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By Connie Leinbach
Ocracoke Islanders should see the removal of full-to-bursting trash bins this week, said Hyde County Manager Kris Noble at Monday night’s board of commissioners meeting.
The contract with David’s trash was scheduled to terminate Dec. 31, she said, but the company has been granted an extension.
The county had planned to seek bids for a new contract much earlier.
“And because of Hurricane Dorian, we were a little bit behind and getting those bid documents out,” she said. “I talked to Mr. James Blount this afternoon and you’ll see those containers being pulled this week.”
Blount is the county solid waste supervisor.
Noble said during the 90-day extension, bids will be sought for trash removal and she hoped to have a proposal for the board to approve at the March meeting.
In other action, the commissioners also approved receiving a $35,000 grant from Vidant Foundation for the use of emergency thrombolytics by Hyde County EMS personnel. Thrombolytics are used to bust clots in heart attack and stroke patients.
With this action, Hyde County is one of two counties in the state whose paramedics will be able to use this lifesaving procedure.
Justin Gibbs, Hyde County EMS director, said this program is in response to the Vidant hospital in Belhaven closing. Since that happened in 2014, the nearest mainland hospital is in Greenville, about 90 minutes away from Swan Quarter.
David White, Hyde County EMS section chief, explained that the budget appropriation includes training for both mainland and island EMS personnel in how to use the procedures, which will be used under the supervision of cardiologists at Vidant Hospital in Greenville.
Although Commissioner James Topping, Swan Quarter, questioned the safety of the drugs, Gibbs responded that dangers exist with the administration of any drugs and that the remoteness of the mainland and the island justify the use of these drugs.
The commissioners also approved a sub-tenant agreement with the Office of State Budget Management (OSMB) to allow the county to enter into tenant agreements with Ocracoke residents who will receive travel trailers for temporary housing.
The county has received a grant from the OSMB to purchase 35 travel trailers for Ocracoke residents displaced by Hurricane Dorian flooding.
Noble asked that lease agreements with island campgrounds be tabled.
“The month of January we will be focusing on the individual placement of these travel trailers to folks that own their property,” Noble said. “Towards the end of the project, when we look at folks that need travel trailers that don’t necessarily have a place to put them, we’ll come to you with a lease agreement with the campground.”
The commissioners approved revolving fund loans to four island businesses: Arlene Burley for a loan of $8,900 for her Clam Lady Jane Oyster Company.
Burley had been a partner in oyster farming with Heather and Fletcher O’Neal in the Devil Shoal Oyster Company, but that partnership has been dissolved, said Bill Rich, the Hyde County development officer. Burley will be the only one on the note, he said.
A new partnership, Wild Water Protein, owned by Joseph Ramunni and his business partner, Matthew Madden of Ohio, took over the Woccocon Oyster Company and were approved to assume the company’s revolving loan of $39,646.
“Woccocon got slammed in Dorian,” Rich said, losing most of their oyster crop and equipment. The partners, Stevie Wilson, Albert O’Neal and Dylan Bennink, were dealing with their own losses from the hurricane and decided to sell the company.
The commissioners approved 10-year loans of $120,000 to Dajio to rebuild its bar area and $180,000 to Gaffer’s to build a new building on the front area of the Berkley Manor property.
With the awarding of these loans, that depletes the $300,000 that was left in the revolving loan program, Rich said.
While Rich had suggested these loans have 5% interest, historically the revolving loan fund has an interest rate of 3%. The commissioners approve Ocracoke’s commissioner Tom Pahl’s request that these loans be made at 3%.
The suggestion of the loans at 5% is because the prime lending rate is 4.25%, Noble said.
The reduction of the interest rate is subject to the approval of the revolving loan committee, which consists of Earl Pugh Jr., chairman of the Hyde County Board of Commissioners, Art Keeney, a retired banker, and Tommy Hutcherson, proprietor of the Ocracoke Variety Store.
The commissioners approved an ordinance allowing them to remove abandoned vehicles on county property.
They also approved a contract to continue to employ lobbyists Joe and Henri McClees for their work in the North Carolina General Assembly. Their $25,000 payment would break down to $15,000 from the administrative budget and $10,000 from the Ocracoke Occupancy Tax fund.