07 – News & Views

Lou’s Views
News & Views / July Edition

Calendar of Events –

U.S. Open
King Mackerel Fishing Tournament

September 30th – October 2nd  
Southport, NC     
For more information » click here



October 1st – 3rd
Wilmington, NC

For more information » click here

Sunset at Sunset
October 2nd
Sunset Beach, NC
For more information » click here



N.C. Oyster Festival

October 16t – 17th  
Shallotte, NC 
For more information » click here


N.C. Festival by the Sea
October 30th – 31st
Holden Beach, NC
For more information » click here

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

Calendar of Events Island –

Most events have either been postponed or cancelled

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.
For more information » click here

Tide Dyed Program
This family friendly event is located at the Pavilion. Tie-dye your own shirts; the cost is just $5-$10 per shirt. It takes place weekly from 2:00pm to 3:30pm every Tuesday during the summer beginning Tuesday, June 15th.

Call (910) 842-6488 for additional questions.

Turtle Talk
Two programs both are held every Wednesday during the summer at Town Hall. Children’s Turtle Time is at 4:00 p.m. with crafts, stories, and activities for children ages 3 – 6. All children must be accompanied by an adult. Turtle Talk is an educational program at 7:00 p.m. for everyone else.

Turtle Talk programs begin on Holden Beach
Wednesday night Turtle Talks share information about the Turtle Patrol, the sea turtles and how vacationers and residents can help the sea turtles that nest on Holden Beach. Several turtle artifacts will be on display and educational materials available. The 45-minute presentation includes a short video about the life cycle of the sea turtle. Members of the Holden Beach Turtle Patrol will be available to answer questions about the turtles and the program. Turtle Talk can be enjoyed by people of all ages with no admission charge. The program starts at 7 p.m. at the Holden Beach Chapel at 107 Rothschild St. Dates for Turtle Talk this year are July 7, 14, 21 and 28 and Aug. 4.

Children’s Turtle Time
The Holden Beach Turtle Patrol also offers an additional program for younger turtle enthusiasts, Children’s Turtle Time, and it will be held Wednesdays (July 7, 14, 21 and 28 and Aug. 4) from 4 to 4:45 p.m. This session features crafts, stories, and activities for children ages 3-6. All children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. One of the activities is for the children to dig in the sand looking for turtle eggs (really ping-pong balls) to simulate what turtle patrol members do mornings when searching for eggs when a mother turtle’s tracks have been spotted on the beach. The Turtle Patrol member assisting the children in the photo Teamwork is Char Hopkins. She is coordinating the Children’s Turtle Time program and serves on the HBTP stranding team.

Holden Beach is a Turtle Sanctuary and every year sea turtles are welcomed and protected on the beach. Founded in 1989, the Beach Turtle Watch Program (known as the Holden Beach Turtle Patrol) protects sea turtles through education, nest protection and sea turtle rescue. The Turtle Patrol operates under the authority of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. Now in its 32nd year, this all-volunteer program is supported by sale of an annual T-shirt and donations. This year’s shirt will be on sale at both of these programs at the Holden Beach Chapel. For more information on Turtle Talk, the Holden Beach Turtle Patrol or how to volunteer or support, go to http://www.hbturtlewatch.org/.
Read more » click here

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

Reminders –

Golf carts are treated the same as any other automotive vehicle.

In the State of North Carolina, if a golf cart is to be operated on the streets, highways, or public vehicular areas, it is considered a motor vehicle and subject to all laws, rules and regulations that govern motor vehicles.

In short, the golf cart must have all of the following:

      • The driver MUST have a current, valid Driver’s License
      • Child Restraint Laws must be followed
      • Headlights
      • Tail lights
      • Turn signals
      • Rear view mirrors
      • State Inspection Sticker
      • License Plate Issued by NCDMV
      • Liability Insurance

All of the streets in the Town (including the side streets) are considered streets or public vehicular areas according to the State Law. This means that to operate a golf cart anywhere on the island, you must meet the standards above.

Golf carts are treated the same as other automotive vehicles
Town ordinances state no parking anytime on OBW
Therefore, golf carts are illegally parked when left by any beach access point

Pets on the Beach Strand
Pets – Chapter 90 / Animals / 90.20
From May 20th through September 10th it is unlawful to have any pet on the beach strand during the hours of 9:00am through 5:00pm.


. .

A Second Helping
Program to collect food Saturday mornings (7:00am to 12:00pm) during the summer at the Beach Mart on the Causeway.


1) Seventeenth year of the program
. 2) Food collections have now exceeded 273,000 pounds
. 3)
Collections will begin on May 29th and run through September 18th
. 4) Food is distributed to the needy in Brunswick County
For more information » click here

Hunger exists everywhere in this country; join them in the fight to help end hunger in Brunswick County. Cash donations are gratefully accepted. One hundred percent (100%) of these cash donations are used to buy more food. You can be assured that the money will be very well spent.

Mail Donations to:
A Second Helping % Douglas Cottrell
2939 Alan Trail
Supply, NC 28462


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.

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

(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

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

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.


(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, July 20th

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

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

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

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.

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.

Brunswick County families sue, claiming home elevators failed, causing serious injuries
It was a terrifying experience. Two different families who survived residential elevator failures want to warn others they could be in harm’s way, too. Within the last year, there have been two separate elevator crashes in Holden Beach. One incident happened to a family vacationing at a rental home. Tressa Fortenberry was taking the elevator from the second floor to the third floor. She broke her foot when she says the elevator crashed to the ground on June 14, 2020. The other incident was more serious and happened to a local family in their own home. On December 2, 2020, Dickie and Delores Brackin say they fell three stories when the elevator they’d been using without incident for 20 years, suddenly crashed to the ground. The Brackins, who are both 70, suffered broken legs and remain unable to walk without assistance. “I looked down. I saw the bone sticking out of my leg,” Delores recalls of the morning of the accident. “I said, ‘Dickie what has happened?’ While I was laying there and asking God to please put his hand on both me and him… it was just a pain like unbelievable.” The couple, married for over 50 years, were air lifted to the hospital. Delores was hospitalized for two weeks. Dickie, who also suffered broken legs and crushed ankles, was released after four days in the hospital. “I trusted the people to put the elevator in. I trusted the people that came and inspected it every year,” Delores said. The same type of Waupaca residential elevator, which is subject to a recall, was involved in the Brackin and Fortenberry cases. An attorney, representing both families in a lawsuit against the manufacturer, estimates there are around 100 of these same recalled elevators in homes all along the Carolina coast. While researching the problem with these elevators, Attorney Joel Rhine found documented cases of the elevators crashing dating back to 1998. According to his lawsuit, 8,000 of these Custom Lift 450 and 500 elevators, built between 1976 and 2008, are at risk of failing. “I was shocked about how many there are, especially on our beaches. These vacation rentals are obviously two or three stories high; you need an elevator to get your luggage and everything up. Apparently, Waupaca was one of the largest suppliers of those elevators. They had several certified installers [in Southeastern North Carolina],” Rhine told WECT. Rhine says Waupaca knows about the problem, and he believes they are giving consumers a false sense of security that the elevators are still safe to use. Executives with the elevator company disagree. “Waupaca Elevator Company cannot comment publicly on the specifics of any ongoing litigation, including the cases currently pending in southeast North Carolina,” Waupaca Elevator Company Operations Manager Gary Ziebell told WECT. “Waupaca issued a recall of elevators in October 2018 in coordination with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Owners of those Waupaca elevators affected by the recall have been directed to not use the elevators until an overspeed safety device has been installed by an approved dealer. Some elevators affected by the recall require additional work, including a replacement of the elevator’s gearbox. After the necessary repairs have been made to the elevators, they are perfectly safe to use. If any Waupaca elevator owners have questions associated with this recall, they are welcome to visit Waupaca’s website.” Rhine’s clients relied on that information, and still got injured on Waupaca elevators. The Brackins had the elevator inspected as Waupaca recommended. According to the lawsuit, after an oil sample was taken from the Brackin’s elevator and sent to Waupaca for analysis, “the Plaintiffs were informed that their elevator had no metal shavings and thus did not need a replacement at this point.” With that in mind, the Brackins continued to use their elevator. According to Rhine’s other lawsuit against Waupaca, Plaintiff Tressa Fortenberry was using an elevator that had a high-speed braking device installed on it about seven months earlier, after a technician from Port City Elevator found signs that indicated the elevator was in danger of failing. The homeowner was informed the elevator was safe to use, but it still failed while Fortenberry was renting the home. “Our case is that [Waupaca is] telling people the wrong thing. They are not telling people about the danger. They’re telling people that this is normal wear and tear and that you can use these elevators until you have these shavings, [and that] these overspeed braking device will stop the elevator. None of that’s true, and that’s how we are bringing these lawsuits,” Rhine explained. When asked about the elevator that failed after the high-speed braking device was installed, Waupaca executives indicated it must have been an installation error. “Waupaca Elevator Company has tested the overspeed safety device extensively. Based on the results of the testing, we are confident that the overspeed safety device operates as intended, provided it is installed correctly,” Ziebell said. Rhine says this is a public safety issue and warns the public not to use these recalled elevators for anything more than transporting groceries and luggage. “One that crashed had the overspeed breaking device with it. It doesn’t work. Their remedy doesn’t work. These things are dangerous,” Rhine said. In addition to concerns about a false sense of security, the manufacturer is giving to homeowners with these recalled elevators, Rhine also noted there’s a lengthy backorder for the parts to repair the elevator if a problem is detected. “Those [replacement gear boxes] aren’t going to be available for years, there’s such a backlog. and they are telling people that you can use it in the meantime. This is dangerous,” Rhine said. Except for doctors’ appointments, the Brackins are still homebound five months after the accident. They hope their cautionary tale will serve as a warning to other homeowners and vacationers who might unknowingly trust that the residential elevator in their home is safe. They say they’re grateful to be alive, and grateful to the first responders, neighbors, local restaurants, family, and friends who helped them or sent food and cards after their accident, but they say this was a life-changing event they may never fully recover from.
Read more » click here

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 –

COVID/State of Emergency – Timeline

Governor Cooper signed Executive Order No. 220 which is an extension to the end of July of COVID-19 measures to reflect the public health recommendations.
Click here
to view the Executive Order details.

Governor Cooper signed Executive Order No. 215 which lifts COVID-19 restrictions to reflect new public health recommendations. The order ended gathering limits, social distancing requirements in all settings, and drops indoor mask requirements for most settings.
Returning the state to almost normal operations after 15 months marked by COVID-19 lockdowns and limits. Click here
to view the Executive Order details.

Governor Cooper signed Executive Order No. 209 which removes the outdoor face covering requirement, relaxes restrictions on gatherings and extends the capacity and social distancing measures of Executive Order 204. Click here to view the Executive Order details.

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.

Gov. Cooper extends COVID-19 state of emergency in North Carolina
Governor Roy Cooper is extending North Carolina’s COVID-19 state of emergency until at least the end of July, days after some state lawmakers wrote him a letter, asking what it would take to end. On Friday, Cooper announced that he signed an Executive Order to extend a variety of measures currently in place to respond to the COVID-19 Pandemic until July 30. “We are seeing tremendous improvement with fewer cases, hospitalizations, deaths and safety restrictions, but this is no time to hang up a “Mission Accomplished” banner in our fight against the pandemic,” said Gov. Cooper. “We are laser focused on getting more shots in arms, boosting our economy and protecting unvaccinated people from the virus and this Executive Order is essential for those efforts.” While the governor has consistently eased restrictions as trends have improved, a state of emergency remains in effect as North Carolina emerges from the pandemic, along with measures including:

      • State Evictions Prohibitions
      • Face covering requirements in certain settings such as public transportation, schools, health care and childcare facilities, in accordance with CDC guidance
      • Unemployment Insurance flexibility

Earlier in the week, state lawmakers wrote a letter asking what it would take for the governor to end a more-than-450-day-long state of emergency that has been in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On March 10, 2020, Gov. Cooper issued the initial executive order declaring a State of Emergency as part of North Carolina’s preparedness plan for COVID-19, which was declared a global pandemic the following day, March 11. In a press release, legislators pointed to a recent announcement by South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster that there will no longer be a state of emergency in that state related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“North Carolina has now been under a self-declared state of emergency for over 450 days,” the letter states. “In response to a question about ending your emergency order during a June 2nd press conference, you said, ‘We are still in the middle of this pandemic’ and ‘The State of Emergency needs to continue.’ We believe this is unsatisfactory.” The lawmakers say the goal of their letter is to at least get “specific details on how and when the state of emergency can be lifted.” The governor’s office says under the State of Emergency, North Carolina has easier access to federal funding including FEMA Public Assistance reimbursements, and schools can follow uniform safety guidance under the StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit. The State of Emergency also reportedly allows critical regulatory flexibility for the NC Department of Health and Human Services to increase the number of people authorized to administer vaccines and COVID-19 tests and for the movement of COVID-19 patients in rehab and other facilities. The governor’s office also says under the State of Emergency, NC DHHS continues to allow temporary additional flexibility for tele-health opportunities and for out-of-state licensed workers to practice in North Carolina and for retired health care professionals, students in training and skilled volunteers to provide care. The Department also continues to allow expanded access to healthcare and Medicaid services and food and nutrition programs until the end of the State of Emergency. “The Governor and state health officials continue to monitor North Carolina’s trends and review actions of other states and plan to continue lifting restrictions as more people are vaccinated and the state winds down pandemic response efforts,” a press release read.
Read more » click here

Upon Further Review –






Rats at the Beach

The Hispid cotton rat is common and widespread across southern, central, and eastern parts of the United States. Currently, the population and range of this species continuously enlarge. This rodent has a sturdy built and extremely small cheek pouches. The grizzled coat of the animal is blackish or grayish in color, covered in stiff black guard hairs. The Hispid cotton rat is identified by its high “Roman” nose and a javelina-like color pattern, due to which the rodent is occasionally called the “javelina rat”.

