value homes are paying less.”  Many owners of lower-valued homes have been “paying way more than their fair share,” Maurstad added.             The NFIP is the nation’s main provider of flood insurance, which is not included in standard homeowners’ insurance policies. It insures 5 million properties, mostly along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.  The overhaul in FEMA’s flood insurance rates could generate opposition from some lawmakers, particularly those from the Northeast, where a large number of people will see rate hikes. A 2019 bill by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who is now the Senate majority leader, would have barred FEMA from raising anyone’s insurance rate by more than 9% a year.         New York and New Jersey will be two of the hardest-hit states under FEMA’s new system.  In New York, 14% of the state’s NFIP policyholders will see their premiums increase by at least $120 a year, according to FEMA projections. In New Jersey, 15% of the policyholders will see premiums rise by $120 a year or more.  “FEMA shouldn’t be rushing to overhaul their process and risk dramatically increasing premiums on middle-class and working-class families without first consulting with Congress and the communities at greatest risk to the effects of climate change,” Schumer spokesperson Alex Nguyen said in a recent statement. “Congress and the Biden administration must work together in a collaborative and transparent process.” By contrast, the percentage of policyholders facing at least a $120-a-year increase is 7% in Texas, 9% in Alabama and North Carolina, and 10% in Louisiana. In Florida, where more people buy NFIP coverage than any other state, 12% of the state’s policyholders will see a rate increase of at least $120 a year.  Some policyholders will face the annual rate hikes for only a few years, while others who have been paying too little for insurance for a long time will see rate hikes for a decade or longer.  The new rates will begin to take effect next April for people who are renewing policies. For new policyholders, the new premiums will take effect in October.  FEMA’s announcement yesterday drew praise from environmental advocates.  “This isn’t just a minor improvement but a quantitative and qualitative leap forward in more accurately pricing risk,” said Forbes Tompkins, head of the Pew Charitable Trusts’ resilient infrastructure program. Shana Udvardy, a climate resilience analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said FEMA’s new insurance rates “could go a long way in helping homeowners better understand their risk, ensuring they can make informed decisions to protect themselves and their property.”  The new insurance rates are the result of a yearslong process FEMA has undertaken to refine its analysis of flood risk. Under the new system, called Risk Rating 2.0, FEMA uses the latest technology and data to estimate both the risk of an individual home being flooded and the cost to replace each home.  For decades, FEMA has used a crude analysis that puts homes into large geographic groupings and charges the owners the same insurance premium, ignoring distinctions that make some of the homes riskier than others.  “It’s like going from a standard-definition TV to HD-quality resolution,” Tompkins said.  Incorporating replacement costs into insurance premiums would result in generally higher rates in regions such as the Northeast and the West Coast, where labor and materials are more expensive than in the rest of the country. Maurstad of FEMA said he expects the new pricing would increase the number of people who have flood insurance by making the rates fairer and easier for homeowners and insurance agents to understand.  “It will result in greater value and trust in the program. As a result, folks that maybe didn’t think they were at much of a risk of flooding will now know that they are, and it will be harder for them to ignore it,” Maurstad said during a news briefing yesterday.  Federal law requires people to have flood insurance if they own a property that is located in a flood zone and is secured by a federally backed mortgage. But millions of people ignore the requirement, and in some cases face financial ruin when their homes are flooded and they have no insurance.
E&E News


 

GenX
For more information » click here
..
.


  •  

    Homeowners Insurance
    For more information » click here
    .

    .
    Insurance companies request rate increase for homeowners
    The North Carolina Rate Bureau (NCRB) has requested a 24.5 percent statewide average increase in homeowners’ insurance rates to take effect August 2021, according to a news release issued Nov. 10 by state insurance commissioner Mike Causey. The NCRB is not part of the N.C. Department of Insurance but represents companies that write insurance policies in the state. The department can either agree with the rates as filed or negotiate a settlement with the NCRB on a lower rate. If a settlement cannot be reached within 50 days, Causey will call for a hearing. Two years ago, in December 2018, the NCRB requested a statewide average increase of 17.4 percent. Causey negotiated a rate 13.4 percentage points lower and settled with a statewide aver-age rate increase of 4 percent. One of the drivers behind this requested increase is that North Carolina has experienced increased wind and hail losses stemming from damaging storms. A public comment period is required by law to give the public time to address the NCRB’s proposed rate increase.
    For more information » click here

