It's Friday August 29, 2014
News From The Village Updated Almost Daily
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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.... read more »»
This prompts a letter from Oriental resident Steve Snyder, which sparked others.... read more »»
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.... read more »»
Hope Clinic has some words of thanks.... read more »»
The 34th Annual Croaker Festival prompted some letters of appreciation…... read more »»
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.... read more »»
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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.... read more »»
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.... read more »»
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.... read more »»
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.... read more »»
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….... read more »»
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.... read more »»
A word of appreciation. Joe Bliss writes.... read more »»
The possibility of the Town Board backing down on requiring annexation has prompted some letters.... read more »»
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.... read more »»
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.... read more »»
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,... read more »»
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Letters have been coming following the story about the boat Primadonna.
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A letter on the 2013 Dragon Boat Festival.... read more »»
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.... read more »»
In May, a letter to the editor here at TownDock.net and a subsequent Guest Column sparked what has become a topic of much discussion in these pages and in Oriental. The subject: Oriental’s anchorage, just inside the breakwater. Traditionally, Oriental’s anchorage has been a place were visiting boats drop the hook for a day or two, maybe even a few weeks or a month. This winter-spring-and-now-summer, three boats have been seemingly permanently anchored. As some have suggested, this has put a crimp on others who want to anchor there. TownDock.net published a number of Letters to the Editor on the subject and the letters continue to come in. Many of the more recent letters offer potential courses of action the Town of Orientalmight take. TownDock.net is researching the issues raised in these letters in advance of a story on the options for the Town controlling the anchorage. In the meantime, here are the letters from readers — with both suggestions and opinions.... read more »»
Oriental’s approach to killing weeds is getting more attention this spring.
Several residents have complained about spraying in places and ways they thought should be off limits — such as near the water’s edge, before rains. In one instance, a Town crew sprayed a curbside garden that would be abloom with coreopsis and other flowers this time of year. Instead, it is dead. One question being asked is why the Town doesn’t give notice of herbicide sprayings as it does for mosquito spraying. Some of this may be addressed by the Tree Board — now that the Town Board has asked the Tree Board to weigh in on the Town’s herbicide and pesticide policy. Reader Pat Bullis writes about her concern over the type of herbicides – Atrazine and Roundup – that are being used:
Oriental welcomes boaters to tie up to its Town Dock for free for up to 48 hours. The idea is that by providing that option, boaters will visit town and contribute to the local economy. The time limit gives other boaters a chance to do the same. Oriental’s anchorage, near the harbor entrance, has no time limit. Recently, a few boats have remained anchored there for months. That prompted a letter in mid-May from reader Gil Fontes, then a Guest Column from the visiting boater he mentioned, and then a flurry of letters from both area residents, boaters and cruisers:... read more »»
When the NC Senate voted along party lines to pass its version of the budget on May 23, the measure included a mandate to impose tolls on all ferries in NC. Pamlico County Senator Norman Sanderson voted with his party — the GOP — for the budget, despite the tolls it calls for. Sandersons’ aide says he did speak on the Senate floor against the tolling provision, but voted for the budget because “overall” it was a good one. That move sparked several letters, from Jim Barton, John Deal, and Al Privette.... read more »»
As reported on TownDock last week, Bob Maxbauer will be stepping down as Town Manager on June 30 and plans to run for a seat on the Town Board.
He is also pitching the current Town Board to give him a job running the Town’s water plant and overseeing repairs there in the new fiscal year starting July 1. Maxbauer claims it would be cheaper to use him and Public Works crews than to pay “$40-$50-$60 an hour” for outside labor. However, it would cost the town to pay for his plan; Maxbauer proposes that the Town Board raise the budget’s line item for Public Works salaries to $160,000, up from the $128,000 the Town Board had pencilled in for next year’s budget. He also proposes a water rate hike of around 10% for water customers.
