2019 YEAR IN REVIEW: PART ONE

Beach renourishment in Kure Beach was completed April 29th. The project began earlier this year to pump sand on the beach front in Carolina Beach and Kure Beach. Crews working for Weeks Marine, Incorporated completed the $21-million project. The Carolina Beach portion was completed earlier this year. Beach renourishment in Kure Beach was completed April 29th. The project began earlier this year to pump sand on the beach front in Carolina Beach and Kure Beach. Crews working for Weeks Marine, Incorporated completed the $21-million project. The Carolina Beach portion was completed earlier this year.

2019 YEAR IN REVIEW: PART ONE Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 25 December 2019 19:09

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

NEW HANOVER CTY - Each year the Island Gazette publishes highlights of top stories from throughout the year.  2019 was a busy year with a variety of news stories landing on the front page. We're going to refresh your memory on some of those important headlines.

The  following  is  Part  One  of  a  two-part  look  at  stories  in  2019:

Carolina Beach Continues Efforts To Restart Lake Dredge Project

Crews working in 2017 to dredge the Carolina Beach Lake to improve storm water management prior to the Town suspending the project because they could not place the material on Army property.  In 2019, the Town continued seeking solutions to complete the project including asking for permission to place material on the Army property.

CAROLINA BEACH - The Town of Carolina Beach continues to search for options to dispose of material dredged from the Carolina Beach Lake in 2017 as part of a $2.7 million dollar project to create more capacity in the lake to hold storm runoff.

Interim Town Manager Ed Parvin updated the Town Council in October on continuing efforts to restart the project.

Dredging was suspended August 29th, 2017 when the U.S. Army demanded the Town stop hauling dirt to land leased to the Town since the 1970's for a wastewater treatment plant off Dow Road.  The Town was placing the dirt at an unapproved location on the property.

Later, it was determined that some samples showed increased levels of arsenic in the dredged material which in later tests showed below normal levels.

The search maybe on track for a positive solution. Earlier this year Mayor Joe Benson said the Army may be open to allowing the Town to resume the project and place the remaining material on Army-owned property.

The east side of the lake is more shallow than the western half that was dredged in 2017. The goal of that project was to make the lake deeper to a consistent depth of 6' to 8' feet and improve capacity to hold approximately 16 million gallons of storm water runoff that has traditionally caused flooding of surrounding properties and roadways. The total volume to be removed from the lake was estimated to be approximately 83,000 cubic yards of material. The original completion date for the project was scheduled for February 9th, 2018. When the project was suspended August 29th, the  contractor had removed approximately 30,000 cubic yards of material to the wastewater treatment plant.

The Town is currently seeking approval from the Army to leave the existing dredge material on the Dow Road property and exploring the potential to place more material on the property in order to complete the dredging project.

In September of 2018, the estimated cost for removal of the remaining dirt on the leased property and completing the project ranged from $3,146,198 to $4,054,333.

The broad range of cost estimates was due in large part to contractors being unwilling to give estimates prior to the Town officially soliciting bids for the project.

During the Council's August 13th, meeting Interim Town Manager Ed Parvin explained, "We have been in contact with MOTSU on a very frequent basis and they are talking to headquarters and as soon as they get an update, they will know that we are very anxious to find out their update. Essentially they are looking for us to get back in compliance with the state. Which means all of our test wells that we have to be below state standards as far as any containments, mainly oil that was there from the old garage site. We are very close. We are trying to meet with our consultant that is doing the  testing and officials with the state later this month."

During the Council's August 27th, workshop meeting, Parvin explained, "MOTSU, our project manager, waste water treatment plant staff, are working to get that moving as quickly as possible. We are finalizing a contract to get the lake dredge project back on track and as I mentioned earlier, trying to get the testing done as quickly as possible."