  • To see a table of proposed homeowners’ rate increases go to: click here
  • Territory 120 / Beach areas in Brunswick County / NCRB proposed increase 25%

  • Insurance commissioner sets hearing date in dwelling insurance rate hike case
    North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey has set Jan. 18, 2022, as the hearing date for the North Carolina Rate Bureau’s proposed 18.7% dwelling insurance rate increase. “We are not in agreement with the Rate Bureau’s proposed increase filed in December,” Commissioner Causey said. “I want to make sure that the process is transparent, and that consumers’ interests are protected while making sure our insurance companies remain healthy so they can pay claims.” The Rate Bureau is not part of the Department of Insurance. It represents all companies writing property insurance in the state. The notice of hearing said that some of the data included in the Rate Bureau’s Dec. 14, 2020, filing contained a lack of documentation, explanation, and justification of both the data used as well as the procedures and methodologies used. The hearing is set for 10 a.m. Jan. 18, 2022, in the second-floor hearing room in the Albemarle Building, 325 N. Salisbury St., Raleigh. The hearing will take place unless the N.C. Department of Insurance and the N.C. Rate Bureau are able to negotiate a settlement before that date. State law gives the Insurance Commissioner 45 days to issue an order once the hearing concludes. Once the order is issued, the NCRB has the right to appeal the decision before the N.C. Court of Appeals. A Court of Appeals order could then be appealed to the N.C. Supreme Court. The NCRB and DOI can settle the proposed rate increase at any time during the process. Dwelling insurance policies are not homeowners’ insurance policies. Dwelling policies are offered to non-owner-occupied residences of no more than four units, including rental properties, investment properties and other properties that are not occupied full time by the property owner. The filing covers insurance for fire and extended coverage at varying rates around the state. Under the NCRB proposal, the increases would be felt statewide with most consumers seeing a double-digit increase. The last NCRB dwelling rate increase filing was in 2019 that resulted in a settlement of 4%, which took effect July 1, 2020.
    Read more » click here

Causey sets hearing date in dwelling insurance rate hike case
North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey has set Jan. 18, 2022, as the hearing date for the North Carolina Rate Bureau’s (NCRB) proposed 18.7% dwelling insurance rate increase. We are not in agreement with the Rate Bureau’s proposed increase filed in December, Commissioner Causey said. “I want to make sure that the process is transparent, and that consumers’ interests are protected while making sure our insurance companies remain healthy so they can pay claims. The Rate Bureau is not part of the Department of Insurance. It represents all companies writing property insurance in the state. The notice of hearing said that some of the data included in the Rate Bureau’s Dec. 14, 2020, filing contained a lack of documentation, explanation, and justification of both the data used, as well as the procedures and methodologies used. The hearing is set for 10 a.m. Jan. 18, 2022, in the second-floor hearing room in the Albemarle Building, 325 N. Salisbury St., Raleigh. The hearing will take place unless the N.C. Department of Insurance and the N.C. Rate Bureau are able to negotiate a settlement before that date. State law gives the Insurance Commissioner 45 days to is-sue an order once the hearing concludes. Once the order is issued, the NCRB has the right to appeal the decision before the N.C. Court of Appeals. A Court of Appeals order could then be appealed to the N.C. Supreme Court. The NCRB and DOI can settle the proposed rate in-crease at any time during the process. Dwelling insurance policies are not homeowners’ insurance policies. Dwelling policies are offered to non-owner-occupied residences of no more than four units, including rental properties, investment properties and other properties that are not occupied full-time by the property owner. The filing covers insurance for ire and extended coverage at varying rates around the state. Under the NCRB proposal, the increases would be felt statewide with most consumers seeing a double-digit increase. The last NCRB dwelling rate increase filing was in 2019 that resulted in a settlement of 4%, which took effect July 1, 2020.
Brunswick Beacon



  • .
    Hurricane Season

    For more information » click here

.

