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Meet the 2023 Oriental Town Board Candidates
The candidates up for election Nov 7
November 1, 2023

here are six candidates for five Town Commissioner seats. The Mayor is running unopposed for her second term.

Three of the current five Commissioners are in the running: Charlie Overcash, Allen Price, and Frank Roe.

Three new candidates are in the running: Bonnie Crosser, CPA and former chair of the Parks & Recreation Board, Gregory Bohmert, owner of Clancy’s Marina, and Breena Litzenberger, co-owner of Inner Banks Canvas.

Mayor Sally Belangia is running unopposed.

Town Board elections are held every two years. TownDock.net asked the candidates 9 questions about the development and future of Oriental.

Candidate responses are grouped by question so a reader / voter can see the range of answers.

The candidates are listed in alphabetical order of last names and then staggered so that a different candidate’s response starts the subsequent questions.

As Mayor Sally Belangia is running unopposed for re-election, her answers appear at the bottom of each question regardless of order.

How and Where to Vote
Election Day, November 7, 2023, Oriental residents can cast their vote at the Southeast Pamlico Volunteer Fire Department at 182 Straight Rd, Oriental, NC 28571.

1. Besides wanting to serve, why do you want a seat on the Town Board?

Gregory Bohmert: Complex challenges are on the horizon for everyone…These issues will also impact us collectively as the “Town of Oriental.” One thing is for sure…Everything is going to get more and more expensive, making value, economy, and efficiency our new watch words. I want to be proactive not reactive on these issues.

Bonnie Crosser: To enhance the lifestyle Oriental offers residents and visitors. Nothing celebrates the joyful soul of Oriental more than our local events: Faye Bond’s 100 Birthday, Ol’ Front Porch Music Festival, Spirit of Christmas, Croakerfest and the list goes on. Oriental is a special place – beautiful location at the water with friendly people. It takes a willingness and effort to keep that spirit of joy alive and growing.

I truly care for the town of Oriental and the residents – both full and part-time residents, visitors – by land or sea, commercial businesses – wholesale and retail. All are key to our community.

I have been actively involved within the town of Oriental, since we moved here in 2010. I care about the growth, appearance, and fiscal health of our town. I am seeking a Board seat to continue working within the town of Oriental.

Breena Litzenberger: After attending the Town Hall meetings for the last year and a half I believe there needs to be representation for young families and business owners in town. The more representative the board is of Oriental’s population, the better for residents. I became truly passionate about getting involved when a flyer of misinformation about a budget meeting circulated and the town came out in droves to speak against it. I was really moved with how well the democratic process came together in that moment and how impassioned residents in this small town are.

Charlie Overcash: Of course wanting to serve is my primary reason.

I can help the new commissioners as they learn to work with the town manager. I have experience from having served on the Board of Adjustment, as Chairman of the Planning Board for three years, and many years as a commissioner. Passing along this knowledge is just one of the reasons I want to be reelected as a commissioner.

Allen Price: I have enjoyed serving the citizens and businesses of Oriental for eight years. I will listen to their concerns and act accordingly.

Frank Roe: I am influenced by citizens, friends, family members and mentors who have a tradition of service to
Oriental, their communities, and our nation.

John Bond, 1st Lt. Mathew O. McKnight, USMC, Stan Brown, Jennifer Gillikin Roe, Ronald Gillikin, J. F. Roe, Brantley Norman, Sherrill Styron, Ken Midyette, Juichiro Takada, Roger Milliken

Leading me, after 50 years in global business, wanting to share some of the lessons and skills I have experienced to help improve and preserve our wonderful community.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr said in 1963, “Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve. This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in.”

“You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in.”

Sally Belangia (Candidate for Mayor): There is no place like Oriental! I am from Oriental and have seen the growth for 65 years and it’s important not to lose our small town feeling while we continue to grow by all working together. I enjoy being the Mayor.

2. Road conditions have been a talking point for several years – some roads for a decade. The issue came to a head and the town has been looking for ways to fund the expensive repairs.

A recent public forum provided help from the community – in suggestions, in reaching out to other towns, and in the offer of expert advice and assistance on securing municipal bonds.

Going forward, how can the town address the issue of maintaining the town’s roads?

