Rachel Lewis Hilburn

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 c0-produced Stories, Wine, and Cheese - a series of local, live storytelling events which aired on WHQR.  

The first New Hanover County Board of Commissioners meeting in 2016 started with the adoption of a code of ethics.  Commissioners also paved the way for a new subdivision in the northern part of the county.

Georgia Dept. of Natural Resources / NOAA Fisheries

Offshore wind is working its way to the mid-Atlantic – and specifically to areas off the North Carolina coast.  Broadly supported by environmental advocates, this form of energy exploration faces some resistance by coastal communities concerned about visual impacts on tourism and real estate values. 

Now that the Environmental Assessment is complete, the next step in the development of offshore wind is the publication of a proposed sale notice.   

Chalmers Butterfield

Health disparities between white America and racial and ethnic minorities are well-documented.  The American Psychological Association says those disparities continue into the senior years – with minorities less likely to get medical help – and more likely to face chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes.   But race isn’t the only determining factor for seniors who struggle with access to adequate health care.

Kaiser Family Foundation

In the United States, 14.5 % of the population is 65 or older.  That’s according to the most recent census.  In North Carolina, the number of elderly people is a fraction of a percentage higher at 14.7%.  In New Hanover County, nearly 16% of residents are 65 or over.  And that number shoots to almost a third of the population in neighboring Brunswick County.

According to the American Psychological Association, the number of Americans over age 85 is increasing faster than any other group. Since 1900, the proportion of Americans age 65 and older has more than tripled.

The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners has a new chair:  Beth Dawson takes the helm after a narrow three-to-two vote at Monday's meeting. 

Skip Watkins nominated Woody White for Chair; White seconded the motion. 

Jonathan Barfield nominated Beth Dawson – as he promised publicly that he would a year ago.  This was widely expected after Dawson helped Barfield to the Chairmanship in a three-to-two vote last year.   The local Republican Party blasted Dawson last December for that move.

Open Blue

The United Nations Climate Change Summit is underway in Paris, and for the first time in years, world leaders are hopeful a global agreement is possible.  Without organized cooperation, NASA scientists say the Earth will see an escalation of catastrophic weather events – such as longer and more intense heat waves, more severe storms, flooding, sea level rise… the list goes on – impacting everything from human health to food production. 

Good Shepherd Center

Most Americans look forward to a feast on Thanksgiving Day.  It’s a day of gratitude, time with family, and let’s be honest – unbridled consumption.  But for more than half a million people, the question of what to cook for the big dinner is overshadowed by much more basic concerns:  where to spend the night, how to stay warm, where to find food – any food.

UNC Pembroke

Local entrepreneurs have a new option for assistance growing from an idea into a viable business.  The University of North Carolina at Pembroke will soon cut the ribbon on a brand new facility for start-ups.

Eno Publishers

The recently-published anthology, 27 Views of Wilmington: The Port City in Prose and Poetry, compiles literary pieces from 27 accomplished, local writers – in addition to an introduction by Celia Rivenbark.   It’s produced by Eno Publishers -- a very small non-profit that puts out about two books a year.  27 Views of Wilmington is the last in the 27 Views series, which now has eight different editions, spotlighting Charlotte, Chapel Hill, Ashevil

New Hanover County Commissioners have rejected a proposed limit on travel expenses for Board Members. 

At Monday's regular meeting, Commissioner Woody White suggested travel decisions be shaped by the answers to three questions.

"Is the travel, whether it’s by a commissioner or particularly by employees or department heads and so forth, is it necessary for licensing and certification?  Secondly, is the topic of the conference relevant to an issue we’re addressing?"

Cucalorus Connect is an important new element in this year's Cucalorus Film Festival slate.  It's an offering that organizers hope will support the synthesis of arts and business -- to empower entrepreneurs, introduce them to artists, and possibly even connect investors with start-ups. 

On this edition of CoastLine, we explore how the confluence of artists and businesspeople might change Cucalorus and whether, by association, it could change the Wilmington area. 

An alternate funding option for smaller filmmakers will soon be a reality in North Carolina.  Cucalorus, in partnership with the North Carolina Film Office, is announcing a new film incentive for projects with budgets under a quarter of a million dollars.

Once the popular tax-rebate form of the film incentive expired in North Carolina and legislators replaced it with a grant fund, film production in the state dropped significantly.  With those big-budget films and longer-running television series also went the support structure for smaller projects.  

Municipal elections across North Carolina have concluded; the results are in. 

Wilmington City Council welcomes back its two incumbents – Margaret Haynes and Neil Anderson.  Paul Lawler was the third-highest vote-getter – winning the seat Laura Padgett vacated after more than two decades on Council.  The window between Paul Lawler and fourth placer-Deb Hays wasn’t huge:  88 votes. 

Brunswick County

The Village of Bald Head Island, with a year-round population of less than 170 people, has approved a $10 million bond for a broadband network.  But barely.  The “yes” vote squeaked through by four votes – not unusual, though, in a small municipality.

Village residents will see a new slate of council members.  The two incumbents running for reelection, Gene Douglas and Bob Helgesen, lost their seats to top vote-getters Kit Adcock, John May, and John Pitera. 

Town of Kure Beach

Carolina Beach Mayor Dan Wilcox will keep his seat for another term.  Challenger Bob Lewis lost to Wilcox by 276 votes.  On the Town Council, incumbent Steve Shuttleworth also kept his seat and won the most votes of all seven candidates competing for two seats.  Tom Bridges won the second open seat by a wide margin.  The third-place vote-getter, Tammy Hanson, came in a distant third – losing to Bridges by 319 votes.  That’s a percentage difference of almost 12 points.

