New Hanover County

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The City of Wilmington is expected to gain 60,000 citizens by the year 2040. In anticipation, city planners have launched a comprehensive plan similar to that of New Hanover County. While the Wilmington plan also asks residents to describe their ideal community attributes, its public engagement process is less orthodox. In fact, city planners have been hitting the local bar scene to collect input.

Talk of regional branding, what to do about gang violence, how to re-write New Hanover County’s special use permit… it’s all part of the current public dialogue.
 

Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts

Today is the last chance to pay the usual admission to movies, museums and cultural events. Effective New Year’s Day, the State General Assembly is imposing a 4.75% privilege tax on admission to such entertainment—which includes a host of nonprofit events.

Arts and culture.  The Film Industry.  Access to outdoor recreation a la the beach or the river.  Even road infrastructure…

Proposed Titan Cement plant site as seen from the Northeast Cape Fear River

Significant changes could be underway for manufacturers seeking permits to operate or expand in New Hanover County. At a work session this morning, the planning and inspections department presented an amendment to the county’s industrial zoning ordinance that would require new companies, such as Titan Cement, to present burden of proof when filing for special use permits to operate.

During the seventies and eighties, Felix Cooper served as New Hanover County’s finance manager and later, its county manager. Following those sixteen years of local service, a subsequent stint as city manager of Key West in Florida, and several years of retirement, the Democrat is throwing his hat in the ring again.  This time, he’s vying for a seat on Wilmington’s City Council. And, Cooper is a major proponent of increased synergy between the city council and the county commission.

Google Maps

Duke Energy Progress will be closing its coal-fired power operation serving New Hanover County this December. Pollutants are slowly leaching from the coal-ash basins surrounding the Sutton plant toward groundwater wells that supply drinking water for the nearby Flemington community. However,  decommissioning the plant’s ash basins will not guarantee safety for nearby groundwater supplies—not for a long time, that is.

WHQR News / Data provided by Wave Transit

Over the summer, New Hanover County cut WAVE Transit’s funding significantly from the previous year, resulting in the likely closures of routes serving northern New Hanover County and Pleasure Island. However, WAVE was granted slightly more state funding this year for its Rural Operating Assistance Program. But since WAVE won’t be able to use that money to help salvage the routes in question, it will likely extend their current closure date—September thirtieth—until after WAVE’s board meets with the New Hanover County Commission to make final decisions in October.

Bellyglad

Since Governor McCrory signed the Voter ID Bill into law on Monday, three civil rights groups have filed lawsuits. They challenge new requirements for state-issued IDs, elimination of same-day registration--and an early voting period that will be shortened by seven days. Critics of the bill say the latter in particular will cut off voting opportunities for hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians—particularly minorities. About 64 percent of New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender County citizens voted early in the 2012 election.

Cape Fear Region Sees a Hike in Local Tourism

Aug 14, 2013

Wilmington and its nearby beach communities are enjoying record visitor spending. New Hanover County saw an eight percent increase in tourism dollars last year -- the second-biggest statewide gain after Currituck County. The Wilmington and Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau credits this hike to increased in-state visitors.

Under a newly passed House bill, North Carolinians will see a price hike in movie tickets, live performances and museum admission. The “Tax Simplification and Reduction Act” cuts personal and corporate taxes and imposes a uniform tax rate, as well as a 4.75% privilege tax on many leisure pursuits--including non-profit events. And local representatives say they were given inadequate time to consider the bill before voting on it.

New Hanover County is seeking public feedback on new strategies that will affect recycling operations, landfill space and other aspects of countywide waste management. At an open meeting Tuesday night, half a dozen locals expressed mounting concern over the lifespan of the county landfill.

Mayor Bill Saffo Files for Reelection

Jul 8, 2013
City of Wilmington

On Friday, Bill Saffo filed to run for his fourth term as Mayor of the City of Wilmington. The incumbent, who has led the city since 2006, is talking about seeing projects -- such as the Cape Fear Skyway Bridge, the convention center hotel construction and the cross-city trail -- through to completion.

New Hanover County

The future of New Hanover County is bright says Commission Chairman Woody White.  Unemployment is declining, collaboration with the City of Wilmington and the beach towns is expanding, and the County just landed a coveted triple-A bond rating.  