The Army operates the Military Ocean Terminal at Sunny Point (MOTSU) on the west side of the Cape Fear River and they are currently working with neighboring local governments regarding land use in the area. The terminal is one of two large volume deep-water ammunition terminals in the continental United States. Operations take place on the other side of the Cape Fear River in Brunswick County and the "buffer zone" occupies a large portion of Pleasure Island encompassing land in both Carolina Beach and Kure Beach on  the riverside of the Island.

On October 18th, Parvin explained to Council, "Staff met with Highfill Engineering this week to discuss a game plan for getting us back in compliance with our MOTSU license agreement and getting the lake dredge and Waste Water Treatment Plant headworks projects moving."

He explained, "I did learn that our testing was positive but unfortunately there are still some contaminates that are above residential levels.  Based on this we are going to develop a short two page letter to MOTSU that lays out a clear plan for getting us in line with state recommendations for the site."

Parvin said that letter will describe several bullet points:
a. The state has a program in place that addresses sites that are not pristine and would take significant time and money to get close to being pristine.  With the prior landfill and other previous uses on and around this site the Town falls into this category.  They will be promoting this program to MOTSU.
b. Provide more details on the future use of the existing dredge material.
c. Provide a Lake Dredge time line and spoils plan.
d. Summary of hurdles the Town has accomplished since 2013 with clean up of the site.
e. Obtaining a support letter from the state.

Sheriff's Dept. Makes Major Heroin Bust; 39,000 Bags



The New Hanover County Sheriff's Department recently arrested two people following a two-month investigation and discovered 39,000 bags of heroin, cocaine, MDMA, weapons and cash.

NEW HANOVER CTY - The New Hanover County Sheriff's Department announced a major drug bust on September 12th, that took 39,000 bags of heroin off the streets.

According to Lieutenant J.J. Brewer, on September 10th, detectives with the New Hanover County Sheriff's Vice and Narcotics unit concluded a two-month investigation with the arrest of a major heroin dealer in the Wilmington area.

Brewer explained, "Detectives arrested William Gethers in the 5000 block of Market Street. Following the arrest Detectives executed search warrants at 3917 Prices Lane and 5010 McClelland Drive an discovered Gethers drug stash."

Brewer explained, "Detectives also arrested Lakedria LaSalle at 5010 McClelland Drive during the execution of the search warrant," and, "Seized over 39,000 bags of heroin packaged for sale, 200 grams of cocaine, 6 grams of crack cocaine, 6 grams of MDMA "ecstasy", two guns and over $250,000 in U.S. currency."

Brewer explained Detectives suspect Gethers is part of a multi-state network that has been supplying large amounts of heroin in the Wilmington area.

He explained, "Detectives are continuing the investigation and suspect future arrest to come. William Gethers and Lakedria LaSalle are both charged with numerous drug offenses including trafficking heroin and cocaine. William Gethers is a convicted felon and also charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon."

Beach Nourishment Completed In Kure Beach



Crews working in 2017 to dredge the Carolina Beach Lake to improve storm water management prior to the Town suspending the project because they could not place the material on Army property.  In 2019, the Town continued seeking solutions to complete the project including asking for permission to place material on the Army property.

KURE BEACH - Beach renourishment in Kure Beach was completed April 29th. The project began earlier this year to pump sand on the beach front in Carolina Beach and Kure Beach.

Crews working for Weeks Marine, Incorporated completed the $21-million project. The Carolina Beach portion was completed earlier this year.

The portion was required to be completed by April 28th, prior to the April 30th deadline to avoid interfering with the federal protected sea turtle nesting season.

Hurricane Florence eroded the beach front in both Towns. In many areas dunes suffered heavy erosion leaving twelve to fifteen foot high escarpments or cliffs. The project was already scheduled for the Spring of 2019. Following Florence, additional funding was provided to address the increased erosion.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Wilmington District announced that the periodic nourishment contract was awarded on Nov. 30, 2018, at a cost of approximately $17.4-million to Weeks Marine, Incorporated. That amount later increased to $21 million dollars due to increased funding following Hurricane Florence.