Pender County Board of Elections; Wikimedia Commons; Robeson County Board of Elections

PENDER COUNTY

In Pender County, the Town of Burgaw voted Wilfred (Red) Robbins, Vernon Harrell, and Bill George III onto its Board for 2016. 

Surf City’s unopposed Mayor Zander Guy will serve another term.  Top vote-getters for the three open Council seats are Buddy Fowler, Donald Ray Helms, and Nelva Albury. 

Neighboring Topsail Beach re-elected Howard Braxton as Mayor – by a roughly 30% margin.  Steve Smith and Linda Stipe won the two seats on Topsail’s Board of Commissioners.

ONSLOW COUNTY

In Brunswick County, the Town of Oak Island will see some new faces on Council.  The Brunswick County beach town has a new mayor – and two new council members. 

Cin Brochure, the current Director of Tourism for the City of Southport, will serve as the new Mayor of Oak Island.  Three-term mayor Betty Wallace decided not to seek another term.   

The Town of Leland saw a major upset on Election Day.  One polarizing issue --  how to plan for the Town’s future water supply – could have been a factor. 

Mayor Brenda Bozeman handily kept her seat winning 81% of the vote to challenger Glenn Thearling’s 19%.

Rachel Lewis Hilburn

A steady rain fell throughout the day in Brunswick County as a thin but constant stream of voters trickled through Belville Elementary School  -- picking leaders for Belville, Leland, and the Board of the local water authority, H2GO. 

Turnout is famously low when it’s only a municipal race on the ballot.  The Leland and Belville voters who braved the weather today generally didn’t have a lot to say about why they came out – but what they did say was pointed: 

Here’s Leland resident Bonnie Laserna:

Polls are open on Election Day from 6:30 AM until 7:30 PM.  Because it’s an odd year and only municipal races are on the ballot, elections officials expect turnout to be lower than in years that include state and federal elections. 

Early voter turnout for this year’s municipal elections in New Hanover County lands at about 1.6% of eligible voters.  That may sound miniscule, but New Hanover County Elections Director Derek Bowens says it’s right on target -- compared with numbers from 2013.  That year, about 1,000 people or 1.1% of eligible voters cast their ballots early. 

Leland residents get their water through H2GO, an independent governmental entity separate from Brunswick County’s Public Utility – which sells water to H2GO.  And now H2GO is deciding whether to build its own reverse osmosis plant. 

While water authority officials study the question, a citizen-led group, Stop H2GO, has sprung up in opposition to that project -- creating a StopH2GO website and putting forth two candidates for H2GO's Board of Commissioners.  

Isabelle Shepherd / Rachel Lewis Hilburn

The Town of Leland is governed by a Council consisting of a Mayor, Mayor Pro-Tem and three other Council members.  Elections are held every two years.  The Mayor serves a two-year term; Council members serve staggered four-year terms. 

The two candidates for Mayor of Leland in alphabetical order: 

Isabelle Shepherd

Two candidates are running for the Mayoral seat in the Town of Carolina Beach.  On Wednesday, October 21st, WHQR broadcast a live candidate forum with both men. 

The Town of Carolina Beach is governed by a Council consisting of a Mayor, Mayor Pro-Tem and three other Council members.  Elections are held every two years.  The Mayor serves a two-year term; Council members serve staggered four-year terms. 

The two candidates, in alphabetical order:

The CoastLine Candidate Forum featuring Carolina Beach Town Council aired live on Wednesday, October 14th from 12-2 PM.  We allotted two hours because it's a sizable race – seven candidates competing for two open seats – and we wanted to cover a comprehensive range of issues. 

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

The Department of Veterans Affairs building in Wilmington – hailed as a boon for local veterans who don’t have to drive to Fayetteville for health care – has been bogged down by concerns over drinking water contamination for months.   In response to those concerns, New Hanover County and the Board of Health  delivered on Monday what officials are calling a "protocol" to building owner Summit Smith Healthcare, who leases the facility to the Federal Government. 

This CoastLine Candidate Forum of 2015, featuring candidates for the Wilmington City Council, aired live from WHQR's MC Erny Gallery on Wednesday, October 7, 2015.  This is a sizable race – eight people are competing for three open seats – so we allotted two hours in order to cover a comprehensive range of issues.

Wikimedia Commons

Local officials have warned about serious flooding for days, and some of the hardest-hit areas – parts of Brunswick County, for example, have had to evacuate.  But other parts of the region haven’t seen much more than minor ponding in the roadways.  When the severity of weather conditions isn't observable for everyone, getting people to take the warnings seriously becomes its own struggle.

City of Wilmington

The pounding rain that has blanketed the Cape Fear region for the last several days is easing up.  Some activities are a "go" tonight -- such as Cinematique and CFCC's Beauty and the Beast.  But local officials aren't ready to sound the all-clear yet.

The rain isn't quite over, but it's not expected to have as much of an impact as it's had over the last few days.  Steven Pfaff is a Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington.  Some areas, says Pfaff, will continue to grapple with flooding.

City of Wilmington

New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender County Schools are all closed Monday.  Cape Fear Community College has also closed all of its campus locations.  City of Wilmington, New Hanover County, and Brunswick County Offices and Courts are closed. 

This is hardly an exhaustive list, but it illustrates the point:  driving conditions are hazardous due to flooding and the potential for downed trees.

By Tuesday, a drying trend will set in, which makes Monday the last day the area will see significant heavy rainfall from the current systems. 

National Hurricane Center / NOAA

Now that Hurricane Joaquin's projected path turns farther east, as the European meteorological models had predicted, state and local emergency management officials say they’re more confident the storm will stay well offshore.  But there are still statewide warnings about flooding and its ancillary effects.

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