The cost of Wave Transit: What fuels your ride?

Jun 12, 2013

If you build it, they will come. But before that happens, someone has to pay to put it together. The City of Wilmington and New Hanover County combined transportation forces to form Wave Transit almost a decade ago. The authority was set up on its own, independent of both city and county government. It also started with no cash balance, meaning no money in the bank. In part 2 of a series on Wave Transit, we explore the financial woes of the agency.

One thing is certain about funding for public transportation: the federal government doesn’t just give it to you.

Wave Transit will get new maintenance facility

May 23, 2013

Wilmington residents living next door to Wave Transit’s industrial bus garage will not have to endure the sounds and smells for much longer. Ground breaks this afternoon for Wave’s new operations and maintenance center in New Hanover County, on Castle Hayne Road near Martin Luther King Jr Parkway. WHQR’s Sara Wood reports it will replace the current facility at the corner of 11th and Castle Streets.

New Hanover County

90 percent of New Hanover County residents don’t recycle or properly dispose of household waste. 

commons.wikimedia.org

Even though tossing electronic waste into landfills is illegal in North Carolina, only about ten percent of residents in New Hanover County make the effort to recycle.  County officials say the level of apathy among residents is a head-scratcher. 

But Verizon is expecting broad community participation at the e-waste drive, which takes place on Thursday, May 9th at the Verizon Call Center in Wilmington.

The group’s name is FOCUS.  It may be short and easy-to-remember, but it encompasses a huge mission for the future of the Cape Fear Region. 

As the federal government continues debating gun control, several local agencies gathered for a school safety summit in Wilmington on Tuesday at Cape Fear Community College. Attendees represented various organizations, from school administration and law enforcement, to mental health and the court system and  it marks the beginning of a community dialogue to assess school safety, focusing on prevention rather than a cure.

Last night the Wilmington City Council unanimously approved a resolution that could offer Castle Branch financial incentives to expand its local headquarters and bring 400 news jobs to the area. The resolution to potentially give the company $250,000 dollars mirrors a decision New Hanover County commissioners made earlier this week.

North Carolina House bill 438 opened a new door for county commissioners. It gives them more control over public health and social services departments. Brunswick County’s already switched over. New Hanover and Pender counties are now considering adopting the legislation.

Local county boards of health cover a lot of territory beyond funding birth control and offering flu shots.

Last week electronic sweepstakes machines were officially considered illegal in North Carolina. But according to Wilmington officials, there are still a number of establishments operating machines throughout the city and it’s only a matter of time before code and law enforcement step in.

Today the New Hanover County Department of Social Services begins accepting applications for help with heating costs for the winter. Applications will be taken until the end of March or until funding is exhausted.

Tourism in North Carolina is up all over the state – to the tune of 18-billion dollars in spending last year. 

The good news:  it’s rare.  The bad news:  there’s no vaccine, no cure, and Eastern Equine Encephalitis can be fatal.  People catch it from mosquitoes – and with the recent rains, mosquitoes are plentiful.  WHQR’s Rachel Lewis Hilburn reports that authorities in New Hanover and Brunswick Counties are urging residents to take simple steps to protect themselves. 

Mosquitoes pass encephalitis to humans – usually after biting an infected wild bird – which make great hosts for the disease. 

Residents and businesses in the unincorporated portions of New Hanover County could soon see a sizable drop in their homeowner’s insurance premiums. 

While the nation’s eyes are turned on North Carolina as it becomes the 30th state to adopt a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, New Hanover County delivered a strikingly high percentage of votes opposing the amendment.  WHQR’s Rachel Lewis Hilburn reports. 

NHCo. One-Stop Voting Begins Thursday

Apr 17, 2012

Thursday is the first day for one-stop early voting for the May primary election in New Hanover County. Voters will select candidates for local, state and federal races for the November general election. They will also get to decide on a state constitutional amendment on same sex-marriage. 

The coordination of several agencies led to what Wilmington Fire Chief Buddy Martinette considers a successful containment of the fire that broke out yesterday in the Pine Valley neighborhood. 

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