The cotton rat is a hantavirus carrier, specifically the Black Creek Canal strain, that becomes a threat when it enters human habitation in rural and suburban areas. Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) is a deadly disease transmitted by infected rodents through urine, droppings, or saliva. Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome is rare — the chance of getting the disease is 1 in 13,000,000, which is less likely than being struck by lightning.

Previously reported – September 2011
Holden Beach board talks island rats
The rats on the island are cotton rats that don’t attack humans and do feed during the daytime, not at night. However, according to comments from audience members at the Holden Beach Commissioners meeting Tuesday night, there has been a proliferation of rat sightings and of the rats themselves. “On Labor Day weekend, we had a field day with mice and rats,” said Holden Beach resident and Realtor Anne Arnold. “The kids in the community were counting the rats running across the street.” Fortunately, she said, nobody was bitten. After numerous complaints, authorities used kill trappings to determine what kind of rats are on Holden Beach. “It’s a New World rat,” Town Manager David Hewett said. “It’s not the one that caused the black plague out of Europe. They eat grass, and they especially love bird feeders and corn feeders. They live in the area between the bushes on the marsh up to your back door.” None of the trappings caught any cotton rats at night– because they are not nocturnal, he said. Jim Ericson, an environmental specialist from Mecklenburg County, said small vegetable gardens probably encourage cotton rats. Norway rats, which feed in the daytime when they’re sick or overpopulated, eat dog feces, but cotton rats don’t, he said. He thinks removal of the potentially rabid foxes on the island caused the increase in cotton rats because foxes are a major predator. Cotton rats have boom and bust cycles when there’s plenty of food and reproduction. They’re here because more than 90 percent of the island is heavily vegetated, but they pose no threat to public health, Hewett said. There have been no reports of illness or disease, he said. “You don’t need a permit to take them out of your yard,” Hewett said, and exterminators can also be hired to do that. “The cotton rat suffers a PR problem,” Ericson said. “They’re not going to attack people, and they’re not going to come in and raid your pantry.”
Read more » click here

More critters of summer—rats are roaming uninvited at the beach
Rats at the beach?! Rats have reportedly been an ongoing problem at Holden Beach, where a resident recently provided an update that dark-furred rodents are roaming the island, and they aren’t coming here to work on their tans. The rodent problem had previously been reported in the Beacon by correspondent Sarah Sue Ingram covering Holden Beach Town Council meetings. But I was hopeful the rats had worn out their welcome.
Brunswick Beacon article is no longer available

Pest Control / Management
Two years ago reported rats were out of control on Holden Beach. David Hewett, Town Manager did presentation. Jim Ericson, an environmental specialist from Mecklenburg County fielded questions.

Town Manager prepared report last year about “perceived” rat problem.

Research revealed the following –

      • Rodent called Cotton Rat native to North Carolina
      • New World rats, very different from Old World (European) Norway rats
      • Herbivores
      • Not nocturnal like other rodents
      • No threat to public health or safety
      • Only viable solution is to reduce their habitat
      • Primarily grassy areas, they move from fields to lawns and gardens

Determined that it was really just a Public Relations problem

Staff recommendation – was to undertake program to educate the public

The Town’s statement regarding Cotton Rats included the following comments: During the course of our research, we inquired as to whether we needed to take steps to remove cotton rats from our Island. We were told that, because Sigmodon Hibidus does not generally pose a threat to public health, we would be unable to obtain the depredation permit required to implement a mass extermination. What has now been proposed is a Community Supported Animal Rescue Program. The Town has decided to sponsor and administer a Feline Management Program. This program will entail placing feral cats throughout the island in small colonies. Although the stated intent is animal rescue it may be the answer to our rodent issue and effectively deal with this situation.

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

Visitor Map
Click here to view a printable version of the Town’s Visitor Map. Click here to check out the Google Map version.  The map features public accessways, parking, handicap parking, restrooms/port-a-johns, showers, handicap accesses and parks.

  • 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.

    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 –

    Brunswick County makes quarter-million-dollar deal for federal lobbyist
    The Brunswick County Board of Commissioners has approved a six-figure retainer for a federal lobbying operation. Ward and Smith, the county’s firm of choice, is well-known to counties and municipalities across the state, both for its arsenal of lobbyists and land-use attorneys who represent developers in public arenas. At a board meeting last week, county leaders pushed forward on hiring Ward and Smith “to assist with obtaining federal governmental assistance and project management regarding federal issues,” with special reference to water and sewer infrastructure projects, according to the board agenda. The retainer is scheduled to last until the end of April 2023, and will cost the county $250,000 at minimum, not including expenses. Mike McIntyre — longtime Congressman-turned-lobbyist — authored the proposal of services. A Blue Dog Democrat, McIntyre served in the House of Representatives as New Hanover County’s delegate from 1997-2015. Then he retired and walked through the revolving door. McIntyre will be the point man for the contract with Brunswick County, according to county manager Randell Woodruff. His clients at the state level have included New Hanover County, Carolina Beach, the Fayetteville Public Works Commission, Southport, Robeson County, Shallotte, Surf City, and a few private companies. “With new funding for infrastructure- and pandemic-related issues becoming available and changes to discretionary spending rules, there may be future opportunities to fund water and sewer infrastructure or other essential projects for the benefit of Brunswick County’s residents,” Woodruff wrote in an email. Randy Thompson, the chairman of the board of commissioners, said the decision to hire a lobbyist was made after it became clear the current Congress might show generosity in the realm of infrastructure projects. “We realized that infrastructure projects are probably going to be the number one thing that will be discussed with the current decision-making processes going on in Washington right now,” Thompson said. With a surging population and coastal areas in need of funding from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Brunswick County could capitalize on the additional influence in Washington to secure funding for much-needed infrastructure projects. “They’re multi-million-dollar projects,” Thompson said. “So the amount of money that we’re spending to have someone advocate for us at a federal level would truly pay for itself by us acquiring approval for one project.” Also included in the retainer are costs for The Ferguson Group, a D.C.-based firm that can help local governments obtain federal funds and grants. The engagement letter sent by McIntyre identifies “grant research and analysis and/or legislative monitoring/research” as the services in the wheelhouse of The Ferguson Group. “It was a pretty good deal for us, if in fact things follow the course that they’re currently on, with the projected path for allocations at the federal level,” Thompson said. Ward and Smith also lobbies for Holden Beach, a quaint beach town in Brunswick County, but according to the engagement letter, that does not pose a conflict of interest. “Our work for this engagement will be on the federal level so long as such work does not conflict with Ward and Smith, P.A.’s work on behalf of the Town of Holden Beach,” McIntyre wrote in the engagement letter. “Any work on the state level will be subject to separate agreement.” McIntyre told Port City Daily that Ward and Smith’s policies prohibit him from addressing the media regarding client matters. “If you put a good team together and you put a good package together,” Thompson said, “then hopefully you’ll have a great outcome.”
    Read more » click here

    Editor’s Note –
    In January of 2021 we hired Mike McIntyre who was with Poyner Spruill at the time, he has since moved to the Ward and Smith firm. The retainer for their services is $7,725 per month or a minimum of $92,700 annually. Retainer is the minimum it will cost us. Ferguson Group services are billed separately. Additionally, we are billed monthly for all kinds of additional charges.

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.

Turtle Watch Program

Turtle Watch Program
. 1) Current nest count – 60 as of 07/23/21
Average annual number of nests is 39.5
. 2)
First nest of the season was on May 8th

Members of the patrol started riding the beach every morning on May 1 and will do so through October looking for signs of turtle nests.
For more information » click here

It’s Turtle Season on Holden Beach!
It’s official…. the turtle season has started!
Turtle Watch ATV riders are out looking for tracks of the mother turtle each morning.
Turtles usually start laying their eggs on our beach mid to late May.
It will take 55-60 days for these eggs to incubate.
They anticipate the first baby turtles on the beach in early July.

Several firsts on a Saturday afternoon
Not only did we have our first nest yesterday (May 8, 2021) it was a historic event! Our first nest of the season was laid Saturday afternoon around 2 p.m. So our turtle season has officially begun.

This nest marks a series of firsts!
1. First Kemp’s Ridley Turtle nest to be laid on our beach in Turtle Patrol History.
2. First nest in North Carolina for this season.
3. Earliest nest laid on Holden Beach

Kemp’s Ridley are the smallest of the five kinds of turtles that lay nests in North Carolina. They usually lay nests further north in the Outer Banks area. Kemp’s Ridleys are the most threatened species of turtles that nest in North Carolina. They usually nest during daylight hours (so mid-afternoon is not unusual for them). The momma climbed an escarpment and laid the nest in a safe place. Incubation for Kemp’s Ridley turtles is similar to Loggerheads, we expect to have babies from this nest in around 60 days. Their nests typically have 104 to 110 eggs.

We’re excited to have a Kemp’s Ridley nest on out beach. The turtle we see most often is the Loggerhead turtle. Riders are out each morning looking for turtle tracks (called crawls.) We’re thinking it will still be a little while before we have a Loggerhead nest….but who knows… our earliest recorded date for a Loggerhead nest on the beach was May 9, 2019.

North Carolina’s first turtle nest of 2021 season laid in Holden Beach
The sea turtle nesting season is underway in North Carolina. The first nest reported for the 2021 season was laid in Holden Beach over the weekend. The Holden Beach Turtle Patrol says the turtle that came ashore on Saturday was a very rare one — Kemp’s Ridley. It is one of the most endangered species of sea turtle so HBTP says they are going to do everything they can to make sure all hatchlings make it into the water. The incubation period is 50-60 days. Turtle experts say Kemp’s Ridley turtles weigh 50-80 pounds, and this one weighed about 60-65 pounds. The species typically nest just south of Texas in Mexico and there are usually only 3-4 nests in the United States per year.
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Sea turtle nest hatching on Holden Beach first in the state for season
For 17 nights, members of the Holden Beach Turtle Watch Program (HBTWP) went to the beach waiting and watching a sea turtle nest. This team had adopted Nest No. 1. They went home Tuesday night, July 13, disappointed again because there was no sign that the nest was ready to hatch. Then the phone call came early Wednesday morning, July 14. The morning rider saw hatchlings coming out of the nest. The team quickly assembled on the beach in time to assist 87 newly hatched turtles into the ocean at sunrise. Nest No. 1 was already a record-breaking nest. On May 8, it was the first nest laid in North Carolina this season and the first Kemp’s Ridley turtle to nest on Holden Beach since the HBTWP has been keeping records. Now it was the first nest to hatch in the state. These dedicated Turtle Patrol members included Mary K McGinley (nest lead), Sally Norris, Corki and Steve Jarvis, Karen Keith, and Bonita McNeill. They were under the direction of Project Coordinator Pat Cusack and assistant coordinators Karen Rice, John Cifelli and Peter Palermo. The HBTWP works under a permit from the North Carolina Department of Wildlife Resources. The duties of a team that adopts a nest begins 50 days after the nesting mother lays the eggs. The team assembles a “collar” around the nest and digs a “trench” toward the shoreline. Both of these direct the hatchling turtles toward the ocean. The team then visits the nest each evening to observe signs of hatching and talk with beachgoers. Typically, nests hatch after 50 to 60 days of incubation, but early nests usually take longer due to colder sand temperatures. Nests usually hatch as the sand cools after sunset. A morning hatching is unique. The term “boil” is used to describe what happens when a nest hatches, as many turtles begin coming to the surface of the sand at the same time, resembling bubbling, boiling water. Most of the hatchlings leave the nest during this boil, but occasionally there are additional hatchlings over the next few days. The team will continue to visit the nest each evening. On the third day, the team will dig down and inventory the nest. During this process, they look for any hatchlings that may be trapped within the nest. They also count all of the eggshells and look for any unhatched eggs. On Saturday night, with a crowd of vacationers assisting Turtle Patrol members, Nest No. 1 was inventoried. The team found 90 hatched shells. This means that three hatchlings got out on their own, either before the team got there Wednesday morning  or on one of the following evenings. They also found two unhatched eggs. After the inventory, the beach was returned to its natural state. Overall, it was a successful nest. Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles are the most endangered of all the sea turtles that nest in North Carolina. They are also the smallest, weighing 70-100 pounds. Loggerhead turtles are the sea turtles that most frequently nest on Holden Beach. Holden Beach is a Sea Turtle Sanctuary and, every year, sea turtles are welcomed and protected on the beach. Founded in 1989, the HBTWP protects sea turtles through education, nest protection and sea turtle rescue. HBTWP conducts educational programs about sea turtles, remaining this season on Wednesdays, July 21, 28 and Aug. 4. Children’s Turtle Time is for 3-, 4-, 5- and 6-year-olds at 4 p.m. and Turtle Talk is at 7 p.m. for the entire family. Both events are at the Holden Beach Chapel at 107 Rothschild St. The program shares information about the Turtle Patrol, sea turtles and how vacationers and residents can help the turtles that nest on Holden Beach. The HPTP currently has 54 confirmed additional nests on the beach. Nesting mother turtles are expected for another month. In 2019, a record number of 105 nests were laid on Holden Beach. For a photo album of Nest No. 1 and more information about the Holden Beach Turtle Patrol, go to its website at http://www.hbturtlewatch.org/.
Read more » click here

