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It's Sunday June 26, 2016

News From The Village Updated Almost Daily




June 7, 2016
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May 25, 2016

A
new federal policy puts the word, “Oriental” off-limits as a way to describe a person’s ethnicity. That change – to Asian or Asian-American – was in a bill that got unanimous approval in Congress and was signed by President Obama late last week. TownDock.net considered what this might mean for the Town of Oriental. We noted that the town took its name from an 1862 shipwreck, (the steamer Oriental, which took its name from a Cuban port, thus giving Oriental Spanish rather than Asian roots.) A poll is underway, asking whether the town’s name should remain the same or change to “Shipwreck” or “Smiths Creek.” (The latter had been the community’s name before it was named “Oriental.”)
Some readers had additional thoughts on the subject.

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March 20, 2016

Five college sailing teams competed in NCSU’s Sailpack Invitational Regatta on March 12. This was the second annual running of the regatta in the Neuse waters off of Oriental. Sailpack Coach Dana Magliola sends a letter of thanks:

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February 29, 2016

O
riental’s Town Board holds a public hearing on March 1 on 7 proposed changes to the GMO. One would require that anyone outside the town limits who seeks to get on the Town of Oriental’s water system must also apply for annexation in to Oriental. The current disconnect became apparent in the fall of 2013 when the Town Board let Walmart get Town water even as the retailer refused to be annexed in to town where Oriental’s development standards and property taxes would apply. One rationale for the Town Board action was that the water plant needed customers.

(In its 20-month existence just outside Oriental, Walmart, as it turned out, paid between $120-$140 a month for water and sewer. Town Manager Diane Miller says that is about equal to what 2 to 3 households pay. The Town did not receive all of the $120; more than half of that money went to the Bay River Sewer Authority.)

Since Walmart closed this winter, the idea of requiring annexation for water service has become more popular. Not, however, with everyone. Former Town Commissioner Larry Summers writes in to oppose the idea:

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February 26, 2016

O
riental’s Town Board on February 2 approved a graffiti ordinance, the passage of which took many by surprise. Just a month earlier, at its January meeting, the Board tabled a proposed graffiti ordinance after hearing that the anti-Walmart message spray-painted on the shuttered Town-n-Country grocery at Halloween would be painted over by month’s end, as per the building’s owner. The Town Board’s consensus at that January meeting was that if Oriental’s only graffiti in recent memory were cleaned up – to become only a memory – then there was no need to create a new law. The storefront was painted black on January 20. Two weeks later, the proposal for a graffiti ordinance was formally on the agenda for the February 2 meeting, though the expectation going in to the meeting was that the cleaned-up graffiti meant that Oriental had dealt with the issue and no law was needed. Then, the Board voted 3-2 for a graffiti ordinance – Commissioners Charlie Overcash, Barb Venturi and Sandy Winfrey in favor and David White and Allen White opposed. In a guest column this past week, attorney Michael Tigar laid out shortcomings he sees in the ordinance, the potential for overreach and 1st Amendment concerns. That prompted letters from readers – some agreeing, some disagreeing – Carol Small, Susan Dilllard, Pat del Rio, Eric Dammeyer, and Michael Tigar and Jane Tigar :

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January 22, 2016
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January 15, 2016

T
he WalMart Express just on the edge of Oriental is shutting down on January 28, as are the 101 other WalMart Express stores that the giant retailer opened in recent years in a “pilot” project. Walmart announced today that it was ending the “pilot” and closing its Express stores. That news came in a release from Walmart HQs, titled “Walmart Continues Sharpened Focus on Portfolio Management.”

In Oriental, where the experiment known as store #7207 was conducted for 20 months, the news stunned many. But not all.

Some had welcomed the big retailer and its small grocery store, while others tried to stop it from coming, citing concern for independent businesses. Oriental’s WalMart Express Store (#7207) opened in May 2014 and less than a year and a half later Oriental’s only one-stop independent grocer threw in the towel, overwhelmed by the competition. With #7207’s closing, Oriental will be without a one-stop grocery and will be without a pharmacy as well.