Project Manager Jim Medlock explained, "The Corps was fortunate to receive additional emergency funding to cover these repairs at 100 percent federal cost," and, "This allows us to place more sand on the shoreline while reducing the amount of non-Federal funding required to accomplish the overall contract scope."

During the March 18th,  Kure Beach Town Council meeting Medlock explained, "The estimated Kure Beach contract cost is about $12 million.

The estimated non-federal cost is $3 million just for the Kure Beach portion of the project. One of the reasons why the estimated non-federal cost is so low is because after Hurricane Florence, the federal government was able to get additional funds to place more sand for Coastal Storm Damage Reduction (CSDR) on Kure Beach and also Carolina Beach from the storm which has lowered the non-federal requirement for this project."

The project cost is shared with the Federal Government paying 65% and the State of North Carolina and local governments splitting the remaining 35%. A tax on hotel, motel, and vacation rental accommodations funds the local government portion of the project cost. Both Towns are on a three-year renourishment cycle.

On Tuesday April 30th, Medlock explained, "Placement of approximately 700,000 cubic yards of sand to reduce coastal storm damage risk along portions of the Kure Beach shoreline is now complete. I do not have a specific timetable, the contractor will be removing pipe and equipment from the shoreline as quickly as possible but no later than May 15, 2019."

Carolina Beach Terminates Town Manager's Employment Contract




CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Town Council held a public hearing at their June 11th, meeting to hear public input on the proposed 2019-2020 budget that must be adopted prior to July 1st as required by State Law.

Ultimately, the Council voted four to one to terminate the employment contract for Town Manager Lucky Narain.

Narain was out of Town on vacation and the Council were concerned they were not looking at his most recent budget proposal.

That concern led to some on Council questioning the entire budget planning process and the performance of the Town Manager who was hired in February of this year as a replacement for former Town Manager Michael Cramer. The Council previously had issues with the budget planning process carried out by Cramer.

At one point, Councilman Steve Shuttleworth recommended hiring someone else to work on the budget in the interest of meeting the needs of the Town and the desires of the majority of the Council.

Shuttleworth did not name who that individual would be, but said it was someone who had worked on the Town's budget in the past.

The Council expressed concerns on numerous issues including pay increases for cost of living as well as merit pay increases based on employee performance.

Other issues of concern were a proposed property tax rate increase in terms of how much money would be returned to the Town's reserve fund (Similar to a savings fund for unexpected expenses or funding the Town following a natural disaster such as a hurricanes in order to continue paying employees and covering expenses when revenue is impacted).

Narain began working for the Town on February 25th, 2019.

The Town announced Thursday January 3rd, the Council selected Narain as Town Manager. Narain was serving as Senior Manager for the City of Hayward, CA.

According to a release issued by the Town, "As Carolina Beach’s top administrator, he will assume responsibility for the daily operations of the Town, including approximately 117 employees and a $25 million budget.  He fills the position left vacant by the September 2018 termination of former Town Manager, Michael Cramer."

During the three-month recruitment process, 41 applicants applied for the Town Manager position, and six people were selected as finalists. Four of the six candidates selected were interviewed. The Town Manager Search Committee included all members of the Town Council, the Director of Human Resources, Town Clerk, Town Attorney, and Interim Town Manager.  Town Council unanimously picked Mr. Narain as their first choice.

According to the release issued by the Town on January 3rd, "In addition to serving in the City of Hayward, Mr. Narain has served in the City of Richmond, California, and in the Judge Advocate General Corps as a Special Advisor in the US Army at Moffett Field, California.  He holds an undergraduate degree in Political Science from Christopher Newport University, a master’s in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University, and is a graduate of Fordham Law School.  Mr. Narain holds a license to practice law in both New York and New Jersey. He is a former Peace Corps Volunteer and speaks and writes fluently in Spanish.  Mr. Narain has family in Wilmington and is excited to be a part of the Carolina Beach community."