Bonnie Crosser: There were several valid options discussed for funding the maintenance of town’s roads at the recent public forum: set aside General Funds for a period of years (save as you go plan), municipal bonds, grant opportunities, tax increase, and continue to leverage North Carolina State Representatives. Additionally, the topic of near term road maintenance was discussed – pot hole and surface repairs.

I think the town should start to set aside in each fiscal budget funds for road repairs. Define and execute a repair plan for pot holes and surface repairs within each fiscal period. Continue to leverage relationships with our North Carolina State Representatives and North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT). Research the steps involved in securing municipal bonds and grant options for major road repaving. In short, I see the solution to be a combination based on the street’s condition, traffic volume and type (tractor trailer trucks or cars).

Breena Litzenberger: The points brought up at the public forum were very informative. Due to the fact that we are on the Unit Assistance List, a bond may be difficult to acquire, but I would like to try and secure a low interest bond for the town to address roads. I would like to see the town fix roads in a needs based rotation so that we aren’t fixing all roads at once with the current inflated price of petroleum (one of the main components in road building) and so that we do not have major road failure all at once in the future.

Charlie Overcash: Several excellent means of maintaining our roads came out of that forum. I have personally reached out to the company that paved River Dune’s roads recently. I secured an onsite meeting with them on November 1st to do an initial assessment of Oriental’s roads. This may be one of the least expensive plans to get much of our village’s streets paved.

Allen Price: I believe we need to take notes from the recent roads meeting and Manager Miller’s presentation to move forward with a plan. The notes and presentation have the different paths for funding that the town can consider and a road condition analysis. We should try to have something before the next budget is finalized. I believe it would be a good topic for our January workshop or maybe we could form a small committee to work on this project. This meeting showed how beneficial it is to have community input due to the various backgrounds and knowledge in our community.

Frank Roe: Make road repair the priority in the budget process by setting aside in a capital reserve fund designated
for road maintenance. The Town Board needs to assign $200,000/year for road maintenance. The current budget process must change to accomplish this target. This is a reasonable target after 20+ years of neglect.

Just as there was success in persuading our State Representatives to fund 5.5 million dollars for Oriental’s water infrastructure, continued active communication with our representatives in Raleigh is needed.

Sustained attention to the many grants available must be vigorously pursued.

I am not in favor of increased tax burdens on our citizens.

Gregory Bohmert: The Town has made commitments to set aside additional town funds to augment the meager “Powell Funds” we receive from the state for road repair…Over the years these funds began accumulating only to be raided by “Unforeseen” emergencies like hurricanes, major water system equipment failures, flooding of town hall, these emergencies happened repeatedly …without any concerted effort to rebuild the war chest/cash stash, for road maintenance and repairs… So today, our road fund is all but empty, and road repair can no longer be kicked down the road…

Oriental and its roads, are basically built on a shifting “Sandbar.” Our roads are being degraded more quickly by poor drainage than by excessive/heavy usage. Our “Soil” turns to mush, when wet and agitated… so do our roadbeds … So, before the roads can be properly repaired, the drainage issues also need to be addressed… To compound things further, many of our roads are simply dirt and oyster-shell roads that got paved over one day. What is “wrong” with our roads varies from street to street which will change what is required to “fix” each street.

There is very little chance we can “Give” our roads to the state…our roads currently do not meet road construction standards…which is a prerequisite for the state to accept any road…

What all this means is that we will be fixing our own roads… and it will be a very long-term capital project. Additional funding is going to be required due to missed opportunities in the past, current realities, and sacristy of grants… but not much can move forward until we know the approximate cost of fixing what is “wrong” with our streets from an engineering standpoint. The recent road Surface survey does not address these issues.

If the Town chooses to self-fund these projects AGAIN, then a “Lockbox” or some other protection of road funds needs to be in place to avoid the mistakes/oversights of the past which got us here.

Sally Belangia (Candidate for Mayor): The Mayor and all the commissioners are Volunteers! I think it is great that we have citizens in our area that want to volunteer to help us with our roads with their ideas and suggestions. Roads are definitely a priority.

3. Other than roads, what is Oriental’s biggest challenge?

Breena Litzenberger: Oriental’s waterfront draws tourism and residents alike. With frequent flooding eroding our infrastructure, an increase in boat traffic, and storms growing in intensity I would like to work with the Harbor Waterfronts Committee in continuing to look at ways to future-proof our infrastructure while also protecting the ecosystem we all enjoy.