This turn of events prompted Carol Small, Doug Sligh, Chris Kiricoples, Walter Vick, Rick Smith, Ben Casey, Tom Lathrop, Greg and Kathi Gonya, Walter Lane, Iris Cooper and Mark Clardy, Jim Privette, Ken Laser, Allen and Leigh Price and others to write.

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January 7, 2016

Oriental’s Town Board on Tuesday night put off action on a proposed graffiti ordinance that had been prompted by the two-and-a-half month old grafitti on the front of the Town-n-Country building. The Board voted 5-0 to table the proposal. Instead, the Board is waiting for Ruth Ireland to have the graffiti painted over by the end of January. The Board’s stance led John Cassillo to write. His letter brought in an alternative view:

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January 6, 2016
A
visiting boat crew from Texas took part – and played a big part — in Oriental’s New Years Eve festivities last week. James Woodring and Rachel Lay had sailed their Westsail 32, Mona to the Town Dock a few days earlier, and were asked if the Croaker Dropping team could use their boat (and in particular, the mast) for the finale of ringing in the new year. They agreed – James even played a couple of rounds of Auld Lang Syne on an accordion he bought while in town. He followed that up with this letter.... read more »»



December 16, 2015

T
he 2015 Spirit of Christmas celebration got off to a glowing start Friday night (Dec 11). For this Friday Night Lights, luminaries lined the streets, the Oriental Star was switched on, and 20 kayaks and other paddled boats brought their lights to the harbor. Along the Oriental shoreline, from the bridge to Whittaker Creek, a flotilla of larger lighted boats paraded past. Joe Valinoti organized the flotilla and has these words of thanks.

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November 17, 2015

A
thank you from the Oriental Dragon Boat Club.

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November 12, 2015
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November 9, 2015
W
ith autumn, leaves fall and we humans rake them up. Many load them up and take them – along with branches and limbs – to the yard waste drop-off at the Oriental water plant. That’s the the dumpster that as of a year ago, the Town of Oriental started providing to its residents. Not everyone takes that route to Gilgo Road, though. Some still light their yard waste — and more — afire in their yards. The smoke and smell and particulates rising from the fire do not remain in the burner’s yard. Which got reader Steve Polk to write in, with a request….... read more »»



November 3, 2015

It’s no longer just a boarded-up storefront that you see on entering Oriental. Plywood boards were nailed in place late last week as the Town-n-Country grocery shut down after 4 decades in business. In the last 18 months, the independent grocery had faced insurmountable competition after the WalMart Express opened, a few hundred yards away. That saga appeared to have inspired the graffiti that appeared on the storefront’s boards on Sunday morning. Spraypainted across the front – “Welcome to Oriental.” and “Thanks, WalMart” – while on the side entrances, more blunt messaaging.

Some readers wrote in to say they didn’t like it.

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October 19, 2015
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September 27, 2015
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September 27, 2015
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September 18, 2015

D
riving in Pamlico County these days you may think that a very early fall has come. A very site-specific autumn, judging by the long bands of roadside trees no longer green. But those trees and underbrush and grasses have not merely changed color to that coppery, homogenous brown. They are dead – after being sprayed with herbicide a few weeks ago. TownDock has received queries from readers asking about the spraying and its impact beyond the roadside. Oriental resident and Creekkeeper Bill Hines writes about his concerns in this Letter to the Editor. Marge Dales. Carol Small and Kim Yearick write as well.

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September 5, 2015

O
riental’s Town Board, at its September 1 meeting put off a decision on whether to accept the arrangement – 5 acres off of North Street – offered by the Camp Creek Partnership. In a July letter to the town, the partnership said it would give the Town five of the ten acres it bought a decade ago. The partners initially gave the town 45 days to make up its mind, but amid questions of costs and liability – the site on low-lying land has a house in ill-repair – they now say the Town can take the time it needs until the end of the year. The Board says it will hear from the public at its early October meeting. A Letter to the Editor from Jim Barton suggests the Town use the time to consider the nature of the offer and earlier commitments by the partners to provide the public more than just the unimproved acreage. Also writing is Commissioner Larry Summers, and Bob Miller who favor the offer.