Narain's starting salary was $120,000 a year with health insurance benefits.

Under the terms of Narain's employment contract, the Council's decision to terminate his employment means he received six months of severance pay.

During the June 11th, meeting, Council had questions about the budget proposal under review during the meeting. Some members questioned the numbers compared to previous proposals. The Council spent considerable time during the meeting questioning staff members whether the proposal they were reviewing was the most current or a previous version. After pausing during the meeting to confirm what presentation they were actually reviewing, some members expressed concern with the overall budget process.

Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said he was concerned with a variation in the figures from one version of the budget to the one under review during the meeting.

Shuttleworth expressed a desire to hire "a third party" to come in an finish the budget planning process.

Following additional deliberations and debate, the Council held a closed session.

Following that closed session, Mayor Joe Benson made a motion, "That we move to terminate the contract of the Town Manager. All those in favor?"

That motion passed four to one with Mayor Benson and Council members Steve Shuttleworth, JoDan Garza and Leann Pierce voting in favor and Councilman Tom Bridges voting "no".

Shuttleworth made a motion to designate Assistant Town Manager Ed Parvin as Interim Town Manager and, "Direct Mr. Parvin to seek assistance from the League of Municipalities for some assistance and potentially a third party to finish the budget."

The motion passed by a majority and the meeting was recessed to Friday June 14th at 6pm at Town Hall.

Narain sent a statement to the Gazette on Wednesday morning in response to a request for comment.

Narain wrote:
Hi, my name is Lucky Narain. Most recently I served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Town of Carolina Beach, North Carolina. As a Town Manager and a public servant, I was dedicated to doing the best I could to benefit the public, manage a staff approximately 120 employees, and oversee a near 25 million dollar budget. Sometimes the vision of those individuals who appoint us into office change. Sometimes political dynamics create riptides. It’s all part of the process and the profession.
There was no failure here. No laws were broken. No deadlines were missed. No policies were violated. The budget was still in process and was on a positive track. Various Council Members told me so. With the proposed budget no money was allocated to be taken from the General Fund to pass the budget, as in years prior to my arrival. In fact, the Council was still deciding on very few elements to refine the balanced budget. These elements included, for example, presenting me the exact amounts for employee compensation (COLA/merit percentages) and how much to return into the General Fund.
At issue were political dynamics. Specifically, the dynamics involved in addressing concerns with a police department that has experienced tremendous difficulties in recent years. These were present long before I joined the Town. My short tenure was not enough to make the positive difference I had hoped for. For example, I participated in the comprehensive selection process to fill numerous police officer vacancies. We chose to recruit four superiorly qualified candidates. Unfortunately, from a lesser qualified candidate I experienced harassment, slander, and a negative media campaign that I imagine Town Council was not able to ignore.
Serving on the Town Council is a tremendous responsibility and I have grown fond of the Council. I have come to value and respect their drive, determination, and passion for public service. I applaud them for the work they do and empathize with the pressures they deal with and the riptides they navigate through.To the extent that I am able to assist the Town of Carolina Beach in the future, I look forward to doing so.
In service,
Respectfully,
Lucky Narain

As of December 21st, the Council continues to meet in closed session to select a new Town Manager.

Commission Approves Closing Flounder Season

CAROLINA BEACH - The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) has announced flounder fishing  will be off-limits starting September 4th. On August 23rd, the N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission adopted the Southern Flounder Fishery Management Plan Amendment Two as proposed by the Division of Marine Fisheries, giving the director of the Division of Marine Fisheries flexibility with the commercial and recreational seasons so long as they meet the statutorily required harvest reductions.

The DMF explained on August 28th, "The commercial sector landings do not peak until September and October, so the current commercial harvest combined with the projected harvest during an upcoming open season is projected to equate to a slightly greater reduction than in the recreational fishery. The commercial flounder season will reopen on Sept. 15 in waters north of Pamlico Sound and on Oct. 1 in Pamlico Sound and all other waters. Other regulations specific to the commercial fishery will be issued by proclamation at a later date."