Odds & Ends –

New Hanover officials at odds with vacation rental giants over taxes
NC counties want more information about local rentals from companies like Airbnb and Vrbo. So far, the companies have largely refused.
Once a month, America’s most popular rental companies deliver checks to New Hanover County. These payments are meant to cover room occupancy taxes, the added fees municipalities charge guests who stay – for less than 90 days – in hotels, motels, and, with increasing frequency, vacation rentals. In a county dense with tourism travel, occupancy taxes draw in more than $12 million a year. As online rental platforms have exploded in popularity, online rental companies have assumed greater roles in collecting this tax. In recent years, the two industry leaders – Airbnb and Vrbo – struck undisclosed deals with the state to start collecting and remitting tax dollars themselves to municipalities statewide. But from large counties like New Hanover to small towns like Blowing Rock, local officials have issues with this arrangement. For while they recognize having these companies collect the tax has, in some ways, been more convenient, they want the rental behemoths to provide something beyond money: They want information. Major rental companies attach little context to the tax dollars they deliver – few if any details on where the rentals are located, how many nights are booked, and how many properties are operating in total. Christopher McLaughlin of the UNC School of Government compared the checks rental companies give to “a black box.” “Airbnb is going to write us a check, and we don’t know what their records shows,” said Lisa Wutzbacher, the chief financial officer for New Hanover County. “We don’t know what’s included in that payment.” Local officials have reached out to the companies for this data, but they said these requests have generally been met with resistance. “We have (asked), and they’ve been unwilling to do so,” Wutzbacher said. “We don’t have that issue with other property management companies, those that are physical companies here locally. It’s just the online companies that we’re missing information on.” Getting these rental details, county, and city leaders from across the state argued, would help ensure all residents are paying their fair share of taxes. They also pointed out the data would provide clearer pictures of how prevalent vacation rentals had become in their communities. But with resources and staffs limited, officials felt they have little recourse to get the massive, out-of-state rental companies to budge.

A hard tax to collect
In 1983, the North Carolina General Assembly permitted local governments to begin levying occupancy taxes. Since then, revenues from these taxes have steadily risen, surpassing $250 million in 2019. Most counties have their own occupancy tax rates, and most of these tax dollars – at times controversially – go to local tourism development authorities. Many cities and towns levy additional occupancy taxes that help promote tourism and fund the public services – like trash collection, road maintenance, and law enforcement – that get strained by influxes of tourists. While guests pay occupancy taxes, rental owners are responsible for remitting the tax dollars. However, in the past, local governments found it tricky to get this money. As online platforms helped turn ordinary houses into short-term rental properties, local officials struggled to keep tabs on which homes were operating as rentals. While hotels and motels have obvious, centralized locations, pinpointing these new and dispersed rentals proved challenging. The rise of Airbnb and Vrbo also helped more homeowners become first-time rental operators, and some did not realize they were responsible for collecting and remitting occupancy tax. Over the years, local officials took informal steps to identify rentals – like driving by homes and looking out for out-of-state license plates – but many acknowledged properties were going unnoticed, and taxes weren’t going unpaid. “All of those things are ineffective means of trying to keep track of the numerous rental places that there are,” Wurtzbacher said. The rental companies, officials noted, didn’t make it easy to find rental properties. Maps on Airbnb’s website and phone apps don’t reveal properties’ exact locations until after reservations are made, and local government officials said requests they made to discover rental locations were unsuccessful. “Airbnb wasn’t going to tell us (where they were) either,” said Cindy Johnson, a tax collection specialist for Craven County in Eastern North Carolina.

A new kind of agreement
In 2015, North Carolina entered what’s called a voluntary collection agreement, or VCA, with Airbnb. Under the VCA, the San Francisco-based company began collecting occupancy taxes themselves, charging guests an additional fee upon booking. Airbnb then delivered monthly lump sum payments to local governments. In 2019, Vrbo reached its own agreement with the state to collect and remit occupancy and sales taxes. Together, the two companies hold upwards of 75% of the state’s vacation rental market according to the analytics firm AllTheRooms. In an email to the USA Today Network, Airbnb spokesperson Laura Rillos wrote, “Platform collection helps streamline the tax collection process for our community, many of whom are everyday people sharing their homes to earn meaningful income and helps ensure that communities are receiving critical tax revenue.” Local officials recognized the convenience of having the rental companies handle tax collection and remittance. Several subsequently saw a clear uptick in their revenues. Still, officials argued it would be beneficial if the companies divulged the data behind the tax bill. The USA Today Network spoke with county managers, tax collectors, and finance directors in eight North Carolina counties, and while none had specific reasons to believe the lump sums rental companies send each month are inaccurate, they pointed out there are few ways of knowing for sure. “We like to know that we’re getting what we’re supposed to be getting, not more, not less,” said Samantha Reynolds, Henderson County’s finance director. “We’d like to know, when they send us a check for x-thousands of dollars, which houses that was for and which weeks that was for so that we can follow up.” said Dare County Manager Bobby Outten. In the western town of Blowing Rock, finance officer Nicole Norman said Vrbo representatives did, when asked, provide information about their rentals but that Airbnb representatives, citing the company’s voluntary collection agreement with the state, declined to share details regarding the tax payments. In an email, Airbnb spokesperson Laura Rillos wrote, “Airbnb complies with all applicable laws with regards to collection and remittance of relevant tourism tax and provides all information required for tax verification purposes.” The tax agreements companies have with the state are far from public. Citing the state’s taxpayer secrecy law, North Carolina Department of Revenue spokesperson Schorr Johnson declined to confirm the existence of an agreement between Airbnb and the state, let alone the specifics of any agreement. Airbnb representatives did not provide a copy of its VCA with the North Carolina. Vrbo representatives did not respond to emails inquiring about its agreement with the state or its policies for providing rental data to municipalities. Though Rillos didn’t detail why Airbnb reserves rental data from local governments, concerns this information could help local governments enact vacation rental restrictions may be one reason said UNC’s Christopher McLaughlin, coauthor of the 2019 book Regulation and Taxation of Short-Term Rentals. “Clearly Airbnb opposes additional local regulations on STRs (short-term rentals) and it’s true that hiding the location of STRs makes it more difficult for local governments to regulate those (rentals),” he said.Without data from the major rental companies, municipalities have, at best, incomplete pictures of their vacation rental markets. Officials added that knowing rental locations and quantities could inform how they respond to this booming industry. “It could affect some land use requirements that we have within the county,” said Steve Dozier, chair of the Henderson County Planning Board. “In Buncombe, we do not know how many units are operating as short-term rentals,” Buncombe’s tax collector Jennifer Pike said. “I think there’s always some concerns about just an awareness of what’s going on in our communities.”

Lawsuits and audits
North Carolina isn’t the only state with which Airbnb has a voluntary collection agreement; the rental company has agreements to collect and remit taxes in 47 other states, the District of Columbia, and two U.S. territories. Last year, a handful of Georgia municipalities filed a class action lawsuit against the company, alleging it “failed to remit occupancy taxes to local governments…” This year, a collection of local governments in South Carolina sued Airbnb and other major rental platforms for similar reasons. In its latest annual financial report to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Airbnb explained: “We are currently involved in a number of lawsuits brought be certain states and localities involving the payment of lodging taxes… These lawsuits are in various stages, and we continue to vigorously defend these claims.” To make sure they’re getting the correct amount of money, some North Carolina counties have considered auditing the major rental companies. Yet, local officials felt their departments lacked the manpower and money to thoroughly examine the books of the short-term rental giants, who are headquartered in other states and valued in the tens of billions of dollars. “With a company as large as Airbnb or Vrbo, I don’t know how easy that would be to accomplish (an audit),” said Lisa Wurtzbacher, who mentioned her New Hanover department only has one staff member dedicated to occupancy tax collection. “Just from personal experience that we’ve had, even trying to get in contact with the right person (to speak to at these companies) has been a bit of a challenge.” In recent years, New Hanover has contracted with a company called Host Compliance to track local short-term properties. While the data Host Compliance offers has helped the county create a tax payment portal, the information isn’t as comprehensive as the records Wurtzbacher believes the rental companies could provide. This leaves her, like many of her counterparts, wanting more from Airbnb’s and Vrbo’s monthly checks. To her, this money leaves too many questions unanswered.
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Staying safe at the beach: Rip currents, jellyfish, sharks, and other hazards

A trip to the beach can turn deadly (or painful) due to natural hazards but being aware of risks and mitigating hazards is a good way to prevent problems.
Picture this: warm weather, blue skies, and your toes in the sand — it sounds like a perfect lazy summer day at the beach. Maybe you decide to cool down in the ocean and find yourself bobbing around when suddenly you realize you are a little too far out. As panic sinks in and you start to swim towards dry land you realize your efforts are in vain and your whole body is getting tired, all the while you are drifting further into the Atlantic — you have gotten stuck in a rip current. It’s not the only potential danger in the ocean, though. There are also sharks. And, of course, there are some things on shore that ruin your day at the beach, too, including stepping on jellyfish and, of course, good old-fashioned sunburn.

Rip currents
According to the U.S. Lifesaving Association (USLA), 80 percent of all ocean rescues are related to rip currents and annually more than 100 fatalities across the country are due to rip currents. While it is obvious that swimming at a beach with lifeguards is one of the safer options, there are plenty of area beaches that lack lifeguards or maybe ocean rescue season has not started just yet. So, what is the best course of action for surviving a rip current? According to the National Weather Service, there are several things swimmers should keep in mind when dealing with these often-unseen dangers.

  • Relax. Rip currents don’t pull you under.
  • A rip current is a natural treadmill that travels an average speed of 1-2 feet per second but has been measured as fast as 8 feet per second — faster than an Olympic swimmer. Trying to swim against a rip current will only use up your energy; energy you need to survive and escape the rip current.
  • Do NOT try to swim directly into to shore. Swim along the shoreline until you escape the current’s pull. When free from the pull of the current, swim at an angle away from the current toward shore.
  • If you feel you can’t reach shore, relax, face the shore, and call or wave for help. Remember: If in doubt, don’t go out!
  • If at all possible, only swim at beaches with lifeguards.
  • If you choose to swim on beaches without a lifeguard, never swim alone. Take a friend and have that person take a cell phone so he or she can call 911 for help.
    Sharks are a fear on most every swimmer’s mind, regardless of the actual dangers posed by the large predatory fish. “NOAA states that while shark attacks are rare, they are most likely to occur near shore, typically inshore of a sandbar or between sandbars where sharks can be trapped by low tide, and near steep drop-offs where sharks’ prey gather. While the risks are small, it’s important to be aware of how to avoid an attack,” according to previous reporting.

Suggestions from NOAA for reducing the risk of a shark attack include:

  • Don’t swim too far from shore.
  • Stay in groups – sharks are more likely to attack a solitary individual.
  • Avoid being in the water during darkness or twilight when sharks are most active.
  • Don’t go in the water if bleeding from a wound – sharks have a very acute sense of smell.
  • Leave the shiny jewelry at home – the reflected light resembles fish scales.
  • Avoid brightly-colored swimwear – sharks see contrast particularly well..
    Most everyone has experienced a sunburn at one point in their life and while not often thought as a major concern for many, overexposure to UV light can cause serious long-term problems including skin cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using at least S.P.F. 15 sunscreen at least 15 minutes prior to sun exposure. Wearing a hat, long sleeves, and other protective clothing is also recommended to keep skin protected.