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July 16, 2015

Many letters have been coming in over Oriental and Pamlico County losing the paramedic services of Eric Kindle. Just after midnight on July 5, when he was off-duty, he heard a radioed 911 call of an inebriated person struggling in water. He walked to the site, on Oriental’s harbor, and later, when asked to move the ambulance 50 feet, he got behind the wheel and hit and damaged the side view mirror of a pickup truck. Questioned by police on the scene, he blew 0.11 on a Breathalyzer and was charged with DUI. A few days later he opted to resign from his paramedic job, which leaves open the possibility of reapplying for the job once the court case is over, which could take well in to next year.
Gwinn Hedrick, Teri Reid, Spencer Bliss, Brian Middlebrook, Bob Maxbauer, Grace Evans, Bill Creswell, Lynn DeChesser, Rich Halvarson, Lynn and Dan O’Neill, Catherine Baxley, Caroline Bliss among others, share their views on the case in their letters to the editor.

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July 15, 2015

Two big thank-yous – one from Oriental’s Town Hall, the other from Croakerfest’s chief organizer to credit the crew of volunteers who worked on this year’s Croakerfest.

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July 7, 2015

A
t Croakerfests over the years, Garbology teams have mainly worked behind the scenes — and sometimes out in the open with artful forklift work — to keep things clean. This year, the Garbology team was bigger than ever and made a point of encouraging attendees to recycle both at the festival and at home. Croakerfest Garbology Coordinator Jayne Stasser sent an appreciation.

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June 25, 2015
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March 17, 2015
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December 22, 2014

N
oise is an issue that resounds now and again in Oriental. At the moment, the unwelcome sound in question comes from the skies above, but it’s not the big fighter jets or cargo planes in and out of Cherry Point. Rather, it’s the much smaller military drones that prompt area resident Brad Cecil to write.

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November 19, 2014
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October 25, 2014

Oriental’s Town Hall has arranged for a dumpster to be set up near the water plant at Gilgo and Windward, as a place where Oriental residents can drop off their yard waste. Having the dumpster available for free drop offs of yard waste saves residents the trip to the county dump in Grantsboro, where one pays by the pound.

This pilot program has another aspect – a ban on outdoor burning. Because the Town is offering residents a place to dispose of their leaves and branches, it has the option of banning outdoor burning of that waste. That’s what the Town Board voted to do recently – make outdoor burning off limits while this pilot program is in place. Some welcome the prospect of a smokeless autumn on their respiratory systems, but the arrangement has one reader criticizing the burning ban.

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October 18, 2014
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October 8, 2014
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September 19, 2014

W
e’ve seen high water on Hodges Street again this week – not so much from the rain the other day but more because of the north wind. It blows Pamlico Sound waters down in to the harbor and then over the street. Those waters are brackish or briny which means that while it’s not as high on the salinity scale as ocean water, it’s not fresh water by any means. That fact is something that letter writer Gary Ramsey hopes drivers will take with more than a grain of salt.

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September 17, 2014
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September 15, 2014
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September 9, 2014

In early August, Oriental’s Town Board voted 5-0 on a docking ordinance that has the effect of keeping commercial fishing trawlers from tying up at the Town Docks. That vote came after 3 summer weekends during which trawlers used the newest Town Dock. When the pilings for that dock were acquired in the 2012 Chris Fulcher land swap, the future dock was represented as being for recreational vessels. That appeared to inform the Board’s vote to rule out trawlers at the public docks. Then in late August, at the Board’s Agenda meeting, former Mayor Sherrill Styron, who owns one of the seafood plants on the harbor, called on the Board to reverse its early August vote. He wants commercial trawlers to be able to tie up at the Town Docks if they want to. The issue has prompted some letters from readers, including Larry Summers and Jean White.

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September 8, 2014

O
riental has become known as a place where people move after having their careers and after raising their families. But not everyone who moves here fits that description. There are parents who move to Oriental to bring up their children. Having just reached a milestone in that path, Mary Beth Thorn sends in what she calls her Love Letter To Oriental.

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September 5, 2014

T
his summer has had it cool moments. And some heat. We’ve had periods of rain and heat and resulting steaminess — sometimes all in the same day. Or even the same hour. On one occasion, the TownDock staff muttered that we wished autumn would just get here already. Reader Russ Boltz took issue. In a Letter to the Editor, he comes to the defense of our Eastern NC summers, making the “grass is greener” argument. Literally.

