Michelle Bliss

After growing up in Woodbridge, Virginia, Michelle attended Virginia Tech before moving to Wilmington to complete her Master in Fine Arts from the University of North Carolina in Wilmington. Her reporting and nonfiction writing have been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered, within the pages of Wrightsville Beach Magazine, and in literary journals like River Teeth and Ninth Letter. Before moving to Wilmington, Michelle served as the general manager for WUVT, a community radio station in Blacksburg, Virginia. She lives with her husband Scott and their pups, Katie, Cooper, and Mosey.

Michelle left WHQR in April 2012 to pursue her writing career.

Ways to Connect

 

Voters came out to the polls for this year’s municipal elections as SBI investigations were underway in Oak Island and Carolina Beach.

With the end of 2011, WHQR is taking a look at some of the people, places, and products that have had a good year, despite the down economy. 

WHQR’s Michelle Bliss reports that after surviving state budget cuts, the marine technology program at Cape Fear Community College is still afloat, teaching many of its lessons from offshore classrooms.

 

Three years after announcing its plans to operate a cement plant in Castle Hayne, Titan America is still waiting to hear a final decision regarding an air permit from the state Division of Air Quality.

Number four on WHQR’s top ten news story countdown for all of 2011 is the passage of the Defense of Marriage act by the state legislature.

North Carolina’s unemployment rate grew from November of 2010 to last month, and the state remains nearly 1.5 percent above the national rate.

While more than 10 percent of North Carolinians are still out of work, state budget cuts are digging into key services, an issue that WHQR’s Michelle Bliss reports has made it to #5 on our 2011 news story countdown.

This summer, state lawmakers went back and forth over what to cut from North Carolina’s $19.7 billion budget.

As we continue WHQR’s countdown of top news stories in 2011, we’ve come to #6—the ongoing study of the water contamination at Camp Lejeune.

WHQR’s Michelle Bliss reports that as many as one million people who lived and worked aboard Camp Lejeune from the 1950’s to the 1980’s may have been exposed to the tainted water.

This year, federal scientists have been conducting one of the largest public health studies of its kind on the possible health effects of exposure to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.

In 2011, southeastern North Carolina endured a slew of weather emergencies including deadly tornadoes in April, Hurricane Irene in August, and a massive wildfire that burned for much of the summer.

WHQR’s Asia Brown reports that Mother Nature’s wrath is #7 on our top ten countdown of news stories this year.

Hurricane Irene made landfall near Cape Lookout in late August, devastating a long swath of communities along the East Coast. In North Carolina, seven people died from the storm.

 

In an unprecedented move this fall, four members of the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners asked their fifth member, Brian Berger, to resign.

WHQR’s Asia Brown reports that Berger refused and remains on the board. The commissioner’s volatile year as an elected official made it to #8 on our end-of-year story countdown.

Just a few months before the September press conference, Berger was arrested for assault in what police say was a domestic dispute. He spent a night in jail before the charge was later dropped.

State lawmakers approved a new annexation process in June, allowing unincorporated areas to block a neighboring city’s advances if 60 percent of their property owners dissent. 

WHQR’s Michelle Bliss reports that this year’s battle over Monkey Junction in New Hanover County has reached #9 on our 2011 top ten story countdown.

Nearly 75 percent of property owners in Monkey Junction spoke up loud and clear: they don’t want to be annexed.

As the year draws to a close, WHQR is taking a look at some of the people, places, and products that have thrived during tough economic times.

For Wilmington resident Sheera Randolph and her three young boys, 2011 has been their family’s first full year in permanent housing.

 

PPD, one of Wilmington’s largest employers, made it to #10 on WHQR’s countdown of top news stories in 2011 as the company was sold this fall.

WHQR’s Asia Brown reports that the acquisition was a $3.9-billion-dollar deal, but company officials say day-to-day operations in the port city won’t change.

News of PPD’s possible sale first appeared in the Wall Street Journal in July. By September, the company had a new CEO, Raymond Hill.

By October, the company announced its sale to the Carlyle Group and Hellman and Friedman.

North Carolina’s unemployment rate dipped down to ten percent from 10.4 percent last month.

WHQR’s Michelle Bliss reports that despite the decrease in state unemployment, North Carolina is still reporting higher numbers than the national rate, which was 8.6 percent last month.

Employment Security Commission Spokesperson Larry Parker says that even though the public sector has been shedding jobs in North Carolina this year, private sector employment has gradually grown throughout the state.

The North Carolina Division of Air Quality has completed its review of Titan America’s draft air permit.

Spokesperson Tom Mather says that the 19-page document includes information to address the concerns and feedback brought up at two public hearings back in September. Mather says there were a thousand comments to sort through in preparing the review.

Let your voice be heard by voting on WHQR’s top ten stories of 2011! 

The WHQR News Team has recapped several major stories for the year, and now, it’s your turn to let us know what events you think were most important and have had the biggest impact on our community.

Then, tune in the week of December 26-30 when WHQR will be airing its 2011 Top Ten Countdown.

The New York Times Company announced Monday that it’s in advanced discussions about selling its Regional Media Group to Halifax Media Holdings.

The Regional Media Group includes the StarNews of Wilmington and 15 other media businesses, like newspapers and publications scattered across the country in Florida, California, Louisiana, Alabama, and both Carolinas. See the full list.

UNCW’s Board of Trustees has approved a 6.5 percent tuition increase for the 2012-2013 school year.

The White House has announced that North Carolina is among nine states receiving federal Race to the Top funds for early childhood education. 

A mold-breaking education initiative in North Carolina is now a major step closer to taking home a piece of the federal recovery fund pie.

 

A state advisory council has denied the charter school application for D.C. Virgo Middle in Wilmington.

PPD CEO Resigns

Dec 13, 2011

PPD’s new CEO Raymond Hill resigned Monday after only three months at his post and just a week after the company went private. 

More than 20 dead pelicans have washed ashore along the southeastern North Carolina coast in the past few weeks. 

Community members can ask questions and provide feedback at three public forums this week for the North Carolina Maritime Strategy.

 

UNCW announced today that its Osher Lifelong Learning Institute has received a gift of $1 million.

A federal task force is surveying locations for offshore wind farms along North Carolina’s coast. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will be gathering feedback on the proposed sites next year.

Wilmington resident Norma Luther is riding in a caravan of about 20 trucks and busses for the Wreaths Across America program.

Construction jobs in Wilmington were down 21 percent in October compared to the same month in 2010.

The $3.9 billion acquisition of PPD by the Carlyle Group and Hellman and Friedman is now complete.

 

A miracle could grace New Hanover County as early as May.

That’s when nonprofit organizers expect a Miracle League baseball field and accessible playground to open at Olsen Park on land provided by the City of Wilmington.

 

Nearly 75 percent of property owners in Monkey Junction have spoken loud and clear: they don’t want to be annexed. 

The Lumbee Tribe has elected and sworn in its fifth chairman, Paul Brooks.

WHQR’s Michelle Bliss reports that Brooks also chairs the North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs. He won the Lumbee post in a race against three other candidates.

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