According to the DMF, "The Division of Marine Fisheries anticipates issuing a proclamation next week that closes the commercial and recreational season around Sept. 4. The most recent coast-wide (North Carolina to the east coast of Florida) stock assessment for Southern Flounder determined the stock is overfished and overfishing is occurring. Reductions in total removals of southern flounder are required by state law to achieve a sustainable harvest, end overfishing within two years and recover the stock from an overfished condition within a 10-year period. Management measures to meet these requirements have been developed for consideration by the Marine Fisheries Commission for implementation before fall 2019 and are found in draft Amendment 2."

According to the DMF, the implementation of the management strategy recommend in the amendment is, "... critical to successful rebuilding of the southern flounder stock, so management actions can be implemented during the 2019 calendar year and reducing harvest is not delayed while more comprehensive strategies are developed for Amendment 3. Management measures such as quotas, slot limits, changes in the size limit, additional gear changes and species-specific management can all be examined in Amendment 3, scheduled for completion in 2021. These are not considered feasible options to address sustainable harvest in draft Amendment 2 due to the accelerated timeline."

It's unclear when the ban will expire, but it's anticipated it will run until sometime in the summer of 2020.

The commission did give the director of the Division of Marine Fisheries flexibility to change the dates of proposed commercial and recreational seasons so long as they still meet required harvest reductions. The division plans to issue proclamations this week that close the commercial and recreational season on Sept. 4. Changes to the allowable gears in the commercial ocean flounder fishery will also be implemented Sept. 4.

Since all species of flounder are managed under the same recreational regulations, the recreational season closure will apply to all flounder fishing. The recreational season will not reopen this year, as the peak recreational flounder fishing season has already passed. As a result, the estimated level of recreational harvest so far in 2019 is greater than that allowed under Amendment 2, thus reducing the expected catch reductions for this sector.

The commercial sector landings do not peak until September and October, so the current commercial harvest combined with the projected harvest during an upcoming open season is projected to equate to a slightly greater reduction than in the recreational fishery.

The commercial flounder season will reopen on Sept. 15 in waters north of Pamlico Sound and on Oct. 1 in Pamlico Sound and all other waters. Other regulations specific to the commercial fishery will be issued by proclamation at a later date. Fishermen should check the Division of Marine Fisheries’ Proclamations Page for updates.
Analysis of Division of Marine Fisheries data indicates that from 2000 to 2018, as much as 50% or more of ocean-caught recreational flounder were southern flounder, as opposed to other flounder species (this includes beach and pier fishing). Since statistical data on the for-hire charter fleet is limited and has high margins of error, the division needs more time to consider whether to separate the for-hire seasons from other recreational fishing seasons.

Additionally, to encourage conservation, the N.C. Saltwater Fishing Tournament (Citation Program) will not issue citations for flounder during the recreational season closure.

Town Council Turns Down Ban On Keeping Mini Pot Belly Pigs As Pets



Photo of a pig in a residential yard in Carolina Beach. The Carolina Beach Planning and Zoning Commission expressed concerns with potential impacts of allowing residents to keep pigs as pets including noise, odor and other issues. The Town Council took no action on an amendment to the Town's Code of Ordinances during their Monday April 8th, meeting. (Photo: Town of Carolina Beach)

CAROLINA BEACH -  The Carolina Beach Town Council agreed to take no action on a proposal to ban Miniature Vietnamese Pigs" as pets within Town limits during their Monday April 8th, meeting.

According to Jeremy Hardison with the Town's Planning Department, "The Planning and Zoning Commission requested staff to present an ordinance to prohibit miniature Vietnamese pigs as an allowable domestic animal within town. To regulates what types of animals are accepted because of the location and density of residential and commercial developments, and the seasonal influx of population, and the general seasonal weather and insect conditions encountered, and in protection of the lifestyles and business investments of the citizenry, and as protection to the community's tourist industry alike."