Jellyfish and Portuguese Man of War have been spotted along the beaches of New Hanover County and surrounding area beaches already this season and the little floating creatures can pack a punch. Often times beachgoers will spot them washed up on shore and other times they can be spotted in the water, but it is best to avoid them when you can. “While all jellyfish sting, not all contain poison that hurts humans. Be careful of jellies that wash up on shore, as some can still sting if tentacles are wet. NOAA recommends that if you are stung by a jellyfish to first seek a lifeguard to give first aid. If no lifeguards are present, wash the wound with vinegar or rubbing alcohol,” NOAA suggests. And what about that … other method of treating stings? Turns out, it’s a myth. In fact, urine can actually aggravate the stinging cells of jellyfish, making things worse. These cells, which detach and stick into the skin of prey, can continue to inject venom. Urine, as well as fresh water, can cause an imbalance to the salt solution surrounding the stinging cells, causing them to continue to fire. According to Scientific American, if you don’t have vinegar or rubbing alcohol, rinsing with salt water may be your best bet.
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Jellyfish Guide * Lou’s Views (lousviews.com)

Why are there no lifeguards in Brunswick County?
Brunswick County saw its first drowning death of the year last week. Allen Whitley, a father from Mount Gilead died saving his 11-year-old daughter and another child stuck in a rip current in Holden Beach. The tragic accident has renewed a call to add protections to area beaches. “There’s no lifeguards here, it’s just…. there’s no flags that warn you how rough the water is, there’s nothing. All you can do is call 911 and pray,” said mother Charity Dalton. Dalton’s son, Thomas, was one of the children Whitley rescued from the rip current last week. She was one of three adults that jumped in the water to save the children as the current pulled them further from the shore. None of the beach towns in Brunswick County have lifeguards. Horry County beaches have them to the south, and New Hanover County beaches have them to the north, but Brunswick County towns have decided to go in another direction with their beach safety programs. There have been talks of adding lifeguards to the strand in the past. The last big discussion happened in 2013 in the Brunswick Beach Consortium, a group made up of representatives from each town. The proposal came up after a spike in drownings. One person in favor of adding lifeguards was the mayor of Sunset Beach at the time, Rich Cerrato. Representatives from Wrightsville Beach came down to give a presentation about their lifeguard program, but at the end of the day, the idea never went anywhere. “I was hoping that it would foster further study to see whether lifeguards should be implemented in Sunset Beach and in Brunswick County, but it never caught on fire. It was apparently — it just evaporated, but the concern is still there,” said Cerrato. “I think they have a responsibility to study the issue. Just to study it and come up with the information so people can be informed.” No study or formal investigation into adding lifeguards was ever commissioned by the group. Cerrato believes a combination of price concerns and liability concerns had a lot to do with why no changes were ever made. Meeting minutes from 2013 reveal the discussion was tabled until they got more information from legislators about a bill that could have put a liability cap on municipalities. The Brunswick Beach Consortium split in 2015. If you ask each town, though, the exact obstacles to adding lifeguards vary.

Holden Beach
Beach Patrol: In the past, code enforcement has patrolled beaches
Water rescue: Town contracts with Tri- Beach Fire to provide water rescue services
Flag System: No
Signage: Yes
Flotation Devices: No

There’s no guarantee that having lifeguards would have saved the life of victims like Allen Whitley, but the people who were there that day can only hope for more protections in the future. “For the next family, it’s something they need,” added Dalton. At this time, none of the municipalities I spoke with for this story are aware of any discussions about adding lifeguards to the strand.
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Previously reported –
No lifeguards on duty in Brunswick
Beach towns say policy remains ‘Swim at your own risk’
North Carolina’s tourist season is off to a tragic start. So far, at least eight people have drowned along the state’s coast, which ties the number of surf zone drowning deaths reported statewide in 2018. According to the National Weather Service, at least six of the deaths this year were caused by rip currents, while another one was attributed to high surf. With the official start of summer still weeks away, many more visitors will make their way to the ocean in search of fun. But many aren’t aware of the danger and end up in distress. On Memorial Day weekend, lifeguards pulled 31 swimmers from rip currents along New Hanover County’s beaches. But what happens when there’s no lifeguard on duty? At Brunswick County’s beaches, that’s the case every day. None of the county’s six beach towns employ lifeguards. Pender County’s beaches also don’t have lifeguards, while all of New Hanover County’s beach towns employ them. According to Caswell Beach Town Administrator Chad Hicks, several of the Brunswick beach towns came together four years ago and considered employing lifeguards. He noted the move came at the urging of Rich Cerrato, who at the time served as Sunset Beach’s mayor. Hicks recalled that as the towns examined the figures, all deemed it would be too costly. “We’ve got such a tiny budget,” he said of Caswell Beach. “I don’t remember the exact figures, but it was more than we took in for accommodations tax.” One reason for the high cost is the amount of ground to cover. Brunswick County has more than 50 miles of coastline. While that land is divided between the six beach towns — Bald Head Island, Caswell Beach, Oak Island, Holden Beach, Ocean Isle Beach and Sunset Beach — some would be responsible for stationing lifeguards along 10 miles of beaches.

Some safety steps
Though they don’t have lifeguards, beach town officials say they do have some water safety programs in place. Sunset Beach Town Administrator Hiram Marziano said the town has a beach patrol offered through the fire department. “We do have a beach patrol that monitors safety, but they aren’t responsible for life safety,” Marziano said. “They help out if they can and if they are trained.” He said the town’s fire chief had recently developed a program to station life rings at all the town’s beach accesses. “That way, if someone’s in trouble, they can throw that out to assist them until help arrives,” Marziano said. In Caswell Beach, the police department patrols the beach several times throughout the day. Hicks said all police officers and some public works employees carry flotation boards that can be thrown to assist distressed swimmers. The town also posts rip current warnings on an electronic message board near the police station. “That sign has come in handy, and it has helped a lot,” Hicks said. In addition, Caswell Beach is served by the Southport Fire Department, which has a water rescue division. Hicks recalled that recently the department used its boat to assist kayakers trapped in the marsh.

‘Swim at your own risk’
Oak Island, Ocean Isle Beach and Sunset Beach also have water rescue programs. In Sunset Beach and Ocean Isle Beach, the programs are coordinated through the fire department, and in Oak Island it is a nonprofit, volunteer organization with about 20 members. According to Holden Beach Town Manager David Hewett, the town doesn’t have a formal beach patrol or water rescue program, but it does post signs warning beachgoers about rip currents at the beach accesses. Aside from these efforts, officials at all beach towns say when it comes to safety, it’s the responsibility of the swimmer. “Our formal policy is swim at your risk,” Hewett said.
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Carolina Beach and Holden Beach exceeded EPA standards last year
In 1972, the Clean Water Act set a nationwide goal of making all waterways safe for swimming. But thanks to runoff pollution and sewage overflows, beaches in North Carolina are still falling short of that target.
Last summer, Environment North Carolina Research and Policy Center commenced its annual analysis of bacteria testing. Each week, beaches and rivers across the state were tested for E. coli, a bacteria found in human and animal feces. The results were then compared to recreational water quality standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Based on the bacteria levels, researchers in this year’s Safe for Swimming report found that 87 beaches were considered potentially unsafe for swimming at least one day in 2020. Seven beaches were considered potentially unsafe at least a quarter of the days tested, including Carolina Beach and Holden Beach. Other North Carolina beaches found potentially unsafe for swimming at least once in 2020 were Pamlico River at Havens Gardens Park, Pamlico River at the railroad trestle in Beaufort County, Beach by Vandemere Creek, Jockey’s Ridge Beach, Beach at Pantego Creek, Beach at Union Point, Hancock Creek and Lennoxville Boat Ramp in Beaufort. Environment NC added that swimmers could also be at risk at additional beaches where no bacterial testing was conducted or available.

According to the EPA’s website, the agency “recommends E. coli as the best indicator of health risk from water contact in recreational waters.”

“When people come into contact with water during recreational activities like fishing, swimming, wading, with waters of high levels of E. coli fecal contamination — it’s a public health issue.” Jill Howell

 Jill Howell is the Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper with Sound Rivers, a nonprofit that monitors river watersheds. And she explains that exposure to fecal bacteria doesn’t just sound gross, but can result in gastrointestinal illness, respiratory disease, ear and eye infections, and skin rashes.

 So, the million-dollar question: why is there poop in the water?

“We see this contamination coming from sources like leaking septic systems and properly functioning wastewater treatment plants, stormwater runoff, and industrial animal agriculture operations,” says Howell. The Safe for Swimming report lists a few key ways to avoid further contamination at beaches: reduce urban runoff pollution, reduce sewage pollution, and reduce manure pollution. But researchers note that the issue is preventable. And thanks to ever-evolving technology, there are now countless stormwater runoff prevention possibilities. Permeable pavement is just one example. Meanwhile, this year the state Department of Transportation is undergoing a major stormwater design manual update, which will focus on implementing sustainable solutions for reducing runoff statewide. Manure pollution could be a more significant hurdle. According to environmental nonprofits — who protested the state’s now-official Farm Act of 2021 — pollution from industrial hog operations continues to pollute waterways and the air. Environmental NC also recommends more education and outreach — including the use of the EPA’s most protective “Beach Action Value” bacteria standard for posting beach advisories and implementing systems for same-day water testing and warnings. And, of course — more water testing requires funding. If you’re concerned about the water quality at the beach near you, you can check out theswimguide.org to see bacteria levels at specific beaches — and possibly prevent your daycation from turning into a total crapshoot. Read the full 2021 report here.
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Holden Beach lays down beach rules
As a reminder for locals and visitors, here are Holden Beach’s rules for being on the strand.

According to town rules, walking over the dunes is prohibited. Public walkways are marked with “CAMA” signs; others are private.

Emergency and official town staff vehicles are the only ones allowed on the beach.

There are no lifeguards when swimming, and the rules remind readers riptides can kill. Check with town hall at (910) 842-6488 to see if riptides are present. If caught in one, swim parallel to the shore until free of the current.

There is dangerous under-water debris at the east end of McCray Street; call town hall if dangerous debris is noticed.

Jet Skis cannot be operated outside of 500 feet from the shoreline and also cannot be ridden on the beach. They will be monitored.

Alcohol is not allowed on the beach or public areas.

Do not litter; trash cans are placed along the beach.

Pets are not allowed on the beach between May 20 and Sept. 10 except between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. and must be kept on a leash at all times.

Surfboards will not be carried, pushed, wheeled, ridden or otherwise on the beach or adjacent waters within 500 feet of any fi shing pear on town limits.

Do not dig in the beach deeper than 12 inches or leave it unattended. It will also have to be filled in prior to leaving.

The town has island-wide ordinances stating no parking on Ocean Boulevard to McCray Street except at the northern end of McCray. The largest parking lot, along with public restrooms, is under the bridge. An unloading and pedestrian drop-off area is near Capt. Pete’s Apartments. Parking is available along Brunswick Avenue. Do not block driveways or fire hydrants. Rollerblades, bicycles, and pedestrians need to share the sidewalk.

Rollerblades are not permitted on Ocean Boulevard.

Fireworks, except sparklers, are not allowed and will be confiscated by Holden Beach police.

Shark bite to child reported Sunday in Ocean Isle Beach
Around 11 a.m. Sunday, a call came in that a shark bit a 7-year-old girl in shallow water at Ocean Isle Beach. The incident was reported near the Concord Street beach access. Ocean Isle Beach Mayor Debbie Smith said it was believed to be a small shark bite and the girl may have had a few stitches for what are reported to have been minor injuries after she was taken to the hospital by emergency responders. “It probably mistook her little leg for food,” Smith said, adding sharks aren’t known to attack humans. She said there have been no other sightings since that day, though beach patrol alerted people in the area and monitored the water for shark sightings, according to a Facebook post. She said, “And there were a lot of people on the beach and a lot of people in the water.” Smith said shark bites are very uncommon and she believes the last one may have been four or five years ao. In June 2019, 19-year-old surfer Austin Reed of Ocean Isle Beach was taken to the hospital after he was apparently bitten by a shark near the Beaufort Street beach access. Reed’s brothers, Gavin, and Ethan said he was seated and paddling on his surfboard with a friend about 50 feet offshore when he felt something bite his foot. Austin Reed returned to shore with fellow surfer Tyler Hucks where his mom, Kimberly Reed, a registered nurse, wrapped his foot tightly in a towel as emergency personnel were summoned. Gavin Reed said his brother was bleeding but overall seemed “nonchalant” as he stated he had just been bitten by a shark. A family member said there were gashes on either side of Austin’s right foot. Smith said if anyone sees sharks in the water, to play it safe and get out of their way. “That’s their natural habitat,” she said. But they aren’t predators to humans — sometimes they just get mistaken,she said.
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Massive great white shark spotted off NC coast
A nearly 1,000-pound great white shark was hanging out along the Eastern Carolina coast Monday morning. According to Ocearch, “Ironbound” measures at about 12 feet 4 inches long and weighs 998 lbs. A tracker pinged the shark known as “Ironbound” out past the Outer Banks, in the vicinity of Hatteras Canyon. If you swim in the ocean, experts recommend swimming with a buddy and staying close to shore. It’s best not to go in the water at dawn or dusk. Experts also say you avoid swimming if you see fish or seals around.
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How to stay safe from shark attacks this summer
As you hit the beach this Fourth of July weekend, remember to be mindful of sharks. Just this week, shark attacks were reported in North Carolina, Southern California and Northern California. There were 33 unprovoked shark attacks on humans in the United States last year, including three which were fatal, according to the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida. The fatalities took place in California, Hawaii, and Maine. The majority of the unprovoked attacks — 16 — occurred in Florida. Here are some tips for how to stay safe, according to former Green Beret and survival expert Terry Schappert.