Hurricane season start date could shift earlier because of a surge in May storms
Story Highlights

    • According to NOAA, May storms have formed in each of the past six years.
    • Although the majority of the recent May storms have been rather benign, some have not.
    • There will be no changes to the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season this year.

Because of a surge in May storms, meteorologists are considering moving the start date of the Atlantic hurricane season from June 1 to May 15. The hurricane season has started on June 1 for more than five decades. The discussion on changing the start date began in December at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) hurricane conference, which followed the most active hurricane season on record, when 30 named storms formed. Storms have formed in May in each of the past six years, according to NOAA. In 2020, Tropical Storm Arthur came to life on May 16, followed by Tropical Storm Bertha on May 27. Since the late 1960s, when satellites began identifying tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic, 19 named storms have formed before June 1, Colorado State University researcher Phil Klotzbach said. Although the majority of the recent May storms have been rather benign, some have not: “At least 20 deaths have occurred from late May storms since 2012, with about $200 million in total damage, and one of these systems was a 60-knot (70 mph) tropical storm at landfall,” according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The most recent confirmed hurricane during the month of May dates back to May 20, 1970 – Hurricane Alma, which reached maximum sustained winds of 80 mph, AccuWeather said. A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when its maximum sustained winds reach 74 mph. Klotzbach worries about moving the start date to May 15 since the most dangerous storms typically don’t occur until the height of the season from late August through mid-October. “If you extend the season another 15 days, you could basically have three months with very little storm activity,” Klotzbach said. “People can only prepare for things for so long before they just say, ‘forget it.’” The eastern Pacific hurricane season begins May 15, but Klotzbach said the Atlantic basin has a much more peaked season. The World Meteorological Organization and NOAA will have meetings this spring to discuss moving the date of the hurricane season. The WMO has the final say on any potential date change. “An examination would need to take place regarding the need for, and potential ramifications of, potentially moving the beginning of the hurricane season to May 15,” National Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen said in a statement sent to USA TODAY. Regardless, there will be no changes to the official start of the Atlantic hurricane season this year, he said. Although the start date of the basin’s hurricane season has traditionally begun on June 1, the end date has a history of being pushed back, first from Oct. 31 to Nov. 13 to Nov. 30, where it is today, AccuWeather said.
Read more » click here

New climate ‘normal’ for Atlantic hurricanes shows more frequent and intense storms
The past 30 years have seen record levels of hurricane activity.
Every 10 years, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration revises the baseline of what weather and climate conditions are considered “normal.” The most recent normals for Atlantic hurricane activity will soon be released, and a preview reveals a spike in storm frequency and intensity. During the most recent 30-year period, which spans 1991 to 2020, there has been an uptick in the number of named storms and an increase in the frequency of major hurricanes of category 3 intensity or greater in the Atlantic. That comes as no surprise amid a spate of extreme hurricane activity that has featured seven Category 5 storms swirling across Atlantic waters in just the past five years. The newly revised climate normals aren’t a forecast of upcoming activity, nor are they necessarily illustrative of any one particular climate or meteorological trend. They’re simply benchmark values. The National Weather Service calculates new climate normals each decade for all major U.S. cities with sufficient historical data. When you hear your local television meteorologist describe a day as “10 degrees above average,” for instance, this data is where that comes from. The new hurricane normals are not official yet, though available data clearly shows an uptick in storm frequency and intensity, likely related to a combination of climate change, natural variability, and improved storm detection.
Read more » click here