Hardison created a list  of animals or fowl that currently can be kept or harbored within or outside a residential dwelling and which requires reasonable and minimal attention and/or maintenance.

That list includes dogs, hamsters, caged birds, ferrets, cats, hens, rabbits, small reptiles, miniature Vietnamese pigs, turtles, gerbils and small nonpoisonous lizards.

While pigs are currently included in the list of permitted animals, the is another list of currently prohibited animals. Those include goats, horses, sheep, mules, pigs, ostriches, hogs, roosters, cows,  ducks or geese, bulls, large reptiles and snakes.

Hardison explained, "Staff is not aware of any pigs in Town. Early this year we did get a compliant from a home owner that her tenants had pigs, but they were allowed under the ordinance. The homeowner had the pigs removed from her property. The commission concerns were the nuisances that were being caused by the pigs such as tearing up the grass, odor and flies."

According to www.thesprucepets.com Pot-bellied pigs, Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs, and Chinese pot-bellied pigs grow to a range from 125 pounds to over 200 pounds and 16 to 26 inches tall. Some breeders also use this range for miniature pot-bellied pigs.

While there are varying breeds of pigs smaller than a 1,000 pound farm pig, one of the smallest is a Micro Mini Pig which can grow to 18 to 30 pounds and 10 to 12 1/2 inches tall.

A Carolina Beach resident named Sandy spoke during the Council's meeting stating, "I am the owner of a pedigreed Vietnamese miniature pet pig (also known as mini or hybrid kind) his name is Rudy.  I have lived on the island since 2017.  I sold my home in Wilmington, and I am a renter on Carolina Beach.  I have a 20 year history of marriage to a law enforcement officer.  My current landlord lives in the other half of the house, and there are no problems with Rudy. I am a medical professional employed by the federal government.  I used to own a Pet Sitting Service, and I volunteered with animal rescues for a decade.  I am no different than anyone else."

Sandy explained, "I have documentation that shows that the Federal government agency The US Department of Agriculture considers Pot Bellied Pigs pets... not livestock. I have many other state and county zoning outlines concerning pet pigs to give you ideas. Including one from Escamia Co. FL, near Destin which is a beachtown. You are welcome to all my proven documentation. I have the tools, and access to all information needed to establish good guidelines for an ordinance to allow pet pigs on Carolina Beach."

She explained, "I have a male pig that is part Juliana and part miniature. Rudy weighs 52 lbs, 15 inches tall, he is the size of a beagle.   He was born on Jan. 1st, 2014.  He is  5 years. old, and is fully grown.  I researched pigs for four years before I purchased him.  He was bought from a reputable breeder at Springwoods Pet Pigs in Honesdale, PA, whom was on an Animal Planet episode."

Sandy said her neighbor has a female pig from the original Connel line of pigs that weighs 35 pounds and is five years old.

She explained, "Both are rare breeds. Rudy is micro chipped, neutered - this reduces the smell of his urine - he was litter box trained at 6 weeks of age.  His litter box is cleaned daily.  He is on a very strict diet.  His pig pellets are Mizzouri brand this is the best food to reduce smell.  He is not fed waste.  He eats vegetables bought weekly from the grocery store.  He is fully cared for by Avian Exotic veterinarian in Raleigh, or Pine View veterinarian out of Bolton will come to my house if needed."

Sandy said pigs are easy to care for and cheap in terms of food and health care. She explained, "Rudy is 100% tame, he kisses me, I can feed him one pellet at a time with my fingers.  He has never bit anyone.  I contacted Sergeant Blissit from the NHC Sheriff's Animal Control Dept.  There were 486 dog bites reported in 2018.  There is 1 known pig bite that was in 2017.  Rudy is a very nice pig.  If you rub his belly he flops on his side immediately. "

Sandy said Rudy sleeps in bed with her by using a miniature set of stairs and while her dogs hair irritates her eyes, she's not allergic to Rudy's hair.

