Note: the Ocracoke Civic and Business Association has public meetings on the second Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. in the Ocracoke Community Center. The next meeting will be Feb. 11, and will include attendance by the new Cape Hatteras National Seashore Superintendent David Hallac.
The group is exploring the possible return of fireworks during the 4th of July holiday and voted to make the Fig Festival a separate, expanded late-summer event. More details of these events will be forthcoming as they are in in the early planning stages.
The draft minutes from the Jan. 21 meeting are printed below. (While the meetings are on the seconds Wednesdays, January’s meeting was held a week later.)
Ocracoke Civic and Business Association
Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2015. Ocracoke Community Center
Meeting was called to order by President Rudy Austin at 7:04 p.m. Board members present: Connie Leinbach, Kenny Ballance, Justin LeBlanc and Jim Borland. Members/others present: Sundae Horn, Gregg Honeycutt, Peter Vankevich, Arleen Burley, Mickey Baker, Dick & Janey Jacoby, Darlene Styron, Anna Rucker, John Fletcher. County Manager Bill Rich joined the meeting via cell phone.
Minutes: The minutes of the Dec. 10 meeting were approved.
Treasurer’s report: Kenny reported that the beginning cash balance was $63,589.34. He made some deposits and payments, but did not have an ending balance for the meeting. He is working with Katherine Parker-Lowe to submit a tax return by the middle of February.
Travel & Tourism Director’s report: Sundae reported that she now knows how to do hyperlinks on our website and has contacted most all of the businesses on the list who did not get hyperlinks last year. Most have said they would like the credit for 2015-2016.
Visitor’s Center in Community Square: Ocracoke Foundation has now said they would like us to pay rent for the house (not just pay for electricity). We know that visitors do go in because materials disappear. After some discussion, Jim Borland made a motion that we propose a monthly rent for this house of $300, including utilities for 2015 and seek Occupancy Tax reimbursement for the total expense; seconded by Justin LeBlanc. Motion approved and carried. Sundae also noted that Robin Payne suggested we have a TV with a slide show in there, too. Justin said he has a spare TV to donate.
Hyde County Chamber: will be on the island to have lunch with Sundae and Alan Sutton, who are board members. The chamber let their executive director go and Sundae and Alan are supposed to help drum up business here on Ocracoke.
Fig Cake bake-off/festival: We have gotten a lot of good feedback about having this event held last year in Community Square. We will include expenses for this in our Occupancy Tax request. While some feedback has been that it should be after the high season (such as September), others have said that it should be when the fruit is in season, or August, as it was last year. Also, a number of businesses are interested in creating fig offerings to make the event village-wide.
Fireworks: Pyrotechnico can possibly do fireworks on Ocracoke this year but not actually on July 4. Their CEO, Justin Pruett, was on the island, met with Darren Burrus and determined that Burrus’s barge would be adequate from which to launch. However, since the OCBA does not want to be the sponsor/certificate holder, the group agreed to ask Hyde County to be the sponsor/certificate holder and the OCBA help organize and publicize it. The Occupancy Tax Board is interested in funding fireworks. The group appointed a committee to look into and handle the fireworks details: Sundae, Connie, Darlene, Justin, Amy Johnson and Trudy Austin. Bill Rich will ask the county commissioners to have Hyde County be the certificate holder.
A motion to have two events—July Fourth and the Fig Bake-off Festival (either Aug. 15 or 22) was made by Darlene and seconded by Jim Borland. Motion approved and carried.
Walking map: is not done yet.
NPS: The new superintendent, Dave Hallac, and public information officer Cyndy Holda will attend the Feb. 11 OCBA meeting. Sundae said Hallac told her the NPS will fully fund lifeguards (from a contracted outfit) for this year—Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Old business: Gregg Honeycutt, on behalf of the 5K/10K race, asked the OCBA to be a $1,500 sponsor of the race that will be Saturday, April 25. People are already registering and he expects it to have more participants than last year. WOVV, the Community Park and the Ocracoke School Boosters are the proceed recipients. According to the by-laws, requests for $500 or more must be voted on at two meetings before they are approved. A motion to approve the second request for $1,500 was made by Jim Borland and seconded by Justin. Motion approved and carried.