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August 27, 2014

A
year ago – August 22, 2013 – the public in Oriental first got word that WalMart planned a store 255 feet outside the town limits. That would put it just a few hundred feet from the independently-owned in-town grocery store, Town & Country, which Ruth Ireland first opened in 1973. Some welcomed the prospect of a WalMart to our small town, others opposed it, largely out of concern of what impact the world’s largest retailer would have on Oriental’s smaller stores. WalMart opened in May and, as predicted, business at the indy grocer has been down. Oriental resident Jean White asks in a letter that others join her in still shopping at “Ruth’s.”

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August 27, 2014

Ashley Erwin writes in with an alert for local fishermen. Vibrio Vulnificus is a waterborne bacteria that can be in our waters during the summer months:

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August 11, 2014

The Ukulele Hoalohas Of Oriental have been gathering weekly for the past year or two to practice and along the way introduce more people to the ukulele. This spring they wanted to make ukuleles available to children in Fred Anderson Elementary School. That meant raising money. Their fundraiser was a success, as UHOO’s Susan Banks writes.

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August 4, 2014

O
riental opened its new Town Dock this spring. It’s near the harbor end of South Avenue and was acquired by the Town in a still controversial 2012 land swap with seafood businessman Chris Fulcher (who got 13,000 square feet of Town right of way in exchange for 5,000 feet of land and pilings for a dock.) This new Town Dock was touted as a place where more visiting boats — cruisers, day sailors, small craft, basically — could tie up for free so their crews to spend time — and money — in town to the benefit of businesses here. It was repeatedly stated then that giving up the rights of way – and a bigger docking area there – and taking the smaller dock space would let all the pleasure craft be at one end of the harbor. But in the past few weeks large fishing trawlers have periodically tied up at that new Town Dock. That’s kept sailboats and power boats — the long-anticipated users of Oriental’s new free Town Dock — from being able to use the space. The most recent incident was this past weekend, when the Gulf Stream III tied up in order to have repair work done from Chris Fulcher’s adjacent yard. Dock lines from the big trawler stretched across the Town Dock obstructing passage for pedestrians. It was tied up there Saturday, and again Sunday evening for more repairs. On Monday and Tuesday the Gulf Stream III was blocking any entrance in to the dock’s south side
This prompts a letter from Oriental resident Steve Snyder, which sparked others.

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July 30, 2014

Efforts have been underway for a few years to build a bike path that would link the main part of Oriental with the White Farm Road part of town. By going thru the woods and headwaters of Whittaker Creek, it would provide a way for pedestrians and cyclists to travel from one part of town to the other without encountering the traffic on Hwy 55 and Straight Road.

Liz Lathrop remembers her friend, Margaret Madgwick, who died last month and who in the 1990’s was a force in putting in place the bike lanes that Oriental does have.

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July 22, 2014

Hope Clinic has some words of thanks.

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July 10, 2014

The 34th Annual Croaker Festival prompted some letters of appreciation…

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June 25, 2014

Two years ago, a grassroots effort kept the NC Legislature’s mandated toll on local ferries from kicking in. Last year, the Legislature wrote language that, on the surface kept the tolls away, but put the onus on regional transportation boards to find ways to finance new ferries. In contrast to that, there also arose a new idea: get rid of all the ferry tolls and bring in more tourism dollars as a result.

Fast forward to this session of the Legislature, where the lines are drawn not between the parties, but between the House and the Senate. Greg Piner of Oriental played a big role in the grassroots campaign to prevent the tolls from being charged on our local Minnesott Neuse River ferry. In this Letter to the Editor, he says now is the time to call and email lawmakers if you want to keep the ferries free.

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June 13, 2014
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May 15, 2014
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May 14, 2014

A few years ago, the Town of Oriental allowed Pamlico County government to place recycling bins in the parking lot of Oriental’s recreational field on Straight Road. That was mainly done as a courtesy to residents outside of town – those who live in Oriental have their recyclables picked up at curbside a few times a month. A letter writer suggests the demand for a place to recycle is great.