Charlie Overcash: Based on the feedback from a town wide questionnaire, drainage is the issue that most of our citizens want fixed. This has been an ongoing challenge that our town manager, Diane Miller, has been working on. Our Public Works crew has been clearing overgrown ditches and repairing drainage pipes as much as they can while performing their many other duties. Drainage is constantly a work in progress and a huge challenge.

Allen Price: Major challenges have been roads and drainage for over a year now. Drainage is moving along, and a few roads were paved but not enough. The biggest challenge is finding the funds to pave more roads.

Frank Roe: Balancing changing dynamics of local needs, weather, aging population and the shift towards a tourism based economy. Preserve what we have and love about Oriental.

“All great change in America begins at the dinner table.” Ronald Regan

Task our diverse population for advice on how to preserve what we have and prepare for the future without over burdening the Town with more regulations.

Gregory Bohmert: The overall expansion of our infrastructure; Water, sewer, roads, power, internet, and connectivity in general, will all need to be considered while we are repairing and replacing our current water system with the 5 million dollar grant the town received… this stuff is all tied together either going under or over all our roadways… Coordinating all this is going to dominate a lot of town’s time/business for the foreseeable future.

Running parallel to the necessity/opportunity of our roads and infrastructure projects… is the continued growth of Oriental. As baby-boomers retire here and people escaping the cities, flee here…We will see the “Town” of Oriental grow… and will see the “Township” of Oriental grow twice as fast… both resulting in a steady rise in patronage of the town’s business and general services. Meeting these challenges will require a maximum effort of both Town personal and Citizen’s input to ensure an accurate rendition of the Town moves forward… that is professionally done, in the most efficient manner possible.

Bonnie Crosser: Managing and responding to future growth and the change which results. Our town needs to grow in order to prosper as a community and we should welcome that growth.

We need to manage the following:
a. Population growth and resulting shift in demographics. The shift in our demographics is with the “work from home” families they are younger, more active, with children. We now have school buses in our town picking up and dropping off.
b. Expansion of marine businesses and eco-tourism, managing the impact on shoreline. Support our fish houses and commercial fishing, as well as recreational fishing while preserving an eco environment for our future.
c. Attract commercial and retail businesses while maintaining our Oriental charm; through responsible government practices.

Sally Belangia (Candidate for Mayor): Drainage.

4a. Question for incumbents: is there a vote you cast or action you took as a Board Member that you would do differently?

Charlie Overcash: I cannot remember any specific action that I would do differently.  I personally try to look at all the facts on any issue, study them and then vote for what I believe is in the best interest of the town. My objective is always doing what is best for Oriental.

Allen Price: I feel confident with the decisions I have made. Certainly, there are citizens who have disagreed with some of my votes, and I am always ready to listen to them.

Frank Roe: Absolutely, I should not have voted for the $200,000+ expenditure for the “improvements” at John Bond Beach on Neuse Drive. This expenditure did not accomplish what I originally understood as the intended outcome.

The lessons learned from “beach project” needs to be applied to 5.5 million dollar water infrastructure funding. I propose reactivating the Water Advisory Board for oversight and recommendations for the administration of the 5.5 million dollar water infrastructure project. This board must have members with backgrounds in large project management and include our Director of Public works.

4b. Question for challengers: what vote of the Board, or action of the Board, would you have done differently?

Gregory Bohmert: Lack of sufficient guidance/oversight to the various boards that have composed the current “Comprehensive plan.”

This plan is a “Quasi-Judicial” document that each town is required to have if they have Zoning/Growth Management Ordinance. It is an “Advisory Document” that the planning board is required to consult along with the currently written and adopted zoning regulations… whenever considering zoning applications or issues that come before it. This is a document that will absolutely affect 100% of the citizens of Oriental, and in my opinion, has exceeded its original purpose, despite its intended “dual use nature,” and has become a form of “Soft Zoning.” Before being adopted or further expanded, it needs to be fully reviewed by the citizenry of Oriental.