‘It only takes one storm’: AccuWeather predicts above-average 2021 hurricane season for NC
AccuWeather is predicting an above-average Atlantic hurricane season for 2021. In a report released Wednesday, AccuWeather’s team of tropical weather experts said 2021 is predicted to bring 16-20 named storms, with seven-to-10 becoming hurricanes and three-to-five major hurricanes expected to impact the United States. A normal season, according to their report, is 14 storms. In 2020, there were 13 storms with six becoming major hurricanes. In the National Weather Service’s Wilmington office, Warning Coordination Meteorologist Steve Pfaff said they use predictions given by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, which won’t be out until May. Right now, NOAA forecasters are still looking at all the moving pieces that help create a hurricane season prediction, Pfaff said. That includes everything from expected rainfall trends in Africa, which could impact the number of tropical waves, to temperatures in the Caribbean and wind patterns that could move Saharan dust into the Atlantic basin. “These predictions are not simple,” Pfaff explained. The more important thing about these annual season predictions, Pfaff said, is that it gets communities talking. North Carolina is “rapidly approaching hurricane season,” which runs from June 1 to Nov. 30, Pfaff said. “Regardless of what the prediction is, it only takes one storm to define a region,” he added. Even if the NOAA forecast predicts a lower-than-average season, Pfaff said the level of preparedness shouldn’t change. “All it takes is that one,” Pfaff said. “People unfortunately equate the number to impact. That’s not a good way to think about these.” Pfaff has spent 26 years with the National Weather Service, and over that time he’s seen more and more category 4 storms, which is why he stresses the importance of being prepared no matter what predictions show. The numbers are just that – purely numbers – and don’t specify who has a higher chance of being hit. On top of that, several hurricanes in recent years have led to significant flooding events. “It seems like we’re seeing more and more tropical storms and hurricanes that result in flood disasters,” Pfaff said, using Hurricane Florence as a prime local example. The storm, which made landfall near Wrightsville Beach on Sept. 14, 2018 as a Category 1, was slow moving and dumped record-breaking amounts of rain on the area for days. During these times people are cut off from help and supplies. Pfaff recommended families keep preparations on hand for seven days rather than the typical three in case of extreme “It seems like we’re seeing more and more tropical storms and hurricanes that result in flood disasters,” Pfaff said, using Hurricane Florence as a prime local example. The storm, which made landfall near Wrightsville Beach on Sept. 14, 2018 as a Category 1, was slow moving and dumped record-breaking amounts of rain on the area for days. During these times people are cut off from help and supplies. Pfaff recommended families keep preparations on hand for seven days rather than the typical three in case of extreme circumstances. Meteorologists are also considering a change in the timeline for hurricane season, potentially moving the date two weeks earlier to mid-May due to an increase in May storms. That discussion is still ongoing and would require worldwide coordination. While most May storms tend to be tropical storms or low-category hurricanes due to there being less warm water to feed off than during the summer, Pfaff said, he recommends having kits ready to go in early May.
For more information on how to prepare for hurricanes » click here
Read more » click here

2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season Expected to Be More Active Than Normal

At a Glance

  • A total of 17 named storms, eight hurricanes and four major hurricanes are expected this season.
  • This is above the 30-year average of 15 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
  • The forecast was released Thursday by the Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project.

The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season is predicted to be more active than usual, according to an outlook released Thursday by the Colorado State University Tropical Meteorology Project. The group led by Dr. Phil Klotzbach calls for 17 named storms, eight hurricanes and four major hurricanes. A major hurricane is one that is Category 3 or higher (115-plus-mph winds) on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. This forecast is above the 30-year average (1991 to 2020) of 15 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes. “We anticipate that the 2021 Atlantic basin hurricane season will have above-normal activity,” Klotzbach wrote in the outlook. Though the official Atlantic hurricane season runs from June through November, storms can occasionally develop outside those months, as was the case in the previous six seasons and 10 of the past 18 seasons since 2003. In 2020, Tropical storms Arthur and Bertha each formed in mid- to late May. The CSU outlook is based on roughly 40 years of statistical factors combined with data from seasons exhibiting similar features of sea-level pressure and sea-surface temperatures in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific oceans.