Stay calm
If you see a shark, don’t thrash or scream, Schappert told ABC News in 2015. Just turn around, get out of the water, and tell everyone else to get out, he said. Sharks pick up vibrations and smells, but they can’t see you most of the time, Schappert said. “The more you flail around … [the sharks] are very attracted to that,” he added.

Have a plan
Every beachgoer should have an evacuation plan, which includes knowing where the closest hospital is, Schappert said. “Just think in your head, what would happen … if someone you love just got bit? What now?” he said. “Don’t be paranoid but have a procedure. Think about how you’d get out of the water, then think about … the chain of what would happen next.” “Try not to freak out,” Schappert added. “But know it’s a possibility.”

Know first-aid
Most shark bites are on the limbs, according to Schappert, and when a shark’s mouth hits a swimmer’s arm or leg, “it’s bound to sever an artery.” “Shark bites are not smooth — they’re jagged — which makes the wound worse,” he said. And the more jagged the wound, the more it will bleed, so it’s important to know first-aid. “The best thing you can do for that person is to stop the bleeding,” Schappert said, which, if the victim is bit on a limb, means applying a tourniquet.

Schappert took ABC News’ chief national correspondent Matt Gutman swimming in waters teeming with sharks near the Bahamas in 2014. To properly learn how to fend off sharks, Gutman pulled on 15 pounds of chain mail armor, and then put clothes on top to simulate people finding themselves in such waters after a plane or a boat crash. Gutman and Schappert then did what experts say not to do: flapping around in waters where sharks were feeding. While they were in the water, Schappert’s advice to Gutman was to:

Slow down your movements
Fast movements give off the signal of prey, he said. Also conserving energy is key to survival in the above scenario.

Team up
If there are two people in the water, Schappert recommended treading water back-to-back to limit the spheres of control by half, to 180 degrees each.

Fight back
If the sharks begin attacking, fight them off, Schappert said. He recommended striking the sharks using quick, downward punching motions. “All you can do is fight and let them know, ‘I am not going down easy,’” Schappert told Gutman.
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Sharks of North Carolina
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Shark Attack
The chances of being attacked by a shark are exceedingly small compared to other animal attacks, natural disasters, and ocean-side dangers. Many more people drown in the ocean every year than are bitten by sharks. The few attacks that occur every year are an excellent indication that sharks do not feed on humans and that most attacks are simply due to mistaken identity.

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

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

Brunswick County Connections Stronger To New Hanover For MSA
In recent findings submitted to the Census Bureau, area officials say Brunswick County has a stronger worker connection to New Hanover County than South Carolina, a fact they say lends support for Brunswick’s return to the Wilmington MSA. Leaders with Business Alliance for a Sound Economy (BASE) and those from UNCW sent letters last week to the federal agency to add input to the rulemaking process that will help guide the new MSA designations. The Wilmington Chamber of Commerce and Cape Fear Collective were also partners in the effort. BASE and its partners have been focused on the 2020 Census and the MSA designations since Brunswick County was removed from the Wilmington Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) and placed into an MSA with Myrtle Beach in 2013, pushing for Brunswick’s return. With the local 2020 Census data anticipated to be released soon, federal officials will start looking at the information and other rules to draw metropolitan lines. Local officials submitted data and their insight as part of the Census Bureau’s public comment period on the proposed rules, which concluded May 20. “In addition to the natural growth, commuting patterns are one of the ways that urban areas are being defined in the 2020 Census,” said Tyler Newman, president and CEO of BASE, in an email Monday. “Thanks to UNCW and Cape Fear Collective, we were able to analyze commuting pattern data and show the strong tie between Brunswick County and Wilmington. Of Brunswick County’s workforce, 27% commute to New Hanover County daily versus 3% to Horry. Between the natural growth of eastern Brunswick County and the strong commuting pattern tie (compared to Myrtle Beach), we feel like it is pretty clear that Brunswick County should be returned to Wilmington when the urban areas are drawn and MSA delineations are set,” Newman said. Since the urban area criteria standards were released, BASE has been working with the University of North Carolina Wilmington and local nonprofit Cape Fear Collective to analyze the rules that guide the designations and model how the area’s population growth may be impacted by the proposed rules, Newman wrote in his letter to the Census Bureau last week. In their findings, the organizations point to housing density and commuting patterns as two areas that could support Brunswick County’s swing back into the Wilmington MSA. Household and employment data shows the flow of Brunswick County residents between Brunswick and New Hanover counties for work, Newman said in his letter. A model produced by Cape Fear Collective (shown above) and sent to the Census Bureau indicates: 42.1% of Brunswick residents work in Brunswick County; 26.8% of Brunswick residents work in New Hanover County; 3% of Brunswick residents work in Horry County; 27.3% of Brunswick residents work in a North Carolina county other than New Hanover or Brunswick counties; and 0.9% of Brunswick residents work in a South Carolina county other than Horry, according to Newman’s letter. The organizations are also making a recommendation to support adding a rulemaking addition to include ferries, such as the state-funded Southport/Fort-Fisher ferry route, as a commuting connection. “We feel very strongly that Brunswick County is in the Wilmington MSA and the growth, commuting patterns prove it. Enhancing the ‘noncontiguous territory separated by exempted territory’ (commuting pattern) provisions to account for water-borne commuters would further refine and enhance the final output and better reflect the situation on the ground,” Newman said in his letter. “As we saw last time, once the MSA delineations are set, it can be many years before an opportunity arises to fix it and make it right,” he continued. In addition to the information sent to the Census Bureau from BASE, UNCW also submitted a letter in an email last week. Mark Lanier, assistant to UNCW Chancellor Jose Sartarelli, and assistant secretary to the UNCW Board of Trustees, noted that there are connections to the university, as well. “In March of 2020, there were 2,734 UNCW alumni residing in Brunswick County. In addition, in a typical semester, there are over 450 current UNCW students residing in Brunswick County. UNCW and Brunswick Community College (BCC) have a strong partnership, with 30 to 35 additional transfer students per semester from BCC enrolling at UNCW to complete their four-year degree. “As part of the worker flow data, there are approximately 125 permanent or temporary UNCW employees residing in Brunswick County. Moreover, these numbers are increasing as the northern and eastern sections of Brunswick County grow and provide more affordable housing. All of these numbers are in addition to the Brunswick County residents who come to UNCW for cultural events, athletic events, continuing adult education, various professional services, and more,” Lanier said in his letter. He also noted that population estimates indicate northern Brunswick County growing more quickly than the southern portion of the county. The university, he said, is in support of Brunswick County returning to the Wilmington MSA. Lanier also noted the university’s support in the proposed rules for increased emphasis on worker flow data, the ferry system being included in commuting patterns and housing density, as well as “proper consideration of connections between state institutions” such as those between Brunswick Community College and UNCW. “In summary, the connections between Brunswick and New Hanover counties are much stronger than Brunswick’s connections to South Carolina. This lends support to methodologies and rules that will return Brunswick County to the Wilmington MSA,” he said.
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Brunswick County In The Know

Brunswick County is one of the fastest growing counties in the entire nation! Our county commissioners have offered to do an educational meet and greet. Brunswick Commissioners Frank Williams and Mike Forte have offered their time to address an audience on general (non-political) topics such as county organization and structure, what the commissioners do, and most importantly what activities are going on now to ensure Brunswick County is ready for the expansion and growth coming our way.

Informational “Meet and Greets” will be offered on the 3rd Thursday of the month from 6:00 pm until 7:30 pm at the Lockwood Folly Country Club, River room on the second floor.

Topics including but not limited to:
. * Disaster Preparedness & Emergency Response
. * Board of Education and Charter School issues
. * Election Integrity
. * Economic Development – Brunswick Vision 2040

Mark your calendar for 3rd Thursday’s!
Be informed!
Get answers to frequently asked questions!
Make your concerns heard!
They are our elected officials…they work for US!

For more information e-mail: info@BrunscoInTheKnow.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/brunscointheknow/permalink/143030657846824/

Factoid That May Interest Only Me –

Vacation Home Sales Skyrocket as a Result of Pandemic
Key Highlights

    • In 2020, vacation home sales rose 16.4%, outpacing the growth in total existing-home sales of 5.6%.
    • In 2020, the median existing-home sales price typically rose by 14.2% in vacation home counties, compared to 10.1% in non-vacation home counties.
    • In 2020, the top 10 vacation home counties were in the states of Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, and North Carolina.
      For more information » click here

The National Association of Realtors’ 2021 Vacation Home Counties report provides the data to prove what’s been anecdotally evident for months: 2020 was the year of the vacation home.

Island Homes Sold – 2021 * Lou’s Views (lousviews.com)

Island Land Sold – 2021 * Lou’s Views (lousviews.com)