Despite several good faith attempts by the town to gather input, the town/boards have only received input from 23% of the town’s population, and that was about a year ago… This document has undergone four major revisions in the past four months… With no additional public input having been solicited or received… despite these planning/board meetings being open to the public and have public comment sessions…

While town Commissioners are supposed to make tough town decisions… at certain levels of impact to the town…consultation with the Boss (Citizens) is advisable.

Bonnie Crosser: Passing the 2023-2024 Budget; Commissioners White, Winfrey, and Overcash voted for the budget. Commissioners Price and Roe voted against the budget. The budget did not address funding for road maintenance and contained a minimum amount for drainage. The budget did include an increase in labor expenses (base salary, payroll taxes, health insurance, retirement) of 7.5%, compared to the 2022-2023 Budget. In addition, all town boards (except Harbor Waterfront) had their budgets cut which should not have happened.

Oriental’s road and drainage projects deserve a percentage of the fiscal budget.

Breena Litzenberger: In all the meetings I have been in I have been impressed with watching how our current commissioners have listened to the residents and business owners. I have even heard commissioners during meetings state: “I came in here ready to vote one way, and then everyone came out to speak in favor of the alternative, so I am changing my vote.” I think the current commissioners have voted with the majority of residents in the recent votes, and I would not change that.

Sally Belangia (Candidate for Mayor): N/A

5. What asset does Oriental have that deserves more attention?

Allen Price: I am open for the public to comment on this one. Roads, drainage, and the water system are getting attention. The Harbor Waterfront checks their property, the Tree Board is very active, and the Parks and Recreation Board has been doing a wonderful job.

Frank Roe: At one of the forums I attended in Oriental (2009 when Jennifer [Roe] was running for commissioner) – Sherrill Styron said the biggest problem facing Oriental was drainage. True then and true now. Drainage has not received the attention needed resulting in damaged roads and unnecessary flooding. It is the Board’s duty to maintain the Town’s infrastructure – the priorities must change.

Gregory Bohmert: Our unique location and orientation to natural and business resources makes Oriental a hub for the commerce of pastime pleasures or the business of the boat’s necessities… While we, the residents of the Town, enjoy living here, a growing transient majority comes here daily. Some are our neighbors from the growing Oriental Township which surrounds us… to others who come here are from further away… either way, there are more daily “Boots on the Ground” in Oriental than ever before.

Our various boards and committees have done an excellent job of identifying these natural and business resources… and how to encourage them… but as a Town I’m not sure we have been looking through the correct lens of influx/surge capacities when shaping our future visions of our resources.

Years ago we would rolled up the streets, after the Spirit of Christmas Parade… but we are now a year-round town and growing…

Bonnie Crosser: Full time residents, Part time residents, Marinas, Commercial and Retail Businesses – tax payers. Engage with an open line of communication.

Breena Litzenberger: Sport Fishing is a huge industry that brings in tourism and works with regulations to protect our creek and river system. I think we could bring more attention to that with our tourism board.

Charlie Overcash: I think that the closing of our last art gallery is a loss of an asset that has enhanced our village for a long time. A strong effort to help the artistic community should get more attention.

Sally Belangia (Candidate for Mayor): Infrastructure.

6. Some residents have complained about the rundown, unoccupied residences and buildings in Oriental, pointing out that buildings in these conditions would not be allowed in many other communities.

The Board attempted to take up a housing ordinance addressing health & safety concerns in 2020, but both board members and the residents determined it was more regulation than was wanted for the town.

If elected commissioner, how would you approach this problem?

Frank Roe: Having the joy of saving two 100 year old homes in Oriental, I understand the cost – not only money but time and difficulty finding skilled craftsman to do the work. There are examples all over town where citizen’s love of the Village show the preservation of older homes and buildings.

“Pretty is in eye of the beholder” said John Bond, member of Board of Adjustment, when Jennifer had to get a variance for our garage on South Avenue.

“Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives” Ronald Reagan.

I do not support additional burdensome regulations on Oriental property owners.

Gregory Bohmert: Most of this dilemma is caused by a “stalemate” between the Town and the local property owners over “Existing Property Rights.”

Most of these structures were built decades before Oriental had any zoning regulations, making them “Out of Compliance” with current regulations. These structures were “Grandfathered” when the new regulations went into effect. They may be repaired/rebuilt in their current footprint/non-compliant location…However, if destroyed or demolished… THEN they (the lot/building site) must conform to current zoning regulations… which makes some of them unviable properties… unable to meet current zoning criteria and/or financial return thresholds.

