Local

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. 

Isabelle Shepherd, WHQR

At UNCW’s annual OUTLOOK conference, economists forecasted the regional economy would grow slightly faster than the national average over the next year.  WHQR’s Isabelle Shepherd says UNCW’s Dr. Adam Jones compared the local economy to a car being driven with both feet – one on the gas, and one on the brake. 

CSX

Wilmington has pledged $100,000 to fund a feasibility study that would identify the total costs and challenges of moving the CSX rail line over the Cape Fear River, directly to the Port.  During the most recent CoastLine Forum, the City Council candidates weighed in on the issue.  

Wikimedia Commons

In Wilmington, eight candidates are vying for three open seats on City Council. During this week’s CoastLine Candidate Forum, WHQR’s Isabelle Shepherd reports the candidates were asked to explain their best original idea.   

Paul Lawler says his background as an accountant would bring more financial efficiency.

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.

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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.

U.S. Geological Survey

Storm surge, coastal flooding, and beach erosion.  Those are the likely impacts from the combination of a wet system moving up from the Gulf of Mexico and the arrival of Hurricane Joaquin – now a Category Four storm.  But New Hanover County Emergency officials say it won’t be until Friday afternoon that they’ll have any confidence in the forecast track for Joaquin.

Hurricane Joaquin, now a dangerous Category Four storm, is still highly unpredictable.  In preparation for potentially severe weather and heavy flooding, Governor Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency for all 100 counties in North Carolina.

National Hurricane Center

No one can say with certainty yet how much Hurricane Joaquin will impact the Cape Fear region.  But at the very least, serious flooding is high on the probability scale.

There a few reasons for that.  Steven Pfaff is a Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington.  He says the situation that’s unfolding now is complex.  If Joaquin stays on the current track, this area could see breezy conditions along the coast – but, says Pfaff, it’s the potential for flooding that’s a serious concern. 

This CoastLine Candidate Forum of 2015 features the candidates for Oak Island Town Council.  Due to the size of this race, we allotted two hours, with a short break at the top of the hour, so that you can hear the candidates discuss a broader range of issues.  

Isabelle Shepherd, WHQR

This November, voters will choose from eight candidates to fill three open seats on Wilmington City Council. At the candidate forum hosted by Residents of Old Wilmington and the Downtown Business Alliance, the candidates discussed local transportation issues.   

Alvin Rogers has served on the Wilmington Planning Commission. He remembers when Oleander Drive was just a two lane road, and he thinks transportation has become a problem throughout Wilmington. 

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management / T. J. Boyle and Associates

While still years away, offshore wind farms are significantly closer to becoming reality off the North Carolina coast.  The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management recently completed its environmental assessment and will hold a Task Force meeting October 7th in Wilmington to consider next steps.  Two of the areas slated for wind are near the southeastern North Carolina coast. 

Wikimedia Commons

This summer, shark bites brought national attention to North Carolina beaches. Two young people lost parts of their arms to sharks while swimming near Oak Island. During this week’s CoastLine Candidate Forum, all Oak Island Mayoral candidates agreed that more needs to be done to lower the risk of shark attacks. 

All four mayoral candidates say this summer’s shark bites were a wakeup call for Oak Island. Cin Brochure, the current Tourism Director for the City of Southport, says the issue has been on her mind since she lives near one of the sites: 

Okko Pyykkö

Four people are vying for the mayoral seat in the Town of Oak Island.  This Brunswick County coastal town sits largely on a barrier island and has a year-round population of nearly seven-thousand people.  That number more than quintuples during the busy summer season. 

During a recent CoastLine Candidate Forum, all four candidates said they think transparency in government is critical.  But they didn’t all agree on whether the current government is adequately open or on how to improve transparency. 

In the Town of Oak Island, four people are hoping to be the next Mayor.  The office comes with a two-year term; Town Council members serve staggered four-year terms and are elected every two years in non-partisan elections.

The Town of Oak Island, which is part of Brunswick County and sits mostly on a barrier island, is only sixteen years old.  It was 1999 that Yaupon Beach and Long Beach merged to form Oak Island.  The town boasts a year-round population of nearly 7,000 people – but that number can swell during the summer on a daily basis to around 45,000. 

New Law Aims to Deter Venus Flytrap Poaching: Is It Working?