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February 21, 2014

Oriental has put on a Croakerfest for many a July. The parade, the baking contest, the pagaents, the fireworks, the street dance and what had been, perhaps more so in the past, a way for non-profits to raise some funds. This year, some are talking about needing many more volunteers — or scaling back the event on that first Saturday of July. An organizing meeting has been set for Saturday March 8 at 9a at Brantley’s Restaurant. Some brainstorming has been happening already, as witnessed by a letter to the editor.

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January 29, 2014

F
olksinger Pete Seeger’s death on Monday at the age of 94 prompted Merritt reader Jim Root to share a memory of driving the musician.

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December 5, 2013

This summer and fall, three and then four boats took up much of the available anchoring space in Oriental’s small anchorage. That left visiting boats with the option of anchoring in shallow waters and less protected waters. There were repeated instances of such boaters opting not to stop in Oriental.

The presence of the homesteading boats in the anchorage prompted many in town to wonder why the Town couldn’t impose a time limit to give more boats a chance to visit. It was generally thought that the Town didn’t have jurisdiction. One Town Commissioner, Larry Summers has been urging his colleagues for months to pass a resolution asking the legislative delegation next May to pass a “local bill” giving that jurisdiction to the Town of Oriental. At at Town Board meeting December 3, Scott Davis, who is the Town’s Attorney, questioned whether the Town could gain such jurisdiction. (The New Bern based attorney also said that he’d only considered the matter while driving to Oriental for the meeting.)

The resurfacing of the jurisdiction issue prompted a Letter To The Editor.

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November 13, 2013

P
rimadonna, the sailboat that occupied a space in Oriental’s harbor for the past year, was towed to Morehead City on November 12. The towing boat was Martijn Dijkstra’s 50-foot steel sailboat, “Prinses Mia”. Martijn has visited Oriental often on his earlier boat, Rotop and after arriving last week and learning of the situation in the anchorage, he offered to help fix the engine on Primadonna (which its crew has long said was its reason for staying) or to tow the boat away. The Primadonna crew – Pascal Ott and Monique Christmann — told Martijn that they wanted to go to Morehead to have the engine fixed there. And so, for five hours Tuesday, Princes Mia pulled Primadonna to Morehead where it picked up a mooring. The Primadonna crew did not acknowledge the Prinses Mia crew as the tow line was slipped. While there was no ‘merci’ or thank you from Primadonna, others have been more forthcoming, with both thanks, and some thoughts about what’s next.

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November 2, 2013

Oriental’s Town Board voted 4-0 on November 1 to provide water service to Walmart’s planned Express store outside of town. Walmart will not be required to annex in to town upon completion of its 12,000 square foot building as the Town had stipulated earlier in October. Walmart balked at that and the Town Board acquiesced. Instead, Walmart’s grocery store will give the town a “donation” every year of the amount of money it would have been taxed if it were in town and subject to Oriental property tax. (If the property were assessed at 1 million dollars, the Mayor said, the tax would be $2,000.)

Members of the Board described it a win-win. Mayor Sage said a negotiating committee from the Town engaged in a conference call with three representatives of Walmart on Thursday because Walmart said it couldn’t meet face-to-face and had to meet this week.

While the Town required annexation for Ruth Ireland’s Town-n-Country grocery 27 years ago, and required annexation for three homeowners on White Farm Road in recent years when they sought town water, the Board did not require that of Walmart. That means that unlike businesses in town, Walmart need not comply with Oriental’s Growth Management Ordinance. With this intentional action, the Board sets a precedent; future, out-of-town landowners who want Town water could ask for what Walmart got — not having to annex and be held to the Town’s development standards.

The decision has sparked some letters.

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November 2, 2013

As reported on TownDock.net on Wednesday, October 9, local resident and Provision Company manager, Pat Stockwell has been helping the crew of the vessel, Primadonna, since it came to Oriental almost a year ago. Two weeks ago, Stockwell co-endorsed a check for $2,980.42 made out to Primadonna owner, Pascal Ott. The check bounced and Stockwell had to pay First Citizens Bank the $2,980.42 it had given to Ott. Stockwell says he’s asked Ott to pay him back but has received, two weeks on, nothing. That’s sparked several letters….

