Rachel Lewis Hilburn

News Director, All Things Considered Host, CoastLine Host & Producer

Rachel Lewis Hilburn came to WHQR in the spring of 2011.  After serving as back-up host for Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Classical Music for a year, she was named News Director in July of 2012. 

She moved to Wilmington from Los Angeles, where she worked as a financial advisor for Morgan Stanley.  After joining the local ABC affiliate in Wilmington, she wrote and produced local TV newscasts, a 30-minute special program for the Cape Fear Museum showcasing its renovation and new exhibits, and independently wrote and produced a documentary on the lingering effects of the 1898 coup d'etat in Wilmington.   Before joining the staff, Rachel co-produced Stories, Wine, and Cheese - a series of local, live storytelling events which aired on WHQR.  

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 New Hanover County, following the trend of many other states and municipalities, filed a lawsuit last month against opioid manufacturers and distributors.  In the suit, the county alleges not just negligence by these huge drug companies; the county accuses  them of unfair and deceptive trade practices, civil conspiracy, fraud and racketeering.  Also in December, Brunswick County Commissioners passed a resolution indicating they might file their own suit in which they would seek damages from these companies for the public costs of the opioid epidemic.

Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

The number of people who identify as Christian is declining  and a new category of ‘nones’, meaning “nothing in particular”, agnostic, and atheist, is growing.  That’s according to a study by the Pew Research Center from 2015 called the American Religious Landscape Study.   If the current trend stays the course, according to Pew, American society is likely to grow less religious even if today’s adults maintain their current level of commitment.

City of Wilmington

Thursday saw an encouraging degree of snow melt, as temperatures squeaked above freezing by a couple of degrees during the afternoon hours.  But officials say that doesn’t mean it’s safe to hit the roads on Friday.

Brunswick County Sheriff's Office

The snow has stopped falling, and the Cape Fear region is waking up Thursday morning to a winter wonderland.  Government offices, schools, morning flights, and many businesses are shut down for the second day in row.  Despite some optimism late Wednesday, with some organizations planning to re-open at 10 AM, including New Hanover County Government offices and the Battleship, officials reconsidered Thursday morning and are staying closed.

Brunswick County Sheriff's Office / Facebook

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency late Wednesday afternoon for all eastern and several central North Carolina counties.  A mix of freezing rain and sleet was already falling in the Cape Fear region, and the message from the Governor’s office as well as New Hanover County’s Director for Emergency Management, Steven Still, was the same. 

Stay off the roads.

RLH

The National Weather Service says the current arctic blast will bring two to four inches of snow to the region.  While the rare snowfall in southeastern North Carolina usually leaves a dusting of snow on rooftops and trees, meteorologists say the already-frozen ground and continuing arctic air will make roadways treacherous almost as soon as the precipitation begins.

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December 21st marks the first official day of winter – and the winter solstice – the longest night of the year.  According to Rick Kline of the Spacecraft Planetary Imaging Facility at Cornell University, solstices and equinoxes denote either the beginnings of the seasons or the center points of them.  Kline tells USA Today that Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and other holidays have arisen out of just these markings.

Pixabay.com

It’s a romp across the holiday table today – whether you’re one of those people who dreads the days-on-end slog in the kitchen as relatives eat you out of house and home or if you love the chance to throw dietary concerns aside and let your creativity fly, we’re going to have some ideas for you. 

David Woo / Flickr

North Carolina has a teacher shortage.  Enrollment in Schools of Education within the University of North Carolina system has dropped 30% since 2010.  And that, according to WRAL, is having a big impact on the number of teachers available to North Carolina schools.

GenX is in the local drinking water supply – albeit at significantly lower levels than six months ago.  What kind of impact that has had or could have or will have on the people who drink the local water is still unclear. 

North Carolina Department of Transportation / Wikimedia Commons

The National Flood Insurance Program is set to expire on December 8th.   The U.S. House of Representatives voted in November to reauthorize the NFIP until 2022.  Now, the Senate must decide whether and how to move forward with the program.  Congressman David Rouzer, a Republican from North Carolina’s seventh district, voted in support of the 21st Century Flood Reform Act.  Fellow Republican Walter Jones, from the neighboring 3rd district, voted against it – along with a majority of Democrats.

In New Hanover County alone, which has an estimated population of about 220,000 people, more than 1100 kids are served by programs through the Brigade Boys and Girls Club. 

Wikimedia Commons / Chiltepinster

Many of us are confronted each morning with our personalized news feed – whether the source is social media, a news app trained to select articles reflecting our preferences, or a TV channel.  Pundits have blamed those sources for the societal divides we’re seeing today.  Whether it shows up as a rejection of negotiation on Capitol Hill or the uncomfortable moment Uncle Steve criticizes the President while carving the Thanksgiving turkey, it’s a well-documented fact that polarization is at an all-time high.    

Journalists Matt Lauer.  Charlie Rose.  Mike Oreskes of NPR.  NBC’s Mark Halperin.  Chef John Besh.  Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.  Celebrity Photographer Terry Richardson.  Investment banker Gavin Baker.  David Corn of Mother Jones. 

It was 1929 when Ella May Wiggins decided she would join the fight to unionize mill workers in North Carolina.  She also decided she would work to integrate the union -- despite the fact she was a mill worker herself who barely survived on her meager wages, despite the fact she was a woman with no formal education, no help from the father of her children, and not even enough food to fill her belly from day to day. 