Sep 22, 2015
Wikimedia Commons

The cottage industry of Venus flytrap poaching has long threatened this iconic carnivorous plant of southeastern North Carolina. The crime used to be a misdemeanor, but at the start of this year, it became a felony, with a maximum penalty of up to 25 months in jail. As the first felony cases wrap up in Pender County, WHQR investigates whether the change in the law is working to deter poaching.

Venus flytraps are considered a species of concern, meaning the population is in decline and in need of conservation . Flytrap poaching runs counter to such preservation efforts.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

New Hanover County collected more than ten million dollars in room occupancy tax during the last fiscal year.  But officials in Kure Beach aren’t convinced that all property owners who rent on a short-term basis are sending their share to the County. 

At a recent CoastLine Candidate Forum for Kure Beach, held September 16th in WHQR's MC Erny Gallery, everyone agreed the status quo isn’t working.    

New Hanover County ranked 8th last year for tourism out of all 100 counties in North Carolina.   

Pier at Kure Beach
Visit Kure Beach NC (http://www.visitkurebeachnc.com/)

Without the assurance of federal money, funding beach nourishment and shoreline stabilization is one of the most critical issues facing beach towns.  During the first CoastLine Candidate Forum of 2015, all Kure Beach Mayoral and Town Council candidates agreed on one thing: New Hanover County needs to contribute more toward beach nourishment. 

Mayor Dean Lambeth says that he doesn’t think federal funding for beach nourishment will disappear any time soon, but he does want the county to contribute more:

Seismic testing and the potential for offshore drilling has galvanized strong opposition in Kure Beach.  Earlier this year, Mayor Dean Lambeth ignited controversy after he sent a letter in support of seismic testing to the Federal agency overseeing offshore oil exploration.  Hundreds of opponents showed up to protest at the next Kure Beach Town meeting in January.  

Town of Kure Beach

In this first CoastLine Candidate Forum of 2015, we bring you the four candidates running for Kure Beach Mayor and Town Council.

In the Town of Kure Beach, two candidates are competing for the mayoral seat.  On the council side, two candidates are running unopposed for two open seats. 

Kure Beach Town Council Members serve staggered four-year terms. The Mayor serves a two-year term.  Members are elected in a non-partisan election every two years.  

Candidates for mayor:  

http://www.nhcs.net/

New Hanover County Board of Education is setting to work on its next Strategic Plan.  A new vocational high school may be included in the proposal. 

The New Hanover County Board of Education is looking into building a vocational high school on the Cape Fear Community College campus.  Edward Higgins, member of the Board of Education, says they’re looking to the county and the state to provide funding for this project:

Changing the sales tax distribution formula has been on the General Assembly’s agenda since the start of this summer’s long session. As it winds to a close, where does this proposal stand? WHQR spoke with Representative Susi Hamilton, a Democrat from New Hanover County, about the history of sales tax distribution and its status in the North Carolina legislature.    

The Cross-City Trail in Wilmington is nearing completion with a ribbon-cutting scheduled for November.  The multi-use trail is intended to give cyclists and pedestrians access to important recreational and  cultural landmarks. 

City officials say they eventually see Wilmington-area green-ways as part of the East Coast Greenway – which is described as an urban Appalachian Trail.  In this case, the ECG would run from Maine to Florida.

Wake N Bake Donuts

When was the last time you visited a locally-owned restaurant that didn’t offer some regionally-sourced ingredient?  Some would say the farm-to-table phenomenon is a full-blown element of the North Carolina restaurant landscape – along with the explosion of craft beer, cocktails, and boutique donuts.  Wilmington boasts a foodie scene – in spite of serious challenges facing new restaurateurs. 

National Hurricane Center

The movement of Tropical Storm Erika northward has the southeastern United States on alert.  But whether Erika peters out over land or survives and re-groups, peak hurricane season is upon us. 

According to the National Hurricane Center, most tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic Basin happen between mid-August and late October. 

And now residents in Brunswick County have a new emergency notification system available, launched over the summer, called CodeRED.   During sign-up, residents can choose whether to receive messages via phone call, text, or email. 

Frank Funk, Ph.D., passed away August 21st in Tucson, Arizona at age 92. Frank and his wife Ruth, who preceded him in death, were remarkable examples of people who achieved much in their professional careers and went on to become unparalleled examples of volunteer service after retiring to Wilmington.

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