That scenario brought in this letter from Gail Good.... read more »»
As reported on May 16, Oriental’s Town Manager has proposed that the Town Board levy a property tax hike of 3 cents per $100 valuation. to pay the Town’s legal fees in the Cox v. Oriental lawsuit. (The Town Board has since penciled in a 1 mil rate hike.) Resident Dave Cox has sued over the Town for giving up two waterfront rights of way in the Chris Fulcher land swap. (The gist of his case: that towns can’t give up rights of way held in public trust.) The prospect of the tax hike prompted Joe Mattea to write.... read more »»
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The NC Senate gave its final approval to SB58 which would raise boat registration fees across the state to finance dredging on some inlets near the ocean. That scenario caused an outcry. Pamlico Senator Norman Sanderson, who co-sponsored the bill, voted against its final passage.
Carolyn Howell wrote in..
“On July 1, those taking the local commuter ferries will have to pay a toll – $4 on the Minnesott-Cherry Branch ferry and $10 per car and driver on the Bayview-Aurora ferry. That’s because of a budget bill passed two years ago — which local legislator Norman Sanderson voted for — which called for the tolls as a way to generate $5 million more per year. Last month, the NC DOT began installing the toll booths that will go in to use unless some alternative bills — one to do away with all tolls on all NC ferries, the other to apply tolls to all ferries, which could reduce the price of the Neuse and Pamlico River ferries. The toll booths caught the attention of one of those commuters, JM Smith who lives just outside Oriental…..”... read more »»
A cruising crew once in Oriental check in from a few thousand miles away.... read more »»
At the Oriental Town Board’s Thursday March 28 Agenda Meeting, several Commissioners raised concerns about the Town’s budget and an as-yet unreceived payment of $76,000 in Hurricane Irene FEMA money from the State. The Town Manager, Bob Maxbauer, wants funds shifted from the Town’s General Fund to make up for that. Commissioners Barbara Venturi, Warren Johnson and Michelle Bessette suggested some belt-tightening. Johnson said he’d heard rumors that Maxbauer wanted to hire a third police officer, which Johnson said should not happen given the hole in the budget. Maxbauer accused Johnson of “emoting” and making “rash statements.” When Johnson asked if it were true that 7 people were now working in the Public Works Department, Maxbauer said, “I don’t have the count.” This prompted Martha Gail Good to write in….... read more »»
State Senator Norman Sanderson of Arapahoe has co-sponsored Senate Bill 58 which would increase the fees for recreational boat registration by as much as 10 times over.(See TownDock.net story, here) Boats of 40 feet or longer would pay $150 per year. (Currently the flat rate for registration is $15 per year.) Under the proposal, documented boats would no longer be exempt from such fees.The funds raised would go toward the Shallow Draft Inlet Dredging Fund, though the bill does not state what inlets would benefit. The bill has drawn sharp criticism in Oriental – the Sailing Capital of NC – and beyond. Writing in, are Jim Barton, Tom Lathrop…... read more »»
Norman Sanderson represents Pamlico, Craven and Carteret counties in the NC Senate, after serving one term in the NC House. In his freshman year, 2011, Sanderson voted twice for a budget that imposed the ferry toll, which his constituents continue to try to fend off two years later. (As reported last year, Sanderson said that he couldn’t be ‘that kind of politician’ who would have asked his party’s leadership to stop the tolls for his district.) This year, Sanderson has co-sponsored Senate Bill 58 which would increase boat registration fees as much as 10 times over in order to finance a dredging fund that would not appear to pay for any projects in Pamlico County. The Senator’s actions have sparked some comment from Carolyn Howell, Charles C. Garrett…... read more »»
In January of 2012, a land swap on Oriental’s harbor and riverfront was first proposed between the Town of Oriental and Chris Fulcher, who owns the land surrounding the Town’s rights of way at Avenue A and the harbor front end of South Avenue. Chris Fulcher also owns the concrete block structure with an unfinished roof that has marked the mouth of the harbor for more than a decade, and it is that structure that prompted Marilyn Stern to write and pose a question.... read more »»
Travelers who want to cross the Neuse River on the Minnesott-Cherry Branch ferry could be paying $4 per car – and $1 per passenger – on July 1. (The other free commuter ferry in the area – between Aurora-Bayview – would charge $8 per car and $2 per passenger.) A grassroots effort in Pamlico County is challenging the tolls, and working to get the Legislature to rethink the issue. It prompted frequent visitor Tom Beaty to write…... read more »»
As reported on TownDock, Commissioner Warren Johnson has found almost $20,000 in costs associated with the Town Hall renovation that the Town Manager paid for through other departments’ budgets. That makes the Town Hall project appear to cost less than it did. Work continued on the building in February. Mayor Bill Sage wrote to Johnson’s fellow Commissioners saying it was up to the Town Manager to pay from other departments. That prompted a letter from former Town Commissioner, Candy Bohmert.... read more »»
Riders on the Minnesott-Cherry Branch could be paying to cross the Neuse River come this summer, unless Legislators in Raleigh change course. Larry Summers to write..... read more »»
Oriental currently bans the sale, serving and drinking of alcoholic beverages on land and property that the Town owns or controls. Now, the Town Board has before it a proposal to get rid of that outright ban and allow the Town Manager to grant exceptions. (Click here to read the proposed change.) The proposal would, among other things, contain the drinking in a designated public space to the hours of noon to 9p.