Sandy said beach homes are rented during the summer by vacationers who often say they love Rudy. She explained, "I have a sign on the fence stating what he is allowed to eat. He runs out of his house as soon as he hears the cars pull in, and will grunt so they know he is there. He puts his hooves up on the fence so they will pet him."

She explained, "Pigs are highly intelligent similar to a three year old toddler, they are rated number three in intelligence next to gorillas and monkeys, and elephants. They have feelings, and can learn tricks.  There are many myths surrounding pigs, and I have documentation that will show you different.  They are used as emotional support therapy, and companion animals.  They love a routine schedule.  Pigs are clean, dirt dries and falls off of them.  Pigs can be a positive attraction to communities, and sometimes even bring media coverage."

She explained, "A ban of pigs in my opinion is a drastic measure for a one problem tenant/landlord situation. Without being judgemental...it sounds like possibly the owners were at fault if their animals were not cared for properly. Also, maybe the landlords oversight for not having specifics in a lease."

Sandy suggested making rules for keeping pigs as pets, but not implement a ban. She suggested rules governing weight and height limits, requiring fences, a leash law, limiting the number of pigs in a household, restricting size to only small breeds and other controlling measures.

The question of whether or not pet pigs are required to get the same vaccinations and other animals - for example, rabies vaccine - was discussed.

Sandy said Rudy does get his shots, but they are not required. Also, pet pigs do not have to be registered with the County.

Councilman Steve Shuttleworth pointed out that non-poisonous lizards and snakes do not have to be registered with County Animal Control and neither do caged birds.

The complaint that led to the issue coming before Town Council was with a different owner, not Sandy, and Hardison explained, "Our code enforcement officer received a complaint [from the landlord] and he investigated it. He did see the pigs. They were determined to be classified as Miniature Vietnamese Pigs. They are allowed under the ordinance. So he called the owner up and said sorry ma'am there is nothing we can do these are an allowed animal."

Hardison said the Planning Commission sent the recommendation to Town Council to eliminate miniature pigs from the list of pets that are allowed to be kept within Town limits.

Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said Council previously approved allowing people to keep chickens in Town under certain limits and restrictions, but there are no similar limits for dogs and cats and other permitted types of pets.

Shuttleworth explained, "Clearly outside nuisances. If it affects neighbors and you know if there are odors or an inordinate amount of waste, there is Animal Control as opposed to just a blanket we're not going to allow it and change the ordinance."

Hardison said there are other pet pigs in Town including Rudy, and no complaints have been reported for any of them other than the one case that was originally presented to the Planning Commission and the owners were told by their landlord it was a breach of their lease.

Diligence to be Decommissioned; Wilmington Remain A Coast Guard City



WASHINGTON, DC : January 25th - Congressman Rouzer and the United States Coast Guard released statements following the announcement that U.S. Coast Guard Cutter (USCGC) Diligence will depart Wilmington to Pensacola, Florida as decommissioning of the cutter nears.

"USCGC Diligence has a long history of serving many important missions since she was commissioned 54 years ago - 27 years of which she called the Port City ‘home,’ said Congressman David Rouzer.  “As one of the oldest ships in her fleet, Diligence is reaching the end of her service life and therefore will head to Pensacola, Florida in 2020 with other cutters to ultimately be decommissioned.  On behalf of our entire community, I am grateful for her service to Southeastern North Carolina and appreciate the Coast Guard’s continued presence and steadfast commitment to our area, including the $6.7 million repair to the bulkhead which is essential to the City of Wilmington's plan to revitalize the waterfront.”