NPS report: Ed Fuller, via email to Connie Leinbach—So far this year they have sold 174 ORV permits and 19 weekly permits. There was one seal on the beach last week for a day just south of Ramp 70. The maintenance division is continuing to haul sand to Ramp 72 (Southpoint Rd.). They’ve been sanding that road for the last two weeks and will continue to do so for another week or so. They want to get that road built back up really well to help prevent the flooding issues occurring last year. They also have to complete some fill work on the sound side access roads.
President’s report: Rudy reported that folks in Hatteras are meeting with the Coast Guard because all are concerned about the CG’s response time getting out of the inlet via the long route for emergencies. The Coast Guard wants the short route open for their big rescue boats. Having the Coast Guard pressing for this might be our best leverage in getting funds to properly dredge.
Tideland EMC is also concerned about the inlet because if the shifting sands uncover the underwater electric cable, that would be an expense of more than $2 million to repair. Tideland spent $300,000 after Hurricane Arthur last July 4 replacing poles on the island.
Hyde County manager’s report: Bill Rich, via cell phone, reported that he and Ernie Doshier attended a meeting Jan. 16 in Hatteras of charter boat captains. That meeting was all about the short and long routes and marking the channels. The amount of real estate that has eroded on Hatteras Island is incredible, he said. We need a hopper dredge to put all of the sand on the Hatteras side.
The night before that meeting, he attended a Dare County waterway meeting and that one was all about the sand build-up in Oregon inlet. It really needs a hopper dredge 365 days a year, which would cost about $3.7 million. Rudy noted that “$38 million each year goes under that bridge” in revenues from about 200 charter boats each year.
“I can’t tell you how passionate the charter fishermen and the Coast Guard are about keeping the short route open,” Bill said.
David’s Trash: Bill said he met with the two owners; showed them a lot of photos; wrote them a letter 45 days ago that they were in violation of their contract by not preventing their trucks from leaking; untimely removal of the compactors and more. If the trash juice out of the trucks is not stopped, Hyde could be forced to transport Ocracoke trash to the mainland a different way, which could be (financially) devastating.
He told them Ocracoke needs more containers and more trucks to remove them faster. David’s said they are scheduled to have new trucks and more drivers in the next 30 days. Bill asked islanders to keep their eyes open as to what’s going on at the dump.
Animal control: Bill reported that a dog killed a cat recently. There is no leash law in the county but he will try to make the existing ordinance better. Our ordinance covers “nuisance and dangerous” animals. The ordinance allows for animal control to grab a dog and put it in quarantine. However, we could transfer enforcement of the nuisance ordinance from the Health Department to the sheriff’s department. He will work on this next week.
Blackbeard’s puddle (on Back Road) between Blackbeard’s Lodge and Secret Garden Gallery: Everything is in place to put a culvert in Old Pony Road (alongside Blackbeard’s Lodge) to relieve this puddle except for approval by two landowners who wanted specific assurances from Hyde County. The county has complied, but these two owners haven’t signed off. The goal is to get this done before the season begins. Justin said he would contact the two property owners.
Passenger ferry: Hyde County has made a resolution in favor of the concept of it coming to Ocracoke (not necessarily into Silver Lake Harbor). Dare County is also in favor of passenger ferries between Hatteras and Ocracoke as long as fees are charged and they don’t replace car ferries. Our regional Rural Planning Organization also passed a resolution to support passenger ferries as long as they charge fees and don’t replace car ferries. The NC Ferry Division has commissioned a survey over the next 10 months to determine how these would work.
A trial run, using a ferry en route from the Caribbean to Boston, will occur in the first week in May this year. It will dock opposite the Berkley Manor.
Cedar Island ferry: Commissioner Fletcher at the January county commissioners’ meeting had asked if the ferry division could schedule the final departure from Cedar Island a half hour later, or 4:30, which would help islanders coming back from shopping and doctor’s appointments.
He said at John Fletcher’s request, Hyde County sent a letter to Dare County thanking them for their cooperation and support. Receiving that letter meant a lot to them.
The next meeting with NC Ferry officials here will be at 1 p.m. Monday, Feb. 9, in the Community Center.
Meeting adjourned at 8:45 p.m.
Next meeting will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 11, in the Ocracoke Community Center.
Connie Leinbach, secretary