Town Commissioner Larry Summers writes a letter supporting the change. The idea has drawn other readers to write, including Paul Delamar, John Zeren, Michael Tigar, Candy Bohmert, Gil Fontes, Bama Lutes Deal, Marilyn Nevison…... read more »»
At its January 31 agenda meeting, Oriental’s Town Board voted to not consider lifting the ban on alcohol on public property. In a twist, the Board did vote to consider finetuning the wording of the ban on drinking in public places. That sparked a new round of letters. Among the writers: Mary Cancel, Steve Snyder, John Y. Jackson... read more »»
Oriental’s Town Hall, which flooded a few inches in Hurricane Irene in August 2011 has been renovated and is once again open for meetings and business. The renovation project was designed by the Town Manager, Bob Maxbauer who also served as the General Contractor. The Town Board allocated $289,000 for the project. The Town Manager in February sought another $10,000 as a line item to cover cost overruns and said it shouldn’t be held up to scrutiny. Final cost of the Town Hall renovation is as yet unclear as some outlays of money – for some labor, for example – came from other departments and were not recorded as being part of the Town Hall project.
The renovation sparked these words of praise from resident David Marchand.
The trawler, Lady Barbara, owned by Ralph Taylor of Marshallberg in Carteret County, sank at the docks of Garland Fulcher Seafood on Oriental’s Harbor on January 15. The dock owner, Sherrill Styron says he tried for months to get the boat owner to remove his vessel. As the boat sank, fluids with a petroleum-based look and smell flowed on to the harbor’s waters, despite a boom that the dock owner put around the boat, while waiting for the boat’s owner to arrive. (He did, a day later.)
The pollution on the harbor prompted reader Bob Taylor to write.... read more »»
As reported on December 18, Pamlico Sheriff’s Office said it had solved the case of the broken water lines in the county — and was charging a Pamlico county woman who owned a water line repair company in the case. The Sheriff’s office charged her and a New Bern man with 6 counts of damaging a public water system and one count of obtaining property by false pretenses. Reader Patrick Del Rio took issue with the coverage…... read more »»
This week, a crew has been blasting the paint off of the trawler “Chaz’s Toy” at the far end of Oriental’s harbor, near the breakwater. There has been no visible containment for the blasting – no tent over the trawler, no booms in the water – and a film of that paint has floated down the harbor. In response to inquiries from TownDock.net readers, TownDock.net published the number for the National Response Center (1800-424-8820). That and the ongoing sandblasting prompted Walter Lane to write.... read more »»
Oriental’s Town Dock, on the Hodges Street side of the harbor, welcomes boats to tie up for 48-hours. Most visiting boats comply and leave after two days. Some may stay a day or two beyond that. Occasionally, though, a boat may stay for a week or more, they draw attention and questions such as the one that letter writer E.S. Mead poses.... read more »»
Oriental’s Town Board holds a public hearing on some proposed ordinance changes regarding adult entertainment, tattoo parlors and internet gambling. The hearing is coming up on December 4. It prompted Bill Hines to write.... read more »»
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At issue: the fire siren that has been on a pole behind Town Hall for almost 60 years. The Fire Department says it was given assurances that after renovations were done at Town Hall, the siren would return there. The Town Manager said he didn’t want the fire siren there because it would detract from the “aesthetic” of the building. Neighbors in another part of town opposed the Town Manager’s idea of moving it to their midst.