How NC’s wind energy plans could be thwarted by Brunswick County
Brunswick County beach towns that thrive on tourism are banding together to oppose the installation of wind turbines off their shores. In the last few months Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach, Caswell Beach, and the Village of Bald Head Island have all passed resolutions taking issue with wind turbines that could be seen from their beaches, asking for them to be positioned at least 24 nautical miles away.
Oak Island Mayor Ken Thomas said the town will be working on a similar ordinance soon. “I’m not against wind energy, or solar or any other kind of energy, but it doesn’t need to be stuck in your face,” Thomas said. “You didn’t buy a vacation home at the beach to look at a wind turbine. They need to be off in the ocean where we don’t see them.” While each of the resolutions cited the effect the turbines would have on tourism and were not opposed to wind energy,  if the turbines are forced to be at least 24 nautical miles off the coast, it could effectively shut down the prospects for new offshore wind energy in North Carolina. Last month, Governor Roy Cooper signed an executive order aimed at accelerating wind energy production off the North Carolina coast before a federal moratorium prohibiting offshore leasing for energy production takes effect in July 2022. The order sets a goal for the state to develop 2.8 gigawatts of offshore wind energy resources by 2030 and 8 gigawatts by 2040. In order for the state to get more offshore leases in place before the moratorium takes effect, a bi-partisan group of N.C. lawmakers wrote a letter to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management urging the federal agency to “expeditiously” begin leasing existing wind energy areas. “We respectfully urge the BOEM to take swift action to hold lease sales for two of our existing WEAs – Wilmington East and Wilmington West – so that lease agreements can be executed in advance of the July 1 deadline,” the letter read. The Wilmington West wind energy area consists of about 51,595 acres starting around 11.5 nautical miles from shore, while the Wilmington East area starts 15.5 miles from shore and is about 133,590 acres. In order to get leases for wind energy production to take effect before the moratorium, the state would likely have to use the two designated wind energy area off the coast of Brunswick County, only a small sliver of which is outside of 24 nautical miles. Next week the Bureau of Energy Management will meet with stakeholders to discuss their approach for possible leasing in the area. The agency has granted other jurisdictions, like the state of Virginia, a 24 nautical mile buffer from the shore. “I think we need to go on record as having concerns,” Ocean Isle Beach Mayor Debbie Smith said at their meeting passing the wind turbine resolution. “And we need to follow up and keep that pressure if it has any meaning whatsoever.” 
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Road Rage, ‘Zipper Merging’ and a Stress-Free Path Through Traffic
Experts love the zipper merge, but drivers are just as likely to see it as others rudely cutting their turn in line.
You’re approaching a construction zone and a sign tells you the left lane will end several miles ahead. Traffic is heavy, but you see an opening and move to the right lane. As you inch along, drivers to your left keep zipping by. Miles ahead, you finally reach the merge point, and the left-lane drivers make their move. Your pulse quickens. You pull up tight on the car in front of you and refuse to let anyone in. Are you in the right, or are you fortunate that nothing escalated? In light traffic, the merge is easy. But moving over early when an opening first appears fails in moderate to heavy traffic, where greater efficiency can be achieved by using both lanes as long as possible. Simple, right? Not at all. Traffic experts largely agree that the best way to combine two busy lanes is a technique called the zipper merge. Drivers use both lanes until just before one ends, then merge like the teeth of a zipper coming together: one from this side, one from that side, hopefully with minimal slowdown. When this expert-approved pattern is put to the test on highways, the outcomes are decidedly mixed. More states, however, are encouraging zipper merging and educating drivers — or even making it the law. Driving is a complex task requiring focus. When things along the way — traffic lights, road conditions, weather — work to our advantage, all is well. When they get in our way, stress is the likely result. And when another driver is the source of that stress, it can turn to rage. We call it road rage, and it’s a serious problem, leading to accidents and even violence. It can spring from something simple like someone’s tailgating us, braking too hard, honking, flashing lights to pass or neglecting to use a turn signal. But few things on the road seem as enraging as the merging described above. Merging difficulties account for over half of major auto-related causes of stress, according to research by the Texas Transportation Institute. I posted a description of the zipper merge in a Facebook auto enthusiast group, along with a video illustrating the technique and asked for public comments. Many said they would move into the through lane as soon as possible and were angered when others sped along until the last moment. Some vowed that they would run off the road anyone who took this route. One respondent said the best argument against the zipper merge in the United States was that too many dangerous fools carried pistols and were willing to use them. Traffic experts are enthusiastic about zipper merging, and they have statistics to back it up. The Minnesota Department of Transportation cites four benefits: It reduces differences in speeds between the two lanes, shortens traffic backups by as much as 40 percent, eases congestion at interchanges and creates a sense that lanes are moving more equitably. The Texas Transportation Institute found that a zipper merge strategy delayed the onset of congestion at the merge point by about 14 minutes and cut the maximum line of cars by 1,800 feet. Some states have made zippering the law. In 2020, Illinois mandated that its Rules of the Road handbook include the zipper merge. Violators who impede others from merging are subject to a fine. “The law specifically states that each driver shall reduce speed and/or position to allow a person to actually merge,” said Sgt. Delila Garcia of the Illinois State Police. The North Carolina House passed a bill that would mandate the zipper merge when lanes merged into one. The bill, which has yet to pass the Senate, would also require that driver’s license and driver education handbooks include the zipper merge. Representative Brian Turner, a Democrat, sponsored the bill. He commutes more than 200 miles from Asheville to Raleigh every week and spends a lot of time on North Carolina highways. “Anybody who travels any great distance to get to Raleigh knows that the most frustrating thing on the road is someone going slow in the left lane,” Mr. Turner told a House committee, as quoted in The Citizen-Times of Asheville. “The second most frustrating thing is when we merge from two lanes into one and everyone backs up in one lane.” If the bill becomes law, it may be difficult to enforce. But even without penalties, it might at least encourage drivers to employ the zipper merge. For all these efforts, the behavior is still considered rude by many. They feel that drivers who continue in the closing lane are cutting in front of them, and many angrily refuse to make room, shaking a fist or even brandishing a weapon. There is potential for worse. According to the American Psychological Association, 30 killings annually are linked to road rage. Road signs asking motorists to use both lanes to the merge point can help guide drivers to better behavior. The Colorado Department of Transportation found that drivers merged correctly before construction sites only when a number of informational signs were put up both well before the work area and at the merge point. One read, “Use Both Lanes to Merge Point.” Other states have begun to add signs as well. Lance Aldrich, a Michigan writer who has railed against those who refuse to get in line early, said: “Americans are fiercely protective of their property rights. They see someone who slides in at the last moment as a trespasser trying to steal something that is rightfully theirs. Perhaps if the zipper method were taught from a very early age and shown to be for the common good it might work. But otherwise don’t even think about squeezing in ahead of me.”
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A Second Helping
Program to collect food Saturday mornings (7:00am to 12:00pm) during the summer at the Beach Mart on the Causeway.


1) Seventeenth year of the program
. 2) Food collections have now exceeded 273,000 pounds
. 3)
Collections will begin on May 29th and run through September 18th
. 4) Food is distributed to the needy in Brunswick County
For more information » click here

Hunger exists everywhere in this country; join them in the fight to help end hunger in Brunswick County. Cash donations are gratefully accepted. One hundred percent (100%) of these cash donations are used to buy more food. You can be assured that the money will be very well spent.

Mail Donations to:
A Second Helping % Douglas Cottrell
2939 Alan Trail
Supply, NC 28462


A Second Helping collects leftover items from vacationers leaving Brunswick County beaches
Have you ever reached the end of your vacation and realized that you have a lot of extra food or non-food items like soaps, paper plates, or paper towels? Several beaches in Brunswick County have volunteer organizations called A Second Helping that collects those items and donates them back to the community. “We’ve got all these tourists that come in town — why not leave your food with us on your way back home,” said Rebecca Powell, co-founder of A Second Helping OIB. “It’s a way to pay it forward in the community.” A Second Helping in Ocean Isle Beach has grown from a very small group of people to now around 50 volunteers and three different drop stations. Doug Cottrell, who organizes A Second Helping in Holden Beach, said they have also seen growth since it was founded by Bill Spier back in 2005. “It’s grown from an idea to an average of a thousand, 12-hundred pounds each Saturday morning,” he said. “The idea that Mr. Spier had in the beginning was that people would leave when the houses turn on Saturdays and didn’t have anything to do with their leftovers.” He says about two-thirds of what they collect is food. “We get tremendous amount of condiments, hot dogs, hamburgers, lots of wonderful produce—it’s amazing how much products we get,” Cottrell said. “It’s a little bit of everything that you’d buy to have in your refrigerator when you’re on vacation.” The other third are items like soaps, Ziplock bags, or aluminum foil. The volunteer organization at Holden Beach has a close relationship with the rental companies in the area. One house in particular has been known for its donations after visitors spend a long week at the beach. “We have a house that’s 15 bedrooms and sometimes they’ll show up here with an SUV and truck full of stuff and then have to go home and pack up to leave and we’ll get over 100 pounds out of one house of people on vacation,” Cottrell said. A Second Helping in Holden Beach donates its food items to Loaves and Fishes pantry of Brunswick Islands Baptist Church. It’s non-food items go to the Brunswick Christian Recovery Center. A Second Helping OIB donates what it collects to Brunswick Family Assistance. “We are very blessed to live on an island but at the same time there’s other parts of this pocket of the county that are not so fortunate, and we need to remember them,” Powell said. “I don’t think anyone should go to bed hungry at night.” “Not too far off the beach there’s a considerable amount of poverty and people in need and a pantry to support that,” Cottrell said. “What we gather we take to the pantry and then they have a two-day a week open facility for people to go in a receive what we donate.” There is A Second Helping organization in Holden, Ocean Isle and Sunset Beaches. Saturday kicked off the season for each location, and they will collect goods every Saturday morning through Labor Day weekend. Click here for more information on drop-off sites for each location.
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Hot Button Issues

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

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

U.S. has entered unprecedented climate territory, EPA warns
The Trump administration delayed the report, which cites urban heat waves and permafrost loss as signs of global warming, for three years

For years, President Donald Trump and his deputies played down the impact of greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels and delayed the release of an Environmental Protection Agency report detailing climate-related damage. But on Wednesday, the EPA released a detailed and disturbing account of the startling changes that Earth’s warming had on parts of the United States during Trump’s presidency. The destruction of year-round permafrost in Alaska, loss of winter ice on the Great Lakes and spike in summer heat waves in U.S. cities all signal that climate change is intensifying, the EPA said in its report. The assessment, which languished under the Trump administration for three years, marks the first time the agency has said such changes are being driven at least in part by human-caused global warming. As it launched an updated webpage to inform the public on how climate change is upending communities throughout the country, the Biden administration gave the agency’s imprimatur to a growing body of evidence that climate effects are happening faster and becoming more extreme than when EPA last published its “Climate Indicators” data in 2016.
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Development Fees
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Draft System Development Fees Report
Calculation of Water and Sewer System Development Fees for FY2022
Prepared by Raftelis in accordance with HB 436.


Flood Insurance Program
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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.

Coastal Connection: Risk Rating 2.0 will change the entire flood industry
When FEMA announced the transformation of the National Flood Insurance Program with updated and modernized rating dubbed Risk Rating 2.0, questions and concerns were raised from various industries such as insurance agents and real estate professionals. As FEMA begins to release details around Risk Rating 2.0, it’s clear that the National Flood Insurance Program transformation will not just impact insurance rating, it will impact the entire flood industry. From private flood insurance companies to floodplain managers, each stakeholder will be influenced by Risk Rating 2.0’s implementation. FEMA has branded Risk Rating 2.0 as Equity in Action since the coming changes will make the National Flood Insurance Program rates more fair and easier to understand. Equity in Action replaces the current binary “in versus out” of a high-risk flood zone pricing methodology. Rather, it uses “graduated” rating, which is a pricing methodology based on factors such as distance to water, types of flood exposure, and other advanced elements. Equity in Action will also bring more equity to National Flood Insurance Program policyholders by basing rates off of the building’s replacement cost.  The higher the building’s replacement cost, the more expensive the premium, and vice versa. In April, FEMA issued a press release on Equity in Action and state fact sheets showing projected rate changes:   

    • 11% of NFIP policyholders will see a premium increase of over $120 per year.
    • 63% of policyholders will see premium increases of $0 to $100 a year.
    • 23% of NFIP policyholders will see a premium decrease.    