These landowners are “Preserving their Rights” by keeping these structures standing…until it is feasible for them to restore/rebuild it.

A workable compromise would be to work out a way to preserve the existing lot rights for the landowners… in exchange for them removing the structures and restoring the lot, at their cost, while they await further development of that parcel.
A few structures do not fall into this category and are standing simply because the landowners cannot afford the high cost of demolition. These are true hardship cases… and a solution to them will be complicated…

In days past… the structure could have been donated to the fire department for practice putting out fires… after burning it and putting it out several times… the structure was sufficiently reduced in mass and volume to drastically reduce the cost of demolition… but this process got most of the neighbors very upset and has since been discontinued.

Bonnie Crosser: I was actively engaged in this discussion in 2020. There was one home in particular which was an issue. Addressing the issue by ordinance would be expensive and the solution to the issue would take years. The 2020 issue was resolved with an open dialogue between the home owners and Commissioner Barrow. The Town Attorney agreed that the proper manner to handle the issue is with direct dialogue. My recommendation would be to prioritize the homes (properties) of greatest health and safety concerns and engage in a conversation with the owners.

Breena Litzenberger: I think we need to be careful how we guide the town to regulate its citizens. Oriental is unique and charming, partially because it doesn’t look like other places. It would not be fiscally responsible to have town staff and officers act as code enforcers, in addition to their other duties, while enforcing HOA-like regulations on residents.

Charlie Overcash: I believe that any commissioner should strive to address health and safety! Since 2020 several of these buildings have been renovated or demolished. For any building that is deemed unsafe or unhealthy I would actively support an ordinance to give the owners an ultimatum. Either clean it up or have it condemned!

Allen Price: When this came up before, a citizen came to me and said the town does not need to be doing this. The economy will handle it. He was basically correct. Two old commercial buildings have been torn down, and another one recently fixed up. Two houses have been torn down, three or four recently sold and are being fixed up, and two more houses are for sale. It is my understanding that there is a process currently in place to have houses and buildings condemned for health and safety reasons. I believe this process was used for the house that was torn down on Wall St.

Sally Belangia (Candidate for Mayor):  I usually cry when I see a structure being torn down. Would rather see someone try to repair it. I think our history is important. I do agree if a house or building is condemned it needs to be removed.

7. Is there an issue you think deserves more attention than it’s getting or that is overlooked?

Gregory Bohmert: Citizen participation. Except for the people blessed to have been born here… we all came here due to the charm of the town and its people. There’s an old saying about Oriental…” We are all here…Because we are not, all there.” Oriental is an absolute Jewel in the world of today…not so much by its quaint architecture or its stunning natural location… But by the people who breathe life into it, on a daily basis. Most of the Oldtimers who were here when I arrived, thirty years ago are gone… All of them had strong colorful opinions on just about every topic under the sun… but through the cussing and shouting they came to an agreement about what they ALL thought was the best for the town… and it did have an uncanny wisdom to it… which kept the Oriental we see today…alive. That bond of “WE” has been dwindling and shrinking over the years directly proportionate to how many of us “We’s” have quit participating in the affairs of our Town. Out of 900 residents only 200 or so participated in crafting the Comprehensive plan mentioned earlier. Only 174 Voted in the last Commissioners race… A period of exceptional modernization and growth is at Oriental’s doorstep, and it will require input/effort of everyone if “WE” are to keep the Spirit of Oriental we love so much alive… and not become a Barbie & Ken town.

If this citizen input remains missing or severely lacking… then our leaders must govern more and more by filling in the blanks as best they can… which is happening 80% of the time now with our current 20% participation rate.

Which must lead to the town look like 20% of us rather than 100% of “US.”

Bonnie Crosser: Parks and Green Spaces. Town Parks were neglected, three years prior to me taking on the role of Parks and Recreation Chairperson. The parks were overgrown with weeds and broken playground equipment. The Recreation Park had such a drainage issue you could not walk to the soccer field from the parking lot. The Parks Recreation 2022-2023 Budget (excluding Tree Board and Electrical Boards) was $13,500. The Parks and Recreation Budget for 2023-2024 was reduced to $9,200.00. That was a 31% budget reduction at a time our over all General Funds were increasing.