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October 30, 2013

Guest Columnist Alan Propst has pointed out that a 4,500 acre tract between the Florence-Whortonsville Road and Trent Road could be converted from wetlands to farmland. Some of the land has already been clear-cut and Propst raises concern that state and federal officials could approve the conversion of that land to agriculture. He estimates that 75 % of it is wetland, which under federal law, would prohibit its conversion to farmland. He wrote that if it remained wetland, it would serve to absorb pollutants as a sponge would, but that as farmland that would likely be sprayed with chemicals, those would quickly run-off in to ditches and then creeks that lead to the nurseries for fish and shrimp in the Bay and Neuse Rivers. He urged readers to contact the state and federal agencies the are supposed to enforce the environmental laws.

His column prompted a letter from Mindy Schmitz.

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October 29, 2013

A word of appreciation. Joe Bliss writes.

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October 23, 2013

O
riental’s Mayor has called a special meeting of Oriental’s Town Board on Friday October 25 at 3p. The subject, once again, is about the Town providing its water service to the Walmart store planned for just outside the town limits. Oriental’s Town Board on October 1 voted to provide the water if Walmart annexed in to Town after its building is completed. Mayor Bill Sage indicates that Walmart has now responded to the Town’s offer. He says the Board on Friday will consider a resolution before the board to not require the annexation. By avoiding annexation, Walmart woudl not have to pay Oriental property tax, which finances the police protection Walmart would enjoy as a courtesy as its store would be within one mile of the Town limits.

The possibility of the Town Board backing down on requiring annexation has prompted some letters.

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October 3, 2013

On Tuesday, October 1, Oriental’s Town Board voted 4-0 to let a proposed Walmart Express store outside the town limits tap on to the Town of Oriental’s water system, so long as Walmart agreed to be annexed in to town once its building is constructed. Opponents concerned about Walmart’s impact on in-town businesses wanted the Town to not provide the water. At the meeting, Commissioner Larry Summers said “this is a racial thing” and to decide “we don’t like Walmart is a grievous mistake and harkens back to the days of Jim Crow.” That drew looks of surprise in the audience and, after the meeting, letters to the Editor. Among the letter writers, Larry Summers, Bob Kruger, Penny Flaherty, Doug Sligh.

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September 28, 2013

Oriental’s Town Board could vote on Tuesday October 1 to let Walmart tap on to the Town’s water system for a planned store just outside the Town limits (where Walmart would pay no property tax and be subject to none of the Town’s zoning.) Some members of the Board say that providing Walmart with water is a chance to have another water customer (annual charge to Walmart would be $720-$840) But as reported, some of those opposed to the Walmart opening say the Town Board should think first about its own constituents — the in-town businesses who will likely be hurt financially if the retail giant opens just outside of town — and say no to providing Walmart with water.

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September 24, 2013

As reported on TownDock.net on Thursday August 22, Town Hall sent an email to Town Commissioners that day saying that the “Town of Oriental will be welcoming a Wal Mart Express” store. The email went on to say that the store — a smaller version and new business plan of the giant retailer — would be just outside the Town limits.

The prospect of Walmart coming to Oriental has prompted several reactions. Initially, some receive the words “Walmart in Oriental” as if it were a punchline to a joke. Others, though, say it will be like a punch to the Mom and Pop businesses here, and ask what can be done to keep WalMart from coming to (the edge of) town. Among the letter writers… Tony Tharp, Steve Kenney, Kathy Kellam, John Zeren, Nelda Coats, Carolyn Howell, Ben Giacchino, Joseph Kershner, Marlene Miller, R. Scott Williams, Walter Lane, Craig Strautin, Mike Page, Bruce Minor, Barbara Stockton, Darrell Jorgensen, Janet Chinea, Glenn & Beth Larsen, Linda Page, Susie Hiller, Martha Gail Good, Randy Durham, Scott Pickard, Bama Lutes Deal, Bob Miller, John Norris, Paula Valinoti,

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September 20, 2013
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September 19, 2013
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September 6, 2013
Letters have been coming following the story about the boat Primadonna.
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August 30, 2013
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August 13, 2013

A letter on the 2013 Dragon Boat Festival.

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July 8, 2013

The 33rd Annual Croakerfest had it all: parade, spectacular fireworks, a heavy turnout for the regatta. It prompted some thank you’s for chief organizer, Candy Bohmert.

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