What Does This Mean for the United States?
A record 11 storms made landfall in the U.S. in 2020, including six hurricanes: Hanna, Isaias, Laura, Sally, Delta, and Zeta. That’s well above the average of one to two hurricane landfalls each season, according to NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division. “We anticipate an above-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the continental United States coastline and in the Caribbean,” Klotzbach said. “As is the case with all hurricane seasons, coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them. They should prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted.” Despite the 2020 season, there isn’t necessarily a strong correlation between the number of storms or hurricanes and U.S. landfalls in any given season. One or more of the 17 named storms predicted to develop this season could hit the U.S. or none at all. Some past hurricane seasons have been inactive but included at least one notable landfall. The 1992 season produced only six named storms and one subtropical storm. However, one of those named storms was Hurricane Andrew, which devastated South Florida as a Category 5 hurricane. In 1983, there were only four named storms, but one of them was Alicia. The Category 3 hurricane hit the Houston-Galveston area and caused almost as many direct fatalities there – 21 – as Andrew did in South Florida – 26. On the other hand, the 2010 Atlantic season was very active, with 19 named storms and 12 hurricanes. Despite the high number of storms that year, no hurricanes and only one tropical storm made landfall in the U.S. In other words, a season can deliver many storms but have little impact or deliver few storms and have one or more hitting the U.S. coast with major impact. The bottom line is it’s impossible to know for certain if a U.S. hurricane strike will occur this season. Keep in mind that even a weak tropical storm hitting the U.S. can cause major impacts, particularly if it moves slowly and rainfall triggers flooding.
Read more » click here

‘Average’ Atlantic hurricane season to reflect more storms
Higher averages based on most recent 30-year climate record
Beginning with this year’s hurricane season outlooks, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) will use 1991-2020 as the new 30-year period of record. The updated averages for the Atlantic hurricane season have increased with 14 named storms and 7 hurricanes. The average for major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5) remains unchanged at 3. The previous Atlantic storm averages, based on the period from 1981 to 2010, were 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. NOAA is updating the set of statistics used to determine when hurricane seasons are above-, near-, or below-average relative to the climate record. This update process occurs once every decade. “This update allows our meteorologists to make forecasts for the hurricane season with the most relevant climate statistics taken into consideration,” said Michael Farrar, director of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction
. “Our work illustrates the value of NOAA’s investments in next-generation technologies to capture the data that underpins our outlooks and other forecast products. These products are essential to providing the public and local emergency managers with advance information to prepare for storms, and achieving NOAA’s mission of protecting life and property.”

This graphic captures the changes in Atlantic hurricane season averages from the last three-decade period of 1981-2010 to the most current such period, 1991-2020. The updated averages for the Atlantic hurricane season have increased with 14 named storms and 7 hurricanes. The average for major hurricanes remains unchanged at 3. The previous Atlantic storm averages, based on the period from 1981 to 2010, were 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes.

The increase in the averages may be attributed to the overall improvement in observing platforms, including NOAA’s fleet of next-generation environmental satellites and continued hurricane reconnaissance. It may also be due to the warming ocean and atmosphere which are influenced by climate change. The update also reflects a very busy period over the last 30 years, which includes many years of a positive Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation, which can increase Atlantic hurricane activity. “These updated averages better reflect our collective experience of the past 10 years, which included some very active hurricane seasons,” said Matt Rosencrans, seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “NOAA scientists have evaluated the impacts of climate change on tropical cyclones and determined that it can influence storm intensity. Further research is needed to better understand and attribute the impacts of anthropogenic forcings and natural variability on tropical storm activity.” For the Eastern Pacific and Central Pacific basins the averages over the 1991 – 2020 period do not change. The Eastern Pacific basin will remain at 15 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 4 major hurricanes. The Central Pacific basin will maintain an average of 4 named storms, 3 hurricanes and 2 major hurricanes. NOAA will issue its initial seasonal outlook for the 2021 hurricane season in late May. The Atlantic hurricane season officially runs from June 1 through November 30.
Read more » click here


.

Lockwood Folly Inlet
For more information » click here
.


.

Seismic Testing / Offshore Drilling
For more information » click here
.



  • .
    Solid Waste Program

    For more information » click here
    .