The Parks and Recreation Board members did the majority of weeding, raking, and debris cleanup. The Public Works Team did the heavy lifting. A consultant was brought in to address the drainage issue at the Recreation Park. The parks are in a fantastic state; however, we need to continue to invest in the parks to maintain the beauty. Dramatically reducing the parks and recreation budget is not the attention the parks need.

We have seen an increase in park usage from our new families and recent retirees. The Pickleball Court play has expanded to several group play sessions throughout the week and on the weekend. You can hear children’s voices daily at play in the center of town. Our parks attract new residents, as well as visitors, and deserve our attention.

Breena Litzenberger: The illegal AirBnBs in town. There are a number of AirBnBs operating in R1 areas and some that do not pay occupancy tax. With current legislation at the state level pushing to take regulation of AirBnBs away from town governments, there may be little we, as a town, can do about this. But until that bill is passed, I would like to see this issue addressed, in part, by reworking the Special Use Permit process.

Charlie Overcash: I believe in the citizens of Oriental should be as informed as possible about our budget process and all the preparation that goes into it.  More information on when the budget meetings are being held and  a real push to get more citizens attending those preparation meeting would help everyone understand why we have to allocate monies in certain areas instead of them hearing about an almost finalized budget and getting upset over some areas of spending and not knowing why that is happening.

Allen Price: Communication is the key to a successful town, its boards, and its people. This needs more attention.

Frank Roe: Communication. The Town must significantly improve communication with our citizens.

Sally Belangia (Candidate for Mayor):  Drainage.

8. How do you participate in Oriental? Are you involved in clubs, groups within Oriental, are you a volunteer, or is there another way you engage with the people of the town?

Bonnie Crosser: My husband and myself are walkers. We walk all over this town. We know the roads up close and personal. Walking through the town daily gives you a feel for the people, parks, buildings, businesses.

I support and volunteer (time) with the following organizations:
d. Volunteer weeder, mulch raker, flower planter, and debris remover for our three parks; LouMac, Lupton, and the Recreation Park for the past 3+ years.
e. Pamlico County Arts Council. Joint volunteer venture. BlackBeards Treasurer Hunt which started in 2022 and takes place during Croakerfest.
f. HeartWorks. Volunteering with the children for the past four years. Currently teaching 4th and 5th graders how to play Bridge.
g. Croakerfest. Kid’s Park Manager for the past two years. A lot of work and sweat!
h. Spirit of Christmas. Volunteered for the past four years with the Luminaries.

I support the following organizations: Hope Clinic, Ol’ Porch Music Festival, Pamlico County Fishes and Loaves, NC Coastal Foundation, Friends of the Library, Friends of Whittaker Creek.

Member of St. Peter’s the Fisherman Catholic Church.

Breena Litzenberger: My husband and I own Inner Banks Canvas. Owning a business means you’re never really off the clock, but I have been to almost all Town Hall meetings in the last year and a half. I also engage with fellow business owners to see what they feel they need from the town.

Charlie Overcash: I am a strong supporter of Oriental!  Among the many ways I help out are these:  I am the Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Volunteer Fire Department, Station 19. I host an annual British Sports Car ice cream social that brings many classic cars to town. I am a “Ham Radio” operator and, as such, participate in a weekly emergency preparedness drill so that we can be ready to assist civilian and emergency personnel during disasters when much of the communications are down. The Oriental Chinese parade dragon lives in our spare bedroom and comes out for parades and festivals.  I help our town by volunteering to cut grass in parks when the town personnel are cleaning up the town after storms.

Allen Price: I am vice-chairman of the executive board for the Pamlico County Disaster Recovery Coalition. I often help with the Pamlico Partnership for Children and volunteer for their annual event at the high school. As the OUMC disaster coordinator, I managed the funds we collected to help those in need after the hurricane. After Hurricane Florence my daughter and I spent one week delivering supplies throughout the county to help people affected by the storm. I helped build two ADA ramps, one for Holt Chapel Community Center.