The changes in the new National Flood Insurance Program rating methodology will have impacts throughout the entire insurance industry. For example, once Equity in Action takes effect, private flood insurers may find expanded or changed opportunities to sell policies that will close the insurance gap. Overall, what FEMA will accomplish in the transformation is making the National Flood Insurance Program part of a rapidly evolving and competitive flood insurance environment where insureds ask to see a quote from multiple carriers, one of them being the National Flood Insurance Program. Changes under Equity in Action are not limited to the world of insurance. The impacts and benefits of mitigation options, such as the elevation of a home, have been difficult to clearly communicate, and are not always viable. The coming changes to the National Flood Insurance Program bring better solutions and easier communication for mitigation options. Under Equity in Action, premium credits will now be given for the elevation of mechanical equipment, currently not a creditable mitigation activity under the National Flood Insurance Program. The NFIP is changing how home elevation premium reductions are calculated. Currently, premium discounts max out when a building is elevated 4 feet above the base flood elevation. But with Equity in Action, the higher you go, the less the premium will be. Importantly, mitigation credits will apply everywhere, not just for those properties in the high-risk flood zone.  These changes will also enhance the flood resilience of our communities. As the financial benefit of mitigation grows, so will the elevation and mitigation of buildings. Essentially, the mitigation elements of Equity in Action will have a trickledown effect that benefits many other stakeholders. In April of this year, House Financial Services introduced a discussion draft of a National Flood Insurance Program reauthorization and reform bill. The bill, among its other elements, proposes to lower the annual increase cap on National Flood Insurance Program premiums from 18% to 9%. Since FEMA notes that policy premiums will increase up to the maximum statutory cap under Equity in Action, this was a clear reaction from Congress. While there are still legislative issues and priorities to tackle, Equity in Action will address long standing programmatic issues that Congress may no longer need to address in forthcoming flood reform such as using replacement cost when determining rates. In early 2021, a media storm followed the release of information about potential impacts of Risk Rating 2.0.  For the first time, those who never heard of or cared about flood risk began to talk about the topic and Equity in Action will make flood risk easier to communicate. Equally important is to understand that the change that FEMA is planning will impact far more stakeholders than just those that interact with National Flood Insurance Program insurance. Equity in Action modernizes the National Flood Insurance Program in a way that has not been seen in the 53-year history of the program. Whether stakeholders involved appreciate the changes or not, Risk Rating 2.0 will change the landscape of insuring against and communicating flood risk.
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GenX and your health:
What we know 4 years after the toxin was found in Wilmington’s drinking water
Scientists have established that people in the Cape Fear region have extremely high amounts of PFAS in their blood, but little is known about these compounds
For decades, thousands of North Carolinians drank contaminated water from the Cape Fear River. The pollution has been brought under control, but in the aftermath, fear over what the toxins have done to people’s bodies has arisen.  Unknown to most until 2017, Chemours and before them DuPont, two chemical manufacturers, polluted the Cape Fear River with harmful chemicals for more than 30 years. Since the 1980s, dangerously high levels of PFAS, including one called GenX, leaked uncontrollably into the river, which serves as the drinking water source to more than 300,000 people. In 2017, a StarNews investigation identified the Fayetteville Works plant outside Fayetteville as the primary source, but Kemp Burdette, the Cape Fear River riverkeeper, said there are many more PFAS polluters out there. All this pollution has a human cost. For decades, Burdette, his family and hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians drank the water from their facets, unaware of the risk. Now many are left wondering what will happen to them.  “You talk to people in Wilmington and everybody knows somebody that has died of kidney cancer, liver cancer, has thyroid issues or any number of things that are very definitely linked to PFAS,” Burdette said. Scientists are trying to provide answers, but various challenges are creating roadblocks. Scientists in North Carolina have established that the populations in the Cape Fear region have extremely high amounts of PFAS in their blood, but little is known about these compounds and researching them is complex and takes time.  Jane Hoppin and her colleagues at the GenX Exposure Study have been studying PFAS in North Carolina since the crisis began four years ago. The group has taken blood samples from affected residents and is now embarking on a larger five-year study to examine the long-term health effects of exposure to PFAS, which is short for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. In Wilmington, researchers estimate residents ingested approximately 700 parts per trillion of PFAS every day for more than 30 years, said Hoppin, who’s the principal investigator of the project. That exposure is five times the exposure goal set by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. “We still don’t know whether there’s a unique fingerprint to health risks for people who live in Wilmington (and Fayetteville),” said Hoppin, a professor at North Carolina State University. “We may never know because the kinds of things that PFAS are most strongly related to in animal studies aren’t super unique.” Animal testing done on PFAS in general reveals the chemicals can cause liver damage that could lead to cancer or tumors, according to Jamie DeWitt, professor of pharmacology and toxicology at East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine. PFAS exposure can also lead to kidney, testicular and other cancers, according to the National Cancer Institute, however it’s unknown if the types of PFAS North Carolinians were exposed to cause the same illnesses.  “There’s several reasons toxicologists like me are concerned about PFAS,” DeWitt said. “One of the main reasons is that they’re persistent. They last for an indefinite period of time in the environment, which means that living organisms are going to be continually exposed for generations.” 
What more do we know? 
Since 2017, the GenX Exposure Study has collected blood samples from more than 300 people in the Cape Fear region to measure how much of the chemicals have been absorbed into people’s bodies.  The results took researchers by surprise, Hoppin said. The team found numerous types of PFAS in participants’ blood, including legacy PFAS at levels above the 95th percentile compared to the U.S. population.  Studying PFAS is a challenge, partly because there’s no “charismatic tragic illness” felt by the masses to inspire action, Hoppin said. Also, many of the potential health outcomes, such as cancer, can be caused by a multitude of factors, complicating the job of trying to identify how the toxin affects people. Researchers are making some progress, but traditionally scientists study one compound individually, which can be very time and labor intensive, said Carrie McDonough, an assistant professor and environmental chemist at Stony Brook University. “You can imagine when we have thousands of these compounds, we have new ones all the time that are getting discovered. It’s really hard to keep up with these kinds of toxicological studies,” McDonough said.  Scientists have few human population studies to judge the effects of PFAS, according to Alan Ducatman, professor emeritus at West Virginia University. The few population studies out there also might not be relevant to North Carolina because compounds are distinct, meaning outcomes could be different. Ducatman served as principal investigator for the C8 Health Project, a population study convened after DuPont released a PFAS called C8, the precursor to GenX, into the mid-Ohio Valley contaminating the drinking water of more than 80,000 people. After decades of polluting the valley, DuPont paid out hundreds of millions to affected residents and later decided to replace C8 with a new substance called GenX. That new compound was supposed to be safer and would be manufactured by a spinoff business named Chemours outside Fayetteville.
In your blood 
While the bloodwork done by the GenX Exposure Study found new PFAS in North Carolinians’ blood, it’s not getting a complete picture about how many manmade chemicals are in a person’s body, DeWitt said. Researchers only measured the blood, which excludes any buildup in a person’s organs where there could be more.  The chemicals measured in participants’ blood four years ago are likely still there, DeWitt said. Depending on the half-life of the specific compound, it could take years or even a lifetime for the chemical to breakdown and exit the body, and that’s if new exposure ends.  Measurable amounts of GenX, PFOA and PFOS, all PFAS compounds, continue to be found in the Cape Fear River both leaving the Fayetteville Works Plant and entering the drinking water source of Cape Fear Public Utility Authority, according to water sampling done by the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. While the amounts are below state recommended health levels, North Carolinians continue to be exposed to the PFAS chemicals.  “You never are really going to fully get rid of what you have in your body because you have continuous exposure,” DeWitt said. “What little bit gets left behind gets added to by the new amounts that you take into your body.” It’s likely nearly everyone who drank the contaminated water in the Cape Fear region will have detectable levels of PFAS in their bodies, DeWitt said. Detectable levels don’t mean a person will develop cancer or another disease linked to PFAS, it just means that they are at an increased risk. Scientists still have a lot to learn about how PFAS interact in the bloodstream, but from what they know now, it’s clear the chemicals behave differently than other toxins, McDonough said.  Because the chemicals behave differently and are novel substances there’s a steep learning curve for researchers, McDonough said, but from what scientists already understand the news doesn’t seem encouraging.
What happens from here? 
From what Ducatman observed in West Virginia with C8, it didn’t take long for signs of exposure to start showing up in the community. Scientists could quickly see some of the effects in children.  By adolescence, scientists could measure a noticeable difference in lipids between children exposed to high levels of C8 and those who weren’t, Ducatman said. Researchers also found children who were exposed to C8 had vaccine uptake issues, meaning their bodies didn’t fully absorb immunizations as well as those who weren’t affected by the  manmade compounds. Much of the research on the populations affected by the C8 contamination, including the C8 Science Panel, were carried out as part of the legal settlement between DuPont and the victims of the exposure. Scientists, as part of the C8 Science Panel, would go on to establish probable links between C8 and kidney and testicular cancer, pregnancy induced hypertension, ulcerative colitis and thyroid disease.  No such agreement exists in North Carolina, and thus Hoppin’s team is being supported by grant funding, making it harder to gather as much data as what was achieved in West Virginia.  Nonetheless, the five-year study being conducted by Hoppin and others will build off what was learned in West Virginia, Hoppin said.  The study is currently recruiting participants in the Fayetteville area, but will start looking for Wilmington residents this fall, Hoppin said. Hoppin hopes to have between 1,200-1,400 participants.  Because taxpayers are paying for the study, the examination will focus on health outcomes that will impact people over the course of their lifetimes, Hoppin said. Hoppin added it’s hard for researchers to examine cancer in relation to PFAS in North Carolina because Wilmington’s population has grown so quickly, and the disease generally has a 20-year latency period, meaning it can take up to 20 years for cancer to form as a result of PFAS exposure. “There are a million questions out there that people want to know the answers to, and I think that as researchers we need to focus on the ones that we are skilled to answer,” Hoppin said.
Chemours’ proximity to Cape Fear, Wilmington
Chemours’ Fayetteville Works plant is located along the Cape Fear River approximately 20 miles southeast of Fayetteville and roughly 100 miles upstream from Wilmington.
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    Homeowners Insurance
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    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.
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  • To see a table of proposed homeowners’ rate increases go to: click here
  • Territory 120 / Beach areas in Brunswick County / NCRB proposed increase 25%

Commissioner Causey postpones homeowners’ insurance rate hearing
The hearing scheduled for the insurance industry’s proposed statewide average 24.5% homeowners’ insurance rate increase has been extended six weeks from Sept. 20 to Nov.1. Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey says he needs the additional time to review the documents filed by the North Carolina Rate Bureau. “There is a pervasive lack of documentation, explanation and justification of both the data used, as well as the procedures and methodologies used in the filing,” Commissioner Causey said. “The proposed rates appear to be excessive and unfairly discriminatory, and I want more time to study the data to ensure our consumers are treated fairly. ”The hearing will begin at 10 a.m. in the Second Floor Hearing Room in the Albemarle Building, 325 N. Salisbury St., Raleigh. The hearing will be held unless the N.C. Department of Insurance and the N.C. Rate Bureau are able to negotiate a settlement before that date. The Department of Insurance and the NCRB can settle the proposed rate increase at any time during litigation. The NCRB, which is not a part of the N.C. Department of Insurance, represents insurers that write the state’s homeowners policies. The NCRB also represents automobile and workers’ compensation insurance companies. The NCRB filed the average 24.5% homeowners increase Nov. 9, 2020. The filing covers insurance for residential property, tenants, and condominiums at varying rates around the state. The last NCRB home-owners rate filing was in 2018 that resulted in a settlement of 4%, which took effect May 1, 2020.

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    Hurricane Season

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NOAA predicts another active Atlantic hurricane season
NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is predicting another above-normal Atlantic hurricane season. Forecasters predict a 60% chance of an above-normal season, a 30% chance of a near-normal season, and a 10% chance of a below-normal season. However, experts do not anticipate the historic level of storm activity seen in 2020.

For 2021, a likely range of 13 to 20 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 5 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher) is expected. NOAA provides these ranges with a 70% confidence. The Atlantic hurricane season extends from June 1 through November 30.

“Now is the time for communities along the coastline as well as inland to get prepared for the dangers that hurricanes can bring,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “The experts at NOAA are poised to deliver life-saving early warnings and forecasts to communities, which will also help minimize the economic impacts of storms.”

Last month, NOAA updated the statistics used to determine when hurricane seasons are above-, near-, or below-average relative to the latest climate record. Based on this update an average hurricane season produces 14 named storms, of which 7 become hurricanes, including 3 major hurricanes. [Watch this video summary of the Outlook.]

El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions are currently in the neutral phase, with the possibility of the return of La Nina later in the hurricane season. “ENSO-neutral and La Nina support the conditions associated with the ongoing high-activity era,” said Matthew Rosencrans, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “Predicted warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds, and an enhanced west African monsoon will likely be factors in this year’s overall activity.” Scientists at NOAA also continue to study how climate change is impacting the strength and frequency of tropical cyclones.

Although NOAA scientists don’t expect this season to be as busy as last year, it only takes one storm to devastate a community,” said Ben Friedman, acting NOAA administrator. “The forecasters at the National Hurricane Center are well-prepared with significant upgrades to our computer models, emerging observation techniques, and the expertise to deliver the life-saving forecasts that we all depend on during this, and every, hurricane season.”

In an effort to continuously enhance hurricane forecasting, NOAA made several updates to products and services that will improve hurricane forecasting during the 2021 season.

Last year’s record-breaking season serves as a reminder to all residents in coastal regions or areas prone to inland flooding from rainfall to be prepared for the 2021 hurricane season.

“With hurricane season starting on June 1, now is the time to get ready and advance disaster resilience in our communities,” said FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell. “Visit Ready.gov and Listo.gov to learn and take the steps to prepare yourself and others in your household. Download the FEMA app to sign-up for a variety of alerts and to access preparedness information. Purchase flood insurance to protect your greatest asset, your home. And, please encourage your neighbors, friends and coworkers to also get ready for the upcoming season.”

NOAA also issued seasonal hurricane outlooks for the Eastern and Central Pacific basins, and will provide an update to the Atlantic outlook in early August, just prior to the peak of the season.