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.
/////
Dinner Club outings have been on hold since March 2020

Dining Guide – Guests

Dining Guide – Local

Restaurant Reviews – North

Restaurant Reviews – South


Seafood Barn in Holden Beach closes after more than forty (40) years in business. The restaurant will not reopen for the 2021 season, as the owners prepare for retirement. When the unmistakable barn on Holden Beach road opens for the 2021 season, it’ll have a new name and new management.

As vaccinations increase, you may want to dine indoors again.
Here’s what to consider.

Not for the first time in this pandemic, the ground is shifting. This time, the news is good: After a slow start, more and more people are getting vaccinated against the coronavirus. And many restaurants around the country are reopening dining rooms, bringing back business to a hard-hit industry. That might be worth a toast at your favorite neighborhood hangout — but these glad tidings also come with a heaping side of uncertainty. Vaccine rollouts are happening at varying paces, meaning families and friend groups won’t all have their shots at the same time. Restaurant regulations still vary widely by jurisdiction, and a few places have pretty much lifted restrictions, which some have interpreted as permission to party like it’s 2019. Who can dine together? Can I eat indoors again? Should I? Those are just some of the questions diners are considering as they think about booking a table during this in-between time, when millions of Americans are getting vaccinated daily but before we’ve reached herd immunity. The answers aren’t always clear-cut. “There’s no such thing as zero risk, and nothing is 100 percent risky,” says Leana Wen, a visiting professor of health policy and management at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health and contributing columnist at The Washington Post. “It’s a spectrum.” She has long urged people to think about their risks as expenditures from a “coronavirus budget,” and says the budgets of those who have been vaccinated just went way up. “You still have to think about how to spend it, and if your priority is seeing grandchildren and going to church, then maybe you’re not going to restaurants all that often.” With encouraging headlines, springlike temperatures and our collective covid fatigue at an all-time high, it might be tempting to throw caution — and another round of takeout — to the wind. But experts agree that now is not the time to lower your guard, but instead to maintain your vigilance so we can return to something like normal by the fall. For most people, who aren’t vaccinated, restaurants can still pose risks. A study released this month by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that counties allowing in-person dining at restaurants saw a subsequent rise in cases and deaths. That followed an earlier CDC finding that people who were infected in July were more likely to have dined at a restaurant. We spoke to public health experts, scientists, and industry representatives about dining in this new, partially vaccinated world.

Whom can you dine with?
The CDC’s guidelines for vaccinated people, two weeks past their final shot, applies only to private settings. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said guidance for public places is coming soon, although the agency doesn’t have a firm release date yet. In its initial advice, the CDC focused on what vaccinated people could safely do in their homes and urged them to continue taking precautions including masking and distancing in public settings. The agency is cautious about issuing dining guidelines because of too many unknowns, said Greta Massetti, co-leader of the CDC’s Community Inventions and Critical Populations Task Force. “First of all, if you go to a restaurant, you will not know the vaccination status of any of the other patrons or any of the people who work there,” she says. “And likewise, the restaurants themselves won’t know whether people are vaccinated who walk through their doors.” To figure out whom you can break bread with in public, first check to see how many people are legally allowed to be seated as a party where you live. But numbers aren’t the only factor to consider. Wen notes that eating in a group means you can’t observe the usual protocols. “When you’re dining in a group, you’re going to have your masks off, and you’ll be sitting in close proximity to one another,” she says. While it’s fine for multiple vaccinated people to be seated together, “fully vaccinated people should not be dining with unvaccinated people, and unvaccinated people should not be dining with one another.” It isn’t yet clear to public health experts whether vaccinated people can spread the virus. That means up-close interactions between the vaccinated and the unvaccinated may still carry risk. “It’s less safe,” says Jennifer Kolker, a professor at Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health. “There’s more data showing that the chance of a vaccinated person passing it on is pretty low, but we don’t know for absolutely sure.” Even if you’re gathering your friends for a celebration of everyone’s newly vaccinated status, keep the party on the small side. “The larger the group, the harder it is to know and trust that they’re fully vaccinated,” Wen says.

