Editorial: Kure Beach Supports The Marines; Mayor Wants To Send Bill

By / Editorials / Wednesday, 27 July 2016 04:00

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

The Kure Beach Town Council was presented with a request at their July 19th, meeting from the U.S. Military to provide police and fire services for an upcoming exercise at the Fort Fisher National Guard Training Center in October or early November. (See report on page 1-A)
The Marine Corps exercise will include an amphibious landing on the beach and another event described as a simulated assault.
They requested the Town provide rescue swimmers and some police officers to control crowds and traffic.
The Town Finance Officer estimated it would cost around $1,900 dollars and said the representatives he spoke with were willing to pay but wanted to be billed before the end of their fiscal year at the end of September.
The Council - with the exception of Mayor Emilie Swearingen - voted in favor of not sending the Marines a bill.
Swearingen said, "I'm sorry, well, I don't apologize either, I disagree. Our police and fire departments provide services 24-7 for the State of North Carolina, Department of Cultural and Environmental Resources, Department of Transportation. Also, the recreation area down there that's owned by the Air Force and used by all of the military. We patrol it. We help them every way we can. Our public works guys patrol up and down Dow Road cleaning up trash for the military."
She explained, "We are already doing so much for so many other government agencies, which the Marines are part of that military group, and we have an opportunity just once to be reimbursed even just a little bit and I think frankly it would be nice of us to accept their offer."
Councilman Craig Bloszinsky said, "I wouldn't. We give money for concerts. I can't see not supporting the Marine Corp."
Swearingen said, "It's not a matter of not supporting them. We are supporting them by providing all this help. They want to support us in return by helping us a little bit financially. I think we should take them up on it."
The Town donates money for summer concerts at their oceanfront park ($8,500 this year). They also donate to other non-profits.
Mayor Swearingen needs to be reminded of the many county, state and federal grants the Town has received over the years for various infrastructure projects. Not to mention the Federal government that helps renourish that beach front from time to time.
That new ocean front park and pavilion was paid for in part by $500,000 from the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, $300,000 from the Division of Water Resources, $500,000 from the County, $600,000 from the NC Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA), $500,000 from the NC Natural Heritage Trust Fund. That's a total of $2.4 million dollars in grant funds to help pay the $3.6 million it cost to purchase the land.
Let's look at the grants the Town received for developing the park and construction of the pavilion. NC Parks and Recreation Trust Fund awarded a grant for $374,000. There was a $204,000 grant from the NC Clean Water Management Trust Fund, a $310,000 NC Coastal Area Management Act grant, and even a grant from the federal agency known as the US Housing and Urban Development Economic Development (HUD EDI) in the amount of $95,000. That's a total of $983,000 in state and federal grant funding to help cover the overall construction costs of $1.33 million dollars.
But wait! There's more...
Earlier this year the Town was awarded a federal grant from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) totalling $16,150 for the purchase of equipment. That "federal" money purchased 200 feet of hose, a thermal camera and three computers.
The Town received a couple of grants from the State earlier this year. One at $11,257 and the other at $14,121. Both were awarded by the Division of Coastal Management for paving beach access areas at E Avenue and I Avenue.
The list goes on and on. There are numerous examples of the County, State and Federal Government awarding grant funds to the Town of Kure Beach.
The Fort Fisher Air Force Recreation Base helps fuel the local economy. Military personnel vacation and train at that facility through the year and spend money at local businesses.
Yet the Mayor wanted to squeeze $1,900 dollars out of the U.S. Marine Corps.
I'm only being critical of her position on this issue because she painted a picture where the Town does so many things for other state and federal agencies but doesn't get anything in return and she felt it was an opportunity to, "just once to be reimbursed even just a little bit."
The rest of Council disagreed and she was the lone vote against Councilman Heglar's motion to not send the Marines a bill. That's great. They're the Marines. The ones that are ready to fight to protect our country when ever they are called upon. The least the Town can do is provide police and fire services for them during a training exercise. 

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