Clyde Edgerton has written ten novels, three of which are now movies.  Of those produced, his favorite is Killer Diller.  In 2013, he wrote a book of advice, Papadaddy’s Book for New Fathers, and he’s also written a memoir:  Solo:  My Adventures In The Air.  His short stories and essays have turned up in New York Times Magazine, Best American Short Stories, Southern Review, Oxford American, Garden & Gun – among others.

Rountree Losee

On November 15, 1864, William Tecumseh Sherman began his “March to the Sea” from Atlanta to Savannah.  It was the beginning of a major blow to the Confederacy during the American Civil War.  While the 19th century sounds like ancient history to some of us, there exists a tangible division in this country which has this year, played out in an emotional debate over how to treat Confederate monuments and statues. 

Fracaswell Hyman says he didn’t set out to be a writer.  Despite that, he spent years writing for Nickelodeon – on the shows Little Bill, Taina, Gullah Gullah Island.  We’ll hear about those years – but we’re also here today to talk about his first middle-grade novel, Mango Delight.  And we’ll find out what he thought he was setting out to do for a career and before he unwittingly fell into a life of writing – which he now characterizes as “writing for my life”. 

It’s the last election-related show we’ll have in 2017.  The day after a small percentage of eligible of voters went to the polls to choose leaders for the boards of towns and cities, we’re taking a look at what happened, what it could say about what’s on voters’ minds, and where we go from here. 

Also on this edition, we spend a great deal of time on why people didn't vote -- with lots of listeners chiming in via email and phone calls. 

Guests:

City of Southport

Note:  The results below are based on unofficial returns.  Votes will be canvassed Friday, November 17th.

Bald Head Island (Village)

https://www.h2goonline.com/home

H2GO’s Board of Commissioners, a water and sewer utility in Brunswick County, is likely to change direction on construction of a controversial reverse osmosis plant. 

For the last two years, the two board members who oppose building an RO plant sat in the minority on H2GO’s five-member board.  But with three open seats this year, all it took to change the majority position was for one of three anti-RO candidates to win.  RO-supporter and incumbent Carl Antos lost his seat to RO opponent Bill Beer by 18 votes. 

Leland Town Council will continue with its current leadership.  As WHQR’s Rachel Lewis Hilburn reports, all the incumbents won reelection.

Pat Batleman was the top vote-getter for Leland Town Council.  Fellow incumbent Bob Corriston came in about four percentage points behind her.  The next vote-getter, Sandra Ford, was a distant third – about ten points behind Corriston. 

Earlier this year, the Town of Leland passed a resolution opposing H2GO’s efforts to build a reverse osmosis plant.  Pat Batleman says the town is very concerned about the management of H2GO. 

Town of Burgaw

In the Town of Burgaw, Pete Cowan won the mayoral seat after Incumbent Eugene Mulligan ran for a Commissioner seat.  Cowan easily held off two challengers with 63% of the vote.  Mulligan did not win a seat on the Board.  Instead, Incumbents Jan Dawson and James Murphy kept their seats on Burgaw’s Board of Commissioners.

Surf City’s Town Council will have Teresa Batts for another term.  Jeremy Shugarts picked up the second open seat. 

RLH

During the last municipal election of 2015, only 10% of voters in New Hanover County showed up.  By Tuesday afternoon, it was too early to tell if the numbers are up, down, or even with the last cycle.  In an unscientific, anecdotal visit with voters at New Hanover County’s Senior Center – one of the polling locations in Wilmington today – I met a handful of committed voters who say they wouldn’t miss an election.

RLH

It would be an easy leap to say that voters in Brunswick County served by the water utility H2GO are turning out at a higher rate.  But an unscientific, anecdotal sweep through the polls doesn’t necessarily bear that out.  While the direction of a $30-plus million reverse osmosis plant could change based on this election outcome – most people that I encountered in Leland today offered more basic reasons for voting.  

Charles says he comes out for every election. 

Tuesday, November 7th is Election Day – which means that people living inside city or town limits have local leaders to choose. 

It’s hard to engage voters in municipal election years.  In New Hanover County, voter turnout  is trending downward.   Since 2011, turnout has dropped from 17% to 10%.  Brunswick and Pender Counties seem to hold steady with just over 20 percent of voters coming to the polls.

But this year, some galvanizing issues have ignited controversy.  Whether it translates to higher voter turnout is yet to be determined.    

On this edition, we meet candidates from Oak Island and Kure Beach – two beach towns in southeastern North Carolina.

On this edition of the CoastLine Candidate Interviews, our focus is largely on Oak Island in Brunswick County.  We meet Kevin Lindsey and John Bach – both running for a seat on Town Council there. 

The Town Council is Oak Island’s governing body consisting of 5 Council Members and the Mayor. This body sets Town policy, enacts ordinances and adopts the annual budget. There are seven people running for two open seats. Oak Island has a population estimated at 7,700 people. In the summer, including day-trippers, that number can hit 50,000. According to the U.S. Census, the town has grown by 13.5 percent since 2010. 

The Town of Oak Island, part of Brunswick County, is governed by a Council of five and a mayor. As of 2016, population estimates landed at about 7700 people. According to the U.S. Census, the town has grown by 13.5 percent since 2010. Two people are running for mayor in this year’s election. Kenny Rogers is challenging Mayor Cin Brochure as she seeks her second term. A big issue for Oak Island is erosion.

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