What to consider before you go
Before you make a reservation, think about the infection rate in your community, Kolker advises. High rates increase the infection risk for anyone. “Being vaccinated when there’s a lot of disease in your community means you’re highly protected … but there’s still more disease coming at you,” she says. The consensus is that outdoors is safer than indoors, though some people have become infected by eating too close to asymptomatic carriers on patios and the like. The CDC recommends that you eat on patios or in well-ventilated tents because you “are less likely to get or spread Covid-19 during outdoor activities.” But the agency cautions that even outdoor diners should wear masks when not eating or drinking and maintain six feet of social distance. Whether you’re thinking about dining inside or out, first check out the restaurant to see its setup and safety precautions. Is there a touchless payment system? A time limit for diners? Distance between tables? Some restaurants are spelling out covid protocols on their websites or on social media. But if you’re unsure, pick up the phone. “Customers … should be calling the restaurant and saying, ‘What are you doing? What are you doing to make me feel safe?’ ” said Larry Lynch, senior vice president for science and industry at the National Restaurant Association. That can help you decide if you’re comfortable — and lessen the chance of conflict or confusion. Tiffanie Barriere, a brand, and bar consultant in Atlanta, advises patrons to be more mindful than ever about restaurants’ rules. “Call before you come and see what’s the protocol if you want to bring your friends, or if you want to bring a baby,” she says. “See if it’s for you. It might not be.” The adage that the customer is always right has gone out the window, she says: “It’s not your place, it’s theirs. The second you want to make it your place, all hell breaks loose, and we’ve all seen those viral videos.” If all this fact-finding sounds like too much, or you still don’t want to take a risk, remember: You can always support your favorite restaurant with takeout.

Sanitation
By now we know that there’s only a small risk of surface transmission of the virus — that is, via commonly touched surfaces, such as menus or credit cards. Still, restaurants offering hand sanitizer and frequently wiping down spaces may not just be engaging in “sanitation theater.” “If they’re paying attention to this, there’s a good chance they’re being attentive to the virus in other ways,” Wen says. Restaurants and bars have long operated under health codes that require proper food handling, storage, sanitation, hot water, handwashing, hygiene and more to prevent the spread of food-borne illnesses. But Lynch says the pandemic has required managers to expand their thinking about sanitation. Servers now wipe down everything and make sure they’re “familiar with the kinds of chemical compounds that can be used safely and effectively against covid-19,” he said. 

Air quality and environment
Unless you’re an environmental engineer, it’s almost impossible to judge the quality of a dining room’s ventilation and filtration systems based on appearances alone, and even specialists need to conduct tests and review data. The best a diner can do is ask about a system and whether owners regularly service it. “Think about your own home system,” Lynch said. “The moment they come in and service it for the season, whether it’s for the winter or summer, you automatically get this better air flow. … It’s the same thing in a commercial structure.” This subject gets very complicated very fast. Some restaurants, like a South Korean one that was the subject of a well-publicized study on air flow last year, have no ventilation system at all. The restaurant relied on air conditioning units to move air throughout the dining room; two diners were infected with coronavirus because they sat in the direct air flow from a third, asymptomatic customer. Diners may feel as if they are playing Russian roulette, because they can’t determine what indoor environments are safe. What kind of filtration system does the restaurant have, and how often is the air exchanged? Does the restaurant have a carbon dioxide detector, which may indicate how well-ventilated a room is and whether there is a concentration of coronavirus aerosols? Donald Milton, professor of environmental health at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, says one of the safest units is also one of the rarest: an upper-room ultraviolet germicidal system, which disinfects the air with UV light. But it can cost thousands of dollars to install per room, and it works only in high-ceiling spaces. But Milton says these systems could benefit restaurants even after the pandemic by protecting against seasonal flu, which kills tens of thousands of Americans annually. Short of the UV systems, Milton says, restaurants could use portable HEPA filter units. “Even if they’re not particularly well-placed, as long as they’re not all just on the perimeter, that’s going to create a much better environment,” he said. 

