Ocracoke, N.C.’s community newspaper since 1999
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The Ocracoke Observer is a North Carolina Press Association award-winning newspaper published 10 months each year for distribution on Ocracoke Island, connecting points and areas including Hyde and Dare counties. The paper is generated on Ocracoke and printed in Greenville, N.C. Contributors’ opinions are not necessarily those of the publishers.
We publish 10 print issues from March to December and daily online at ocracokeobserver.com.
Our mission: To illuminate the unique experience of Ocracoke Island by communicating important community news, history and culture.
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Letters to the editor and ideas are welcome. Letters must be signed, include contact information (address, city, email and phone number) for verification purposes. The Ocracoke Observer reserves the right to edit for content and space and to not publish submissions deemed inappropriate for any reason.
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Mail: P.O. Box 427, Ocracoke, NC 27960
Publishers: Connie Leinbach and Peter Vankevich
Editor: Connie Leinbach
Editorial board: Peter Vankevich and Connie Leinbach
Staff writers/contributors: Connie Leinbach, Peter Vankevich, David Mickey, Pat Garber, TL Grace West, Rita Thiel, Megan Spencer
Copy editing: Kaye Cambell, Bill Jones, Ruth Fordon, Rita Thiel
Spanish Translator: Freddy Contreras
Mailings and more: Mary Vankevich, Ruth Fordon, the Ocracoke post office staff, Bobby and Robin Turner,
Production: Jesse Davis
Connie Leinbach, has an extensive industry background as a daily news reporter, freelance writer, publicist and newspaper publisher/editor. She worked as a daily news reporter at the Reading Eagle-Reading Times, Reading, Pa., in the 1980s, as a freelance news reporter for several Pennsylvania publications, and was a publisher and editor of a monthly fine arts publication, The Arts Connection, all in the 1990s. She concurrently worked as the production director/stage manager of the former Berks Grand Opera, Reading, Pa., in the 1980s, and later as the general manager of the former Star Series Association, Reading, Pa., in the 1990s. Before moving to Ocracoke in 2010, she worked as the program manager and then executive director of Berks Arts Council, Reading, Pa., in the 2000s.
Peter Vankevich, worked in the U.S. Copyright Office at the Library of Congress including being head of the Copyright Information Section for 16 years, and has been a freelance writer for the Hill Rag, Washington, D.C. He has a radio show called Theme Tunes on the Ocracoke community radio station WOVV 90.1 FM and online, and he serves as a volunteer firefighter. The new co-owners live full-time on the island and have written for the Observer for several years.
Ruth Fordon. I have often said my life on Ocracoke is like a crazy quilt, composed of many shapes, colors and textures seemingly unrelated but overall providing a nurturing, challenging and fulfilling experience. I arrived on Ocracoke in 1988 leaving behind a career as a psychotherapist to pursue a dream of a simpler life. Woven into my island journey are a long lasting commitment to the bed and breakfast/guest house that lured me here, plus other quilt pieces including classes and licensing to sell real estate and work with rental management; training and work as an EMT, a stint at the Health Center where I met my husband Ken; ownership of a print business and the creation of Island Path where Ken and I market my photography and have hosted a variety of workshops and retreats. Last in line has been my work as a writer and former editor of the Ocracoke Observer. Not really the simpler life, but Ocracoke rewards all the effort everyday with the exquisite natural beauty of the island and our community of like-minded spirits sharing a mutual love of island life.
Pat Garber is the author of Ocracoke Wild (Down Home Press, 1995) and Ocracoke Odyssey (Down Home Press, 1999) both collections of nature essays, and the children’s book Little Sea Horse and The Story of the Ocracoke Ponies (Ocracoke Preservation Museum, 2006). Her book, Heart like a River: the story Sergeant Major Newsom Edward Jenkins 14th North Carolina Infantry, 1861-1865 (Schroeder Publications 2011) is based on a diary written by her great grandfather’s time fighting for the South in the Civil War. Her latest book, Paws and Tales (Schroeder Publications), is a work of fiction; a novel narrated by Kali, a sailor cat and Harvey, an island dog.
Pat has a background in anthropology, history and education, with a master’s degree from Northern Arizona University in cultural anthropology. She was born and raised near Richmond, Virginia.
TL Grace West loves teaching yoga and Tai Chi almost as much as providing her unique warm water massage therapy, Float with Grace.
Henry Schliff’s kitchen experience is long and varied over the past 30 years. He has been the chef of a French, Italian, and Mexican restaurant, and most recently the chef/owner of the Orange Blossom Bakery in Buxton, Dare County. He is the author of two cookbooks and now shares his love of cooking from his Ocracoke home kitchen.
Kelley Shinn is a graduate of the Hollins University Creative Writing Program, where she was the 2006 Melanie Hook Rice Novel-in-Progress Award Winner. Excerpts from her upcoming memoir “Passage Home,” which is a reflection upon Kelley’s experience of losing her legs at the age of 16 and subsequently communing with landmine survivors a decade later in Bosnia-Herzegovina, were nominated in recent years for a Best American Essay and multiple Pushcart Prizes. In 2013, Kelley was named Ocracoke Friends of the Library’s Inaugural Writer-in-Residence. It was a yearlong fellowship, and she has chosen to make Ocracoke her home.