Frank Roe: Jennifer and I have been 20+ year supporters of the Croaker Festival funding the Miss Croaker and Miss Minnow Pageant and the pageant scholarships . We support Girls on the Run, Hope Clinic, PAWS, Oriental United Methodist Church, Pamlico Fishes and Loaves, the Oriental History Museum, Oriental Theater, Oriental Old Car Show, Music Society and are active in State Politics. I am passionate about general aviation. I do other stuff too, but Jennifer says it sounds like I’m bragging!

Gregory Bohmert: I have been helping with the Croaker Festival in one capacity or another for many years…except when my wife was recovering from breast cancer, but nowadays I find myself upgrading our “Garbology” equipment to make life easier for our 70+ year old garbology crew members.

An amazing number of wheels fall off the boat trailers in front of my house, just up from the wildlife boat ramp… I help these people in various ways with my forklift, jacks and wheel stands when I can… for free…but I’ve never asked where they were from…
For the past 25 years I’ve brought several volunteer programs into the state prison in Bayboro, and pre-covid, into our newish County Jail. In my book, helping others, is God’s best kept secret, for helping yourself.

Sally Belangia (Candidate for Mayor):  Mayor, President of the Dottie Gray Ambulance Fund, member of the Oriental United Methodist Church, Oriental Rotary Club, Oriental Woman’s Club, Pamlico County Community Foundation, Oriental History Museum and many other nonprofits. I love Oriental and Pamlico County!

9. Town Board meetings were once held in the evenings, at 7p. The time was changed to 8a. While there has been a rise in the number of attendees at the morning meetings, it also cuts out many working members of the community who cannot take time off to attend. If elected as Commissioner, how do you – or would you – address this potential barrier to town meetings?

Breena Litzenberger: I would vote to move the meeting time to after work, in the evenings. Having had to take time off in the past to make the town hall meetings and stay engaged, I understand it is a privilege that most don’t have. I would like to see the meetings moved to a time more accessible to working class residents or or find a way to live stream or record meetings for later viewing.

Charlie Overcash: I would be glad to support either time based on input from our citizens as to which time is best for the majority.

Allen Price: When this first came up, I was not sure about it but voted yes because we were going to have a six-month trial period. Things went great for the six months, so it was continued. Seems like attendance is up, citizen comments are up, more citizens staying for the entire meeting, the town staff is at work and available, and some people visiting to give presentations liked it because it was during their normal working hours. With all that said, if this is a barrier, we need to discuss it. I have not had any firsthand comments made to me about this issue.

Frank Roe: As a commissioner all my monthly meetings have been in the mornings. Certainly, I would agree to a change – I’m a morning person…married to a night owl.

The meetings should be for the public’s convenience not the Board’s.

Gregory Bohmert: This is the same problem every single town in the USA is struggling with… It seems that we are all so busy enjoying the many blessings of living in America… That we don’t have time for the civil responsibilities of being an American. (see rant #7 above).

The fact that our lives are so full…competition for people’s remaining time is the highest stakes game there is today. I believe that the solution will be found in making remote participation more possible. Our current town website holds enormous amounts of information… which I find difficult to navigate. Meeting information and document changes are sometimes posted a few days or a few hours before the event. I believe this portal into the town’s affairs can be better and further utilized, than current levels.
Since our main goal is citizen participation/feedback/ suggestions and ideas… one would think a discussion page of some sort could be added to the town’s online presents. I’m sure a few would abuse it in vulgar ways… but if it opens an avenue of participation for an only an additional 20 % of the population, that would be a 100% increase over what we have now. An idea like this would require many public discussions and the help of web services people to get it off the ground.

However I think it is going to be harder and harder to get warm bodies into our meetings… but in catch 22 fashion… our citizen participation is absolutely vital for Oriental’s survival as we know it today! The vultures of big money will always be searching for the weak and fragmented opportunities.

Bonnie Crosser: During my campaigning several residents have asked for the town monthly meetings to change back to 7:00pm. The majority of communities and Pamlico County have their meetings at night. I work and at times the early morning meeting times have been inconvenient.

This is a better question for the public. Perhaps, TownDock could conduct a time survey of our residents and ask them — which time is a preference. The Board is here to serve the residents. Residents should select the preferred time. Majority rules concept!

Sally Belangia (Candidate for Mayor): I am for evening meetings.

Posted Wednesday November 1, 2023 by Allison DeWeese

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