Are restaurant workers vaccinated?
If you’re vaccinated, and the servers are fully masked, they probably don’t pose much of a risk to you, Wen says. But dining indoors is not just about your safety; it’s about the servers, back waiters, bussers, bartenders, and anyone else who comes in contact with customers. In some places, such as New York and Kentucky, food service workers are getting vaccinated, but in others, such as Florida and Louisiana, they are still waiting for an eligibility date. “Unfortunately, we’ve got this patchwork quilt of regulations around the country, so there’s no solid way we can get everyone vaccinated in the same way at the same time,” said Lynch of the National Restaurant Association.

That is why the association asks members to maintain protocols that have been in place for months, including encouraging diners to wear a mask at the table when not eating or drinking. That’s especially important where food service workers — who spend hours exposed to the breath of countless diners — are still waiting for vaccine appointments. The national association and state groups are educating workers to communicate with customers that the server-diner relationship is not as one-sided as before the pandemic. The goal is to convince diners of the mutual respect needed when diners may be vaccinated (and potentially still contagious) but servers are not, and when some states have lifted mask mandates, but President Biden has issued a nationwide one. The idea, said Lynch, is to have servers explain that they’re protecting customers by wearing a mask — and that they need the same protection from diners in return. A year ago in the Lone Star State, a similar spirit led to a social contract called the Texas Restaurant Promise. By posting the promise on their door, restaurants agree to have employees pass health screenings and wear face coverings, to maintain safe distances between parties, and to disinfect tables between seatings. In return, by entering the restaurant, diners agree to follow protocols and instructions from employees, including distancing rules. The gist is simple: “Don’t be a jerk,” said Anna Tauzin, chief revenue, and innovation officer at the Texas Restaurant Association. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) recently allowed restaurants outside areas with “high hospitalizations” to open with no state requirements for mask-wearing or capacity limits, even though its hospitality workers remain ineligible for the vaccine. Tauzin noted that nearly three-quarters of the 725 members that responded to a recent survey said they would continue to require staff members to wear masks. It’s fair to say, she added, that 75 to 80 percent of the association’s 4,800 members would do the same.

Only 38 percent, though, said they would continue requiring diners to wear masks, while 42 percent said they would not, and 20 percent said they weren’t sure. “Frankly, they’re just tired of the confrontation,” Tauzin said. “And if someone comes in, they will remind them, ‘Hey, could you please put on a mask?’ And if they say, ‘No, it’s my God-given right to not wear one,’ then they’re not going to fight them. They’re going to let them sit at the restaurant. They’re going to serve them. And then hopefully those people are not going to wander around licking doorknobs or anything like that.”

A time for patience
Experts say the arrival of vaccines isn’t a moment to let up on precautions; hopefully, we’ll have to live with the stress and inconvenience for only a little while longer. The CDC hasn’t set a target yet for when the agency will declare herd immunity, but Massetti said “more than 70 percent” of Americans will need to be vaccinated. How many more remains unknown until the CDC can review more data on variants, asymptomatic transmission among vaccinated people and other key research. “We are on the right path,” said Massetti. “We want to continue to stay the course to ensure that we stay on that path.” Kolker says public officials have a tough needle to thread as they’re warning people to stay vigilant about safety precautions even as vaccination rates rise. But there’s still a possibility that before vaccines are widespread, a spike in cases could lead to more lockdowns. “Telling people to still be careful is a hard message right now,” she says. “Because if we’re saying, ‘Get vaccinated, but there’s still doom and gloom,’ it makes it sound like there’s no reason to do it. Everyone is chomping at the bit to get out there and dine with their friends and family, and there’s reason to be hopeful that we will — but we just don’t want to blow it.”
Read more » click here 


Book Review:
Read several books from The New York Times best sellers fiction list monthly
Selection represents this month’s pick of the litter
/////


BEFORE SHE DISAPPEARED
by Lisa Gardner
This story is about a middle-aged white woman who is a recovering alcoholic and whose made it her job to find lost and forgotten missing people after everyone else has given up.  She puts herself in danger when she searches for a missing Haitian teenager in a disreputable Boston neighborhood. The story is based on an informal online network of amateur detectives who research and investigate missing persons and other cold cases.


  • .That’s it for this newsletter

    See you next month


    Lou’s Views . HBPOIN

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

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

    https://lousviews.com/