Visit FEMA’s Ready.gov to be prepared for the start of hurricane season and the National Hurricane Center’s website at hurricanes.gov throughout the season to stay current on watches and warnings.
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Lockwood Folly Inlet
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Lockwood Folly Inlet reaches danger point
Brunswick County, Oak Island and Holden Beach have made significant financial commitments in their draft 2022 budgets for maintenance dredging of the badly shoaled Lockwood Folly Inlet. The hope is that other regulatory agencies will solve the immediate issue and regularly schedule the work to avoid potentially hazardous situations like the one on the water today. “We’re in an emergency” said Cane Faircloth, president of the Lockwood Folly Association. Faircloth, a charter captain, said he could not safely transit the inlet in his boat that draws three feet of water. Last week, the U.S. Coast Guard issued an “urgent bulletin” to mariners, warning the inlet was as shallow as two feet at mean low tide. The Coast Guard also removed remaining navigational buoys, stating that they no longer offered realistic assistance to boaters. Brennan Dooley of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers told the Brunswick Shoreline Protection group last Wednesday that the situation “does not look very good,” with the throat of the inlet badly shoaled, according to a survey last week. “It’s a tough situation as you all know,” he said. “We don’t have a definitive plan yet.” The use of a hopper dredge in 2019 opened the channel and added sand to Oak Island’s west beach. Hopper dredges have claws that reach downward to scoop the sand. They cannot operate in extremely shallow waters, even if a dredge is available. The Corps relies on the Merritt, a sidecast dredge that works more like a lawn mower, pulling sand through a pipe and blasting the sand/water mix to the side. This clears the channel but does not move sediments out of the dynamic inlet system that can quickly shoal. Faircloth said his fear was that if shoaling continued unabated, the Corps may not be able to employ the sidecast dredge Merritt to clear even a marginal channel. Commercial anglers, crabbers, shrimp boats, charter fishermen and recreational boaters all depend on the Lockwood Folly inlet for ready access to the ocean and Long Bay. Dooley said it would be at least 30 days before he expected the Merritt to be here. Members of the group, an intergovernmental ad hoc committee, asked the Corps for an estimate on the costs for annual dredging, which can happen once or twice a year, depending on conditions, budgets and the availability of dredges. Dooley said it would be 2022 before any hopper dredge would be available for Lockwood Folly, which spans the gap between Holden Beach and Oak Island. Dooley said the next available sand from Lockwood Folly, including an inlet widening project, would go to Holden Beach. Masons Creek, Brown Inlet and Snows Cut will also see dredging. The state’s Shallow Draft Inlet Fund picks up most of the costs. Brunswick County will pay half of the “local share.” Oak Island and Holden Beach will split the remaining 25-percent each of the local match, according to Meagan Kaescak, county spokeswoman. Holden Beach has committed $383,000; Brunswick County will contribute $200,000 and Oak Island’s share is $100,000. If the three local government units agree to their draft budgets, “the county will take the lead … in the funding process,” Kaescak stated.
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Lockwood Folly Inlet reaches danger point
Brunswick County, Oak Island and Holden Beach have made significant financial commitments in their draft 2022 budgets for maintenance dredging of the badly shoaled Lockwood Folly Inlet. The hope is that other regulatory agencies will solve the immediate issue and regularly schedule the work to avoid potentially hazardous situations like the one on the water today. “We’re in an emergency” said Cane Faircloth, president of the Lockwood Folly Association. Faircloth, a charter captain, said he could not safely transit the inlet in his boat that draws three feet of water. Last week, the U.S. Coast Guard issued an “urgent bulletin” to mariners, warning the inlet was as shallow as two feet at mean low tide. The Coast Guard also removed remaining navigational buoys, stating that they no longer offered realistic assistance to boaters. Brennan Dooley of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers told the Brunswick Shoreline Protection group last Wednesday that the situation “does not look very good,” with the throat of the inlet badly shoaled, according to a survey last week. “It’s a tough situation as you all know,” he said. “We don’t have a definitive plan yet.” The use of a hopper dredge in 2019 opened the channel and added sand to Oak Island’s west beach. Hopper dredges have claws that reach downward to scoop the sand. They cannot operate in extremely shallow waters, even if a dredge is available. The Corps relies on the Merritt, a sidecast dredge that works more like a lawn mower, pulling sand through a pipe and blasting the sand/water mix to the side. This clears the channel but does not move sediments out of the dynamic inlet system that can quickly shoal. Faircloth said his fear was that if shoaling continued unabated, the Corps may not be able to employ the sidecast dredge Merritt to clear even a marginal channel. Commercial anglers, crabbers, shrimp boats, charter fishermen and recreational boaters all depend on the Lockwood Folly inlet for ready access to the ocean and Long Bay. Dooley said it would be at least 30 days before he expected the Merritt to be here. Members of the group, an intergovernmental ad hoc committee, asked the Corps for an estimate on the costs for annual dredging, which can happen once or twice a year, depending on conditions, budgets and the availability of dredges. Dooley said it would be 2022 before any hopper dredge would be available for Lockwood Folly, which spans the gap between Holden Beach and Oak Island. Dooley said the next available sand from Lockwood Folly, including an inlet widening project, would go to Holden Beach. Masons Creek, Brown Inlet and Snows Cut will also see dredging. The state’s Shallow Draft Inlet Fund picks up most of the costs. Brunswick County will pay half of the “local share.” Oak Island and Holden Beach will split the remaining 25-percent each of the local match, according to Meagan Kaescak, county spokeswoman. Holden Beach has committed $383,000; Brunswick County will contribute $200,000 and Oak Island’s share is $100,000. If the three local government units agree to their draft budgets, “the county will take the lead … in the funding process,” Kaescak stated.
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‘People are going to die’: Lockwood Folly Inlet dangerously shallow
As summer approaches, the Lockwood Folly Inlet is reaching the danger zone with alarmingly shallow waters. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ latest survey of the inlet reveals the inlet is severely shoaled, meaning it’s very shallow. According to a bulletin from the Coast Guard, the waters are less than two feet deep at low tide. Lockwood Inlet Association President Captain Cane Faircloth says the inlet is in peril and if something is not done soon visitors who use the inlet may be in danger as well. “People are going to be in the inlet in rougher conditions in their boats who are not from the area, not familiar with this area, and they’re going to get in trouble,” Faircloth said. “Boats are going to capsize, and people are going to die.” The captain draws an analogy to the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge to explain the inlet’s condition. “You can imagine if you tried to go across the bridge and there was half a lane and some cars were just falling off into the water,” Faircloth said. “That’s where we’re at with this infrastructure right now.” It’s not just an environmental concern, but public safety and economic one. Faircloth says not only are boaters at risk of grounding, but people getting caught in rip currents at Oak Island and Holden Beach who depend on water rescue teams who use the inlet and not lifeguards to keep swimmers safe, fishermen, and more all depend on the inlet. “In Tubbs Inlet, the oysters and the clams are starting to die because the inlet does not flow well. It’s really clogged up and lost probably forever,” Faircloth said. “We do not want to see Lockwood go the same route. If we let that inlet close up, the Lockwood Folly River is not going to flow correctly, and all the oysters, clams, and fish are going to start dying.” So what is the solution? Faircloth says the inlet needs another dredging project immediately. Ideally with a hopper dredge vessel. The last time a hopper was used, Faircloth says the channel lasted a year. Although, the only hopper available has prior commitments right now. The Corps of Engineers is working to complete a new survey of the inlet before beginning a new dredge project using the Merritt, a side caster dredge vessel. “It does an okay job, but ideally the hopper dredge is the one that can go in there really remove the sand and create a good long-lasting channel,” Faircloth said. The USACE survey could be completed as early as Thursday. If USACE does not need additional funds from Brunswick County to begin a new project, a spokesman says they will be able to start very soon. If they do need more funding, it could be weeks before they are able to start. Meagan Kascsak, a spokeswoman for Brunswick County, shared the following statement concerning funding for the project. “Brunswick County’s recommended budget for Fiscal Year 2022 contains another appropriation to the Shoreline Reserve of $200,000, which is the same amount the County appropriated to the reserve the past few years. The reserve has a positive balance at this time and will have enough funds available to support the County’s portion (50% of local match) of an annual project with USACE for the Lockwood Folly Inlet Navigation Channel. It is our understanding that the Towns of Oak Island and Holden Beach also plan to recommend their respective portions (25% each of local match) of such a project for FY22. If all three budget plans are approved as recommended, the County will take the lead with USACE and the NCDEQ Division of Water Resources in the funding process.”
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Follow up: Lockwood Folly Inlet still dangerously shallow
Lockwood Folly Inlet is reaching the danger zone with alarmingly shallow waters. The depth is still decreasing, and the danger is increasing. According to Oak Island Water Rescue a boat capsized in the inlet last weekend. No injuries were reported. Oak Island Water Rescue is advising boaters against using the inlet; especially during low tide. Some areas of the inlet are only two feet deep.

It’s gut wrenching,’
Lockwood Folly Inlet reaches critical level as dredging project sees delays
Lockwood Folly Inlet has a history of filling up with sand and creating a dangerous situation for people on the water, but leaders say they’ve never seen it this bad before. The inlet between Oak Island and Holden Beach has already seen one boat flip this week. While no one was hurt in the crash, Captain Cane Faircloth, the president of the Lockwood Inlet Association, says it’s only a matter of time before it happens again. “It’s gut wrenching to watch people come in and out of it, especially when there’s a swell to watch boats get hung up, you’re just waiting for that moment for the next one to capsize,” said Faircloth. The $600,000 project is already paid for by the Shallow Draft Inlet Fund, the town of Holden Beach, the town of Oak Island, and Brunswick County. The issue is the US Army Corps of Engineers says it’s going to be July before they can get a dredge out there. During the pandemic, dredging ceased, and crews haven’t been able to keep up with the workload since then, explained Faircloth. ”We were hoping there would be a cycle in March, and from March, it got pushed to April. And from April, got pushed to May. In May, we were told in 30 days the dredge should be here,” explained Faircloth. “We’re failing as a state to protect the tourism and the tourists that come to the beach and protecting their lives by giving water rescue a chance to save them.” The inlet is just 1-2 feet deep at low tide, a level so dangerous the Coast Guard removed its navigation buoys and deemed the inlet unsafe. Oak Island Water Rescue Chief Tony Young says they know people are still using the inlet and he’s concerned about safely accessing the area to save someone in trouble. “We would hate to have someone be hurt and waiting for us to get to them and we can’t get there because there’s no safe way for us to approach them,” said Tony Young. “Somebody goes through there at a high speed, and there’s only a foot and a half of water and the motor hits the bottom, that stops the boat. It can go aground or strand them on the sandbar and turn sideways into the waves, and then they roll over — and now there’s a potential for people under a boat or separate from the boat in the breakers. There’s all kinds of bad things that happen in that situation — none of it’s good for the boaters or for the rescuers.” It’s an area that’s historically troublesome, but experts say they’ve never seen it this bad, and they’re pleading with leaders to keep Lockwood Folly Inlet at the top of the priority list to avoid a tragedy. Faircloth is asking people to write to congressional leaders to bring more attention to the issue. ”We’re at the point that we’re going to start losing lives. Is it gonna take a family of six dying out there this weekend to maybe get them to pay attention? Let’s save a life, let’s do what’s right,” added Faircloth. Both organizations and the Coast Guard are warning people to avoid the inlet until the work is complete.
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Seismic Testing / Offshore Drilling
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    Solid Waste Program

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Things I Think I Think –

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

Restaurant Review:
Dinner Club visits a new restaurant once a month. Ratings reflect the reviewer’s reaction to food, ambience and service, with price taken into consideration.
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.

Dining Guide – Local
Old places, New faces
Name:              Macie & Ethel’s Kitchen
Location:        3219 Holden Beach Road, Supply NC
The Seafood Barn  has permanently closed. Macie & Ethel’s Kitchen  is a family-style southern food and southern hospitality restaurant that recently opened at this location.

Look for Southern hospitality, family-style food, at new BC restaurant
The newly opened Macie & Ethel’s Kitchen at 3219 Holden Beach Road S.W. in Holden Beach wanted to offer the beach community a different kind of restaurant experience. “There are lots of good seafood places,” said manager Jamie Gunsallus. “But not many where you can get great Southern food, and Southern hospitality.” Diners have the choice of getting that hospitality, and food, family style. A highlight of the menu is an option to get a full chicken dinner for a group. It includes a choice of a large serving platter of Ethel’s Classic Fried Chicken, Macie’s Spicy Fried Chicken or Pa’s Herb Roasted Chicken, accompanied by 20-ounce servings of sides – you choose four of the eight on the menu. “And if you want a second helping, you just let us know,” she said.  The meal also includes fresh biscuits made in house, and a scoop of ice cream for the kids at the table.
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Rx Restaurant & Bar has a new open-air, all season dining room
“We have a brand new, open-air, all season dining room, which features radiant floor heating for cold nights and a pleasant cross breeze, ceiling fans, and oscillating fans for warmer nights. The space is lined with louvered hurricane shutters and features an art installation from local wire sculptor Michael Van Hout.”
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Name:                  Rx Restaurant and Bar
Cuisine:               Southern Comfort
Location:            421 Castle Street, Wilmington NC
Contact:              910.399.3080 / https://www.rxwilmington.com

Food:                    Average / Very Good / Excellent / Exceptional
Service:               Efficient / Proficient / Professional / Expert
Ambience:          Drab / Plain / Distinct / Elegant
Cost:                     Inexpensive <=17 / Moderate <=22 / Expensive <=27 / Exorbitant <=40
Rating:                Three Stars
Rx is located in downtown Wilmington on the corner of Fifth and Castle; in a residential neighborhood, away from any other downtown eatery. The name Rx pays homage to the building’s heritage, occupying the old Hall’s Drug Store. Rx offers an upscale version of Southern comfort food alongside traditional American favorites in a comfortable relaxed environment. The locally sourced menu is ingredient driven and changes daily in order to bring in the freshest ingredients that they can. I now know what all the hype is about. They could easily become one of my favorite restaurants. I’d put it on your short-list of must try Wilmington restaurants.

OpenTable, a provider of online restaurant reservations, recently released its list of the 50 Best Southern Cuisine Restaurants in America for 2018 and RX Restaurant and Bar is on it.

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

by Matt Haig
Nora Seed is depressed and decides to end everything. Between life and death is a library in which each book represents a version of her life where she made different choices. Each time she steps into an alternate reality, she learns some very key lessons along the way. As she travels through the library, she explores what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.

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