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Young waterman receives surprise gift

hunter-oneal-norman-leblanc

Norman LeBlanc congratulates Hunter O’Neal. On left, Hunter’s parents, Fletcher and Heather. On right is Norman’s grandson, Maverick Genest. Photo: P. Vankevich

By Peter Vankevich

Norman LeBlanc, a frequent visitor to Ocracoke, had a boat he no longer needed.

Rather than try to sell it, he thought maybe Ocracoke School could use it.

The boat is a 1985 Downeaster 17-foot, flat-bottomed skiff with a well-mounted outboard.

School Principal Walt Padgett decided it should be given to a deserving student who has expressed interest in Ocracoke’s waterman economy.

The lucky recipient of this boat was Ocracoke School senior Hunter O’Neal, who has grown up around and on water, fishing and hunting.  He also helps his parents with their Devil Shoals Oyster Co. oyster farm in the Pamlico Sound.

Hunter already knows what he wants to do with it.

“I plan to use the boat for commercial fishing, and hope to one day pass it down to one of my brothers for the same use,” he said.

 Hunter enjoys doing community service and is a dedicated junior volunteer firefighter.

LeBlanc, of Beverly, Mass., is the father of islander Justin LeBlanc.

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