As this story played out, the fire fighters said they’d twice been promised by the Town Manager that the siren would stay at Town Hall, and twice watched as town officials backed away from that agreement. The Town Board voted November 6 to keep the siren at Town Hall.
The issue drew letters from Dan Foreman, Thomas Cleary, Ken King, Larry Jones, Cathy McWilliams, Irma Fay Bond Maxbauer, Ben Casey, Tom Lathrop, Carol Wright, Iris Nance, Bill and Maggie Arndt.
Martha Gail Good wrote, “Set aside the ‘how it looks’ but focus on the purpose of the siren. Then, turn to those who know best.. firemen.... read more »»
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What approach should Pamlico County take to attract jobs and people? One candidate for County Commission lays out some ideas — and questions.
Roger Bullis writes, “A plan without action is a wish. And wishes don’t attract new development opportunities.”... read more »»
Oriental’s Town Board voted on July 2 to give up Avenue A, which means it would become the property of Chris Fulcher. The Board held off on giving up South Avenue til at least its August meeting; it voted to have the properties in the land swap evaluated and appraised. That’s in keeping with a General Statute that calls for determining full and fair consideration of such properties in exchanges. The story of the Board’s vote is here.
It’s generated letters from Carol Small, John Zeren, Bob Kruger and Larry Summers….... read more »»
Oriental’s Town Board holds a public hearing on Tuesday July 3 regarding the proposed abandonment of South Avenue’s 7,000 square feet of harborfront and all of Avenue A’s 6,000 square feet. Giving up that land is key to a land swap contract between the Town and businessman and harbor front landowner Chris Fulcher. He’d give the town a 4,500 square foot lot with pilings that could become a dock and land where – unlike a right of way – public restrooms could be built.
In the days leading up to the hearing, Letters to the Editor from Joe Valinoti, Dave Cox….
Dave Cox writes “For the past six months I have hoped the Oriental Town Board would just DO right. No luck so far. It’s not right to sell or barter a right of way, which the town doesn’t own – it holds it in trust for the public…..”... read more »»
As reported, Oriental’s Town Manager says the Town should give up Avenue A in the land swap because otherwise it would have to pay $75,000 to restore a corner to private property. Former COmmissioner Dave Cox says the Town needn’t spend a cent because the road curved over the property for so many decades, it’s now the town’s right of way. Attorney Catherine Cooper writes, “Does Oriental have a Town Attorney? “... read more »»
Many local eyes have been on the state legislature this session, looking for the lawmakers to overturn last year’s decision to charge tolls on the local commuter ferries. Would it be done away with or merely delayed? As of June 21, it appears the Pamlico County peninsula gets a mixed bag. No toll for a year on the Minnesott ferry but tolls to start in two weeks at Aurora-Bayview route. Letters from Greg Piner, Larry Summers, and Jack Taylor who writes, “While I am pleased we have a “stay of execution” on the Minnesott Ferry toll, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see how this will play out if we do not stay diligent.”... read more »»
In recent days, some readers say they’ve observed some dangerous driving in Oriental and in a neighborhood on the other side of the bridge. Letters from Charlie Garrett, Carol Small.
Carol Small writes, “This is for those who speed in our village. Twice in the last 4 days 2 different cars have “come after me” as I walk my dog.”... read more »»
Oriental’s Town Board voted 4-1 on May 17 to approve the harbor area land swap with Chris Fulcher.
Before the Board voted, about a dozen members of the public spoke, none in favor. One concern raised: how much room visiting boats would have to maneuver. Another: whether the town negotiated strongly enough to get more harborfront land and more water rights.
The Town Board still has to hold a public hearing over giving up the rights of way in the deal. It’s slated for July 3. Meanwhile, the May 17 vote has elicited some letters from readers, such as Carol Small, George Sechrist, Larry Summers, Jackie Mahan, Jim Privette. Joe Valinoti.
George Sechrist writes: The town commissioners need to brush up on their math. It will be a two boat dock. Is that what Oriental has in mind?... read more »»
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