“Coast Guard Cutter Diligence has been a part of the Wilmington community for over 25 years,” said Lieutenant Commander Scott McBride of U.S. Coast Guard Public Affairs.  “While no cutters are scheduled to replace Diligence in its current location, we will continue to have a strong relationship with Wilmington for many years to come.  Wilmington will remain a designated Coast Guard City, and home to Coast Guard Sector North Carolina.  Diligence is over 50 years old and will be decommissioned in the coming years. Diligence’s move prepares the Service to welcome its newest ships, the Offshore Patrol Cutter. The new Offshore Patrol Cutters are 360 feet in length and unfortunately the cutters cannot be maintained at the existing facilities in downtown Wilmington.

Fort Fisher Ferry Operations Suspended In August, Restored In October



In August 2019, operations at the Fort Fisher terminal were suspended due to a broken cable on one of the ramps at the dock. Service resumed Tuesday morning October 1st. According to NCDOT, the ramp system, which includes several cables, counterweights and the ramp itself, failed Aug. 27. Without the system in place, it was impossible to load and offload vehicles to and from the ferries. Before resuming ferry service, workers had to replace cables and repair the damaged portion of the ramp. While repairs were underway, over the Labor Day weekend, locals and tourists had to use an alternate route to Southport and Oak Island. That route requires traveling north to Wilmington, crossing the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge and using US-17 S/US-76 West and NC-87 South to NC-211 S/N Howe St. in Smithville. The total time is just under an hour, or more depending on traffic. The Southport and Fort Fisher ferry route will shut down on January 6th, 2020 and reopen April 2020 in order to conduct a project to replace aging equipment that controls the ramps used to load and unload vehicles. The cable-counterweight ramp system will be replaced with a modern hydraulic ramp system.

Old Shopping Center Demolished To Make Way For New Publix Store



Demolition of the old Federal Point Shopping Center in Carolina Beach began on Friday December 7th. Crews began by tearing down a portion of the center that was formerly home to a Food Lion grocery store.

Demolition of the Federal Point Shopping Center at 1018 N. Lake Park Blvd. began Friday December 7th in Carolina Beach. The demolition is part of a project to construct a new Publix grocery store. The Carolina Beach Town Council unanimously voted to approve a request for a Conditional Use Permit at their January 9th, 2018, meeting to redevelop the Federal Point Shopping Center. The proposal called for demolition of the existing shopping center and construction of a new 51,469 square foot grocery store with an attached 8,400 square foot multi-tenant building with a patio area. The plans show areas for two additional future multi-tenant buildings. The center was formerly home to Food Lion before that store moved to a new location near Snow's Cut Bridge on North Lake Park Blvd. Other tenants included businesses such as Maxways, Primrose Cottage, Carolina Beach Scuba and others. The new Publix opened in July 2019.


Surfside Lodge Demolished



Crews began demolition of the ocean front Surfside Lodge in Carolina Beach in August.  The building was built in 1969 and has  changed hands numerous times over the years. The hotel experienced damage from Hurricane Florence in 2018. Town Planning Director Jeremy Hardison said on Monday August 19th, the owners had not submitted plans for redevelopment of the property.

Police Vehicle Fire At Freeman Park



A Carolina Beach Police vehicle caught fire early Sunday afternoon May 26th at Freeman Park on the North End of Pleasure Island. The officer was not injured. According to Carolina Beach Police Detective Sergeant Scott Hettinger,  Sgt. D. Gentzler was on duty at Freeman Park driving the Dodge Ram 1500 pick up truck. Hettinger said, "The cause, that will be determined by the fire investigator." Freeman Park was closed to traffic entering and leaving the park for a period of time on Sunday as fire crews worked to extinguish the flames.  Vehicle fires are not uncommon on days where temperatures rise to 100 degrees and the sand is dry and soft due to lack of rain. Both of those conditions existed on Sunday afternoon as the heat index reached as high as 107.2.


Kite Festival



November 2nd and 3rd, the Fort Fisher State Recreation Area hosted the 14th Annual Cape Fear Kite Festival. During the two-day event it was estimated almost 18,000 spectators came out to watch seasoned flyers from around the country show-off their kite flying skills.

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